Saturday, September 12, 2009

Welcome Silver James

Howdy, Janet, Prairie Chicks, and visitors! First, let me thank Janet and the Chicks (that could be a Sixties girls' group!) for inviting me here today. I have to admit, I have no clue why anyone is ever interested in what I have to say so when Janet asked me to guest blog, I was at a loss for words. Sh'up. Y'all know what I mean. I can talk a blue streak. I can write about nothing for days. But to say something relevant, to leave words here to make you think...that's a tall order. Janet is so much funnier. Jana, Anita, and Hayley know the craft so much better. Karyn, Molli, and Connie are much more interesting.

At a loss for a topic, Janet made suggestions. I could talk about dealing with a wayward Muse but I complain about Iffy far too much as is. When one's Muse has the temper of a two-year old, the libido of a teenager, and the attention span of a Jack Russell Terrier on speed, what can a writer do? Oh, and she runs with scissors and never listens to me. TR (The Reader), my version of Janet's Evil Editor, just shakes her head in despair. My Call came in the form of an email. I've never actually spoken to my editor but our flurry of emails burns up the internet. The first book is under our belts—FAERIE FATE comes out April 30, 2010 from The Wild Rose Press ( I've also sold a second book, FAERIE FIRE. Wow. I'm a multi-published author. Who would have thought!?! I always hoped and dreamed, but was never sure it would really happen. But luck or perseverance or whatever you want to label it is just something that happens. You keep writing and querying, polishing and pitching, until the right project ends up on the right desk at the right time. Over and over. You don't give up. You, like the Nike commercial, Just. Do. It.

Many authors talk about their craft and their process. I suppose I process the same way I plot—by the seat of my pants. And let me tell you, they get down-right dusty! I simply tell a story. I start at the beginning and tell the story as it happens, introducing characters as they appear, describing their actions and the settings where those actions occur. And then it occurred to me. My topic. Words. It's all about words. Putting them together to describe, to tease, to teach. It's all about finding the right words to convey a feeling, a sense of place, the emotional wraiths that inhabit our books. If I have any advice for would-be writers, it is, “Love words. Love the sound of them, the way they work together, the sense they convey. Love to read them. Love to write them. Love to discover new ones!” I keep a notebook with me at all times. When the words dance in my imagination, I want to capture them with a tender pen and record their nuances to be used in another place and time. I want to paint with words, an artist brandishing their colors on the tip of my fingers as they tango across the keyboard.

Forgive me a moment of ego. I was looking for notes on a WIP and came across something I jotted down one cold, sleepless night.

In the dead quiet of the house before dawn, sitting at a window watching wan light play across the hard, glittering crust of white ice, why do train whistles sound so mournful? A voice echoing in the harsh, crisp cold like an old wino standing on the street corner begging for a buck to buy the cold comfort of a cheap drunk.

That thought, that brief capturing of a moment in time became this in one of my books:

Miles away, the mournful cry of the west-bound freight echoed in the harsh, crisp cold. It sang the song of the lost, the lonely—the call of the winos down on the corner begging for a buck to buy the cold comfort of a cheap drunk. “Gotta buck, buddy? Hey, buddy, gimme a buck tonight!”

And with that, I've used way too many words. Even so, words never go to waste! Any time you want more, just drop by my blog, While my book isn't available yet, lots of others are. A random commenter here today will win a $10.00 gift certificate to Wild Rose Press to discover someone's words. So, questions? Comments?


Gabby said...

"When the words dance in my imagination, I want to capture them with a tender pen and record their nuances to be used in another place and time. I want to paint with words, an artist brandishing their colors on the tip of my fingers as they tango across the keyboard."

This quote really stood out to me. I'm really going to make a conscious effort to think of the "words" and how they portray an image in the writing.

Thanks - and great post!

Paula R said...

