War Serenade

Writing Pangs

WAR SERENADE, my first novel, started as a screenplay which was optioned by two different production companies over seven years. At my lowest ebb, a dear author-friend said, “To hell with them all. Write a book.” So, I did with the help of an amazing writing group called “STAR.”

The transition from script to novel was at once thwarting and exhilarating. What? I could share my characters’ thoughts with my audience? Hard not to get carried away with thatliberty after worrying about expediently cramming each page with titillating plot, character and setting because as a script, one page equals one minute of screen time at a cost of $100,000 per page!

I had loads of inspiration from my STAR writing sisters who became my novel-midwives as my amazing editor, Chris Kridler, ushered my first born into the world. That New York Times bestseller,  Roxanne St. Claire endorsed War Serenade was my own gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh—little could beat that kind of generosity!

I write mostly outside our little home in a subdivision of Marvelous Melbourne, thirty miles from NASA.

My husband of 37 years and I agree we did three things right. We got married. We moved to America. We had a pool put into our backyard five years ago. It’s my happy place. My dog, Tula, a 13-year-old Aussie Shepherd who loves to swim, is usually next to me. It’s irksome that our all-too-close-neighbors had the audacity to follow suit. While shouting, splashing, and kids have quelled the sound of birds and scurrying squirrels, I use the superpower of imagination to leave suburban hubbub and bury myself deep into my South African adventures.

Next to me is either a mug of iced water, kombucha, or a giant coconut-palm-sugar-sweetened-milky coffee. Bliss. I come from a place where ’n Boer maak ‘n plan—“a farmer makes a plan”—or, more specifically, if you don’t own it and you want it, compromise. So instead of a high footstool, my legs are popped up on a cushion that nestles on a tall laundry basket holding pool chemicals.

Ahhh … Let the words flow.

A friend gave me a super fancy-shmancy fountain pen for Christmas, so that’s always next to me – not to use – but to inspire me to finish my next novel—ZEBRA—so I can autograph copies in style, once I eject this new baby into the world. Until then it’s plain old blue Bic and a highlighter.

So, since I am now in my third trimester with ZEBRA, I’m off to take my prenatal vitamins, to practice my breathing, to gather my spiritual midwives, and commission my doula—Chris Kridler—for the big event. All the signs point to a hefty birth weight … Well, hell! What can a mother expect with a 2.5-year pregnancy?

But let’s hope the postpartum care from readers will be worth the morning sickness, excruciating contractions, and the many moments of insecurity, and that very soon after, I’ll long for another little nugget to add to my collection.

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