Three Questions for... Marilyn Celeste Morris

My Three Questions series with fellow Vanilla Heart Publishing authors continues with Marilyn Celeste Morris, author of The Women of Camp Sobingo, Forces of Nature, Sabbath’s Room, and her memoir, Once a Brat, about her world-wide travels with her army officer father. Her latest novel is the romantic mystery, The Unexplored Heart. For more about Marilyn, visit this link.

What have you learned from writing your novels?
I've learned patience. A novel takes a lot of endurance, planning and revising. Someone once asked me how long it took me to write my first novel. My answer: About 20 years. I had it rattling around in my head for a while, and occasionally I would jot down notes on some ideas to add. I wrote Sabbath's Gift on an electric typewriter, so I literally "cut and pasted" a large portion of this novel. I thought I would never get it into the shape I wanted, so when I typed "The End" I was thrilled. By this time, I had a computer and I rewrote the whole thing in MS Word. I've learned to let my creative self come out to play. Nothing is written in stone. My first drafts definitely shouldn't ever see the light of day. They're full of typos, misspellings and generally don't follow a pattern. Just words thrown on the screen, to rearrange, delete and keep later.

Do you use an outline?
Outlines should be outlawed. I generally take an idea and run with it. Words fill up my screen in no certain order to rearrange later. Anyone who sees this mess would shake his head and wonder, "what the heck is this?" Sometimes I write the ending first. This gives me more of an idea what to write in the main body: foreshadowing, clues, introducing a new character, etc.  

How has your writing been received by family and friends?
When my first novel was published, I took part in a book signing/panel discussion of New Texas Writers at Barnes & Noble. A great many of my friends attended and we all went to dinner afterward. I basked in their friendship and promised them more to come. Now, it's more like, "What's your newest project, Marilyn?" And when I tell them, they say they'll look for it, but I certainly don't expect them to actually buy my books all the time. My family is the same way. I'm certain my son hasn't read all my books, and that's okay. My daughter in California buys my books for Christmas presents, and my 91-year-old mother brags at her bridge club about "my daughter, the writer." Like other writers, I sometimes wish I would become a best-selling author, but right now, I'll settle for what my 12-year-old granddaughter said when she idly picked up one of my books and flipped it over to the back cover. Seeing my photo along with a blurb and bio, she gasped in surprise, "Grandma! Are you famous?" And my answer? "Not yet, darling, not yet."


Sun Singer said…
By all means, let's outlaw outlines!

Collin Kelley said…
Personally, I've found that an outline can be useful. I used one to finish Remain In Light and already have one for the third novel. My outline is, basically, a long synopsis of the main plots of the story. There are bits of dialogue, dates of events, etc thrown in to help keep me on track and to indicate where I need to do more research. I've found that it helps me get from point A to point B more easily and if I decide to write out of sequence, I can keep track as well.

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