Monthly Archives: November 2011

On the Air

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the radio about my book, The Unraveling of Abby Settel. Nikita Robinson of HOTT 107.5 Bermuda invited me on her Book Club Hour to talk about the book as a prelude to her announcement that it is December’s choice for the Book Club. (Woo hoo!!)

When the interview date was arranged a month ago, I had asked Nikita if she had questions for which I could prepare answers. Her reply was no, she preferred to do it on the fly and let my responses be spontaneous. This gave me a moment’s pause, but I shrugged off any apprehension this might have generated. I mean, I know my topic.

In the week leading up to the interview, I was hit with a very bad virus–sinusitis, fever, chesty cough. I became anxious that I would not recover in time for the interview. Who wants to listen to someone on the radio coughing and croaking? Happily, I awoke yesterday morning feeling lively and energetic, with only the occasional hacking. Before leaving for the radio station, I took a swig of Robitussin and was good to go!

Nikita had a knack for putting me at ease. Although I hadn’t been nervous up to that point, once I sat in the studio while waiting for my turn, listening to her speak into the microphone, seeing all the electronic equipment, I was suddenly hit with the jitters. But Nikita chatted with me while the music was playing and soon I was comfortable in the environment.

I took my place in front of a big microphone, Nikita brought me a glass of water (thank goodness, because just before we started I had a coughing fit!), and we were off. I was there for the whole “Book Club Hour,” and Nikita and I would talk about the book between song sets and promo ads. I warmed to my topic, expanded my answers, and all in all, had a great time. It was heartening to talk about Abby, and what writing the book meant to me, and why it would appeal to readers.

Soon I will receive a recording of the interview and when I do, I will post it on my website, so if you missed it, you’ll be able to listen in.

I’m thrilled that my book is the radio’s book club choice for November, and doing the interview was a blast. I didn’t expect to ever be on a radio show. Thank you Nikita, for this wonderful opportunity.

Have you ever been a part of something you never imagined?

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Filed under fiction, sylvia may, The Unraveling of Abby Settel

Plan it or let it flow?

Yesterday I set aside the whole day for writing. I exercised early, cleaned the kitchen, put the laundry on, made a cup of coffee and sat down to work by 9:00am. I’ve been making slow progress with my WIP so I was determined to complete chapter 10 and 11 by the end of the day.

There I was, fingers poised over the keyboard, collecting my thoughts. I knew what my character was going to do, what would occur as a result, and I was eager to make it all happen. After five minutes of typing, I was scratching my head. Questions popped out of the manuscript for which I wasn’t sure of the answers. What day of the week would it be? Should Lydia be at work or was it her day off? How many days had passed since Lydia last saw Agnes? Exactly what colour eyes did I give Rhett? How long had it been since Dan left?

I know what you must be thinking. I’m the author. I should know these things. But up to now, my writing process has been an organic one. With a basic plan in my head, I have been letting the story and characters evolve on their own. New characters slide in and I see them in my mind, describe them on the page, and continue on. But if someone appears on page twenty, and then not again until page 120, my memory for details become fuzzy. What colour did I make their hair and eyes? To find the answer, I have to scroll back to when that person first appeared and locate the description I’d written, a tedious process because of course I don’t remember exactly what page I’m looking for.

In my character Lydia’s case, she has a six-day-on/one-day-off work schedule. As I wrote events that happened to her, I forgot to keep track of what day it would be. That is why yesterday I found myself wondering if she should be at work or not. Overlooking that small detail stopped the flow of my narrative. I could not carry on with the storyline until I clarified that point.

So, instead of moving the story forward, I went back through the completed pages of the manuscript and plotted a timeline for everything that had happened to Lydia so far. I outlined the rest of the story and documented details about all the characters and places.

I did not complete chapter 10 and 11 yesterday. But I still had a very productive writing day. I now have a plan to follow for the completion of my novel, and expect progress to flow much more smoothly than it had been.

Will I prepare better for subsequent projects? Probably. What I have learned is that it takes more time to backtrack than it does to chronicle as I go, and that the creative flow gets more interrupted by not knowing the details than it does by taking a few minutes to record the particulars.

I still believe that writing a novel should, in large part, be an organic process. The characters and events are more real (and the process is more fun!) if given somewhat of a free rein. However, a certain amount of planning, documenting details, and keeping track of events make for a tightly structured novel, and doing so will certainly help this author progress quickly through the rest of her current WIP.

What do you think? Should a novel be completely planned out before writing it?

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Kids, Advice, and Marketing on the Internet

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