Hey Silver, dropping in to say hello. I love the way your write. I often say this, but I do hear your voice in my head as I read. Your style is so "poetic" in a sense. I think that is part of the reason I am drawn to your work. I wholeheartedly agree that when you write, you need to love words. The way you describe things, and the words you chose to use, create such a tangible picture in my mind. I see all the colors, I can hear the wino begging for a buck, I can hear the freight train. You have such a gift.

Your blog here today is full of so much information. I can say with certainty that I have a gift for words, when it comes to poetry. I hope that one day, I can use this same talent with words and create something as pure and vivid as what you create. Thank you for sharing, despite not believing you have something worth saying. You always drop little pearls of wisdom, and I think I need to let you know that more often. Great blog. Thanks for pointing me to the Priarie Chicks. Have a great time blogging and I will see you in the jungle, the Shadows, and hopefully, the Cyber Lair.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Silver,
I am so happy to have you with us, on the other side of the blog, so to speak. I agree with Gabby and Paula that you have a poetic slant to your writing, an ability to paint vivid pictures with your words. I can hardly wait for "Faerie Fate" to come out next April. I wish you great sales and continued success in writing the third in the series.

All the best,

Silver James said...

Good morning, Chicks! I have coffee in hand, a house beginning to bustle as my family prepares to do their assorted things and I'm happily ensconced here on the Prairie.

Thank you, Gabby, and welcome. I rather mixed my metaphors in that quote, jumping from painting to dancing, but I'm glad the words resonated for you.

Silver James said...

G'morning, Paula. Thanks for dropping by. The Prairie is an awesome place to visit and I stop by here every day. These ladies are always warm, friendly, knowledgeable and a whole lot of fun!

Creating with words is like breathing to me. I can't imagine life without either one. You do have a gift for words. Your poetry is heart-felt and lyrical. As writers, I think we all want to touch those who read our words, even if it's only in some intangible way.

Silver James said...

Hi, Jana!

I can't wait for FAERIE FATE, either. It's like being pregnant! FATE hits in ebook form in seven months and eighteen days. (What?!? Me counting?) And comes out in print the following month, though I'm hoping that will change with the new POD policy in place at Wild Rose.

Folks, Jana is one of my sister Wild Rose authors. She has a novella coming out...*flips through some papers* *looks around guiltily* *hangs head*...sometime soon. Uhm...Jana? Do you have a release date yet? BURNING LOVE is one I'm looking forward to reading, too! Y'all keep that one in mind!

We now return you to the regularly scheduled blog...

Molli said...

Hello Silver. As has been noted already, you do have a gift for painting pictures in a reader's mind, and it's marvelous that we have a chance to enjoy that.

You've commented on two concepts that I think are critical for any writer: perserverance and readiness. I keep a quote (not my words, and I apologize to the source as I can't remember who it was) from one of our earlier blogs front and center on a sticky note on the wall above my writing desk: Write - something bad can be fixed, a blank page can't. I'm going to add another one today: Just. Do. It. (This time I'll note that it's from you... well, you via Nike of course.)

Thanks for sharing your words with us, today and every day that you take time to join us.

Ban said...

"Mattie paused on the sidewalk, looking around. The Quarter still wore the effects of Katrina. Peeling paint. Sagging balconies. Boarded-up buildings. Like a sad, old drag queen pining for her glory days, the whole city dressed up in ragged finery and pretended life post-Katrina was wonderful. She smiled sadly."
Those were the first words of yours I ever read, and I knew from that moment I would love your stories.
I can forgive many flaws if an author's writing 'style/voice' draws me in. I've even been known to read stories I would normally find objectionable simply because the words chosen were beautiful ...
I too am a stickler for words, unfortunately that is more times than not my downfall as I'll spend more time on a paragraph than I should revising and editing because I need to use the 'right' words.
Thanks so much for a great post Silver !

Anita Mae Draper said...

Love your voice, Silver, before and after.

You have lots of revelant things to say. I don't think I've written many posts without you stopping by to cheer me on and I'm grateful to you for that.

And now I have to get crackin' as I leave for Denver on Monday.

