We have a cover design!

Long before I had a publishing contract on Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude, I could visualize what I wanted on the cover of the book. I had three ideas in my mind: a particular picture of Sam, heads of garlic and/or Sam’s favorite Tree of Life image.

Then, I signed a publishing contract on the book, and as part of that contract, the cover design process was delineated. So when I had my design conversation with the publisher on July 3rd, I gave my input, and then waited for 2-3 design concepts to come back to me for my input.

This Monday, three designs arrived via email. All three were absolutely stunning, very different from each other, but stunning. Any of the three would have made me proud if they had graced the cover of this book that is so important to me. But one of the three? As soon as I opened the file, I started to cry. It was exactly what I wanted.

So then I did as I had promised, I took all three designs to my family, and without giving my opinion of which one I wanted, I asked them for their thoughts. All of them said exactly what I had said — they loved all three, but that one was exactly what it should be. All of us teared up looking at the favorite design, filled with both the absolute joy and pride of this accomplishment, and the absolute unending pain of missing Sam.

This is the image we picked, the perfect cover for this book. This was one of Sam’s favorite pictures of himself, taken by his friend Allie when she was taking his senior high school photo. This is how we like to see Sam now in our minds, lying on that beautiful bench in the sunshine, surrounded by clouds, perfectly at peace.

I am proud to share the cover:

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And even now, after having looked at it at least a hundred times over the last few days, it still makes my breath catch, and still makes me tear up — with joy and grief.

Welcome to Linda Lingle!

Today I am pleased to welcome author Linda Lingle who recently published Dear Heart through Solstice Publishing!dear hear

Can love survive a nearly-forty-year separation? Can passion? And what happens to lovers who are separated for a life time? See how their destiny unfolds as the parted lovers dream about finding their way back to each other’s arms, and an unlikely guide emerges to light the path of their journey.

DEAR HEART by Linda Lingle

Deirdre Reid and Hartley (Lee) Tate feel an immediate attraction when they meet at the office where they will work together and fall in love.   There is only one problem:  they are married to others and Lee has four daughters to whom he is devoted.

For 15 months Deirdre and Lee carry on a passionate affair.  Then Lee’s wife is offered a big promotion across the country.  With his heart breaking, Lee leaves Deirdre in San Francisco and moves East with his family so his wife can advance her high-powered career.

Soon, unforeseen circumstances have Deirdre second-guessing her insistence on a clean break.  She resists every impulse to fly to Lee’s side, but on the first anniversary of their parting, Deirdre grows increasingly regretful and melancholy. Then she receives a surprising Christmas present which sets in motion a 38-year ritual that, against all odds, keeps alive the love she shared with Lee.

Get Deirdre’s story on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Heart-Linda-Lingle-ebook/dp/B07CX91BYM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531256747&sr=1-1&keywords=dear+heart+linda+lingle.

And stay tuned for Sweet Heart, Lee’s story of the bittersweet lifetime he lived without Deirdre, soon to be released by Solstice Publishing.

SWEET HEART

Heartbroken and resentful, Lee has a difficult time adjusting to his life without Deirdre and struggles to settle in to his new surroundings. Knowing he made the only decision a father could make does little to lessen Lee’s profound sense of loss. Although he tries to be upbeat and optimistic for the sake of his daughters, in the dark and quiet of his lonely nights, Lee relives the fifteen heady months that he spent with Deirdre and gives free rein to the anguish and bitterness he feels because he was forced to leave her. Then, his youngest daughter enlists Lee to help her find an elusive Christmas gift for her favorite teacher and everything changes.

As if guided by fate, Lee stumbles across a poignant reminder of his time with Deirdre and sets in motion the 38-year ritual that eased his heartbreak and sustained his hope for the future.

In this companion book to Dear Heart, we meet the people who populate Lee’s world, and learn the shocking secret he promised never to reveal.

For more information about the books and their author, visit:

https://www.lindalinglebooks.com/.

 

Farming!

The past weekend was a busy one, filled with love, laughter, family time, and lots of farming.

