Every Writer Needs an Editor

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Every writer needs an editor, but not every writer can afford one.  Abigail fancies herself as my editor.  Here is a sample of one of her markups:

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Even with Abby’s help, I don’t think I’m going to win the Pulitzer Prize any time soon.   Both of us are suffering from writer’s block.

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Every Writer Needs Inspiration

 CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE CONDUCIVE TO WRITING

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Writing fiction begins with setting the stage.  The props are photographs, scented candles, and whatever-it-takes to minimize daily distractions and whisk you away to never-never land.

When I was writing THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER, I lit a rose-scented candle and kept a photo of my favorite actor in front of me, but I needed more.  So I added a sound track.  A novel, like a movie, needs a sound track, although no one will hear it but the writer. 

Steven Curtis Chapman, 4 Him, Jars of Clay, Burt Bacharach, Sting, and many other composers contributed to the soundtrack of my imaginary “film.”  Songs like “Call Me Irresponsible,” “The Shadow of Your Smile,” “The Look of Love,” “Prologue,” “Blind,” and “Head Over Heels” inspired many scenes.

Props and music help, but nothing inspires me like visiting the places I want to write about.

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Summer Break

I took a break from blogging this summer to enjoy the great outdoors.  I love to hike in the mountains, visit the state parks, and hunt for sharks’ teeth and other fossils along the Potomac River. The pictures below tell the rest of the story.  Can you find the black bear in the next to the last photo?

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Greeting the LordA friend asked me to say  hello to God when I reached the top of the mountain, and I did.

The earth is the LORD’S , and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it. (Psalm 24: 1 NASB).

 

 

SHADOW OF A DOUBT

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When I had this photo developed, I thought it would make a great cover for a mystery novel.  I even thought of a title: SHADOW OF A DOUBT.   Then I remembered that SHADOW OF A DOUBT is the name of one of my favorite films.

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Creating Fictional Characters

No one creates characters out of thin air. They are bits and pieces of people you know, have seen, or read about. Sometimes the main character has a lot in common with the author. I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, but I know that his main character is often a novelist.

While writing THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER, I identified with several characters, especially “Effie Belle Butler,” an airbrushed image of me, with all of my strengths and none of my weaknesses. Writing a novel is like daydreaming about who you would like to be and who you would like to be with.

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Finding Inspiration in Quotes

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My favorite novel is ST. Elmo, by Augusta Evans Wilson (1835-1909). The book inspired me to write THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER.  Although my book is not a ST. ELMO remake, the similarities are not coincidental.

To pay homage to Augusta Evans Wilson and her best-selling novel, I introduced ten of my thirty-four chapters with a quote from ST. ELMO.  They are as follows:

“He is a rude, blasphemous, wicked man,” said Mr. Hunt as Edna reentered the shop.

“That passage leads to my son’s apartments, and he dislikes noise or intrusion.”

The expression with which Mr. Murray regarded Estelle reminded Edna of the account given by a traveler of the playful mood of a lion, who, having devoured one gazelle, kept his paw on another, and, amid occasional growls, teased and toyed with his victim.

She picked up from the spot where he had thrown his shawl a handsome morocco-bound pocket copy of Dante, and opening it to discover the name of the owner, she saw written on the fly-leaf in a bold and beautiful hand, “S.E.M.”

God help me to resist that man’s wicked magnetism!

“I go like Ruth, gleaning in the great fields of literature.”

“Mrs. Powell received a letter from a wealthy friend in New York who desires to secure a governess for her young children.”

“If she ever marries, it will not be from gratitude or devotion, but because she learned to love, almost against her will, some strong, vigorous thinker, some man whose will and intellect master hers, who compels her heart’s homage, and without whose society she cannot persuade herself to live.”

He strained her to him and pressed his lips twice to hers, then the carriage stopped at the railroad station.

“Edna, my shadow has fallen across your heart, and I am not afraid that you will forget me.”

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Romance and the Language of Flowers

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I found this copy of the POETRY OF FLOWERS (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.) in an antique flea market.  The inscription on the flyleaf reads in part, “Miss Carrie Lawrence, May 18th 1891.”

People who lived in the nineteenth century assigned meaning to each flower.  Choosing flowers for a bouquet was a delicate matter because you wanted to send the right message.

For example, if you wanted to say “Let the bonds of marriage unite us,” you would choose the following flowers for your bouquet: blue convolvulus (bonds), ivy (marriage), and a few whole straws (unite us).

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If you saw the movie KATE AND LEOPOLD, starring Hugh Jackman and Meg Ryan, you might recall the scene in which “Leopold” shows “Kate’s” brother how to choose a bouquet for his girlfriend.  Sad to say, the language of flowers has faded with time.  I would like to see the POETRY OF FLOWERS in print again as a runaway best seller.