Thanks for giving us an insight into the real Silver. ;)

Cecile said...

You are too modest honey... You are truly an amazing person!!!
Your words are just as amazing as you... And your Muse... she is a trip!! I can actually picture her!!!
It is great to get insight into the person...
I hope you have a great weekend!!
And ladies... this lady rocks!

Janet C. said...

I'm late to this party - you all started without me. Welcome, Silver, to The Prairies - officially. Like I said in my intro, you are amazing and we love that you hang with us Chicks.

Everything I've read of yours is a portrait in words - from purple prose to dark, shadowy romance. I can't wait for Faerie Fate.

I still think Iffy and Muse should get together for drinks - wouldn't that be a hoot.

Paula R said...

Hey Silver, thank you for the kind words about my poetry. I will keep that in mind when I am working on my book. I think my biggest fear, when it comes to words, is that when I put them together people won't get the message that I am trying to convey. I am very big on imagery as well as evoking, and if I can't use words that help to create an image in readers minds or elicit some sort of emotional response, then I feel like I didn't do my job. BTW, I added the Priarie chicks to my blogger dashboard. I will have to visit with them regularly now. They are really fun.

Ban, I hope you get the chance to meet Silver, then when you read her words, you will hear her voice. She does have an amazing voice, and I love hearing her stories.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Silver James said...

Hi, Molli, and thank you. I can't decide if people would be encouraged or discouraged if I told them it took me twenty years to sell my first novel. I had things published, mostly technical and non-fiction, along with a novelette, but not a novel. That said, I spent ten or so years not actively pursuing a book contract. So yes, perseverance counts. And writing. So many published authors would like to burn the first manuscript they ever wrote and anyone who says they sold their first one did a whole lot of practice beforehand!

Just Do It! has always worked for me. Good luck with doing it, Molli!

Silver James said...

Ban, thank you. I love that description, too, and find it ironic that I wrote it "cold", only to discover how apropos it is having just returned from New Orleans.

I'm going to tell you what I tell Erika and others just starting the process. WRITE! Get the words down. Even if they are ugly and stark. The first draft can sound brutal. That's why it's the FIRST draft. The finesse comes with subsequent polishing. In the beginning, it's telling the story that is important. Thanks for dropping by!

Silver James said...

Have a safe trip, Anita! And you're welcome. The amazing thing about romance writers is that by and large we support each other whole-heartedly. It's quite phenomenal and I'm happy to be part of it. You know your craft and you have wonderful stories to tell. I know you are on the cusp of breaking through!

Have fun in Denver and be sure to keep us posted!

Silver James said...

*slips Cecile a bribe under the table* ;) You are much too kind, Cecile, but thank you. And thanks for dropping by the Prairie today. These gals rock!

Silver James said...

Dude, Janet! I was getting ready to send a lifeguard out looking for you! I was afraid the tide had swept you out to sea. Thank you so much for inviting me here today. It's been a blast. I'll wait until about 9:00 p.m. to draw the winner's name.

Have I mentioned that I have more fun with the spam verification words on this blog? Just sayin'...

Thank you for your kind words. As for Muse and Iffy? I'm not sure I could afford their bail. You know they'd end up in the hoosegow! Giggling and flirting with the jailers. (Just like we would! ;) )

Helena said...

Hey, Silver ... wait for me. Time slipped away on me today. Are we just one time zone away? Oh, never mind, I'm just happy to join the rest of the Chicks in welcoming you as an official honorary Chick. Thank you for guest blogging, and bringing so many friends here with you.

I love the way the words just flow when you write ... anything. I'll bet your grocery lists even have a lilt. (Thyme and oregano, make that oregano and thyme, a pinch of salt, that would be a recipe, need to buy a package.) Sorry, getting carried away here.

Seriously, Silver, you are an inspiration to all of us who love to write and work/play with words. I'm so glad to get to know you "in person" and tho I've often heard you talk about your stories and your writing process in your comments on Prairie Chicks, now I am really looking forward to reading Faerie Fate next spring.

