Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

March 9th, 2014 by Olivia Boler

First Post of 2014 (Yeah, I Know It’s March)

Oh blog, I did not mean to forsake you. Simply, I have been busy avoiding you. Do I offend?

Whine time: Busy with freelance work, busy (sometimes, not often enough) writing or editing “real” work, family emergency, shepherding our 25-year-old cat to his next plane of existence, PTA, kids, blah blah blah.

But lately: I might have a piece or two in a new anthology due out in the near future. Exciting! Possibly a poem and/or a personal essay-story-memoir thing. More details soon…

And…

I might edit a friend’s picture book. (We’ll see. It’s nice to be asked.)

And…

A 6th grader might interview me  for a school assignment as I wear my Published Author hat…

And…

 The Flower Bowl Spell will soon be featured on the awesome online magazine Underground Book Reviews. I am too excited! They only review one book a week, so, whether it winds up being a positive review or a critical one, it’s nice to know they’re selective.

Seems more folks are checking out my blog, including those around the proverbial water cooler. One person asked me about progress on my latest project (which feels like a cracking of the whip), and another asked for advice about publishing his personal story with the help of a professional author. (It’s a juicy one. The story, not the author.) All of this means I need to be more on the ball with ye olde blogge.

And…here I am, rolling it along.

Happy Daylight Savings, folks! Must hup-two.

November 11th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

Unoriginal & OK With It

There really are no new ideas. I was completely aware of this ten years ago when I first decided to retell Sense and Sensibility in a modern setting. Borrowing as my model the fabuloso movie Clueless, I wrote it as a screenplay. A couple of years ago, I took that screenplay and transformed it into a novel during Nanowrimo. Two years and three drafts later, I finally felt ready to share my Austen homage with some friends. You see, these things take time, at least for me.

Over the summer, I came across a  TV movie, Scents and Sensibility (yup, I’m pretty sure it was on the Lifetime channel), a modern interp of S&S with a Ponzi-scheme twist. Last month, I found an adorable board book that I just had to have, and I actually use it as a writing tool!

SenseSensibiltyBoardBook

Just now, I read about Joanna Trollope‘s new version of the novel, part of HarperCollins’ new Austen series, in which established authors including Curtis Sittenfeld (Pride and Prejudice) and Alexander McCall Smith (Emma) re-imagine her works.

When I finally publish my version of the Dashwood sisters, don’t expect an exact retelling. That was never my intent. I’m going more for inspiration, the way Helen Fielding used a germ Pride and Prejudice to give Bridget Jones’s Diary some scaffolding. I’ve renamed characters, gotten rid of some, added others, and basically moved the furniture around Norland Park and Barton Cottage to suit my 21st century story-telling needs.

Do you think Jane would have minded much?

 

October 31st, 2013 by Olivia Boler

It’s Nano Time!

Yesterday was kind of a landmark in the world of me. I finished a draft of my latest novel that seemed good enough to show someone other than my imaginary friend who follows me around all day. (Her opinion is one I don’t really trust—sometimes she’s like a hype man, other times…) Anyway, this is, I’d say, the fourth draft of this book I’ve been tinkering with on and off—mostly off—for ten years. It’s about two sisters who run a tearoom and their ups and downs in the romance department. I sent it off to my friend whose judgment I actually do trust—always important to have one of those.

Now I’m kind of dangling here. What should I do next? Well, it just so happens that tomorrow is the start of Nanowrimo. Honestly, I thought I’d miss it this year, that I would still be caught in the happy cloud of Nora and Rainey, the protagonists of the tearoom novel. So, I’m a tad thrown off to be at loose ends. There are plenty of them hanging about just begging to be tied up—like that prequel to The Flower Bowl Spell I’ve talked about. I do believe it’s time to give that a dusting off, just in time for November’s 50,000-word goal. Who’s with me? My Nano handle is livyink. Hope to see you there!

Oh, and have a happy and safe Halloween—and by safe, I mean, don’t pig out on too much candy. It’ll cause a rash.

 

2013-Participant-Facebook-Cover
October 17th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

Coziness and Discord in the Haddonverse

The Red HouseThe Red House by Mark Haddon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished reading The Red House by Mark Haddon, known for his bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. I picked up his most recent novel at the library, sold on it by the opening paragraph:

“Cooling towers and sewage farms. Finstock, Charlbury, Ascott-under-Wychwood. Seventy miles per house, the train unzips the fields. Two gun-gray lines beside the river’s meander. Flashes of sun on the hammered metal. Something of steam about it, even now. Hogwarts and Adlestrop. The night mail crossing the border, Cheyenne sweeping down from the ridge. Delta blues from the boxcar. Somewhere, those secret points that might just switch and send you curving into a world of uniformed porters and great-aunts and summers at the lake.”

