Finding the Magic Writing Book

16 06 2010

If you’re anything like me, you keep buying new writing books, hoping THIS one will provide the magic key and unlock the door to those powerful stories you know are brewing inside. It’s rather like buying new makeup in the hopes it’ll make you prettier. The latest cosmetics might make slight changes, but the face staring back in the mirror is still the same one.

So what besides plastic surgery (or manuscript surgery) will effect wholesale changes in the way you look (or write)? In writing I believe these changes come about gradually, slowly, and often imperceptibly. After each seminar, book, or critique, I gain new insights. Over time, these accumulate until they become part of my writer’s repertoire.

One day all of these bits of wisdom become so ingrained that they flow naturally. I’m starting to get to that place, but still have a long way to go. Recently, I was excited to read about some tricks for the writer’s toolbox in Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers. Actually, they weren’t new, but it was cool to learn the official names for techniques I already use instinctively.

For example, asyndeton is a list with only commas, with no conjunction. Rogers makes the point that lists like this not only emphasize, but also indicate that the list is ongoing.

Aha! A light bulb went off.

I have a critique partner who likes to make lists like this, but I often insert “and” instinctively. Now I know why. She’s using the technique incorrectly. Her lists aren’t ongoing, nor do they need to be emphasized.  She’ll often do it for mundane, unimportant details, yet skip it when it might serve to emphasize a more important list.

Creating a list without using a comma says “Look at me. Pay attention.” Sometimes it feels like literary pretension. And doing it too frequently spoils the effect. It’s like a dash of salt–perfect in tiny amounts, overwhelming if overused.





Leprechauns and Shamrocks

16 08 2009
Clare Austin

Clare Austin

I’m thrilled to have author Clare Austin here with us today. If you can’t guess by the lovely pic, her book is set in the land of leprechauns and shamrocks. And Clare’s relaxing in the gorgeous green fields of Ireland. So I’m off to the Emerald Isle to interview her.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog today. I have been rushing from place to place on this virtual book tour. I am flying by the seat of my pants most of the time now. Things will settle in I’m certain and I will get back to my usual writing routine. It’s fun promoting my book Butterfly, but I am starting to yearn for the days when most of my time was spent on my current work in progress.

How do I find time to write? Whether it is a chapter of the next book, a blog or email…I love to write. Now, for the disclaimer…I have no children at home.  My sons are all grown up and I am truly enjoying the “empty nest.” When they were little, I read constantly, but I didn’t write. For those of you who do, you have my admiration.

I write every day. Sometimes it is simply to jot down notes between other pressing daily tasks, but I can’t help but write. Stories come to me at odd times, my characters speak out loud while I drive my car, ride my horse and  go to sleep at night meditating on a scene or character. I’ve always told stories in my head. When I was a child I lived where I had plenty of room to ride a pony, swim in the sea or go hill-walking with my dogs as my only companions. I told them stories, made up rhymes, sang silly songs. It never occurred to me that other kids didn’t do the same.

When people find out I write, many of them want to give me their ideas for a story. I always tell them the story is theirs and would be best written by them. I have so many stories in my head and on my computer desk, I could live to be quite old and never get all of them written.

Stories are all around us. We often fail to open our minds and hearts to let them in. I read constantly: history, narrative non-fiction, science, autobiographies and always read fiction outside my own genre. I’m a naturally shy person, so I have had to learn to be bold about approaching people in social situations and asking them to tell me about themselves. Especially in Ireland where folks love to talk, the stories abound. Ask directions and you will get a story. I was walking in the marina in Howth Harbor, just the north side of Dublin Bay recently and a man was working on his boat. I stopped to ask him about the boats name…Róis Aris…which I know in Irish means Rosy Again. He told me the story of the boat and why her name was Rosy. I am now working on a love story…Rosy Again…with bits and pieces of this man’s musings as my inspiration.

That is how it happens…a news article, a stranger’s reminiscences, a song that sticks in my head and causes me to wonder what pain or joy the composer felt when it was written.

Writers all go about the process in different ways. I truly believe I had to banish my inner editor—that still small voice who tells you your writing sucks—and just spill words all over my computer screen. My writing is character driven. They tell me where to go and I rarely argue. Sometimes that means a character I thought was going in one book even ends up in another because she or he isn’t going to tell the story I want to write at the time. That works for me. The first year of my writing, I wrote four full length novels. I had a critique partner for a short while who kept saying I should perfect one and then think about another. I couldn’t do it. The faster I wrote, the happier I was. And it was all about having fun.  It still is for me.

Butterfly_final large Butterfly is the first book in The Fad Trilogy and is available now. The second book in this trilogy is Angel’s Share, a romantic suspense that takes the reader from the pubs of Dublin to the dark and dangerous streets of South Boston. It is set to release March 2010.

Hot Flash is a stand-alone story of loves lost and a second chance at happiness. It  will be available in paperback edition early in 2010 published by The Wild Rose Press.

Please go to my website www.clareaustin.com for excerpts and cover art for all my upcoming books.

If you go to http://www.myspace.com/clare_austin you can see some of my pictures of Ireland and hear some of my favorite music.

I also promised another excerpt (if you missed the first one, scroll down the page a bit; I promise it’ll be worth it):

Flannery swung through the door into the dining room with a flourish but nearly tripped over a bar stool when she saw the now familiar profile, broad shoulders, and curly dark hair of the man who had come to see her sister.

“Sufferin’ ducks, and if it isn’t himself come to brighten the day at O’Fallon’s.” Cade was as compelling as she remembered. Today he was dressed in jeans, a black knit shirt, leather bomber jacket, and a slow smile that would stop a saint in her tracks.

“What can I get you?” She thought a couple of shots of good Irish whiskey would sort him out.

“I’d try the fish an’ chips if you would join me?”

She gave him one of her best smiles, turned toward the kitchen, and yelled, “Hey, Jamie, I’m taking my break. Give us a one an’ one, a serving of the bangers and mushy peas, a couple o’ Harps, and an Inishowen, would you there?”

“Anything for the love of my life,” Jamie called from behind the door.

“Stow it, Jamie Mac!” Flannery shot back, then turned to Cade. “He’s always good fer craic, our Jamie.”

“Craic? Inishowen? One and one? Would you like to translate?”

“Whatta ya mean ‘translate’? You speak English don’tcha?” she teased. “Okay…I’m just giving you a time. ‘Craic’ is fun, ‘Inishowen’ is a whiskey from County Donegal, and a ‘one and one’ is what we, the feckin’ Irish, call fish ‘n chips.”

Flannery’s pulse quickened at the way his dark eyes, shaded by long lashes, swept lazily over her, undressing her, right here in a public place. Yes, as her girlfriends back home liked to say, “He was a ride.”