You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘writers’ category.

I hear it from emerging writers all the time. I’ve got a great idea for a novel. I’m going to sit down and write it as soon as I…

  • …get my day job under control
  • …get my final kid into kindergarten
  • …into college …out of jail
  • …get my finances in order
  • …fix my marriage
  • …finish painting the house
  • …pay off the car
  • …clean the can opener
  • …clean the rain gutters
  • …get the puppy housebroken
  • …retire from my job
  • …finish watching the third season of “Weeds”
  • …get my Bachelor’s…Master’s…PhD…LLB…MD
  • …pay off my student loans
  • …read all the Outlander books
  • …check in with my nineteen thousand Facebook friends
  • …upgrade my computer
  • …make tenure
  • …landscape the yard
  • …take a vacation
  • …host my book group
  • …teach my teenager to drive
  • …finish knitting this sweater
  • …forgive my parents …forgive myself
  • …get over my fear of failure …get over my fear of success
  • …get permission from my parents/spouse/children/therapist
  • …hire an agent
  • …learn to use the subjunctive case
  • …quit worrying about what my family will think of my story, especially the dirty parts
  • …stop smoking/drinking/playing online games
  • …figure out the business of publishing
  • …lose 20 pounds so I look good in my author photo…

You name it, and a procrastinating writer has said it. Here’s a dirty little secret. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the cruel reality is this. There will never be a good time to write. Life will always intrude. That’s what life is. Be glad for that. If you have no life, you have nothing to write about.

The good news is, there’s a simple solution. Make time for the things that are important to you. If writing your story is important, make time for it. Simple as that. Turn off the TV, leave the dishes undone, close your e-mail, grab a notebook and pen, and tell your family, “Don’t interrupt me unless your eyes are bleeding.” You’ll be surprised by the respect they give you.

The way you spend your day is the way you spend your life. So quit being your own worst enemy and start being your own best friend. Make time to write, even if you don’t have time.

I have procrastinated my way through the writing of many books. Somehow, the story emerges. The Beekeeper’s Ball hits the shelves next week. There’s a lot of love and food in that book. Let me know what you think.

I have the worst work habits. Sometimes I look at the pile of books I’ve written and I wonder how they got there. Well, the best way to describe it is “word-by-word.” You put down a word. Then you cross it out. Then write a few more. Stare out the window. Wonder if the can opener needs cleaning. Wonder if someone’s having a hissy fit on a social network. Wonder why you thought this was a good idea for a novel in the first place.

Sometimes you have to go to Bali to clear your head and get some serious thinking done:

My brain works better in Bali.

My brain works better in Bali.

And, oh, here’s something. I write my first draft in longhand. In a Clairefontaine notebook with a fountain pen loaded with peacock blue ink. Not because I’m quirky but because I think in longhand. And I’m left-handed so ordinary pens smear my hand as it drags across the page, but Skrip peacock blue on Clairefontaine paper does not.

I have to carry extra ink around for those oh-so-prolific days.

tools of the trade

handwritten draft

that first awful draft

So now what, you ask? After I bleed blue all over the page, I realize there is no backup copy. If I happen to step out for a while, the house might burn down and the only existing manuscript will go up in flames, like Jo’s novel in Little Women. (I didn’t cry when Beth died. I cried when Amy burned the manuscript.) Sometimes I keep the notebook in the freezer, like Tess does with her notes in The Apple Orchard. I figure that’s the last thing that will burn if the house is reduced to rubble.

Eventually, I fill the notebook with about 100,000 words that loosely resemble a novel. Then I have to type the thing up. I can’t use a typist because I tend to revise as I transcribe. Dragon Naturally Speaking voice dictation software works really well for me, provided the dogs don’t go off on me when someone comes to the door. When that happens, here’s what appears on my screen: hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep.

the digitized draft

the digitized draft

Oh, and here’s something. I don’t use Word. I know, I’m awful, but my very first writing software was WordPerfect and my brain is stuck with it. I have to have Reveal Codes and anyone who knows WordPerfect knows why. Please, Word, figure out Reveal Codes! F3! Save my sanity!