We started with cleaning chicken coops and the alpaca barn, sheared the alpacas, fed the bees, trellised the blueberry bushes, tied the tomatoes, picked gallons of cherries, then picked the vegetable garden. Buckets of pea pods, kale, lettuce, broccoli, basil, cabbage and zucchini soon filled the kitchen counter. Then we needed to pick blueberries, gooseberries, and the few baby cucumbers ready to pick. Walking back from the gardens, we realized that we had a couple garlic scapes still needing to be cut. Done!

What a great weekend it was!

It’s beginning to feel real!

Late today, I had the opportunity for a long conversation with the company publishing Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude. What a wonderful conversation! We talked cover designs, release timelines, and many other details. I felt so supported, and that my opinions were valued — how fortunate I am to be working with them.

After the conversation, I took a walk around our gardens, thinking about the conversation, and how it is finally beginning to feel real that this book will make it into published form. No matter how much I wish we’d never been thrust into this grief journey, I appreciate that I am being given the opportunity to take that grief and hopefully turn it into something that may help others.

I will keep you up to date on developments!

It’s a little bit warm in VT!

Vermont is in the midst of a heat-wave right now. Yesterday, for only the second time in my 40+ years in Vermont, my exterior house thermometer (not in the sun) registered 100 degrees. That doesn’t normally happen in Vermont! Yes, in the winter, we can get long periods of bitter cold, but we don’t do heat terribly well.

Over the last few days, we have had family visiting, and enjoyed hours of fun with the youngest members of the family. Our four year-old granddaughter helped me with a knitting project that I was silly enough to leave sitting in my basket next to the spinning wheel. Yes, she also helped with the spinning, but I forgot to take a picture of that.

Here is what my project looks like now. It is so good to have a helper!

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Then, after we worked with the knitting, we went outside to explore. The chickens are lots of fun to chase! The alpacas decided staying far away from the fence was the best plan of action. Then we cooked a bit, including using the last of our garlic scapes and some of our home-grown mushrooms.

 

Then we wandered back outside to check out the blackberries — not ready yet, but we are clearly going to have a bumper crop.

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Yesterday, we needed to spend some time in the bee hives, then clean the barn, and work in the garden. As we walked up the hill, absolutely drenched in sweat, we realized that we need to pick blueberries and cherries, so that will be the project after work today.

In all of this, we are making sure that all of our animals are doing okay. We know that like the people, Vermont animals aren’t used to this heat. Hopefully it will break soon!

Farming!

My favorite time of year has started, the full-out gardening season. Our vegetable gardens are growing by the second, the blackberries have formed and are getting bigger each day, and we have started harvesting produce. Over the last week, we have had a salad (either lettuce/spinach or kale) twice a day, with our radishes and young beets on them, eaten our broccoli, and will start picking cabbage this week. The first cabbage is used in cooking, then we will start making sauerkraut and kimchi.  Our basil accents local tomatoes beautifully, and our other herbs are being used in cooking, and bring such fresh flavors. Yes, I love the garden season!

Welcome to J.D. Sanderson!

Today I would like to welcome author J.D. Sanderson to my blog. J.D. has a new book out this week!

jd.jpg

 

J.D writes:

This week marks the official release of my first science fiction novel, A Footstep Echo. This book is incredibly personal to me, partly because it’s something that I’ve worked on for the past 16 months. While I’ve dreamed of publishing a book since I was a child, I cannot begin to describe how incredibly happy that it’s finally coming true.

I guess I’ll start off with a little bit about my book:

“A Footstep Echo starts out as the story of Bernard, a 70-year-old widower living alone in Upstate, New York. His lonely, routine life is thrown into chaos one day when a young woman knocks him into another point in time to save his life.

Soon after he realizes what has happened, he discovers the Mystery Girl cannot speak. She’s unable to tell him who she is, where she comes from, or how she can travel through time. Worse yet, she’s unable to tell him what it is that is chasing her.

Along the way, Bernard meets a number of people, all of whom claim to know the truth about his mysterious new companion. The only thing he knows for certain is that the secret to humanities future may lie with his new time-traveling friend.”

That’s the gist of it! It was an idea that I toyed with a few years ago but didn’t end up finishing. Looking back now, I think that I spent too much time and energy trying to emulate all of the influences that made me want to create original stories. The pattern repeated itself for years – I’d start off with an idea and immediately start writing, only to crash and burn a few chapters in when it didn’t sound how I imagined it did.

