Writing with Friends by Mae Clair

I was recently tagged by the lovely and super energetic Kitt Crescendo in a “Writing Process” related blog hop. Kitt writes sizzling racy novels and has already burst onto the scene with two hot releases. She’s a very active blogger, a supportive friend, and someone with a strong passion for music. You’ll find her blogging about all of her many diverse interests (usually with a twist of humor or heart-felt  passion) at The Inner Wild Kat
Just don’t mention frogs around her and you’ll be fine :)

Thanks for the tag, Kitt!

Ok, the way the blog tag works, I’m supposed to answer four questions related to my writing style then tag three other bloggers to carry on the torch. You’ll meet those enchanting ladies at the end of this post, but first the questions with my answers:

Manuscript from Author with Red Twine CloseupWhat am I working on?
A lot! :D I actually have three projects going on right now. The first, SOLSTICSE ISLAND, is a short romantic adventure involving the search for a mythical sea creature. My first venture into indie publishing, I hope to release it later this month.

I also have a full-length romantic mystery called ECLIPSE LAKE that revolves around a fifteen-year-old missing person’s case. I’m also indie-pubbing that and hope to have it available in May/June.

MYTH AND MAGIC is a Halloween-themed romantic mystery that I had originally planned to release in October. As it stands now, I’ll be offering it to my new publisher Kensington Books, when it’s ready, as they have first option. If Kensington passes, I will indie pub as I originally planned…hopefully, even meeting that October deadline. Of course, I’d love to see it with Kensington too!

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
My books, especially the more I progress, tend to straddle two genres . . . romance and mystery. I would place the ratio at about 70% mystery to 30% romance, so the mystery element is probably the stronger theme. That said, I’m a romantic at heart, so each story still has a romance (usually star-crossed) to complicate matters for my hero and heroine.

Why do I write what I do?
I’ve always been intrigued by the unknown. I enjoy crafting “what if” possibilities and dropping my hero and heroine into situations where they’re forced to unravel secrets. My favorite types of novels are those that make me think, while satisfying the romantic in me. It’s why I enjoy weaving elements of myth and mystery with romance in my stories. I like to keep my readers guessing.

I also love family dynamics, a theme that is usually front-and-center in everything I write.

How does my writing process work?
I usually always start with a single character and an obstacle. Other characters grow from there, weaving the plot as they develop. Most of that takes place in my head before I start making notes on paper. Although I am not a plotter by any means, I have a very loose concept of the story before I start writing. Most of it develops on its own as scene evolves into scene. In the future, however, I’m hoping to plot more. My panster style has worked for me to date, but doing NaNoWriMo last year made me realize the benefits of plotting.

And now I’d like to introduce you to the three ladies who will be following me:

b-w-profile-picCalisa Rhose is an Okie, born and bred, through and through, and proud of it. While growing up, when she wasn’t on the back of a horse, she could be found with pen and paper in hand. Her writing career began with poetry in her younger days. Then she discovered Rock-n-Roll and cute musicians. Poetry turned into stories of romance and dreams. These days she lives with the same man who convinced her to take a romantic journey with him almost 30 years ago. After raising three strong daughters she spends her days loving their granddaughters, hoping for a boy someday, and writing. When she’s not writing, you can find Calisa putting on her editor hat and working to help other published and aspiring writers.

She is working on more projects with her favored contemporary cowboys, first responders and firemen, as well as, the occasional ‘other’ heroes — and their sexy female counterparts, those sassy, stubborn heroines.

Find Calisa at her website/blog http://calisarhose.wordpress.com

Twitter@CalisaRhoseFacebook/Calisa RhoseGoodreads and Amazon

~ooOOoo~

Daisy Banks ColourDaisy Banks writes sensual and spicy romance in the Historical, Paranormal and Fantasy genres. An obsessive writer Daisy is passionate about her stories. Her focus is to offer the best tale she can to readers. Daisy is married, with two grown up sons. She lives with her husband in a converted chapel in Shropshire, in England. Antiques and collecting entertain Daisy when she isn’t writing. She has also occasionally been known to make a meal that doesn’t stick to the pan.

