Saturday, June 28, 2014

What do I do when I'm not writing?

Every once in a while when I’m doing an interview, or maybe filling out a bio sheet, this question crops up:

“When you’re not writing, what do you do?”

And I just laugh and laugh.

So what do I do when I’m not writing? Let’s see . . . it’s been a while . . .

Well, I sleep. Okay, not much. Maybe four hours? Five? Whatever length of time the dogs will let me.

And sometimes I dream. I dream plot lines. I dream about my characters, about conversations they’ve had, about places they’ve gone and things they’ve done. Sometimes I even have to get out of bed and write something down so I won’t forget it by the time I wake up, because it’s really, really good. That cuts into my sleep.

Wait. If I’m doing all that, then I’m writing.

Okay, I’m cooking. I have to cook eventually, because I have to eat – eventually. I cook myself eggs. Most of the time I just fix fruit to eat. Sometimes I get something frozen out of the freezer. Sometimes it’s the meatloaf that one of my characters makes. Sometimes I cook something from one of their recipes. And sometimes, while I’m cooking whatever it is, I think about them, what they’d cook, who would be there with them, what they’d be talking about.

And that means I’m still writing.

Well, what about this? I go to the store. The big store. You know the one, the huge one that has everything. Correction: It has everything if they’d just stock the shelves (my pet peeve). And I always take a list. If I don’t take a list, there’s no point in me going to the store. It’s time wasted because I come home with less than a quarter of the stuff on the list. While I’m in the store, I’m watching all the time, watching for people who look like my characters. This one’s got her eyes, that one’s got his hair, this one over here has her lips. I see them everywhere. I also look at the products and try to guess which ones they’d buy. Sometimes I see something in the clothing department that I think one of them would look good in.

Nope. Writing then too.

Answering this question is harder than I thought. Maybe I go to dinner with a friend – yeah, that’s something! We talk and laugh. I order a bottle of wine, and I think about how one of my characters really likes wine. I look at the menu and try to imagine what they’d order. While we’re having our conversation, there’s another one going on in my head, and it’s begging to be written down. Sometimes I even have trouble concentrating on the conversation because I’m thinking of my characters and what they’re saying.

I guess that means I’m writing then too.

So let’s think about the other times of day. I’m in the shower . . . Nope. They’re there too. How about when I’m driving to the mall? They’re having an argument – out loud – and people at the intersection are staring at me. Well, and then there’s the time I spend actually in my chair at my desk, writing. That’s most of the rest of it.

I’m sitting here trying to think of a time during the day that I’m not writing, and I can’t come up with a single one. Sitting on the swing, out in the kayak, washing the car. Technically speaking, I’m writing at all of those times.

And now, to answer the question: What are you doing when you’re not writing? That’s obviously not as clear-cut as it seems it should be. The question is still about what I’m doing when I’m not writing.

The answer is pretty simple. When I’m not writing I’m . . . dead. Otherwise, I’m writing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Reads: Breaking Kate by Dee Kelly

I’ve started something new, so this is the inaugural entry for this particular new thing. Every Wednesday I will be featuring a book that I’ve read and liked. Let me be really clear: This is NOT a review. It’s simply a way for me to tell you about authors whose work I’ve found meaningful, entertaining, or just plain fun.

So today, for the first time, I’m going to tell you about something I’ve read. For the first go ‘round, I’ve chosen Dee Kelly’s book, Breaking Kate.

This book kind of surprised me. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started it. I’d been told by a couple of people that they really liked Dee’s work, so I went into it with some expectations, but still with an open mind. I also usually read in the erotic romance and erotica genre- wonder why? - so I was afraid this would be too frou-frou for my taste. 

I had absolutely nothing to fear.

First of all, Dee did exactly what everyone is told not to do but, like me, also thankfully ignored: She writes this book in first person point of view, something I love to do. That in itself is quite a feat. And to top it off, she writes it in present tense – another difficult task, and also one which I love to do. Any editor will tell you not to do this. I think that’s a ridiculous tack to take. I find it very effective if done by someone who knows how. And Dee Kelly obviously knows how. If you’ll recall, “that popular trilogy written by a British author” that took the world by storm a couple of years ago is written the exact same way, and it was a bestseller. Further proof that a literary device, when used appropriately by someone who can effectively do so, can be just right for a particular story.

I also liked that the point of view changed back and forth between Kate and Michael. The story was presented from both sides so I could see it knit together, and that was very effective. Most writers can’t pull that off, but Dee managed to do just that, and in fine form too.

I don’t do spoilers, so I’ll tell you what I can. I didn’t expect what happened in the beginning, and I felt every moment of searing, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking pain that Kate felt. I can only describe it this way: If you’ve read my book Laying a Foundation you should remember this. Nikki was talking to Tony about the family that she’d lost and, if you’ll recall, she said of her grief, “Sometimes it hurts to breathe.” That was exactly the same sensation I had when I read the last paragraph of the prologue to Breaking Kate. All that suffering is the same. And it took my breath away.

As the book progressed, I caught what was happening, although it’s not blatant. I’m one of those people who’s always watching for the little signs, and I saw them, so I was pretty sure I knew what was happening, but I didn’t know how Dee would resolve it. What I didn’t see coming was the ending, if you could call it that. It sets the stage for the next book in the series, Catching Kate, out very soon. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m lucky enough to be participating in the release day festivities (thanks, Dee!). My biggest question is about what role Daniel will continue to play in the books. I’m very, very curious about that given the ending of this book.

All in all, I enjoyed Breaking Kate. It was every bit as good as everyone had told me it was. Get a copy now. You don’t have long before Catching Kate comes out on July 7, and you’ll want to have it under your belt before then.