Thursday, May 10, 2012



Because I'm a mom, I see everything in relation to my kids.


My hubby asks: "What's for dinner?" 

I think: "What will little Johnny eat?" 

A friend asks: "What are you doing this weekend?"

I scroll through my mental calendar of the kids' sports and birthday parties.


Virtually everything that goes through my mind, somehow centers around my kids. It's just the way it is...and I suspect that most moms would say the same thing.


So it's no surprise that when asked if I favor one of my books over another, I genuinely couldn't choose. How does a mother choose one baby over another? She doesn't. And that's just what my books are to me: my babies. Like our children, I believe that there is a definite birth order effect on each book that we writers produce.


The FIRST BOOK is just that - the first. It's the book that makes us writers. So there's no question that we hold a soft spot for this first book. We may not have known all the tricks of the trade when we set out to write it, and we may have made mistakes that veteran writers can spot at a glance - but for each of us, this first book is a piece of magic. We knew a book was the end result of our labor...we knew what was coming, but it surprised us nonetheless. It was truly a labor of love. There will never be another first.


Now the SECOND BOOK is a bit different. It is in every way, the middle child. We feel more confident in our abilities and we know how it will feel to hold it in our hands when the last word is written. We are prepared for the inevitable fear that comes with sending it out into the world, so young and defenseless. We can visualize it. As a second time author, we know that we don't know everything,  but we see that this second book will be a happy sibling to our first and a stepping stone to our third and others as yet unimagined. The second book is our friend, we settle in and enjoy it.


Then there's the MOST RECENT's the baby among our completed work and as such it is precious in a totally different way. This is the one that you are now spending most of your waking hours with and feeding on is helpless without you and as such gets all the attention (for a little while at least). It's the one that you know you can write, the one that you can almost predict how long each chapter will take and map out more specifically than any other piece. You know where your third child will go to school before they even exit the womb, so too as a writer, you know how this third book will progress before you put pen to paper. It's all "fleshed out" in your mind from the start. There are no surprises. Things go as planned and you can breathe. But the ending is bittersweet. Is this the last? Will there be more? Only time will tell...


But though birth order affects our relation to our work, one could never take the place of another. The first is not more important than the third, the second not more loved than the first. Each holds a unique place in our history as the Mother Author and each plays a role in our success. Life is a journey and so too is writing.


And all I know for certain is that each piece we write is a gift.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top 10 Music Artists that have Inspired My Work


It's what makes artists paint and musicians compose. It's what drives educators to teach and dancers to perform. And at the end of the day, inspiration is what makes authors out of ordinary writers.

For me personally, inspiration is what carries me from the initial heady enthusiasm I feel on page one of a new project through the hills and valleys that naturally occur before I edit that last paragraph.

I can have a brilliant idea. I can even find that perfect first sentence and a twist for the end to leave readers wanting more. But without inspired content in between that first and last page, the project is a failure. For me, music has always been my inspiration when I hit that inevitable road block - when my character is at a crossroads and just doesn't know which way to go. I will be driving along with the radio on or my ipod turned up and suddenly a song or an artist will resonate so clearly with the character or plot I am working on so that there is no longer a shadow of doubt about what I will write next. The song...the lyrics, the tone, the emotion...becomes the passion to drive my stories forward.

So I've compiled a list of the top 10 music artists that have inspired my work to date.

10. James Taylor - He's mellow and poetic and can deliver a setting through words as well as any novelist I've ever read.

9. Zac Brown - He has that honest southern sincerity to his voice no matter if he sings about "cold beer on a Friday night" or the sacrifices of our armed services...his words are heartfelt.

8. Bob Dylan - for obvious reasons...

7. Paul Simon - He's still going strong without Garfunkel and longevity is inspiring.

6. Billy Joel - He's got that little bit of crazy to his songs that make me feel like we are together on the edge of something big...quite possibly something disastrous, but something big nonetheless.

5. Christina Perri - Oh, the angst! "Sweet little bluebird..." Angst, angst and more angst!

4. John Lennon - If for nothing else than Imagine, he sparks the creativity in me.

3. Miranda Lambert - She's tough as nails and tells it like it is. Sometimes simple and to the point is best.

2. John Denver - He's wistful and dreamy...puts me in a contemplative frame of mind.

And drum roll please....the top musician that inspires me with every song he writes and every character I have created...

1. James Blunt - Somehow he manages to capture the complexity of a personality within the confines of an individual song. In a three minute song, he can show you the good of a person and the devil on the other side...which just proves that characters are multi-dimensional and complicated if we just give them room to breathe.

Yes, my inspirations come from a wide range of musical genres, so if you haven't heard of any of them, I highly suggest you do...

What artists inspire your writing?