You can find Daisy at:

Blog    http://daisybanks.wordpress.com/
Website  Twitter  Facebook  Pinterest 

~ooOOoo~

Author Pic2Having traveled and lived all over the world, Cd Brennan now talks with a strange accent, a mix of distant terminology, a blend of culturally cute but confusing euphemisms that leaves everyone looking at her with a blank stare. Luckily, her Australian husband (who she met in Ireland) and her two Aussie/Yankee sons have no problem understanding her – well, except for the word NO.

Now settled back “home” in Michigan, she enjoys reliving her glory days by writing about them. She considers the last fifteen years abroad the perfect research for her Love Where You Roam series; matchmaking women and men from different cultures, even different hemispheres, helping them find their true one across oceans of difference.

As destiny plays a hand in all the stories, Cd Brennan truly believes that what is for you, won’t pass you by. She hopes to inspire others to get out there: “Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” [Mark Twain]  And of course, fall in love.

Get in touch with Cd at her at website http://www.cdbrennan.com
Facebook  Goodreads  Twitter  Pinterest

 

Writing, Cats, and a Friendly Octopus by Mae Clair

Opie1Say hello to Opie, my writing cheerleader, taskmaster, cute companion and occasional muse.

He showed up on my doorstep several years ago when I was working on a short story involving a hagfish.

If you’re not sure what a hagfish is, think of a fat, eel-like creature capable of producing massive amounts of slime.

Sound cuddly? And my story wasn’t about just any garden variety hagfish, but a colossal mutant with a fondness for underwater submersibles. Um, did I mention I didn’t always write romance? :D

A friend of mine sent Opie along as inspiration. Granted he’s more octopus than hagfish (who really wants a pet that engulfs its victims in slime before devouring them), but  I was instantly smitten. Seriously, who could resist those turquoise blue eyes and floppy tentacles? And that bulbous head was just meant for repeated patting.Opie Crop

Opie immediately commandeered a corner of my desk and has clung there tenaciously. Since I no longer have a cat to keep me company, Opie has become the critter who dominates my work area when I’m writing.

But it wasn’t always that way.

My cats each had a favorite means of making their presence known when I was in a creative zone. Any good feline worth a disdainful tail twitch knows that’s the opportune time to demand attention. Feeding time, cuddling time, play time, whatever. Cats have an innate strategy gene and know how to employ it.

IMG_1328

Onyx sunbathing. He was such a good cat…they all were!

McDoogal liked to curl up on my lap, which was actually nice until my legs started falling asleep. Onyx preferred strolling across the keyboard and posing in front of the screen. But Arafel…leave it to a female to be the queen of distraction. Her tactic involved sitting beside my chair and meowing. At least that’s how it started, but eventually those soft plaintive meows transitioned into a caterwaul it was impossible to ignore. In a test of wills, Arafel always won.

Opie is far less intrusive but I know he’s there. Watching, encouraging, inspiring. And yes, distracting, when I get caught up in his excess of cuteness. :D

How about you? Do you have a pet who demands attention when you’re working or a desk mascot that inspires you?

A Writer’s Fiefdom Revisited by Mae Clair

Writers need a special place to create. It doesn’t matter where it is (over the years I’ve had quite a few) as long as we can put our stamp on it.

When I was a kid, it was my bedroom, scribbling in spiral bound notebooks. When I got my fist typewriter at age fifteen (a manual one), I took over my parents’ dining room table. Each day we would move my papers and notes, along with the typewriter, to the floor when dinner rolled around. When the table was cleared, my parents gladly gave me my space back. To this day, I love how they encouraged me to write.

When my husband and I married, the dining room table pattern continued through each of the apartments we leased. When we bought our first home, we set a room aside as my den. Although it was nothing extraordinary, and shared space with the ironing board and laundry basket, I had an actual desk. I remember coming home from work one day and finding it in the living room. Hubby had taken it upon himself to surprise me, and picked it up from a state surplus store.