Then I print the thing out and my writers’ group has a meeting about it. I’ve been in some writing group or other since 1986 and I don’t intend stopping. Magic happens in a writers’ group–critiquing and brainstorming and commiserating and celebrating. My current group consists of the fabulous Sheila Roberts, Lois Faye Dyer, Anjali Banerjee, Elsa Watson and Kate Breslin. We read and talk about each other’s work and I adore these women and I would pledge them my first born child but she is already married with a kid of her own.

My group meets at a quaint waterfront bakery in a small town. Baked goods make the brain work better.

Moving right along…I rewrite the book a couple of times. At various stages, it looks something like this:

Revisions are not pretty.

Revisions are not pretty.

…but you get to buy lots of colorful office supplies, so that’s something.

…and then I send it to my literary agent and editor. We have long deep talks about every aspect of the novel. Sometimes we get together in person and they are smart and kind and supportive and motivating and I thank God they are in my life, and this is why they get stuff like cashmere bathrobes and couture watches at Christmas.

They came to my wedding. We did no work at all that weekend.

They came to my wedding. We did no work at all that weekend.

Editor and style maven.

Editor and style maven.

And then I put on the Sweater of Immovable Deadlines and rewrite that sucker again.

tick tock...

tick tock…

Note the snow on the ground...

Note the snow on the ground…

And at some point my editor says we’re good to go, and my agent says yippee, let’s send that girl her advance check…

Money

…and I get to go shopping and tell people what a breeze it is to write a book.

Stay tuned. The next installment will take us through the cover design and publication process. Sound good?

Thanks for reading!

I love when people ask me questions about books, writing and reading.

Thank you so much for this opportunity! You can find a downloadable high resolution photo on my web site here: http://susanwiggs.com/press.shtml
10 Questions for Susan Wiggs
1. What was your favorite book as a child?
SW: I loved so many books as a child, it’s hard to narrow it down. Yertle the Turtle by Dr Seuss was the first I bought with my own money. I sobbed over You Were Princess Last Time about a girl whose mean sister cut off her long, beautiful hair (I had long, beautiful hair.). Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White was one I read again and again. The whole world is in that book–life, death, friendship, family, loyalty, humor, pathos, suspense, drama and an uplifting ending…everything I hope readers find in my own books.
2. What is your favorite book right now?
SW: An unfinished novel called Daisy+Logan+Julian, by my favorite author (me).  I’m not being facetious; I really do love this book and I’ve wanted to write it for a long time. It’s about continuing characters from past books, and I can’t wait to write their story. But I do have to wait, because I have other deadlines to meet. Soon, though!
3. What book do you like to give away as a present?
SW: I Like You by Amy Sedaris–it’s everyone’s childhood in one big, funny book. Meeting God In Quiet Places by F. LaGarde Smith is a comforting book about walking, meditation and prayer. And Literary Feasts, a cookbook with photos and recipes by famous authors with an intro by chef Greg Atkinson; the proceeds go to raise money for libraries.
4. What book are you reading right now?
SW: The Reserve by Russell Banks, about privileged families at an Adirondack Mountain retreat in the 1930s. It’s wonderful!
5. What book have you always wanted to read, but haven’t yet gotten around to?
SW: The da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I believe I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t read it yet.
6. What book would you have liked to have written yourself?
SW: Same answer as #2 above–the book about Daisy from my series, The Lakeshore Chronicles. I wish I was already done with that book! I feel so much pressure to do a good job on that book, I’m almost afraid to start it. I don’t want my readers to feel let down.
7. What book (not your own) should have made the bestseller lists?
SW: Love in Bloom by Sheila Roberts–a book about all the loves that fill a woman’s life. It’s wonderful, the kind of novel you want to share with all the women you know. And Oxygen by Carol Cassella, an absorbing page-turner with a huge heart and many intriguing twists. Both books deserve a wide audience.
8. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
SW: David Copperfield (I’m a sucker for writers in novels), Huckleberry Finn, Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo) and Frodo Underhill from The Lord of the Rings. All of them were such strivers; they never gave up. My favorite romantic hero is (no surprise) Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.
9. Who is your favorite fictional heroine?
SW: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh–she inspired me to be a writer. Jo March from Little Women –another writer who never gave up. And Jane Eyre, who never gave up on love.
10. What is your “guilty” reading pleasure?
SW: I never, ever feel guilty about reading anything. All reading is good. Books that are dismissed as frivolous by some readers can be life-changing for others, so I would never want anyone to feel guilty for reading anything. I sure don’t!
Thank you!