In December 2016, I saw something that changed my point of view. A new wave of serialized storytelling became popular, with shows like The OA and Stranger Things making waves on Netflix. The OA, in particular, blew my mind. Creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij absolutely floored me with their realistic characters, original sci-fi premise, and creative story that they allowed the necessary time to develop organically. My wife and I were left hanging on the edge of our seats after each episode.

Most important of all, it made me realize that I was trying to tell the wrong kind of story.

In February 2017, I picked up my laptop again and revisited the Bernard story I had tried a year ago. Rather than try to do what everyone else had, or work towards a specific goal, I just shut off my brain and let my fingers walk across the keyboard. The ideas rolled out and the characters and story began to develop.

One of the biggest differences between A Footstep Echo and every other story I had attempted to tell previously was how it was structured. The book is neatly divided into three parts. I sometimes think of it as a trilogy of novellas than rather than one giant novel. The funny thing is it happened almost by accident. By the time I got to page 82, I noticed that a substantial part of the story was wrapping up, so I decided to wind it down while leaving the rest of it open.

Unlike a lot of writers I know and admire, I don’t have a strict writing process. I wrote at different times in the evening and didn’t try to hit specific goals each day. Instead, I had a mental note with five words I wanted to keep in mind throughout the process.

Anagnorisis – The moment in a story where a character makes a critical discovery. I wanted one of these in each of the three parts that (I hope) will floor the audience.

Intertextuality – the shaping of one story’s meaning through another. I threw in a few little “Easter eggs,” but I didn’t want the book to be a reference guide for sci-fi readers.

Language – Early on, people told me that I may want to edit a few things to make the book more accessible for younger readers and children. I ended up disregarding their advice. First of all, I wrote the book for adults. Secondly, I wanted to convey how people really talked. If there’s a group of criminals in my book, I want them to talk the way I’ve heard them over the years. I didn’t want to clean it up in case a child picks up my book.

Bathos – This is one of my trigger words. Bathos is the literary concept of breaking the tension of a serious, sad, or sincere moment with unnecessary comedy or some other kind of anti-climax. It’s everywhere in movies and television nowadays and is something I worked very hard to avoid. I look at humor as something that is very expensive, and I don’t want to spend the money unless it’s absolutely necessary. My story has some humor in it, but there are certain moments I was simply not willing to pay a dramatic cost for.

Mood – Setting up the right mood is soooooo difficult. I just kept this work in my mind to help me avoid straying too far from the kind of atmosphere I wanted for my characters.

Thanks for allowing me to prattle on. If you love science fiction, mysteries, or character-based stories, I hope you’ll check my book out. You can find it at my author page on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/jdsanderson.

You can also follow me on social media! You’ll find me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/AuthorJDSanderson, or follow me on Twitter @ascifiwriter!

And finally, a big thanks to the owner and operator of this fine website for giving me a chance to tell my story. J

 

 

 

Hmmmmmm

We have had a very, very busy couple of weeks, both in terms of our jobs and our family. Lots of night events, lots of running around, lots of driving between places. In all of that running around, I haven’t taken as much time as I would like (or should) to stop, breathe, and think about life in general.

It has been a time of hurrying up (getting things done) and waiting (for others to do things). I have made the mad dash to get things done on time, only then to sit twiddling my thumbs for a bit. But because of the pace of the time period, I haven’t used that down time to actually reflect on much of anything.

So late this afternoon, after more events, I went for a walk down to our garlic beds. Those beautiful, vibrant garlic beds that are so much more than just garlic. I stood and looked at them, admired the beauty, realized the scapes need cutting, and took time to appreciate the wonder of the natural world.

As I walked back up the hill to the house, I also realized that the blackberry blossoms are almost gone, and you can see the baby berries on the canes. How did I miss that part of the spring? I missed it because I didn’t take the time to stop and look around.

The message of today? Take the time to look around, to see the beauty and wonder around us.

And yes, I am going to try to take my own advice.

Some links.

As I have been working on the editing for Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude, I needed to take out the YouTube links that had been originally included in my Facebook posts that are included in that book, just in case the links are taken down at a later date. So, as I thought about removing them, I thought I would instead include them here in a post, in case any of you wanted to check them out.

