Monday, August 5, 2013

A Life Less Ordinary by Victoria Bernadine

 
Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008. She began with fanfiction about a (now-cancelled) TV show called Jericho and particularly about the characters of Heather Lisinski and Edward Beck. From there, she expanded into writing original fic and she hasn’t stopped since. 
Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody’s guess. 
She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). A Life Less Ordinary is the first novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild. 
Victoria can be contacted through Love of Words Publishing Inc. (loveofwords@shaw.ca) or through her brand new blog at http://victoriabernadine.wordpress.com/. 
A Life Less Ordinary is available for sale on Amazon in both Kindle and hard copy formats at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AMJBOSQ. 
 
 
 
Question of the Day...
 

Are you a plot driven writer or a character driven writer?  Please explain how your “method” pertains to the book you’re discussing today.

 
First of all, thank you for hosting me today.
 
This is a very interesting question; in my case, it’s not necessarily a one-or-the-other kind of answer.  If I have to choose, though, I’d say I’m a character-driven writer.  I seldom have a detailed plot in mind at all when I begin to write, although I do usually have a very broad “what if” scenario/situation.
 
For example, in the case of A Life Less Ordinary, I had a general plot:  a 45-year-old woman throws her life in the air and leaves on a six-month road trip.  The story itself, however, didn’t actually begin to take shape until I could define the characters (which were derived from a “cast list”, suggested by a friend on LiveJournal as a creativity challenge).
 
In terms of my writing style, I don’t plan a story, and I don’t write sequentially.  Instead, I think about the characters, who they are, what they want and why they are the way they are, and these elements fit within the starting “what-if” scenario.  These thoughts tend to create scenes between characters, and those scenes inspire other scenes and so on, and so on.  As the story progresses, I make “plot notes”, which are usually conversations (sometimes arguments) with myself about plot points and how/why they would happen, as well as character motivations, thoughts or relationships.  These notes are a jumble and, I have to confess, I seldom look at them again after I write them down because the simple act of writing them helps me remember them...or helps me decide the idea is too awful to ever see the light of day!
 
I’m making the process sound far more conscious than what it really is.  I don’t really think about whether I’m being driven by plot or character as I work.  I just write.  I write snippets of conversations, scenes that come into my head, descriptions or a sentence or two – whatever comes into my head at any moment.  If I write enough of these things, couched in the context of a broad “what if” idea (“what if...this woman had a mid-life crisis and went on a road trip?”; “what if...aliens invaded earth and the only weapon we have against them are our ghosts?”), I sometimes end up with a story that’s good enough to share with others.
 
It’s chaotic and confusing and energizing, and I love the entire process to bits...
 
...of course, when it comes time to actually create something understandable out of everything, it can be a bit of a pain, especially when some of the scenes/dialogue I love the most have to end up on the cutting room floor because they don’t serve the final story.  A Life Less Ordinary was particularly difficult because it was such a long (for me) story with several different storylines, each with their own timeline, and characters who sometimes wanted to do things I didn’t want them to do (*frowns furiously at the characters*).
 
Ahem.
 
Anyway, I just have to say I love the whole process, and I hope people enjoy and are entertained by the results!
 
 
The Blurb...
 
For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl.  Now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life.  When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps.  In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house, cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
 
After placing an ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-zine, What Women Want.  Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time.
 
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
 
 
 
Now for a Taste...
 
Manny walked in her door, looking tired and feeling worn out. She wondered ruefully why the only thing not on a schedule was the time she could leave the office. She dropped her purse on the table and hung up her coat and keys. With a tired sigh, she walked into the living room and plopped into the armchair. She closed her eyes as Harvey walked out of the kitchen with a glass of white wine and began to rub her shoulders. He again looked impossibly handsome, this time wearing a sweater and jeans. She sighed in imagined bliss, and looked at him with sad eyes.
You have no idea how much I wish you were real.
In a blink, he was gone–and the phone was ringing. For a split second, Manny considered not answering it. 
There’s your chance to talk to a real person, Harvey murmured. 
Probably a telemarketer. 
Probably Rebecca. Or Daisy. They’ll worry if you don’t answer. 
All right, all right. 
Manny heaved herself to her feet and walked to the phone. 
Maybe I’m glad you’re imaginary after all. 
She caught a glimpse of his grin as she answered the phone. 
It was Rebecca, asking her to go out the next night. 
“I don’t know...” Manny sighed. 
“Oh, come on–you’ll have fun! And seriously–you haven’t gone out with us in months!” 
“I’ve been tired...” 
“You’ve been tired your whole life I think. You need to break out of this rut you’re in! Come out for a few drinks and dancing with me and Daisy. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a good-looking guy and be swept off your feet into a red-hot love affair.” 
Sounds like a plan to me. 
Yeah, ’cause that’ll happen. 
“I’d love to go dancing,” Manny said to Rebecca, “but the guy is just a figment of your imagination.” 
“Only because you don’t put any effort into it. Seriously, it’s not healthy to do nothing but work and go home. That’s how people go crazy you know.” 
“Huh. You mean next thing you know I’ll be talking to my imaginary friend?” 
Harvey grinned wickedly and Manny abruptly turned her back to him.
 

10 comments:

Christy McKee said...

Welcome Victoria. It's a pleasure to have you on "The Sweet Spot" today!

victoriabernadine said...

Hi Christy - thanks for hosting me today! :D

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Rita said...

The book sounds great, I can't wait to read it.

victoriabernadine said...

Hi Rita - Thanks for dropping by!! I hope you enjoy the book. Please drop me a line at my blog and let me know what you thought! :)

And sorry for not responding to your comment yesterday; I was away from a computer for most of the day. :)

Catherine Lee said...

Victoria...I often try to get away from the computer but it always seems to draw me back in! LOL.

I like that the heroine is older and at a crossroads. I look forward to reading it.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

victoriabernadine said...

Hi Catherine - thanks for dropping by! And LOL - I hear ya!! I'm going to be away from the computer (or very limited, anyway) for the next few days due to a family thing...I'll be in withdrawal by the time I get access to one again!!

I hope you like the book and I hope you'll drop me a line at my blog to let me know what you thought. :)

Mary Preston said...

It's always interesting to read about author writing styles thank you!!

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Karen H in NC said...

Sorry for the late post. Been out of touch myself for a few days. While this book is not my usual reading genre, it sounds like an amazing story. I'm putting it on my BTB list today.

kareninnc at gmail dot com

victoriabernadine said...

Hi Mary - thanks for the comment; glad you liked the post! :)

Hi Karen - thanks for stopping by, and thanks for putting the book on your BTB list. :D I hope you'll let me know what you thought of it!!