I’m participating in a blog hop for Christmas today…
Here’s a holiday photo..
Christmas is a complicated time for a writer. Both for his or her writing and for the characters in his or her head.
We generally have some time off over the holiday season. We writers generally look forward to it, imagining we’ll have long quiet mornings to get some serious word counts down, or plot a novel, or just scribble down ideas as we ponder the virgin snow in our gardens.
And at the back of our mind, we know that it’s as fictitious as the man in red. We’re surrounded by family, by food and preparations, by kids running around with toys that usually make noise, and require some putting together.
We do get some time, because as writers we make it. We get up early – perhaps not the night Santa Claus comes, just in case we bump into him in the hallway, but on other mornings. And we see the sun come up over the winter landscape as we scribble, or edit, or plot.
For our characters, our plots, our storylines, Christmas can be a crux, or a crossroads, or a cross we have to jump over or have our story impaled upon it. To move the story along it can help, or hinder. Characters who are not from the same place would logically separate for the holidays, go their separate ways, to their separate homes – even if they love one another very much, and I know because I left my girlfriend every Christmas until we got married. If their families are living close by, we are faced with the battery of family members who’d want to be introduced, and while it can be amusing to have some banter over the table, it can be too much, too complicated to include in a plotline that nowadays readers expect to be ever more streamlined and spare, free of unnecessary sub plots and minor characters.
So we skip it sometimes. We gloss over it. If we have to deal with it at all – sometimes the timeline nicely avoids the whole season. In my most recent adult novel, The Ecology of Lonesomeness, Kaleb the American scientist, stays in Scotland for Christmas, since he’s Jewish and isn’t expected back home by his parents. He’s going out with the daughter of fairly strict Scottish Presbyterian, which might have provided some laughs, but also some awkward moments, and it would have bogged down the story; we’d already found out much of what we needed to know about Jessie’s parents, and more would have become boring. So a few comments about how well it had gone and how good an impression Kaleb had made by just being there and attending morning service with the family sufficed.
In my only other novel that had to deal with Christmas, Leaving the Pack, the two main characters are also very different in their approach to Christmas. Paul, of a race of men who are the origins of the werewolf myth and who worship the wolf, has no familial obligations at Christmas, and is happy to accompany Susan, his “normal” girlfriend to her family for lunch (though he does make her miss morning mass… The rest of the day is leapt over, because Susan’s family, since they’re not werewolf-like, are very peripheral to the story line.
Leaving the Pack is part one of my Silver Nights Trilogy, the two other parts of which I am currently editing. My plan is to submit them to my editor and publisher in Tirgearr Publishing as soon as submissions reopen after the holidays. To this end, I have grand plans to work while I have some time off from my day job teaching high school science… of course, I have a 4-year-old who’s waiting to put up the tree, a 10-day old son who hasn’t yet figured out that his dad has other children besides him, most of which are imaginary but equally demanding to have their adventures written down,an extended Spanish family who will expect to see said son and me for their intensive three-day family celebrations, complete with Basque version of Santa, dinner on Christmas Eve, Lunch on Christmas Day and St Stephen’s day, as well as the serious gift-giving on Little Christmas when the Three Kings come… The only reason I don’t have to squeeze in a trip home to Ireland in between is because said son is too small to travel as yet (and hasn’t got the travel documents in time). But I will find some time, and get my submission in.
I’m offering a prize today of a copy of Leaving the Pack – a werewolf novel like no other you’ve ever read, written by a scientist about the truth behind the myth.
Leave a comment and let me know whether you prefer to read about Christmas in a novel or skip it to get to the other plot points to be put into the draw.
Blurb of The Ecology of Lonesomeness:
Kaleb Schwartz isn’t interested in the Loch Ness Monster. He’d enough cryptobiological speculation about Bigfoot while studying the Pacific Northwest forests. He’s in Scotland’s Great Glen to investigate aquatic food webs and nutrients cycles; if he proves there’s no food for any creature bigger than a pike, then so much the better.
Jessie McPherson has returned to Loch Ness after finishing university in London, hoping to avoid the obsession with its dark waters she had when younger and first discovered lonesomeness. She knows any relationship with a scientist studying the lake is a bad idea, but something about Kaleb makes her throw caution to the depths.
When Kaleb discovers Jessie’s lonesomeness refers not just to the solitude of the loch, he’s faced with an ecological problem of monstrous proportions. Can he find a way to satisfy both the man and the scientist inside himself, and do the right thing?
10% of the author’s royalties will be donated to WWF, the World Wildlife Fund.
Blurb of Leaving the Pack, Silver Nights Trilogy Part 1:
Nobody believes in werewolves.
That’s just what Paul McHew and his friends are counting on.
They and their kind roam our city streets: a race of people from whom the terrible legend stems; now living among us invisibly after centuries of persecution through fear and ignorance. Superficially Caucasian but physiologically very different, with lunar rhythms so strong that during the three days of the full moon they are almost completely controlled by their hormonal instincts, you might have cursed them as just another group of brawling youths or drunken gang-bangers. Now at the point of extinction, if they are to survive their existence must remain restricted to mere stories and legend, but, paradoxically, they also must marry outside their society in order to persist.
The responsibility for negotiating this knife-edge is given to Paul, who runs the streets with his friends during the full moon, keeping them out of real trouble and its resultant difficult questions. Having succeeded for years, he finds his real test of leadership comes when he meets Susan, a potential life-mate, to whom he will have to reveal his true identity if he is ever to leave his pack.
10% of the author’s royalties will be donated to WWF, the World Wildlife Fund.
