Mary Lydon Simonsen | How I Write Aka Talking To Myself
December 3, 2009
Thank you for inviting me to write a guest blog on Fresh Fiction. I thought I would share with
you today a little bit about my writing process, which actually involves a
goodly amount of self-directed conversation, also known as talking to myself.
Before I sit down in front of a computer to begin my novel, I have been walking
around with a story in my head for weeks, months, and in the case of Searching for Pemberley,
years. By the time I put my fingers on the keyboard, I have very definite ideas
as to how the story will begin and end, but the mushy middle is subject to
When I begin writing a story, I start with a "brain dump;" that is, I type out a
very rough draft of a chapter. Once I have that down, I want my mind to be empty
of all other thoughts, so I go for a long walk or I engage in some mindless
task, such as sweeping the patio or pruning my shrubs. But when I really need to
concentrate on a scene, my favorite thing to do is to get out my Shark steamer
and clean my tile floor. Although my husband has gotten used to me talking to
myself while I clean the floors, he’s still puzzled why I find it necessary to
speak with a British accent. But it does make a difference. If I’m writing about
a character from Britain’s upper classes, I talk in a posh accent. If I’m
writing dialog for a servant, I affect a lower class accent. (My thanks to
Masterpiece Theater for producing Upstairs Downstairs, which has both.)
Sometimes I end up cleaning all the tile (and I have a lot of tile), but there
are times when everything falls into place right away, and I return to the
Because I am a stickler for historical accuracy, my research may take me in a
different direction than I had planned or the actions of a character may change
in response to historical revelations. For example, when I learned that an
austerity program remained in place in post World War II Britain for years after
the defeat of Japan, Italy, and Germany, I had to change my story to include
food and fuel shortages.
Searching for Pemberley
the story of Maggie Joyce, a young American, who arrives in London in 1947. She
is also a fan of Jane
Austen’s Pride and
Prejudice. When she learns that Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy may
have been based on real people, she travels to Derbyshire to visit Montclair
Manor, which may be Austen’s storied
Pemberley. Because Maggie works for the
Army Exchange Service, she has commissary privileges and access to foods we all
take for granted: white bread, sugar, coffee, and fruit. But all her British
friends are still carrying ration books and queuing up for goods in short
supply. When she goes on a tour of Montclair, an elegant Georgian manor house,
she finds that the extensive gardens, where Mr. Darcy encountered Elizabeth and
their romance was rekindled, is now a Victory garden with rows of potatoes,
cabbage, and onions, and not roses and hyacinths.
As soon as the first draft is finished, I immediately begin polishing the
manuscript. An author really has to love their story because you are going to
read it dozens of times even before it is submitted to a publisher, and once the
editor starts working on it, you will have to read it again and again. After
more polishing and grammar checking, your book is finished, and then the big day
arrives. Your novel goes live. And the long journey that began with the glimmer
of an idea has reached its terminus. Now, it’s time for others to decide if your
story resonates with them. I can’t think of anything more gratifying to an
author than having someone contact you, by e-mail or in person, and say that
they loved your book, and even better, will there be a sequel?
PEMBERLEY-IN STORES DECEMBER 2009
Set against Regency England, World Wars I and II, and postwar England, three
love stories intertwine in surprising and fateful ways
American Maggie Joyce, touring Derbyshire in 1947, visits, Montclair, an 18th
century Georgian country house, that she is told was the model for Jane Austen's
Pemberley. More amazingly, the former residents of the mansion, William Lacey
and Elizabeth Garrison, were the inspiration for the characters of Fitzwilliam
Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.
Through letters, diary entries, and oral history, Beth and Jack Crowell, a
couple who lives in the nearby village of Crofton, share stories of the people
they say inspired Jane
Austen. They also tell their own love story, made
difficult by their vastly different backgrounds--she was one of the social elite
while he was the son of a servant. When their son, Michael, travels home from
his RAF station in Malta, Maggie may have just found her very own Mr. Darcy.
in North Jersey with the exciting venues of New York City easily accessible. She
is largely self-educated and is especially interested in American and European
history and 19th Century novels. In characters,
Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, and being a romantic, the novel
includes three love stories from three different time periods, all thanks to Jane Austen
. She lives in
Peoria, Arizona. For more information, please visit http://searchingforpemberley.weebly.com/
44 comments posted.
