Saturday, February 25, 2012

Getting to know Charmaine Gordon

I’d like to welcome author, Charmaine Gordon. Charmaine has led a fascinating life as both an actor and an author. She’s written several books, including Reconstructing Charlie, a romantic suspense novel.

Charmaine, where did you grow up? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer? If so, how?
I was born and raised in Chicago to be a home ‘engineer’ although the triple desire of acting/singing/dancing hummed in my secret heart.
So, you became an actor. Did your career as an actor affect your writing career? If so, how?
Years of experience as an actor on daytime drama: One Life to Live, Ryan’s Hope, Another World and All My Children, Stage, spokesperson and commercials plus writing sketches for Air Force shows helped prepare me for the wonders of a writing career. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, when immersed in the written words of others, that I was like a sponge, soaking up how to construct a scene, write dialogue and paint the setting.
My writing effort came later when I wrote a two-page story, sent it to son, Paul, who commented, “Cool. Can you write ten pages?” Seemed impossible but the story poured from my fingers and seventy thousand words later, I typed “The End.”
I kissed my acting career goodbye, leaving on a high note, with the lead in an Off Broadway play, The Fourth Commandment, author Rich Knipe. It was great fun and time to move on.
Movies like Working Girl, Road to Wellsville and having the pleasure of Anthony Hopkins’ company at lunch, working with Mike Nichols in Regarding Henry and singing outside with Harrison Ford, crying with Gene Wilder over loss of another set, When Harry Met Sally with the whole gang singing “It Had to be You.” Lots of fond memories. 
Incredible! Singing with Harrison Ford! That’s hard to top!
What are your favorite things to do when you’re not reading or writing?
In the past, I’ve worked as a commercial artist doing fashion sketches long before computer art took over; color artist for a photography studio before color became the “in” thing; serious gardening and building stone patios, tennis and daily three mile runs until hip replacement and rotator cuff surgery knocked me down. Did I mention dancing and teaching ballroom and Latin? Doctors say that’s a lot of wear and tear on a small frame. Blame it on me, folks.
I’m exhausted just reading that! What’s your favorite color? Why?
Favorite color is pink - all shades, especially hot pink! And why not?
Describe yourself – not physically – but personality wise.
I’m upbeat, determined, ready to place one foot in front of the other, no matter what.
Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels? If not, how do you choose your settings?
I live in Pear River, NY, Rockland County, about 30 miles north of NYC. Thus far, I haven’t used this Irish town as a setting.
The settings I’ve chosen are places I know or imagine. One is the fictional town of Fairview, Illinois, north of Chicago - Haven takes place there; St. Augustine, FL,  where I lived while my daughter attended college and worked, the location for Starting Over; To Be Continued takes place in Westchester County, North of NYC; Reconstructing Charlie begins in Minnesota - a state I’ve never been to - and continues in Chicago. Lots of research went into this book.
Do you like to travel? If so, what are some of your favorite places to go and/or your favorite vacation? 
I’ve been to wondrous places with my first husband, now deceased, when all you had to worry about was getting pinched by an Italian. Venice, Rome, Capri, London, Paris, England and later my son, a performer, took me along to Berlin, Israel, Edinburgh and more. But give me a beach with palm trees and dunes. Ahhh.
I feel the same way about beaches!
Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery genre and/or name specific books you love.
Robert B. Parker; John Sandford; Elmore B. Leonard. Mystery and mayhem.
What’s your answer to this question:  If I won a million dollars, I would -----
If I won a million dollars, I’d pay off every debt, protect my future with dear husband number two, and see what comes next.
Did you plan to write a series before or after you wrote your first book?  
I’m completing a series as we speak. When Reconstructing Charlie ended, I realized there were some delicious characters who needed a story of their own. And so, a three book series began. Haven came next with surprising twists and turns and a hot romance to boot and now the last part of the journey. . . I think, is titled A Sin of Omission. It will all be revealed as soon as the characters tell it to me.
Did the inspiration for your characters and/or plot come from people you know, a specific place or personal experience? If not, what got you started?
Odd the way I began as a writer. I had a week’s acting job down in Gainesville, FL. Call time came early and when the clock radio blasted on, the news was of a tragedy on the hard packed sand on the east coast. A drunk driver in a pick-up truck hit an elderly man out walking with his wife. The excited commentator described the scene with the woman bending over her dead husband, her life changed forever. I pictured waves rolling in, early sun coming up, tears rolling. I had to dress and go to work. Concentrate on lines. But I never forgot the mind picture. A few years later, toward the end of a run in an Off Broadway play, The Fourth Commandment, I began to write Starting Over.
Do you have any words of wisdom to offer writers who are just starting out?
My advice is this plain and simple. You say you want to write, so write. Just do it. Tell your story. Everyone has a story. You might begin with Remember when? And write about a funny incident from the past. If this frees you up, good. You've begun. 
Charmaine, thanks for being with us today. 
Links to Charmaine’s books are listed below.She’s offering a gift of her short story love anthology, Love Lost and Found, to one of today’s readers. She will choose the winner   at the end of this week.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I’m a morning person. Most days, as soon as I wake up, I’m alert and ready to start my day. After coffee, of course. That’s why I choose to write in the morning; I’m fresh and at my best. When I’m writing, whether it’s the first draft of a manuscript or a rewrite, I focus on that. I don’t even check my email or answer my phone until I’m satisfied that I’ve produced the day’s writing. It’s too easy for me to get sidetracked, responding to emails, posting on Face Book and commenting on other writers’ blogs. I like to get up early but not as early as Louise, one of the characters in Mixed Messages.
Louise had tossed and turned all night long. She glanced at the clock on her bedside table: 4:58 a.m. The alarm would go off in two minutes. She reached over and turned it off. I don’t know why I bother to set it, she thought. No matter what time she went to bed, every morning for more years than she cared to remember, she had awakened at exactly the same time. Intuitively, her brain knew that it was time to get up.
But that’s not for everyone.
I have several friends and family members who, whenever possible, stay up until all hours and then sleep the morning away. And, I’ve read interviews with other writers who claim they’re the most productive at night. Just like Lawrence, another character in my book.
Lawrence was a night person. Long after his mother had gone to bed, he would stay up, reading or watching television. He loved the peace and quiet. It was “his time.” He wasn’t “on call” for his mother and there weren’t any of the little disturbances there were during the day such as telemarketers calling, the annoying noise of lawn mowers, leaf blowers and cars honking their horns. At night, there were no interruptions; he could do what he wanted to do.
What works for you? Are you an early bird or a night owl?