The Irish Way

I’ve spent my life to this point in a very stressed out, tough, angry part of the country. [You know I love you, Philly, but it’s true.] This is not to say the Irish never get upset or angry, of course they do. But it’s usually at the government, corruption, inequity, persecutors of people and of course the rival football or rugby club. As long as I stay outraged at wrongdoing and don’t start cheering for County Mayo, I’ll fit right in.

The village I live in is small and as a result, everyone knows one another. Even a transplant like me. For instance, the other day in taking my daily walk, I traversed a part of Main Street and as I did, I encountered the postman. I intended to wave hello and keep going but he stopped me and said, “Hiya, hold on I’ve got your post for you.” Now, mind you, I was nowhere near my house and I’ve only met the man twice in the time we’ve lived here. Granted, “the American woman” probably stands out in the small crowd, but already I’m familiar. That’s a wonderful thing. My mail carrier in Bucks County never addressed me by name and frequently mis-delivered my mail even after 14 years.

Riding the bus to and from Galway is always a pleasurable education, too. All the neighbors catch up on the news of their families and the state of the world. “Hiya, Mary. How’re ye keeping? Ah, grand, that’s grand. God bless ye.” The trip home is like being on the school bus —the driver, who everybody also knows— stops at all the old ladies’ houses so they don’t have so far to walk. “This next house on the left, Gerry, if ye don’t mind. Thanks a million.” How cool is that? It was a miracle if any of my Bucks County neighbors waved hello as I walked by. I only knew their names because their mail was so frequently mis-delivered.

And the local radio station: Galway Bay FM has its own funny charm. It’s always playing on the bus so I get to hear it often enough. They have call-in contests and the DJ always finds some connection to the caller. “Hi, we’ve got Julie from Loughrea on the line. How’re ye, Julie? Now, where do ye live in Loughrea? Northside? Say, do ye know the McGettigans? They’re two houses down? Ah, they’re great pals of mine. Went to school with Jamie, don’t ye know…” Eventually they get to the call-in contest question. It takes forever, but it’s pretty hilarious.

The radio also gives a rundown of the local death notices, the subsequent viewing location and the funeral arrangements. And on the other side of surreal they also provide the television lineup for RTE One, including plot synopses and teaser/trailers for each program. All I can say about that is, it’s no wonder everyone goes to the pub. Now, since I’m five hours or more ahead of you folks back home, I’m off to have a pint!

Genre Bending

An older post revisited.

One of the things that catches me up at the end of a project is selecting the best genre for the book. Seems like it should be a no-brainer but it isn’t really. Of the five complete novels I’ve written in The Bucks County Series, all of them have a romantic component, so I’ve listed them under the romantic suspense genre. Nevertheless, all but one are crime stories: mysteries with clues to be followed and criminals to be apprehended. The one exception —Run For It— is even more hard to define; there are elements of suspense and romance, but no crimes get committed nor are there secrets to uncover. What is that? Realistic fiction, maybe? The thing is, I feel like I might be misleading the reader by including the ‘romance’ part in describing the genre.

Do romance readers expect steamy sex scenes? Or is that now classified as erotica? While the stories I write include the development of romance/relationships between my main characters, I abstain from depicting any sort of physical relationship beyond kissing. I think a romance reader might be a little disappointed. In any case, writing romance was never my objective, it was to write a good story in which a relationship might develop. In fact, I have nearly removed the romantic components from two of the five books because I felt the stories could stand on their own without it. I just liked the books better with the relationship left in.

I’m not a good, traditional romance writer and I know it. And perhaps that’s because I’m not particularly traditionally romantic myself. Candlelight dinners? I like to see what I’m eating. Chocolate? Ok, I’ll take the chocolate but not one of those samplers – half the stuff is inedible in those things. Flowers are nice but eventually they will dry up and all the petals will fall off and make a mess. I can never remember where I keep the vases anyway. New jewelry is lost on me – I always wear the same favorite pieces every day. You see what I mean… I feel like a hypocrite writing those sorts of things into my books. My characters feel as silly as I do in traditionally romantic situations.

So how does a romance go in a book by Meg Sorick? Most of my female leads are self-rescuers – they don’t actually need their men to bail them out of their crises. That is not to say my male leads are not capable of rescuing; I like strong male characters, just not Neanderthals. No offense Neanderthals (I hear that’s actually a thing … Neanderthal DNA showing up in all the ancestry testing everyone is having done to find out your real lineage, not the one your grandma lied about. But I digress…) Anyway, except for the non-mystery in my collection, the women find themselves as the target of some sort of criminal activity: burglary, stalking, attempted murder, and finally vandalism/arson. The men are there to help follow the clues, discuss possibilities and ultimately assist in solving the mystery. This is how I like the relationship to develop — the couple works together to overcome an obstacle or withstand a series of terrible events. They will genuinely like and respect each other, they will definitely be attracted to one another and they will learn to trust each other with their very lives. Not a bad formula, I would say. But then I arrive back at the original issue: how to classify the stories I write. I have some thinking to do. And I may give romance a rest altogether after I finish my next stand alone book —a historical novel set partly during World War One. I have plans for a sweet romance in that story, but after that? I think I should part ways with love…

When you have all the time in the world…

This writer’s life.

I haven’t got a “real” job at the moment, I have all the time in the world and yet, I am having trouble focusing on the task of writing. While taking a break can be healthy and restorative, there is a risk of losing momentum, sometimes forever.

This must sound indulgent, but I really hope it doesn’t come off that way. Most aspiring authors are trying to fit writing in around work that pays the bills. I have the ‘luxury’ of being at home for the time being. Nevertheless, I’ve been a very busy woman for a very long time. I’ve been secularly employed from the age of 16 and this is the first time in all those years, I haven’t earned an income [aside from very modest book royalties, which only amount to the cost of an occasional dinner out]. Anyway, my plan has been to use this time to concentrate on the next novel. I just can’t seem to get going. I have lots of excuses: taking care of the business of the international move, my office isn’t set up yet and my writing space is important to me, the house is too empty and I need to get a cat… Even writing blog posts instead of working on the novel! Doh!

I suppose it’s easy to procrastinate, knowing you have all the time in the world. Creative pursuits, unless of course, you have been commissioned to complete a project, and are on a deadline, tend to be more fluid. The book always needs further revision, the painting needs just a little more touching up or the drawing needs a slight adjustment. These things can become forever incomplete or unfinished. Even creativity needs to have a certain amount of discipline imposed upon it. It’s time I made a schedule and stuck to it. Plan my writing time and prioritize. And even if the writing isn’t good, developing the routine will be. Mediocre writing can always be revised. But first you have to write it. I really don’t have all the time in the world. It is a commodity that once expended is gone forever. Best get back to work!