Ask Marisa de los Santos - October 16, 2012 discussion

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Ask Marisa!

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message 1: by Margo (new)

Margo (maothrockmorton) | 1 comments Mod
Welcome to the group! Marisa will be answering questions on Tuesday, October 16, 2012. In the meantime if you have a question for Marisa or just want to introduce yourself feel free to do so in this thread.


message 2: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Hi Marisa, I loved your first two books with Cornelia Brown and Teo Sandoval. Curious will you ever write more on these two people?


Valentina Elizabeth (valentina_elizabeth) | 1 comments Hello, Marisa. I really loved and enjoyed in 'Love walked in', it is a fabulous book. I loved it also because you describe the main charachters by comparing them to old Hollywood actors, who I am crazy for. I love the book so much that in the part where you mention 'The Philadelphia story' and then say that if we haven't seen the movie to go and see it definitely - when I finished the book, I went and seen it. Fantastic. Can't wait to read more of your books.
All best to you, Marisa!


message 4: by AnnMarie (new)

AnnMarie (AMBicknell) | 1 comments Marisa I have only read Love Walked In but I loved it. I have your second book with Cornelia Brown ready to read. Your characters are wonderful as well as your covers! I'm a sucker for a great cover and yours get me every time. How do you come up with your cover ideas?


message 5: by David (new)

David Teague | 1 comments Do you think you will ever write a children's or young adult book?


message 6: by Wren (new)

Wren (wrenmbrock) I once read a blog post by another author who'd read your book, Belong to Me, and took issue with the fact that the story wrapped up so nicely for the characters. I don't have a problem with happy endings and couldn't see Cornelia and Teo's story ending any other way considering the difficulty they'd had through their relationship. Do you always try to give your characters happy endings or does it depend with each story?

Thank you so much for the author chat!


message 7: by Julie (new)

Julie | 1 comments Hi Marisa, I've read all three of your novels and really enjoyed them all. As a writer, I'm wondering about your writing process. Do you outline a novel before you write it? Or do you write a draft and see where it takes you? Or something else? Thanks.


message 8: by Chris (new)

Chris (ChrisMills) | 1 comments Hi Marisa, My mother, daughter and I all read "Love Walked In" and "Belong to Me" and we all loved them. I hope to read your other books soon. I really enjoy your poetic way with words.


message 9: by Cindy (new)

Cindy | 1 comments I, too, enjoyed the saga of Cornelia and Teo. I hope their story and that of their friends and family will be continued. I enjoyed Falling Together, too.


message 10: by Sue (new)

Sue (SueC2112) | 2 comments Marisa...you are one of my absolute favorite authors! Thank you so much for writing "Love Walked In" and "Belong to Me" - they were wonderful! I enjoyed "Falling Together also" - but the first two - because the characters showed up in both these books - I have to say they are my favorites. Will you do a sequal to "Falling Down"? How do you come up with an idea for your plot, and the characters? The characters are really what sets you apart from other authors in my opinion - they come to life! Thank you for writing - and please, do not stop! Sue Clark


message 11: by Sue (new)

Sue (SueC2112) | 2 comments WHAT TIME IS THE DISCUSSION TO BEGIN? I ONLY SAW A DATE LISTED. Thanks! Sue Clark


message 12: by Dini (new)

Dini Hello Marisa, I'm Dini from Indonesia. I really enjoyed Love Walked In and Belong to Me, especially the latter. What I loved the most was your use of language and the way it flowed so beautifully. I'm looking forward to reading Falling Together as well.

Both of the books above feature child characters, Claire and Dev, who are vital to the plot. Was it a conscious decision on your part to include child characters and write from their point of view as well as those of the adults? How do you balance between those different points of view?

I'd like to know what inspires you in writing a story. Do you think of specific themes you want to explore (love, family, relationships)? Also, in what genre would you classify your books? Do you agree when your books are classified as chick lit?

Thank you very much for your time.


message 13: by Mariana (new)

Mariana Cotromanes (MarianaCotro) | 1 comments Hi Marisa,
I'm so excited to participate in this discussion as I've admired your work for some time now (I've read all three of your books and intend to read From Bones Out)!