I also have to tell you that I really could relate to your meditation on the train whistle. I grew up on the prairie, and I can attest that there is nothing to match the wail of a train whistle on a cold frosty night. We lived ten miles from the railway, but the song of those steam engines carried that far.

Thanks again for being here with us today!

Silver James said...

I'll always wait for you Helena! I'm down here on the southern end of the Prairie in Oklahoma. We're CST. Y'all are...Mountain Time? No worries. Still over an hour before I pull a name out of a hat.

Aren't train whistles the most amazing things on a still night? If you've heard one, you can just close your eyes and hear it all over again when you get still and quiet.

And my grocery list? When I remember it...and when I can decipher it...reads pretty much like bread, milk, eggs, dog food, cat food, Diet Coke, coffee, coffee, coffee... Did I mention coffee?

Thanks for having me here, Helena and the rest of the Chicks. This is a pretty cool place to hang out. And when that wind comes sweeping down the never know what will blow in the door.

Helena said...

Have to tell you, Silver, I've always loved the title song from the musical "Oklahoma" ... you're right, just sweeps you away!

Btw, the majority of the Chicks are on CST year round, which right now is the same as Mountain Daylight.

Janet C. said...

Whenever you get around to the draw is fine with me, Silver - even if you want to wait until tomorrow morning (in case anyone else is commenting later in the evening). I'll post a winner's notification tomorrow morning, er, afternoon, sometime.

And glad to have you join us here on The Prairies, Paula. The more the merrier.

Great day, Silver. Thanks again for joining us officially and taking time out of your busy day to reply to the comments. You're a gem :)

connie said...

Wow Silver
I feel like I just had coffee with you. I love words and I love best of all to kow where they came from e.g. the first 200 words we speak are Anglo Saxon.
I have a couple of lines I'm proud of because they used words in a different way "and in the park, a Red River cart bolted into permanent trasit"
and "She took her joys to him like a handful of jewels and her sorrows like stones."
I want to read your book, but I have to wait until April? Poop!
How much of your own experience among the various job-lifestyles do you use? What is your favourite word? If you were to live a story, where would you want to be?
I'm really happy that you are blogging with us as an honourary prairie chick.

Silver James said...

Janet, I went to read, fell asleep and awoke this morning to more names! the draw in a moment. In the meantime, hi, Connie! To answer your questions:

Yes, you have to wait until April. Double Poop, I say! But such is the publishing business. A writer often waits a year or more after contracting a book before seeing it in print. I'll have some digital copies available for giveaways before then, so stay tuned.

I actually draw quite a bit on my personal history when I write. Write what you know, right? Lucky that I'm older than dirt so have lots to draw from, huh? In FATE, there's a scene involving the birth of a foal. Been there done that. In some of my mysteries, I get into police and fire procedures for the same reason. While I love researching places, I want the nitty-gritty, the meat of the story to roll off easily.

If you were to live a story, where would you want to be? Uhm...I DO live in my stories. They may be in my head but I "LIVE" there with each word I put on paper. Now, if I could pick one place in the world to live...right here at home is pretty good but I'm dreaming here. My two favorite geographic features are mountains and the desert. Santa Fe would give me access to both right outside my front door. But I also love New Orleans. And Chicago. London. The Tampa area in Florida. Northern California. Scotland. AND Irelond. As a writer, I can live in all those places and still sleep in my own bed at night. If I'm a good writer, my words will transport my reader to those places so they can share the scenery, too.

My favourite word? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Or discombobulated. I spend more time discombobulated, so... Okay. In all seriousness, picking a favorite word would be like picking a favorite child. Each and every one has its own special nuance and flavor, its own rhythm and reason. Words are my children in many ways. I might not like some of them, but I love them all.

And now...drum roll please....the winner of the $10 gift certificate to Wild Rose (and I'll need your email address for delivery) is....

Being emailed to Janet so she can post it! *bwahaha*