Since 14th February guests have been joining me to share their thoughts on love in many of its different forms: family love, friendship, passionate and contented love, compassionate love and love of food, music, animals, language and writing. The posts have been touching, amusing, interesting and – above all – utterly unique to each author.
It seems appropriate to finish this event with a focus on “Love of Writing”, something that unites all the authors and bloggers who have so kindly taken part in this event. Joining me on this final day are Terri-Lynne DeFino, Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo, Karin Rita Gastreich, Jonathan Gould, Suki Michelle and MB Mulhall.
Don’t forget to register your vote on the posts – just scroll down to the end of the post to leave your vote once you’ve finished reading. You can vote daily and one winning voter will get a character named after them in my next book, a signed copy of the new paperback edition, plus a $50 Amazon gift card. Two runners up will receive signed copies of the new paperback edition of In Leah’s Wake, plus a $25 gift card each.
And the guest authors can win too! The author who receives the most votes in one day during the event will receive an Orangeberry Social Butterfly package and a 5-day ‘Tweet Me a Storm’ package from Orangeberry Book Tours.
Stories of Love, Stories of Life
People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.
One of my earliest memories: naptime, I’m lying in bed with my mother, my two younger sisters and our baby brother. Mom’s reading Sleeping Beauty. And I’m caught in the story. But it’s not only the story. It’s the book, the smell of the paper, the gorgeously rendered scenes, the princess and the floating fairies drawn in muted pastel colors. It’s the quiet room and the dim light. It’s her rhythm and cadence, the love in my mother’s voice.
My mother read to us every day. I loved simple picture books like Dinky Donkey or The Saggy, Baggy Elephant, but it was the fairytales, stories by Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, that transported me. As my mom read, an imaginary door opened to an enchanted parallel universe and I became the characters, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. The Little Match Girl on the winter street, looking in the window at the holiday feast, the blazing fire, the table laden with food, lighting matches to warm my frozen fingers.
Around age five, I began to tell my own stories. I’d spend hours alone in my sunny attic bedroom. The sounds of summer drifted in through the open window, the kids playing hide and seek, laughing, calling each other. Stickball – the crack of a baseball bat, squealing, the kids cheering the runner around the bases. I would be sprawled on the floor, drawing outfits for my paper dolls, creating characters, giving them names, and telling their stories.
As soon as I could read, I immersed myself in books. I read any and everything-fairytales, King Arthur. In church I read and reread the Gospel passages, fascinated by the gritty details of the stories. The stories spoke to me; they felt immediate and real. This love of reading – love of stories – cultivated by my mother, stayed with me. Stories shaped my perceptions and provided a framework for comprehending the terrifying mysteries of life.
Viewed from a distance, in perspective, the major stories of my life have a beginning, a middle, and an end. My most important stories conclude with an epiphany, growth, new understanding. A transcendent arch connects these everyday stories and helps me to make sense of life. An end – a goal, an outcome to strive for – gives our lives value and meaning.
In the midst of a story, I’m often confused. I’m not sure where I’m headed or why. A job change, a move, a difficult project – these challenges weigh on and confound me. The same is true of the stories I write. Drafting a story or novel, I feel lost and confused. The parts feel unrelated, discrete. A character says or does something and I wonder, why? In the midst of a project, frustrated, unsettled, I’m tempted to quit. Trusting the story will end, stories are – life is – more than a succession of irrelevant, disconnected events, I push on.
All at once, the story takes shape. Suddenly, I see the connections, the relationships among the various parts. In real life, these aha moments are few – we rarely experience or recognize these precious gifts as they unfold – but when they do occur, in that moment of wonder, I know that, whatever changes must be made, I can see my way through to the end.
As I grow older, the stories I listened to as a child take new meaning. Stories give me joy and stories comfort and nourish me. At night, stories lull me to sleep. Telling stories has become my life’s work. I tell stories in the hope of reaching and giving to others. Always, in all my stories, I hear the glorious echo, the rise and fall of my mother’s tender, loving voice.
