January 17th, 2011

goldstar

THE BUSINESS/PLEASURE SCALE ...

Today's guest is the author Libby Drew, sharing with us her entertaining take on the art (struggle?!) of writing. And she's also offering the whole first chapter of her current work-in-progress. So if you haven't already tasted the flavour of her style - here's a treat for you!

Find Libby at her website and her Live Journal blog.



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Bio: LIBBY DREW glimpsed her true calling when her first story, a Winnie-the-Pooh/Shakespeare crossover, won the grand prize in her elementary school's fiction contest. Her parents explained that writers were quirky, poor, and often talked to themselves in supermarket checkout lines. They implored her to be practical, a request she took to heart for twenty years, earning two degrees, a white-collar job, and an ulcer, before realizing that practical was absolutely no fun.

Today she lives with her husband and four children in an old, impractical house and writes stories about redemption, the paranormal, and love at first sight, all of which do exist. She happens to know from experience. Visit Libby’s blog and check out her books at her website.

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On Writing: Keeping the “Love” in My Labor of Love

It’s not easy, especially these days. But for me, that’s exactly what writing is: a labor of love, even if I do enjoy some (very modest) financial gains through publication. Mixing business with pleasure is a bit of a balancing act, isn’t it? And since every writer I’ve ever known loves the craft, I think I can safely say I’m not the only person struggling with how to keep my pleasurable pastime, well… pleasurable.

The failsafe built in to this equation is that (usually) how much “business” a writer wants to take on is his or her choice. Self-regulating, to a certain extent. And since each person’s threshold differs, balancing the business/pleasure scale is a very personal matter. Our friends can be a great help. Despite the innate competitive nature of publishing, the writing community can be, and often is, open and supportive. The uber organized among us (Clare!) develop systems for managing the business side of things. They invent, refine, and then, kindly, share their tools with the rest.

And here’s where things get tricky, because it’s human nature to strive and push and maybe, just maybe, take on so much that the scales—delicate measures that they are—tip off-balance. Business looks easy from afar, but up close it tends to be a time drain, an emotional roller coaster, and occasionally even a political mine field.

When that happens, I try to remember why I ever picked up a pen in the first place. (And yes, we used pens back in the day.) It was because I thought I could give a story life—that I could explore humanity and maybe make someone smile, or laugh, or cry. Or think. If you love writing, you know that feeling never dies… but it can be buried. The irony is, we’re the ones holding the shovels.

I don’t have a secret formula for maintaining this balance—if someone does, email me! What I do have is a limited amount of time in my day to do something for myself, and I try to spend every minute enjoying it. So I suppose my message is this: Don’t get mired in the stress of the business. Type every word with a light heart and a smile on your face. It’s well and good to measure your financial success by your royalty check, but don’t forget the other, more personal successes—like being a storyteller.

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Libby’s current project is titled 40 Souls to Keep:

Jase's life began eight years ago, when he awoke with no identification, no memories, and the mystical power to heal. The only clue to his identity is a tattoo on his arm: the number forty. Driven by a compulsion he doesn't understand and can't fight, he chases visions of people he's meant to save, using his power to cheat death time and time again. Always, he pursues the mystery of his existence. Who is he? Who gave him this power? Will his life ever be his own again?

In Naples, Florida, young Macy Pearl is orphaned by an apparent random act of violence. Her only friend is Lucas Jacobson, the social worker assigned to her case. Kind and genuinely caring, Lucas takes Macy under his wing, calming her when horrible dreams plague her sleep. He makes a promise to protect her, even as he silently wonders how the death of Macy's parents may be related to the people now stalking them both.

Drawn to Naples to heal Macy, Jase isn't prepared for a wary, protective Lucas. Convinced his mission is at an end, and that the key to his previous life lies with this young girl—the fortieth person he's healed—he resents Lucas's interference, even if he appreciates the lust they share for each other. Distracted by their mutual attraction, they let Macy slip through their fingers, and she disappears into the balmy Florida night.

Scouring the city from its glitzy resorts to its seedy underbelly, Jase and Lucas turn up clues that only deepen the mystery: Who is Macy Pearl and why was she targeted? Soon the search becomes a race, because the girl's strange dreams have also begun to haunt Jase, and he fears that if Macy dies before he can heal her, a dark fate awaits them all.



From 40 Souls to Keep…

Paradise Palms: Experience the Oasis.

At two in the morning, experiencing the oasis proved difficult, even with a fat, yellow moon on the horizon. Paradise Palms had all the seclusion of an oasis, Lucas would give it that, sprouting from the swamps of the Florida Everglades in all its ostentatious manicured glory. Palm trees flanked a ten-foot high orange and white stucco entrance, complete with security gate and empty gatehouse—never mind that one arm of the gate was locked up and open. Comical, really, if Lucas took too long to think about it… and depressing if he let the humor turn maudlin. What the world had here was living, breathing irony—a modern parody of an Old Western movie set, where the town was nothing more than sheet-plywood nailed together, the bank as empty of money as the saloon was of whisky.

Exclusive housing community, as purported on its website, Paradise Palms reminded Lucas of a bar at three in the morning, when the exhausted cocktail waitresses, reeking of beer and cigarette smoke, cranked up harsh fluorescents to a mish-mash of empty glasses, sticky floors, and stale beer. And Lucas should know; he’d closed plenty of bars in his time. Paradise Palms: the life of the real estate party a few years ago, now just a desperate housewife in a crippled economy.

Lucas coasted at the posted twenty-five miles per hour through the twisting streets, half an ear on the GPS, until the sign for Mariner Lane came into view. A metal cutout of a shining sun edged the top left corner of all the street markers, contradicting the flooding rains they’d been experiencing for the past few months. Much more and they’d have to change the state nickname. Goodbye Sunshine State, hello Land of Mosquitoes. A purely academic move, as the bloodthirsty bastards had already taken over, in Lucas’s opinion.

They weren’t the only creatures stepping out either.

Lucas’s headlights caught something lumbering across the road as he turned onto Mariner Lane. Spitting a curse, he hit the brakes and swung the wheel to the right, panning his headlights over the reedy berm. They caught the swish of a scaly tail as it disappeared into the swollen canal. What did it say about a neighborhood when alligators were roaming the streets? Ten bucks prospective buyers wouldn’t find that information on the Paradise Palms website, unless it came in the form of small-print disclosure: Owners of small pets and toddlers beware. Some slick real estate agent was probably out there spinning it differently—wasn’t that always the way? Paradise Palms: Experience the Oasis and Our Indigenous Security System. All prowlers mauled. Guaranteed.

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AND JUST FOR FUN, A FICTION PROMPT CALL...!!

Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Take the prompt "A NEW RESOLUTION" and write something for the visitors this month. It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.

I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).




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Follow this month with Clare - and the goodies so far:

JAN 15: Favourite worldwide travel with cdn_tam.
JAN 16: 10 cautionary tales from ZA Maxfield! zamaxfield.

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Check up on the original post and the Guest Schedule for January HERE.

Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.