Tag Archives: publishing

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.

Writing For Me

Those two squares inspired by my grandkids have led to many more waiting to be sewn together, sort of how I seem to write books these days….

Lately I’ve been revisiting old friends, prose-style.  While The Hawk waits patiently, I’ve been reading some of my Alvin’s Farm books, novels I haven’t looked at in ages.  They were written over six years ago, some of the first I published independently.  What has surprised me most is how enjoyable they have been, not that they are perfect, but certainly some of my favourites.  And to my (great) relief, I’m rekindling a desire to write, which has been absent for….  A while now, why The Hawk languishes.  Perhaps I’ve needed this time away to remind myself why I started writing in the first place.

Not merely because I had a lot to say, but I have my own special way of saying it.

One blessing of indie publishing has been the freedom to tell my stories exactly as I wish to present them.  They aren’t shoehorned into this or that genre, no branding within this author’s realm.  Releasing The Hawk in serial form has been quite a thrill, although the conclusion has been breathing down my neck for a few months, and yet here I am, nearly at the end of book four in Alvin’s Farm, when I could be revising The Hawk part 7 or 8, I can’t even recall now.  Where am I in The Hawk?

Fortunately, I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be, in the latter third of The Farm at Sam and Jenny’s, just as Tommie gives it to Jenny with both barrels that she should try pot to ease her aches.  For, in reading that dialogue, I’m reminded of an inner delight to just tell the story, regardless of how long it might take.  The conclusion of The Hawk is probably going to be much lengthier than the previous sections, and that fact has sat in my mind, also weighed on my heart.  But so what?  There’s no editor hanging over my shoulder, pointing out that incongruity within the series, no publisher staring at a timepiece, tapping their foot, arms crossed stiffly over their chest.  This is my party, these are my novels, this is my path as a writer.  And what a blessing that is!

I don’t know when I’ll revisit The Hawk Part 12, but when I do, I hope I remember Tommie’s passion, trying to convince Jenny to use an alternative remedy.  There’s more than one way to write a book, and here I go, in a somewhat circuitous manner.  The Hawk might be taking its sweet time, but that’s not necessarily a bad way to progress….

The Hawk, Part Five

Sometimes plans go awry, but in this case, it means an additional entry to this series.  Originally I had slated for Part Five to be released early next year, but….  But I changed my mind, and here it is, available on Smashwords in all formats.

As the end of 2015 approaches, I also want to note a few meanderings in how my life has altered; compared to years past, the writing has slowed considerably, but then previously babies and quilts weren’t considered.  Life without my dad around has changed me, pointing out how fleeting is our presence within this world, and how suddenly we climb the ladder of distinguished familial members.  Perhaps becoming a grandmother hastened that ascendance, although other than a few minor aches, I don’t feel much older.  I feel like….

Like another part of my life has begun.  But it’s not quite like releasing yet another piece of a serialized novel, although they do share one distinct trait; I have no idea when The Hawk will be completed, just like I’m clueless as to when my corporeal presence will cease.  And thankfully I’m so busy with words and fabrics and caring for adorable infants I have little time to mull over such details.  The Burrito is ten months old and walking, while Little Miss is six months and sitting like a pro.  She loves Buttercup, of course, who is very good with both babies, and extremely pleased when food falls from their high chairs into her waiting mouth.  The above shot was taken the day after Thanksgiving, at which time The Burrito was merely experimenting with steps.  Now he toddles all over, while Little Miss lunges for Buttercup, a first Christmas for both just around the corner.

As this year comes to an end, I wish to acknowledge how good is this life, how changes that might outwardly appear unfortunate season who we are becoming, whether it’s a grandmother or improv quilter or someone on the cusp of turning a year old.  Ten years ago I participated in my first NaNoWriMo, and while the words aren’t as plentiful as before, I’d like to think they have become more meaningful.  And I must release expectations as to how they will continue to flow, permitting that all things are beyond my control.  But that is fine, it truly is.  My father died this year, two grandchildren were born.  I’ve started hand-quilting, a process that while slower than using my machine, proffers more time to study the fabrics pieced together.  Maybe the output will be lessened, but the love that goes into comforters only increases.