I was wondering, what techniques do you employ to strengthen your craft? (Some writers write everyday, others regularly meet with their beta readers or attend workshops, etc.). Also, I noticed you attended an MFA program-- what are the benefits? Do you feel it helped you develop as a writer in ways that you couldn't have otherwise?

I look forward to hearing your insights and thoughts regarding writing and your wonderful novel! Thanks so much!


message 14: by Destiny (new)

Destiny (destiny_spring) | 1 comments Hi!
I loved both Love Walked In and Belong to Me. I was pleasantly surprised to read a happy ending. It is refreshing to read a book that gives me a 'warm fuzzy'. Is that something you strive for as well, or is it something that develops differently with each story?

Lauren wrote: "I once read a blog post by another author who'd read your book, Belong to Me, and took issue with the fact that the story wrapped up so nicely for the characters. I don't have a problem with happy ..."


message 15: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (Bkwmn) | 1 comments Hi from Canada! I loved Belong to Me. I read it over three years ago and I still recommend it to people looking for a great read. Thank you!


message 16: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 1 comments Hello Marisa!
I love the lyrical quality of your books, and am looking forward to reading your poetry. Can't wait for your next novel!


message 17: by Molly (new)

Molly (mgcallister) Hi Marisa, I have really enjoyed all of your books. I feel like I have learned a lot of lessons from each one -- about love, family and relationships. Do you start out with those "lessons" in mind or do you just write a story and the lessons come by themselves? When you set out to write a novel, what things do you think about accomplishing with that novel?


message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Kabli (skabli) | 1 comments Hi Marisa. A couple of my questions have already been asked (your writing process, where you draw inspiration from, etc.) so I won't bother posting them again. But do you start with the characters and find a plot that fits them or start with a plot and then the characters? Also, what is your revision process like?


message 19: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Samantha wrote: "Hi Marisa, I loved your first two books with Cornelia Brown and Teo Sandoval. Curious will you ever write more on these two people?"

Hi, Samantha--So glad to hear you enjoyed the books! No immediate plans for another Cornelia book, but I certainly don't rule it out. Honestly, I miss those characters and would love to learn more of their story. Whether I do or not is sort of up to them. Here's hoping they come knocking at my door, soon!


message 20: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Valentina Elizabeth wrote: "Hello, Marisa. I really loved and enjoyed in 'Love walked in', it is a fabulous book. I loved it also because you describe the main charachters by comparing them to old Hollywood actors, who I am c..."

Hi, Valentina. I love hearing this! I think it was my secret agenda--to inspire people to watch the movies that Cornelia loves (and that I love, too).


message 21: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
AnnMarie wrote: "Marisa I have only read Love Walked In but I loved it. I have your second book with Cornelia Brown ready to read. Your characters are wonderful as well as your covers! I'm a sucker for a great c..."

Hi, AnnMarie--Oh how I wish I could take credit for the covers, but there are wonderfully gifted folks in the art department who work that magic. So glad you like them! I do, too.


message 22: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
David wrote: "Do you think you will ever write a children's or young adult book?"


I'd say that it's HIGHLY possible!


message 23: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Lauren wrote: "I once read a blog post by another author who'd read your book, Belong to Me, and took issue with the fact that the story wrapped up so nicely for the characters. I don't have a problem with happy ..."

Hi, Lauren. I don't set out to write happy endings, mostly because when I start a book, I have no idea how it will end. But I think that, by nature, I'm a hopeful person, and I can't imagine myself writing a book that ends in hopelessness or grimness. At the same time, I think characters have to earn their happiness, which usually means they have to go through some pretty rough stuff and develop as people before they can break through to happiness.


message 24: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Hi Marisa, I've read all three of your novels and really enjoyed them all. As a writer, I'm wondering about your writing process. Do you outline a novel before you write it? Or do you write a draft..."

