Writing never gets easier… if anything, it’s more difficult.
Why? Because we expect more of ourselves. Even more so when you’re doing edits from your fab editor who’s really an angel in disguise. We want to make our story as perfect as possible and not disappoint her. She believes in you. Your characters believe in you. After all, their lives are in your hands.
But like a chocolate soufflé, a lot can go wrong.
Your computer screen goes blue… computer updates send your heart pounding as you pray you get all your pretty icons back…. a character keeps you up at nights because you’re so worried about how you’re going to save her butt and yours.
You go over your word count.
You can’t find your timeline/fact sheet for your heroine (when you’re writing about Paris during WW 2 this is crucial).
You ‘re so tired, you push the wrong button on your keyboard and everything in Track Changes disappears
You realize a secondary relationship ain’t working because the hero is based on an old boyfriend with a big ego. You dump him. Get a new guy for the part. And he’s an absolute dream.
You work from dawn-to-dawn the week before edits are due and have no idea what day it is.
And worst of all, you run out of coffee.
But I did it!
I sent my editor the edited manuscript at 7:37 a.m. on a sunny morning… and I felt numb. No whistles went off. No bells. Just the quiet hum of my computer.
I needed a hug.
Someone telling me ‘I done good’.
Yes, I’m totally proud of what I accomplished, but writing can be a lonely business. And it’s hard work, especially writing historicals. (My story follows a dual timeline from 1926 to 1950 and present day. Silent films, Nazis in Paris, the film business in Hollywood and France.)
So I did what I swore I wouldn’t after I sent the m/s: I opened it back up and read some of my favorite passages. Laughed and cried again with my characters… sat amazed at how they accomplished their goals… fell in love with them all over again… and cheered when they beat the Nazis!
And I got that hug.
From my characters. Reminding me why I write. Because I so love them, the stories, the chance to give them life.
So, merci beaucoup, mes bons amis! Thank you, my friends.
PS — I’ll keep you posted on my Paris WW 2 historical. Cover ideas coming soon…
Veronic is on vacation this month, so we are rerunning one of her more popular posts. She’ll be back September 22, but in the meantime we hope you enjoy:
Most people are a combination of various cultures, though I think their ancestors tended to confine their marriages and unions to one continent. Mine didn’t. As a teenager, growing up in the 1960s, I was always asked, “What are you, black or white?” I’d usually answer, “Both,” or “Neither,” not because I was afraid or wanted to fit in, but because it was true: Nicaraguan and Dominican parents, Middle-Eastern and French grandparents, and Chinese and African great-grandparents. (Hope I didn’t miss anyone). And born in Brooklyn, New York. “How sweet it is!”
This ethnic mix probably explains my preferred genres; Kid-Lit, because I am always looking for someone like me in children’s books; and Historical Fiction, because like working on a jigsaw puzzle, I travel the globe, mostly through books, in search of all of the pieces of me that, once united, will make me whole.
This quest has made me an avid multicultural reader. In every reading exploration I discover something about myself. Everything I write contains a key to who I am that reveals an aspect of my essence. It’s an awesome journey.
And while I seem to connect with everyone, I don’t really fit in anywhere; yet I love the empathy toward others that these various cultures have generated in me because it leads to a deeper kind of listening and understanding, which in turn informs and directs my writing.
I’m always learning, and changing, and growing, and I often have so much to say that I don’t know where to begin, or how to put it all together…like now.
So, thank you ancestors, for being willing and unwilling globe-hoppers. I am wonderfully made and you have given me much to think of and write about.
Imagine you’re reading a fiction historical romance book set in the back country of Montana and one of the characters asks another character if he’s always been a freighter.
He responds with no. He was a trapper.
Aww. Cool. Immediately my mind went to my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather who was a trapper. I continued to read.
He was a part of the great mountain men.
Wait! My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather was called that too. Now my heart was thumping faster as I continued to read. Somehow I just knew what I would see next.
Mountain men like Jedidiah Smith and Jim Clyman.
Stop the presses! That’s my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather’s name! Here in the fiction book I’m reading!!
How cool is that?
I ran around the house showing everyone my Kindle I was so excited!
A lover of all things history, I’ve wanted to write a blog post on James Clyman and our family history for a while, but I’ve been so busy with other topics, I hadn’t gotten to it, but I just had to share this exciting news and tell you a little about him now.
He called himself a mountain man. A trapper with Jedidiah Smith, he was the one who sewed Jedidiah’s ear back on after a bear almost swiped it off. He also came over the pass in the sierras and encountered the Donner Party, advising them not to go that way since winter was settling in. And unfortunately they opted not to listen.
Just how do we know all this? He wrote journals. Daily. Details describing who he met and what he did. Those journals have been printed into books. One titled Frontiersman, was printed in 1960 in a limited number mostly for libraries.
He apparently wrote it all on slates and his daughter composed it into a book. I haven’t read it through completely but there’s a chapter on the Black Hawk War and being in the same unit as future President Lincoln and another on his later years when he settled in Napa, Ca.
Another smaller version came out in the 1980s. My dad signed that one for me. Writing on the inside cover that I’m the 6th generation born in Napa to James Clyman. Pretty cool.
