Please Mister Postman

I’ve been waiting patiently. Almost missed my BFN’s (best friend neighbor) birthday surprise. But, just in the nick of time, Mr. Postman came through. I live in a tiny town and everyone except me knows him by name. I think it’s Ron.

Love my dirt road even though Al refuses to wash my car anymore because I can’t help but drive down it. All the bright scarlet maple leaves have blown away after a windy storm, but’s it’s still so pretty.

I can’t get used to the fact that this is my town. And that these are my books. Every dream I’ve ever had and a few I never even considered has come my way. Well, there’s just one more thing. (There always is.) I want to finish and publish the book I’m working on now. It will happen. Just like everything else did, in its own good time.

After the books came, I quickly signed and wrapped a copy of Blue Heaven for BFN Jan. Her birthday was yesterday. We were both in the middle of cooking dinner, but I turned everything off for a sec and ran across the back yard to hand it to her. She took it and felt it and said “Is this your new book?” Jan has been reading my books since they were just manuscripts on typing paper. In fact, she read a few that were so bad I recycled them instead of trying to mend and publish. So of course I gift her my print books, even though she really needs a Kindle! In answer to Jan’s question, I said “You’ll have to open it and find out,” and then flew back across the yard to my own kitchen.

Another thing happened the same day the books came. I got an email from a fellow DWW member who invited any of us interested to take part in a book fair. So, I had bought these books pictured above as gifts for family and friends and now I am taking them to a book fair. Better get a new order in soon. And those of you who won my 11th Blog Birthday package, I will get the books out to you Monday. Better send my mom one, too. After I find the page with the consummation scene and warn her not to read it:)

Finally, Something For You:)

BlueHeaven_w7796_300I’ve already announced that from October 1-5 Blue Heaven will be free for everyone on Kindle. You don’t need a Kindle to buy it, you just need the app, which is free on iTunes.

As is my tradition, in my blog birthday month, I like to give presents to my readers. I finally figured out what I want to send to the first four of you who comment on this post with a specific suggestion about what I should post next. I need four different ideas, folks. What would you like to read about here going forward?

As I transitioned from writer-seeking-publication into published author, I knew the blog would have to change from what it had been. I’d reached the goal I’d been pursuing for so long. I have a great publisher who has put out two of my three novels; they are willing to grow with me beyond romance into women’s fiction. Blue Heaven is the first in the “Blue Lake” series about a small tourist town on a big lake. And don’t worry, for me women’s fiction just means I get to tell two (or more!) love stories instead of one. I’m a die-hard romantic and am having so much fun creating stories about the people in Blue Lake, both newcomers and those with deep roots.

It took me a while to figure out that now I need to write for readers and maybe not so much for writers anymore. After eleven years, there isn’t much left to say about the writing process except if you want something NEVER give up. That’s how I snagged my dream.

Onto the prize. I now have three books in print: Your Words, Your Story, The Paris Notebook, and Blue Heaven. Well, Blue Heaven is set for world-wide release and print sometime in November. What I will do is send out all three print editions to the first four people (Sorry, USA only. Foreign postage is really expensive.) who present me with a great topic for a post in the comments. You will get the prizes when I get the Blue Heaven print editions, but the little contest starts now.

Discovering Theme

Alice Munro has a new book of stories out. In Dear Life, the final four stories are as close to memoir, she says, that she’ll ever write. I was disappointed when a reviewer mentioned that the quartet takes place when Munro was a young girl growing up on a fox farm in Ontario, Canada. She’s written about that before. What I hungered for were stories about her adult life, her writing life.

Munro is one of the few fiction writers who has been successful with  that short form, bringing out a dozen or so books. I’ve read them all. Twice. But so far, not the new book. Reviews can sometimes dissuade me and one in particular, by Sam Sacks, regarding Munro’s themes, caught me up in surprise. Sacks says that “…her themes are psychological estrangement, spiritual emptiness, sexual degradation and the pitifulness of death.” Sacks goes on to comment that  Munro’s overall take on life, at least in her stories, is “methodical bleakness.”

Wow. I think I probably have a naturally bleak outlook on life, because I love Munro’s stories and think they are beautiful. The writing is elegant and crisp, the stories compelling, but more, her themes strike my soul in a way that Sacks captured through close examination. The review made me think about my own themes. How do I hold up against Munro? Do I love her work because her themes mirror my own? I wish:)

Yes with psychological estrangement, no to spiritual emptiness. I’m spiritually optimistic, but if anything of my spiritual nature translates into fiction, I don’t see it. That’s my loss, and some day, when I’m braver than today, I intend to correct it.

Sexual degradation–yes, I find to my surprise that all of my work has that undercurrent. Somebody somewhere is sexually degrading someone else in my novels. Sometimes they do it to themselves. In The Paris Notebook, that theme was mostly excised from the text by my editor. Later, I used the story of self-degradation as a gift to readers of my blog. Sarah’s Survival Guide can be read right on my website or downloaded as PDF. So that theme was not lost, just placed elsewhere.

My novels are more about life than death, and I have not really explored the theme of death in fiction. I’m still getting used to experiencing it in life–when loved ones die, the grief of it. When they sicken and a sad slide into senility or physical incapacity begins, yes, it is pitiful. I’ve always thought it was more than pitiful, horrific in fact.

Except at a distance, like when Cher’s grandmother dies in flashback in Sister Issues, I don’t feel skilled enough to take on death in my fiction; it’s difficult enough for me to deal with in real life. In real life, I think of it every day. I mourn friends who have passed; I plan my own exit strategy. (Move to Oregon or Washington). Looking deeply into Munro’s stories, I see the shallowness of my own themes. But, also, I would rather write hopeful stories than bleak ones.

The Rules of Romance

I have a guest post right here at my friend Terri’s website. Some people are just so nice and encouraging, and she’s one of them. She offered to host me, she helped me brainstorm an idea, and it turned out to be something I really wanted to blog about. It’s all about what I learned about the rules of romance writing when I was editing The Paris Notebook.

Indie vs ePub

I have three published books, published three different ways. I will never, ever, ever again self-publish because it is way too difficult, costs too much, and the books take up a lot of room in my closet. It was right at the time, but not going forward. My next book was an indie novel and then I had a novel ePubbed just a few months later. So I got to compare.

What’s the difference? With self-publishing you do everything. With indie publishing, Kindle does a lot, but not all, of the work. For me, ePubbing wins and here’s why. They give me an editor. They hire a cover artist. They print the book as well as eFormat. They get the finished product out there to an impressive list of reviewers. They distribute and sell the book to readers on their website, and also set it up for sale on Kindle and Amazon. 

Call me lazy, but I really like how much The Wild Rose Press did for me. It was by far the easiest. Well, not in terms of editing. And the fact that they only publish romances sets me some guidelines I’d rather not follow (like losing subplots). But really, thinking about all the novels I have ready to roll, two of them are already romances.

Just to make it easy on myself, I’m going to try to publish the romances before I tackle the revisions on my sequel to Sister Issues, which is not a romance, but a family drama. I have two more novels, paranormals with love stories, so maybe they’re paranormal romances.

So for awhile I’ll stick with TWRP and the next time I go indie, I’ll know I have to hire an editor, a cover artist, and a formatter who can get my book into print as well as eFormat.