David is a writer, ecologist and teacher from Dublin, Ireland, now living in Pamplona Spain. He has a degree in environmental biology and doctorate in zoology, specialising in deer biology and is still involved in deer management in his spare time.
As an avid wildlife enthusiast and ecologist, much of David’s non-academic writing, especially poetry, is inspired by wildlife and science. While some of his stories and novels are contemporary, others seek to describe the science behind the supernatural or the paranormal.
A long-time member of The World Wildlife Fund, David has pledged to donate 10% of his royalties on all his hitherto published books to that charity to aid with protecting endangered species and habitats.
To see others on the blog hop, click this link...
Before telling you my writing process, let me quickly explain what #MyWritingProcess is about…
“We writers share these things, but informally during workshops and at conferences (and, for a handful of established writers, in printed interviews), but not so much through our open forum blogs. With the hashtag #MyWritingProcess, you can learn how writers all over the world answer the same four questions. How long it takes one to write a novel, why romance is a fitting genre for another, how one’s playlist grows as the draft grows, why one’s poems are often sparked by distress over news headlines or oddball facts learned on Facebook…”
So I’d like to thank Mary T Bradford, a fellow author at Tirgearr Publishing, where my novel Leaving the Pack was just published last week, for asking me to add myself to the link in the chain of writers and authors contributing to this ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour.
You can find Mary’s own writing process thoughts and learn about her own new novel, soon to be published, on her blog: http://marytbradford-author.blogspot.ie/
1) What am I working on?
I am working on a few things, one of which is a sequel to my werewolf novel, Leaving the Pack. In this new book, Leading the Pack, the son of the hero and heroine has come of age and must now leave the protection of his parents country estate to roam the city alone, learn to control his urge for violence and eventually become the leader of a new generation of werewolves that will be unleashed upon the streets. Needless to say, it’s not going to be easy.
I am half-way through what I hope will be my first ever novel written in six months – from idea to final edit and submission. It is set in Scotland, but other than that, I can’t give details.
Once these two are done, I’ll get back to my pre-Columbian Caribbean novel which I have been working on for a few years now, off and on. I get distracted by shorter projects, but there’s no rush. I am about half way through and it’s at 130,000 words so far, so it won’t be getting published until my other shorter work has beaten me a path to publishers – or the other way around!
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My imagination is not very extensive for a writer of paranormal and fantasy-type novels. I am a scientist by training, which does two things: it makes me loathe to write things that are way off the reservation regarding the laws of thermodynamics and evolution, and it makes me wonder, if the situation I am thinking of were to actually exist, what would that be like, in a real-world paradigm? My sensitive poets soul would like to believe in lots of things that logically I can’t say out loud. So putting that altogether, you have a guy who’s only describing the reality of phenomena that others have imagined. Werewolves? Well, of course they are real. Why would there be a legend unless there was a race of people we needed to demonise? They can’t physically change, but their lunar rhythms are bestial, with changes in adrenaline levels and other hormones that give them that mythical strength and tendency to violence. But why be strong and violent? Evolution answers that the only reason is to mate. If they have hormones that make them as primitive as other very sexually-dimorphic mammals, then why not also a pheromone to ensure their battles are worth it?
If ghosts exist, then what are they and how do they interact with the body? A YA paranormal adventure called “The Soul of Adam Short” explains. A boy who can see leprechauns? “Peter and the Little People” shows that it’s simply because leprechauns are real, and they are an undescribed species of mammal that would appear in our wildlife guides if only anyone was quick enough to photograph one – or they didn’t become dangerously indignant at the very suggestion (sorry Fionán!).
3) Why do I write what I do?
I have always been a slave to an idea. I believe myself blessed to have the little imagination I do, and if I get an idea, I always try to write something down to acknowledge it. At the same time, if I don’t, write something down, it stays in my head like a bee trapped behind a window. Sometimes it’s a poem, sometimes a story, and now and then the idea is extensive enough that it demands it’s own world to inhabit, and I end up having to describe a whole pile of things just to suit that original thought. I sometimes wish I didn’t have to write, that it would be much more pleasurable reading and enjoying the scenery. But I sit down and relax and read and ideas pop into my head. Every sunny day seems to merit its own few lines. And since I have an addiction to stationery, I love to fill up white pages…
4) How does my writing process work?
The short answer is erratically! I get the idea and I try to get it down as fast as possible. I have realised that handwriting (though I use the term pretty loosely considering my penmanship) is the fastest and it lets the ideas flow most freely. I usually don’t have the luxury of time to write as fast, or as much as I’d like. I write some straight into a word file and others in notebooks while I have a few minutes in a park or while out with the family. The ideas come all at together: bits of dialogue, plot points, structure, conflicts. I get it written down as it comes and later when they’ve dried up, I sit down, type up what is handwritten, and try to put it all together in some kind of coherent structure. Then comes the hard part of stitching together these pieces with new parts, connecting dialogue, using a chapter list or some other kind of outline, until there’s the guts of a novel. After that, it’s a simple matter of reading it many times and adding chapters and swapping parts around and then cutting little bits at a time over too many revisions to be very efficient until I’m left with something approaching readability.
Thanks again Mary for inviting me to contribute to this tour!
Next up on this blog tour is
Sean is a registered nurse living in Mobile, Alabama, USA. His lifelong dream has been to become a professional writer, but up until recently he hasn’t really known which direction to take. He recently started his blog to debut his writing to the world and is also working on what he hopes will be his first publication: a book of short stories.
You can read all about Sean’s writing process on his creative writing/ book blog called The Write Direction: www.thewrtdirection.com
He’ll be posting on May 26 so be sure to check his writing process out then.