The passages leading up to the ballroom scene, which are laugh-out-loud funny. No. Wait. The first romantic scene between Linnie and Daniel, which veers quickly from zany to hot-damn heat. Or perhaps…In all seriousness, if I write a scene that doesn’t grab me by the throat and refuse to let go, it’s time to delete, delete, delete. Readers deserve a page-turner with every book, every time.
Developing the main character, Linnie Wayfair, was a bit of a struggle. By nature I’m a “charge right in” sort of woman, and Linnie is the opposite. Second-guessing herself, afraid of change—bringing her to life was a deliciously fun struggle!
A groaning TBR pile of fiction, magazines, nonfiction—at the moment, I’m rereading Jared Diamond’s superb Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and have just finished Jodi Picoult’s thought-provoking Small Great Things.
I’m a bit like the Marines: up at dawn and writing creatively until early afternoon. Then I break to go to the gym. After an hour-long workout, I return home to edit the morning’s pages, connect with readers, chat on social media and work on marketing tasks. Then I break again to walk my dog on Charleston’s gorgeous boulevards.
Writing is a solitary, sedentary career, and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of building exercise into the daily workflow. I find it disheartening to attend conferences and find many of the most successful writers overweight. To anyone planning to become a career novelist I’d point out the obvious: those of us capable of producing great fiction over decades are as serious about nurturing our bodies as our craft.
The friendships that carry women through life’s most challenging moments, and the ties—however precarious—that bind siblings throughout their lives.