Category Archives: books

Heaven Lies East of the Mississippi

Much to my surprise, here’s a new (old) novel.  Written in 2012, updated over the years, I released Heaven Lies East of the Mississippi today on Smashwords.

I’ve classified it as a romance, although it easily falls under lit fic: When Kendall Schultz walks away from professional soccer and his longtime girlfriend, tragedy threatens to destroy the American superstar. In rural Tennessee, Kendall meets Sarah Dwyer, a widow whose son Heath reflects Kendall’s regrets. Can a sporting icon set aside catastrophe or will his chance at happiness be forever lost?

If you like to know more why this particular story took so long to reach publication, check out this page.  And if you’d like to read this tale, it’s available on Smashwords for free, like all my other novels.  And will be at other online retailers soon.

A Dido’s Crown preview….

I’m blessed to be good friends with an amazingly gifted author; Julie K. Rose has published two novels, and her third, Dido’s Crown, is set for release next Thursday.  If historical fiction tickles your fancy, or a healthy dose of action and adventure figures in your fictional pleasures, this novel set in 1935 Tunisia will be the perfect start to autumn.

Mary Wilson MacPherson has always been adept at putting the past behind her: her father’s death, her sister’s disappearance, and her complicated relationship with childhood friends Tom and Will.

But that all changes when, traveling to North Africa on business for her husband, Mary meets a handsome French-Tunisian trader who holds a mysterious package her husband has purchased — a package which has drawn the interest not only of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, but the Nazis as well.

When Tom and Will arrive in Tunisia, Mary suddenly finds herself on a race across the mesmerizing and ever-changing landscapes of the country, to the shores of southern France, and all across the wide blue Mediterranean. Despite her best efforts at distancing herself from her husband’s world, Mary has become embroiled in a mystery that could threaten not only Tunisian and British security in the dangerous political landscape of 1935, but Mary’s beliefs about her past and the security of her own future.

I’m itching to start this book, although I was graced to have read an early draft.  Yet, novels evolve during the revising process, so in a way a new version of Dido’s Crown awaits me.  You can pre-order Dido’s Crown, or go to Julie’s Goodreads page and enter in a drawing for one of five signed copies.  In the meantime, check out Julie’s other books, The Pilgrim Glass and Oleanna, both available in print as well as ebooks, or her You Tube channel, which includes fascinating insights about writing as well as details pertaining to Dido’s Crown.  My review of Dido’s Crown will be forthcoming, but probably not until next week.  My husband and I are hosting Little Miss for the weekend, so this abuela will be snatching as much free reading time as I can find.  And one day Little Miss and The Burrito can read Julie’s novels as well as their grandmother’s, hehehe….

The integrity of a novel

So, after some rather intense posts, I would like to move to something more, ahem, connected to writing.

Also some things rather silly, one of which has to do with NaNoWriMo.  Along with many others, I received a note today from Grant Faulkner about the Project For Awesome grant which NaNo is in the running for, via a video by Debs and Errol.  It’s a hilarious clip, for a very good cause, so if you have just a few minutes, go check it out, then vote, then come back here and finish reading my post.

Or you can finish reading my post first, but please vote before the end of today, Monday, 17 December, just one week away from Christmas Eve, and just one day after my beloved 49ers beat the New England Patriots at Foxborough.  In the freezing rain.  After, ahem, we were ahead 31-3, then the Pats tied the score, then we got ten more points, then they got three, then we stopped them on fourth down and won the game!

Yeah!

Okay, so recently I was faced with the integrity of a novel; not one of my novels per se, but a novel, any novel, of which mine then do qualify.  So last Thursday, while watching football, I was bored to my eyeteeth due to teams that 1) aren’t my San Francisco 49ers.  2) Aren’t in our division (NFC West). 3) Were playing poor football overall.  I picked up Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, a fabulous novel about a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in the old west.  Not the NFC West, but sometime after the Civil War American West, no football anywhere within the story.  Within the story are fights, gun-play, violence (sigh), also love, friendship, honor, humor (cool!).  And, because I’ve seen the TV miniseries, faces of famous actors that are those characters, even though I haven’t seen Lonesome Dove the miniseries in probably two decades.

