The Writing Process Blog Tour

This is my contribution to the “blog tour” game going around the Internet (#Mywritingprocess). Authors blog about their writing process and then tag someone else to do the same. I was tagged by Sandra Moran, an author I’m very happy to have met recently and whose book ‘Letters Never Sent’ was the first full-length novel I’ve read in ages. It was definitely worth breaking my fiction reading block for this excellent book. See her blog post here.

1. What am I working on?

I released my fourth novel ‘A Place Somewhere’ in March (along with a song for the book), and promised myself a break to deal with moving from Ireland to America. However, as seems to happen every time I finish a novel, another one bubbles to the surface.

So now I’m working on the third in the Vision Painter series. I I have an outline worked out and the characters have been talking away to me on my many walks with Clio through my new (temporary) neighborhood.

I’m still at that early stage where decisions can shape the whole outcome. As they say, every journey of a thousands steps begins with one step. If that step sets the novel off in the direction of the East instead of West, it will end up completely different. I find that thought exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

Falling Colours and Casting Shadows (the first two books in the Vision Painter series) were quite different from each other, and I enjoyed both in different ways. Falling Colours introduced the unique concept of vision painting and its power while Casting Shadows delved into the origins and secrets of the profession.This, as yet untitled, sequel will focus more on the beauty of the unique concept of vision painting, and its future. And there will still be love, pain, deception, and a few twists along the way. Kiran has to face a whole new set of challenges, including a new vision painter in town.

2. How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

I‘d be a lot more able to answer this question if I knew in what genre I wrote and so counted as the ‘same genre’.

I don’t really write by genre. I write the story I need to tell, and everyone’s story is different. I draw from my diverse background as an Indian, born in Nigeria, living for many years in Ireland, and with all my family in America. From my educational and career background as a doctor, an IT person, a restaurant/bar owner, a writer. Even from my brief experiences in summer jobs as chambermaid, inventory clerk, pizza cutter, physiotherapy assistant, flower-stall ‘manager’. From my interests, my daily life, my loves, my failures, my successes.

My work will always, therefore, be different from the work of other writers in any genre. In the same way that their stories will be different from mine.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write to find out what I believe, what I feel, what life is about, what love is about. To answer the many questions that I have. I write characters who are not me, but they allow me to live in them, to see what could happen in another world, to achieve a temporary sense of control, to say and do what I should have, to make sense of what others do.

I’ve always been an introvert and sometimes, in the past, I’ve lived through my avid reading. Since I started writing stories, I have lived in the minds of many different characters. I’ve had their voices playing in my head. In those years, there have only been a few weeks, between projects, where I’ve woken up to just my voice, to the ‘reality’ of a life where none of us has any control. The sensible advice would probably be to ‘get out more’, but I feel less alone by having the capacity to live in those parallel lives, to have the company of my ‘imaginary friends’ as well. And sometimes I discover things in my characters or my fictional worlds that help me in my ‘real’ life.

4. How does my writing process work?

I’d love to be able to answer that now in the same way that I did for a blog post months ago or years ago. But it has changed again. My writing process seems to be changing along with me, as I grow and learn.

I still work along the basic lines of – get an idea (or get hit on the head with an idea), develop the idea into a concept by asking ‘what if’ questions, work out an outline, design the architecture of the story, write the scenes. I edit as I write, so the next step for me is to get the manuscript to trusted beta readers and see if there is anything that isn’t working for them.

What has mostly changed for this novel are the mechanics of writing. I’m not at my usual writing spot, with my usual PC/laptop. (I’m supposed to be learning MAC programming so I’m now Windows-less and that’s a big change after so many years). When I wrote longhand, it was on the back of old typed printouts of my previous novels. Now I’m carrying around a purple ruled notepad that I stole from my nephew’s collection for school. I try to keep the notepad near me, but usually get whole conversations playing out in my head while I’m on my many walks with Clio (I know, I know, I’m repeating myself, but she really has become very demanding). The walks can be very good for percolating, and I’ve managed to come back from them and get a few conversations down on paper. Which is another change that I noticed from the last few months of writing ‘A Place Somewhere’. I’m writing down more conversations between characters and then building scenes around them.

