Monday, June 3, 2013

How Authors Write - Anne Stenhouse

Happy June! Can you believe we're almost halfway through the year already? Where does the time go? I'm busy working away on getting book three ready for submission (hopefully within the week), and will soon be getting more edits for book two. Things are really moving along.

Today, I'm pleased to introduce you to fellow Muse author Anne Stenhouse. Anne's sharing her writing process and giving us a glimpse at her new release Mariah's Marriage. Welcome Anne!



ANNE STENHOUSE has always loved words. Reading them and using them greedily, she can’t truly remember a time when she couldn’t escape into the pages of a book and certainly can’t remember when she couldn’t talk and ask questions. Anne is a published and performed playwright. She studied both English and History at University in Edinburgh, and finds it a great joy to combine these two disciplines in her first novel, Mariah’s Marriage. Being a playwright means Anne loves dialogue and knows a piece is going well when she ‘begins to hear the characters talking to each other’. She has been a civil servant, full-time Mum, and for a while, a worker in an Addictions’ rehabilitation unit. Anne lives in Scotland with her husband and dancing partner of over thirty years. Their children and a grandchild are close by.

What do you write? 
Historical romance with a lot of dialogue and humour.

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs? 
I use third person and like to give the hero a turn to speak from time to time.

How do you get started with a book- is it an idea, a character, vary from story to story? 
It’s very often a place and then people talking in that place.

Do you draft quickly?
No, not really. I am incapable of moving on without tinkering. When I re-read yesterday’s writing, I always find something to improve. I did the NaNoWriMo last year and that was a very hard discipline – moving on without editing. I got to 50,000 words, but I did sneak in some editing! [I wouldn't call that cheating- it's hard not to look over what you wrote the day before and not fiddle with it!]

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
Research is ongoing. I write about the early nineteenth century in London and Edinburgh and read in the period a lot. Sometimes I need to check a fact and that’s where being in Edinburgh is such a help because we have wonderful libraries and helpful librarians.

Do you outline? How?
No. I’m what I think is called a pantser – Write by the seat of my pants. Having written plays for so long. I listen to the characters’ voices. Once I’m confident they’re consistent, I can think about how to show my theme. [Yes, definitely a pantster (or however you spell that word!) Love that you listen to your character first.]

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on? There will be gaps in the ms where I need to go back. I can’t ever remember what colour anyone’s hair or eyes are for a start, even after I’ve written character studies. Your question is right in that if you correct as you go along, it takes you out of the zone and that creative mist can be blown away. [Yes, I find myself dropping in things like XYZ place, or ABC name so I don't lose the flow of my thoughts. When I reach the end of that section, I'll go back and brainstorm on names of check things I've flagged (like, does she know this yet?)]

Do you work with CP's or Beta's? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work? 
My first novel, whose Maytime Blog tour you are part of, is Mariah’s Marriage. [Yay! So glad to be a part of this!] It was read by several people and I acknowledge Johanna Scapens and Kate Blackadder together with my lovely MuseItUp editors, Judy Roth and Greta Gunselman [Love Judy, and I will be working with Greta this time around. Can't wait!]. I also am aware of how much I owe the RNA reader, but don’t know that person’s name as the readers work anonymously. The first chapter of the next book has been read and commented on by writing people. Fellow writers are very helpful at spotting plot glitches etc, which family aren’t. [Ah, yes. Family don't always point out the flaws, not wanting to hurt your feelings.]

What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best? 
Reading in my market is very helpful. I love Jane Austen, but also a Scottish writer of the period called Susan Ferrier. I have benefited a lot from writing on-line with a site called writelink.co.uk. I also like to go back to the Writers’ News short story writing course – I teach on it – because it stresses how good it is to keep everything simple. Anything that reminds you to keep the story at the forefront and use the active voice is good. [Yes, active is very good! My new CP has been having fun pointing out all my passive - sections-who new they'd creep up so much!]

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
Simple is best. As an English Lit and Lang graduate, I was inclined to rejoice in long words and long sentences with lots of description. I know better now. [Oh, yeah. Totally agree that using simple words is better than big words, unless your goal is to teach a new word.]

What do you have out now, or coming out? 
MARIAH’S MARRIAGE from MuseItUp was published on 3rd May. [Yay! Congrats!!!]

Blurb:
Leaving the chapel in London’s 19th century Thames’ side where she teaches the alphabet to a raggle-taggle of urchins, Mariah Fox is charged by a stray pig. The quick intervention of Tobias Longreach saves her from certain injury. Mariah has always believed her destiny to be teaching. After the early death of her mother, she was brought up by her papa, Jerome, to believe that she could learn anything a boy could. She shares his vision of a future in which everyone, rich or poor, boy or girl, will be taught at least the rudiments of reading, writing, and counting.

