Distilling my Life

Dear Reader,

  I am getting to take the first major step in simplifying my life. Next week I am moving into a smaller place.

  I’m going from a two-bed-two-bath apartment to a one-bed-one-bath place. I call it my Crash Pad. With a little luck and planning, I’ll be able to use it as a base of operations for traveling on a semi-regular basis.

  Part of the downsizing involves going through my stuff and having to be ruthless about what goes with me and what goes to new homes. Conventional decluttering wisdom recommends disposing of anything you haven’t used in thirteen months. This time interval accommodates the Holidays, so I see it as sensible.

  Mostly.

  What about my books, though? I may not read them, or reread them, within thirteen months, but having them on book shelves around me is like being with old friends.

  Clothes, shoes, and furniture come and go, but my books stay. As Erasmus is quoted as saying, “Whenever I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”

  If such a philosophy was good enough for a Medieval genius, it’s good enough for me. Most of my books will move with me.

Warm regards,

Rosanne 

 

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The Year So Far

Dear Reader,

First, major thanks to every single person who takes the time to read my stuff! You could be doing other things, but you have chosen to give the energy of your time and attention to me. Thank you!

Second, I have been taking stock of how this year is progressing so far.In a goal-tracking context, I’ve learned a few things about myself as a writer:

1. I LOVE stringing words together for you to read.

2. I LOVE telling stories, although it’s more like a collaboration between me and my characters. I sit in front of my laptop every day, and when it’s fiction time, my characters tell me what to write. Sometimes I take dictation, sometimes I have to referee points of view, sometimes I have to decide if a piece needs minor tweaking (such as adjusting a character’s name), or major surgery (changing the tense from first to third person in an entire novel).

3. The more books I have out there, the more challenging the writing becomes. Everything in the story has to tie in with everything else in the series. Contradictions are not allowed. Even something as seemingly trivial as a character’s height or eye color has to be right, because if I make a mistake with that, what else did I goof on? Call it OCD, if you like, but it’s vital to me to get it right the first time.

4. I have to be alone to write. If there is anyone in my living/work space, I focus on their needs and can’t pay attention to what I need to write. Many folks may not understand, but solitude in every way is a must-have for me to be able to write.

Third, I’m taking time every day to express my gratitude and appreciation for every good thing in my life. That includes all of you, big time! Thanks again for simply being there.

Warm regards,

Rosanne

 

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Tsunami of Crap Revisited

Tsunami of Crap Revisited.

Dear Reader,

I just finished reading Russell Blake’s blogpost. I agree with him. I write my stories with the following in mind:

1. I entertain first. If you are educated or enlightened, or both, in addition to reading a fun story, that is a bonus.

2. You, the reader, deserve and get my utmost respect. Anything I publish is my very best work. I have every intention of my writing skill improving over time, so you will have an even better “best” to look forward to.

3. My stories are between me, the storyteller/writer, and you, the reader. Always and forever. Period. No middleman. Just you and me, guys.

 

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Writing and Language

Dear Readers,

I have been working on the manuscript for Book III – Blood Bonds: The Cavern, trying to solve some logistical problems that came up. I have been also reading about one ebook a day since I downloaded a Kindle app onto my phone, mostly works by independent authors.

I have built a head of steam on this topic that cannot take any more pressure. These are good stories ruined by imprecise writing and editing. I didn’t make it past page three (3) before I had to call it quits on one story. A major shame, because I knew the writer had worked really hard on that book.

As a writer, I look upon words, grammar, and punctuation as my stock-in-trade. If I don’t know exactly what a word means, even one I think I know absolutely, I look it up. If I’m unsure of grammar or punctuation and don’t know where to go for the correct form(s), I write around the idea. “Assume nothing” has become my best friend. 

Grammar is more than just some dry something that had to be suffered through in high school. It is how words are put together to make sense for the most folks who know the language. Grammar contains the building blocks of a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, a story.

Writing is words, grammar, and punctuation. Period. No, exclamation point! So, in order to write, I consider those three (3) things to be my most basic tools. I always have. I always will.

Warmest regards,

Rosanne Licata

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Different Kinds of Research

Dear Folks:

When I first started writing the “Blood Bonds” series, I decided to read as much about the tenth century as was practical. That way, I wouldn’t put anything into my stories that hadn’t been invented or discovered yet. In my opinion, that is a fatal mistake to make. Shoots credibility to blazes.

At first, I stuck rigorously to reading about the first half of tenth century Europe. I learned there wasn’t much written about that era, so I expanded my reading. Am I glad I did! Amazing things took place around the year 1,000 A.D. While I can’t use them specifically, knowing what happened later in time puts events into context for me. One major example is learning Scandinavian women had much more freedom and equality than their counterparts in pretty much the rest of the world. Did I know that beforehand? No. Does this knowledge add to the depth and richness of my characters? Yes.

My research has taught me something about what it was like to be alive in the tenth century. I think I’ll stick with the here and now!

