Sunday, September 30, 2012

My greatest influence as a writer

What has been my greatest influence as a writer? One of my greatest influence as a writer has to be – hands down -- my upbringing. I’m a proud military brat, I grew up overseas and this most definitely influenced my writing. In fact, my lead characters in the investment club are all military brats. Some are based on friends that I met overseas while attending the University of Maryland Munich Campus, others from my time in Naples, Italy. I draw upon this overseas experience to create many of my memorable characters and scenes in The Bloody Mary Club.

We are a scrappy, resilient group. Military brats are used to picking up and moving and adapt to new cultures very quickly. We have had the opportunities to see a lot of different places and experience cultures from all around the world. In most instances, we have lived in numerous states and countries, and have made new friends everywhere. Although I have to admit, it wasn’t easy moving time and time again. The overall joys, lifestyles, and experiences of being military brat are shared with others that have gone through the same experiences. I met my husband at Munich Campus (now married 32 years) and we share a lot of the same experiences. Living overseas has influenced me greatly. I graduated from High School in Naples Italy, went to college for two years in Munich, Germany. I finished college at Georgetown University in Washington DC and went on for my masters there. I’ve been lucky enough to have lived in Germany, Turkey, Albania, Italy, Holland, and France. My husband and I love traveling and living abroad. We’ve been ex-pats working overseas for many years. I’m as comfortable abroad as I am here in Alexandria, Virginia.

Many military brats dwell on the negatives, but for me it’s been all positives. Military brats are known for being outgoing, very adaptable and vagabonds of the world. This mobile upbringing allowed me to become a very well rounded, multi-cultural global citizen with a love of travel and adventure. It also explains why I like to try new things and embrace change. It’s made me resilient while at the same time open to new ideas. I can go into many new situations, learn the ins-and-outs, and then quickly assimilate. On the downside, I’m always trying to overcome the ‘itch’ to move and change things around. I’m a true rolling stone always planning my next overseas adventure.

My college roommates from University of Maryland, Munich Campus, 1974 to 1976. We are still going strong after 36 plus years. We went to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware for a get-together.

Here we are as a group! And best of all, they support me as a writer!

Here are more photos of my Munich girlfriends from 1974 and photos from our beach trip in 2012.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Rewrite or rewrite from hell?

Rewrite. And then rewrite again.  There’s rewriting and then…rewriting from hell.  As most writers will say, writing is rewriting. The first draft of your novel is the purest and most perfect form of the story you want to tell. It’s the only time you can write with total abandon and get it all out. You should feel wonderful when you get to write the words: The end.

Savor it.

Then the rewriting begins. You cut out the clich├ęs, redundant phrases, run on descriptions, double negatives. You carefully peel back the layers and look for the heart of the story. The hardest thing to do is kill your babies, sometimes you have to cut those passages that you love the most in order to move the story along.

Rewriting is hard work.

But there’s something worse: Rewrite from Hell. This is the worst. It’s when you rewrite for an editor or literary agent that has no clue what she wants or what the story is about or how to sell it. My literary agents fell in to this category. They did not make my novel better; it went astray and became unrecognizable even to me.

Somehow, through the process, dialog didn’t get snappier and action scenes more dramatic. I cannot tell you how many times I rewrote The Bloody Mary club. It has gone through at least 17 drafts. The characters changed, were cut then added back in. Locations modified, dialog pared back, and even stock market investments mentioned came and went.

I finally came to my senses and rewrote the story the way I wanted to tell it – on version 18.

I kept copies of all those versions.

Now you've seen my 3 foot tall rewrite hell pile.