That desk was a monster. Solid wood, with a built in cabinet in addition to drawers. It always reminded me of something that belonged in a courthouse, it was so huge. It stayed with me for many years afterward, and when we moved to our current house, it became the center point of my den. I was no longer sharing space with laundry and the ironing board, but the room could have used a facelift. Still, it was my spot, reserved just for me. Writer’s bliss.

In warm weather, I took my laptop outside and worked from our deck or covered patio. Sometimes, when the mood struck, I’d stake claim on a corner of the couch in the family room. Eventually, we decided to remodel a smaller room in the house for my den and turn the existing space into a TV room. That meant moving everything from the smaller, guest bedroom into the den during the remodeling process. You might remember me lamenting my space was usurped with clutter in A Writer’s Fiefdom. I promised in that post I would share photos when the project was done.

View of desk and small bookcase

I’ve been neglectful in posting these, but I finally have my newly remodeled den, along with a new desk, bookcases, corner fireplace and flatscreen (which I like to tune to Soundscapes for background music when I’m writing).

Corner fireplace with flatscreen TV

We gutted this room from the floor up. Everything is new – from the floor and moldings, to the doors, switch plates, outlets, etc. I should have taken before and after photos, but didn’t think of the “before” photos until it was too late. Hubby does good work, and I am now a pro at stripping wallpaper. :)

Bookcase

I wanted warm harvest colors and wood tones, a change from the “blue” den I had before.

I’m sure I’ll still wander outside with my laptop come summer, but in the meantime I’m enjoying my cozy new haven, which is perfect for dreaming up characters.

View of desk and computer

Oh, and about that monster desk? We had to dismantle it in order to fit it through the door for trash disposal. It went out in pieces! I wrote a lot of stories on that baby, just like my parents’ dining room table. I’m hoping to write even more in my new fiefdom.

What do you like best about your writing space?

Guest Blogger Gemma Brocato: Listening To The Muse Even When She Whines

I’ve got a treat for you today as Gemma Brocato, author of COOKING UP LOVE, has agreed to share her thoughts about The Muse. Gemma and I connected as sister authors at Lyrical Press, now the digital imprint of Kensington Books. Initially, I had an interview planned with Gemma for today, and wanted to put the spotlight on COOKING UP LOVE. As we wait for everything to sort itself out between Kenstington and Lyrical, book titles are temporarily unavailable, but rather than cancel her visit, Gemma agreed to write a post on a subject I adore — mythology!

Let’s see what she has to say about the elusive, fickle, and oh so wondrous, muse!

~ooOOoo~

Thanks to Mae for inviting me by today, and for being flexible about what type of post I would present to her lovely followers. See, I’d completed a post about my debut novel, Cooking Up Love and had it ready to go. But the Muses moved the powers that be at Lyrical Press and Kensington to form a partnership that I’m very excited about. Unfortunately, it means my book is temporarily off the market and it doesn’t make sense to promote the book. So, I was inspired talk to you about the Muses.

AThe word Muse actually means desire or wish. As in, I wish I knew where this post was heading.

Did you know there were nine Muses? And they were all girls (wouldn’t you hate competing for bathroom time in that house?). According to Greek mythology Zeus bewitched Mnemosyne and spent nine consecutive nights with her, producing the Musai. The goddesses were born in Pieria, at the foot of Mt. Olympus. Their names might be recognizable for what they’ve come to inspire in present day. Here’s a chart:

Muses Chart

When I look at their names, I see Choir, Eros, Hymn, and Ha.

After the girls were born, Zeus fostered them out to Apollo to raise them. Apollo moved them to Mt. Elikonas where he helped them dedicate their lives to the arts, teaching them to support and encourage creation, enhance imagination and inspire artists. But the power most frequently attributed to them is the power to bring to mind…and clarify…the story the writer wishes to tell. Apparently, listening to what the Muse had to say was important. Ignore it, and she could be spiteful; leaving the artist blind or the singer or poet mute. I suppose that’s what we’d call writer’s block today.

