Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fun Times with Guest Blogger Frances Pauli

Meet author Frances Pauli today at the Book Boost.

Here's what she had to say about keeping it fun...

I spent most of my career path decision making years vacillating
between writing and painting. I’d always loved both, and at that time, I felt like I had some potential in either arena. I chose art almost arbitrarily, and proceeded to spend a good five or six years getting a four year degree in the field. By the time I’d finished, of course, I hated painting.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the pressure, the artistic angst, the teachers who hit you with big willow sticks (really). Maybe not. I suspect it had a great deal to do with having to paint, with coming to class and being required to put brush to canvas every day. It became work. Needless to say, when I started writing in earnest, I had some worries.

To my relief, with writing, it never happened. It seemed like the more I wrote, the more I took my writing and my stories seriously, the more I enjoyed doing it. Eureka! Writing was still fun. Years later, stories and stories later, I still love diving in and getting lost in the act of creating my books.

I suppose that’s a sign. I mean, perhaps I wasn’t destined to be a painter. Although, finally, I can have some fun with it again.

Perhaps, finding that thing you can do every day and still enjoy is the key. If so, I’m in the right place. I can try to take a day off, and still find my feet turning toward the office, my urge to sit down and start typing still in full swing.

I recently attended a science fiction convention, and was enjoying a conversation with a couple of well-known authors when someone brought up the subject of NaNoWriMo. For those of you that don’t know, National Novel Writing Month goes on every November, and thousands of
insane authors (myself included) furiously write as fast as they can in order to finish a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. In a nutshell, it’s a lot of fun.

So I was surprised when a con-goer asked the authors if they participated in NaNoWriMo when one of them answered with the following: “Are you kidding? I do this for a living, why would I want to do it for fun?”

Ah. There it was. The old art school, fun-sucking, work work work, but this time it happened to an author, one I happen to think quite fondly of. It made me sad, a little. I mean, I don’t feel too bad for her, she has a fantastic career. Still, that comment worried me. I could see it, over the years, happening to someone, even someone who loved story, someone who was destined to write.

I think maybe, the secret is to keep it fun. I think maybe, it’s all in the attitude. I like to think that I can pull it off. Maybe just by keeping the alternative fixed firmly in mind. I never liked regular jobs, hourly punching in, bosses. Okay, I did like bosses, a lot, but that’s another story. For now, I’m pretty sure that this job, this fun, creative obsessive storytelling, is the place to be. I hope everyone can find that seed of joy in whatever they do, and I’d love to hear what you do, what you all do, to keep it fun.

A Note From the Book Boost: I think in this lifetime if we can find one thing we can do that we truly enjoy that we've been blessed beyond measure. Thanks for sharing your life experiences with us today Frances! Please tell us more about your book.


When her interpretation of a traditional holiday scene loses Maris the annual ice sculpting competition, her favorite season takes a turn toward dismal. The rent is due, and her landlady won’t accept a fourth place ribbon. So when the enigmatic, Lord Brayce, arrives with a last minute commission, Maris jumps at the chance. And as her host’s icy exterior begins to melt away, Maris finds there is far more to him than meets the eye, and his attentions leave her wishing this particular job could last forever.

But when Brayce’s family arrives for the holiday, Maris is plunged head over heels into a world of secrets and an age old conflict between brothers.

Can an ordinary girl survive at the center of a battle straight out of myth? And if her impossible suspicions are correct, what are the odds that Maris can win her prince?


The sculpture only had a few hours of life remaining. Maris eyed the lines her chisel had driven into the block through lowered lashes and tried her best not to think about the fact that it melted a fraction more with each passing instant. The ice sparkled in the gallery lighting, flashed like a diamond and threatened to drip.

Her vision, her entry and her last hope sat dissolving on its unremarkable wooden pedestal.

Around her, the gallery glistened with other pieces, other stories born from someone else’s chisel. Her fellow artists drifted, lost and anxious, between their own work and the competition. Each brow squirmed against the tension in the air.

Less than ten minutes remained before the judging.

Maris shifted her weight from one foot to the other and focused on her own piece. No sense in fretting over the others, no sense in worrying now, when she had no time left at all. She closed her eyes and thought of the prize money, not enough to swoon over, but certainly an amount that could serve her purposes. It came with the reputation as well. The accolade would mean commissions. It would mean work, and steady pay.

A throat cleared nearby. Maris started, opened her eyes and nearly slapped the hand away on reflex. A man stood opposite her, and his long fingers stroked the sculpture she’d spent so many hours shaping. She clenched her jaw against the urge to chastise. He might be a judge, or a potential patron, but he had a lot to learn about ice.

She followed the hand with her eyes, willed it to lift away from the lines she prayed didn’t blur at his attention. The heat from a finger—Maris cringed—could ruin her efforts in mere seconds.
“The epic battle.” His voice held no hint of his opinion on the piece.

It stated fact only. Maris tore her gaze from his disobedient hand. She followed a tailored, indigo
suit sleeve to the man’s face, and found her words frozen in her throat. He had eyes that pinned you in place, clear blue, backed by an unnamed authority. She sensed little amusement when he smiled at her. His expression simply cracked.

He nodded toward the sculpture, and his finger pointed to the apex. Night black hair danced around his angular face with the gesture. “If I’m not mistaken,” he continued. “You’ve veered slightly from the traditional formula.”

“A small, artistic license.” Maris’ spine stiffened. As intimidating as the stranger looked, she felt compelled to defend her work. Years of school may have prepared her for criticism, but exposure hadn’t lessoned the sting of it. “The Summer Prince would typically be ascendant.” She pointed to indicate the sculpture’s deviance. “I’ve chosen to feature his adversary, in honor of the season.”


“Pardon?” She had to tilt her head back to meet his gaze. This time the smile held at least a trace of humor at the corners. His eyes flashed and held hers captive, frozen in a field of ice blue.

“I like it.” His smile cracked wider, one end curling as he nodded again.


Want More Frances?

Visit her website here: http://francespauli.com/

Pick up your copy of her book. Click here!


Maureen said...

I've seen it happen more times than I can say. The joy of creation turns into a grind. I've done it, too.

This time, I am determined to keep it full of light and delight!

Wonderful excerpt!

C.J. Ellisson said...

Hello, Chiquita!! I haven't spoken to you in ages! Very happy to see you here, Frances, and hanging with my pal Kerri.

Wishing you much success, my old crit partner, and I will joyfully scamper over to your website and see what other cool stuff you're up to.

Frances Pauli said...

Hi! Thanks to both of you for commenting. :-) I am having fun, and C.J. I hope everything is just as fun at your end of things. Those early crits were vital! I miss them.