This weekend, I am attending my first conference for the Romance Writers of Australia. It’s an action-packed program with something for everyone. I’m looking forward to the networking and to all that I will learn – not just about the craft of writing but about the industry.
I am pitching to four new publishers, and have spent today collating thoughts and information. I’ve also gone back to the manuscript for The Red Heart to give it another read through. It is amazing that even after I have read it numerous times, and spell-checked and edited, and even after the editor engaged by the publisher reviewed the manuscript, that I have still found a couple of typos and grammatical glitches. As I have read, I also tweaked and done the odd nip and tuck, taking out words or descriptors that really do not add anything of value to the story. I am embarrassed now thinking of the clumsiness of the original text. At least I am improving.
I have also added a new thread running throughout the story, expanding on the conflict between the key characters and which will also lead into book two in which I tell Sarah’s story.
The cocktail event on Friday night should be a blast. I don’t often have an opportunity to bring out the bling but sure will for this occasion. It will set the rest of the conference off with a bit of pizzazz. Perhaps I’ll even come up with some new story lines. I’ll have a drink for you.
I love the way that characters develop a life and personality of their own. Sure we create them initially, but at that point we probably don’t fully understand their attitudes, their sense of humour or how they are likely to react in any given situation. We don’t know what they are going to do next. As I sit in front of that sheet of paper or the keyboard, these people develop motivations of their own and I am constantly surprised at what they do. I am there to keep them focussed, but take their directional journey with them.
That’s not to say that the characters have full rein, as I know in general terms what their purpose is within the story – each character is there for a reason – but I draw the stick figure and the story fleshes that person out. I enjoy getting to know them as the story progresses.
Some stories flow easier than others and The Red Heart was one of those. It helped that I had lived for many years in Alice Springs and also that this was where I learnt to fly. I knew the country from the air, I knew the characters and of course I knew the technicalities of flying.
Today, there are many women who make aviation their career but at the time in which this story was set, there were still barriers to women as pilots. The attitudes encountered by Kathy were very real. It is a real buzz for me now therefore to get onto a commercial flight, knowing that there is a woman on the flight deck.
I don’t know where Kathy is now, but perhaps she has progressed to the flight deck, still using Alice Springs as her home base, or perhaps she has settled on Mulga Downs with a brood of young jackaroos and jillaroos. What do you think she would have done?