Since the days of Ancient Greece, writers, musicians and artists have called upon their Muse for help and guidance. Homer asks his Muse to tell him the story in the proper way in both the Iliad and The Odyssey.

Eric Clapton spoke about his Muse this way: “I wish I could write easily. I’m one of those guys who’s visited by the Muse when things are dire.”

fotolia_36132060_xsOne of my favorite authors, Harlan Coben, has this to say about his Muse: “The Muse is not an angelic voice that sits on your shoulder and sings sweetly. The Muse is the most annoying whine. The Muse isn’t hard to find, just hard to like – she follows you everywhere, tapping you on the shoulder, demanding that you stop doing whatever else you might be doing and pay attention to her.”

Donatella Versace has a one and it looks a lot like her: “My Muse changes all the time because I think every designer is a bit of a Muse for themselves in a way – they just don’t want to say it.” While I do believe some of her creations are inspired, I wonder what her Muse actually wears? I’m thinking maybe Chanel.

Can you summon your Muse at will? Or must you wait for her to come? I think Amy Tan answered this best: “Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the Muses.”

All I know is when my Muse speaks, I listen to her, even when she whines.

~ooOOoo~

cookinguplove_CoverWhat a great post! I loved that line about the bathroom. Cat fight, guaranteed, LOL. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts and answers to Gemma’s questions about your personal muse. And although COOKING UP LOVE is temporarily off the market, you can still add it to your Goodreads list, here.

Author Bio
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a fortune from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to ‘Dear Author’, were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

Gemma BrocatoConnect with Gemma at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Embracing 2014 by Mae Clair

The New Year has arrived and with it my plans to look ahead. I learned a lot in 2013. In many ways it was a mixed bag of blessings.

I saw the publication of my second novel, TWELFTH SUN, and also participated in my first NaNoWriMo. I’m pleased to say I came out of NaNo a winner with a 50K+ rough draft of my Mothman-based story, Negative Reach. If all goes according to schedule, I hope to publish it in 2015.

The year wasn’t without its trying moments, however. My day job branched into new and demanding avenues which made me less visible online during the last quarter. I even had to drop off a few email lists because I couldn’t keep up with the messages. Fortunately, I love what I do, even when it’s mentally exhausting. In the New Year, I hope to achieve a better balance that allows me to enjoy my writing career as well as the one that pays my bills. :)

As always, I love reading as much as writing. In 2013 I read 69 books toward my goal of 75. Maybe I can actually hit that number in 2014. I discovered some wonderful authors, many of who became new friends, and I continued friendships with all the amazing people who have been my support base for so long. A super shout-out to all the followers of my blog. You guys rock! Thanks especially for the comments on my posts. I love hearing from you. Your opinions, thoughts and ramblings are a delight on each and every post I make.

So, what’s ahead in 2014?

bigstock-Patience-44287369

Yep, patience is going to be a big one for me as I tackle the following:

First up, I hope to indie publish SOLSTICE ISLAND, a romantic adventure you’ve likely heard about before. Hey, a voting-round on this blog actually helped determine the title! I’ve never indie pubbed, so I’m highly nervous and hoping I can figure out the Kindle formatting.

Something very cool I’m proud to announce…I designed the cover for SOLSTICE ISLAND myself. More news on that soon as I hope to release the novella later this month or February at the latest. There will be a cover reveal. :)

The week of February 9th, I will be the hostess on the Sizzle and Sass Facebook page and hope you’ll join me by popping in now and again. I’ll be the first to admit I suck at Facebook. I swear if there is a mathematical equation in the universe that deciphers how to fit FB into an already jam-packed day, it’s eluded me. I am, however, constantly on the lookout for a solution. One of my goals for 2014 is to be more visible on FB. I just wish I liked it better :(

Also on the radar for 2014:

ECLIPSE LAKE
I feel like I’ve been talking about this one forever. A romantic mystery revolving around a missing person’s case, it’s on schedule for indie-publication in May/June of 2014. I’ve already received the first round of edits from my editor.