10 Questions for Susan Wiggs

1. What was your favorite book as a child?

Hello, Charlotte!

Hello, Charlotte!

SW: I loved so many books as a child, it’s hard to narrow it down. Yertle the Turtle by Dr Seuss was the first I bought with my own money. I sobbed over You Were Princess Last Time about a girl whose mean sister cut off her long, beautiful hair (I had long, beautiful hair.). Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White was one I read again and again. The whole world is in that book–life, death, friendship, family, loyalty, humor, pathos, suspense, drama and an uplifting ending…everything I hope readers find in my own books.

2. What is your favorite book right now?

SW: An unfinished novel called Daisy+Logan+Julian, by my favorite author (me).  I’m not being facetious; I really do love this book and I’ve wanted to write it for a long time. It’s about continuing characters from past books, and I can’t wait to write their story. But I do have to wait, because I have other deadlines to meet. Soon, though!

3. What book do you like to give away as a present?

SW: I Like You by Amy Sedaris–it’s everyone’s childhood in one big, funny book. Meeting God In Quiet Places by F. LaGarde Smith is a comforting book about walking, meditation and prayer. And Literary Feasts, a cookbook with photos and recipes by famous authors with an intro by chef Greg Atkinson; the proceeds go to raise money for libraries.

4. What book are you reading right now?

SW: The Reserve by Russell Banks, about privileged families at an Adirondack Mountain retreat in the 1930s. It’s wonderful! And Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, who passed away suddenly this August. 😦 Wonderful book on storytelling.

5. What book have you always wanted to read, but haven’t yet gotten around to?

SW: The da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I believe I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t read it yet.

6. What book would you have liked to have written yourself?

SW: Same answer as #2 above–the book about Daisy from my series, The Lakeshore Chronicles. I wish I was already done with that book! I feel so much pressure to do a good job, I’m almost afraid to start it. I don’t want my readers to feel let down.

7. What book (not your own) should have made the bestseller lists?

SW: Love in Bloom by Sheila Roberts–a book about all the loves that fill a woman’s life. It’s wonderful, the kind of novel you want to share with all the women you know. And Oxygen by Carol Cassella, an absorbing page-turner with a huge heart and many intriguing twists. Both books deserve a wide audience. In the children’s arena, Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee and Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors should have been bestsellers.

8. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

SW: David Copperfield (I’m a sucker for writers in novels), Huckleberry Finn, Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo) and Frodo Underhill from The Lord of the Rings. All of them were such strivers; they never gave up. My favorite romantic hero is (no surprise) Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Restraint can  be so sexy. I wish someone would explain that to Barkis.

9. Who is your favorite fictional heroine?

SW: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh–she inspired me to be a writer. Jo March from Little Women –another writer who never gave up on her dream, even when her bratty sister burned her manuscript. I cried harder then than I did when Beth died! And Jane Eyre, who never gave up on love.

10. What is your “guilty” reading pleasure?

SW: I never, ever feel guilty about reading anything. All reading is good. Books that are dismissed as frivolous by some readers can be life-changing for others, so I would never want anyone to feel guilty for reading anything. I sure don’t!

