Mar 10, 2009

Sharon Lathan and Her Writing Guest Post

I am so honored by Serena allowing me to guest blog for the day. Especially when she agreed to the arrangement before reading my novel! I can imagine it must have been a happy relief when she read Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One and actually loved it. It certainly was for me. Receiving glowing reviews doesn’t get old, I assure you.


I never tire of talking about my novels and the adoration for the Darcys that I possess. I suppose it is fortuitous that I am still enamored by these characters and the life I have created for them since I am required to incessantly dwell upon some aspect of my series in the course of writing these essays. The immense satisfaction and passion I bear for my saga makes it easy to answer the questions Serena asked for this blog, but I am afraid the answers are rather boring. You see, she requested I chat about my writing routine and what inspires me. The truth is I have little in the way of routine since my life is extremely hectic, and inspiration is typically wildly forthcoming! But let me see if I can novelize it into something riveting. LOL!


Routine is a foreign word to me. I have worked as an RN on 12-hour night shifts for close to twenty years. My shifts fall in a haphazard fashion that no one in my family can begin to keep track of. Heck, I have to check my calendar several times a week to avoid a mishap! Between strange sleeping patterns, family obligations, and housewife chores, sitting down to focus on writing ends up being fit in wherever possible. Fortunately I am blessed with an amazingly understanding and supportive husband and children. They have gradually assumed more responsibility so I can lose myself on the laptop. It can be a challenge to arrange my necessary quiet, concentration time into their individual schedules, but they are fabulous in their encouragement and assistance.


Case in point: When I began writing I used the computer designated for the children. That soon became a serious time-allotment issue as my obsession grew. I can remember so many forlorn, pleading glances sent my way as one of them politely begged to be allowed to play a game or finish a report! After 2 months my husband insisted on buying me a laptop – a move that I saw as a heinous extravagance for my ‘hobby’ – but he did it anyway. Needless to say my Toshiba is now one of my best friends and I think I would probably curl up in a fetal ball if it ever died on me. *crossing fingers and knocking on several wooden surfaces* Then, this past summer as he saw me struggling with the noisy distractions as I worked from my comfy recliner in the living room, he insisted we buy a desk and ergonomic chair for our bedroom. If that meant another set of expenses and total rearranging of our bedroom, the end result was propitious. I not only got the bedroom spotlessly cleaned and a ton of junk thrown away, but I now have a perfect place to write AND keep all my publishing related stuff. Cool!


What I have learned throughout these years since my journey began is that I need quiet. Some ambient noise is nice, such as the bubbling of my fish tank or the hum of the heater or tumbling of the dryer. But generally I prefer to sink into my solitary zone. Therefore, I move back and forth from my recliner and desk depending on who is home with the TV and/or Xbox blaring. Both places are set up to suit my personal needs, i.e. – a place to sit my espresso, a table top for notebooks, pillows for lap and back support, and good lighting. Nothing fancy, but functional and organized. I am rather OCD about these things!


Yet, interestingly enough, as much as I prefer all environmental elements to fit the prescribed mode, if my handsome muse is inspiring me, I can get lost no matter what is going on externally. I have done some of my best writing while riding in the car, while on vacation in our tiny trailer, while half-asleep after a long night at work, and while the family watches some action flick! It is also fortunate that after over two decades of a nurse’s bizarre time-table and rapid refocusing skills, it means I instinctively adjust to the needs of the moment. I may LIKE to have utter silence, but I can function just about anywhere. Nice, huh?


So what tricks must my handsome muse employ to get me into writing-mode? Whatever they are, I think he is hiding them up his fine-woolen jacket sleeve for now because I have rarely required any formulas or kicks in the tushie to get me motivated. The truth is that I so adore writing a happy, yes, mostly angst/conflict-free story of Regency life for my favorite couple that I do not have to push myself all that hard. Generally the ideas and vivid dreams are blasting at me so vigorously that my only trouble is keeping them ordered.


This whole ‘writing thing’ is new in my life and a huge surprise; thus I have zero experience or frame of reference. I take it one day at a time with minimal knowledge of how it usually is – if there is a ‘usual.’ From the beginning I had a simple vision, a clear vision of bringing fans of Elizabeth and Darcy into the inner sanctum, sharing in their happiness and intimacy while traveling down the road of an accurate accounting of life in the early 1800s. I was never aiming for sensationalism or heavy drama, but rather an exploration of normalcy. Perhaps that is one reason why the story has been so delightful and easy to tell. I rarely struggle over what trauma to throw in their path, what horrid secret to toss in to cause division, or what dilemma to create so they can fight. The Regency world is fascinating and the English culture of the day beautiful. I prefer to write my characters into that setting as they love and dance and live, taking the reader along for the ride! What drama I do add is usually of a typical type, or if bigger – like a duel – written plausibly and resolved in a timely manner.


