Inserting Slices of Real Life in Fiction

Writers do this. I know I do. We slip in little bits of real, everyday life into our works of fiction. Just a sliver really. Here’s one example: there’s a scene where heroine/amateur sleuth/newly minted entertainment attorney, Corrie Locke, is touring a bigger, better office space with a movie studio boss…and possible murder suspect. Corrie accompanies the handsome, sometimes oddly mysterious executive vice president to inspect the new building. They are alone in the uninhabited office, which makes her feel a wee bit nervous. Especially because her gun is in her car. Here’s the scene snippet as it occurs in the book:

He leaned down toward my head, practically burying his nose in my hair.
“Do you mind?” I squirmed.
“You smell good.”
“So does hot chocolate, but you don’t nosedive into that, do you?”
“I might, I love hot chocolate.”

I crafted this scene after a brief encounter I had in my local grocery store while I waited in line to make my purchase. My back was to those waiting behind me. I was closing in on the cashier when I heard loud, shallow breaths in even tempo, close to my ear. Then I felt a slight jab, a vague push. I turned my head around. Behind me stood a man, so close that if I leaned forward just a bit, we’d bump noses. His chin was practically buried in my hair.

I think it’s fair to state that most of us do not like people, outside of those personally invited, to enter a diameter of say, two feet, within our physical presence. Even one foot is acceptable when standing in line. I move forward when I get crowded from behind. Quite often, so does the person behind me, even if there’s no need to do so. Most grocery stores have ample space. I’ve learned to carry a large handbag and place it between me and any personal zone violators. This helps maintain a respectable distance.

This tiny encounter impacted me enough for me to recall it years later and insert it into my novel. Mostly because I chuckled about it…afterward. It’s easy to laugh off slightly annoying brief encounters, and insert them into a work of fiction to share with others, who can laugh along with you.

Happiness Boosters: The Epiphanies

It was nearly a year ago when, while flying home from the East Coast, I experienced a series of epiphanies. Thirty in total at 35,000 feet in the air. About halfway through the flight, I’d felt dreadful. Dreadfully air-sick, frustrated, impatient, perturbed, and disturbed. I was an emotional Mount Vesuvius, ready to blow. I sat huddled in a corner of the plane, shade pulled down, eyes squeezed shut, fighting nausea, with an onslaught of unhappy thoughts that made me miserable. My saving grace was that no one knew about my distressed state, but me.

The last leg of my trip had included a writer’s conference that left me uncertain. The query letter for my completed manuscript had been read aloud in front of three literary agents and an audience of writers. The first agent remarked it was “excellently written.” The other two stated it wasn’t the norm, so they’d likely discard it. I’d written the query as a blurb for the back of my hopefully soon to be published book. It was solid as far as I was concerned. Three agents, including the one who responded favorably to my letter, asked that I send my manuscript to them. Yet I left the conference feeling gosh darn unhappy.

That quiet discontentment unleashed the torrent of epiphanies during my plane ride. An epiphany is an illuminating discovery or realization. Mine consisted of a list of life changes that needed to be made to help me better guard my happiness.

I won’t name all the epiphanies, as some are too personal, but here are a sampling:

1. No clutter.
2. No fretting.
3. No time spent on news media that could cause fretting.
4. No wearing feel-bad clothes (donations to my local thrift store keep me happy and hopefully make others happy too).
5. Feed my mind with positive notions/views/content.
6. No likes/dislikes (I’m often in the company of people who carry a personal agenda, which I’ve noticed prevents an open mind and hinders an even state of happiness).
7. Wear only comfortable shoes, but shoes that look good (a costly challenge at times, but a necessary luxury for me, as I walk a lot at work).
8. Change no one but yourself.
9. Criticize no one (criticizing keeps us from the full-time job of focusing on improving ourselves).
10. Be a success at what you love.
11. Read and write more.
12. No time killers/breeze shooters.
13. Plant more flowers.
14. Use wisdom daily.
15. Be uplifting to others.
16. Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people.
17. Enjoy dessert more.
18. Progress without compromise.
19. Keep up the momentum of anything that’s positive.
20. Become a published author.

Number twenty posed the greatest challenge since the “how” eluded me. Or so I thought. A day later, with my epiphanies still fresh, I received truly wonderful news from the lovely person who became my truly wonderful editor at The Wild Rose Press, which led to publication. Did I need to drive myself to a state of emotional upheaval to make what I needed happen? Nope, but it made me realize happiness boosters are often at our fingertips.

Unexpected Perks of Being Published

Holy moly, nearly three months ago, I realized a dream come true: the publication of my light-hearted, mystery novel. So what did I expect after publication? Work. A lot of it. The ever present constants of marketing, promotion and writing, while working the day job and breathing and eating and sleeping now and then. What I didn’t expect were the marvelous byproducts.

A byproduct is something that happens as a result of something else. As a result of my publication, I started a Facebook account and reconnected with wonderful friends from long ago and galaxies far away. And I discovered new ones. There are so many lovely people I never would have had the pleasure of encountering but for the book. I’ve met other writers, bloggers, bookstore owners, bookstore visitors, readers, local postal employees, librarians, friends of friends, everyone at my local bank, a hostess at a popular restaurant and a multitude of others – an absolutely wonderful mix! All because they’d read or heard of my novel. It’s such a surprising treat to be regarded as someone who’s accomplished something of small note.

I’d heard tales from other writers of unkind remarks by friends and strangers alike, but thankfully, I’ve not yet been subjected. Or maybe I have, but haven’t noticed because I’m walking on billowy cloud feet.

And the most important perk: I’ve learned firsthand, the not so secret ingredient behind success, the magic that makes it happen: persistence. I gave up several times during my drafting days. Especially the early draft days. I swore off writing forever. Two weeks would go by, and then something would draw me back. A quiet but necessary something. A need.

There’s a ton of blood, sweat and tears that goes into that first book. But it was worth every last drop.