Posts Tagged ‘writing’

7 Years in 1776

January 29th, 2016 • by Karen A. Chase • 6 Comments

Many years ago, when I worked at a corporate job, my employee review indicated I was doing well, but “lacked patience.” I was not surprised. I’d heard it before, and was well aware of both the positive and negative aspects of such a trait.

Fast forward, and this week my novel, in the hands of my agent, is going out for the next round of feedback from publishers. As I wait, once again, I’m reminded of that review, and I wonder if this novel shows how my lack of patience was probably not a trait, but a symptom of circumstance.

Back then, I wanted to my career to advance faster (now), because I was working jobs that fit me about as well as that too-tight pair of wool pants I can’t seem to part with.

But this book, set during 1776, is a passion project. Potentially a new career. And so it’s more like a cozy sweater-dress I bought at Goodwill a couple months ago–it fits so easily, and makes me feel fantastic. Consequently, my dedication to it can been seen in the numbers:

I began researching 7 years ago, worked with 5 different editors, 9 early readers (friends who gave advice and corrections), 100s of historians, librarians, museum directors and more. I wrote and rewrote a total of 8 drafts. Went through 6 months of agent-query rejections, and now, after 1.5 years editing with my agent, we’re heading for the final gate–a publisher.

I’ve grown. I’ve matured. And yet all I can think is, “Now? Have you heard from a publisher now? How about now?”

(I will indeed let you all know when I hear, per this old post about getting the agent, I will fly the Canadian flag when I have a publisher.)

Character Development and Pets

June 5th, 2015 • by Karen A. Chase • No Comments

Last weekend, the New York Times Book Review section had an article about what authors do Between Books by Ann Packer.  In it she said sometimes she has trouble moving on with new books because of characters. Not that she wants to hang out with them longer, but because she is “giving up the ease I developed with writing them.”

As I work to finish my first big novel, I understand. My characters are like my old cat was in the last years of her life. We ebb and flow around one another. I know why and when a particular voice is used. We’ve settled into our daily routine. We have an understanding. It’s easy.

New characters are like puppies and kittens. When they’re “on” it can be chaos. They don’t always go where it makes sense. They don’t speak or participate properly in the environment I’ve created for them. There’s a bit of cursing, and certainly training. On their part and mine.

Given this notion, my goal is to enjoy these last few moments with my old characters. My protagonist who was a young, eager pup–he’s now a great travel companion who comes with me to the office every day. My antagonist, who started out simpering like Snidely Whiplash, has grown into a lovable mutt (who has gotten mean as he got older, sadly).

And I’ll enjoy the ease of their company before I find myself laying down papers for my new pets ahead.

. . . . . . . . . .


And this week we say goodbye to a great character. Bandit. The little dog who lived (and worked) next door to me in Paris. He had a long, happy life with Dorothée, eating well at the crab shack and summering at the beach. He was featured in several entries, along with this picture, in my book Bonjour 40. Bandit, may there be unlimited bread wherever you are now. You certainly begged for enough of it in this life.

Giving up TV to Write

May 8th, 2015 • by Karen A. Chase • No Comments


A few weeks after moving into an old house, an electrical storm killed our television. We considered not replacing it. Ultimately our decision came to this: We could either watch others have a life, or we could have one of our own.

We’ve been six years without a TV. And no, I don’t regret it.

As Courtney Carver, of, said, “Without TV, I eat less, workout more, save more money, have more creative ideas, write better stuff and have a better sex life!”

I also have more time to write.

According to Neilson, people my age (44) watch TV more than 33 hours a week (4+/night). For a writer–especially those with jobs, kids or other obligations–even an hour a night is more valuable than gold.

True, TV can sometimes feel like an escape. I get that. And in full disclosure, I do still watch some things. When the Oscars come around, I seek out bars or friends because I like sappy speeches and pretty dresses. My neighbors happily (graciously) agreed to watch Downton Abbey together. Over breakfast, Ted and I watch Jon Stewart from the night before (until he leaves in August).

When I’m old and more sedentary, I’ll have reruns. But for now while I have books to write, I’ll keep my furniture pointed at bookshelves. As Ben Franklin once said. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Without TV, I’ve given myself time to do both.

Could you do it? Could you give up TV?