Next time I have the noive to complain about my job, I hope you will remind me of days like this:

having a serious talk with my editor about the fate of Daisy Bellamy

having a serious talk with my editor about the fate of Daisy Bellamy

Coffee on the patio with my editor while her children (including the large one known as a “husband”) are swimming, beachcoming, hiking, biking, harrassing the dog, building fires, eating smores and practicing general mayhem. Later, they will be treated to a scenic flight from our beach to Snoqualmie Falls, Bill Gates’s house and interesting places in between.

We were having some big ideas, along with the French Roast and smoked salmon.

Some days there is more to writing than W-R-I-T-I-N-G.

Would you please check out this training treat pouch? My friend Liz knitted it. Yes. KNITTED it. In a seed stitch pattern. She writes as well as she knits, too. I adore writers who knit. So does Barkis.

Sit. Stay. Good dog.

Sit. Stay. Good dog.

It looks much too cute to be filled with chopped up hot dogs, but hey. I didn’t make the rules.

(If you look carefully at the background, you’ll see a few of the ways we spoil Barkis. Double-mattress bed, check. Garden view accommodations, check. Reading material–including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime–check. Plaid fleece blanket, check…)

So the counselor at Ivers J. Norton Elementary School wrote to me about the school’s 100th anniversary celebration. Today, they’re honoring former staff members at the school in a small town in Western New York. I was asked to share some of my memories of the school, which I attended in the late ’60s. Here are a few:

We lived at 502 West Henley, kitty corner from the school. Some of my teachers were Mrs. Ellen Blessing, Mrs. Geuder and Mr. Schwabenbauer. Mrs. Mazza was the gym teacher.
The library was amazing to me, and one year, I read one biography from every letter of the alphabet. I also devoured the “Betsy-Tacy” books by Maude Hart Lovelace, Beverly Cleary books and pretty much everything else I could get my hands on. Mrs. Geuder (5th grade) was a great reader and read aloud to us every day–Caddie Woodlawn, Harriet the Spy, Tom’s Midnight Garden, Big Tree are some I still remember. Later, when I became a 5th grade teacher, I read to my students every day too.
 
When I was in Mr. Schwabenbauer’s class, I wrote my first piece of long fiction. The assignment was to write a story about a natural disaster. I remember considering a glacier but he suggested I go with something like a flood or forest fire. I filled an entire theme book with my story. I’m sure it was awful but he gave me an A.
 
When I was in third grade, I climbed over a chain-link fence in the back schoolyard, ripped open my arm and had to get stitches.
 
We moved away from Olean in the 1970s and enrolled in schools overseas. People told our parents we might be “behind” in the competitive private schools in Brussels and Paris, but this was definitely not the case! Olean schools prepared us well.
 
I’m currently a novelist with more than forty books published, including numerous bestsellers. My series of books known as the Lakeshore Chronicles take place in upstate New York, and feature a fictional town that has a lot of features in common with Olean!
What was your grade school like? How did it shape you into who you are today?
my alma mater

my alma mater

This very small but very interconnected town is crawling with writers. There are enough of us that we made the local paper’s year-end roundup. It’s incredibly nice to live in a place where the work one does is valued.

best_of_bainbridge-fave-authors1

Here’s the excerpt about island writers:

Written on the island

Steadily documenting the work of Bainbridge authors over the course of a year is pure pleasure for a reader and writer. Seeing them compiled into a single “year in review” entry is jaw dropping.

Whether your drool is awe- or envy-inspired, wipe it off and get to the library or bookstore.

Fiction ran the gamut, from juicy to literary. Kristin Hannah glowed with “Firefly Lane,” Susan Wiggs gave us “Just Breathe,” and Carol Cassella provided the remedy with “Oxygen.” Meanwhile, Judith Reynolds Brown celebrated a “Turkish Wedding,” Anthony Flacco came out of the woodwork with “The Hidden Man,” Jonathan Evison explored familial (dys)function in “All About Lulu,” and David Guterson took us into the backwoods while examining the duality of manhood in “The Other.”

