Tag Archives: publishing

Sometimes it happens too fast

December, writing novels, childhood; all these things whip past before I can really grasp them.  My two and a half year old nieces are in 5T shirts!  They were just babies, tiny babies, born three months premature in 2010.  Now you would have no idea; we just saw them at Thanksgiving, identical chunks except for a thin blue vein over bridge of the eldest’s nose.  Also she’s a wee bit more cranky than her younger sister, which hearkens back to their earliest days.  I spent a week with my sister and those preemies and even way back then #1 was a little more troublesome.  Now they are nearly out of toddler clothes, how in the world did that happen?

Christmastime is firmly upon us, and I’m getting a few bits sorted, amidst the writing.  The WIP is one of those novels unlike that eldest twin; this book is slipping from my fingers with an ease that December requires.  If I’m going to write this month, it better be a novel that basically writes itself.  One page of names constitutes my notes.  There is no outline except for the playlist, and while tabs litter my window, it’s a stream of consciousnesses sort of manuscript.  I’m spitting out a chapter a day so quickly I can barely grasp the joy of writing it.  I really like this book, would love to savor it a little more, I really would.  Christmas has other plans.

I wonder if that’s because when I edit this novel, I will go over with such a fine-toothed comb I’ll want to puke when it’s all said and done.  I’m nearly to that point with The Timeless Nature of Patience, the last of the Alvin’s Farm series that will be published sometime this month.  Reaching that stage with a manuscript, I vacillate between joy and weariness, just wanting to be DONE with it.  The current novel-in-progress makes me itch to write it; every morning I sit with a giddy exuberance, like a kid eager for December 25th.  I haven’t been this over the moon with a novel in a while, and it feels so good.

It’s like seeing my nieces and nephew at Thanksgiving; their childhoods, like my own kids’, is racing past.  Baby photos grace my screensaver, but they aren’t those infants anymore.  The twins were three pounds at birth, weighty for twenty-nine weeks gestation, but still no bigger than their mother’s hand.  I saw them at a stage where they should have been cloistered away, an unexpected privilege I will never forget.

My sister and one of her twins.

My sister and one of her twins.

Sort of like blabbing about writing a novel.  Where The Ball Is is about halfway through its confinement, nowhere near those metaphorical forty weeks.  Books need every single moment to percolate, and maybe as in pregnancy, I just want it to be done, not thoroughly appreciating the process until it is far past.  I think of those precious days watching two sisters lying together in an isolette, then to how they were tangled into each other on my parents’ floor just weeks ago; they are still as much a part of each other now as in the summer of 2010.

Time speeds by, every moment means something   As I sit to edit Timeless Nature later today, I’ll try to not be sick to death of it, but attempt to recapture its beginning, in November of 2010 for NaNo, those baby girls home from the hospital and thriving.  Just perspective, I guess.  Life is fleeting.  Best to make the most of today before it becomes tomorrow.

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

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.

Reasons to be cheerful

1. I just published The Farm at Sam & Jenny’s, fourth in the Alvin’s Farm series.  The action moves 1981 to 2004, and plenty has changed for Arkendale’s residents, not just the new generation of teens and twenty-somethings.  Releasing this novel is very exciting, in that I love these characters, and so enjoyed incorporating them into relatively modern times.  I never planned on writing a series, but sometimes a cast overtakes one’s sensibilities.  If family drama is your game, well, the Alvin’s Farm collection is full of it! (Special thanks to Julie K. Rose for the gorgeous cover!)

2. My youngest daughter turned twenty recently; my husband and I no longer have teenagers!  That’s a pretty wild realization, after years and years of adolescent strum und drang, which isn’t too unlike what the Cassels and Smiths endure in fictional Arkendale, Oregon.  It’s an odd thought, that for the rest of my life, my kids are adults.  (And very similar to what Sam and Jenny are facing with their brood…)

3A. The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears last night, making my husband extremely pleased (and relieved).

3B. We went to The Los Gatos Cafe for breakfast this morning, in part to celebrate the new book, and to toast our twenty-year-old daughter.  Banana chocolate chip pancakes are a great way to incorporate a new novel into the fold.

If writing is an attempt to understand something…

Then a year of indie publishing has been an exercise in figuring out why I went independent in the first place.