Tobias was brought up a second son, but following his elder brother’s premature death, inherits an Earldom and the need to provide it with an heir. He comes to believe that Mariah will make a perfect countess and enrolls her papa’s help in securing her hand.

However, Sir Lucas Wellwood, whose debts have made him urge his sister to attempt to trap Tobias into marriage, has sinister intentions. Mariah suspects Wellwood has been mistreating his sister and she heads off impetuously to rescue her. Will Tobias and his friends reach Wellwood’s home before he can exact revenge on Mariah?


She can be bought here:
MuseItUp Publishing
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

You can find me at my blog Novels Now

And now, an excerpt of Mariah's Marriage:

Mariah drew a shallow breath and kept her eyes lowered. The brim of the new chip-straw bonnet she and Tilly had purchased yesterday afternoon made it easy to avoid looking straight at his lordship should she not wish to do so. She did not wish to do so, of course, because she was here to discuss a position with his mama, the countess, and it would not serve to be always looking at his lordship.
            She pulled a mental brake on her thoughts. They were galloping ahead and very likely to get out of control. In truth, there was every prospect she would never see his lordship again even if she agreed to take on the position. His interest was undoubtedly in helping his mama to secure the best person for a troublesome vacancy.
            “I do not wish to discuss my affairs, sir, beyond what your mama needs to know in order to select the best person for her teaching position,” she said with a touch of asperity. Why should it hurt so much that Lord Mellon was being solicitous only in his anxiety not to spoil his mama’s chances of securing her services?

Oh! Sounds great, Anne! Thanks for sharing.

31 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hullo Mary, thanks for hosting me on your blog. I love the dagger at the head - stylish and scary at the same time, Anne

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    1. You are most welcome. Love the sound of your book and the cover is gorgeous!

      And thanks! The sword is one that hangs on the wall in our living room (I accidentally stabbed myself in the back with it- long story!) The fabric is a remnant from my bridesmaid dresses.

      When I was looking to theme my blog for fantasy, as that's what I mostly write, I thought it would be perfect.

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  3. Really enjoyable interview with some interesting questions and thoughtful replies. Mariah's Marriage has moved up my to-be-read list.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed the interview and that you've added Mariah's Marriage to you list- I'm sure it will be a great read!

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  4. Hullo Mary, Thank you. I know your tbr list has a lot of interesting stuff on it. Anne

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  5. Great Interview Anne and Mary. The cover is lovely.
    Congrats on the release of Mariah's Marriage, Anne.
    Cheers,
    H K

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    1. Thanks HK! Glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed your stop over at Kay Dee's blog, too!

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  6. Great post. Love the comment about editing. I can't imagine submitting without editing
    Heather G
    Natasha's Dream

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    1. Oh, I'd never submit without editing, Heather. But when drafting it's so tempting to go back and fix what's wrong before you get it all out on the page. That's really the purpose of NaNo. To get it on the page so you can go back and edit it into shape.

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  7. Lovely cover, lovely tease. I'm another that keeps going back over the previous written. This sounds like another winner to me.

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    1. Totally agree, Lorrie! And, yeah, I have a hard time not tweaking before I move on!

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  8. Hi HK, thanks. And thanks for the re-tweet earlier. It's great being in MuseItUp where we all look out for each other. I think the cover of Mariah's Marriage has been very popular. the girl has a sort of quizzical expression which fits her story. Anne

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  9. Hi Heather, Editing is such fun, I think. I keep trying to interest my fellow writers' club members in getting stuck in, but some of them don't see the magic. Anne

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  10. Hi Lorrie, thank you. By the time the ms went to final galley, I could recite bits of it! Anne

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    1. Nice! Have you considered taking those bits and using them for slogans? Lisa Shearin, a fantasy author I read, did that for her Raine Benares series- they are totally awesome!

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    2. Well, that's an interesting idea. Sort of catchphrases, I suppose. Anne

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  11. I'm with you Anne! I believe reading in my genre is the best teacher.

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    1. I think reading, period, is a great teacher. I read in and out of the genre I write, learning new things all the time!

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    2. Period novels are great examples of how people were thinking and behaving, Johanna. Susan Ferrier's Marriage is full of insights about life in 19th century Scotland. Anne

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  12. Lovely interview, ladies. I'm half way through MM at the moment and really enjoying it! And yes, you're lucky to have Edinburgh libraries etc at your disposal, Anne.

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary! Glad to hear you'r enjoying MM.

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    2. Thank you Rosemary,I'm so glad you're enjoying it because it has some pretty high standards to compete with. Picked you out in a photo at Foyle's bookshop on FB during the Words with Jam bash. Very elegant! Anne

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    1. Hi Suzanne, the pig is an example of being able to use a snippet you found while researching. They did breed and run wild. I thought it was more interesting than a scared horse. Anne

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    2. That is so cool! And I love how you used it to have Tobias save Mariah.

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Thanks for dropping by. I love reading comments and will respond by e-mail as soon as possible.