In verse, MacArthur Award winning poet Linda Bierds published “Flight: New and Selected Poems.”

History and biography scored. Mary Woodward published “In Defense of Our Neighbors: The Walt and Milly Woodward Story.”

Ann Gowen Combs and her brother, Geoffrey Gowen, documented another island legend and father with “Sunrise to Sunrise: Vincent Gowen’s Memoirs.” Michael Lisagor turned his “Romancing the Buddha” into a one-man stage play.

Gary White turned 30 years’ worth of passionate research into “The Hall Brothers Shipbuilders.” Wilkes Elementary School teacher Warren Read explored his family’s history of racism in “The Lyncher in Me.” And Richard LeMieux documented his years of homelessness in “Breakfast at Sally’s.”

(These last two, while not technically island residents, made the “island” cut by virtue of proximity as well as worth.)

In photography and how-to, a pair of Kathleens, O’Brien and Smith, published “The Green Home Primer,” a design-focused guide to creating an environmentally sound domicile. Michael Diehl made churn visually fascinating with “Crossings: On the Ferries of Puget Sound.” And two women with a taste for the island raised funds for the Kitsap Humane Society with “Flavors of Bainbridge.”

Other nonfiction included “Evangelical vs. Liberal” by James Wellman and “Understanding Your Child’s Puzzling Behavior” by clinical psychologist Steven Curtis.

Which leads us to the kids. Suzanne Selfors followed last year’s “To Catch a Mermaid” with the young adult novel “Saving Juliet,” later adapted for the stage at BPA.

First-time author Andrea von Botefuhr gave us “The Land of Smaerd.” Julie Hall presented “A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids,” while science/how-to fave Lynn Brunelle tackled shoe-tying with “The Zoo’s Shoes.”

Finally, George Shannon gets mention this year for “Rabbit’s Gift.” Though published in 2007, the charming winter-themed picture book, resonant on so many levels, earned a 2008 Washington State Book Award for children’s fiction.

Win a trip to Willow Lake! I’m not kidding. Check it out here: http://www.eharlequin.com/swinvitation.html?swid=100006

Win a trip to Willow Lake!

Snowfall At Willow Lake Cover[zoom] SNOWFALL AT WILLOW LAKE
by Susan Wiggs
RT Rating: ****½
Category: MAINSTREAM FICTION
Publisher: Mira
Published: February 2008
Type: Mainstream Fiction

 


Wiggs is at the top of her game here, combining a charming setting with subtly shaded characters and more than a touch of humor. This is the kind of book a reader doesn’t want to see end but can’t help devouring as quickly as possible.


Summary: Attorney Sophie Bellamy has made a difference while climbing to the top of her profession — but she’s also sacrificed her marriage and her relationships with her children, Max and Daisy.A brush with death makes Sophie determined to change what she can — which means moving to Avalon, making an effort to get along with her ex-husband and his new wife and mending fences with Max and Daisy. Avalon does have its compensations, including an attractive veterinarian, Noah Shepherd. Sophie’s not looking for romance, but that’s just what she finds — and much, much more. (MIRA, Feb., 432 pp., $7.99)

—Catherine Witmer

[This reviewer “gets” me and she always has. Makes me proud to have a new book out. Catherine, if we ever meet, I will buy you a kir royale!]

Oh, fun! The Winter Lodge is up for a Reviewers Choice Award from RT Book Reviews. It’s up against some of the best books of 2007. I am in good company–every single author in this category is one I regularly read and love, so there’s really no down side to this. Here’s the whole list:  

Best of luck to us all!

Join me on Facebook. You won’t be sorry.

I tend to spontaneously give stuff away to readers and libraries. Join the fun here. Really.

Top Clicks

take a look at a book

Buy or borrow my books at WorldCat.org.

Search for an item in libraries near you:
Enter title, subject or author
WorldCat.org >>

Blog Stats

  • 803,052 hits

Pages

November 2018
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930