Re: Mary Lydon Simonsen | How I Write Aka Talking To Myself
That is hysterical that you clean when you are thinking! I do the same thing, I dust, EVERYTHING in my house! My friends always say how do have time to dust so much and write! I just laugh!
(Jane Lange 3:19pm December 2, 2009)
I like that you are into historical accuracy. I have a degree in history and I love to read novels with some elements of facts in the writing.
(Laurey Martin 2:02am December 3, 2009)
Loved how you entwined 3love stories in one book all centered around Jane Austin's life and works! Sounds like an interesting read!
(Laurie Gommermann 5:01am December 3, 2009)
When a friend of mine was asked why he was talking to himself he said that he wanted to talk to someone who knew something. Good for you!
(Marjorie Carmony 5:38am December 3, 2009)
Searching for Pemberley sounds like a book I'd like to read!
(Bridget Lopreiato 7:23am December 3, 2009)
I love to write and I have never thought about doing it the way that you do but I think I will give it a try. Great book by the way.
(Tabatha Basham 8:23am December 3, 2009)
I love to read books with some history, I learned a lot through the years.
(Pat Wilson 9:11am December 3, 2009)
Your book sounds great--so creative. Thanks for the post.
(G S Moch 9:21am December 3, 2009)
I talk to y cat Jinx, she always agrees with me!
This book sounds great, can't wait to read it.
(Barbara Hanson 9:36am December 3, 2009)
What a wonderful site! Thank you for all your comments. It seems that some of us have clean houses because we write.
(Mary Simonsen 10:40am December 3, 2009)
I can't wait to read your story. I am awed that you keep on for years to create your story. I know I would never have the patience to keep on something for that long. Thank you for sharing your visions with us.
(Gayle Oreluk 10:57am December 3, 2009)
Mary, I also engage in
mindless tasks, such as taking
a walk, when I need to work
something out. When I just
need to relax after doing
something tasking, I love to
knit. It's amazing what you
can accomplish by doing that.
Not only do you create
something beautiful, you also
free your mind of stress.
(Margay Roberge 11:35am December 3, 2009)
I like that u are a stickler for
(Lisa Garrett 12:28pm December 3, 2009)
Great idea to clean the floors with your Shark steamer prior to writing. I can not wait to read this book.
(Barbara Ryan 12:42pm December 3, 2009)
I started writing a novel in my 30s, but it was terrible. I tried again in my 40's. No luck. It was only when I had my knee replaced, and I was bored b/c I wasn't working that I finally started writing my Austen novel. That was 4 years ago, but by that time, I was ready.
(Mary Simonsen 12:53pm December 3, 2009)
Thank you for sharing your own stories. It is so wonderful to have an exchange of ideas. As I said, this is a terrific site.
(Mary Simonsen 12:57pm December 3, 2009)
You sound as if you have the same creative process I do..only I don;t actually write them down! LOL I have quite a habit of enacting entire scenarios in my head as soon as I get into bed! What wonderful stories I can come up with!
(Barbara Ramirez 1:19pm December 3, 2009)
Oooh what a wonderful sounding book... Thanks for sharing with us today!
(Colleen Conklin 1:38pm December 3, 2009)
That is a fantastic way to write!!! I shall talk to myself more often!!
(Freda Mans-Labianca 1:48pm December 3, 2009)
The visual of you cleaning your tile and speaking in different dialects is so wonderful. Thank you for sharing!
(Joanne Reynolds 2:01pm December 3, 2009)
I should take up writing, maybe my floors would be as clean as yours! Thanks for the great historical novels.
(Robin Hudspeth 2:10pm December 3, 2009)
Next time you start -- could you come to my house & clean?
Thanks in Advance [lol]
(Cate Sparks 2:20pm December 3, 2009)
I often talk to myself, too, when I'm writing! My husband is hard of hearing, so he thinks I've been talking to him. I have to tell him that no, I was just talking to myself. Always good for an eye roll or two!
(LuAnn Morgan 2:39pm December 3, 2009)
I clean when I think, too - normally when the story's really agitating me. It's usually a sign of irritability and my husband steers way clear!
