Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This past Saturday, St. Peter, MN, held a St. Peter Reads book festival, sponsored by Gustavus Adolphus College.  It’s based on an idea that is spreading: One book is selected (generally by popular vote) and everyone is invited to read it.  Then panels are held on that book and other literary topics.  Authors are invited to attend and they are on panels or sit at tables and answer questions about writing or selling books.  I was invited at the last minute and so didn’t get on a panel, but I did reserve a table.  It went well, except I didn’t sell very many of my books.  But I did meet other Minnesota authors and bought a few books myself.  The people who ran it were really nice and enthusiastic.  I think I’ll go again next year.

Authors develop quirks about their writing.  I used to light a scented candle and put on a tape of J.S. Bach when I sat down to write.  It was like conditioning myself – just the smell and sound would wake my muse.  I later left out the candle, but I still like instrumental music once in awhile, especially Bach.  The “Little” Fugue can still inspire me to write.  But nowadays I can write anywhere, under almost any circumstances.  Even in a moving car – provided someone else is driving.  On the other hand, I really need my writers group.  They refresh my approach, suggest attitude changes in my characters, point out plot flaws, praise what I get right.  Listening to my fellows in the group as they struggle with a story or suddenly find a way to a gangbuster ending is exciting and enabling.  What do you like best about the writing life?  Besides going to work in your pajamas?  (Which I do frequently.)

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who ask me to put them into my mysteries – not as a mere character, but as the murderer!  Don’t they see that the murderer is a bad person?  Stranger still, some volunteer to be the victim.  Now I will use real people in a book.  I even will offer the chance to be a character in a charity auction.  But I don’t make that character a victim or a culprit.  If I use you in a story, you will live long and happy.  I want to expand on that a bit next Tuesday with a story about a time when I was taught a scary lesson about this.


Betty Hechtman said...

Monica, I'm with you about being able to write anywhere or anytime. Though I didn't have much luck in a moving car.

Anonymous said...

I hope you weren't seriously injured by the experience you plan to relate to us next week.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could use the experience you plan to relate to us next week in a future book -- a newcomer to Excelsior could be a popular novelist on the run from an acquaintance who was put in one of her books and didn't like it. Just a thought.