MYTH AND MAGIC
I’ll be sharing more updates on this in the months ahead. It’s another romantic mystery, set during October with an emphasis on Halloween. Naturally, I’d like to publish it in October of 2014, an ideal marriage of timing. Cross your fingers I can pull it off. It involves a couple who were childhood friends, had a horrible falling out, and are reunited at a corporate retreat when events take a strange and supernatural turn.

I’ve also got several short stories in the works that I’ll either be submitting to various publications or grooming for an anthology.

Of course, this is assuming all those carefully plotted goals and timelines cooperate. Then again, I’m known to be extremely hardheaded and stubborn when I want something, a trait inherited from my German father.

Finally, Mythical Monday will continue in full bloom. I can’t get enough of the odd trappings of folklore and eerie urban legends that lurk in the shadowed corners of history. I hope you’ll join me each Monday as I explore new tales centered around bizarre creatures, ethereal beings and peculiar beasties. I’m a cryptozoologist at heart.

So here’s to 2014 and my many wonderful friends. I’m excited and happy to share it with all of you. :D

Wizards with Words: D.B. Sieders and Red Shoes for Lab Blues

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Hey, everyone! It’s Wizards with Words time and I’m delighted to introduce you to another new author. D.B. Sieders has dropped by today to chat about her writing routine and her hot new release, RED SHOES FOR LAB BLUES.

D.B. is a sister author at Lyrical Press and a talented storyteller. I quickly devoured RED SHOES FOR LAB BLUES, her debut release, and am eagerly looking forward to seeing more from her. So get comfy, settle in, and please say hello to D.B.

~ooOOoo~

Let’s start with your writing routine. D.B. Do you have a favorite place and/or time of day to write?

As a working mom, I squeeze in my writing time from 8:00-10:00 P.M. at least three nights a week. Along with weekends and the occasional sprint during my lunch break at work, I manage a decent word count :)

Good for you! I often use my lunch break at work for writing too, or catching up with promo. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a short amount of time when those hours are so precious! Which do you develop first, characters or plot?

For me, the characters come first. I catch a flash of one in action or a snippet of dialogue will run through my mind. That’s how they ‘introduce’ themselves. I’m lucky in that those flashes usually reveal some bit of conflict or character motivation, and then their journey to resolution takes shape as I write the first chapters or scene – so there’s my basic process.

I’m a character-first writer too. I love when they introduce themselves,  then hang around demanding attention. A persistent lot, LOL. Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?

Definitely dialogue! My characters love to talk, whether to each other or to themselves via internal dialogue. I normally crank out all of the conversation for a scene or chapter and then go back to flesh out the setting. I can normally visualize what my characters are doing as they speak, so the action tags work out pretty well.

Sounds like a good process! Please tell us about your new/debut release.

redshoesforlabbluesRed Shoes for Lab Blues is a contemporary romance novella featuring two dedicated and somewhat competitive biomedical cancer researchers and set against the backdrop of laboratory and pharmaceutical corporate politics, including an act of sabotage that could turn deadly.

I loved the story and your characters, especially Henry :). And the cover is awesome! For those who haven’t read the book, would you care to share how you chose your title?

Ah, now that would be telling… My heroine, Dr. Stacey Jamison, tends to be pretty focused on her work in the laboratory, to the point of sacrificing a social life. As her roommate points out, Stacey really needs to get out more and ‘recalibrate her normal meter.’ Well, during one such outing, complete with several tequila shots, a bar bet, and a pair of sexy red suede pumps, Stacey stumbles (literally) into her secret crush from work, Dr. Henry Chan. With looks, smarts, and more charm and sex appeal than any geek has a right to flaunt, he might just be the cure for her lab blues – if she can trust him.

Share one sentence – - yes, only one! – - of dialogue or description you love.

Her face split into that winning smile he’d come to adore as she replied, “Hmm, in that case, you should know I am capable of appreciating a man with a really big…vocabulary.”

