Love at First Thought with Siri Mitchell

Oh boy, a new week of wonderful guests. Wanna know who’s stopping by?

Well, Wednesday, the lovely Patti Lacy is my guest.

Friday, we get to enjoy the sweetness of Audra Harders.

But today…

Get ready for the fabulous Siri Mitchell.

I just received Siri’s newest novel in the mail. A Heart Most Worthy. I can’t wait to read it. Siri is one of those authors who really likes to challenge herself as a writer. If you’d like to learn more about her versatile novel-writing background, check out this interview at The Writers Alley.

Siri gives us some insight about where her ideas come from. Check out the wonderful list of inspiring thoughts.

It seems like most of my recent novels have begun with something — some fact, some picture, some idea — that makes me go ‘hmm…’

A Constant Heart — Women poisoned themselves with their cosmetics.

Love’s Pursuit — A woman could be accused of doing something terrible (even though people ought to have known better) simply for what she was wearing.

She Walks in Beauty — Women ruined their health by wearing corsets.

A Heart Most Worthy — A group of woman at a dressmaking shop sewed wedding gowns for each other >>> to which was added the fact that Italian immigrants were the second most lynched group in America (after African Americans)

Hannah’s Heart — (I’m currently working on this one) There was at least one Quaker spy and there were several Quaker generals during the Revolutionary War. What made them decided to abandon their believes and take sides?

Other facts that have struck me and are waiting to be turned into stories somehow: Did you know if you put daffodils and tulips in the same vase, the daffodils will poison the tulips?; a woman who feels the urge to constantly re-arrange her furniture; in France, the Havilland China company imported American painters for their dishes — these people were regularly attacked and couldn’t go anywhere at night.

Rarely do any of these facts or ideas have anything to do with a plot. Sometimes, they’re not even about people…which can present some problems since novels are about people. But I just note them all down on a spreadsheet and when it comes time to choose what to write next, I review all the ideas and see which ones my subconscious has been working on.

My contemporary novels were different. Kissing Adrien was inspired by a non-fiction manuscript I’d written. Something Beyond the Sky was inspired by my own experiences as a military wife. Chateau of Echoes was my last-ditch attempt to get published, so I threw in all the elements I liked to read in a novel; I was also feeling homesick for France, so I imagined myself up in a castle. The Cubicle Next Door began as a book about a girl who used to be nice, but Jackie sort of hijacked it. Moon Over Tokyo I think was written in an attempt to explain Japan to myself.

Ideas are everywhere! I can’t turn all of them into novels, and sometimes my skill set has had to grow in order to be able to turn one of them into a novel, but somehow my brain seems to know which ones will work and which ones are just interesting facts to know.

Isn’t this fascinating?!? Look at all the various ways Siri finds her inspiration. Wow! And she has a wealth of books to prove that inspiration does pay J If you’ve never had an opportunity to read a Siri Mitchell book, get to Amazon or your nearest bookshop TODAY!! They are worth it!

And have I mentioned that she is SUPER sweet in person. Really, truly!

 One quick inspirational ‘beginning’:

2 Timothy 1:8-10

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Our good works, our writing, our love…none of them make God love us any more than he already does. You know why? He already loves us completely. He brought us into His kingdom as sin-cloaked rebels transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ. We were hand-picked, just because of love.

His love.

Extravagant, beautiful, unconditional, and far beyond our understanding.

He saved us. He called us.

Just because of love.

Grace.

Vote Best Beginning – The evolution of a Novel

I’ve been working on a historical romance for 10 years.

That’s right. TEN!

Not to say I’ve been writing it for ten consecutive years, but the story idea started 10 years ago in my preschool office in Charlotte, NC. Since then, I’ve rewritten the entire novel three times, rewritten the first six chapters five times, and rewritten the first chapter (counting today) EIGHT times.

Rewritten, not edited. I can’t even recall how many times I’ve edited the thing.

When I look at my very first page from 10 years ago, I laugh (and cringe). Oh dear, I’ve come a long way….but so has the story.

I’m going to show the evolution of my novel, The Thornbearer, by showing the beginning paragraph of each rewrite (or the latest five rewrites). You vote. Which one do you like the best and why. I’d LOVE your opinion.