The best analogy I can think of for my writing process is that of a train. I decide that I’m going to take a journey, I pick my departure and destination and construct a railway line with stations along the way. I create the scenes as compartments of the train. While all of that might seem very structured and mechanical, I need it to keep on track. I invite the characters on the journey and give them the freedom to be themselves within the compartments. They can have a riotous party or they can talk quietly amongst themselves. There are times when I’ve caught them running along the roof of the carriages whooping and hollering, but ultimately we all remain on the train and it is up to me to keep them on board and drive that thing to the destination.

At the moment, with the WIP, I have gathered everyone together for the journey and I’m laying out the tracks. I wrote the Prologue (got too excited about writing again and jumped ahead of myself), but I’m not allowing anyone on board until I’ve figured out the journey. Some characters have already started to have conversations on the platform, so I’m taking notes. With everything that is going on in my life, they’re going to have to be patient..

I’m tagging Caren Werlinger, author of Looking Through Windows, Miserere, In This Small Spot, and Year of the Monsoon. Her newest release, She Sings of Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things, will be available in May. You can find out more about her work at www.cjwerlinger.wordpress.com.

I’m also tagging Kate McLachlan, author of RIP Van Dyke, Rescue at Inspiration Point, Hearts,Dead and Alive, and Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl. Her latest book, Return of an Impetuous Pilot, was released in March 2014. Please check her out at http://www.katemclachlan.com.

And last, but certainly not least, I’m tagging my best hugger :-) Tonie Chacon McLachlan, wife of Kate McLachlan, and author of Struck! A Titanic Love Story which is being published in April 2015. http://www.toniechacon.homestead.com.

Going to add another tag :-)

I’m tagging Suzie Carr, author of Staying True, Inner Secrets, The Fiche Room, Tangerine Twist, A New Leash on Life, The Muse – A Novel of Romance and Discovery, and Two Feet off the Ground. Her latest release, The Journey Somewhere is now available. Find out more at http://curveswelcome.com.

The Princess Clio Diaries: Musings on my life with my human – Day who knows

It’s a dog eat dog world

Clio

Me: So what would you like to eat today?

Clio: I’ve a choice? Is that diet you have me on optional?

Me: Not really. But I heard something the other day and I wanted to make sure.

Clio: So this blog post is about you? I knew it. How long has it been? I mean, this has got to be Day 500 or something.

Me: I’ve been a little busy…I did do some writing, you know.

Clio: Oh, I know. I mean seven blog posts on your trip to PTown.

Me: I did a lot there.

Clio: Was I there..?

Me: No…

Clio: Right. So this blog post is about you again?

Me: No, no, we’ll get back to you. How would you like them served?

Clio: What served?

Me: The doggies you’ll be eating.

Clio: What?!

Me: Well, I heard it is a dog eat dog world.

Clio: So you thought I’d like roast leg of Labrador?

Me: They say babies are very tender..

Clio: Roast Leg of Labrador Puppy??

Me: You’re on a raw food diet. No roasting. Tell me, if I brought the puppy in here, would you mind awfully if I left it to you to do the necessary?

Clio: Wait, wait.. I see what you’re up to. Are we adopting a puppy? Because if we are, I’ve got to make sure you and the little tot understand the ground rules.

Me: We’re not. Ahem.. I think I’m the one who should be making the rules.

Clio: As I was saying.. One, there are no vacancies for King or Queen. Those are arbitrary words. Just because my title is Princess does not, I repeat, not, mean that any royalty extends to anyone else in the house.

Me: I thought I was –

Clio: No input really necessary. Just write.

Me: Right..

Clio: Two, any time involved in the upkeep of a puppy must not be subtracted from the time spent on me.

Me: But you are a full-time job…

Clio: Three, the puppy must be trained properly from the start. A few steps behind me is fine when we’re out in public. In the house, there’s a spot in the hallway that I’m not all that fond of, it can have that.

Me: But –

Clio: Four, boys only. We both know from experience what havoc females can cause.

Me: Anything else?

Clio: Something might occur to me after you type all that out.

Me: Right. So, I guess you wouldn’t want to eat the puppy..? You know, dog eat dog world…you’re a dog, it’s a dog..

Clio: I’m a dog?

Announcing the publication of A Place Somewhere

I am thrilled to announce that my fourth novel, ‘A Place Somewhere’, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

DigitalFrontAPSHow far would you go? Would you lie to protect the innocent?
ALEX HART risked everything to be with her online girlfriend of two years and moved from Ireland to America. But the unthinkable happened and she is emotionally and financially ruined. Devastated, she turns her anger and betrayal into a mission to root out those who deceive the innocent online.
When a mother pleads for Alex to protect her daughter from an online predator in Ireland, Alex must become what she hates.
How far will she go before losing herself in her own web of deception?

A Place Somewhere on Amazon.com
A Place Somewhere on Amazon.co.uk
A Place Somewhere on Smashwords

It arrived earlier than expected and the song of the same name that was to be released with it is only going to be recorded on Thursday and should be available on iTunes etc by Friday.

Casting Shadows is now available

Casting Shadows – The Further Misadventures of a Vision Painter

Casting ShadowsKiran is still the only vision painter in Ireland but she cannot express her gift as she struggles with the consequences of its misuse. When everything she loves is threatened, she must protect her family by uncovering the history and secrets of the vision painters in Kerala. But there are those who will do what it takes to keep the truth locked away in the shadows of the past.

Casting Shadows is a story of love, sacrifice, betrayal and guilt. Of love and hatred that spans time and place. Of history that casts shadows on the future.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00B6UFULM

 

The Princess Clio Diaries: Musings on my life with my human – Day 1

Clio

 

 

 

 

 

Clio: Ok so, Day 54 and the..

I put down my pen and she glances at me and stops.
Me: Day 54? What happened to Days 1-53?
She waves a little white paw in the air.
Clio: You’re the writer, you fill them in. It feels like Day 54 to me. Should I continue or are you going to interrupt me at every stage?
Me: You know, a small subset of people think it I am weird to love animals as much as humans? Why do you look puzzled?
Clio: You are weird.
I pick up the pen and make a gesture towards her.
Clio: So, as I was saying, Day 54 and my human accompanied me on a brisk walk down the lovely country lane – Yes, what is it?
Me: Could we at least refer to me as something more complimentary?
Clio: You have a problem with the truth? You’re human, you’re my only subject, ipso facto, you’re ‘my human’.
Me: I didn’t know you knew Latin?
Clio: What did I say about interruptions? We must hurry, if this works on the same principle as my 7 dog years to your 1 human year then I have just 7 minutes of inspiration per day.
Me: You think that’s funny?
Clio: I crack myself up. Now, where were we?
I look back at the notepad.
Me: I should have left you down the bog country lane.
Clio: You wouldn’t!!
Me: We’ll see. Go on.
Clio: My subject…my human, no? What would you like then? Especially since you were so kind as to come up with a pretty decent title for me. Though why on earth you picked such a long one is beyond me. I would have been satisfied with something short and sweet like ‘Her Royal Highness, Princess Clio’.
Me: I wanted to give a sense of your authority.
(Under my breath): And limit its scope.
Clio: Did you say something?
Me: No.
Clio: I like it. ‘Her Royal Highness, Princess Clio of Cloogantoverville’. It will be difficult to emblazon across a jacket but it is fitting. Why tack on the ‘Ville’ at the end of the name?
Me: Don’t know really. Wanted to have an Irish and American feel to it.
Clio: Right. Well, I’d like to shorten it in everyday conversation to ‘HRH Princess Clio the Pretty’.
Me: Ok, HRH, what’s next?
Clio: I was thinking that since these are my musings on you and my life here, I would start by letting you tell readers how pretty I am and maybe a few details about my good nature and gentle character as well as my very regal bearing.
Me: Well, I do write fiction. Should I include the fact that I had to wash poop off your big fluffy backside this morning? You know, I now get why my dad looks at me sadly and shakes his head and says ‘You used to have such potential.’
Clio: My backside is not big!! Besides I like my hair.
Me: You should have a gold medallion to hang around your neck. You could pass as a Greek guy then, with all that chest hair.
Clio: Would you like me to talk about the time Freda wanted to call the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on you?
Me: I knew you were behind that!
Clio: Well, you have to admit the haircut you gave Hamish was cruel.
Me: You try shaving a wriggling dog with one of those hand power razor things.
Clio: You didn’t think of stopping after the first few jagged swathes of hair were gone off his back?
Me: (muttering) It was an expensive razor thing. Hey, it might still be in the cupboard somewhere.
Clio: You bring that thing near me and you will be eating through a feeding tube too.
I retreat to doodling in the notepad.
Me: are you nervous about your surgery on Friday?
Clio: What, with the specialist flying in from Israel just for me? And a top vet surgeon in Dublin?
Me: Right. So it is just me.
Clio: You worry about everything. I’ve come through seven surgeries on my mouth and I’ve got this feeding tube stuck in my neck, do you see me complaining?
Me: Yup.
Clio: When?
Me: What do you call running from the towel and rubbing your wet self into every cushion in the house?
Clio: A royal protest. Besides you shouldn’t have cream-coloured fabric covers. Pink is much more my colour.
Me: I’m getting a headache. Your seven minutes of daily inspiration are surely over by now?
Clio: You’re getting old.
Me: Hey! Eight in dog years is older than I am now. You think maybe we should retire the ‘Princess’ thing now? Maybe call you Milady Dowager or something?
Long silence.
Me: I’m going to pay for that, aren’t I?
Clio: Human, you have no idea how much…

