It’s a bit like naval gazing to chart writing process and progress, but here is a summary of my work from May 6, 2013 to July 17, 2013. I finished the first drafts and first edits of two novels. One month ahead of schedule. It was my most productive two months ever. A lot of that I attribute to finding characters I love and finding a process for writing a novel that works for me. Here’s the process that works for me: First, bare bones plotting and lots of character development using … [Read more...] about Writing Two Novels at Once
Remember searching for your dreams when you were twenty? I do. And the search still haunts me, the time when we were young and so was life. The world was our oyster, if we only knew how to break it open. It was a time of new adventure, for travel to exotic lands, a time when angst and turmoil were to die for, a time for a lot of navel gazing, a time to forget books and degrees and jobs, a time to get lost in the salt tunnels of Sicily or in the labyrinths of Moroccan villages or on the horns of … [Read more...] about Searching for Dreams
Fleshy Breathers I call them fleshy breathers—characters we remember long after we’ve read the book. They are flesh-and-blood real, larger than life, perhaps ahead of their time. We meet them at a point of no return in their lives and we watch, fascinated, as they pivot or sit there, all broody. We may have forgotten their names, but they and the events that entice them to change are a big reason why we keep reading books. Fleshy breathers are born in imagination, strut their stuff in … [Read more...] about Characters We Remember
The heart of story In another life and far away, I studied at the Art Students League in New York and attended the annual lectures of John Howard Sanden—he’s the artist who recently completed the portraits of Laura and George W. Bush. Invariably, his lecture started with a demonstration, usually an alla prima painting of the sitter’s head in three-quarter view. Afterward, he took questions. One time, someone asked him, how do you begin a portrait? He smiled and said it depended. Sometimes he … [Read more...] about Where Does a Story Begin
Long before they were books, the Serafina Florio mystery series began as two paintings. In 1997 I was commissioned by the American Jewish Committee to paint a diptych of the Lower East Side. The client told me I had free rein as long as my work reflected all ethnic groups that settled in the area from 1882 to 1925. So how do you stuff the richness of that neighborhood onto a canvas? Before I picked up a brush, I spent three months walking the streets of lower Manhattan, sketching in a … [Read more...] about Why Do You Write?