LOL! Do you have any guilty pleasures (i.e., type of food, music, TV show, shoe obsession, silly distraction) you’d like to share?

We spend a lot of time on Animal Planet in my house (kid friendly), and I absolutely love ‘My Cat From Hell’ and ‘Call of the Wildman.’ The latter definitely counts as a guilty pleasure.

I love My Cat from Hell (feline fanatic here) and I admit to the guilty pleasure of Call of the Wildman. Hubs and I had never watched it before, then met someone who was friends with Ernie, the Turtleman, on a recent trip. After that, we had to give it a try. It’s definitely addictive!

Moving from TV to books, name 3-5 books you’d horde for a deserted island.

Oh, only 5?!?! Well, if I absolutely have to choose, I’d pick Stephen King’s The Stand, at least one or two of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books (but it would be like choosing between my children), Jeaniene Frost’s Halfway to the Grave (still my favorite out of the series), Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs, and I’d sneak Jeri Smith-Ready’s Requiem for the Devil in while no one’s looking.

Okay, you can sneak,since I’d have to sneak in more than five too. :) Isn’t it amazing how attached we become to our favorites? Now name a book that had a profound effect on you and explain why.

As per my deserted island reading list, I’d have to go with The Silence of the Lambs. Clarice Starling is one of the toughest heroines I’ve ever encountered in fiction. She has to be – you don’t go toe-to-toe with Hannibal Lecter and Jame Gumb unless you’re a real warrior. She represents the type of heroine I aspire to create in my own work. Harris does such an amazing job showing both her toughness and vulnerability, easy thing for a male writer to do when writing a female character. Hats off to him!

I’ll agree with you there. I’ve read several books by male authors who failed to capture the female mindset. Hmm..I wonder why that is so more glaringly noticeable than a female author who doesn’t capture the male mindset? I’ve seen the movie Silence of the Lambs, but never read the book. It sounds very intense!

Okay, new direction: Pets and writers seem to go together like peas in a pod. If you have pets tell us about them, and whether or not they shadow your writing time and space.

I have two cats, one long-haired Siamese and a short-haired mutt. They’re great mascots, and love to keep me company (and sometimes walk across my keyboard) while I’m typing.

A favorite pastime for cats :)

And now, a couple quick questions on your personal preferences:

Favorite season: Autumn
Favorite time of day: Early evening
Favorite color: Burgundy
Food you never grow tired of: Chocolate
Sunset picnic or night on the town: Oh, definitely sunset picnic – I’m a nature girl!

I love early evening and sunset picnics too. Thanks for being my guest today, D.B. I enjoyed having you, and wish you much success with your fab release, RED SHOES FOR LAB BLUES.

Thanks so much for having me, Mae!

~ooOOoo~

You can Find D.B. at the Following Haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter: @DBSieders
Facebook
Goodreads

Red Shoes for Lab Blues is available from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Blurb:
Dr. Stacey Jamison thinks she’s close to validating PharmEx’s new anti-cancer drug. Her budding independent career, her boss’s tenure, and a ton of research dollars are at stake. She just has to prove Compound Z kills cancer cells.

So far, it doesn’t.

Then along comes Dr. Henry Chan, the department’s new rising star. Henry is smart, handsome, and confident. He’s also captivated by the enigmatic Dr. Jamison, who seems oblivious to her own charms. But will Henry risk his heart when the research project is at stake?

A rival drug company, an insider with a personal grudge, and militant animal rights protestors force everyone’s plans into disarray. Can their love overcome everything being thrown at them?

HeadshotAuthor Bio, D.B. Seiders:
I was born and raised in East Tennessee and spent a great deal of my childhood hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains and wading barefoot in creeks, chasing salamanders, fish, and frogs.  We camped a lot, and we loved to tell stories while sitting around our campfire.

Those days of frog chasing sparked my interest in biology, which I pursued in college and later in graduate school.  I am a working scientist by day, but I never lost my love of sharing stories.  I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and am thrilled to be working as a writer.