And even more cooler…I’ve actually seen the original journals. They are in the Huntington Library in Pasadena.
He’s in the 4th grade history books as well, which was a real treat for my boys whenever they got to that particular unit.
He’s buried in the same cemetery as my parents and his grave is part of a historical tour they host every once in a while.
Another historical nugget – the original ranch house is still standing. My dad used to spend his summers there and when the land was sold off for housing developments my parents purchased in the neighborhood. You could see the top of the ranch house if you stood in my parents backyard.
There’s more but I’ll save that for another post. I have plans for him to make an appearance in a book or two someday. With all the books out there to read, how fascinating I found someone who beat me to it.
As a writer, I’m always looking for new story ideas. I often find that past experiences can be a great help. Have you ever survived a dangerous situation? How did you do it?
When I was first learning to snow ski, I got caught after dark on top of Stowe Mountain in Vermont. It’s a huge ski area. It was my first day on skis and, somehow I got separated from my friends. I wound up on a black diamond run and of course I started falling—throwing myself down in the snow was the only way I knew how to stop!
By the time I got half way down the mountain, the ski lifts had all stopped running and it was dark and freezing cold. I tried taking off my skis and walking, but the snow was deep, and it was even harder than trying to ski. I knew I was in big trouble.
Maybe the reason I started writing Romantic Suspense had something to do with that day. Just when I was ready to give up and just wait for whatever was going to happen to happen, a guy came skiing down the hill out of nowhere.
Instead of skiing on by, he swished to a stop right next to me. He must have realized I was in trouble and if I didn’t get down the mountain, I could die in the subzero weather that night. The guy—my hero—helped me get up and start “skiing” back down the mountain. He showed me how to snow plow, helped me turn and never left me, no matter how many times I fell.
It took hours to get off that mountain. We wound up in an empty parking lot, where I his car was parked, and he drove me back to the main lodge where my friends were waiting. I never saw him again, but I’ve never forgotten him. There is a chance he might have saved my life that night.
So, I guess there really are heroes out there in the real world. At least I believe that. Beau Reese, the hero in BEYOND DANGER, is that kind of guy.
Mega-rich, black-haired, and blue-eyed, Beau was a highly successful race car driver before he left the circuit, sort of a Texas Paul Newman. Beau loves fast cars and fast women, but under it all he’s a one-woman man and Cassidy Jones is just the right woman for him.
Unfortunately, Beau is wanted for murder.
The good news is, Cassidy is a detective. She’s convinced of Beau’s innocence and determined to prove it.
I hope you’ll watch for BEYOND DANGER, and in June, you’ll look for BEYOND CONTROL, Josh Cain’s story. If you haven’t read BEYOND REASON, I hope you’ll give it a try.
Till next time, all best and happy reading, Kat
In the 1950s the emergence of suburban America led to the boom in automobile travel. This was a time of cheap fuel, before air quality regulations and seat belts. Cars were nowhere as fuel efficient or reliable as the vehicles of today. More than 230,000 service stations dotted the nation. All four corners of many major intersections were occupied by service stations. “Service stations?” The gas station of the 50s was truly a full-service station and puts today’s modern fill & go places to shame. Customer service was a key factor in the success of any service station, and competition was stiff for the 1950s customer.
When you pulled into a service station, your car would usually run over a tiny rubber hose laid across the entrance driveways. A bell would “ding” and as many as four uniformed attendants not only filled your tank, but opened the hood and checked the oil and coolant while others checked tire pressure and washed your car’s windows. At one station, they wiped down the radio antenna.
A trip to the service station was an experience even the kids enjoyed. Some service stations let the young boys “help” fill the tank or check the tires. One chain had trampolines for them to jump on while the parents filled up the family car.
Not only that, but these businesses often provided incentives to get your return business. Some gave out promotional items with a fill-up like drinking glasses imprinted with the company logo. China dishware or cutlery was another incentive. Each time you’d go to the station, you would receive a free bowl, plate or other piece. If you returned often enough, you could amass an entire set of china or flatware. Mostly, the free giveaways were toys, key chains, calendars, Blue Chip stamps or Green trading stamps. (If you are too young to remember trading stamps, it worked like this… with each purchase you made at a participating business you’d receive stamps that were pasted into a book. When you accumulated enough stamps, you could trade them for items in a catalog. This very similar to credit card or frequent flyer points today.)
Free road maps were another giveaway you don’t see anymore, but they were given out as a courtesy in the 1950s. One company in New York even provided an “upside down” map from New York to Florida where south was at the top of the map for easier use by southbound drivers. To keep the customer coming back, some held contests for free fill-ups or offered the chance to win a prize. Some went so far as to give away a new car to a lucky customer!
My own father would drive twenty miles from Orange County, California to buy gas at one of the Parks Texaco stations in Long Beach— all for a chance to win a new Cadillac. Eventually, the Parks stations closed and he has since passed away. He never won the Caddy.
How do you heal a broken heart?More info →
When Leora Ebersole sees the small plane crash in her Old Order Mennonite community, she has no idea it's a foreshadowing of things to come.More info →