The Story behind the writer and thus The Proving Zone

and why if you ever run into Jayne Ann Krentz

you can tell her what she’s responsible for:

Although reading is one of my chief pleasures, serendipity clearly rules my life. Eleven years ago four things happened in the same two week period that caused me to take up novel writing. I’d never wanted to be a writer and found it quite impossible as a teenager to keep even an I-washed-my-hair-today diary. I can’t even figure out what to write on a post card or one of those pesky tiny cards that go in flower arrangement gifts. Except novels—these situations all still apply. A circumstance I find very peculiar, but what can you do with a deity who only hands out partial gifts? Why work with what we get, I guess. Anyway, here’s the tale:

The first event of serendipitous change:

I was just finishing a Jayne Ann Krentz novel about a novelist. One of the lines from the book explained that writers have so many stories of their own that they don’t want to write other people’s story ideas. My husband entered the room just as I tossed the book down. (I never treat books that way but did that moment!)

He said, "Bad book?"

I said sadly (actually whined), "No, just disappointed. I’ve had an idea for a book that I’ve wanted to read since I was 15.I've kept myself from thinking about it so that if I ever met a writer I’d tell them the story, they would write it, and then I would read it and know how it ended. Now I’ve found out that they wouldn’t want it, let alone write it!"

The second event of serendipitous change:

He gave me that you’re a dumb shit look and asked, "How old are you?"


"Then if you’d written a page a week, you’d know how it ended by now, wouldn’t you?"

I had to agree.

The third event of serendipitous change:

I like watching the television sitcom Dharma and Greg. An episode where Dharma inherits a violin came on. Greg and his family insisted she needed lessons. Her parents’ comment of "No! If you take lessons, you play someone else’s music." struck a chord of intelligent reality in me. There went the stumbling block that I had to wait for lessons before I began. (Are you career writers horrified yet?) Besides, I live over 90 miles from the nearest place to take any kind of writing lessons.

The fourth event of serendipitous change:

A fortune cookie. I was having lunch with my sister at our favorite oriental restaurant and my fortune that day was—the world is always ready for new talent.

And therefore—I write.

I have found that writing novels is wicked fun. Even if the stories are never printed, the putting down of them and the antics of the characters is extremely satisfying as well as amusing. I find the most satisfaction in pleasing other readers. I like for readers to let me know what portions of my stories they like or dislike. That way I can remove unlikable parts from my next books!

As if turning into a writer wasn’t odd enough, I was asked to write about what I’d been doing for the last 20-plus years—troubleshooting reading and handwriting problems. I wrote So…Teach Them to Read & Write…Easily between novels. Without the practice of novel writing, I would never have even attempted such a book!

And yes, there is a story about how I ended up with the pen name Blatant Appeal. We’ll leave that story for later. For now my hope is

...that you're having wicked fun too....


Reese Mobley said...

You are a fascinating woman. I always look forward to your blog post. Today's was as satisfiying as a cup of cocoa topped with gooey marshmallows--especially nice on such a cold day.

Joan Vincent said...

Whatever road you took, I'm glad you became a writer! I too enjoy your posts--your humor and your insights. I think many of us started writing either because we wanted a certain kind of story or we thought we could do it better. My sister just sent me the Dreamlight trilogy by Krentz/Castle. So I'm off to curl up with it this cold winter afternoon--ah, well, I will as soon as I get my page written for the day!

Penny Rader said...

"Then if you’d written a page a week, you’d know how it ended by now, wouldn’t you?" really hits home with me. (color my face red!)

Thanks for sharing your story, Nina.

Nina Sipes said...

Fascinating? I better go look that up. But I am glad it struck you warm and nice. I always feel as if my blog posts are quite crude and rough when compared to the way the rest of you sling your words together so well and lyrical. Or with every word making a statement and impact. Sheesh, around real writers it is hard to hold one's head up. (I say real because you-all are so crafty at it)

Nina Sipes said...

You lucky woman. I hope you like the dreamlight trilogy. Ms. Krentz has been doing what looks like an attempt to lure her readers into crossing genre lines. She writes historicals, current, and future. The last several sets of stories have been woven as continuations through all three of her times. I've certainly enjoyed them. They are best, I think, read in order. Currently my favorite set of three were about two women who escaped an insane asylums. They were not nuts.
I'm glad some of my posts strike you funny. I've been trying to imagine what it must be like to be an average beginning writer (our target audience, right?)and write for them. Like I have any galloping idea of what an average beginning writer would be like....

Nina Sipes said...

You may have hit on what you need. I don't think Barbies are out of line. Nor a doll house or two.
I think your way of writing is probably better than mine. Since I have to do the video thing, my characters have more freedom to drive me directions I don't think I should go. Rox said something about writing talent processes can change. I'd like to morph mine a bit, but don't really know how.
Do you remember that story you started about the woman with a headache that went to the wrong van in the parking lot? That visual still haunts me. Do something with her, will you?

Pat Davids said...

Nina, I have always admired the grit, realism and wonderful truths that fill your blog posts. Don't you dare hang your head in front of other writers.

And, I love Jayne Ann Krentz and all her voyages into different genres. She be cool. And, my husband gives me those looks, too. Isn't it funny how we need others to help push us out of our shells?

Nina Sipes said...

I so appreciate it that you answer all my questions so very throughly and well. I suppose the reason I hang back a bit as a writer is because the whole process of writing is such a puzzle to me. I'm used to dealing with the concrete world and writing is 50% that, so I'm left trying to read tea leaves and read meaning in grasshopper guts on the windshield. (they might as well be good for something and divination sounds good)

I wondered about this blog thing when it was first suggested, but I like the support and insight it gives each other.

About those speaking looks my husband sometimes gives--gotta say, in the interest of being fair, I hand him out some too.