Just got my cover art (love it!) for the upcoming novel coming out this holiday season. Blue Lake Christmas Mystery is my first Christmas novel. I love reading Christmas novels and always wanted to write one, so feeling very pleased with myself for finally doing it.
Another first, my publisher is bringing out as a mystery, not women’s fiction. I’m excited about that as I’m working on another mystery and have a third planned for Winter 2017.
Blue Lake Christmas Mystery is a cozy read, although there is a murder at a holiday dinner party, perhaps resulting in a slight mix-up with the title, which was quickly fixed.
I’ve been telling the story on Facebook and Twitter about a small part in Sweet Melissa, another one of those autobiographical details, this one about my dear Aunt Linda. When I was a young girl, she ran away and joined the circus. I thought it was the most romantic thing ever. Now, probably, she was the girl who made cotton candy, but when I took my character to see her aunt, retired in Gibsonton, Florida, where all the circus performers used to winter, I started to spin more than cotton candy for Aunt Linda.
Especially when, in the Sarasota museum, I found this postcard that looks exactly like Aunt Linda in all her make up. She was no bareback rider. She was no tightrope walker. But that’s her face.
There’s more to Aunt Linda and me (and Melissa and her own version of my aunt) but the circus angle has hooked me from the time I was a little girl. What a thrill to sew our life stories into our fiction. And what a thrill to say Sweet Melissa is still FREE for a few more days.
First, my novella Sweet Melissa is free for five days here. Melissa’s is the story closest to “true” of all my novels. I did hitchhike across the country when I was about Melissa’s age, ran into some shady characters, was almost raped, and that ghost of my grandma saved me on a concrete set of church steps about a million miles from home.
Oh and just like Melissa I lost my virginity to the man I loved. Okay, maybe not just like her. I had to add that in because it seems to me people pretend teens don’t have sex anymore at least in the YA I read (I love YA except come on you know they are doing it!)
Some other things are true–like my Romany heritage,which I didn’t know much about beyond my great-grandmother got her family through the Depression by reading tea leaves. And there were, like, rumors. My own mom claims to be psychic. I read tarot cards but I am not particularly intuitive. The cards are symbols and you read them in patterns. That’s not magick to me. Interesting, but not strongly influenced by my Rom descendants.
I’ve always been interested in Gypsies, though, so I did my homework and that part of the ritual and lore of my people in this book is correct as I could make it with the help of many experts. That said, the time/space travel is not for real. Even though in his song “Sweet Melissa” Greg Almond does claim “the gypsy flies from coast to coast.”
I love Almond’s song and having a free book for you this week. Hey and it has zoomed up to #40 on the New Adult charts in just a day. Lucky Gypsy lady.
Melissa is the character whose teenage journey most resembles my own. (That photo is vintage me btw) In fact, it’s memoir wrapped in magic. The magic parts didn’t happen but I for sure felt the heavenly presence of my grandma angel when I sat late at night on those church steps. Far from home, knowing nobody, no money, no place to sleep, nasty boys wanting to do bad things to me.
How I got through it, and how Melissa did, too, is part of that story. I hitchhiked my way across the USA same as Melissa and other parts of the journey, including the junkie mom with a car she made me drive across several state lines, is true. Hope that baby of hers turned out okay.
Anyway, I have a few books on Amazon KDP, indie titles, and I don’t pay too much attention to them. I made them indies because I wanted to be able to give them away free as part of the KDP exclusive program. So I’m going to get better about doing that. And about a thousand other things. For some reason the steroids are really ratcheting up the marketing ideas! Just donated a set of up print books to the local library and introduced myself there yesterday. What will tomorrow bring?
And I had the pleasure of taking that journey with him, from the minute he sat in my Advanced Creative Writing class with at least one completed manuscript and a whole lot of determination.
To be a writer you need those three things: determination, some pages with words you wrote upon them, and a tribe. That’s my tribe, above: I’m sitting next to Bob, next to Tom, next to Vernie.
That writing class was Bob’s tribe for the moment. We writers move around. I don’t even teach college anymore; I write full time now. Neither Bob nor I were published when we met.
How Bob Baker became a friend of mine is pretty straightforward. I recognized his talent. I encouraged him. I was apparently nice enough so that he felt okay emailing me after our school semester was over. I was confident enough in his talent to invite him into my writing group, and he was confident enough to accept. Thus, a tribe was formed.
My writing group–it’s a small group, just four of us–came about through many offers for participants on my part and much comings and goings on the part of others until we settled into a fine quartet. We’ve been meeting there or four years now once a month with 10-20 pages each. We spend five hours tearing each other’s work apart giving each other constructive criticism and talking about writing in general. Publishing, too.
When the group began, we had two published writers and two unpublished. Bob has rounded it out so that now with the advent of Hiding Tom Hawk we are all published, all quite pleased with ourselves. And my best advice to any writer is to find your tribe. There’s no mystery to getting published. Practice and show your work to a few trusted souls and follow the well worn path that the internet is very happy to set out.
I’ve got a book about it. I wish I could give every one of you a copy but it sold out in print although there’s a newer edition of Your Words, Your Story anyway with the whole scoop on indie publishing, and whether you are published by a traditional press or as an indie, (and I’v been both) nothing will ever feel better than holding your first book in your hands.
To help say congrats to Bob, I will send free copies of both e-books, mine and his, to the first three people who comment today. And thanks for reading about my lovely band of merry writers.