Anytime people ask
what my typical writing day is like, I try hard not to burst into tears. Or
laughter. When I’m deep into a book, I write from the time I get up until the
time I go to bed, and even so, I seldom hit my word-count goal for the day.
Why? Because I am
an absolute nut about research. I can get lost in books like Three Centuries of Scottish Posts or Scots Gardens in Old Times, and emerge an hour later without a word
written, yet with ideas for three new novels spinning in my head.
Still, after 30
published books I’ve developed a few methods that help me get to The End—if not
efficiently, at least eventually.
I’m a firm believer
in having a workspace dedicated to writing, whether it’s a card table, a spare
bedroom, or the old garage we have behind our farmhouse. Inside you’ll soon
discover I have two desks. In my first-floor office I handle correspondence,
chat with my publisher, create marketing pieces, update Facebook and Twitter—all
that 21st-century stuff. On the second floor is a room lined with
bookshelves, where I do nothing but write. No food, no phone calls, no kidding.
Surrounded by the
Scottish mementos that inspire me, I can quickly immerse myself in another time
and place. A cup of Earl Grey tea, a fragrant candle, and some Celtic
instrumental music help usher in the proper mood. I have a fairly detailed plot
outline in hand, but my goal is to climb inside my characters’ hearts and let
them tell their story. I’d rather observe and listen, writing down what they
say and do, instead of forcing them to follow my lead.
Each book takes me
about a year to write. I have a daily target word count, which is quite low at
the start of the book—750-1,000 words a day—and grows with each chapter until I’m
hitting 2,000 words a day. Exactly once in my writing career I hit 5,000 words
between breakfast and bed. The next day I couldn’t rub two words together. So,
I try not to get too obsessive about how much I get done, and instead focus on
For my Scottish
novels I comb through my historical resources for relevant customs, traditions,
and folklore that suit both the story and the setting. I’ve visited Scotland
fifteen times to date, tramping through the villages and over the hills and glens,
snapping photos, asking questions, and taking copious notes. I’ve met the
loveliest people since my first visit in 1996, and hope the cadence of their
speech comes through in the voices of my characters.
I edit and rewrite as I go, printing off the day’s work, editing those
pages before I go to bed, then making all my scribbled changes the next
morning. I try never to quit at the end of a chapter, because it takes me
forever to get the wheels turning again. Instead I quit mid-scene, with a few
notes about what I imagine coming next. Then I can hit the ground running.
Anytime I think writing is hard work, I remind myself of the years I
spent waiting on tables, cleaning houses, selling wigs, or changing diapers,
and suddenly a day parked in front of a computer telling stories sounds like a
piece of cake. With tea, please.
A Wreath of Snow
Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame.
When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?
As warm as a woolen scarf on a cold winter’s eve, A Wreath of Snow is a tender story of love and forgiveness, wrapped in a celebration of all things Scottish, all things Victorian, and especially, all things Christmas.
"A Wreath of Snow is a wonderful story of redemption and restoration that will warm your heart during the Christmas season—or any time of year!”—Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love