Do you have a similar story, where your novel has grown over time?

FIRST VERSION (actually third, because the first version was written on a typewriter. LOL)

Who would ever want to be married in the rain? Ashleigh Kavanaugh tucked the last few garments into her trunk and snapped the lid into place, distracting her heart with thoughts of her trip. England.

            The rustling of her skirts blended with the pelting rain against the window and she almost smiled. Rain today, of all days, made her feel better…less regretful. She glanced at her bedside clock, an ornate little thing passed down from her ornate big sister.

Half past nine. Right on schedule.

Her gaze flickered to the window and her body followed, drawn by the consistent drumming of cool April rain to steady her heart. Her weary heart.

SECOND VERSION:

The Lusitania’s four massive funnels loomed over Ashleigh Dougall, piercing into Manhattan’s morning mist like charcoal pillars of an enormous coliseum. A surge of energy flickered in the center of her chest. Soon she’d be free of America and all its hateful memories. She leaned against the window of the hired Model T, barely waiting for it to roll to a stop before she bolted out the door, her boots clinking a staccato rhythm against the pier.

The Lusitania’s advertisement did not do this “palace of the seas” justice. It towered overhead, a mammoth of black paint and billowing smoke, lined with hundreds of people bidding their farewells. She held the top of her hat to scan the ship, a cool spray of salty air sprinkling over her cheeks and promising freedom.

VERSION THREE:

 She desperately needed to run away.

            Ashleigh Dougall leaned out of the hired Model-T to catch a glimpse of the famed Lusitania, her very own agent of rescue. Salty sea air misted her face as the massive liner came into view, a goliath among the crowded piers of New York’s harbor. Its four funnels loomed overhead and pierced into Manhattan’s morning mist like charcoal pillars of an enormous coliseum. She clamped down on the top of her hat, craning her neck as far as the auto car’s window would allow. A smile stretched across her face. If this couldn’t get her across the Atlantic at record speeds, nothing could. The ‘Palace of the Seas’ it was called, a stronghold of black paint and billowing smoke to wisp her back to England and away from memories.

VERSION FOUR:

Ashleigh Dougall stepped from the hired Model T to catch a glimpse of her rescuer. The Lusitania. Its massive funnels pierced into Manhatten’s morning mist like charcoal pillars of an enormous coliseum.  She steadied her broad-rimmed hat and craned her neck to view this ‘Palace of the Seas’, a looming goliath above Cunard’s dock offices.

“It’s huge.” Sam, her closest friend and escort, stepped to her side. “I had no idea it’d be so big.”

 Few men secured her complete confidence, but few men were as constant and genuine as Samuel Turner – even if he treated her like a perpetual twelve year old. “I had no idea it’d be so big.”

“We Brits are keen on making a good first impression, you know.”

“So that’s a fancy way of saying you’re show offs?” He crooked a bro and the wave of warmth his smile produced in her heart.

VERSION FIVE:

There is a distinct difference between marrying a man you don’t love, and knowing you’ll never marry the man you truly do. As Ashleigh Dougall looked across Manhatten’s crowded dock into Sam Turner’s familiar face, the sting of that truth stripped her of any doubt. She had to run away.

If she’d known all along she was in love with the wrong brother, she’d never agreed to marry Michael. Never subjected her heart to his ruthless betrayal.  Youthful blindness was her only excuse, and perhaps the fact Sam only saw her as Catherine’s little sister.  Dear Sam, ever-faithful, and forever Catherine’s. Her sister didn’t deserve his affections.

Ashleigh looked away from him, as he approached. The glint in his eyes warming much more than a smile on her face. His tender way of breaking down her defenses and striking a place in her heart held a surgeon’s precision. Some inexplicable connection existed between them– a beautiful friendship, and one she wouldn’t sacrifice to an impossible romantic fancy. He loved her sister. Heat drained from her face. Or the woman he thought her sister was.

Personally, I’m having a hard time choosing between version 3 and 5. What’s your opinion?

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Above photos courtesy of:

www.visualadjectives.com

www.wallaseycemetery.co.uk

www.old-picture.com

www.lusitania.net