I was getting caught up in the later chapters as the Hat Creek Outfit reaches Nebraska, where Gus McCrea’s past flame Clara lives.  I like Clara, one of the few women in the book, but every time I read about her, I cannot help but picture the actress who played her.  I won’t note that here; if you want to read Lonesome Dove, do so without the specter of famous faces sullying the novel.  (If enor-mo sagas about the Wild West aren’t your thing, well, you can Google it.)  But the gist was that no longer could I read about Clara without being inundated by someone who did a great job in the miniseries, but really altered how I view that character.

As my husband muted the commercials (we always mute the commercials), I said to him, ‘Now every time I read this book, I think of Blah Blah as Clara.  You know what?  Unless we are absolutely destitute, if someone ever wants to buy the film/miniseries rights to any of my books, I am going to say no.  I don’t want anyone to ever think of my characters as Hollywood actors.’

My husband smiled, nodded, then unmuted the TV.

Now, there is a snowball’s chance in Hades that ANYONE is going to ever desire the film/TV rights to any of my stories.  But I had never before felt a novel had been compromised in such a manner.  I started thinking about it as football blared; when I read To Kill A Mockingbird or The Stand or The World According To Garp or The Shining or__________ (fill in the blank with a multitude of novels), I cannot help but equate those characters with the well-known faces who portrayed them on the big or small screen.  Mostly it’s all right, although I’m not overly fond of Fran Goldsmith in The Stand anymore, nor do I appreciate Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining.  My husband muted the TV again, and I set down my book, as I had never felt my reading experience so intruded upon.  I reiterated my point  but decided to add a qualifier.  ‘Well, if the French ever wanted to buy the rights, that would be okay.’  I know very few French actors; Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, just off the top of my head.  That made my husband smile (he really likes French films).  ‘I’d love to see a French version of For God and Country,’ I continued, as he shook his head and unmuted the game.  I returned to my book, trying to read Clara as McMurtry wrote her, not as that actress, as talented as she is.

I didn’t do so well.  But I did finish the book; it’s a GREAT book!  The end, oh my goodness, just fantastic.  I really recommend it, but whatever you do, please let Gus and Call and Newt and Clara and Lorie and Deets and Jake and the rest be exactly as McMurtry wrote them and who they become in your mind.  Sometimes I take a lot of time to flesh out a character, sometimes it’s not as important.  But what is very meaningful is who those folks are to a reader.  I’m an author. I also love a good yarn.  Lonesome Dove, and the rest mentioned above, are superb.

So are the movies and miniseries made from them.  But I will always carry those visuals, I can’t shake it.  Maybe this is just my small, certainly not morose, rant.  It’s actually very silly, on many levels.

Just like Debs and Errol’s video!  Please watch it today, Monday, 17 December, and vote for it!  And if you find this post after Monday, 17 December, watch it anyways.  There’s always time for a smile.

Updated on 18 December: Debs and Errol’s video has moved into the last round of voting!  So even though it’s past 17 December, you can still vote!  The Office of Letters and Light could earn $70,000 from this grant, so if you have a moment, please, it’s a really funny video.  And of course, a terrific cause!

Around the league

First off, good San Francisco Giants news; all three major off-season signings have been wrapped up; reliever Jeremy Affeldt, center fielder Angel Pagan and second baseman Marco Scutaro have signed to multi-year deals (three each for Affeldt and Scutaro, four with Pagan).  Now my baseball heart can truly hibernate until spring, and my husband’s Christmas shopping has been simplified; after the World Series, I told my hubby that if Pagan signed with the Giants, all I needed under the tree was a Pagan jersey.  I’m feeling good about my Christmas morning prospects (as well as those for my team in 2013).

The new book is coming along well.  Edits on the last Alvin’s Farm manuscript are minimal, and that novel will be published sometime this month.  Last night I looked over a book I was thinking about publishing next year; the first chapter probably needs to be expanded into two, quite a character dump, but the rest is in fairly good shape.  I wrote Detours back in 2008; man that seems like a long time ago.  But as with the Giants solidifying their line-up, I’m excited about Detours (more family saga drama), and its sequel, The Road Home, written for NaNo 2008.  Both will probably be on the shortlist for release next summer/autumn.

