A Lonely Profession


They say writing is a lonely profession.  Most of us write alone.  Our stories are our ideas, and no one can write them better than us. But the other side of that lonely profession is the assumption that loneliness is bad, something we should not embrace.  That it is inherently bad for us, and causes emotional distress.

Empty plate and coffee cup

But some studies out there indicate that being alone isn’t really all that bad for us.  In fact, it can have some huge benefits.  And this doesn’t just apply to writers, although I can see a few of the positives being extra positive for writers.   It applies to everyone.  I know for me, being alone, enjoying some aspects of life by myself, can be cleansing, highly enriching, and definitely fulfilling.  Without the chatter and busy-ness of another person, I can concentrate on thoughts, feelings, and just being who I am.

I will say that when I am alone, I am never lonely.  I’m pretty good company for myself.  Which, too, is a healthy thing.

Here are some of the benefits of being alone:

Being alone will make you more creative. Brainstorming with others seems to be touted as the way to reach the best ideas.  But research shows that people come up with their better ideas on their own.

It will make you work harder. No group projects here, where someone does part of the work, another does none of the work, and you fill in the rest.  You get to create from beginning to end, and have complete control over the process and the result.

If you are an introvert, it goes without saying. I am an extrovert but I “re-charge” by being alone.  The quiet, the “space bubble,” make it optimal for me to find my center and serenity again.

It helps clear your mind. See above.  When you are alone, you are not “on,” you are in a rest or stasis period.  At least, your brain is.  It allows the brain to refocus.

You get to do what you want to do. This is huge for me.  As a wife, mother, daughter, employee, my workload is vast and varied, and often not about me or what I want or need.  Being alone is my time.  I can do what I want with that time, with my thoughts, with my actions.  I find it is helpful to be a little “selfish,” and get my alone time.  I’m much more able to function effectively later when it is time to not be alone anymore.

How do you see your alone time?  Is it a benefit, or not?  Answer in the comments!

Coming June 5th!  Fairest of the Faire by Susabelle Kelmer

Fairest of the FaireThe renaissance fair is filled with characters and romance, but will it end in storybook love?

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Younglood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Pre-order Fairest of the Faire now at Amazon or at The Wild Rose Press!

Uncomfortable Editing


Bow-chicka-wow-wow.

That silly music runs through my head when I doubt myself and pause before or during writing an intimate scene between my characters.  I tell myself, “make it hot” and “make it believable” and “make sure everyone is satisfied.”  Sounds easy, right?  And it can sometimes be easy, if the story is flowing and I just move from the beginning of the intimate scene and through it, to the other side, where they are basking in the glow of what they’ve just done.

How do we learn to write these scenes?  Well, being a married woman, I have a few ideas about how intimacy happens.  I’ve also read a lot of romances over the years.  And I use the idea of romantic sex along with the very real experience of actual sex, and try to come up with something that seems believable, yet hot, and of course, “everyone is satisfied.”

When Fairest of the Faire was going through its editing process at The Wild Rose Press, there was that bit of discomfort when one of my sex scenes was marked with a lot of red. I knew it was no 50 Shades of Grey, thankfully, but it was also not quite up to par.  And it was the most difficult part of the editing process for me.  Not because it was a particularly difficult thing to fix (it wasn’t), but because of the embarrassment I had over realizing someone (my editor) had read it, but that she had comments.

I think some of that is the era I grew up in, but it’s also just a “thing” with our culture.  You can have sex, but you can’t talk about it.  And you certainly can’t correct it if your partner is doing it badly.

But here I was, red-faced, reading the scene and figuring out how to fix it.  *shaking head*

It almost makes me want to write clean romance instead.  Just kidding!

Coming June 5th!  Fairest of the Faire by Susabelle Kelmer

Fairest of the FaireThe renaissance fair is filled with characters and romance, but will it end in storybook love?

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Younglood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Pre-order Fairest of the Faire now at Amazon or at The Wild Rose Press!

Writing Spaces


As a writer, I’m always curious about other writer’s writing spaces.  For years, my “writing space” was the end of the dining room table, where I was constantly being interrupted and distracted.  It was the best we could do, and I dealt with it as best I could.  Then we moved to Colorado (where I came for work during the worst part of the recession back in St. Louis, my hometown).  We have lived in a series of rentals over the last four years, as housing prices are beyond us.  But sometimes, that is a good thing.  Each of the three rentals gave me some really nice writing space that wasn’t the dining room.

The current house has an entire garden-level suite.  This was an add-on to the house, and features heated floors (unless you’ve ever experienced those, you don’t know what you’re missing!), a kitchenette, a separate bedroom, a full bath, and a “living area.”  This 850 square foot space is my getaway, my writing retreat, the place where I do most of my creating.  Allow me to share it with you!

My desk

My desk is a sturdy 4 foot by 3 foot trestle table.  I like the extra depth, because I have an extra monitor in addition to my laptop.  I need room for my ergonomic keyboard, and my various notes and notebooks.  I had a smaller desk, but it was just annoying.  I need room to spread.  My bulletin board holds all kinds of things – buttons with funny sayings, pictures of people I will use for inspiration for other stories, comic strips my mother sends me, postcards from my student staff at my day job.The window looks out onto my back yard, which has a huge tree and lots of green grass.  When I don’t feel like writing, I can sit and stare at squirrels.

