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I Owe You One, Pigeon PointMarch 9, 2011

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You may have heard the story before, but writing How to Knit a Heart Back Home did not come easily to me. At first, it was a romantic suspense, with a stalker/killer and everything. Then, for about ONE second, Molly was the bad guy (it didn't stick -- I love her too much).

Then I got the green light from my editor to make it straight-up women's fiction, no bad guy/guns needed. Great! I wrote it! Sent it to her!

She liked it. The writing, that was. Not so much the plot, because I didn't HAVE much to speak of. Sure, the characters got mad at each other. I learned (the hard way), this is NOT PLOT. A plot has some sort of conflict that can't be fixed in a fifteen minute heart-to-heart.

I needed to put some of that in, and I didn't know how. I'd written the first book naturally, the turning points just happening in the right places. I'd been lucky. Now I needed to learn.

I took myself away to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a hostel on the coast south of Half-Moon Bay. Incredibly inexpensively, I rented a private room (shared bath) in the Dolphin suite (shared full kitchen and living room).

I sat there and Thought About Plot. I wandered the beach by myself, looking to see if plot could be found by the water or under a rock. It was so elusive, this plot-stuff. Then, at sunset, sitting all by myself on a deserted beach, I got a glimmer of it. I looked up at the lighthouse, and some more ideas flashed into my head. Nothing huge, nothing that would change the immediate direction of the book, but big enough to let me know I could do it. Probably.

And I'm proud to say I did. I love where the book and I went together. And I am EXTREMELY fond of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, so grateful to it that I gave it the penultimate scene in the novel (set, of course, in fictional Cypress Hollow).

My sister Bethany and I drove out there the other day, and took the dogs for a ramble on the beach. Her dog Boonie and my border collie Clara are serious besties, and they RAN and ran and ran. Beth took this one:

Besties 

And we visited my lighthouse.

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Lighthouse 
This last from Beth's pictures. Can't you just see You-Know-Who and You-Know-Who-Else up there?

I love that place. (It would be a great spot to hold a retreat -- ten people guarantees you the whole dorm including shared space, and sleeps up to 14.... Just saying....)

Comments

A retreat! In a lighthouse! On the west coast even! Sounds divine....

(Have you read Jeanette Winterson's "Lighthousekeeping?")

That looks like the perfect place to find plot. I'm suprised that you didn't find your plot spelled out in rocks on the beach.

A writing/knitting retreat there sounds like perhaps the most fantastic thing I can think of.

Somehow I missed that this book didn't come easily for you and all I can say is that you definitely overcame it; the plot, locations, and characters are super!

What a cool place for a gathering; hope it's a great retreat.

Oh, you could count me in for a retreat at a lighthouse anytime. Always loved the Half Moon Bay area.
It's amazing how some time alone can inspire you.

Maybe you can start leading writing retreats there. I'd sign up!

Just finished the book - I loved it! Can't wait until the next one is out so that I can visit Cypress Hollow again. :)

Thank you!

My book arrived today!!! Yay!

This is a beautiful, touching little story of how a writer got her groove on, it is almost like a little short, short, short story.

Thanks for sharing it, I really enjoyed it. I'll have to check out your book now!

Best wishes,
firefly (aka J. L. Fleckenstein)

Knitting retreat!!! Let's do it!

oh, girl. I'm so down with the retreat! after all these years it would be so great to finally meet you and Lala(knitting retreats need live music, yes?) and reconnect with Bethany. just say the word.

Oooh, lighthouse, knitting, ocean, ollallieberry pie... What could be better?

Of course, we can totally see them up there! You know, before reading Love Song, I hadn't read a romance for about 25 years, but it was yours (and I love your writing on the blog), so I went for it. Thanks, I'm hooked now. And, I loved Heart Back Home even more! Sorry to have missed the launch party (although it looked like you had plenty of support), but looking forward to making the event at Verb. Congratulations, sweetie -- you deserve the success!

Just read that section today.... excellent!!!

I love lighthouses and a writing retreat at one sounds perfect. I'm from San Diego, and occasionally make it up your way. I definitely need to add Pigeon Point to my list of places to go.

None is of freedom or of life deserving unless he daily conquers it a new

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.

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