Some specifics: I write using Microsoft Word, breaking the whole into parts for me to easily access. I have tried one writer’s program, but did not like it, so I am sticking with the basics! I backup constantly on a secondary hard drive, on CDs, and on a smart-stick. I am terrified of losing my material! I have sticky-pads and notebooks in handy places so I can quickly jot an idea or fact. Since my Darcy Saga has now spanned over 2 years, I have created detailed character lists, timelines, and family trees so I can reference info fast. I have several dictionary, thesaurus, and vocabulary-related websites bookmarked and open as I write. I also have easily a hundred or more historical or other data-related sites bookmarked, all organized into a dozen folders that I can click on when I need clarification or research. I have friends and contacts in the UK who assist me with details. I have hundreds of pictures of England terrain, places, and historical people and items to aid with accurate descriptions.


Many ideas for storylines are inspired simply by reading through English history or geography. I keep Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in my desk drawer and although I do not pull it out as often now since the characters have evolved into my own, I certainly did in the early days! I must have read that book a thousand times, even if it was in pieces. Of course I love the 2005 movie, and the poster on my wall and array of stills flashing across my laptop screen keep me in the proper frame of mind.


The last question Serena asked was what inhibits my writing. The answer falls into two stages. Early on, when I was just writing for fun and to please a steadily growing number of fans of JAFF, nothing inhibited me. Then I discovered something that threw me for a loop and took me many long months, years almost, to come to grips with. That is, the critics. I know this is a normal part of the process, and without going into a long dissertation, let’s just say that there are people in this world whose soul purpose is to tear down. Long before I even thought of getting published, the nasties began to attack, purely for the joy of causing pain. Once I did take steps into the publishing world, they came out in droves, utterly convinced that it is their duty to tell me how I should or should not write. Being such a novice, and very ignorant of this part of the machine, it brought me to my knees more than once and I can’t tell you how often I almost gave up. Fortunately I had amassed far more devoted fans than naysayers. So I persevered, grew a tougher skin, learned to shrug it off, and now have a deeper understanding of motivations.


Now what inhibits me is simply time. Getting published is the greatest thing on the earth and I have NO REGRETS! But, it comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility and work attached. There are long lulls when I am waiting for the next part of the process to occur, and I latch onto that for furious writing. Then there are the frantic times with several deadlines, approaching launch dates, edits, website chores, endless phone calls, and so on! It is fabulous, but don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t hard work.


There you have it! The oh-so-NOT-glamorous life of this here author. Be assured I am not holding my breath for the call to be on Oprah!


For even more information about me or my Darcy Saga series of novels, come to my website.


***Giveaway Details:***

Want to win a copy of Mr. & Mrs. Darcy: Two Shall Become One? This contest is international because I am donating my gently used copy to the cause and the U.S./Canada winner will receive one directly from Sourcebooks. So there will be 2 winners!

1. To enter, leave a comment here (other than "Enter Me" or "Pick Me")

2. Spread the word about the contest to others, and come back here leaving me a comment with a link to your blog post or other form of "word-spreading."

Deadline will be March 14 at Midnight EST. Good Luck!

54 comments:

Meg89 said...

Your workspace is so clean! I don't know if I could work in that alien environment :)

Bridget said...

I've posted this guest blog and giveaway on Win a Book. No need to enter me in the contest.

Anna said...

I found this a very interesting guest post. I wish my family was as accommodating! ;)

As I've already read the book, no need to enter me.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Anna said...

Oh, forgot to mention that I posted the contest in my sidebar.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Marie said...

What a great interview, I really enjoyed it. And the book sounds wonderful, I would love a chance to read it!

vmlay@artsci.wustl.edu

Lenore said...

I like a bit of ambient noise while I working. Like the cat meowing at the top of her kitty lungs...

Sharon Lathan said...

Good morning everyone! Thanks for stopping by and saying a few words. Or even if you do not comment, thanks for reading.

It is deceptive, Meg. I cleaned before the photo shoot! Sadly my 'work' desk too often becomes the catch-all place. But I am ultra organized and rather OCD about neatness. Tragic, I know. :)

Thanks Bridget! I really appreciate that! And thanks to you Anna, as well. Muchos gracias!

Hi Marie and Lenore. Thanks for commenting.

donnas said...

Thanks for the great post. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite stories and I think its great that someone has continued on since thats one of the things I always wanted was to know what happened next.

Seli said...

