Friday, February 15, 2008

Karen Sandler Guest Blogs About Talismans and Writing

Today Karen Sandler is guest blogging here and I love her topic. I'd never though about talismans and writing before until reading her blog last night. I went to sleep wondering if I have ever needed or kept talismans for my own writing. Hm. I didn't think so--and then I remembered. My co-authors for the Ladies of Legend series and I all share a picture of the Smokey Mountains, perched near our desks, at which we can glance to at any point for inspiration. I suppose that would count.

Please read Karen's blog. I love the idea of it. And remember to visit her wonderful website at

Talismans and Writing

I love talismans while I'm working on a book. Thats why I have a chunk of serpentine rock that I used as inspiration while writing my love underground suspense novel, NIGHT WHISPERS. And why I purchased a hand-loomed potholder while working on my uncompleted, unsold womens fiction novel, BACK HOME. And why I have, tucked into the file folder for my March Silhouette Special Edition, HIS MIRACLE BABY, a syringe for implanting embryos into a host uterus.

Yes, a syringe. Its about 12 inches end to end, from the plunger of the syringe to the flexible tip where the embryos are placed. A tiny, tiny tip you would never expect to be able to fit a baby-to-be.

I received said syringe during a tour of a local fertility clinic. The reproductive endocrinologist was kind enough to show me around on a Saturday, giving me access to exam rooms and the embryology lab. There were no patients in residence, so no one to disturb (although if the fertility readiness alarm sounded on a Saturday, the doctors were prepared to answer it). There was only the reproductive endocrinologist, the embryologist and me and my digital camera. I took pictures of everything I could think of to make it easier to describe the scene later when I was freaking out about deadlines.

Calendars are a sort of talisman for me as well. Not real world calendars, the ones that scream at me about hourglasses running out of time and can't I write a little bit faster. I'm talking about story calendars, the ones that keep straight the days of my fictional world.

I print off a calendar for the year my book will be released, making the assumption the story will be taking place that same year. Then I tick off on the calendar the major events as they happen in the book. This was especially crucial for HIS MIRACLE BABY, because I had a pregnancy to track. With the heroine acting as surrogate for the hero's embryos, I had to keep tabs on what medical procedure would happen when, a much trickier task than with a conventional pregnancy. I really hate it when I lose track of time in a book and end up with an inconsistency. I especially don't like having to slog through pages and pages trying to figure out what day it is.

So if anyone finds a time glitch in HIS MIRACLE BABY...dont tell me. I dont wanna know.

As a science geek, I really enjoyed the research into IVF that was necessary with HIS MIRACLE BABY. The embryology lab was like something out of a sci-fi movie. Do you know the canisters where the embryos are kept in cryopreserve look kinda like the kegs they use on soda machines? Yes, the canister they showed me was empty, but again, I was struck by the marvel of storing human life, being able to produce a baby even a year later as in my story.

As challenging as the book was to write, it was a satisfying experience and great fun to learn something new. And I still have that syringe, a talisman for my creativity.



Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Interesting post, Karen! And what a great idea to print out a story calendar. (Smacks self on forehead for not thinking to do it.) I need to do that for my current WIP!

Magdalena Scott said...


I love the calendar idea, too. Trying to keep days/dates, etc. in my head while working on a manuscript is definitely not the best.

Also very neat is the thought of a talisman for each wip. I'm writing a Christmas story right now, so I should think of something to go along with that. Thanks for the tip!

As Maddie said, I have a framed SisterWriters photo of the Smokies on my to memorabilia from my first RWA conference, and lots of books - some written by people I know, which is so cool! I guess all of those items are general writing talismans...or would that be talismen?

Again, thanks for sharing, Karen!

Unknown said...

Ooh! Talismans are a unique way of connecting with your story while writing. I like that.

I don't have anything like that necessarily, but I do have a few things I call writing "totems" that I keep on my desk or on my person while I write. I have a stone carved cat my MIL got me at Indianpolis Zoo when we went that was handcrafted in Kenya. I rub it's smooth cool stone when I need inspiration. I also have a small fairy bear with pink wings and tutu and a red heart that hangs from my computer microphone. I received it from a fellow writer.

Sometimes I wear tiny metallic butterfly clips in my hair while I write or wear my NaNoWriMo t-shirts. I have both my NaNoWriMo certificates from the past two years framed on the wall not far from my desk and a poster of Snoopy on his doghouse with a typewriter that says "It's exciting when you've written something that you know is good!"

I look to that poster when I need inspiration as well. I've had it since I was teenager and first started dreaming of being a writer.

Maddie James said...

Thanks, Karen, for guest blogging with me, and to the others who commented. I love to hear about all the "inspirational techniques" and other stuff that authors use to move through their stories.

Hm. Perhaps that is what I need for my current WIP, which appears stalled for the moment....

Again, thanks Karen. I now need to go find HIS MIRACLE BABY! Off to eharlequin...