It’s a long weekend here in America, Monday’s Labor Day holiday the official end of summer.  My husband words a 9/80 shift, so he has today off, and we went to Los Gatos for breakfast.  Other than getting bananas on my waffle, our orders were the same as on a Sunday, but we didn’t sit along the bench.  Instead we sat in the back, a little more private.  And somehow I got to talking about the writing.

My husband doesn’t read my books, neither do our kids.  But since my husband and I have become grandparents of sorts, I’ve been considering the day when actual descendents mill about; maybe they will read my novels one day.  Between that and reading the Yo La Tengo book, I’ve been inundated by a wave of what exactly am I doing this for?  A year past releasing my first indie novel, I’ve had time and books to ponder this, subconsciously and mulled aloud over a banana waffle.  Today, bless my husband’s heart, I started rambling, and his willing ears seemed to translate what I was saying; I want to publish books that touch people’s hearts.

Now of course that has always been the plan, but never before on such a small, individualistic scale.  I wanted to kiss him, or cry, or just note how entwined I am with this man, who doesn’t read fiction, wouldn’t get near angst with a ten foot pole.  But he knows me, far better than I do myself, or maybe it’s his engineer’s brain, more analytical than mine.  I said a whole lot of this and that and he concisely boiled it down to a few notions; that if I didn’t care about reaching anyone, I wouldn’t publish at all.  But I do care, so some books are released.  This week I realized that what I do publish in the future will be novels I want my grandchildren and their kids to read, if they want.  Something thoughtful, relevant, as I discussed previously.  But not too many books, because I do not want to work so hard.

As we worked on breakfast, he said I should make a list of what I want to convey: I want to touch readers’ hearts, I want to make people think, make them cry, and laugh.  I nodded to all these sentiments, wishing I had a post-it note handy, I love post-it notes.  Today’s title is courtesy of something I read that hit me, so I scribbled it down, and stuck it to the side of my tower.  Then it was lost amidst other post-it notes, but recently I rescued it.

And I still believe it; I write to comprehend this or that.  But putting forth for public consumption said tales requires a different focus.  A year ago it was to circumvent the traditional route of publishing to release most of my novels.  Now it’s far more personal, but I still want some books accessible.  My husband was spot on- if I just wanted to express myself, the writing alone would be enough.  It isn’t, not completely.  I can publish, so I will, but I don’t wish to brand myself, I don’t want to carve out a career.  Musician Kurt Wagner figures in Big Day Coming, his band Lambchop another indie group in Yo La Tengo’s sphere.  Kurt makes a record, tours a little, then returns to his home in Nashville and lays floors.  While I don’t want to lay flooring, I do wish to share my take on this topic or that subject, wrapped in love and tears.  Inadvertently tapping into someone’s soul is my small objective, and I have my husband to thank for getting to the core of what I’m doing and why.

And the grand-basset too.  She’ll never read my books, but that’s all right.  She can chase her tail instead.

Caught behind the bars

Right now, in the grand scheme, I’m prepping the next novel in the pubbing queue.  Giddy excitement swirls with slight exhaustion, but as I drink the morning tea, my immediate task is this blog entry, warming up the brain so when I reach for that novel, I’ll be ready to absorb the remaining chapters.  I can’t just jump right into the work; I need tea, sometimes a tune or two (“Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford at the moment), a glimpse at the hummingbirds, swooping around the feeder.   This has been my routine for over five years, although the h’birds have only been a part of it since 2010.  I started my first novel in Britain, for NaNoWriMo 2006, but for all intents, the writing really began here in California, in Silicon Valley.  I started blogging about writing five years ago, as if the eleven years I lived in Yorkshire had no bearing on this gig.

But that would be so wrong.

I wrote back there, journals and letters, I love writing letters!  Actually, I love writing cards; I have boxes of them, and postcards too, piled all over the place.  My husband used to collect stamps, so we order various designs, but I have to scold when he puts the cool ones on bills.  PG&E doesn’t deserve Gregory Peck or The Incredibles.  I still send snail mail; postcards to nieces and a nephew and my godchild, nice cards to my daughter and other loved ones.  I love writing cards, but I adore affixing stamps.  My husband asked if I missed the old types, but no, I prefer adhesives.  I still have to lick envelopes.

