Happy Fall! I’m thrilled to post my first blog on SMP Author’s website, and at my favorite time of year. There are lots of reasons why I love this season the best: the crisp chill in the air, the brilliant color show nature provides, not to mention the fun of Halloween. I’m odd, I know, but it’s true—Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. This year I look forward to a trip from colorful New England to sunny Florida to spend the weekend with family, including my three-year-old grandson.
But there’s more to my fascination with Halloween than just costumes, candy, and children’s laughter. I’m a wannabe ghost hunter, a true believer in them, those lost spirits of people who’ve passed, but never made it through the elusive door to the next realm. Which is why, I suppose, I love writing about them. Romance with a ghostly twist, I call it, as in my debut paranormal/contemporary SMP novel, which you can check out here – Phantom Traces. The trailer, if nothing else, is worth the price of admission! Book Trailer
There’s another part about this time of year that gets my blood pumping, and that’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. For those of you not familiar, this is a worldwide challenge for aspiring authors to complete a 50,000 word, complete novel during the thirty days of November. So my Halloween happy-face doesn’t even have time to fade and it’s November 1st! It’s free to join up and that link is here: Nanowrimo
How, you ask, is it possible to write ANYTHING of value in 30 days? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Phantom Traces was born as a NaNoWriMo project. Yes, that’s right—on November 1st of 2012, I toted my laptop to an old library near me, found a quiet corner, and typed, “One.”
I wrote the first two chapters of Phantom Traces before the library closed and kicked me out. Then, on every day of the month thereafter, I struggled to add at least 1667 words to the file. That’s the magic number, the number of words it takes to reach 50,000 in 30 days. I will admit, it was at times an uphill battle. Nights when the blinking cursor taunted me as I glanced over at the clock thinking, “but I have to get up and go to work tomorrow.” Times when I had no idea what was coming next. Moments I felt like what I was pounding out on the page was pure trash.
But when the morning of December 1st dawned, I had a beginning, a middle, and The End, totaling 54,665 words. It was a rough draft—very rough, but it was a foundation, one which, over the next year, I developed into the 95,000 word novel that Soul Mate published last February.
How does one approach this intimidating feat? In preparation for the writing of Phantom Traces, I had a rough plot idea, photos of my characters (a very important part of the creative process for me), and a picture in my head of my imagined, haunted Harvey Library.
I had spent the month of October driving around New England, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and checking out every single old library I came across. I created the Harvey from a conglomeration of elements I found in many of these unique old structures. And I found that starting the actual writing while sitting in one of these venerable old buildings was terrifically inspiring.
This year, I’m Nano-ing again, with a brand new story idea that came to me during a trip to upstate New York last month. Again, I have a general plot outline, pictures of my hero and heroine, and the taillight lens of a 1964 Mustang Fastback, which will sit next to my keyboard as I write. What does that have to do with my story? Like the library served as my muse, so will this battered, junkyard fragment of what was once an amazing car.
And what role does a 1964 Mustang Fastback play in my soon-to-be-written ghost story? Guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out ☺ ~~~
Claire Gem writes romance with a ghostly twist, a genre she likes to call The New Gothic. She lives in Massachusetts with her couldn’t-live-without-him husband, a Boston terrier named Chopper, and a well-worn Macbook. She loves creepy old buildings, abandoned asylums and hotels, and may well suffer from taphophilia. Or coimetromania, perhaps.
But that’s where some of her best story ideas come from.