A newly edited edition of In Leah’s Wake has recently been released with a paperback version due for release next week. The newly edited novel features a new chapter and several new scenes, adding new connections and insights, and tightens the book, cutting 60 pages – all while maintaining the integrity of the original edition.
LOVE OF BOOKS AND WRITING
Terri-Lynne DeFino: Love of Writing
Love. We can break it down to a survival of the species instinct, a lovely mix of chemicals sloshing about in the brain: adrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin. These work to attract and then hold the love interest between two people.
But what about when it’s not the love of a human being for a human being, but the love of a writer for writing?
At some point in our lives, when we were small and unsuspecting, words took root in our brains. They created worlds, people, events, scandals, triumphs, mysteries that eventually had to seep out our fingers and onto a page. There is no responding set of signals coming back at us to urge us on. It’s just us and the words, whether or not there is ever a reader at the other end of it; whether or not we’re any good at it. We only know the driving need, the absolute joy of turning those words into the stories that took root so long, long ago.
Self-centered? Selfless? A writer’s love for the written word is a mystery far greater than when lovers meet. It’s connecting the internal bits of ourselves that live in the stories taken root in our heads. It’s having the courage to send those bits out into the world, and hope it takes root in someone else’s.
Terri-Lynne DeFino is a fantasy writer living in rural Connecticut with her family, her cats, and the various magical creatures that end up in her stories, or on her walls. Her debut novel Finder was published by Hadley Rille Books in November, 2010. A Time Never Lived, her second novel with Hadley Rille Books, launches in May 2012. She is currently working on her third novel, Beyond the Gate is scheduled to release in the spring of 2013.
Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo: Love of Writing
My husband and I just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. So this Valentine’s day, I could write about him. My kind-hearted and handsome best friend-the other half of ‘The Bickersons,’ as we are known, whose squabbles never amount to anything, as neither of us hold grudges, and which inexplicably make us stronger. We have three little children. I could choose to write about them. My four year-old twin daughters with their impossibly sweet and squeaky voices; their generosity with cuddles. My six year-old son, who can earnestly and knowledgeably speak of the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic Periods, or of minute details of Nerf guns. I am deeply in love with all these people.
But this Valentine’s day, I am thinking of my writing.
Because I am falling in love with my work again, which in many ways, is like falling in love with myself. Slowly, time has opened up for me-pockets here and there. My life as Mom is not so much a simple survival as it has been in recent years. And although it never ceases to be difficult to carve out time to write, the work calls, and now, suddenly, I find I can answer! Little by little-editing something old or writing something new, the momentum builds, plans emerge for moving into a structured writing life. The life of a writer.
I curl up with the novel I began writing almost ten years ago-I give it another read and I make plans. I embrace the new work that pours from me between kissing children’s boo-boos and cooking supper. Here is the new rhythm of my writing life.
And I am smitten.
Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo is a fiction writer and Associate Editor at Her Circle Ezine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Currently she is at work on several novels. Melissa lives in North Central Massachusetts with her family.
Karin Rita Gastreich: Vivo Por Ella
Two songs capture how I feel about writing, both of them love songs.
DND by the Minneapolis group Semisonic is a quiet ballad of intimacies behind closed doors, a love of introversion: I like you to make the whole world disappear, to make everything seem so clear, to make me wanna stay forever here behind your door.
Vivo Por Ella, sung by Andrea Bocelli and Marta Sanchez, is a boisterous declaration from the rooftops. It is dedicated to love for music, but one could easily insert la escritura for la musica, and the song would still be true. Here, music is a source of truth and courage, an ever-faithful presence that fills the days with companionship, and the nights with passion and liberation.
The difference in temperament between these songs could be a reflection of the difference in temperament between Minnesotan love and Italian love. For better or for worse, I am gifted (or cursed) with being able to love Minnesotan-style or Italian-style, as the occasion demands. This has been true in my life as well as in my writing.
At times, my love for writing takes me behind closed doors, where the world disappears yet re-emerges in clearer terms. At times my writing makes me shout from the rooftops, even engage in transcendent vocal arrangements with others who share my passion.
