Friday, May 22, 2015

Evening at the Santa Clarita Library

Last week I talked about the upcoming Friends of the Santa Clarita dinner and mystery panel.
Now to talk about how it went. The library is beautiful and I was lucky enough to be on a panel with Sue Ann Jaffarian, Connie Archer (her real name is Connie Di Marco), and Diane Vallere. Anthony Breznican, a writer for Entertainment Weekly, and author of a young adult novel was our moderator. The evening was put together by Robin Hoklotubbe.

First the five of us had dinner together and got to know each other. Sue Ann talked about being a part time vegan, Connie told us stories about her acting career including playing a heart surgeon on ER. Diane admitted to not reading books like she writes because she was concerned she might inadvertently put something from whatever she was reading into one of her own books. I feel the same. We talked about book reviews and how they were one person’s opinion. And then it was time for our panel.

One of the interesting things about being on a panel is hearing other writer’s answers to the questions. One topic was writing habits. Sue Ann Jaffarian works full time as a paralegal and she gets up at 5 a.m. to write before work and writes during her lunch hour. She said she was lucky to be able to write fast. She must really write fast because she writes four series.

Diane Vallere keeps her numerous series going by writing a certain amount of words a day. Connie Archer goes by time and I think she said she writes for three hours each day.

Someone said they finished their book several months before it was due so they could give it to some beta readers for comments and then tweak it.

I wish I was that structured. I write until I run out of time or mental energy. I like to stop in the middle of something because it makes starting up again easier. Also when I get close to deadlines it amazing how much I can get done.

Sometimes I surprise myself about things I say. I don’t remember the exact question, but it had to do with how long we’d be writing. I have always done something, but it never occurred to me to talk about it before. All of a sudden I found myself explaining this habit I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I have always told myself stories. When I was around ten, I’d go for a walk on the sandy road near the cottage we had in Indiana, I’d imagine fairies living in the loaf shaped rural mailbox and picture them getting water in walnut shell pails from the tiny water fall in the irrigation ditch. On the other side of the road, there was a field of purple flowers that smelled like peanut butter.

I would tell myself bed time stories and sometimes I liked them so much, I couldn’t wait to go to bed to start telling myself the next chapter. No more fairies in these stories, I was the usually the main character having an exciting adventure. Between my college classes, I’d walk down Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago and tell myself more stories. Mostly there were the fun kind, but once as I was sewing a dress I told myself a story that was out of the twilight zone and was so scary, I had to make myself stop thinking about it.

When I got to the end of my little spiel, I was surprised when none of my fellow panelist were nodding in agreement. And for the first time, I realized it might not be common practice.

We had a wonderful audience including the mayor of Santa Clarita. It was great to see my friend Hillary who along with her sister Bobbin have been fans of both my series. When we were done talking, we all signed a lot of books. All in all it was a great evening


Planner said...

I don't know if your telling yourself stories is unusual or not, especially for a writer. I know that composers say they have melodies that just appear in their brains out of nowhere.

Your story made me think of some of the novels I've read that take place in the 1800's (such as Jane Eyre). Often, the elite would entertain themselves by telling stories to one another and sometimes acting them out. In fact, I believe that's how Frankenstein was born; the author was challenged at a gathering to come up with a scary story.

Your storytelling is definitely a wonderful talent.

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, that's interesting about the people telling each other stories and acting them out.

What a different world.

Linda O. Johnston said...

That sounds like a delightful event, Betty--and it certainly involved delightful people! Wish I could have attended.

Miriam Lubet said...

Me too. I can't wait for a panel to be closer to my house. When I was little we used to play acting out stories. Sometimes it was a story from a book or a movie. But sometimes we made it up as we went along. I remember saying things like,"Let's pretend....." and just change the direction of the story in the middle. It was fun. I don't hear kids today playing like that.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, it was a wonderful event. And I'd never seen Old Town Santa Clarita before. It's charming.

Betty Hechtman said...

Miriam, too bad we didn't know each other as kids. I bet you were lots of fun to play with.

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