Really, it was that phrase: the train unzips the fields…Absolutely lovely and evocative and true. I’ve been on that train, seen that very thing from the window, that journey through the unknown. That line was the ticket that opened up this world. That’s what good writing should do.

The story, told from multiple points of view, often reads like poetry. Sometimes you don’t know whose thoughts you’re in…and it doesn’t really matter. The atmosphere of an English family holiday has surprising elements of coziness, even among the family discord and each individuals’ personal dramas. A reader can happily get lost in Haddon’s universe for a while.

View all my reviews

September 27th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

Playing Hooky

I’ve been working almost non-stop on freelance gigs for the past few weeks. That and the usual mom thing have taken up a lot of time. Oh, and rediscovering classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes thanks to my “accidentally” signing up for Amazon Prime. So great!
Yesterday, I got done a little early with my work, so I opened up the Scrivener file of my latest novel manuscript. I’ve been sneaking in a few minutes on it here and there. Not more than a half-hour, I’m sad to say. But it’s been enough to keep me going. I’m near the end of a first very loose revision. So today, a little burned out by work, and about to start a new client project, I decided to open my novel doc again. And this time, a half-hour went by. Then another. And another. And another! I stopped to run an errand. I came back, and it was still open on my computer desktop. I thought I’d close it out, but one more thought occurred to me. I kept going…And now, it’s almost time to fetch the kids from school.
Productive? Yes. (Although I’m trying not to think about playing catch up on work this weekend.)
Profitable? Time will tell.

July 17th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

Yes, I’m Still Here

Hard to believe it’s been over two months since I’ve posted. Trust me, my intentions have been to give some updates, but I seem to have forgotten how to write anything witty or interesting. Hang on…It’s coming back…I need brain yoga for creative flow!

There isn’t much on the book front, nothing really concrete that I’m ready to share, anyway. I’ll just be cagey and say I hope to have some good news soon…The Flower Bowl Spell got a really nice review from ForeWord Reviews online. Click here if you want to read it. Yes, I do write reviews for them too; however, we are all freelancers and I don’t personally know any of their other reviewers. Actually, this is what happened: I’d entered their Book of the Year Awards 2012 contest, but got disqualified since I write reviews (Should have figured that out, right?). They offered to do an online review instead. A total no brainer. I got some feedback from a few people who have read the review via Goodreads or on my blog, saying they would check out my book. Huzzah!

On the personal front, I went to my college reunion in May, and took my daughter with me. It was our first trip with just the two of us, and we had a lot of fun. We also visited friends and relatives on the East Coast so that was a bonus. In June, my family and I went to Hong Kong to visit more relatives and see the places my mother used to frequent in her formative years. Sweltering, muggy heat, but what are you gonna do?

 

IMG_4659
A conversation started at the American Girl Bistro outside Boston
(my daughter’s response: “Why would I tell you that?”)
HK skyline
The Hong Kong skyline
star ferryThe Star Ferry in Hong Kong

Summertime ushers my kids into camp and other fun activities. It also means some of my freelance gigs slow down, so I’ve spent more time getting some rough drafts into shape. Scrivener software has been more useful than I ever imagined. The tutorial was really helpful—I don’t think I could have just plunged in and started using it without going over that—but that’s just me.

I hope all of you are having a marvelous summer. And I promise not to let two months go by without any news. Pinky promise.

 

May 3rd, 2013 by Olivia Boler

ForeWord Reviews & Me

I’ve been writing reviews for ForeWord Reviews magazine for about 100 years, ever since they were kind enough to write a nice review of my first novel, Year of the Smoke Girl. I’ve since moved on to writing for their offshoot, Clarion, and have become a de facto poetry reviewer. I’ve always admired poetry, have lots of friends who are poets, but am myself not a master (or mistress) of the genre.

This week, the Executive Editor of ForeWord Reviews, Howard Lovy, featured me in his weekly newsletter. To see it click here.

 

foreword cover 2

 

Yay, fun! And Happy May.

 

March 3rd, 2013 by Olivia Boler

Pour the House Wine

It’s so great to be in March. February was definitely a marathon, a brutal marathon. Maybe more like an ultra-marathon with endless days spent running for 26 to 40 miles with a pack of work and obligations on my back.

But March! March is a walk in the park. March is a leisurely hike. A stroll. Welcome, March.

And by the way, March 23, if you happen to be in San Francisco, I’ll be at the Noe Valley Authors Festival part of Word Week. Yes, I’ll have books for sale and I’ll be giving away candy and The Flower Bowl Spell bookmarks. If you buy my book at the Festival you’ll be entered in a raffle for a cool prize, TBD. The Noe Valley Authors Festival takes place at St. Philip the Apostle Church Hall at 725 Diamond Street, San Francisco, and goes from 2 to 5 p.m.