My method seems to be that I start with a few key pieces of plot and, most importantly, with the main characters, most of whom live and develop inside my head for months before I write a single word. Once I feel that I know them well enough to begin, I start writing and try very hard to take my cues from them and to be true to their stories, which unfold gradually as I write and which surprise me all the time.


message 25: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "Hi Marisa, My mother, daughter and I all read "Love Walked In" and "Belong to Me" and we all loved them. I hope to read your other books soon. I really enjoy your poetic way with words."

Thank you, Chris. That's so nice to hear.


message 26: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Cindy wrote: "I, too, enjoyed the saga of Cornelia and Teo. I hope their story and that of their friends and family will be continued. I enjoyed Falling Together, too."

Thank you, Cindy!


message 27: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Sue wrote: "Marisa...you are one of my absolute favorite authors! Thank you so much for writing "Love Walked In" and "Belong to Me" - they were wonderful! I enjoyed "Falling Together also" - but the first two ..."

Hi, Sue--I feel as though I should thank you both on my own behalf and on behalf of my characters because they feel so much like real people to me. I'm not sure where they come from, but once they arrive, they live and grow inside my head for a long time before I start writing. Even when I think I know them really well, once I put them in motion and they start bumping up against plot and each other, they surprise me all the time.


message 28: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Dini wrote: "Hello Marisa, I'm Dini from Indonesia. I really enjoyed Love Walked In and Belong to Me, especially the latter. What I loved the most was your use of language and the way it flowed so beautifully. ..."

Hi, Dini--The book I'm writing now is partly told from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl, so while I don't set out to include young characters in my books, I guess I'm pretty comfortable with my inner child! I relish multiple perspectives in books (and in life), and it just feels like a natural form for me. As for theme, it's something I never think about until after the books are finished and people ask me questions about theme! I just tell stories and try to stay true to my characters. If ideas emerge along the way that readers value, that's wonderful, but I don't think about that while I work. And as for labels like chick lit, I don't think much about them. It's just not my job--for which I'm grateful!


message 29: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Mariana wrote: "Hi Marisa,
I'm so excited to participate in this discussion as I've admired your work for some time now (I've read all three of your books and intend to read From Bones Out)!

I was wondering, wh..."


You know, I started off as a poet, and whenever I find myself in need of a jolt, I go back to reading poetry, mainly for the pressure it puts on language. It's important to me to keep my language fresh and alive. I also find myself going back to novels I love, ones that have so much to teach me.

I got both an MFA and a PhD in creative writing, and while I don't think writers need to go to school for that long, it was good for me. It pushed me out of my comfort zone with regard to both writing and reading. The best gift grad school gave me were trusted readers--fellow writers who are still the first readers (after my husband) of my work!


message 30: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Barbara wrote: "Hi from Canada! I loved Belong to Me. I read it over three years ago and I still recommend it to people looking for a great read. Thank you!"

Canadian readers have been so good to me and my books over the years. You guys are wonderful! Thank you.


message 31: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Amanda wrote: "Hello Marisa!
I love the lyrical quality of your books, and am looking forward to reading your poetry. Can't wait for your next novel!"


Thanks, Amanda. As a longtime lover of language, I really value your compliment!


message 32: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Molly wrote: "Hi Marisa, I have really enjoyed all of your books. I feel like I have learned a lot of lessons from each one -- about love, family and relationships. Do you start out with those "lessons" in mind ..."

Thanks, Molly. I'm so glad to hear that you've learned things of value from my books. It's certainly something I hope for when I write, but, honestly, it's never something I set out to do. I just focus on telling my characters' stories as well as I possibly can!


message 33: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Snežana wrote: "Greetings, Marisa! My name is Snezana and I am from Serbia. Two years ago I read the book called "Love walked in". It was amazing and I like it. It was also become one of my favorite books. First o..."

Hmmm, good question! I'm not sure when or if Falling Together will be translated and sold in Serbia, but I hope so! The idea of someone so far away reading my books is still both humbling and mind-boggling!


message 34: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Hi Marisa. A couple of my questions have already been asked (your writing process, where you draw inspiration from, etc.) so I won't bother posting them again. But do you start with the characters ..."