The first link was to a really wonderful video that Sam made with friends for a science project in high school.

This is NOT a fungus

 

Then, I posted a list of Sam’s favorite songs, with links to videos of them:

The Vermont State Song — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7cq1AObM6g

SpongeBob – “Best Day Ever” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8r559C51uE

Jesus Christ Superstar – “Everything’s Alright” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vx8KpqTVCk

Bob Dylan – “Like a Rolling Stone” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeNJj8aviyg

Arlo Guthrie – “Motorcycle Song” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvLtNBm1yyA

Twiddle – “When it Rains it Poors” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLd16W3jIpg

Twiddle – “Hatibagen McRat” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3aV-LR1ues

Zach Sobiak – “Clouds” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDeDqJ8GQMY

America – “Horse with No Name” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRmvNMUEFZg

Aerosmith – “Amazing” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSmOvYzSeaQ

Rocky Horror – “Time Warp” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg-vgGuTD8A

Macklemore – “Same Love” (he thought it was overplayed, but loved the message) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0

Tom Petty – “Into the Great Wide Open” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqmFxgEGKHO

Andrea Bocelli – “Por Ti Volare” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0

Pavarotti – “Ave Maria” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojeLyPo_Wz4

Bryan Adams – “I will Always Return” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEJRxJzNvXI

Arlo Guthrie – “Amazing Grace” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvLnYAhQtG4

 

Finally, I also originally included the link to Otter Valley Union High School’s Walking Stick Theater’s production of their student-written and choreographed play, Inevitable, which I think is an amazing work of art.

Inevitable

I hope you will take some time to check these links out!

 

Happy Anniversary!

As I have written about before, my road to becoming a published author was a long and winding one. I had written two complete romance novels prior to 2013, and over the years, I had sent them out to agents trying to find representation. I’d get a little interest, then get rejected a few times, then put it all aside for a while.

Eventually, our son Sam would give me grief about giving up, he’d tell me that I needed to keep trying. He always could visualize that one day it would happen. He’d tell me that one day I’d get an agent or a publishing contract, and we’d all go out to dinner to celebrate and order whatever we wanted.

After Sam’s death, I stopped writing completely for a long time. I was in too dark of a place to try to write a happily-ever-after story. But he believed so strongly, that eventually I felt compelled to try again. This time, December 2016, I got serious. I pulled out my first completed novel, The Phone Call, and ripped it apart, then hired a professional editor to go at it. Then I did the same with That One Small Omission. I decided that if this was something I truly wanted, I needed to take it seriously, and not just keep sort-of doing it.

Around the same time, I started sending The Phone Call out via query letters to agents. Then I read this great article about reputable publishing houses that don’t require an agent, and so I submitted it to two of them.

Months went by. A couple agents requested sample chapters, one requested the full manuscript, but then came the rejections. This round, instead of being discouraged, I was so energized by my work with the editors, that I was going full-speed on More Than I Can Say. Even the day when one of the publishing houses rejected me didn’t diminish my drive.

Then, at exactly 5:45 on June 12th, 2017, I sat down in my chair with my cup of coffee, like I do every morning, and opened my email. There was a new message from Solstice Publishing, and I almost didn’t open it because I really didn’t want to get rejected first thing in the day.

With a sigh, I opened it, telling myself to be brave. Reading it later wasn’t going to be any easier than reading it then. It was going to sit there and mock me until I read it, I knew it. So I opened it and it was a short, sweet, positive note offering me a publishing contract! My poor husband came down the stairs at just that moment, and I was standing there, making noises, unable to form a coherent statement, then I started jumping up and down like an idiot, finally yelling, “A contract! They want to publish it!” Then I burst into tears. After hugging him, crying, dancing around, I ran upstairs and woke our youngest son, still crying, and the poor kid probably was terrified, but then he hugged and hugged me.

Later that day, I went to the cemetery, and read the email aloud to Sam, knowing how much he was a part of the entire process. His belief in me, his belief that it would happen, was a great part of what kept me (and keeps me) going.

Yes, in the year that has passed, I have published The Phone Call, That One Small Omission and More Than I Can Say, all through Solstice Publishing. Now, I have signed a publishing contract on my memoir Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude.

What a year it has been — happy anniversary to me!