Welcome to another Between the Lines Guest Blogger. Occasionally, I will invite various published authors and experienced writers to share their points of view and personal thoughts on various writers’ and authors’ issues. My point in the guest blogger is to showcase unique people and concepts that I believe writers need to experience. Sharing together, we grow, learn, and are improved.
December’s Guest is RLB Hartmann. I first “bumped” into RLB, also known as Lucibuck, on Textnovel.com where I was introduced to her writing in a contemporary novel, Strong Coffee. She won 4th place in their competition and impressed me with her way of turning a phrase. Months later, I arrived on Twitter and RLB was one of the first with whom I “tweeted.” So we go back several years. She’s a North Carolina native, raised on stories her grandmother Mawie told her. Besides her novels, RLB has written and produced screenplays (with screen credits), sold some of her own paintings, even dressed display windows for a local computer store. She’s a past English Instructor, editor, bookseller (occasionally a poet), happily married, loves cats and horses. One connection I had with RLB was that we liked some of the same authors: Margaret Mitchell, Daphne du Maurier, Louis L’Amour. But it was her love of historical fiction that set her writing apart from others. One day I think she’s going to write a 600 page spoof of every western movie ever made. Meet my friend, author of The Cordero Saga, Tierra del Oro, R.L.B. Hartmann.
Please add your comments after the post and feel free to ask questions! RLB will respond to everyone who posts.
A Personal Saga from Writer to Author
First I want to thank Sherry for allowing me to post in this space. We met some time ago, and I value her as a true friend.
When I was a kid, I was blessed with a household that included parents, grandmother Mawie, and various aunts and uncles who lived with us briefly before moving on to their own lives. All of them were storytellers and readers, and there were hints of writers whose avocation was nipped by circumstances.
My own journey as a writer has a murky beginning, or maybe age has muted details better forgotten. One thing was constant: do or die trying. Fortunately, the publishing world has begun a massive shift and the tremors and rumblings promise to continue for some years. It’s a long way from a manual typewriter to the Internet, as evidenced in the stacks and boxes of printed manuscripts cluttering my house. Recently I saw the term “artisanal” publishing and think it’s exactly the description to apply to what’s happening now.
Most friends and family cannot understand what drives us to persist despite everything, just to unburden ourselves of these characters that live and breathe and act in our heads, coming to fruition on the page via our fingertips and a keyboard, to reside in files (often amended) or on paper, and eventually end up in a real or electronic BOOK.
Writers, however, do comprehend the giddiness of finishing a scene that brought tears to the eyes, or elicited a “Yes!” from an exhausted soul who labored in an obscure corner until the chapter ended…in a cliffhanger. These are the things that push us onward into the night, or bring us fresh to the page in the dawn light, eager to see for ourselves “what comes next.”
Before I had an inkling of Tierra del Oro, the Cordero Saga (stories of Old Mexico in 9 consecutive novels), I wrote a number of things. By age 13, I had a backlog of bad poetry and beginnings of many stories; in high school I moved on to essays mostly in the form of rants and letters to editors; by college I was carrying around rough drafts of three novels. My hit/miss method of creating other realities followed me into serious writing, and I can still be surprised to see the significance of events that were never in anything like an outline in my novels.
Even after word processing became available to me in a primitive form, I was printing, cutting, and pasting actual bits of sheets together. File management still tends to elude me, as I’m an obsessive Keeper of Everything, research notes, inspirational articles, old rejection slips, novels with small revisions. Sometimes, however, this obsession gives me a much-needed laugh.
Recently I found a handwritten page torn from a small notebook that must date to the mid-sixties. It begins with a sentence I must have written 1000 times (no exaggeration; I thought I’d never get off the first chapter of that one, and it’s still in a drawer in its fifth incarnation), and ends at the bottom of that ragged-edge page, mid sentence. Apparently it’s the only artifact from that notebook–so I didn’t always Keep Everything.
Now that the saga is finished and available in paperback, I dream of tossing a ton of old scraps that clog boxes, shelves, and file cabinets. I long to return to painting landscapes, hone my drawing skills that have atrophied over the years, and experiment with artists’ media. I yearn to read the stacks and boxes of books that have been on my “to be read” list for years. And I will do those things. Next summer. Nevermind that I’ve been saying that for the last 5 summers.
Links abound on the Internet where you can find other tidbits about me, including the fact that I once co-edited a 2-year run of Bookmark Quarterly, an effort that showcased contributors’ bookmarks and had a handful of subscribers to whom were snail mailed the issues. We ran the sheets off on a copier at the local computer store and charged $2 for a year’s subscription (included mailing). We started with 4 pages, but when the final issue ran 17 pages we had to quit. I still have the letters and donated bookmarks that kind collectors sent us.
People keep asking me “Can I download your books?” But presently the answer is, Sorry, no. My word processor makes dandy PDFs with the help of Cute PDF, but it’s not up to the file conversion needed for most ereaders. My files have already gone through 3 conversions over the years, and I’m no longer motivated to convert them again myself. Did I mention my file-challenged brain? However, the swift changes I mentioned at the beginning of this post might make doing so easier without the expense of hiring out a monumental undertaking like the saga.
One story, one family, one continuing adventure!! That describes not only the Cordero saga, but also my journey as a writer. And there will be a literary life after the saga, for four other books are chomping at the bit to be released in the coming months.
Yours Between the Lines,