Throwback Post: A Writer’s Confidence

I don’t remember when I wrote this, to be honest. I’m going to guess it was somewhere around 2014.

A lot of my sentiments are the same, though. I do still believe that if I put the work into it, I can get Roselyn’s Legacy (and other things I write) published. The things I was proud about learning then, I only know better now. While the scope of what Roselyn’s Legacy was has morphed drastically YET AGAIN, I believe that eventually, I’ll get to what the story should be.

I’m going to make a bold statement: I believe that if I put the work into revising Roselyn’s Legacy, I can get it published.

I’m not naive. I know how difficult the process is, and how dismal the odds are. I’m not even saying that it won’t take me years to accomplish. But I believe in this story that much, and I believe in myself that much as well.

I would consider the last few months a ‘cocooning’ for myself as a writer. It wasn’t intentional, while I set out to learn a few things, I didn’t anticipate that it would go so far in changing how I approach things.

Over the last couple of years, I have been trying to learn things, using that as my crutch. I thought that I would be able to call myself a competent writer when I had read all of the proper books and done tons of research. While arguably it would have been smarter just to write regularly, this information hasn’t gone to waste. I have methods for building worlds, plots, and characters that extends beyond (but does not exclude) notes in a haphazard notebook. Because I am not flying by the seat of my pants anymore, I can point others to my resources, which makes me feel credible. I can also look back on these resources when I get stuck.

I discovered, quite by accident, that I am not alone. When I close the file after working on my novel, I feel proud of myself. What I wrote belongs on the pantheon of the gods, or at the very least in a respectable book. But by the next morning, I am pretty sure when I open that file, I am going to find that all I really did the previous day was smack the keyboard with the tip of my nose for an hour. But if I swallow that fear and open the file again, I’ll find that what’s there really wasn’t as bad as I was dreading. But if I let that fear build, it’ll keep me from working on that novel indefinitely.

While I’m not sure if this happens to every writer, or even a majority of writers, I learned that I am not alone. That revelation was gold. You know what the cure is? To keep writing. It’s easier said than done – revising Roselyn’s Legacy, whenever I think about the next scene, I’m pretty sure that’s the point that everything turns to drivel. But then I find that it’s not so bad in reality, and I think of ways to make it better.

I also discovered that ideas beget ideas. Like plot gizka, or plot bunnies, or whatever your favorite multiplying creature may be. If I don’t touch a file for a long time, my brain isn’t working on it. Ideas will be few and far between. But if I work on something consistently, it’s always somewhere in my processing queue. Not only am I finding ideas for Roselyn’s Legacy, but I’m taking notes for a couple other projects as well. I don’t know how much writing I’ll get into with these ideas at present, but I’ll toss those irons into the fire as well and see what comes from it.

I’ve also been reading like a fiend. In addition to reading stuff from writers that I would like to be when I grow up, I’ve been expanding my palette. I’ve always been a pretty voracious reader, but only in the last few years have I stopped being such a snob and started to admit that there are perfectly good books written after 1865.

Lastly, I swallowed my fear and let other people see my creation. My writing isn’t perfect. No matter how many times one section gets passed around, there is always -something- that can be improved. But funny thing, with all this writing I’ve been doing in the past year, I’ve become a better writer. No one has dismissed my novel as drivel and told me to quit writing and go back to my day job. It’s terrifying, don’t get me wrong. Originally a short story called “Heart of Ice”, Roselyn’s Legacy has existed for me for ten years now. I wrote things before it, and I’ve worked on projects since, but I need to do this story justice.

In the end, it all comes down to my willingness to sit down and do the work. The art of discipline is one that I’m still learning, but I am no longer stalling because I don’t feel capable. For the first time, I believe that I can do it…and that’s a nice place to be.

Top 10 Books of 2020: Number 9

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

As I told you in my last post, I am a sucker for historical fiction. This book is that, and it does not disappoint.

Set primarily in World War II era France, Eva Traube’s life is upended when the Nazis start ripping Jews from their homes. She ends up at a small town on the border of Switzerland, and falls in with a network of people working to usher vulnerable individuals across the border.

I don’t know if it’s just the book clubs I’m in, or whether there is actually a lot of books about World War II lately, but I feel like I’ve read more than my share of World War II fiction over the last few years. That said, Lost Names was very good. It managed to be both at times gut-wrenching and uplifting. While the “Jew in hiding” story is not an uncommon theme, watching a character become empowered and sure in her skin while helping others is not super common, and it was a delight to read. Plus there was romance. It was well done, and that’s always a bonus in my book.

Now, let me tell you about the one thing I really didn’t care for about the book. It’s a trope I’m really not fond of in writing, and in this case, it involves heavy spoilers for the novel. So, if you haven’t read the novel, but you’re interested, please avert your eyes.


So, throughout the story, Eva falls in love with Remy, but things are far too treacherous for them to do anything about it. Well, they end up doing that whole “we’ll meet when this is over” thing in secret code, and then Eva waits for him…and waits. Finally, she meets someone else, moves away and has a decently happy life with this fella. In 2005, (where the story has been periodically popping in and out of) she goes back to Paris where – surprise! She finds Remy.

Here’s what I, personally, loathe: Why not just let her be happy with Remy without a 60 year interlude? After all she goes through, and this is fiction, why not just give her that?
But also, what about this poor chap she married? While the book says that she was happy, it does so in such a way that feels very clear that he was no Remy, and that she never spoke of Remy until the events in 2005. I thoroughly dislike this trope of, “she married this guy and he was good enough!”


On the whole, I was really engrossed in the story. There were characters I loved and felt for, and there were characters I vehemently disliked, and all felt very well-written. I’m not sure I’ll go back and read the book again – heaven knows I barely have time for unread books, let alone to go back – but I liked it enough that, for now, it’s sitting on my keeper shelf. If I do decide to part with it, I’m going to try and pass it on to a friend rather than tossing it in the donation box. That’s how I know that I really adored it.

So because I really couldn’t put the book down and couldn’t help but feel connected to the character despite being nothing alike, The Book of Lost Names snags the number nine spot on my top ten list for 2020.

A Man Called Ove

While this post attempts to be relatively spoiler-free, proceed at your own risk.

A Man Called Ove is a great read. That’s all you need to know.

But what really impressed me about this book is how it kept me reading even though the main character isn’t (especially at first) all that likable. This is a heavily character driven novel – if you were to make an outline of the plot, not all that much happens. The charm of the book comes from being in Ove’s head and seeing how his thoughts contrast with his actions and how those affect the people around him.

The book is very simple, and maybe that’s part of what keeps it so readable. There isn’t a learning curve – Ove is a curmudgeon, loves routines and wants to be left alone. Though I love a good epic fantasy, there’s something nice about being able to jump right in, too. The story bounces back and forth between the present day and different periods of Ove’s life. As it unfolds, it shows you why Ove is the way he is, and his thoughts and actions make more sense. It wouldn’t be nearly as effective to put all of this information up front. Getting to know Ove is the payoff of the story, and the author succeeds in making that alone enticing.

There are some books, such as The Rosie Project where I, personally, didn’t find the main character’s quirks charming, no matter how much explanation was given. Ove feels more than just a caricature, he feels like someone you know, perhaps even reflecting a bit of yourself. (I mean, we all get upset with bad drivers, right?) If you’re interested in a good study on character, how to make one compelling and memorable, this might be something worth looking into. Of course, I think it’s a worthwhile read in general, but especially for those looking to glean something from it.