Ahhhhh the sweet writing life …

ImageI met with a reader of Nardi Point over a coffee recently. She’d finished the story and enjoyed it even though when she first began she had mixed feelings. “What do I have in common with a gal who drives a Porsche sports car and wears designer clothing?” she’d asked.

But then as she read deeper, she bonded with Leyla Jo and the story became a richer and more satisfying read. This wonderful reader took notes and wanted to explore the characters and gain insight into their motivations. This level of interest is what makes writers’ hearts soar!

And here’s where our meeting gave me chills. This dear reader had selected two quotes that especially rang true to her. These were the same words that as I’d written them, I respected their meaning fully. I guess you’d say I was inspired to write them. And to receive affirmation that these words had been received was amazing. I thank and honor this dear reader with a very happy heart.

I’d love to share any feedback readers would like to share about Nardi Point! I welcome your comments! Feedback helps shape and mold current stories and the issues the stories explore.

And, A Path through the Garden, the sequel to Nardi Point, releases July 3, 2013! I’ve heard from others that they are waiting anxiously to follow Leyla Jo’s story and what comes next. You won’t have long to wait!

Book Club Studioso

Writers are lucky in so many ways … the joy of creating a story, inventing wonderful characters who live with you forever,and receiving lovely invitations from book clubs to talk about our most precious stories.

Today I experienced all these joys when the Book Club Studioso invited me to luncheon and book discussion for Nardi Point. The meeting hostess, Bethany Kelly, presented a delicious three-course luncheon for sixteen members in her delightful and beautiful home in Wakefield. Wine, Mattie Reddick’s famous vegetable soup, savory sandwiches, sweet tea, chocolate bark brittle, and banana pudding … yum!

There were touches of spring whimsically presented in every nook and crannie throughout Bethany’s home. The table-settings included Bunnies, birds, egg-filled trees and I enjoyed the warm hospitality extended to every invitee. Program chairman Matt Reddick delivered a beautiful introduction, thank you Matt, and we were off to the land of Nardi Point … exploring its local setting only miles from where we all sat together. Book Club Studioso

Synchronicity again was in evidence. At the end of the discussion, Bethany presented me with the most exquisite moss-wrapped pot of spring pansies set in amongst small green ground-cover plants! Yes, my next story, Pansies in a Blue Cobalt Jar, uses the pansy as a metaphor … and here it was being kindly presented to me! Amazing!

Thanks to everyone this afternoon, your questions, your interest, your kindness in sharing Nardi Point! I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Ahhhh, the writing life!

Nardi Point Book Club Invitation

I’m so excited to accept Mattie Reddick’s kind invitation to share Nardi Point with the ladies of the Raleigh Book Club Tuesday, March 12th! The club meets in Wake Forest. I love to hear what readers think and what resonates with them for my story that received the 2012 Chanticleer Books & Review Blue Ribbon Published Novel Award.

For those of you with a novel in your hearts, I can recommend the Write Now! Triangle Area Freelancers 2013 Writers’ Conference Saturday, April 20. A very special keynote address will be delivered by award-winning journalist, Zachary Petit, the senior managing editor of the prestigious Writer’s Digest. Would love to see you all there!

Story Soundtracks …

While waiting on edits from my publisher for A Path through the Garden, I’m gathering storylines, plots, characters, and locales for my newest work in progress. To be completed toward the end of the year … its working title is Yellow Pansies in a Blue Cobalt Jar.

The story involves new main characters, Rhose Guerin, a fifty-something Bibliotherapist and her husband, Bruns. Rhose has extensive clinical experience and a thriving private therapy practice. Bibliotherapy utilizes novels, movies, poetry, and music lyrics to help treat clients. So I wondered about what soundtrack/background music might work with this latest story. Many writers select a collection of tunes specific to each story. The music can inspire moods, pivotal scenes, and emotions.

The other night, Thom and I visited the North Carolina Museum of Art for Valentine’s Day. The museum cafe, Iris, presented a wonderful three-course menu, flowers, excellent local organic chocolate, a live music combo, and photos to commemorate the evening. The special Paths through the garden PRevent menu featured a guided tour participants could follow before or after the meal, to view art associated with love. And of course, we had a photo taken before character  Laurinda Elliot of Nardi Point’s favorite painting, A Garden Parasol.

I wondered what might be playing in the background as we enjoyed the evening. Something joyful and fun and I tried to grab at titles and match them with tunes. Not easy to remember titles! For Rhose’s story, I have two selected already but it’ll be interesting to see what others may bubble up.

I like inserting audio into a story, as one more sense to layer into the world my characters inhabit. I’ll have to see what tunes synchronistically come my way as this new story develops!

Balancing the inner creative process with reality!

Writing is a balance between the inner creative process and reality. When I’m writing from the inside, I find affirmation visits me in surprising ways.