Pre-Launch of Casting Shadows: Falling Colours & Heart Stopper – $2.99 for a Limited Time!

In anticipation of the launch of my third novel Casting Shadows – The Further Misadventures of a Vision Painter, I am running a promotion on my other two novels. This promo runs for a limited time so if you haven’t already got the first in the series, this is your chance to catch up.
You can get the first novel in the series, Falling Colours – The Misadventures of a Vision Painter, at the reduced price of
$2.99 on Amazon.com and
£1.92 on Amazon.co.uk
You can also get Falling Colours on Smashwords for $2.99 by entering the Coupon Code: JR73J

While you’re there, check out the new cover for my first novel, Heart Stopper. And get it for
$2.99 on Amazon.com and £1.92 on Amazon.co.uk
You can also get Heart Stopper on Smashwords for $2.99 by entering the Coupon Code: AP69B

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I’ve been tagged by fellow author Alison Grey for the 24th week of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

The idea is to hop from blog to blog to discover exciting books we might not have heard about or that are still works in progress. Each author will answer the same ten questions, then list authors who will answer the questions on their blogs next Wednesday.

So let’s get started..

What is the working title of your book?

My work in progress is Casting Shadows – The Further Misadventures of a Vision Painter. It is a  sequel to Falling Colours – The Misadventures of a Vision Painter but due to personal circumstances I’m now not sure whether it will be finished so I’ll be talking more about Falling Colours which was published in June 2012. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I was writing exercises for writing classes and working on my first novel Heart Stopper, I kept finding that life was imitating my writing in small and slightly scary ways. Over the previous few years I had already discovered the power and danger of writing out your visions for your future. When an exercise was set to write out a short story using magical realism, I thought of the idea of someone with the gift of turning people’s vision into reality. I did not want to write about a writer doing this, and since I enjoy painting, I came up with the concept of Vision Painting. I wrote a short story called The Vision Painter which I turned into the novel, Falling Colours.

What genre does your book fall under?

Falling Colours does not really fit into any category. It has elements of magical realism, lesbian romance, and suspense. It has been nominated in the General Fiction category for awards for this reason.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

When I wrote Heart Stopper and had an Irish-Indian character, Priya, who had no Irish blood in her, I found that people assumed that Priya was me. So I tried to change the protagonist’s ethnicity in Falling Colours but still wanted her to have an Irish-Indian background. I based Kiran on Aishwarya Rai who has beautiful and different coloured eyes to the norm of an Indian woman. So I guess it would make sense that Aishwarya could play her. Ashley was based on a crush I had at the time on a straight redhead. She grew more developed in my mind as I wrote Casting Shadows but I guess Julianne Moore or Jessica Chastain could play the Ashley that appears in Falling Colours. We are talking wishful thinking here, right..? :-)

By the way, it didn’t work.. People still see Kiran as me..

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Falling Colours: Everything changes for Kiran, the only vision painter working in Ireland, when she meets a woman and makes a tiny wee mistake.

Casting Shadows: When everything she loves is threatened, Kiran has to uncover the secrets buried in the history of the vision painters.

What is the longer synopsis of your book?

Kiran is a vision painter. The only vision painter working in Ireland. Her vision painting  practice isn’t doing too well and she works as a waitress in a struggling restaurant in Connemara. Everything changes when she meets a woman. And makes a tiny wee mistake.

