This is what it looks like just before I let all the characters out of my head.
Day One of a New Book Project
Just seeing the folder name Tiger Lily_Project on my laptop for the first time gives me goosebumps!
The day I open a new book project is always a biggie. This is the “official” file, the Scrivener version that will house all accumulated research material, notes, and the actual manuscript from now until the book is published.
Tiger Lily is officially underway!
I have several rituals for the start of a new book project (some dating back to my nonfiction days, some newer ones since I started writing The Late Bloomers Series).
Pick a theme song for the project.
For this one, it is Natalie Merchant’s “Wonder” from the Tigerlily CD which came out maybe 20 years ago. It’s a way to ground me in core of the character, and this one is certainly a wonder!
(Wondering about my previous books? At the back of Wild Rose I included a link to a playlist, of which the theme song is part. It is “Change of Season” by Hall & Oates. And for English Ivy, it is the song that even makes an appearance in the book —”American Woman.”)
Choose several images to represent my main characters.
Many of you tell me you don’t want to know because it ruins your own imagination, so I won’t tell what fabulous actress perfectly encapsulates my heroine…so much so that I knew from the very first seed of an idea of The Late Bloomers that she would be the incarnation of Lily.
Once I have these images I insert them into the character sketches. Then I go a step further and make a collage of characters and the book cover as my laptop screensaver.
Pull artwork, pictures, travel guides, music, movies, books, and more to “round out” my book’s world.
Throughout the process, I’ll use this information to stay in the mood of the story and immerse myself in the world of my characters. This may seem like overkill when the world of my books is the modern world, but I need to immerse myself in it, to remind myself what it was like to travel to those locations, eat those foods, and dance to that music.
Say hello to my characters.
It’s weird, and a little embarrassing, but it works for me. Day one is when I utter my first words to them, usually when I’m searching for their perfect images online. “YES, that’s you.”
Over the course of the book, we’ll have many conversations.
I start thinking about the FOOD of the book.
I realize there has to be romance, sex, drama, witty dialogue and more. But since my books are set in foreign locations, my mind immediately goes to the food and how I’ll use it in the book. The best part is finding recipes and giving them to Warren, who does his part for the creative process by cooking them for me!
One of my favorite lines from a book review states, “No one writes drama, food, and sex like Betsy Talbot!” Food is a huge part of my books because it is a huge part of my life. In Wild Rose, I even included a link to a little menu from Chef Aldo for the perfect romantic Italian meal as a bonus.
Book Three is Underway
That’s how I start a new book project. It’s a big day, one that makes me very happy (after all, I haven’t had time to run into any creative roadblocks yet!), and one I hope to repeat many more times in my life.
Look for Tiger Lily, Book Three in The Late Bloomers Series, in Autumn 2016. Until then, you can catch up on the adventures of The Late Bloomers with Unfolding (free when you sign up for email updates below), Wild Rose, and English Ivy.