This is a wonderful blog Serena I am glad found it. Congrats! Sharon you know I LOVE your book. In the future will you be writing perhaps a little more of the marriage of Mr. Bingley and Jane? I think they are also a very romantic couple.

Seli

scottsgal said...

I can't wait to pick this book up (or win it!). I've read several of your interviews and this book is now on my TBR list.

msboatgal at aol dot com

booklineandsinker said...

i really enjoyed this guest-post! i haven't heard of this book, but i'm adding it to my ever-growing tbr pile.

i'm an austen fan and look forward to picking this book up. thanks!

Sharon Lathan said...

Hello again! Nice to see some new names!

Hi Seli! You know, I haven't felt the urge to explore the Bingleys beyond what I have in my novels so far. Obviously they are there and I do carry on their life in peripheral sense. At the moment I am more inspired by the younger girls - following their romantic entanglements.

Scottsgal, you are most persistent! I hope it pays off and that you love my novel once you get it. :)

Hi Donna and Bookline. Let me know what you think!

Dar said...

What a great guest post. You know this probably sounds nuts but sometimes when I read something I can just feel the person's character come through and Sharon's post is like that. She seems very nice and genuine and her love of writing shines through.

I'd love a chance to win a copy of this book and I'll post it on my sidebar Serena.

Becca said...

The whole angst conflict free idea really appeals to me. And it’s wonderful to have such a supportive family, although I’m having a little trouble understanding kids who beg to finish a report. Of course that might just be because I was such a lazy student. I was never a lazy reader though and would love to get my hands on this. Thanks

Wanda said...

This book looks like just the kind that I love to read.

Sharon Lathan said...

Hi Dar! I AM nice! Everyone will tell you so. ;) Seriously, I know exactly what you mean about sensing character or personality via writing. Both good or bad, it is true. I do hope my passion and positive attitude shine through. Thanks for the validation!

OK, Becca, I confess that the report/homework plea only happened a couple times. :) Usually it was the desire to play a game masked under the 'homework' ploy. But I fell for it in hopes of the former. LOL!

Definitely angst-free for the most part. Some call that 'boring' or plotless - I call it a warm, satisfying read. To each there own.

Thanks for the comments. Keep 'em comin'!

Becca said...

I blogged about this here:
http://completepoppycock.blogspot.com/2009/03/sharon-lathon-guest-blog-and-giveaway.html

thanks
rebecca.bradeen(at)verizon(dot)net

naida said...

wonderful post! Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and Pride & Prejudice is one of my favorite novels.

Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One does sound very good.

http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Melanie said...

I'm so glad you commented on my blog so that I found your blog. I LOVE the Darcy's and am so excited to find another book about them.

Sharon Lathan said...

Thank you Becca. I really appreciate the cross promotion. I tried to leave a comment at your site but it wouldn't work. I wanted to let you know that you ROCK!!

Glad to have been of service Naida and Melanie. Thanks for stopping by.

RachieG said...

CONGRATULATIONS ON TELLING THE negative people out there! You are a fantastic published author!!! I'm excited to read your book as I'm sure others are as well.

Great perseverence. Congrats. :)

mindy said...

sounds great thanks for the giveaway

eileen said...

Its time to put those terrible critics in their place! Bravo to you sharon. Never let them get you down.Ive enjoyed your book and cant wait for the other one to come out. Waiting,Waiting, Waiting, sigh!

Melanie F said...

I'm glad that you didn't let the critics stop you! I was reading the novel passages on you website, and the book sounds amazing!

melmarie1@yahoo.com

robynl said...

Sharon, I too work 12 hr. night shifts and I well know what it must have been like for you at first with smaller children and a dh to care for. Wow and kudos to you!!! Dh sounds like a very nice gentle soul who is caring.

I have a copy coming but would love the chance to win a copy for my avid reader friend, Laura. I want to keep my copy, lol.

Sharon Lathan said...

Thank you ladies. Critics can be tough. Thankfully the positive remarks outweigh. Keep them coming! Mostly I fret over those who only read the negative and hope there are enough rave reviews, etc. to encourage. It is so important!

Thanks for ordering Robyn. I hope you love it. Let me know!

Teddy Rose said...

This book sounds wonderful. I loved seeing Sharons workplace.

I blogged about your giveaway here:

http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2009/03/this-weeks-giveaways-galore.html

Ramya said...

I was going to comment about how organized the desk was until I read Sharon's comment about how she cleaned up before the shoot:)

I would love to read her book! Please enter me for the giveaway, serena!

ramyasbookshelf(at)gmail(dot)com

teabird said...

I love anything having to do with Jane Austen, and I love to read about writing environments - please enter me in the contest!

teabird 17 *at* yahoo dot com

Ginny said...