And that is my lesson for 2015, to live in this moment as much as is feasible.  Memories are welcome, but so much is happening that I have little time to reminisce.  Which for me is good, because even though Dad is gone, he’s here in my toddling grandchildren, in the quilts, and the words.  And of course, within my heart, a muscle that performs miracles by keeping everything in working order via beats and love.  This Christmastime, I am reminded of the tender but powerful gift of love, which I always hope to relay within my novels, through quilts, and to gently instill within those little ones.  I share that love with you today, wishing a most peaceful Advent season, followed by a very happy Christmas!

A Grandma’s Life

Two grandchildren is a lovely consideration; we spent much of the weekend with Little Miss and her parents, Little Miss’ other grandparents, the burrito and his mum too.  Oh, and Buttercup.  So far, not much has changed in her world.

She was glad to see her parents again; parents everywhere, but two sets were now grandparents, and that is a different kettle of fish.  And while my husband and I have been abuelos for a few months, adding a nieta to the mix again alters the dynamics.  I’m still wrapping my head around all those transformations, and the slight cold that I’ve caught doesn’t help make things clearer.

Taken a couple of days ago when I was feeling much better....

Taken a couple of days ago when I was feeling much better….

I’m home today, not wishing to give a four-day-old my sniffles.  Instead I published The Hawk: Part Two.  I also set out two new placemats, improv-style, that were finished while I loitered in the labour and delivery ward last week.  Easy to hand-sew some bindings while a new life made her way into this world.  Or at least easy for me.  I also worked on my improv bathroom wall hanging, but that still needs to be photographed.

A scrappy effort with which I am quite pleased.

A scrappy effort with which I am quite pleased.

I snapped the placemats this morning, as I sat down for breakfast.  If you see crumbs, they’re from fried chicken my husband, daughter, and son ate for dinner last night after I had given up the ghost and gone to bed.

Using up the last of my three-inch binding scraps; I'm going to try two and three quarter-inch in the future....

Using up the last of my three-inch binding scraps; I’m going to try two and three quarter-inch in the future….

The Hawk: Part Two has been waiting for release until Little Miss arrived.  Now that she’s here, I can fiddle with novels, or the publishing of books.  I am aching to write more for that saga, but that will be another couple of weeks down the road.  And I’m eager to make another improv quilt.  I am blessed for all the bits that make up my life, goodness knows there are many.  But right now this abuela could use forty winks.  Buttercup has the right idea, but then she still is, and will always be, the grand basset….

Updated….  This afternoon the burrito got a hold of a placemat.  Then he hopped into his jeep to make a fast getaway with the improv piece….

He'll eat the evidence if necessary!

He’ll eat the evidence if necessary!

The indie theory of relativity

Last week I had lunch with my friend Julie Rose; Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara was the place, and yes, football was on our minds, as she’s as big of a 49ers fan as I am.  After much commiserating, we left sport for authorial topics, which always warms my heart.  There are many good things in this world, and chatting with another writer nears the top of the list.

I was thinking about this last night as my husband pulled out boxes of 45s, searching for one specific piece of vinyl, bought in the UK, where most of his singles were purchased.  From completely obscure artists, like Southall Riot whom he was looking for, to collectible 45s, he had a heyday when we lived in Yorkshire, shipping so cheap from the continent.  Mostly he picked up local bands, like Subaqwa, but The White Stripes was found via his hunts, alongside other groups that faded into the background.  One was from Wales; Crak’s single was encased in black polka-dotted purple fur.  They sang in Welsh, not sure what the song was about, but it certainly was intriguing.  Of course this led me to considering indie musicians versus writers, one of the issues Julie and I mulled over last Friday.  Within the traditional publishing culture little room remains if someone wanted to release their novel in purple polka-dotted fur.  But it sure seems like a cool idea.

A postcard of the band was included in this single.

A postcard of the band was included in this single.