Falling Colours (as described in a review) while thrilling in its pace and plot turns, is also a truly unique study of love and its effects.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Falling Colours was self-published as an e-book (at Amazon and Smashwords) and as a paperback through CreateSpace.

My first book Heart Stopper was also self-published as an e-book (at Amazon and Smashwords) and as a paperback through CreateSpace.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote and edited Falling Colours in five months. The writing flowed and I did most of my editing as I wrote. I found that the characters in the book pretty much told me what to write and I had a lot of fun especially in the interactions between Marge and Kiran.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Falling Colours was inspired by the idea that someone could help people find their own happiness by getting them to visualize it clearly.

Casting Shadows was inspired by a curiosity about the details of the entirely mythical profession of vision painting. How did it start? How does it work? How did the rules come into play? What happens when things go wrong?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope it will get readers thinking about what they wish for in their lives and why. Also, there are challenging characters in the book, especially the character of Marge, and that is the only criticism I have received of the book. I wouldn’t change Marge for the world. I wrote her as she presented herself. I find I can’t write if I don’t believe so I can’t write books that are just populated with likeable, loveable, happy characters. We all know people who are so damaged that they can be difficult to love or like. I wanted to explore the point of view of a character like that, one who is not inherently evil and doesn’t mean to be hurtful but ends up causing such pain.

Next Wednesday check out Clare Ashton’s blog to find out about their Next Big Thing.

If you are an author and you want to participate in the blog hop, please contact Clare.

 

Hamish Seamus Samuel 1995 – 2012

Hamish Seamus Samuel 1995 – 2012

In September 1995, we went to pick Hamish up for the first time. There was the largest most orange moon I’d ever seen, hanging low in the sky… I’ve always thought of it since as Hamish’s moon… We had been told there was an Alsatian pup found in a coal shed. Suzanne really wanted an Alsatian. Anyway, this little runt of a dog runs out, and onto the back of the couch and then proceeds to pee on her. She was not impressed but I couldn’t go and see a dog and then refuse it.. so I begged her to give it one night. We brought him home and he slept in a huge cardboard box filled with blankets at the foot of the bed. Jesse had already claimed the bed and Suzanne was of the opinion that two dogs on the bed was too much and we might not keep him anyway and hey, why not train him to sleep off the bed…

Well, poor Hamish whined and Suzanne ended up sleeping all night across the foot of the bed holding his paw. That was the last time he didn’t sleep wherever he wanted :-):-)

Hamish lived a long happy life following me from room to room and from country to country for almost 18 years. He was with me from the time I was 28 through my 30s and halfway through my 40s. He was my constant companion and comrade and his true love was Jesse. He was a playful eejit with Jesse and they still rollicked like pups together at the ripe old age of 16. Jesse was the Queen of the house and poor Hamish was never allowed to be King, he was named the Royal Consort. 
He kept going after Jesse died in Oct 2010 but he couldn’t bring himself to rollick as much with Clio as he had with his queen. He was content to keep an eye on us and constantly patrol the house (I never thought I’d miss the incessant sound of dog nails on laminate floors) and the grounds (even in the pouring rain). He enjoyed his morning run and bark at Zeus next door even at 17.5 years (like 180 or something in human years). 
He stoically put up with being taken to Dublin 5 times over 2 months for injections to try and treat the oral melanoma that came out of nowhere and in the end beat even his enduring body. He then accompanied Clio and me when she went through 5 surgeries in a month in Dublin. He sat quietly through most things including when I forgot to put on the handbrake in the camper when I stopped at a service station for fuel and it rolled forward while I tried desperately to unlock the door. Hamish was still sitting on the bed facing the back, probably wondering why I was suddenly driving so slowly.
Hamish is one of the reasons I believe dogs are precious gifts to us. His physical presence at my side for 17 years and 2 months has been a gift of pure love and loyalty. When weakness in his legs made him unable to patrol as he had been doing until two days ago, I had to make the decision yesterday and the vet and nurse kindly came to the house last night to help him pass. For the first time, he showed yesterday that he was ready to go. And, as usual, he shared this with a calm and happy strength.
Hamish passed in my arms at 10.15pm last night at the time of the Samhain solar eclipse and the new moon. I don’t really know much about eclipses and dark moons but I believe Hamish’s moon was winking at us.