I live in Nashville, Tennessee with my husband, two children, two cats, and my very active imagination.

Title Imps and Envy by Mae Clair

Doesn’t it make sense that someone who plays with words on a daily basis would find it easy to dream up the title for a WIP?

If only!

Manuscript from Author with Red Twine Closeup

I confess to having title envy. For some writers the ability to whip up a name comes easily. Not so for me. Sure, there are those giddy kinetic bursts of creativity when all the powers in the universe align and I’m gifted with a title before I ponder characters or plot. But those instances are about as common as being struck by lightning. (Uh, not that I have been or am eager to experience it. Just saying it’s equally as rare).

Arriving at a title is more like wading through a sea of garbage as I discard one pitiful idea after another. I was fortunate with WEATHERING ROCK and TWELFTH SUN, in that I had both names before I began writing. The all-elusive Title Imps were generous in those days.

Not so with ECLIPSE LAKE. It went through four previous titles before being cemented in its present state. Don’t believe me? Check these out:

Jonah’s Prayer
Courting Stones
The Mystery of Eclipse Lake
The Secret of Eclipse Lake

(BTW, I hope to make an announcement about this book within the next month. I just have to get some ducks in a row before stepping out on a (very scary) limb.)

Then there’s my current novella. The title sucks. Seriously.

SOLSTICE ISLAND.

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

Here’s the problem. It’s already begun to root in my mind. Once I start to identify a WIP by title (rather than the characters which is my normal method), it’s difficult to change. It would be like switching the name of my cat halfway through his life.

I realize there are some writers who don’t give their book a permanent title until completion. If I ever played by that rule it was in the dark ages of manual typewriters, globs of Wite-Out, and 20 lb. bond. I have a mandatory decree that I must settle on a title by the time I reach the halfway point of a WIP. “SOLSTICE ISLAND” has just struck that mark. Sadly, thus far, the Title Imps have refused to cooperate (I’m convinced they’re off snickering as I type this).

Which leaves me wondering if I’m the only one who laments the inability to settle on a title. It’s possible SOLSTICE ISLAND may end up remaining SOLSTICE ISLAND, but for the moment I’m keeping my options open.

How do you feel about coming up with titles? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Want to put a bounty on the Title Imps? Do you most often choose titles before you start something, in the middle or at the end?

Share your imps and your envy!

Woman with lots of discarded paper

Ducking the Unexpected in Writing by Mae Clair

They arrived unannounced, without fanfare, and made themselves at home. I wasn’t expecting guests that day, much less the pair of ducks that settled in my back yard.

I’m not in a neighborhood that attracts waterfowl. I live in a small community of approximately 25 homes that is surrounded by farmland. In the rear, my home backs up to a church. When my husband and I originally bought the house, that plot of ground was comprised of acres of fertile crops. The local farmer had a habit of plowing at night using the headlights on his tractor. I never did figure out that routine, except maybe it had something to do with moon phases.

But back to my unexpected guests. Since we’ve lived here, we’ve had an assortment of critters stroll by at one time or another. Like most semi-rural communities, we have our share of squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, skunks, ground hogs and hawks. We’ve also had deer, fox, pheasant, turkey vultures and even a colorful peacock. But we’ve never had ducks.

So it was a surprise to look out the back door and see this.

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I immediately started wondering where they came from, how they ended up there and what their plans were. It’s the same way my mind works when I conjure up characters. Of course the drake (hero) was courting the female (heroine). She appeared to be standoffish, so maybe he’d ticked her off by eying up some floosy hen. Or maybe he’d been wheedling for a roll in the pond (or my back yard) and she wasn’t in the mood.

On the other hand she might have been running from some vindictive mallard and our hero flew in to protect her, the duck in shining armor. Maybe they were brother and sister or friends from childhood, embroiled in a mystery that had them on the run. Could they be clones escaping their creators or doppelgangers fleeing the sorcerer who’d conjured them into existence?  Maybe they’d time-warped from another dimension and mistakenly arrived in my yard when they should have landed somewhere else.

