Sunday, February 16, 2020

Where Does My Inspiration Come From?

Right now, I'm working on a Revolutionary War trilogy. All three books are interconnected as the war began in earnest. Most folks don't realize the first protest against the British was the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The Declaration of Independence was written and authorized in 1776, but the war waged from 1773 to 1783, when the Peace of Paris Treaty finally signaled the end of the war. So there were a lot of battles and confrontations to choose from to highlight.

Fortunately, there are great characters in each book, and even though each book can be read as a stand-alone, some of the characters appear in all three books. Which makes things easier or more difficult, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, the setting (Rev. War in the northeastern US) and the major opponents (Sons of Liberty and George Washington, the British) are consistent from book to book, so I don't need to drown myself in research. But then, the downside is how to dovetail the characters together from book to book.

Hey, if writing were easy, we'd all be doing it, right?

One thing I've noticed about these books is even though they are grounded in the Rev. War era, I use modern day music as my inspiration for the first two–the boat in Book One is named Gladys Maria, honoring Gladys Knight, since the boat is bringing a woman named Pip to the colonies. Get it?















Book Two has a heroine who changes her name each time her circumstances change, but she began her life as Fancy. Her mother dressed her in a red gown and told her to be nice to the gentlemen and they'd be nice to her. Thank you, Reba McIntire, for that inspiration.













And Book Three was inspired by one of my favorite movies–Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. My hero is a widower with five children--Adam, Ben, Caleb, Daniel and Elizabeth. Except for the girl, all the names are compliments of the brothers in the movie.

Only a handful of readers will get the connection to any of these, but they are my inspirations and make me smile.

So what inspires you?

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Beginning Lines

I started a new manuscript this week, and hurt my shoulder patting myself on the back. So, in lieu of putting in a workout at the gym, I'm writing a blog about new beginnings. The start of every manuscript can be exhilarating and scary at the same time. There is so much riding on an opening line, an opening paragraph.


The new manuscript had been bouncing around in my head for a few months now. It was with me every time I floated my cares away in the pool, and would not leave me alone until I put the words on the computer screen. But what comes next? To answer my question, I decided to do some research of what many consider the most compelling opening lines of all times. Here's a sampling:

Edward George Bulwer-Lyon, (not Snoopy)  Paul Clifford 


Call me Ishmael.--Herman Melville, Moby Dick

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.--Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.--George Orwell, 1984

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.--Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

They shoot the white girl first.--Toni Morrison, Paradise

After reading these openings, I wonder--Is my opening strong enough to make you want to read more?

I keep telling myself it's just a first draft and doesn't need to be perfect at this stage, but there has to be something that draws you in, otherwise it needs to be shoved under the bed. Here's my first paragraph. Tell me what you think. Do you want to continue reading?

Eleanor Chastain nibbled on her thumbnail as she awaited the appearance of her employer. The earl had returned to Sussex late the previous day from depositing his child at Eton, where young Michael would finish his education before joining the military. She didn’t have to be told what came next. Her days at Patterson House were at an end. 


Sunday, February 2, 2020

Dipping a Toe In

Most folks who know me or who read my blog know some of my favorite time is spent water walking in the awesome pool at my health club. I dip my toes in the water and dip my head into the story line I'm working on at the same time.  I just completed the second book in my Revolutionary War trilogy, and while it's out with my beta readers, my mind wanders to the final book in this series. The first two books have featured a prominent secondary character named Patterson Lovejoy, an active member of the Sons of Liberty. It's now time for his story.


In the first two books, Patterson was happily married to Margaret and they had four children. At the end of book two, Margaret was expecting their fifth child. But, as was the case so often in colonial days, she died in childbirth, and he is left with five children and a Revolutionary War to take care of.

I had his name and backstory but was puzzling over who to pair him up with. So, I went to the pool yesterday and pondered about who would be perfect for a man like Patterson. By the time I toweled off, I had her name, at least. Enter Eleanor Chastain, a British governess who doesn't know her own strength.

To get the rest of the story, I'll have to make multiple trips to the pool in the next few months. Should be fun, and I'll get a workout while I'm working out their story.