I have always loved to write, but my wildest dream was to craft novels.  Letters and copious journal entries served their purpose, keeping the dream alive.  In November 2006, I started my first NaNovel, and never looked back.  I just finished a Camp NaNo tale, and am gearing up for the full monty in two months.  There is nothing better than writing a book alongside several thousand others all over the world, a huge virtual write-in for thirty days breaking the solitude that lasts the other three hundred thirty-five days a year.

Writing is an isolated task, not even the hummingbirds catching my full attention.  Yesterday I noted the above picture on my screen saver; our last English house was set along a fairly quiet village road.  I didn’t recall that shot, spent a good twenty minutes trying to find it.  We took tons of pictures in the UK; digital photography made it easy to snap without serious thought.  Maybe we were also trying to capture those moments, aware our English adventure wouldn’t last forever.  Eleven years was a long time, but now we’ve lived in California for over five, many books written in the meantime, heaps of cards sent and goodness knows how many blog entries posted!   I’m not the type to get lost in the past, but while frantically searching through folders of our British years, I wondered if that picture was a fluke.  How had it landed on my screen saver, from when was it taken?  Finally I located it, from 2006, in June, on the first.  On 1 June 2006, I had no idea about NaNo, that I would start a book that autumn, or that in a year, I wouldn’t live in Yorkshire.  All I knew were those bars, that house, fresh asparagus.  Our across the street neighbors grew asparagus, and my youngest helped prepare it for sale.

It seems idyllic, a day from my past easily forgotten, except for the pictures that stir so many memories, and not so small wonder for what has happened since.  Since 2006, I’ve written a plethora of drafts, published nine of them.  I’ve moved back to my home state, my eldest has gotten married.  I feed hummingbirds, which I had never even seen before!  Yet I am drawn back to that shot, those iron bars, that British summer’s day; I had recently turned forty, wasn’t sure what that new decade would hold.  It’s been wondrous, it’s been hectic.  It’s been day after day of the little and large, and quite wordy.  This morning, it’s rather blog-filled and reminiscent-heavy, also hummingbird-laden.  And it’s just another moment.  In a minute, it too will be gone.

What kind of published author I want to be…

I’ve given this a few days’ thought; I’m an indie author, okay, that’s very nice but…  What kinds of books do I want to release?

Well, I came up with two types of tales, and one manner of novelist.  I want to release relevant books.  Thoughtful novels.  Stories that for whatever reason grab me, don’t let go, even if they need the editing machete.  Okay, sounds good.

And I don’t want to work so hard.  That’s mostly due to my husband, who at forty-seven is already pondering retirement.  Not any more than sending me real estate listings from various locations: Honey, wouldn’t this be a great place to live?  Now, he’s not going to retire for several years, but it’s on his mind, while I’m just getting my publishing engines revved.  But I’m not young, and while I start early in the morning, no longer am I so driven to work until my husband gets home, four-ish most afternoons.  While it might seem odd, entering my second year of indie publishing, I just don’t want to work long days and weekends, unless I’m writing (like right now).

I’ve released a good number of books, eight indies, one with a small press.  Dianne Gray asked how many novels have I written.  Well, over forty.  The last four years have been full of words, just packed!  But as of right now I’m only planning on publishing maybe half of them, which includes those already out.  Just not enough time to sort them all, even if I stopped writing today.

Which I can’t, too many ideas teeming.  I came up with another around two thirty this morning, jeez!  The last thing I need is another plot.  (But it is always fun to make a new playlist for said idea…)

The books I culled weren’t inherently bad, just needed too much work, or weren’t relevant to me anymore, not thoughtful enough.  Those three are my manifesto, of sorts.  Not that I’m militant about it, just that sometimes decisions whack upside my head, that light bulb you know; aha!  I wasn’t actively thinking about books to publish or what kind of author, blah blah blah.  But my husband’s recent absence left gaping holes in my days, my evenings, my heart.  Time to ponder, time to write, time I should have spent scrubbing the shower.  Thank goodness that chap loves me.  I guess if I’m not working long hours as a writer, plenty of time will remain to clean the bathroom.

Maybe I’ll rethink that not working so hard clause…