BTW, one awesome thing about February: I got to see my very good friend Siobhan Fallon, who was in town for a dramatic performance at Z Space Word for Word of two of the stories from her award-winning collection, You Know When the Men Are Gone. She also invited her good friend, middle grade author Anne Ylvisaker (Dear Papa, The Luck of the Buttons). Anne and I hit it off, which is great because it really is hard to find friends among writers, I don’t know why. (Insert snide joke about social awkwardness, backstabbing bastards, etc.)

Anne, Siobhan & Me at Z Space Word for Word
Anne, Siobhan, & Me at Z Space Word for Word

 

After the amazing and moving performance, Q & A with the directors and author, and book signing, we three ladies headed back to Siobhan’s sweet Union Square hotel. We got drinks at the Redwood Room in the Clift Hotel, which was an interesting experience since it was packed to the gills with party people. The photo portraits on the walls lent the place a Haunted Mansion for Grown-ups feel. The three of us, writers with kids who are often cooped up alone with our work, had a ball, staying up late talking shop and life over glasses of wine.

I highly recommend nights like these.

February 6th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

Rinse & Repeat & Repeat & Repeat

A few days ago, I finished reading the twelfth, penultimate book in the entertaining confection that is the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series. It took me about a month to get through all twelve—not bad. If you don’t know, the books are the basis for the HBO series True Blood. And if you don’t know True Blood, then you are missing out on funny, sexy, gory goodness! Of course, it’s not for everyone. I can think of a few grandmothers who wouldn’t be pleased to watch it.

deadeverafter
The 13th book is out May 7, 2013

The books are different although the voice of the heroine, Sookie, stays true in the TV show. While I was reading the series, it struck me how tiring it must be for author Charlaine Harris to have to repeat information in each and every book. How many times did I get introduced to Sookie’s telepathy or the fact that she’d killed a major nemesis in her kitchen with a shotgun or a description of her gorgeous yet scary vampire boyfriend’s long blond hair and blue eyes?

Since I’m working on a sequel to The Flower Bowl Spell, I think about how much old information I’ll need to relate. I kind of want to approach the new book as a stand-alone, but I think that can be tricky as well. To use an example from a totally different genre, Louise Erdrich recycles characters and settings all the time in her novels—they are like real people living their lives on a different plane of existence, and Erdrich drops in now and then to record for readers in her lyrical prose when something dramatic happens to them.

It’s a fine line a writer has to straddle in giving too much away or not offering enough information. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to stop over-thinking and just write.

By the way, there’s still time to enter my Amazon gift card giveaway! Click on the Giveaways link above or here. The drawing in this Sunday, February 10, 2013.

January 9th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

The Next Big Thing

Happy 2013! This post is a chain self-interview about my next book project. I’ve read the blog chain started on She Writes a few months ago. My author pal Dina Santorelli tapped me to take part, and I want to thank her for thinking of me. In return, I’ve asked my writer friends Siobhan Fallon and Roger Colby to post their own interviews next week, so be sure to check out their answers.

  1. What is your working title of your book (or story)?
    I have a few irons in the fire including a short story collection, an upmarket women’s fiction novel, and a sequel to The Flower Bowl Spell. I’ll talk about that even though it’s in the crappy first draft stage. The working title is The Flower Bowl Ghost.
  2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
    The idea comes from my first book about Memphis Zhang, The Flower Bowl Spell. She’s an intriguing character, and there were some unanswered questions in the first book. I think it’ll be fun to find out what happens next.
  3. What genre does your book fall under?
    Good question! I guess it falls under urban fantasy, although I’m not really sure. It’s too plot-driven to be magic realism, I suppose.
  4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
    A fun thought. I think Memphis could be played by Olivia Munn. Bradley Cooper could be Cooper! (Kismet!) Harry Shum, Jr. would be fantastic as Tyson.
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
    A young, powerful San Francisco witch discovers her dark side—and likes it.
  6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
    Self-published.
  7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
    Um, too long? But I was able to get it all out with the help of NaNoWriMo last November.
  8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    A Discovery of Witches, the Sookie Stackhouse series.
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
    My fount of inspiration bubbled up from my Wiccan research. I wanted to get to know that culture beyond what I had seen in TV shows and books. Then I decided to write my own fictional account of a Wiccan. It seemed fun, and it was!
  10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
    I published The Flower Bowl Spell almost a year ago as an e-book and then later as a paperback. To celebrate the upcoming first anniversary, I’m planning a giveaway. Stay tuned!
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