Avon Historical and New York Times Bestselling author Cathy Maxwell stopped at the Parma Snow branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library the other night for a chat. She's been writing for over twenty years and has a new release just out, Lyon's Bride (see gorgeous cover below).
The beauty of hearing an expert speak is that it makes you see things in a unique way--a way that comes from years of experience. I often feel I have a myopic view of things and long to be able to pull back and see the big picture.
Here is what she said that had a great impact on me:
A romance is the tale of a relationship but also of a commitment. We read to see if this couple has what it takes to commit to one another for life.
I love that! It's a beautiful perspective on why we read--and write--romance.
A romance begins with a woman who doesn't like the status quo and has decided to take a risk.
What a great way to describe the Call to Adventure!
Someone asked her about sex scenes in books. Cathy said that for a female, sex is the ultimate act of commitment. If the reader doesn't sense that commitment, the scene will fall flat or appear gratuitous.
Writing a novel is like working with a lump of clay. A good book is in the rewrites.
I am currently working from a fast draft and tortuously trying to turn it into a real story and finding it agonizing. I know it will need more drafting--but how much more? How much more time, how many more drafts? When does it turn from the lump of clay into something bigger than itself, a real story? Will I ever get it right?
(So, as you can see, I'm having some stress here.) So I asked Cathy, do you write faster now than you used to? How many hours a day do you write?
Her answer was, it never gets easier. Some books write themselves easier than others and she has no idea why. But she did say, you're always best when you push yourself. You always have to keep challenging yourself to be better.
Cathy said the second book in her new series (the Chatten curse series) that is coming out in the fall (Harry's story) may be her favorite hero ever. I can't wait to read this series.
Cathy's also got a story in an anthology coming out on May 28th (just in time for Memorial Day) by Avon Impulse called For Love and Honor. The authors were given a one-word prompt: Soldier. Her story is the Regency version. Lynne Hinton and Candis Terry tell contemporary tales.
I'm so glad I had the opportunity to listen (and be energized by) the words--and wisdom--of a true expert.