Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting Away From It All ...

Most authors have unique writing processes, little tricks to help them write well. Mine is simple - just getting away from it all. When I've completed my research and am ready to begin the next novel, I plan a writing retreat to some place that will inspire me and feed my creative process.

When I was ready to write my "Waters of the Dancing Sky" novel, I took off, alone, for Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. I brought all my research notes with me, colored pens, and a roll of white paper. It was time to create my fictional village on paper. I needed to know where my characters would live, what the town looked like.

I settled into my room at Rock Harbor Lodge, got my supplies out - but found it difficult to get down to business. There were trails to hike, a lighthouse that beckoned, moose roaming the island, and Lake Superior lapping against the rocks beneath my balcony.

So I headed out to explore this wilderness island, chastising myself for not getting down to work. After all, writers need to write, don't they?

Of course, BUT... it was then that I discovered my secret to writing well. To write effectively, I find that I need to achieve a delicate balance among three things: learning, creating, and being.

"Learning" is the exploration, research, travel, taking in and absorbing of information. "Creating" is the process of shaping that information through your unique perspective, rearranging bits of information into something new and meaningful.

"Being," however, is the piece that we often tend to ignore in our fast-paced world. It is the process of letting go, of clearing your mind, of doing nothing except absorbing the world around you without the need to analyze or fix anything.

As I settled into the natural rhythm of Isle Royale, I thought about this. I gave myself permission one morning to just sit out on my balcony as waves crashed below me, as diamonds of sunlight danced with the seagulls. I lost myself in the waves, in the magic of this mysterious lake.

I had nothing to show for that morning - nothing except a burst of creativity. I felt that I'd absorbed things deep within my soul and subconscious, things that soon began to surface in the pages of this novel.

Just being... and getting away from it all... Try it, you'll like it!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Friday, August 12, 2011


The writer in me is restless... it's time to start my next novel, tentatively titled "Amelia 1865" or "Prairie Rose." Before I begin, however, I need to hit the road. I need to explore the places where my novel will be set, to learn about the people, the history, the culture.

You see, I'm a place writer of "destination" novels. It's important to me that my readers identify with the places where my characters live. It means a lot to me when readers tell me that after reading my book, they are planning a trip to the place where it is set.

So...this time I'm off for several enchanting destinations. First, to Walnut, Iowa, officially known as "Iowa's Antique City." It's a small village of brick streets lined with turn-of-the-century historic buildings filled with antiques. Home of Prairie Rose State Park. A refreshing place where small town spirit lives on.

My final destination is the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana. Nestled in the mountains at the foot of Boot Hill Cemetery, Virginia City was a bustling gold mining town in the 1860's.

The basic premise of my novel is this: WHAT IF a restless spirit comes back to life seeking revenge for her murder in a previous lifetime?

She's a bored farm girl growing up in rural Iowa. Commitment-phobic, she stands her fiance up at the altar and heads west towards an unknown destination. A mysterious force drives her to the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana.

Why does she finally feel at home here, somehow recognizing old historical landmarks? Flashbacks begin to flow through her soul, driving her to a cemetery nestled in the mountains overlooking the valley. Here she discovers an overgrown gravestone inscribed, "AMELIA 1865." No last name, no date of birth.

Obsessed with discovering the truth about this long-forgotten woman, Rose finds herself flashing back and forth between two different realities - her current sheltered life and that of a "hurdy gurdy girl" struggling to survive in the Wild West. Rose's own life depends upon her ability to merge these realities into something that makes sense.

This strange journey becomes more complicated when a love interest materializes and throws her off balance. This relationship becomes a bizarre dance twisting and turning between love and hate. Can she still accomplish her mission? Does it matter?

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay