For the second year in a row, I am turning over the blog to guest posters for the month of December. And for the second year in a row, we’ve had a great response–thirty-three requests for spots! For the next month you’ll be hearing from writers, editors, and other pros on a variety of topics. I always let the guest writers choose their own subject and give them carte blanche while they’re here. There are no limitations on topic or language, and this time we’ve got everything from favorite words to sexsomnia! Since I will be hunkered down doing revisions on the first of my new books for NAL/Penguin, I am turning comments off for the month. Most posters will include links to their own sites if you want to follow up with them. So, I wish you all the best of holiday seasons–peace, prosperity, good health, and a fabulous start to 2015. See you in the new year!
Today we welcome Sally Kilpatrick.
In Which I Get to Touch the Hem of Deanna Raybourn’s Blog
First of all, thanks to Deanna for allowing me to besmirch her gorgeous blog. When she extended the invitation last year, I sat before the Twitter most paralyzed. This year, I made myself volunteer. Maybe I was emboldened by my accidental taxi ride with Catherine Coulter. After all, there’s nothing like introducing yourself confidently and extending a hand to someone only to realize you should totally know her. In my defense, it was dark. We had been to the Harlequin party. (Thanks again, Tanya Michaels!) Wine may or may not have been involved…
Ahem. Anyhoo, writers are my rock stars.
Often I forget that I’m a writer myself. In my mind, I’m still reading ALL THE THINGS in a dual quest to entertain myself and learn how to be an actual bona fide writer. In my mind, I’m still that twenty-year-old in an undergraduate fiction class with my professor asking, “Is this supposed to be satire?” (It wasn’t.) “Because your short story is, uh, cliché.” (Ouch.)
And all that kinda brings me around to how I discovered the works of Deanna Raybourn. When I was twenty-two and fresh out of college, I had this crazy notion: I’ll write a romance novel. How hard can it be? I’ve already been forced to read Heart of Darkness at least three times. Surely, genre is easier than literature.
Yeah. About that.
A good romance novel is like a Shakespearean sonnet: the limitations of the form/genre actually make it more difficult to write. I’ll stretch this metaphor a little farther and say that, as in all poetry, you have to learn the rules before you can break them. After (mumble mumble) years of writing many romance novels in many genres, I had my Eff It! Moment. The Eff It Moment would be the one in which you tell THE RULES to take a long walk off a short pier and write the story you want to write and then worry about how to sell it. I wrote The Happy Hour Choir, realized it fell under RWA’s Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category, and then started looking at every book that won that category and several of the nominees. The book that really jumped out at me? Silent in the Grave.
Y’all. I was hooked from the first line, and I haven’t looked back. There aren’t many authors who’ve inspired me to buy ALL of their works, but Deanna is one of them. Mind you, I haven’t read them all yet because I get very “Squirrel!” as I work through my TBR pile, but I have them and parcel them out as treats when I’m a good girl and meet my deadlines. Suffice to say, it’s an honor to be on the blog of an author I respect so much.
Now, some of you have actually read part or all of The Happy Hour Choir and are saying to yourselves, “Sally, your book has NOTHING to do with Victorian mysteries. You’ve written a contemporary Southern story about a honky-tonk piano player and a minister.” This is true. I love to read historical novels, but I was not born with the gift of writing them. I tell you all of this to say. . . . read widely, my friends. The number one thing that will make you a better writer is to read voraciously. Step out of your comfort zone and read books you wouldn’t normally read by authors who don’t see the world exactly as you do. Read to learn things; read to entertain yourself. Just whatever you do, please read.
On this, the birthday of Taylor Swift*, I commission you to give yourself a new Christmas present: go forth and find a new book by a new author. Looking for a suggestion? You can find me on Twitter at @SuperWriterMom or on my Facebook author page (also SuperWriterMom/Sally Kilpatrick). I’ll throw suggestions at you like they throw rolls at Lambert’s Cafe. You can also stop by my blog (www.sallykilpatrick.com) on December 15th. I’ll have a list of some of my favorites, and I’d love to hear your suggestions, too, even if my TBR pile is beginning to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Come on, you owe it to yourself to rededicate yourself to wider reading on this day that Saint Celestine V resigned the papacy back in 1294.**
*I also commission you to shake it off.
**I felt the need to add a little something factual to the post. December 13th really is Taylor Swift’s birthday as well as that of Tamora Pierce, Ted Nugent, and Dick Van Dyke. Malta became a republic on this day. Donatello, Samuel Johnson, Henry James, and Grandma Moses are among those who gave up the ghost on December 13—different years, of course. Now I’ve done my duty, and you are ready for those holiday bouts of Trivial Pursuit.
Sally Kilpatrick lives in Marietta, GA with husband, kids, and cats—they are all practically perfect in every way, of course. Her debut novel, The Happy Hour Choir, will be available from Kensington on April 28, 2015. You can find her on Twitter (@SuperWriterMom) or at www.sallykilpatrick.com.