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Ideal Writing Conditions

A secluded cottage by a lake would be nice – one with maid and butler service.  I’m sure something like that exists, but a first-time novelist writing on spec can’t afford such luxuries.  Instead, I’m the only adult in a house with four kids (ages 7-12) … so if I’m lucky, I’ll get a three-minute stretch of peace and quiet.

I get a kick out of people who demand strict conditions for writing – hours of complete, uninterrupted silence during which they attempt to connect with their muse and “create.”  How do they survive in the world?  Isn’t there always a distraction – as innocuous as a car horn or as tantalizing as an invitation to a dinner party?  Sounds a bit like the “writer’s block” excuse, doesn’t it?

Oh, I agree that a couple of quiet hours are essential for refining a piece of writing.  Now that school is out for the summer, I have to content myself with bits of time at either end of the day – before the kids get up and after they go to bed.  Mostly though I’m writing during those little pockets of peace that occur throughout the day – when no one is hungry, refusing to share a toy, has a scrape on their knee or is arguing over which board game to play.

They may not be ideal, but those are the conditions under which a huge portion of my book is being written.  Hey, if Jodi Picoult can do it, so can I.

On that note, I must run.  It’s five minutes past noon and the littlest kid just asked when lunch will be ready.

Valerie Francis

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Well, you’re not going to believe this. Reece Witherspoon and I picked the same book for our February book clubs. Sort of.  Late last year, I came across THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE by Marie Benedict and was fascinated by the premise. Benedict writes historical fiction, much like Philippa Gregory,

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Valerie Francis

A Girl Named Howard

This month, rather than recommend one book to read, I’m recommending the entire body of work of one author because Anne Rice, who passed away December 11, 2021, single-handedly revolutionized the role of vampires in literature.  Yes, vampires.  And the impact she’s had is more significant than you might realize.

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Valerie Francis

The Christmas Bookshop

If you’ve had it up to your eyes with holiday preparations and are looking for a light-hearted story to escape into, The Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan, might be just the ticket. The title is a bit misleading, in my opinion. Yes, there’s a bookstore. Yes, the plot unfolds in

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