My first novel, Nardi Point, sat in my head for a good while, like most first novels seem to do. In the very first stages of story inception, I felt drawn to explore how past cultures led to where we are now.  When writing a first novel there is the luxury of time. No deadlines, polite reminders from agents or publishers, just time to write and yes, rewrite that first chapter. The story idea, the characters, and setting build slowly until suddenly a rush to paper pushes it out into the physical world.

I write what I like to read. Stories where I learn things along the way are especially satisfying, whether that be a travel location, archaeology, alternative medicine, the metaphysical world, or art and design. I honor and take cues from synchronicity, those seemingly haphazard events that take on special meaning for me … if only I listen and pay attention.

Ask writers about their dreams and you’ll be enlightened at how often that world pollinates a manuscript. For me, a dream of two words, NARDI POINT crystalized my story. The words appeared against a white background. Maybe it was a page, but I couldn’t identify that at the time. Of course I Googled it for hours without an answer.

I’ve always been one to pay attention to dreams and right-brain messages, but was still without insight to the entry. It couldn’t be found on Google, then what was it? What could it be? I tried an anagramming strategy, rearranging the letters any way possible and the results stopped me dead. The letters formed INDIAN PORT, exactly what my story would involve, artifacts from nearly 10,000 years ago from the Native American Woodland Period.

And how did Nardi Point correspond to Indian port?  Why certainly it sounded like a housing subdivision, surely that was it. Nardi Point would be a new subdivision where artifacts were discovered on a home building site during construction. The surge was growing. A subdivision would be where a young couple might go to find a new home, perhaps their first home. Home construction is notoriously pressure-producing particularly, on a young couple. How would it affect their relationship? Their lives? Would the past, bury their future?

But the encouragement for the story was not over yet, not by far. I chanced upon a small appeal for volunteers discreetly positioned in the local papers. Where were these volunteers needed? At the State Archaeology offices. I opened my cell and with adrenalin-fueled enthusiasm pushed the numbers. And what do you suppose my project at the State Archaeology office was? Not only cataloging Eighteenth Century ceramics … but washing and preparing sherds of Native American Paleo-Indian artifacts … over 10,000 years old! I processed these sherds in my very own hands!

So then words poured out from the inner world and met real constraints. What would my story’s physical “container” be, meaning how many chapters? How many scenes? How many words? What about genre? The story couldn’t be Romance because there was a greater story about conserving prehistoric archaeological sites and discovering a cultural heritage, than just gal-meets-guy and lives happily ever after. I analyzed and overthought it all, but the momentum couldn’t be stopped. And finally, the manuscript was completed, that first dirty draft. I still struggled with loving it, getting chills when I worked on it, and at the same time having my critical editor-self cast disparaging comments when I faltered. It was my first story after all.

Then came the magical, fairy tale, third-times-the-charm event. We visited an upscale golf club subdivision near Charlotte, North Carolina. Part of our visit included a promotional sales event for the golf community’s subdivision.  Accompanied by the realtor sales agent, we walked past a section of woods where yellow plastic tape had been posted. I felt chills. I looked at the wooded area and asked the realtor, knowing what he would say, why the land had been posted. His response? “Aw, some Indian artifacts were found there. We can’t build there. These things happen in North Carolina.” My head swam, my heart flipped against my chest, and I submitted my manuscript the very next morning!

The small signs along the way gave me the confidence to start the Nardi Point sequel, Paths through the Garden.  I look forward to many flower-filled meadows coming into my writing life!

Monaco Morning

This morning the dawn greeted us in Monaco, overlooking Monte Carlo. No, Leyla Jo and Hal do not visit Monaco, but I couldn’t resist some research … you just never know what may happen after my present work in progress!

The tender ferried us across from our anchorage in the Mediterranean to the Fishermen’s walk along the seawall. Several escalators … yes, escalators … up to the old town, Monaco.

At our last visit we weren’t able to visit the Oceanographic Museum. This time we did … there was a huge aquarium filled with Mediterranean fish. Have to say, there was one sole cuttlefish they looked quite sad. He came right up to the glass and gave us a good look. I have to say our Fort Fisher Aquarium still has my vote.

Beautiful day. Tomorrow, Cinque Terre!

A good story like a new pair of shoes needs a great “sole”

My work-in-progress, Paths through the Garden is the sequel to Nardi Point. Leyla Jo Piper and Hal Jared are on a personal quest which leads them to Rome, Italy. I’m here today doing research and fact checking. They are exploring the greatest archaeological dig of all times … ancient Rome.

Leyla Jo’s favorite historic site is the Pantheon. From the moment she walked into the amazing space, she felt the spiritual significance. Originally dedicated to all Roman gods or Pantheon, it has long since been transformed into a Catholic Church.

As I “walked” with Leyla Jo I found these great brogue shoes and couldn’t resist! But all good stories must have a great “sole” so what could I do?