Now, a single isn’t the same as a novel; maybe 45s are equal to short stories or flash fiction.  My husband has five trainer-sized shoe boxes full of singles, some in simple paper sleeves, some in elaborate packaging  like that purple polka-dotted number.  One single was a 5-inch, CD sized.  It was on the Black Bean and Placenta label (no, I’m not making this up), out of Mission Hills, California.  No band name, no song title, but that was okay, it wasn’t all that great.  But it WAS.  Someone wanted to release a 5-inch single, and they did so.  Yeah for them!

Coloured vinyl didn't help decipher the Welsh lyrics, but it looks stunning on the turntable.

Coloured vinyl didn’t help decipher the Welsh lyrics, but it looks stunning on the turntable.

I started thinking about relativity last night as unknown songs wafted through speakers.  Maybe it was from one of the 45s that featured Einstein on its sleeve.  Relative means, among other definitions, a thing having a relation to, or connection with, or necessary dependence on another thing.  Writers, like musicians, harbor ideas.  We corral mediums to express those ideas.  Finally we connect with audiences, large or minuscule, to share those ideas.

Hence the indie theory of relativity.

It’s not a very big theory, no Nobel Prize in the works.  Just that as indie musicians thrive, indie writers are too.  Independent authors are a little newer on the scene, in the getting noticed sort of way, but writers have been publishing books without publishing houses far longer than vinyl records have even existed.  Yet history’s grand weight has weighed down on authors, as if traditional methods of publication were the only ones acceptable.  But that doesn’t seem to bother musicians all that much.

Number 8 was released, but number 10 never was, so sad!

Inserted into one of Southall Riot’s singles was this notice. Single number 8 was released, but number 10 never was, so sad!

I believe, and this is just me, it’s to do with rock music’s youthful spirit, its alternative vibe.  Parents in the 1950s were scared outta their skulls at Elvis; Ed Sullivan couldn’t even broadcast Presley’s whole form, filming him from the waist up.  Publishing is assumed for intellectuals, rock and roll for kids.  That’s a very broad generalization, but it’s mine, and I’m sticking to it, filing it under the indie theory of relativity.  Ideas exist, are expressed via language, transmitted through paragraphs and chapters, ’nuff said.

Well, not quite enough; the other thing I thought about last night, listening to The Cramps, Mohave 3, Black Tambourine, Subaqwa, Crak, and a few others, was how these records are a part of this world in which I live.  People wrote and played their songs, then turned them into 45s.  Subaqwa made an album, EPs too.  The Cramps had an illustrious career, only ended at the death of singer Lux Interior (may he rest in peace).  None of those groups were The Beatles, but thousands of stories exist beyond bestsellers.  Yesterday my husband was also listening to his Original Master Recordings of Beatles’ records.  He’s had that box for ages, never plays those albums, but yesterday was a day to dust off memories.  (Literally, as when he removed the singles box from under the stereo, a cloud was stirred.)  We enjoyed the Fab Four in the morning, indie artists that evening, relativity floating through the room, along with dust particles.

No artwork on the albums, sort of cheesy if you ask me...

No artwork on the albums, sort of cheesy if you ask me…

Specks of those songs travel as well, from The Beatles’ “Please Please Me” to “What’s Inside A Girl” by The Cramps, a Welsh band in between.  I’m gearing up for some writing in April, and by July, I’ll be celebrating two years as an indie author.  Maybe it’s my rock ‘n roll sensibilities keeping me enthused, maybe it’s a never-quiet creative spirit.  Maybe it’s music, well, I know it’s music; give me a song, I’ll tell you a story.  It’s the indie theory of relativity, far easier to digest than Einstein’s theory of relativity, but part and parcel of this great and grand universe.  Write your story, or make your music, and join the party!

Hard not to get inspired by this, pink vinyl to boot!

Charting another course

It’s a chilly morning here in Silicon Valley; grass is crunchy, breaths are puffs.  I know this because I stood in our doorway, peering to the white-tipped front lawn as my husband left for his walk, wearing his silly hat.  He wore it last night as we strolled the sand at The Hook in Capitola, a very low tide providing all the stretch of beach one will see for many months.  The tide was at -1.5 feet at 4.14 p.m. yesterday; I have never seen it so low.

All pictures from The Hook, Capitola, California; low tide on 11 January, 2012.

