Author Caroline Fyffe already excelled in the world of equine photography before she turned her hand to writing. How did she make the switch from taking photos to drawing scenes with words?
Fyffe loves reading, enjoying historical romance, religious books, women’s fiction, classics, fiction in general and most recently, Amish fiction. This love led naturally to writing as an adult. She describes the feeling as being “challenged to write a book, compelled to tell a story.”
Although she didn’t begin writing as a youngster, she’s making up for lost time now. With her debut novel on shelves, the second one due out in July 2010 and a third ready for a publisher, she is poised to make a big mark on the publishing world.
Her work as a photographer provided plenty of time for working out plot details, as she waited for the appropriate photo opportunity at horse shows. In “Where the Wind Blows,” her first published work, she displays her deep understanding of horses and riders. The romance is set in the West, shortly after the Civil War.
Another source of plotting time comes while she jogs. Her mind free to work on the story line, she finds “the greatest ideas” come to her on her three-mile jaunts. Often, a plot will nag at her until she gets it written.
Fyffe relates that she hasn’t had to deal with dry spells of inspiration so much as she has had to overcome a lack of time. Careful scheduling of the milestones of writing a novel forms an essential tool in her writing arsenal and is critical to her productivity.
She has a method for dealing with problems in a scene: “If I get stuck in a scene, I try changing points of view to break the logjam.” By looking at the scene from a different perspective, she can gain fresh insights into the action and overcome the sticking point. She sometimes discovers that the character with the most at stake in a scene isn’t who she planned. The shift in POV gives her a chance to clarify the scene.
Fyffe credits her early involvement in writing groups with getting her started on the right path, teaching her many of the technical aspects of writing. She suggests that any aspiring writer should begin with a critique group that fits her personality.
"Who you’re with makes a difference, because if your personalities don’t click, it won’t work well. We had rules, like critique with love. Without them, I wouldn’t have stuck it out. They gave me hints and information. If you’re going to be a writer, you need a group. For me it was a huge help"
She remains a member of several groups, some of which meet online. Through groups such as Romance Writers of America and Hearts through History, as well as local writing groups, writers can find encouragement and training opportunities, as well as another avenue for the new author-writing contests.
As a winner of the Golden Heart Award, Fyffe knows the value of writing competitions. She encourages new authors to enter competitions for the exposure and feedback. Her first Christian women’s fiction story placed second in the contest where she entered it. She is currently shopping that manuscript around to publishers, since her agent doesn’t work with that genre.
Her characters, while not based on any particular individual, are clearly formed in her mind before she writes them. Speaking of the lead characters in “Where the Wind Blows,” she says “I knew what I wanted of his [Chase Logan’s] character. With Jessie, she had no other way to be but strong.”
A main theme in “Where the Wind Blows” is orphans, and how they find a place in the world. Fyffe admits a deep fondness for “Jane Eyre type stories where they were on their own and having to supply what they needed themselves.” Her initial opening scene for the book took place in an orphanage, although later editing moved it toward the center of the story. It remains a powerful explanation of the heroine’s motivation.
Fyffe encourages new authors to “start off with the business end of things.” Set up the business aspects first, so you can focus on the writing side without those distractions.
- · Get a website up.
- · Put together a list of email addresses for newsletters.
- · Build your own public relations network, diligently building up your web presence.
- · Be brave. Talk to agents and editors whenever you can and ask questions. Don’t think of them as unapproachable.
- · Talk to local bookstores about carrying your book. Fyffe found a local newspaper wanted her books locally available before they would carry a story on the book, so she contacted the stores in the area about carrying it.
- · Be disciplined when doing research on-line. Don’t get distracted by the volumes of information available and head in unproductive directions. And verify everything, since much of the information on the Web is not policed for accuracy.
Caroline Fyffe’s second book in the “Home in the Heartland” series is “Montana Dawn,” scheduled for release July 2010 through Dorchester Publishing.