Write Your Story coffee mug

This is a prized possession on my desk.  The cup was made for me by a fellow writer in a writing group I was part of in Missouri, who was also being published by The Wild Rose Press.  The other side says “your story.”  It is perfect.

Book cases

No writer’s office would be complete without book cases.  These are filled with books, but also with memories, wind-up toys (a great distraction!) and materials from having been the Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month in Boulder County, Colorado.  Many of the books are reference materials; things I use regularly in writing my books.

Gracie the Cat

My highly-ineffective writing companion, Gracie.  She is two years old and really belongs to my daughter, but she spends a lot of her time in my office, enjoying the heated floors.

My betta, FishyFishy

FishyFishy (yes, that’s his name) is a much better writing companion than Gracie.  He swims along soothingly, waiting for dinner every night.

Editing Chair

The editing nook.  This chair is in the guest bedroom, but makes a good, distraction-free environment to sit and read through hard copies of my edits.

The suite is a wonderful space to disappear into.  It is not all mine, all the time, though.  We do open it up to guests several times during the year.  After all, I live in one of the prettiest places on the planet, mere minutes from the Rocky Mountains.  Who wouldn’t want to visit such a comfortable space?  They just have to remember that this guest space comes complete with a novelist!

Coming Soon!  Fairest of the Faire by Susabelle Kelmer

Fairest of the FaireThe renaissance fair is filled with characters and romance, but will it end in storybook love?

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Younglood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Twitter me!

Follow me on Facebook!

How Does a Story Start?


Writers have a myriad of different methods for starting a story, and writing a story. Some write linearly – they have an opening scene and a pretty good idea of their characters, and how the story should end.  They start at the beginning and end at the end.  Other writers are “pantsers,” taking the barest shimmer of an idea and sitting and letting their fingers fly on the keyboard, building the story as they go without any type of outline.  Some writers are character-focused  They have a great set of characters, and build the story around them.  Some writers are scene-focused.  They imagine a scene, and build their story around that.

These last two types are sometimes called “spiral writers.”  A spiral writer has a kernel of an idea to work with.  Someone they saw or met, or a scene they observed somewhere, becomes the idea that inspires the bigger story.  From that central idea the story spirals bigger and bigger, like a shell, until that small seed at the center turns into a complete story.

smallbarbarianI am one of those writers.  Usually, my “seed” is a picture of a man.  He doesn’t have to be doing anything in particular, but something about him needs to be memorable or trigger some emotion in me.  This picture was the seed for Fairest of the Faire (coming June 2015 from The Wild Rose Press).  I was visiting the local renfair with my BFF Erika, our two girls with us (12 and 10 at the time).  This guy definitely caught my eye.  He caught Erika’s eye too.  We giggled like middle-schoolers.  Then we took his picture.  And then, there was a story building in my mind.

Fairest of the Faire features Gage Youngblood, a carpenter, avowed bachelor, and sometime Faire performer, and Connie Meyers, a widowed schoolteacher with a couple of dark-suited goons stalking her.  When I built the character of Gage, I used this picture as inspiration.  The real man in the picture will never know, because I never got his name, not even when I asked him to stand for a picture with the girls.  That scene ended up in Fairest of the Faire.

smallbarbariangirlsNot that I’m a huge man-watcher.  Well, that’s what I’d like to say.  But I’m married, not dead, and I recognize a good looking man when I see one.  The barbarian at the renfaire was one of many inspirations I could have latched onto.  There are always really great looking, costumed players at the renfaire.

mile-hi

So, I guess I AM a man-watcher!  The latest man I want to write a story for is this guy.  His picture appeared in the paper, in a story about an ongoing lawsuit against a skydiving company at our local airport.  He looks so intense, so focused.  I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere.  I’ll find it, and he will become the hero in a future novel.

My BFF Erika is still my favorite man-watching buddy, even though we live a thousand miles from each other.  We share pictures of kilted men on our facebook pages all the time.  Our friends think we are crazy.  But how can we help ourselves?  So many good-looking men, so little time!

An excerpperf5.000x8.000.inddt from Fairest of the Faire, coming June 5 from The Wild Rose Press!

“Who said anything about a relationship?” he said, standing up so he could tower over her again. “I’m just trying to have a little fun. You know, fun?”

If he’d been an animal, she was sure he’d have had hair raised on the back of his neck, he seemed so angry, and it struck her painfully. She hadn’t wanted to anger him or hurt him. She turned away from him and closed her eyes to tamp down the tears she knew would come if she let them. She crossed her arms over her chest, to hold in the pain. Being tired made her much too vulnerable.

“Yes,” she finally said. “I know about fun. Life isn’t always fun, though.”

“Princess.” His voice was soft, tender. “I won’t hurt you. It’s not in my plan.”

