The Silence of Progress

When we’re called to shelter the walls may feel tight. Yet I’m grateful to be able to shelter on our farm. Walks on the mountain have brought daily joy. Spring has come and gone. Summer’s here. The lavender’s in bloom.

I’m also grateful my work is here, and I can immerse myself in that. I’m working on the series, two trilogies, one centered in ancient Minoan Crete, the other in ancient Ireland. They’re complete now. But before my agent sent Book One to a new publishing house recently she suggested I review it.

Review it.

Two simple words. But it meant going through the whole thing. So in silence I entered that world once again–and found places to heighten the tension, smooth the flow. After she sent that off it occurred to me that if I found places to improve in Book One, maybe I’d better review Book Two–which led to reviewing Book Four, one I had recently revised dramatically. And once I read that I thought I’d better make sure the required changes in the opening of Book Five still worked. I got caught up in that story and didn’t really know where to stop, so I read it all. Book Six is a bit long and I think I should see if I could trim it a little–which will require a full read. But I got to thinking about Book Three, which I had skipped because it has always read so well, thanks to my muse who breathed so much of that story into my ear. What if I could make it just a bit better? I reviewed it. No big changes but worth the read.

Because I have been so deep into this, I haven’t been on social media much. It’s in the silence that I make progress.


Rainbows of Promise

I completed a writing landmark last night and woke on this blustery morning ready to celebrate. Look who came to the party, bringing a rainbow of promise.

1321-elk-rainbow-2If I have seemed absent these last few weeks, it’s because I have been immersed in creating a comprehensive outline for my next book. This will be the third in my second trilogy set in the ancient world over 3,000 years ago. The story brings together many threads from the first five, so it hasn’t been a simple project. But rewarding.

There seem to be two camps of writers, those who work from outlines and those who shun them. I’m an outline author because I can’t imagine pulling all that information together and holding it in my mind throughout such a complex story. It’s a guide, not set in stone. But when I do venture off track, letting my imagination veer, I often find myself lost in useless dead ends.

I actually enjoy the outline because that’s where I tell the story from beginning to end in simple language. Once I start the actual writing of the rough draft I will show the story. The draft is the most thrilling part because I live the story then. That said, I have been known to shed a tear even when writing or reading the outline. Many scenes have already come to me by that time, especially when my muse has been generous–and she has been on this one. So I have experienced those scenes as they’ve come to me, and they touch me again when I copy them from the notes.

1295-elk-morning-2The elk arrived early for my celebration, seen here just off my front porch. And they stayed late.

Along with the work on the new project I’ve also been promoting my Oregon pioneer stories that are already in print–A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds. I’m continuing to do speaking appearances around the area, the next in Newport, Oregon, on the coast. A lovely setting. That’s next Sunday, the 26th (details on the sidebar at right).

It’s even rumored that I’ll have a short appearance on local TV. More on that later. Now to a short break, if I can quiet my mind.

The rainbow formed a complete arc and lasted more than an hour. I don’t remember ever seeing one last so long. I want to embrace its promise and the power resonating from the magnificent creatures who share my world.


A Muse and the Power of Names

721.fog on mountain

My muse has been visiting me for the past three weeks, breathing words and ideas into my mind like fog drifting into the timbered mountains with refreshing beads of vapor. I have experienced creative fever before, but never for this length of time or with this power.

I had the premise for a story in my series set in the days of ancient Minoan Crete. I had written three already and I wondered what I would do this winter—with time to write and no story compelling me. For this one I had a few names brought over from the earlier books, but I didn’t really know most of the characters. The two I knew best had carried another story in the series, and while I’d become so attached to these two that I had trouble leaving them, I knew the next book had to be focused on the new people.

The trigger for my muse came when I was doing a final reading of Book One in the series and came across a family name connected with my new protagonist. It would have been the name of her great-grandmother, and was only mentioned once in the first book. That name touched me, as the name I’d previously given the new character did not.

I decided to rename my protagonist. Logical, I thought, for her mother to name her after an ancestress. And with that change, she went from being a sweet girl, the delight of her mother and her people, to being a young woman who could break men’s hearts—and her own in the process—never intending harm but rushing headlong into life with all its joys and perils. Then, while I was still caught in the excitement of getting acquainted with this intriguing person, I considered another character. I had a minor role for him, although a key role. When I named him he moved into the story with stunning force that changed their world. My muse put the rest together—I think with sheer pleasure.

I’m not ready to reveal those names, but in three weeks’ time I have drawn up an entire storyline. I have over 80 single-spaced pages of notes, a preliminary outline of scenes, and am ready to put together my working outline from which I’ll write the first draft. I expect my muse to continue whispering small thoughts, and the story may shift here and there. They always do.

But I will never doubt the power of names to inspire a story.