My Next Novel

I can’t believe, I haven’t posted a blog about my writing life for almost a year!  Guess that’s because I’ve not only been very busy traveling (read my latest Adventures with Sher blog, on my recent trip to Switzerland and Italy), but also, doing reseach on my next novel, which takes place in Astoria, Oregon, Paris in the 1980’s and goes back to  WW II in Sweden. The protagonist, Lena, goes in search of family secrets and is shocked to learn why her Swedish Grandmother screamed at night. The working title of my book is Scream and I may use the famous painting by Norwegian artist, Alfred Munch, as my cover. 

Painting The Scream by Munch

I’ll keep you posted as I go along. This month gave me a jumpstart as I joined the NaNoWriMo competition to see if I could write 50,000 words in one month. It’s been quite a challenge, especially since we just returned  to our winter home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and there are so many wonderful distractions here, starting with the Day of the Dead festivities just after our return. 

Wish me luck and stay tuned. I may post a few sample pages of the new novel as we go along. I would greatly appreciate your comments. 

Writing Workshops Can Help

After years of attending writers workshops, being part of a writers group and taking part in Writers Conferences, I was beginning to feel “enough is enough” but “slogging away” on my new novel, I realised I still have so much to learn and when the opportunity presented itself to study with a successful writer, Signe Hammer, who lives half the year here in San Miguel de Allende as I do, I signed up. 

Our first session of three was yesterday, and I must say it was an interesting experience, with six other aspiring writers, mostly writing memoirs, but one fiction. Signe was a good guide and kept things rolling quickly but with enough time for individual contributions regarding each piece submitted by the participants. We also did a warm-up writing exercise with a prompt from Signe, which helped break the ice and gave us each a chance to warm up! I must add, warming up is also meant to be literal these days as San Miguel temperatures have dropped to the low forties, unusual this early in the winter.  B-r-r-r-r. Those of us who have portable gas heaters in our casas all have them cranked up now.  Luckily, I have one in my writing room and really enjoy the cozy environment in which I put pen to paper. Now, I’m knee deep in early re-writes on some of the scenes in my novel and look forward to the next session with Signe. Writing is a craft and like with any craft one must practice and practice. It’s fun and always stimulating. 

A Book Review: Doerr’s ‘All the Light’

What better content for my writer’s blog than some book reviews of my favorite recent reading? I hope to post one review per month. Let  me know in comments, what you think and share your reads with me, too.

 I just finished Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and I highly recommend it.  Doerr has the remarkable ability to weave a tale both full of mystery and touching observation, of fastidious attention to the tiniest of details of character and place.  He puts us into the scene and we feel the emotions of his characters at a time of great upheaval, WWII in Germany and France. I could not put his book down, and read well into the night for the three nights it took to digest this marvelous read.  Doerr’s poetic language had me sighing with pleasure along the way and then filled my eyes with tears as he revealed the horrors of war and the inner conflicts of his child characters in a world they could not fully grasp. I quote one of his reviewer’s, Alice Evans,  descriptions of the story by Doerr:

It is “a story about the German occupation of a village in Normandy during World War II, a story of heroism, particularly the heroism of children, whether an orphan girl who asserts her right to distinguish truth from propaganda or a blind girl who learns to see with her fingers as well as her heart.” The orphan girl’s tiny and brilliant brother, Werner, inspires our imagination and admiration throughout the story.

What is amazing about Doerr’s writing is his ability to comb the depths of the souls of these children, to uncover what inspires and motivates them and what ultimately gives them hope and the ability to face horrific dangers, to survive in spite of the them, with sheer endurance and will. 

I cannot recommend this book more. On an added level, it interested me as a writer, providing information relevant to the topic of my next novel, which also takes place during WWII. If I can write a book half as impacting and beautiful as Anthony Doerr, I will revel in the accomplishment. I know it may take years!