But, out just yesterday, are two short story collections, one of which I have a contribution!  Fools Rush In… and A Winter’s Tale are a cornucopia of genres and POVs from various authors associated with Top Writers Block; Fools Rush In… offers a gamut of manners in which that notion sometimes occurs, including my NaNoWriMo-based tale, “Pork Fried Rice and Recessed Lights”.  Yes, I used my November antics to spark not only a couple of goes at 50K, but a short story to boot!

Fools Rush In...  by Top Writers Block

A Winter’s Tale is an evocative seasonal assortment, perfect as days grow short and temperatures drop.  Even here in California, it feels like 2012 is coming to a close, and I easily recall the extremely brief bouts of sunlight from our time in England, not to mention those truly frigid days.  If you’re looking for some great short stories, or perhaps a gift for someone who doesn’t care a whit about the San Francisco Giants, pick up some copies of these books from Smashwords.  All proceeds from both collections go to Sea Shepherd, and other collaborations by Top Writers Block are available too!

A Winter's Tale by Top Writers Block

Let Sleeping Gods Lie

In the midst of NaNo craziness, not to mention the upcoming holiday, I was caught up in a novel by Dianne Gray.  Let Sleeping Gods Lie is a beautifully written, intriguing tale of religious fanatics and families.  Nick Landau has been summoned home, but knows there more to his parents’ request.  Ali Ingram has come to Bookalong Creek in Queensland to attend to her mother’s final request.  My description is sparse; I don’t want to spoil the experience.  Let Sleeping Gods Lie is definitely an experience.

One of reading’s thrills is discovering a new place; I’ve not been to Australia, but over two days I was near sugar cane and dingos, green ants and large spiders.  Australia is home to another of my favourite novels, The Thorn Birds, and Let Sleeping Gods Lie has joined that top ten list; well plotted and paced, teeming with incredible characters, framed by poetic prose.  I highly recommend Dianne’s work.

As an aside, I want to note that the best books I’ve read this year have been by indie authors, and they have been stunning and gorgeous, eye-opening and amazing.  I don’t mean to slather the praise with a large spoon, but hey, they have been terrific.  I’ll get to those writers and novels before the end of the year, but I wanted to add Dianne Gray and Let Sleeping Gods Lie to the list.  Maybe in another day or three, depending on how the writing goes, not to mention Thanksgiving preparations (and a visit from my soon to be birthday-celebrating eldest), I’ll write a little something about why indie novels are my preferred books of choice.  But in the meantime, check out Let Sleeping Gods Lie; religious fanatics aren’t just an American fictional staple, which to my surprise was one of the biggest joys of reading this story.  That might sound a little strange, but I wouldn’t want to get within ten feet of Nick’s clan, except within the pages of Dianne’s novel, heh heh heh…

An Innate Sense of Recognition

As of 7.31 a.m., my tenth indie novel is live. This tale doesn’t have anything in common with Halloween; it’s about family loyalties, love, heartbreak.  It also doesn’t have much to do with NaNoWriMo, which starts tomorrow, but it’s entirely apropos for this book to go live the day before NaNo starts.  If not for National Novel Writing Month, none of this plugging a novel would even exist.

This is the fifth in a series, the second of which the cover has been designed by the delightful and so talented Julie K. Rose.  Hard to get into the particulars about this book without dredging up the previous four, so I won’t attempt it.  What I want most to convey is the simple but lasting joy that is writing, revising, then publishing a book.  It doesn’t get any less sweet or profound with each one, maybe how the San Francisco Giants who won the World Series in 2010 are feeling today, on the cusp of a parade for their victory of a few days back.  Every championship and each book carries its own individual but priceless memories as a season is crafted, as a story emerges, from the very beginnings to the final poke, which I gave this novel early this morning, making sure nothing was amiss, or at least nothing glaring.  The Giants did give up some runs to Detroit, but only a few.

I sat in front of my monitor this morning  fully aware of the task; publishing this book.  (In addition to laundry, wrapping up the outline for one of my NaNo projects, watching the Giants’ celebratory parade.)  I needed to get this book released early, so that at 11 a.m. I can flop on the sofa, reveling in those ballplayers who made their dreams come true.  But at 7.30 a.m., I had made mine.

