The Heart of a Book Signing

Oh, hey Amy. I  thought you'd  have missed me by now. But you look totally ... 

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             ... mellow


You tried calling me?

Hmm. Don't think that's a possibility considering you're in 1960-something and I'm in the 21st century.

Wait ... what? You've actually been worried about me?

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 Yes, I can see your concern.

Be that as it may, the truth is that you haven't heard from me for a while because I've been busy promoting my new novel, Victorian Town.



Holding book signings and participating in literary events this summer was a terrific way for me to meet book lovers!

What's the heart of a book signing?

To me, the heart of a book signing is the opportunity to meet readers  ...

Readers who want to be dazzled in the fantastical world of make-believe ... 

... or be brought to tears by an unexpected and heartbreaking turn of events ...

... or enfold themselves in a great mystery ...
... or fall passionately in love with a character in a romance ...
... or be swept away to lands that existed long, long ago ...

... or lands that never existed at all.

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The heart of a book signing is chatting with engaging readers who have names like Kat and Marie ... Brianna ... Tiffany ... Simone ... Owen ... Cheryl ... Emily ... Jasmine ... Rebecca ... William's dad ... Helen ... Ashleigh ...


... and to connect with readers who are hesitant to chat at all.



So, thank you to all the incredible readers I was fortunate enough to meet this summer, both in person and online. You  touched my heart. And I hope in some way I touched yours as well.

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A shout out to the glorious and inspiring young women I met when I was part of the career day event put on by Girls Inc. of Durham Region. I was part of the panel along with a chiropodist, a journalist & author, a professor, and an entrepreneur. Amazing!

Writing a 19th Century Character

Oh, there you are, Amy. I figured you must be terribly busy in the 19th century considering I haven't heard anything from you for days. But you're simply sipping tea.

I'm pretty certain that you realize I'm dying to know which guy you've chosen to be with - Barker or Sam - because I've actually TOLD YOU THIS many times!

C'mon ... out with all the details about this new relationship of yours.




The actual truth of the matter is that I lost control of your actions a while back.

You've carved out a life all your own. You've made your own decisions, good or bad. 

You changed Charlotte's life from that of a saddened maid to one of an aristocrat - a place beyond her wildest dreams.

You supported her from heartbreak to marriage, a situation every young woman in the 19th century wishes to achieve. There aren't many other options.

 

And although I put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keys, it was your road we've followed. 

It is your heart we've listened to. It is your independence that's taken us to situations we weren't expecting to encounter..

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So, here's to you, Amy. 

And soon, when I ask you if you still want to return to the 21st century, you can tell me your decision.

Writing at night

Hi there, Amy. 

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A bit creepy, but not funny, really. Sorry, but this blog is only about writing. I'll get back to you about the masquerade ball in a few days. 

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I'd probably say you should reconsider your sense of humour.



                         

   Bye, bye. 

There are those of us drawn to writing at night. Or maybe drawn to isn't the best wording. Perhaps yanked by some kind of crazy force out of our beds is more accurate.

I know there are other writers like me who can't sleep at times while working on a particular project. This is when our characters insist on making an appearance before we slip into dreamland.



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When Truman Capote wrote all night, which he frequently did, he'd simply sleep during the day.



Other authors such as Margaret Laurence and Ernest Hemingway held a strict regime of writing in the morning, leaving themselves time to engage in other activities later in the day and evening.

But there's an appealing quietude only the night can bring. Maybe it's the lack of diversion that's perfect for a writer, except for a lone dog howl in the distance or a swish of branches across a window. It might be that the solitude of twilight allows our creativity to rise free from the subliminal recesses of our brain.

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And perhaps it's simply the fact that you can totally immerse yourself in your work when there aren't the distractions of the daylight hours. But it seems to me there's much more to it than that.

When writing means so much

Hi, Amy. Of course I'm at the computer. You should know better than most that I'm writing at the moment - you're a character from my imagination - how else could we be communicating?

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You want to discuss why I spend so much time writing? You're concerned about me? Hmmm. Doesn't really sound like you. I have a sneaking suspicion you're bored right now. Did the family you live with in the mid 1800s happen to hire a new maid? Are you bored because you've got nothing to do except sew something? 






       Ahuh. Figured as much.

Still, now that you've asked, let me think about it ...



Well, I certainly don't spend a lot of time writing  because it's easy.

Describing why I write seems quite intangible to me. It's like asking what drives a person to fantasize. For me, the word compelled  is probably the best way to describe why I hit the keys or put the pen to paper. It's a compulsion to create characters within situations, just like you, to elicit emotions in readers, or simply entertain.
Too serious for you? Then let me put it another way. The yearning to write can linger within a person from childhood. It happened to me. It can feel like an itch that won't go away no matter how many times it's scratched. 

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And the truth is, writing can be challenging. It takes practice. Maybe there's some procrastination. But then along comes that compulsion.


It makes sense that writers have a keen sense of their surroundings, and an ability to notice subtleties - the inflection of a voice perhaps, or the intricacies of an expression - all preserved in an internal time capsule of sequestered memories, just waiting to be documented. 




Pardon? Now I'm boring you? Maybe you should go and help the maid with her chores.

Did someone say ... laundry?

When your characters come alive

Sometimes I talk to my characters. Even though I'm  never exactly sure when they evolve to a palpable entity, I can tell you that somewhere along the path of writing, they start communicating with me in their own way.

My subconscious dings me with, "Geez, I'd never say that." Hmmm.  

And then it's time to listen.

This is the point I want to make to other writers. As your fiction work continues day after day, each character you devise will gradually open up to show their uniqueness. They'll evolve from flat, facile individuals into more complicated beings. 

You'll come to feel as if you know their pasts. With some, you won't know their future for certain even though you think it's all in your hands.

Once established, characters have a way of deviating from the path you've chosen for them. They may lead you to a different turn of events, as if their minds and motives aren't entirely ruled by you, but by the personalities you sprouted.
You'll come to recognize the facial expressions of your characters: the grimaces, the smiles, the lines and folds of skin. What are they smelling in the setting you created? What do they see around them? Why are they pulling you in this direction when you so plainly wanted to go in another?
That's when writing can feel like the best thing in the world; when it's exciting.
 

No matter how well you've planned your outline (if you have one) or how well you've scripted the story, your characters may have a different suggestion. And it could turn out that they take you on an adventure you never thought possible.

 

 What's that, Amy? No, of course I'm not ignoring you. Okay, let's talk about it.