Hi, Sarah--Since I think I've answered your first question in earlier posts, I'll focus on the second. I'm someone who writes a sentence, works it until it feels right and then moves onto the next. I don't rough-in or put in place holders or write the end before the beginning. It's really one sentence, polish polish polish, then the next sentence. So my finished manuscript tends to be pretty clean. Still, I go over it again and again, mostly fine-tuning before I send it to my editor for her input.


message 35: by Marcia (new)

Marcia (MarciaMeara) | 1 comments Hello, Marisa! It is a pleasure to be able to tell you "in person" how much I love your writing. You are at the TOP of my list! I've read Love Walked In, Belong To Me, and Falling Together, and I can say that the poet in your soul shows in every line you write.

Falling Together is my personal favorite, just because I fell so in love with Will and Pen. They were so flawed, but so beautiful, and they touched something in my heart.

My question is, how much do you think having started as a poet impacts your writing style? There are lines in all of your books that are just exquisite. I will never, ever forget how I felt when I read a fox being described as an "impossible long, lean pour of orange." That's the kind of phrasing that makes me stop, go back, and re-read, just for the sheer pleasure of how the words sound together.

As for the happy endings thing--I can handle sadness at the end of the book. Sometimes things work out that way. But I can't handle hopelessness or bitterness. Love, hope and redemption should triumph, and if the characters get their hearts' desires, too, well...all the better!

You are one of those authors whose books will always have a guaranteed reader in me. Thank you for enriching all our lives with your work.


message 36: by Jodi (new)

Jodi | 1 comments I am a fan of how polished & lyrical your words are. Thank you for the wonderful books that transport me to where the characters are while I read. How do you get through writer's block, or is that not an issue since the characters live & develop in your mind before you start writing? Again, your writing is beautiful. Thank you!
Jodi


message 37: by Ann (new)

Ann | 2 comments Hi Marisa-
Who would have ever thought I'd be seeing you this way when were ungrads at UVA!
Two questions - are you characters based on people you know and how do you pick names? Cornelia, Finny, Teo, Cat, Pen. Where are the Anns, Elizabeths and Nickis? ;)

Peace, my friend. Ann


message 38: by Ann (new)

Ann | 2 comments Linny I mean. LOL And the Debbies and Beths. ;)


message 39: by Erin (new)

Erin | 1 comments Hey Marisa, I've loved your books and especially the location because I'm a Philly-area native. Just wondering where the cafe is in the books and if it's based on a real cafe in Philadelphia. Are there any other locations in the books based on real spots in the city?


message 40: by Patty (new)

Patty (prumakergmailcom) | 1 comments Hey Marisa:

Do you commit certain hours to sit down & write each day and if so how many hours per day do you write - on average?


message 41: by Beth (last edited Oct 16, 2012 08:33AM) (new)

Beth | 1 comments Hello Marisa!

I have loved all of your books thus far and look forward to your future works! I did have one question regarding your first two books. In Love Walked In, Teo was originally married to Cornelia's sister Ollie. In Belong to Me, it seems to me that his first marriage to Ollie is a detail which was left out of the story. Cornelia and her sister still have a somewhat normal relationship with each other. It would seem to me that this would be quite difficult for anyone given their situation. Did you not feel the need to touch on this? I'm just wondering why it was left out. Did you feel it was insignificant?


message 42: by Pamela (new)

Pamela | 1 comments Hello Marisa!
Awhile back I picked up Love Walked In at a book swap, and for the longest time it sat on my bookshelf while I read a collection by one of my favorite authors. I recently perused the shelf in search for my next read, and ended up choosing your lovely book. I was mezmerized from the very beginning! I felt transported into another world, in a way I rarely had before. Your prose is flowing, colorful, poetic and simply beautiful. I devoured Love Walked In, and promptly went out to buy your other books. I just had to tell you, that your work has inspired me to write again- just journaling for now, but who knows where it will lead! Thank you so much for sharing your gift with all of us, and thank you for taking the time to reach out to your fans!
Pamela


message 43: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Marcia wrote: "Hello, Marisa! It is a pleasure to be able to tell you "in person" how much I love your writing. You are at the TOP of my list! I've read Love Walked In, Belong To Me, and Falling Together, and ..."

