This morning started with incredibly exciting news. Both The Phone Call and That One Small Omission have been assigned their official editors through Solstice Publishing. I absolutely love the editing process and love seeing how the input of others can help me improve my writing. I can’t wait to begin the process with them, and can’t wait to see the final results!
Our middle son, the one who passed away, loved music. I mean he loved music. He had music playing day and night, and except for some more contemporary country music, he loved all kinds of music. He favorite playlist had Pavarotti singing opera, had the song about the best day ever from Sponge Bob, had a lot of Arlo Guthrie and Phish, some Eminem, classical, rap, reggae, you name it, it was on his list. But in his last few years of life, he met the members of this (then) little known band in Vermont, Twiddle, and he was in love. He made us crazy listening to them wherever we went, and went to as many of their shows as he could. I have to admit, I liked them okay, but it wasn’t love at first listen for me.
When he died, it was a long time before I could listen to any of his favorite music. Then, finally, as we came upon his first post-death birthday, I sent a message out to his friends asking them which Twiddle songs they thought were his favorites. The fascinating thing was how many different answers I got from the friends, but they all had clear explanations of why they were the favorites. A few days before his birthday, I sat down with the list, and you-tubed my way through the songs, reading the lyrics as I went. And suddenly I got his love affair with them. So, as we come up again on his birthday, I am listening to a lot of Twiddle, but now, I listen to Twiddle a lot everyday, and beyond his love of them, I just plain like their music. So, in that light, here are the links to two of my favorite of their songs, two I hope they will play this weekend when they are back in Burlington, VT on our son’s birthday weekend. The first was one of his favorites, the second, one that they have released since his death, but I am sure he would love it, especially the insistence on the need to “love relentlessly.”
I read romance novels. I write romance novels. I love to watch romantic movies. So it would be easy to say I really like love stories.
This weekend, I remembered that love can be seen in so many different ways. True love is a nineteen year-old uncle not missing a beat when his three year-old niece has snot running out of her nose, and he grabs a tissue, tells her to blow, and cleans her up. It’s two old friends sitting talking on a braided rug like they have so many times over the decades, but this time with four of their five collective children. It’s a little sister braving her fear of bees to get close enough to a hive to take a picture of her brother. It’s a teen boy making sure his suit for a wedding he’s in fits perfectly, and wanting the bride to weigh in as to how it looks. It’s a husband who really wanted to sit and read for a bit going out in the rain to tie back tomatoes and pick raspberries because his wife was in the midst of a grief meltdown and needed time in the garden.
So as I finally have some fiction writing time tonight, it struck me that love can be flashy and romantic and full of grand gestures, or true love can be quiet and steadfast and show itself in the most unexpected ways.
As I work on my fourth contemporary romance novel, title TBD, I am trying something new in my writing process. This time, I’m trying to give myself a basic outline of the plot instead of letting it unfold in my mind over time as I have in the past. I have always done a biography of each character, made sketches of houses, and thought through the places where the stories occur, but this sort of outlining of plot is new to me.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
It is a funny thing how I can spend a lot of time writing stories that I feel have merit, be proud of them, feel strongly enough about their value that I could submit them to publishers, but feel completely uncomfortable about self-promoting that I now have two publishing contracts. I even feel awkward talking with good friends about it, it feels like bragging.
Self-promotion is a slow and painful road for me. My author FB page was the first place that I “actively” started trying to pull readers/supporters in to see what I was doing. At first, I made a quick mention in a post about the first publishing contract on my personal page, with a link to the author’s page. Then, I invited five really close friends and family, who already knew about the contract, to like the page. Then, a week later, I invited about ten more, sticking to women only. It wasn’t until a male friend, who had picked up on the author’s page from my very first post about it, posted on the author’s page that I realized that maybe some male friends might be interested in reading it too. Today, with a pit in my stomach, I invited almost everyone on my FB friend list. I had an overwhelming urge to send an apology note with the invitation, apologizing for bothering them, but I sent the invites with the hope that no one would be offended somehow.