I'd love to read Searching for Pemberley! Sounds right up my alley :)
(Amber Leigh Williams 2:42pm December 3, 2009)
What a great idea using Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice as a base for your novel, Searching for Pemberley. It sounds like talking to yourself paid off with a great story. Congratulations!
(Rosemary Krejsa 2:50pm December 3, 2009)
I love the sound of this book. Triple the romance and Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice intertwined. Can't wait to read it. It is authors like you that make reading a joy! Thank you
(Kimberley Coover 2:55pm December 3, 2009)
I loved that talk with the accents of the characters. When I read I hear the "accents" of the characters in the stories. I've always done that. Your books sounds interesting - I love Pride and Prejudice.
(Josie Roetemeyer 2:56pm December 3, 2009)
I would of loved being being a fly on your wall, a cleaning fiend with a british accent, but you prabably would have swatted me:) The book sounds like a good read.
(Theresa Buckholtz 3:04pm December 3, 2009)
As a HUGE Jane Austen fan I would love to read SEARCHING FOR PEMBERLEY. Fingers crossed!!
(Mary Preston 3:41pm December 3, 2009)
See, I clean when I have other work (usually school writing) to do, and I SAY it's because I need an uncluttered space to think in, but really, I think I'm just putting off the real work...
(Misty Braden 3:48pm December 3, 2009)
SEARCHING FOR PEMBERLEY..WOW this is the type of book I love to read, light, with love, some crying and just plain good reading.
(Brenda Hill 5:27pm December 3, 2009)
What an amazing group of people on this site. I haven't encountered anything like this on my blog tour. So my heartfelt thanks for the welcome. Since it seems like I've a few more novels in me, I'm thinking of tiling my whole house. I don't get the same effect when I vacuum--too noisy. I hope everyone enjoys Searching for Pemberley.
(Mary Simonsen 5:42pm December 3, 2009)
I learn that authors all do it different
(Patricia Kasner 5:52pm December 3, 2009)
Hi Mary! Pleae feel free to come clean my house then next time you are in your writing mode. I sometimes refer to my brain dumps as brain farts!
(Lisa Glidewell 9:07pm December 3, 2009)
When I am researching I sometimes will veer off in unexpected ways. Sometimes that works out quite well, other times......well, not so much!
nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net
(Nancye Davis 9:33pm December 3, 2009)
I will happy to clean house for anyone who lives on Maui or Aspen or Hilton Head. Let me know.
(Mary Simonsen 9:33pm December 3, 2009)
The talking with a British accent made me
smile! That makes perfect sense.
(Sue Ahn 10:17pm December 3, 2009)
I talk to myself too often, unfortunately, I don't do accents or it might be more amusing!
(Sharla Long 10:38pm December 3, 2009)
I know what you mean about walking around with a story in your head. I walk around with lists in my head - what chores I have to do, what phone calls I have to make, etc. I'm not really settled until I can get it all down on paper!
(Cheryl Snyder 11:54pm December 3, 2009)
I loved reading about your projecting your characters into your cleaning routine. It would be fun to be a fly on your wall! I'll bet you were like a few kiddies I know that have their dollies, bears, cats, & dogs holding all kinds of conversations back & forth with no stops for working out what they want them to say & with whatever accent! Will look for your book..it sounds like a good read.
(Jill Merriott 12:22pm December 4, 2009)
Oops! Don't know what the glitch is but my daughters name came up instead of mine! Jean Merriott
(Jill Merriott 12:24pm December 4, 2009)
I have found that talking to myself guarantees a good conversation at places and times where one normally wouldn't find it. I also do it when in the darkroom, printing photos. There however, it can be a drawback, as others in there with you naturally assume you're talking to them!
(Lynn Rettig 12:25pm December 4, 2009)
I find the entire writing process that authors use fascinating. I wouldn't have thought that was how to write a book! Surprising!
(Brenda Rupp 11:21pm December 8, 2009)
Gee, maybe if I try writing, it will help me to get my house clean.. smile.. The book sounds great - can't wait to read it.
(Penny Tuttle 9:04pm December 22, 2009)
Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!