Before I hit the publish button, I listened to some tunes, one each from the next novels in the writing queue, then one from this book, “To Know Him Is To Love Him”.  It comes along late in the novel, on the heels of tragedy; I needed to be in the mood to set this novel into cyberspace, to continue the seemingly never-ending saga of the Cassels and Smiths.  However, one book remains, my favourite.  But that’s for another day.

Perhaps the Giants feel a little of the same; savoring this grand moment, but well aware of what next year could bring.  However, for now, I want to focus on this book, this slip of time.  Yes NaNo begins tomorrow; perhaps those novels will one day be the post of the day.  An Innate Sense of Recognition was written in July 2010, a bridge leading to the finale.  I considered that build-up while revising, setting all the players into position just so.  Some are young, some on the way out, like a baseball team; veterans and rookies all fitting into the lineup exactly where they need to be.  Within a series, every book plays its part, and this one leaves the reader with some closure, but enough open doors so the last book will be anticipated.  Or I hope it works that way.

If you’re preparing for NaNo, wondering if it’s possible, if it’s worth it, well, believe me, nothing feels better than rambling about baseball and books and the thrill.  The thrill of a finished manuscript released is for me what the Giants knew on Sunday night, will relive today as a million people cheer.  A writer’s audience is smaller, but the excitement is similar; so much hard work, blood, sweat and oh yes tears, then whoop; there it is!  If your NaNo mojo seems bleak or waning, keep this in mind; it’s a long road, 162 regular season games leading to how many playoff appearances, then…  The World Series.  A novel published, indie or traditional, is the same; pretty darn cool!

I won’t be blogging here much in November, but you can find me at Kelly Tremane and The Richard Brautigan Club, waxing about NaNo joy and noting word counts.  Or hunt me down at my NaNo profiles, where stats for those novels can be located.  Or (more shameless plugs, but today’s a day for it) check out my Tumblr; today’s picture (just below where this entry is reposted) is the original of this novel’s cover.  Snapped in September 2006 near Bolton Abbey, it’s a part of Yorkshire, not anywhere near the Willamette Valley.  But hey, it’s fiction; I’m translating the essence in whatever manner necessary.  Sometimes I use pinch runners, England for Oregon.  Like a good manager, pieces are shuffled, words are replaced.  The novel’s the thing; here’s another in my collection.

A great Series and some fantastic stories

Sweep sweep sweep; four games to none, historic, magical, done.  The San Francisco Giants won the 2012 World Series.

I’m not going to regale with facts and figures; if you care, you already know.  If this matters not, I won’t bore you, other than to say if you’re sport inclined and your team has kicked some arse, you understand.  If you’re not sport-crazy, then think about any moment when everything that mattered was on the line.  Either you or someone you love realized what was at stake, then went out and got it done.  Git’er done, as my dad likes to say.  The Giants did just that over the last four games.  Now, bring on 2013!

Well, for baseball.  In three days NaNo starts (and I’m so glad to have these last few days with no baseball distractions, as I have a lot of time-lining left to do).  There’s a book I’ll publish in two days, An Innate Sense of Recognition, which will be dedicated to one special group of guys who got it done.  There’s my other fave team playing tonight, the 49ers in Arizona against the Cardinals.  And there are plugs for other authors; in the midst of baseball insanity, I’ve been blessed with a trio of tales.  Two are shorts, one is a novella, all are amazing.  I’ll start with Dianne Gray’s The Eleventh Question, a contemporary fantasy I could not put down.  Arista’s life is thrown askew, and she wonders what it’s all about.  Those queries strike deeper than the usual musings; Gray precisely captures a teen’s fears from Facebook to animals while stirring others to attention.  Precise visuals put me right in Arista’s realm, and in other places too; a great read!

Amanda Anschau’s short story “Meet me at the Gates” grabbed my heart and didn’t let go.  “Blood Moon” by Elizabeth Rowan Keith is an atmospheric autumnal tale with a gripping finish.  Lately I’ve needed some small moments away from sport, and these three filled that bill perfectly.  So, as I say goodbye to baseball for 2012, I welcome NaNo, November just days away.  I’ll get off this post and back to work; there is formatting to do, plotting to sort, tea to drink, a team to thank.  Those SF Giants played their hearts and souls out and this fan just wants to say ta cheers thanks loves!