Your workspace is so pretty. Mine is a big pile of papers, lol. Love the blue walls, very pretty!

Sharon Lathan said...

Thank you Ginny. I am sitting there right now, matter of fact, staring at my blue walls and a movie poster of P&P. Great inspiration.

Ha! Ramya you made me laugh! Truly I am very neat and it annoys me no end when 'stuff' ends up piled on my desk. I have very few bad things to say about my DH but one is that he is a junk collector! My desk is too close to his favorite stacking spots.

Good luck Teabird. And thanks again Teddy for the notice.

Priti Vora said...

Hi Sharon,
I just absolutely LOVE all that I have read about and from the book(at your blog).I have always wanted to know the "After" of "Ever-after".Thanks for granting my wish,so wonderfully,too!
priti_vora@hotmail.com

paula h said...

I want to know how you keep your desk so clean or did you just shove everything in the drawers for the picture? :)

Sharon Lathan said...

Oh my Paula! To answer your question I must reveal my weird idiosyncrasies! Believe it or not, each of my drawers are spotless with the items stacked and located in neat piles perfectly perpendicular and spaced. The bottom drawer has my files, all labeled and in alphabetical order. I know, pathetic! Clutter drives me insane. LOL!

Hi Priti Vora! I hope you will not be disappointed. Let me know!

Cheryl S. said...

Wish my home computer area was so organized & neat! At work, I'm a totally organized person, but it's a different story when it comes to home.

I can't wait to read this book. I love reading historical fiction set in Victorian England. Please count me in the drawing.

Thanks,
megalon22 at yahoo dot com

nfmgirl said...

I'd love to see what happens to Mr. and Mrs. Darcy later on down the road. Please count me in. Thank you!

Janel said...

That was a wonderful post! Maybe I should start writing to motivate myself to clean up the bedroom too ;)

Vee said...

Hey SHaron its great that with each interview you add something a little different to make it special and interesting and very entertaining.

Firstly your hubby is a gem. He is very supportive of your needs which is a fine quality to be sure. So congratulations on having a beautiful relationship.

I love the details of how you write and your motivations and I look forward to you writing some more great chapters!
Love always
TSBO devotee
Vee

carlene said...

I loved your guest post. Please include me in your giveaway.
Thanks
Carlene
willreadforever@verizon.net

Dina said...

Hi Sharon,

I remember when you had your chapters on your site, I tied to read them all, but it was hard for me to read from the computer, glad you have a book out, hope to read it soon. Loved that the story continues.

Dina

dlsmilad(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sharon Lathan said...

Yes, my hubby is indeed a gem! Deb, my editor, finally met him just recently (three weeks ago, in fact) and they hit it off smashingly! She called him "a keeper" and I do believe she is right! True love, ladies - there it is. :)

Dina, You will find this book different in many ways from when I posted online. I revamped quite a bit, plus the professional editing.

Hi Carlene, Janel, nfmgirl, and Cheryl! Thanks for dropping by!

liane66 said...

It sounds like you have a great husband!
Thanks for the giveaway!
kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

Jo-Jo said...

I really want to read this book as it sounds like it shows a more passionate side of the Darcy's.

Sharon Lathan said...

Yeah, he's a good man. Now I just have to make sure he doesn't read this or his head will swell. :)

It is passionate, Jo Jo, but tasteful. Very romantic and sensual, but not sheer erotica. Check out my website for examples. Thanks for the interest!

Jo-Jo said...

Tastefully passionate is even more intriuging to me! I also blogged about the contest here.

Jodi said...

This was one of the most interesting interviews I've read in a long time. Thanks for sharing it with us!
Great blog!

Laina said...

These look interesting, and great interview. :)

Laina1312@gmail.com

And I put a link here: http://bookcontestlinks.blogspot.com/2009/03/more-contests.html

Laina said...

*Guest blog, rather. lol

Sharon Lathan said...

Thank you Laina! I really do appreciate that. :) :) :)

Aw Jodi, you are making me blush! Thanks so much for your kind words.

Willow said...

Wow! An actual desk! I just have to balance the laptop on my lap on the couch when I write. I am so jealous, lol.

Willow said...

Oh, I almost forgot. I posted a link to this contest on my blog at: http://free-books-and-other-contests.blogspot.com/2009/03/heres-several-contests-that-ive-found.html

MOMFOREVERANDEVER said...

workspace is too clean- I could not work with a desk up against a wall either

Dina said...

Then it will be like reading a new whole book from you. :)

scottsgal said...

I've been reading so many good reviews for this - definitely would love to read it.

msboatgal at aol dot com