Despite herself, she felt the shivers of desire race down from her shoulders, down her arms and legs, and back up to that secret, soft place at her core. She bowed her head and gritted her teeth, hoping for the feeling to go away.

“And what is your plan, Gage?”

“It’s a simple plan. I want you to feel good. I want to feel good, too.”

Follow me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

 

 

How I Write


Most authors are asked at some point or another about their writing style, and how they best write.  Everyone is different, and I don’t know there is one right way, or one wrong way.

A pretty famous author I am a fan of, Sandra Dallas, has a method I tried, but didn’t work for me.  She writes one page a day.  Sometimes she writes more than one page a day, but she does at least one page a day.  When she’s done, she goes and does other things.  The next day, she reads what she wrote the day before, and does some editing, then writes another page.  Sounds simple enough.  But even though I’ve tried the method, it doesn’t work for me.

Other authors write by chapter.  Some by number of words.  Like I said, everyone is different. But I have learned a few things about myself over the last ten years or so when it comes to writing.

Deadlines

First, I work best under a deadline.  The shorter the deadline, the better off I am.  This is why National Novel Writing Month is so good for me.  30 days, 50,000 words (or more).  There is a hard start date, and a hard finish date.  There are no excuses, no extensions.  It is perfect.  Telling myself I want to finish something by a certain day is not a hard finish date.  I have a lot of trouble forcing myself to finish on the deadline I set.  Editing Fairest of the Faire was difficult, but also easy, because I had deadlines set by the publisher.  When I received edits (and I did three rounds of them), I had ten days to return the edits.  I work full time and generally only had weekends to work on any edits (and most of my writing).  Deadlines work, for me.

Never at Home

Second, I also write better when I’m not at home.  I have a perfectly serviceable office at home, which I’ve not had consistently in the past.  Our current home has an entire garden-level guest suite.  It has a small kitchenette, a bedroom, a large living area, and its own full bath.  I have set up one corner of the living space with a good sized desk and all of the books I use for reference.  The view out the window is of my green back yard and giant thornless locust tree and my shade garden.  I cannot hear sound from the rest of the house when I’m there, and you would think that I would be ready to write up a storm.  But when I am home, there is the housework that calls me, and the laundry, and the empty refrigerator.  There are all those “mom” things and “wife” things that need to be done.  when I am at home, I feel like I cannot write without guilt until I’ve finished all of the chores.  But you never actually finish all of the chores, no matter how hard you try.

So I find myself writing from a coffee shop in town.  I live in Boulder county (but not the city of Boulder) so coffee shops are ubiquitous and open at all hours.  I never have to step into a Starbucks, although they do have their purpose.  I write at Panera Bread if I need to eat and write, but most of the time, I’m hanging out at one of several great coffee shops nearby.  Sometimes I ride my bike there, and sometimes I drive.  Despite the busy-ness at a coffee shop, with people coming and going, and conversations going on all around, I still write better.  I put on my headphones, sip at my coffee, and write away.  It is not unusual for me to burn up the keyboard and write several chapters at one two- or three-hour writing session at the cafe.  I like to say that I have tried every coffee shop in town, which is probably close to the truth.  The criteria for visiting one a second time is whether or not they have decent chairs for long-term sittin’, and the coffee must be good.  There are a handful of shops that have failed on one, the other, or both counts.

I have two favorites at the moment, but as I am a bit of a fickle pickle, these favorites have a tendency to change.  I’ve included a picture of one of my current favorites below.

But when it comes down to it, the only one who can make me write is me.  I can have the perfect surroundings and still fail to write anything substantial.  But I try, in varying degrees, and for the most part, that has to be enough.  Now, if someone would just set a deadline for me to finish my second book, which is definitely under construction and being worked on, that would be great.  Say, end of June so it can start the editing process in July?  That would be nice…

Caffe Luna, one of my favorite writing haunts.  It is in an old Victorian with a wonderful porch and original bubbly/wavy glass windows.

Caffe Luna in Longmont, Colorado

The Long Road to Paradise


I don’t know if it will be paradise, but right now, it’s the closest thing I can come to.  After singing a contract with Wild Rose Press in October, and surviving and thriving through two rounds of text edits, a galley edit, and approval of artwork, Fairest of the Faire is about to be published.

I am alternately excited and ready to see all my hard work in print, and half-scared about the whole process.  There is much to be done before the book comes out.  Updating this blog in new space is one of those.  Lining up promotional rounds, both virtual and in person, creating marketing materials and writing a media kit, writing blog posts to put on other people’s sites, figuring out how to do Twitter effectively, making connections with other writers within my publishing house and outside of it.

It is a lot of work.  I’d almost say it is more work than writing the book and editing the book.  But it isn’t.  It is just different.  I understand writing, and editing.  I don’t understand promotion and marketing.  But I’m learning.

Being published has been a lifelong dream.  It was the kind of dream that I worked toward, without really ever believing it would happen.  But it happened, and now I’m up to my ears in it, and isn’t it just fantastic?

Stay tuned…release date to come soon!  And just to whet your appetite, here’s the cover art.  Isn’t it pretty?

Fairest of the Faire Cover art