I sometimes hear that a writer is waiting for inspiration or for the muse to hit to get started on a story. It makes me wonder what will happen if the muse is missing or that inspiration never materializes. It makes me wonder about what I write since I’m not the kind to sit and wait (for anything actually) and I just plopped my butt in the chair one day and decided to write.
Of course that was after a 5th Grade class assignment revealed to me that the stories in my head could become like one of the stories I loved to read. After writing my first book in the 5th grade, working on stories through high school, college and law school, it took a long time for me to say, “I’m finally going to do this.”
I haven’t looked back from that moment. I sat and I wrote. Every day. I didn’t sit and wait for inspiration and a muse because I’m the kind of person who believes that you make your own luck. That you control your destiny and that if you want something, you need to go for it full tilt like Don Quixote at the windmill.
Is it easy? Not always, in fact, most times not. There’s work and family and friends and a thousand other things that can pull you away from that story you want to write. You’ve got to want to write that story really bad and you’ve got to let the people in your life know that you want to write that story really bad. If they love you, they’ll understand and be supportive. They’ll celebrate with you when you say you’ve finished the story of your heart. They’ll hold you when you get that first rejection letter. They’ll be at your side when you get that box of books that says you’ve been published.
But that will only happen if you sit down and write, the muse be damned.
I’ll leave you now with a quote from a woman who was a friend, mentor, and most importantly, my mom: Nothing worthwhile is every easy.
Whenever I do a chat I often get asked the same question: Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?
For me, the inspiration comes from a character that pops into my head. That character is just there, screaming to get a story. For example, many years ago when I was first writing contemporary romances, I had a very determined and hard ass female character interrupt the book I was writing. She just kept on showing up and demanding I listen. She was nothing like the other characters I’d been writing. She was dark and tortured. Troubled. Certainly not the kind of character I would put into one of my contemporary romances.
As much as I tried to get back to writing the story to meet my publisher’s deadline, that character would not go away and so I finally took a moment to write a chapter with her in order to understand her better. That’s when I knew it was time to try something different and Diana Reyes and The Calling Vampire series was born.
It was a lot like that for the new series since I wanted to get away from the darkness of the romantic suspense and vampire genres and into something that could show people love and lightness. To do that, I wanted a series of spunky heroines who had their issues, but who would eventually find happiness in their lives.
This time it was four characters who came to mind – Maggie, Connie, Emma and Tracy.
But even as I’m starting to work on #3 in that series, I have a character that’s coming to life in my brain. A young widow with a small child who runs a cheese shop in the fictional Jersey Shore town of Sea Kiss. Spin off time! LOL!
Once I have the basic idea for a character, I spend some time learning about who they are and what issues they have. What they need to be fulfilled. After that, I try to craft a hero that will bring out both the best and worst in that character and from there, the story emerges. I want that story to show the growth in those characters as they heal their wounds and find strength both together and alone.
If I had to think of my brain as something other than a brain, I would think of it as a well, especially when I am in the midst of writing. It’s a fluid place, ready to accept the stone of an idea and to let the water ripple out to create other ideas. It’s a place where I can draw from it deeply in order to create a story.
Sometimes I feel as if it’s a rush of water that spills from the well when I get so caught up in a story that I can’t stop. That’s a good thing.
But then, inevitably, I feel as if the well has run dry after that rush and that I need to take a step back and let the well fill up again so that I can continue.
I’m sure many writers feel the same way, as if they’ve emptied their brains out on the pages and there’s nothing left inside. That’s when it’s time to take a break.
For me, that means lots of reading and maybe watching a movie. Taking a long shower or walk. Going to the gym and working up a sweat. Cleaning and organizing. There’s something about putting things in place that somehow feels like what I do in a story, putting the pieces away or shifting them until it feels right.
Whether you’re a writer or reader, I’d love to hear what you do in order to fill your well.
One of the things that I wanted to show with the At the Shore contemporary romance series is the diversity of New Jersey, both ethnically and economically. While Maggie and Owen from ONE SUMMER NIGHT are both well-off, Connie and Emma, the heroines of #2 and #3 in the series respectively, have both had to work hard to achieve what they have.
I’m getting ready to write a scene in #2 where you find out a little bit more about Carlo and his family, who play a substantial role in #3. In that scene, you get to see a big Portuguese-style family dinner at their Ironbound home.
The Ironbound is a unique section of the city of Newark. It’s located not all that far from Newark Penn Station and between the airport and the Passaic River. It is a largely Portuguese neighborhood with the first immigrants from Portugal arriving in the early 1900s along with Spaniards from Galicia (my family’s part of Spain). In fact, many Portuguese food dishes are very similar to those from Galicia.
The main avenue in the Ironbound is Ferry Street which abounds with a number of mom and pop Portuguese shops along with a number of other Latin restaurants. In #3, the hero’s family has owned a successful bakery there since the 1930s. Carlo’s older brothers now run the business and Carlo has struck out on his own to make a life down the shore. He’s Emma’s Go-to-Guy in more than one way, although she refuses to admit that.
Ferry Street, as you might guess, was named after a ferry that ran between Newark and other locations to the east. Check out the video below that shows you Ferry Street. If part of it looks familiar, it’s because it made an appearance in the beginning of the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds (2:30 to 2:45 in the video). If you can’t see the video below, use this link: https://youtu.be/PGP_94G3Vms
One of the absolute best parts of the writing gig is getting to meet other authors and readers! It’s why I love going to conferences and events. These are the ones I’ll be attending so far this year and if you’re in the area, I would love to see you and get to spend some time with you! Of course, since I’m a reader as well as a writer, I can’t wait to meet other authors and find out more about their books. It’s a win-win situation.
Since my novella is a crossover, I kept on battling with how to get a Jersey heroine to my Dallas firefighter hero. For two weeks I’ve been banging my head about this when the most obvious answer finally came to me. Move the hero to New Jersey!!
So after some more research, I’ll be starting this novella and getting it banged out in time for the January release. The title? HEAT OF THE NIGHT. The hero? A former Navy Seal turned firefighter who was friends with Rafe Castillo from STAY THE NIGHT and Captain Mark Smith from ONE NIGHT OF PLEASURE. Can’t say more, but I’m looking forward to writing this story!
I took a day off to go to the spa with my daughter. Fate intervened and instead, we had a lovely girls day down the Jersey Shore. We watched a Korean drama, we biked to have a fabulous vegan lunch (no I’m a certified meat eater and the lunch was a delicious surprise), and we relaxed before doing dinner and some retail therapy. In the midst of all that, we also took time to just sit on the beach and enjoy a truly fabulous summer-like day. There were even people in bathing suits soaking up the sun.
My daughter and I sat there and just took a few moments to breathe and then did some work on our respective stories. My daughter is an aspiring author and has journals full of stories. She self-published her first work, FOLLOWING JANE, in 2013 and is busy working on other stories.
I just finished Book 1 in the Jersey Girl Bridesmaids series and am now busy plotting #2. Having lots of fun with it and I think it’ll be a truly amazing story! The tentative title of that one is WE DANCED ALL NIGHT although if they had, we wouldn’t have the unexpected surprise that will force two people to face their past and the kind of future they could have together.
Anyway, I’m sharing a photo from our writing on the beach and some peaceful waves, sand, and sun with you!