In either case, this is a love unlike any other, one that I – like Bocelli and Sanchez with their music – have come to live for.
How about you? If you were to pick a song that describes your love for writing, what would it be?
Karin Rita Gastreich’s publications include the epic fantasy Eolyn, as well as short stories in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency. Visit her at http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com or at http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com.
Jonathan Gould: You Know the Feeling…
You know the feeling.
You’re constantly nervous and on edge.
You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You find it difficult to concentrate. Your mind is always wandering.
When people talk to you, it’s as if you’re not there. Your body might be, but your head is in another place entirely.
Nothing else seems important. Work is trivial. Nothing on the television is worthwhile. And if you went to the movies, you wouldn’t pay attention. You’d just shut your eyes and let your mind fly off to another place it would prefer to be.
Your friends are probably worried about you. They’re asking if you feel all right. They’re suggesting that perhaps you need to go and see a doctor, or even worse, a shrink.
But you know there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just that idea for a new story, circulating around inside your head. Gradually growing, getting more and more detailed, and constantly demanding your attention.
You know that doctors won’t help. You know that shrinks won’t help. The only thing to do is sit yourself down and start writing.
Because for some of us, there is never any choice. We simply love to write. And when we have a new story inside our head, it will never let us go until it is written.
Jonathan Gould calls his stories “dag-lit” because they’re the sort of stories that don’t easily fit into standard genres. Some might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young-at-heart. His writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, and Dr Seuss. Visit him at his blog, on Twitter or on Facebook.
Suki Michelle: Love of Writing
To paraphrase the prolific master, Stephen King, ‘We want your hearts’. How does that happen? By designing the cleverest of plots? By making up fantastical settings? Those things are wonderful, but they are not enough. The power lies with the characters that occupy that bustling space in every writer’s mind.
A writer’s joy is to bring those characters to life. Through them, a skillful writer will enthrall and entertain no matter what the genre. What a feeling! To touch you, make you cry, laugh, bite your nails, wipe your brows with anticipation and ask the question all writers hope to inspire – what happens next?
Sure, there are some stories that you are awed by and enjoy because of some aspect or another, a surprising twist or a fascinating mystery, but the majority of tales you cherish are because the characters have moved you.
Our characters are our creations, our children. We give them breath, a heartbeat, conflicts, emotions, and lessons to learn then we send them into the world. We hope you will love them, and if you do, in their own magical way, they will love you back.
A well-loved character will stay with you for a long, long time, like the very best of friends.
That is how we catch your heart and call it ours.
Suki Michelle is the co-author (with Carlyle Clark) of the urban fantasy, The Apocalypse Gene (Parker Publishing, Inc. 2011). When not writing, she owns and operates a medical transcription company. She is a published poet and a ghost-blogger for a Chicago celebrity. Suki recently one First Place in the Women on Writing Flash Fiction Competition.
MB Mulhall: Love of Writing
Funny, I can’t remember my parents reading to me as a child but I know, as far back as I can remember, I have loved books like they were my best friends. I devoured them like a child of a dentist might sneak sweets; locked alone in a room, in the dark of night, under the covers. My folks happily abetted my addiction, especially once it led to writing.
All that reading brought on new stories. Books that I loved suddenly continued going on in my head and I normally got to play a part. I never actually wrote out my fan fiction though. I decided I wanted others to read my original work and be inspired to continue to write about my characters. How great would that be?
Reading and writing allows me an escape. I love how books can take me to far away worlds or keep me close to home, introduce me to people and places I might know nothing about. I love how writing allows me to share my stories, to touch other people who might need an escape of their own.
I’d be lonely without my books and writing. The characters may be fictional and the stories farfetched at times, but they still make for good company. Reading and writing won’t break my heart. Best love affair ever.
MB Mulhall is an author and a budding photographer. When she’s not pecking away at her keyboard or looking at the world up close through her lens, she’s got her nose stuck in a book. MB dreams of filling bookshelves with her own work and of plastering her walls with photographs she’s taken from places around the world.