For the month of December–with bonus posts on November 30 and January 1!–I am delighted to welcome a wonderful assortment of guest bloggers to take over the helm. Please enjoy their generous contributions to the blog this month. My own bloggery will resume January 2. I wish you and yours happiness and health this holiday season. Please note: comments are disabled until my return.
At my annual writers’ retreat this year, late on the last evening when we all emerged from our writing caves for a final group gathering, someone posed the question: If you could choose, would you rather have your books bring you money or fame?
“Fame,” I answered, without thinking twice.
The answers were mixed about fifty-fifty. And as the conversation flowed on to other things, I wondered why I chose so easily and what it really meant, since neither one is part of my current portfolio. Certainly, money is nice and useful and I would be awfully glad if my books made piles of it. And when I say “fame,” I certainly would not want the paparazzi shadowing me on the way to and from the grocery store. (And neither would you. Trust me.)In fact, by “fame,” I didn’t even mean name recognition, though if “Blythe” became as meaningful as “Nora,” or “Cher,” I wouldn’t complain.
As I pondered the question, I realized that my answer was less about being recognized by strangers on the street and more about having my books touch my readers’ hearts and minds, not their pocketbooks. After all, if money is the goal, believe me, there are less rocky paths to a healthy bank account. But what keeps me showing up at the keyboard is the hope that someone who reads the book will be touched, moved, and curious. To be specific, there are three ways in which I would love to reach my readers, who, I am sure, are people very much like you.
First, I would like to entertain them, which is to say you. I hope to provide a page-turning escape into a different world. I strive to write so that you will look up, finally, surprised to find yourself in the twenty first century instead of the one in my book. One of my all-time favorite Facebook comments was from a reader who held me “personally responsible” forher recent sleep deprivation. I felt not a whit of guilt.
Second, I want to write stories that speak to your emotions. I want you to finish the story having gone on an emotional journey that, in some way, might help or comfortyou. I want you to close the book and think, “If Cate could heal from her trauma, so can I.” Or “If Stella could break away from the expectations imposed by her parents, so can I.” Or “If Alexander and Margret can find love in such impossible circumstances, maybe there is hope for me.” Learning, growth, change, overcoming our programming and our limitations…these are lifelong challenges. Sometimes, reading someone else’s story, even a fictional one, can speed the journey.
Finally, and here’s the geek talking, I hope my stories spark your interest in history. Many people think history is boring. (Obviously, Deanna is not one of them, yet another reason we get on so well.) I think it is fascinating. And the best way I know how to make other people think so too is to bring it alive. To allow you to walk around in as realistic a world as I can create, so that you can experience how it might feel to be the illegitimate daughter of a dead king. Or a woman accused of witchcraft. Or a woman who knows a secret that could topple the royal family. History is not, and has never been, about dates and battles. History is the story of people, and I love showing how people, particularly people in love, can change the course of human events.
Maybe you would not call those things “fame.” Maybe achieving them is simply another kind of “fortune.” Either way, they are enough to drive me to the keyboard every morning.
So while I’m waiting for my financial cup to runneth over, be assured that any day I get a reader email, or a good review, or someone who comes up and says “I love your books,” I’m a millionaire. You, as a reader, have the power to give that to any author. Never feel self-conscious about a fan girl moment. I’ve acted like an awestruck reader myself with some of my favorite authors. Let her know you love her work and you’ve made that writer, for that moment, the richest soul on earth.
After many years in public relations, advertising and marketing, Blythe Gifford started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years and one layoff later, she became an overnight success when she sold her first book to the Harlequin Historical line. Since then, she has published eight romances set in England and on the Scottish Borders. The Chicago Tribune has called her work “the perfect balance between history and romance.”Her most recent title is THE WITCH FINDER. For more information, visit www.blythegifford.comwww.facebook.com/BlytheGifford