All pictures from The Hook, Capitola, California; low tide on 11 January, 2012.

I love walking the beach when the tide is out; I feel like I’m traveling on a new part of the earth.  Late yesterday afternoon my husband and I, along with many others, took advantage of nature’s willingness to bare some of her beauty.  This morning is crisp and cool, not that the beach was overly warm yesterday, but what a difference a few hours makes; today at ten a.m. the tide crested at 6.3 feet.

What impressed me yesterday was for how low the tide was, the sand was still wet.  The water had peaked yesterday morning at nine a.m., had probably stayed fairly high for much of the day.  But by four in the afternoon, another world was revealed.  And now it’s covered again, waves smashing against the cliff.

Tides are cyclical; maybe writing is too.  For the last two years, publishing has been my focus, which means big revisions, formatting documents, choosing covers.  (I don’t do the actual designing, but I give my two cents.)  I wrote some in 2012, but not as much as in the last few years; I know this because I just examined my writing timeline; good grief, it made me dizzy.  For a time I was spewing manuscripts like I would never get another chance to write.

During those days (mid 2009-mid 2011) I also took a lot of photographs in Capitola.  How I managed all that, well, I wasn’t publishing for most of that time.  The other thing I noticed in the writing timeline was how quickly a novel went from conjuring the plot to plunking it on the keyboard; a matter of days for some manuscripts.  I’m glad I have that timeline, even if it made me a little nauseous.  Amazing what the brain and body can manage when the right conditions exist.

Like watching the tide, so low, but I’ve seen it smashing against the cliff side, gotten attacked even.  My husband was a little leery, wondering if I wanted to walk along the waves last night.  I smiled, said getting biffed by the ocean once was enough for me.  All I wanted to do was set my feet on ground rarely trod.  That sort of low tide happens once or twice a year.

I feel a little like that now, slacking on the publishing while returning my attentions to writing.  Don’t get me wrong, the thrill of releasing books is pretty darn heady, a giddy bliss setting a novel in cyberspace for all eternity.  For as long as the internet exists, as e-readers continue to light, my stories live and breathe, as beautiful to some as the ocean is to me.

My husband on the left, in his adorable and silly hat.

My husband on the left, in his adorable hat.

But there wouldn’t be any publishing without writing.  The creative shove as a vague notion becomes concrete notes and a playlist, oh man, that’s just as intoxicating as uploading a formatted document.  One of those courageous new ideas has been gnawing at me; I’m listening to the playlist while writing this, spent early yesterday afternoon sorting details.  I’ve edited a couple of chapters on Penny Angel, but more yanking my chain is a novel still with no firm title, but a thumping heart that has wedged itself deep in my soul.

I can’t say which is more pleasing; publishing a book or pondering its beginnings.  Both are magical, like low and high tide.  I think I like low tide better; I’m leaving my footprints in the sand, even if for only moments.  I can’t be a part of high tide, other than observing and snapping it.  As for outlining/plotting a novel and publishing one…

That’s sort of like the chicken and the egg; can’t have one without the other.  I will say this, plotting is less stressful, more enjoyable.  It’s freer, but the payoff isn’t nearly as visible.  Many books remain cloistered in the hard drive, their existence only as dates on the timeline; when I came up with the idea, started writing it, then completed it.

A published novel earns a blog post, a gorgeous cover, readers.  But all the books I’ve released stand upon the shoulders of those dormant; if not for those previous words, the published ones wouldn’t exist.

When I pounded out all those stories, it never felt like work, in that I had no control over plots and ideas; I typed what came into my head as easy as breathing.  Publishing is far more intense, and while I don’t wish to go back to those more carefree days, I am enjoying slacking off a bit.  Going to the beach was necessary, especially with my hubby along.

I was worried the sun was too low, but the colours were just perfect.

I was worried the sun was too low, but the colours were perfect.

Also just as lovely was plotting out the next book before we traversed Highway 17, before the tide slipped so far away.  Now he’s on his walk, the tide is high, and I’m mulling over where am I right now.