Then, the most amazing thing happened! After I sent the invitations, and then madly looked on FB to see if there was a way to pull them back, a friend of Sam’s liked the page. A 24-25 year old guy liked the page! There is no way he will ever know how much that “like” meant to me, but I went from having a stomachache to grinning from ear to ear.
This morning, as every morning, I walked the dog around 6 a.m. We live in a very rural area, and at that time of the morning, our dirt road is completely quiet. Lately, we have seen at least four wild rabbits every morning, one of which sits in the same spot by our rose bush daily. Some mornings we also see a few deer. When our dog was young, he would have gone crazy trying to get at the animals, now, he just looks at them pensively, clearly comfortable with them sharing his space.
Our area of Vermont struggles with mosquito control, and today, the mosquitoes were worse than they have been lately, especially as we got to sections on our road where lawn gives way to brush. As the dog took longer than usual to do what he needed to do, I was getting bitten by mosquitoes, which made me cranky.
Coming back down our driveway, I looked to the west, and there was the most beautiful rainbow cutting across the sky. The morning was clear and sunny, no rain around at all. We stood in the driveway for quite a while admiring it, or at least I did, the dog may have just been enjoying the cool grass under his belly. I don’t know how the rainbow appeared there today, but regardless, it made me completely forget my mosquito bites.
Last night, as we watched the very long Boston Red Sox game (the one with the lousy outcome), we had a conversation about the writing process. I shared that as I have been reading posts from other authors at Solstice, it is clear that there isn’t one “right” way to write. Some writers seem to outline their entire story in detail prior to starting the actual writing of the story. Others seem to use a variety of index cards (digital or paper) to write down ideas, then organize them, then start writing based upon each card. Some seem to seek input from others on their stories right from the beginning, others (like me) not until the draft is done. Still others seem to use voice technology to talk through their stories. I’m sure there are many other ways as well, I just haven’t read them all yet.
For me, stories arrive in my head basically with one or more of the characters walking into my consciousness. Suddenly, the story begins to take shape, all before I start writing. Then I sit down at the computer or ipad and start to type. I start where my brain is at that moment, and go forward from that point. Then, as a draft develops, I print it out every few weeks, go at it with a purple gel pen, and add as the story seems to need it. Sometimes large parts of the story line seem to not work in the review, and they get scrapped. Once it seems to be basically together, I share it with a good friend and great editor of mine, and ask her for her thoughts.
With all of this in mind, today I continue writing my fourth romance novel, the one which is a sequel to book three. Suddenly there seems to be a youth hockey tournament in the story, can’t wait to see who wins that one!
The Grateful Dead’s Scarlet Begonias has the line “once in awhile you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look it right.” Over the last years since our son’s death, I have found that to be very true. But, on the flip side, as I have had the incredible joys and excitement over the last month in signing two publishing contracts, I have instead found the opposite of that quote. In the absolute elation of the signing, and then the fun of the ensuing logistics, I have also found the crushing sadness of our son not being here to be part of the cover conversations, the awkwardness of the author photos, and the silliness of conversations about how to market the books. It made me realize anew that human emotions don’t follow a logical and rationale path, and so I guess the best I can do is ride the roller coaster, and look for the light where I can.
I am thrilled to announce that my second novel, That One Small Omission, has been signed for publication with Solstice Publishing! I love the characters in that book (okay, I love all of my characters), and I am so excited to share them with a wide audience.
We had planned today as a day to catch up on errands and paperwork, but with rain forecast for tomorrow, we changed plans and decided to do our farm work instead. The day started with opening the bee hives to make sure that we had a strong queen in each hive. Thankfully, the hives are busy and full and healthy. Then we weeded all the gardens, thinned carrots, fertilized, tied up the tomatoes, picked blueberries and wild raspberries, then finally picked greens for our dinner. In the end, we were covered with dirt and sweat, with bowls of beautiful produce and neat gardens. What a wonderful day!