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Blanche F Lord

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Writing Novels in the Golden Years
By Blanche F Lord
Friday, August 03, 2007

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This essay gives you an insight into how I began to write novels after I retired and entered the "golden years."

Writing Novels in the Golden Years
By: Blanche F. Lord

What’s a woman to do with her time after she retires from her full time career? Her children are grown; she’s not on her grown grandchildren’s agenda; and she doesn’t like to cook, clean or sew and never learned to knit. Reading is great but she needs to feel more productive. Faced with this dilemma, I decided to write a novel.
But first, I was lucky enough to find a man who is perfect for me at this later stage in my life. He supports me and encourages me in my writing. When we met ten years ago, neither of us knew I would become a serious writer of fiction.

An idea about a character in my first novel, "Cloud of Chaos Planet of Light," had been germinating in my brain for a few years. However,I was still too busy working as a professional public relations writer and communicator to make it go anywhere. I only knew his name was Wolf and that he was a schizophrenic astrophysicist who, at the age of thirty-five had withdrawn from the world.
When I married Ed, he hadn’t a clue about my secret character, nor did he or I know that I was destined to be a writer of fiction in the “golden years.”

Shortly after we married ten years ago, I asked him if he wanted me to continue to work. I had been toying with the idea of setting up a free-lance business where I would use my public relations and journalism background to write press releases, copy and articles. When Ed said no, it wasn’t necessary for me to work, my spontaneous reply was: “Okay, then I’ll write a novel.”

Much to Ed’s and to my own surprise…I did. My first novel, "Cloud of Chaos Planet of Light," about a schizophrenic man, miraculously became a science fiction/thriller.

Since I had never written science fiction before and as a literature major, my scientific knowledge was limited, I wrote the story first without paying too much attention to the science.

I wrote it rapidly. It was as though it had been hiding in my mind for a long time…and all I needed to do was sit down in front of my computer and type it out. A work of suspense, Ed read each chapter and eagerly asked for more. It took me about three months to get the first draft written. Then I spent over a year filling in the scientific facts…a true learning experience about astronomy and space science.

I am sure real science buffs will find some fault with it Since it was fiction, I felt free to bend some facts to fit the story as necessary. The characters themselves led me through the story.

The novel became science fiction when an hallucination that Wolf had about a little creature named Eamm insisted on being a real being from a far-away planet. Cloud of Chaos Planet of Light turned out to be a symbolic prognosticator of possible events still to come.

Many readers think the utopian society I created in the far-away planet, Marrias, offers mankind some hope that we humans can change our society and live peacefully with one another.

Shortly after I edited and proofed the novel, I began thinking of another story. I didn’t want to put the Cloud book away and I felt I didn’t have time go through the process of trying to get an agent and waiting to get a publisher…something that can take years. Years I wasn’t sure I had!

So, feeling like a very modern grandmother, I published it with Author House on the internet…an experience in itself. It came out the week of September 11, 2001 and was a minor victim of that terrible day. The press releases were totally ignored by the press and media. People who have read my novel tell me it’s a great story and they couldn’t put the thriller down.

"Soon afterwards," I began my novel, Chasing Cobwebs, a psychological drama about a woman who believes her suburban life is perfect…until her dream is shattered by her philandering husband.

It’s about what happens to her and her close-knit family in the three months following her husband’s leaving home. This time, the novel did not come as easily out of my head, although my way of writing…with no notes or outline…still worked for me.

My characters are more complex and I delve into their past. About three generations of Italian American women, (a time frame that spans my own life) many facets of the mother daughter relationship are explored. The cheating New England husband goes to Manhattan to live as a bachelor. He too, has moments of insight into his distant parents, his business motives and his numerous romantic involvements. Finally, he must face his neglect of his eighteen year old son and the loss of his daughter's affection.

It took me nine months to write "Chasing Cobwebs," another year to re-work it, edit it and proof it. This time I had a professional editor look it over. After she finished, I followed some of her suggestions and reworked a few of the chapters.

Again, I didn’t think I had enough time to wait for a traditional publisher and I published Chasing Cobwebs with I Universe. My experience with both on-line publishers was not bad. If you go this route, there are some advantages, and some disadvantages.

The advantages, briefly, are that you have complete control of your book and its content and you retain your rights. Not having an editor to work with you puts a big burden on the author. You have to do the whole job yourself. Besides not having an editor, you also don’t have the publisher assisting in the promotion after the book is published.

You can get some promotional assistance from the on-line publishers, but you have to pay some high fees to get it. For someone on a limited budget, like me, you end up working hard to promote your novel.

It can be particularly difficult for a writer who feels her time in this existence has a not-too-distant cap on it. To write another novel or two before that deadline becomes a challenge as older age presents health problems.

Even though I don’t have to work on a job, I seem to be spending my retirement years working harder than ever. Some days, I wish I could be happy just sitting and watching the birds. Maybe my life would be different if only I had learned how to knit.

Those moments pass, however, and I am glad that my stories are finally being told. I hope the characters I have created give pleasure to those who read about them.

       Web Site: Blanche F. Lord, Author

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Reviewed by Larry Lounsbury 8/3/2007
I really enjoyed your advice. Thankyou

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