I’m a novelist, charting yet another course of this journey.  It’s always in some new place, even if I’m just sorting out one more angsty drama.  Like the tide, once again pulling from, then smashing into, the shore.

Courage and determination

A few days ago I was emailing with my NaNo writing buddy Laura, and in the course of our notes, she offered me her resolution for 2013.

To make art that is important to me and to do so with more courage and determination than ever before because I am in charge of my own art.

I was deeply struck in two ways; one was the combination of courage and determination, especially since last summer my mantra has been to not work so hard.  But work isn’t just about having one’s nose to the monitor, fingers on the keyboard.  Maybe it takes just as much courage and determination not to work constantly as it does to get things accomplished.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

The other point was that Laura, like myself, is in charge of her art.  Art covers a gamut of gifts; writing, music, sculpting, painting, underwater basket-weaving if one is so inclined.  I read her resolution, then asked if I could employ it within a post.  Lovely Laura said that was fine; we met last November via NaNoWriMo, a grand place to make new friends.  Also to tackle dreams, refine goals, stretch one’s wings.  The 50K or bust manifesto translates to other artistic endeavors; sometimes a swift but well-meaning kick in the backside is required to get the creative juices flowing.  And to do it in a manner that best expresses the heart of the artist.

I have plenty of get-up-and-go when it comes to writing.  In fact, while it’s been a pleasure to not work so hard in 2013, my brain is never still; plots continue to assault my gray matter as if I have nothing better to do than conjure drama all day long.  (My microwave’s interior would attest that there are other considerations within my sphere.)  But one never knows how, where, and when a plot will strike.  Or just how much bravery might be required to do that story justice.

I tend to write about relationships, familial and platonic, romantic yet thorny.  Exploring the in’s and out’s of various human pairings brings me closer to understanding why we fall in love with who we do, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender.  Right now I’m considering two ideas, one platonic, the other definitely a love story, but fraught with complications.

There’s no drama if there are no complications.

Both of these novels will call for some courage, especially the latter.  Also the chutzpah for me to let them unwind as they will; some of my novels occur so suddenly, I barely have a chance to breathe.  Others simmer for ages, letting me gather the necessary guts to write them.  Penny Angel is a great example; Penny’s deaf, what do I know about being hearing-impaired?  But I had to write her story, and after ages of dithering, I finally got it done, during November, which is quite apropos.  Writing, as with other imaginative callings, requires a great deal of determination, why NaNo is such a blessing.  But I write at other times of the year, about subjects that aren’t simple.  This spring I’m tentatively planning on finishing a series that concentrates on a polyamorous trio and their offspring; A Normal Life Book 3 will wrap up the Sabra Burkhart-Knight, Ty Burkhart, Steve Knight sturm und drang, with plenty of racial overtones for good measure.  I’d like to finish Kelly Tremane, which explores domestic violence and the sacrifice of one’s heart.  But these aren’t the novels that have been poking at me recently, I don’t even have titles for those ideas.  Just the sense of yarns that need to be spun, no matter how complex the tales.

But one thing I don’t have to ponder is if I can write them; of course I can!  It’s my art, my manner of expressing what I consider important.  Choosing to publish independently unleashed a thrilling freedom; genres went out the window, word counts were darned!  What mattered was the story, and if I was ballsy enough to tell it.  My family rolls their eyes at my synopses; someone’s dying, oh my goodness, they drop like flies.  But love runs thickly through my novels, love for family, for partners.  I try to keep an open mind, because love is too precious to be harnessed, it can’t be cowed.  It takes great courage and determination to make a stand; in some places on this planet, it means risking one’s own life.  I have such liberty to write what I like, publish what I will.  In 2013, I want to continue to challenge myself, be courageous.  With the overwhelming glut of violence that streams from mass media, I’m determined to let more than a little love shine through.  Thanks to Laura for this kick-in-the-pants; I also want to note that wordsurfer has another take on courage, maybe it’s just a theme for 2013 across the board.  I read that entry last night, just a coincidence that she was mining a similar vein.  But it further impressed upon me the need to up the ante.  2013 isn’t a make or break year in regard to how many novels I write or publish.  More is the love each conveys.