Monday, July 23, 2012


Available in Trade or eBook
Luisa Buehler, author of the Grace Marsden mysteries, is my guest. Grace is a fascinating character who's been described as a female Monk (from the TV series, not the church). Her latest is The Reenactor: A Staged Death.
People who aren’t writers always ask, “How do you write an entire book?”
“In little bits and starts and stops,” I usually answer. Those same people probably aren’t gardeners because that’s how gardens are created and expanded…in bits and starts and stops. At least my garden started that way twenty years ago and continues in that manner today.
Start with an idea for a garden, “What if I push out the border about eight inches all the way down the path to the fire pit?” Or start with an idea for a storyline, “What if I have the hero investigate his great uncle’s family tree all the way back to the Civil War?”
In the case of my garden, I’m trying to clean up the edging of a path. On the interior of the path, I can use a combination of pulling weeds and spreading Preen to take out the undesirable plants and keep down new unwanted growth. The final plan is to lay landscaping cloth and cover the surface with mulch.
In the case of my novel, I need to involve another layer of discovery to the story that runs parallel but not prominently. Just as in my garden, the main path of my story needs the same treatment. 1. Eradicate the bits that detract from the story like excessive adverbs, extraneous exposition and annoying dialog tags. 2. Apply a literary Preen to keep those ‘weeds’ from germinating. I have a hit list of especially resistant words that I run through my ‘search and destroy’ function in Word.
The photos show my progress on scuffing and preening the edging. I scuff, shake off the dirt from the weeds and work in copious amounts of preen at the rate of about two to three rocks per day. Some days I dig up and flip a few pieces of sod to get a jump on the next day. The path is about 70 feet long.
I write two pages a day unless I’ve reached the end of the chapter. On those days, I write just a bit more so I have a quick start for the next morning. My books are about 280 to 300 pages long. I don’t think in terms of writing a 300 page novel any more than I think of creating an entire garden. I enjoy writing in the moment of the story and sweating in the process of gardening. Both happen for me in little bits and starts and stops. How does your garden grow? Share your methods for creating new and maintaining existing garden space.
Luisa Buehler

How thin is the veil between life and the hereafter? With her husband safely home from a dangerous mission to save his sister, Grace believes her constant fears and encounters with uneasy spirits will stop and life will finally settle into a normal pace.
A fun day with family, the only item on her agenda, Grace, Harry and her step son, Will plan a day at a Civil War encampment. The summer day darkens when Grace becomes a witness to a murder and a century old mystery. And once again, Grace’s normal life spins out of control and leaves her praying that when morning comes her family will be alive.
Find out more about Luisa at


Polly said...

I love your analogy, Luisa. I like to think I write a book by eliminating one weed at a time--hopefully before the book goes to print.

Ellis Vidler said...

While we're on the gardening analogy, I must tell you I've been in a drought for a couple of years, but this year we're getting rain. So, how does your garden grow? Mine is coming back to life.
Luisa, good post. Thinking in terms of the entire book at once is daunting! Following the path a little at a time sounds so much better.

Darla said...

Thanks so much for your inspirational analogy, Luisa. My garden is overgrown and unwieldy and chock full of 'volunteers'! LOL I really like this view of the work; bit by bit, scene by scene, I have to keep faith that shaping and pruning--and planting where sparse--will win the day. :-) Although I've never been one for perfectly manicured gardens in nature so I just hope that the story will someday be pleasing to someone else's eye as well even if it has a bit of a wild essence to it. ;-) How do you keep the flow when working in starts and stops? I appreciate your sharing!

Luisa Buehler said...

Thanks for the support of my gardening and writing method. I keep my head in the story because I write each morning before I go to work. During the day, the story works around in my head. I find it's easy to keep the flow because in a sense I've been letting the story develop at it's own pace. When I sit down to write the next morning, the story is right there. I used to wait until I had a block of time to write...just like waiting for a block of time to weed. It never comes!

Luisa Buehler said...

Ellis, thanks for letting me visit with your friends. It was fun hearing from other writers and gardeners. Keep weeding!

Ellis Vidler said...

Luisa, thanks for being here. And you just gave me some sage advice. I still want to wait for a block of time. Maybe instead of waiting till I have time to do 5 or 6 pages, I should use your method and aim for 2, something much more doable. I need to put that into practice.