Warmest regards, 

Rosanne Licata

 

P.S. If you want to know the titles and authors of specific books I read, ask. – R

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For My Next Magic Trick…!

Dear Folks:

When I first set up this site, I was deep into Book II – Blood Bonds: The Castle. I remember having the following conversation with myself: What can I possibly blog about that folks will want to read? A novel is easy in comparison. I tell a story that goes on for about 250-300 book pages. Piece of cake. For me.

Blogging, though? It’s like a newspaper column. I need to come up with something new and interesting every time I post something. Yeah, right. So, here goes.

Last month/year, topics went all over the map. I touched on my creative process, my muse, the importance of language in writing, and the value of consistently showing up to the writing space. This year, however, is going to start with me addressing a more fundamental question: Why write in the first place?

The short answer is that I can’t not write. Stories, that is. The characters nag at me so much , I write down what they dictate just to give us all some relief. The interesting part is, instead of lessening the tension, the story-telling intensifies the need to write. The characters become more insistent, they nag that much more, I write that much more, the need intensifies, and so the spiral goes.

If that makes me sound a little nuts, so be it. The best part is, a new story is birthed, one that didn’t have life before I started writing. If I fulfilled my part of the bargain, the characters have been able to come through with a minimum of distortion by me. They stand and shine as people I delight in introducing to you. They tell you in their own words what is going on with them. They talk. I write. You read. Nice arrangement for all of us.

With luck, or perhaps I should call it magic, there is the question, “What happens next?” I want to know, too. Based on what you tell me, so do you. As long as “And then what?” gets asked and answered, I’ll keep writing stories. When the characters stop talking, then what? If that ever happens, I’ll let you know.

Warmest regards,

Rosanne Licata

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Dear Folks,

The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve has always been one of my favorites for reflecting on the year winding down, and planning for the year to come. 

I’m at the brainstorming stage at the moment (cynics would call it the “wishful thinking” stage.): What would I like to do if I had no limitations?

Hmm…!

I’ll divulge some of my revelations in the next post. What about some of the results of your brainstorming?

Warm regards,

Rosanne

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December 27, 2012 · 9:02 pm

Christmas Day Greetings

Dear Folks,

MERRY CHRISTMAS (New year best wishes are for next week)!!! I hope you all are having/had a most marvelous holiday!

More writings are soon forthcoming. Cheers!

Warm regards,

Rosanne

 

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More on My Creative Process

Dear Reader,

I have said I would go into more detail on several topics, extravagant promiser that I am. Let’s talk a little more about the creative process.

Let me tell you what creativity is not, for me. Being creative is NOT about waiting for an angel muse to arrive at the perfect time and gently shower the mind with eloquent phrases, imaginative plots, and genius literature. As a matter of fact, my Muse is a 6’5″ Viking who drinks, smokes, swears (sometimes in foreign languages), and insists that I take dictation from him. For me, it works a treat; he tells me wonderful stories. For other folks, my Muse may be a most horrific image that would stifle any word flow whatsoever.

My Muse says, “Shh! Sit.Take this down. Do not interrupt, just write.” I don’t argue, I just do it and stories get born.

The point is, the creative process is unique to each creator, be it writer, artist, musician, dancer, actor, WHATEVER. WHOEVER. But! To be creative, it is critical to be in a mental and emotional space where you can even recognize your creativity.

Everyone is creative. How creative is a matter of degree. Does this creativity need to be expressed at this moment? Yes. How? For me, by being available for my Muse to work through me.

Once I get quiet enough for my Muse to come through, I sit down with laptop, or pen and paper, and let ‘er go. Doesn’t mean every word will go into a story, but my creative juices are flowing, and something new is being birthed (my Muse just got pale; childbirth is NOT his thing!).

We all have a Muse. Perhaps not a Viking who weaves tenth century tales with magic, adventure, and happily-ever-after, but SOMEONE is there, waiting patiently for you to settle down enough to pay attention.

So, settle down and see what happens!

 

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November 30, 2012 · 4:55 am

Research in the Creative Process

Dear Folks,

One of the fundamental rules of the Navy SEALS is “Assume Nothing.” According to Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, the Third Agreement, is “Assume Nothing.” So, some of the things I learned not to assume as I was writing my first published novel, Blood Bonds: The Caravan, were:

Did any of the following exist anywhere on earth in the tenth century?: stirrups (yes), shaking hands in greeting (yes), gunpowder (yes), coffee (well, sort of, but I finagled it for the first campfire scene), paper (parchment and vellum), pens and ink (yes), books (just getting there), any kind of portable timepiece (not really).

When did Italian, French, Spanish, German, English, and so forth, become separate languages? They were around, but weren’t written down. In fact, the vernacular was only used by uneducated locals. Scholars used Latin (Can’t you just hear the snobbery in their voices?).

When did swordfighting rules get set up? Well after the tenth century.

When did castles first come about? Um…

When I went to research the tenth century, specifically, I got some real eye-openers. More about them, next time.

Warmest regards,

Rosanne

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