Hi, Marcia--Thanks for your kind words about the books! It means so much. I think my background as a poet influences my writing in many ways, some of which I'm sure I'm not even aware. For instance, the music of language means a lot to me. If a paragraph feels off, the first thing I look at is the rhythm, the second is the sounds--whether there are too many short or long vowels, too many soft or hard consonants. And I revise accordingly. I seem to regard paragraphs in much the same way I did stanzas when I wrote poetry.


message 44: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Sullivan geyer | 1 comments Hi Marisa, I don't really have a question. The ones I did have, such as Cornelia and Teo appearing in another novel have been answered. I just wanted to say that I think you have been doubly blessed with not only having a great story to tell when you write, but having a way with words that few have. You are able to weave a story with such beautiful words and referances. I'm glad to see that others have discovered your books and I look forward to your future works!


message 45: by Tina (new)

Tina (tinamats) Hi, Marisa! I'm Tina and I'm from the Philippines. I am a huge fan and I loved your three books! :) I love them so much that I can't help but have a huge fictional crush on Teo Sandoval. <3

I love how you insert Filipino stuff in your books. I was so thrilled about Pen and Will's trip to the Philippines in Falling Together! Will you still include a Filipino / half-Filipino / Filipino elements / a nod to the Philippines in your next book(s)? :)


message 46: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Eileen wrote: "Hi Marisa, I don't really have a question. The ones I did have, such as Cornelia and Teo appearing in another novel have been answered. I just wanted to say that I think you have been doubly bles..."

Thanks so much, Eileen!


message 47: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Tina wrote: "Hi, Marisa! I'm Tina and I'm from the Philippines. I am a huge fan and I loved your three books! :) I love them so much that I can't help but have a huge fictional crush on Teo Sandoval. <3

I love..."


Hi, Tina! I don't think you're alone in that fictional crush on Teo. I can't tell you how many people come up to me at book signings asking if he has a real life equivalent and if he does, can they have his number! I was so thrilled when I realized, after I'd been writing the book for awhile, that Pen and Will would travel to the Philippines. It was just so meaningful for me to write about the place my father grew up, which has become a place I love. I was both honored and nervous! So it means a lot that you liked that section! So far, in this fourth book, I have a half-Asian-American character, but he's not half-Filipino. It's entirely possible, however, that a Filipino character will emerge. If one does, I'll be happy!


message 48: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "Hello Marisa!
Awhile back I picked up Love Walked In at a book swap, and for the longest time it sat on my bookshelf while I read a collection by one of my favorite authors. I recently perused the..."


Hi, Pamela--What a wonderful compliment! I'm so glad you're writing!


message 49: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Beth wrote: "Hello Marisa!

I have loved all of your books thus far and look forward to your future works! I did have one question regarding your first two books. In Love Walked In, Teo was originally marri..."


Hi, Beth. Writing a sequel is a tricky business because you really don't want to retell your earlier story, even though it's tempting. So I was strict with myself about only including information from Love Walked In that was essential to the story in Belong to Me. Because Ollie's marriage to Teo and the story of how Cornelia and Teo ended up together is both extremely complicated and, in my estimation, not intrinsic to the plot of BTM, I decided not to retell that part. Since Ollie is happily married in BTM and pregnant with her first child, and because Ollie's interactions with Cornelia in BTM are pretty limited, I didn't feel that her earlier marriage to Teo would significantly impact her interactions with Cornelia.


message 50: by Marisa, Author of Falling Together (new)

Marisa Santos | 24 comments Mod
Patty wrote: "Hey Marisa:

Do you commit certain hours to sit down & write each day and if so how many hours per day do you write - on average?"


The easy answer is that I write while my kids are at school, which sounds like a lot of time. But, alas, it almost never works out that I get to write the whole time--or even most of the time--that they're gone because I have all the other life stuff that everyone has: laundry, groceries, volunteer commitments, exercise, and so forth. If I get three or four hours a day, I feel lucky. For the most part, evenings and weekends belong to my family, although if I'm really on a roll, I bend that rule!


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