Sunday, April 18, 2010

Linda Graves in the Author Spotlight

Before You Can Write, 
You Must Live

By Linda Graves

I admit it. I’m an entertaining junkie. Since I was six years old and made my first appearance on stage, my life has been entertaining. Storytelling is just another form. My journey to publication began many moons before I put pen to paper, or more accurately, fingers to keyboard. The fact is, to have material for successful writing you must first live, love and experience trials and tribulations. Done!

When I discovered Middle Eastern dance in college, I never imaged the path it would lead me down. Belly Dance not only consumed me, it swallowed me whole. After a few years, I became co-director of Scheherezade’s Fantasies. For the next twenty plus years, finding enough free time to even read a book seemed near impossible. Between preparing group performances, festivals, haflas, performing restaurants and private parties, as well as the classes, choreographies and making costumes, thirty years flew by in the blink of an eye. When we disbanded our troupe, I needed something to satisfy my need for creativity and entertaining. I needed a new outlet.

Through my many years of dance I accumulated a gaggle of fun, rather unique experiences, including a nice repertoire of romances (my own, as well as those shared my very outgoing dance troupe). While chatting with my daughter and one of her friends about boys, I started telling them the PG13 rated stories of the many zany dates/relationships I had been involved in during my twenty-six single years. They convinced me to write them down. I enjoyed it so much, that in time it became the ‘Boyfriend Chapter Book’

I knew little of the art of writing, my forte was in the art of entertaining. Storytelling is easy, writing is hard. Like dancing, it is a studied art form. It takes practice, dedication and determination. Still, I was excited about my potential new form of entertainment. 

As with every venture in my past, my new passion took hold engulfing me once more. After attending a lecture on writing, I realized that being a romance novelist was the direction I wanted to head. As funny and bizarre as my dating life had been, reality was who would be interested in my love life? So I decided to break up the ‘Boyfriend’ stories. Weaving some of them together with Belly Dance experiences and then changed the names (to protect the not so innocent), I ended up with a plethora of fictitious characters. 

My next step was education. I began taking on-line writing classes and non-credit college courses. I soon joined an area writing organization. Since, I have learned a great deal about writing. I did discover that the same steps  I use while developing a troupe choreography, applies to my writing as well. A basic choreography can be put together rather quickly, put it takes time to create the perfection desired before sharing your hard work with an audience. It’s the same with writing. It takes a great deal time to create a budding romance on paper.

Step #1 is to decide on the style of dance the troupe will perform and choose the piece of music that speaks to me. With writing, I loosely outline my story. I’m a “pantster”. I do very little plotting. I know my basic characters, what their obstacles and objectives are, and usually the stories ending. Other than that, they are on their own.

Step #2 lets me lay out the rough choreography with moves and combinations that my body and soul interprets from the music. When writing, this is the time to get the story on paper. This step is very unpolished. Letting the story slide through my fingers and into the computer gives me a great baseline. This is the time for the story and my characters to work out their own stories and the direction their paths will lead them. 

Step #3, now that the choreography is in a working state, it’s time to insert the transitions, accents, ensuring each move flows smoothly from one to the other, and of course insert the emotional presence necessary to pull the desired reaction from the audience. Since my book is sloppy but complete, it’s time for the icing. This is the time to add all the colorful phrasing and wording to transport the reader into each enticing scene. 

Step #4 is to begin teaching the troupe. This is where the fine-tuning begins. This is vital to the finished production, same as the edit procedure. These final edits are tedious, but this polishing phase can make or break a manuscript. This is when each sentence and each paragraph is dissected for spelling, grammar, punctuation, consistency of point of view and story line. 
Step #5. Finally it’s time for the performance. This is when all is rewarded. The audience is in absolute rapture of the dancers, the costumes and most of all, the choreography. Little can be more satisfying than the pride and elation you feel from all the wonderful applause and the words of praise you receive from your audience. Now with my first published romance novel, Shimmying Faith, I get to feel this in a whole new, exciting way. 

Everyone has a story in them. What’s yours? If you don’t want to write your own, drop me a line. You might find it in some form in one of my future tales of Belly Dance and Romance as I continue Dancing with Words!

Shimmying Faith is now available through, and, or contact me at to purchase an autographed copy! I am somewhat afflicted with Attention Deficient Disorder, so I have at least ten manuscripts started. Currently I have a paranormal in rewrite and an erotic romance in the ‘submit’ process, with another erotic, mixed with a touch of paranormal, as my current WIP. Please drop by and visit my website at or join me on facebook, LindaGraves.LSBritt 



Whiskey Creek Press:


diannehartsock said...

Love how you compare writing and dancing. Sounds like you lead a very full and exciting life. Good luck with all your writing entertainments!

Linda Graves said...

Thanks Dianne. I have been pleased with a full and exciting life. And hopefully there is more to come :)