Monday, June 28, 2010


What are your feelings about music and the creative process?

I grew up loving the austere writing environment--a quiet room of my own. Obviously, this is more of a dream, and I find myself writing everywhere with all sorts of background noise.

When I was in college, I spent a year abroad in Florence, Italy. My apartment mates liked to get a bottle of wine and talk into the night. I would try to work on papers but found myself focusing on the conversation going on outside my room. So, and this will date me, I would put on my trusty Walkman and drown out my world with cassette tapes. I often wonder what the influence of U2, Tom Waits, and The Cure had on my essay assignments that year.

I don't often listen to music. I'm usually driving when I do, but I find certain songs inspire me to find certain scenes or remind me of characters. Specific songs evoke a feeling or set a mood for a scene.

I decided this past week to start working on a playlist--a collection of songs I use for inspiration for my novel. I'm still experimenting on whether I want to listen to the songs while I write, or I may use them as a way to get me in the right mood to start the creative process.

What do you do?

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Pizza with caramelized onions, goat cheese, and fresh thyme.

Beet tops sautéed with garlic scrapes.

Honey ice cream with tart rhubarb compote.

The veggies and herbs were from my garden and the farmer’s market. I used as many organic ingredients as I could find.

I’m not a rich woman with money or time, but I love good food and will pay extra and make the time to make a meal.

It’s easy to fall in love with real food, slow food, sustainable food . . . Whatever you want to call eating well.

I started to love cooking as a child. I focused on sweets—cookies of every imaginable combination, pies, cakes (anything involving frosting). When I became a vegetarian in my early twenties, I started cooking more and more of my own meals.

My passion continues.

This may sound lovely or possibly preachy, which is not my intent.

My cooking frenzy has a downside. I can’t go out anymore and eat fast food, and my concept of fast food expands. Though my arteries may thank me, my high expectations leave me disappointed and wanting more.

As good eating advocates deal with our unhealthy food industry, I applaud them with enthusiasm. I’m glad to see there’s finally a movement toward healthier eating.

I have high expectations with food. Is it too much to ask for real food to eat?

Of course not!

Naturally, these expectations spill over into everything else.

Writing, of course.

Yet, like food, good writing comes down to being honest and using the best words in the right combination to make the finished product simply delicious.

Yes, I know, easier said than done.

Time to cook!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Writing Evil

My current wip has a true antagonist. When this villain arrived in my story, I was thrilled. I've never had a real bad guy character before. I thought it was going to be fun. I planned and anticipated his dastardly acts and despicable deeds. He would make life impossible for my protagonists.

True confession time: Writing a believable bad guy is HARD.

What is evil? I would like to think that I am not a bad person, so am I capable of getting into the mindset of someone truly bad?

When I was a child, a horrible man lived in my neighborhood. He had a wife who died in a hot tub accident, and later, after he remarried, his new wife and stepson were killed in a boating accident. The second accident turned out not to be an accident (and perhaps the first as well). He killed his wife and stepson to collect insurance money.

I spent many hours thinking about how someone could be so horrible and detached to kill for money. No one had a clue. He was a very polite and gentle man. One day, in a time period between the two incidents, my dog bit him. I suspect she knew he was evil. The rest of us did not.

So, the challenge, how do I reveal evil below the surface? How can I make my villain truly scary?
I may not be a perfect person, but I don't understand evil.

I'm just glad my evil character is a creation, not a real man.