Religion

I snapped this photograph of Pope Francis at a Wednesday audience in St Peter's Square in September. I am probably the proudest of this photo of any I have ever taken. I still can't believe I took it. Sometimes photographic luck does go a long way: References to religion, and the lack thereof, do appear …

Love Scenes

Yes, yes, there is s-e-x in the novel! There. Okay. So have I gotten your attention? 😉 Presumably, intimacy in a story revolving mostly around 20-somethings is not going to induce reader fainting spells. In one scene in particular, what is going on is obvious. But it is not portrayed in a manner I would …

An Increasingly Distant Time

Today is a terrible anniversary: 25 years ago, on December 21, 1988, Pan Am 103 was blown up in the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. Among the murdered were a group of Syracuse University study-abroad students returning to the U.S. As a university student myself then, Pan Am's destruction made an inestimable impression …

Name Your Favorite Author

I find naming a "favorite" author a tough question to answer. My fiction likes have varied over the years. If I think on a novelist I have liked consistently for the longest, probably at the top of my personal favorites list sits Alan Paton (1903-1988), the South African anti-apartheid author of Cry, The Beloved Country, …

Escaping An Extended Childhood

The other day it was reported American Amanda Knox (who had been convicted in Italy of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia in November 2007, had seen that conviction overturned in 2011, and then saw that overturning itself overturned in March 2013) had sent an email from the U.S. - via her …

Expat Or Immigrant?

NPR is wondering about the difference between "immigrants" and "expats": Project Xpat: When Do You Become An 'Immigrant'? Indeed, what is the difference? Opening the piece, NPR asks a Mr. Horn for his definition; he is a 35 year old American in Kazakhstan "teaching a course called Global Perspectives." Clearly he would have a view, …

Inspiration

Here, in mountainous upstate New York, we got about 12 inches (30 cms) of snow last night. Currently, we can't even hope to get down the drive. We're waiting for a plow. While we are, how about a photo? A quiet street in Pléneuf-Val-André, Brittany, taken in summer 2010: A rather different climate. P.S. Thanks …

Cover Up

Aside from writing, the toughest call to make is probably settling on a cover. An "eye-catching" cover is vital. Initially, though, I had no idea what I wanted, so choosing one started with a process of eliminating what I felt I did NOT want. I realized almost immediately I did not want models. Frankly, when …

A Lonely Trade?

I have read numerous accounts by writers about how "lonely" writing can feel. You are sitting there before the PC, alone with the page, alone with your thoughts. The lack of an out of home workplace, and the stimulation of colleagues - including annoying ones - leaves you feeling isolated. But I can say that, …

Liberated (Until The Next Book)

Writing fiction is liberating. If you have spent much of your time composing work that demanded citations and providing lists of sources, suddenly not having to do so is a strange sensation. The page is yours entirely. Characters may make false or stupid statements, or offer "insightful" and "correct" ones. Those one writes about become …

Weaving Fact Into Fiction

A few months ago, I came across a tweet from an American woman. She wrote of how she wanted to read true stories of relationships between American expats and the French. Unsurprisingly, that got me thinking. "Stories" like that, but which are "true?" Hmm. On one level, her observation indicated she could not be alone …

A Man, Writing For Women Characters

Hope you had a good weekend. It's probably no shock to read that producing a book appealing broadly both to men and to women is no easy task. But when writing and faced with the stark reality of that, you have to ask yourself questions. I wondered (and worried) if aiming for "gender balance" - …

From Ideas, To Scraps, To Book

This novel had been in the back of my mind for years. Bits and pieces of ideas were stashed on PCs, to be retrieved and saved on the latest newer PC, and so on. We all think we will write a book at some point, don't we? A little more than a year ago, though, …

When A Character Takes On Unexpected Prominence

My earliest (non-spouse) proofreader was a close English friend of ours - a woman who has been in book clubs and reads lots of fiction. I had told her I wanted perfect honesty, that I needed to know what she thought. She did not hold back in her critique, but is also the rare type …

An Experiment

An experiment: tell select friends and family you're writing a novel. After surprise diminishes at the statement (meaning, if you have never hinted previously you wanted to undertake such an endeavor), be prepared to hear this question asked by someone (or more than one someone) at some point: “Am I in it?” And your answer …

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