As I was busy spinning possibilities, hubby and I left and hit the grocery store. When we came back, loaded down with seafood, 99% lean ground turkey, broccoli, chips. Greek yogurt and coffee (the essentials in life), we spied the ducks three doors down across the street. They’d separated with the male in the front yard and the female on the other side of the driveway. A lover’s spat?

I never did discover the answer as it was time to unload the groceries and cart them inside. If I want an ending, I’ll have to write one…or at the very least, take some of those ideas and spin them into a story for later.

I certainly didn’t expect to find character inspiration in a pair of ducks that materialized in my back yard, but that’s the unexpected. A writer’s paradise.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you ever stumble over character and/or story ideas where you least expect them?

The Idea Storm, by Mae Clair

Recently, I was in my family room, comfy on the couch and plugging away on my current WIP courtesy of my laptop, when I realized something spectacular was happening outside. The weather had been unusually hot that day and, as often happens during spring and summer, pop-up thunderstorms rolled into the area. The counties to the south and west of me were under severe weather watches, but since my area wasn’t in the main thoroughfare of atmospheric upheaval, I hadn’t been paying much attention to the sky.

Until a low rumble of thunder drew my attention out the patio door.

A moment before, the sky had been blue and clear. Now, it was a canvas of brooding charcoal and dark blue. Even as I watched, a swiftly moving front swallowed what little clear sky remained, drawing a distinctive line on the horizon. I hurried upstairs for my camera and managed to snap a few shots before the rain started. The force of the storm arrived within seconds, a barrage of thunder, lightning and wind. It was too hard to concentrate on my WIP, so I powered down my laptop and conceded to the weather.

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This is looking from my back porch to the right of my rear yard. Notice the line of white near the horizon. That’s clear sky. Only moments before the entire sky had been that clear!

The force and suddenness of that storm still catches me by surprise.

As writers, ideas are much the same for us. How often have you been happily immersed in your latest WIP only to be blindsided by an idea from left field? And not just any idea, but an idea storm. Like unsettled weather, these come on suddenly and are charged with pent-up energy, waiting to explode into a fresh story. The idea storm demands attention, but for all its ferocity it’s also beguiling. Flashy and spontaneous, it takes a supreme contest of wills to resist.

I love the turbulence of a creative front and the rush of inspiration it unleashes in me. Unfortunately, idea storms often burst onto the scene when I’m already committed to another writing project. Sound familiar?

Like many authors, I try to set my idea storms aside, jotting a few notes with the promise I’ll reward myself with them later. Sometimes when I return they’re not as magical as they originally seemed. The luster has faded. Other times, they prove to be just what I needed and I take off on a tangent, inspired. My recently completed mystery/romance, ECLIPSE LAKE was much like that.

For the most part I still set the tumult of an idea storm aside, returning when I complete my current project. That’s the disciplined writer in me, a trait I worked long and hard to master. But there are occasions – oh, so many — when I want to fly and soar with the storm. I’m currently fighting two of those now (as if one wasn’t enough), but so far I’ve resisted the spell they’ve woven.

What about you? How do you handle an idea storm when you’re already committed and immersed in another WIP? Do you set it aside or do you try to work on both simultaneously?

Roaming the Blogosphere, by Mae Clair

I have the pleasure of being featured today on the blog of Janet Lane Walters, The Eclectic Writer, for her informative How She Does It spot, which she runs every Friday. I was flattered to be asked and am pleased to announce Janet will be visiting From the Pen of Mae Clair on the 25th of June to share her thoughts on being an eclectic writer. That’s a post I’m very interested in, given my love of multiple genres.

In the meantime…hmm, how do I do it? Sometimes I find myself scratching my head over that, but if you’d like to get the lowdown on my formula for writing (er, if you can call it that), please check out my guest appearance on Janet’s Blog. Tomorrow, she’ll be featuring an excerpt from WEATHERING ROCK.

Happy Friday, Everyone!