When All Our Stories Had Happy Endings

One year ago on this very Sunday I began a writing project which was to be called “For The Most Part.”  You, my loyal reader, may recall me writing about it in previous posts.  It was to be a tragic Christmas family saga, and well, actually, it still is.  In checking last year’s calendar, I wrote 20,000 words the first month.  I finished it at just over 80,000 words on New Year’s Eve.  In January of this year, I printed out the whole manuscript and read it all the way through.  A first draft edit.  I decided to write out one of the siblings (there are five in the story) because his story line was weak.  And besides changing the title of the novel and working on a prologue, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten this year…until a few weeks ago.

As you may recall, I devoted most of this year to STEALING WISHES instead.  I changed its title, went through a vigorous edit three times, designed the cover, and formatted the entire manuscript for publication.  The final product was released into the literary world back on June 9th.  Since then, I’ve concentrated more on reading than I have writing.  I tried to go back to an old historical fiction novel of mine that’s been lingering, but those characters were pissed off and just wouldn’t talk to me.  You see, I’m a fictional medium.  That’s right.  Characters, inside my head, speak to me and dictate their stories through my fingers.  I’m a literary pianist of words, if you will.  No, I’m not crazy so don’t call the doctors.  I’m just a writer. And somewhere between January and July, those characters in “For The Most Part” stopped talking as well.  So here we are now…

The 9 to 5 will be slowing down again as Autumn approaches and we grow closer and closer to admiring colored bulbs on a fake spruce, surrounded by metallic wrapped boxes and shiny ornaments.  I can already smell the cinammon spice in the air and my mouth waters for hot tea or boiled custard.  And then I think about that family I left behind on the stack of crisp white pages, lying there on my desk until a fit of Spring cleaning sent the manuscript into the bottom of my closet.  And there it sits.  I don’t want to touch it.

That prologue from months ago got finished just last week.  Like I said, I changed its title too (which also happens to be the same name of this post).  Do you like it?

J and I just watched The Holiday with Cameran Diaz and Jude Law, so I find myself reading this post in my mind in an English accent as I type it, but that’s not the point.  Not now, it isn’t.  Although I think the Xmas theme of that movie is what got me started.

The point is that I need to get back to that family Christmas.  I need to finish it.  I don’t know if it will be “the novel” that my readers can walk into a bookstore and find already there waiting for them on a table up front labeled “new fiction” or “40% off bestseller.”  I don’t know if it will be my claim to fame, and will be made into a movie, and have every publishing house vying for my attention to get their hands on the next book.  I don’t even know if there will be a next book.  But I hope it is.  I hope there is.  I hope…

So, it’s been a year.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

The Thirteenth Tale

Last night I finished reading Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteeth Tale, one of those books that I have to admit got my attention because of its cover: a stack of old but colorful books.  Briefly, it’s about a young lady, Margaret Lea, who works in a bookstore and enjoys writing small biographies about those who have passed on.  If you are an excessive booklover like me, then you will enjoy the pages and pages of description on how Margaret lives and breathes books.

Margaret is called upon by a famous author, Vida Winter (this today’s JK Rowling), who wants Margaret to write her official biography.  Vida is a vivid storyteller, often bending the truth to appease herself.  After all, stories are wonderful lies, she says.  But she vows to tell Margaret the truth. And so the majority of the 400 page book is Vida’s story.

The title of the book comes from one of Vida’s books which was to be a collection of 13 short stories, but only 12 were published in the final book.  And so, the mystery of that 13th tale begins.  The book dwells into subjects of murder, ghosts, incest, sibling rivalry, and much more.  Family plays a big part of it, as Vida tells you the story of twin sisters growing up in a huge mansion with strange parents.  Margaret was also a twin.  Here sister was connected to her and died when they were separated.  And so, Margaret is haunted by a ghost of herself which she sees in the mirror and in her reflection in windows.

Overall, the book is a good mystery with no need for a detective.  It definitely kept me guessing until the end drew near.  I was very excited to find myself all wrong on several occasions.  It was also nice to spend some time with a book that encompasses two things I love most…reading and writing.  I definitely look forward to Setterfield’s next.

The Book House

Last night while researching independent bookstores to send press releases to about my new book, I came across a place called The Book House right here in St. Louis which I never even knew about.  J and I got out today and made a special trip there just to see the place.  Wow!  We were so glad we did.  It’s an old historic house with every room and every wall packed from ceiling to floor with books – new and old.

It was a bit hard to find, as the house sits several yards back from the main street.  We actually passed it, but I had made a note of some cross streets and we turned back to look again. I’m glad we did.

Inside, we immediately perused the fiction section and I picked up a new copy of Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers.  It was a book that I had been wanting for a while.  There it was, so I thought what the heck!  Books are stacked vertically and horizontally and I’m not joking when I say they line every wall from top to bottom.  So much to read…so little time.  But the store offers a nice mix of new and old, and some rare out of print books that were just fascinating.  J and I loved looking at all the old hardback books.  They just don’t make books like that anymore.

Near the back of the store, still on the first floor, sat a nice young helpful lady who was quick to answer my questions about the hauntings mentioned on the store’s web page.  The bookstore is haunting by three ghosts.  One is a young girl.  One is an older man, believed to be taunting the little girl.  And the third ghost is somehow tied to some of the books they own or have owned.  It’s possible some were from his own private collection.  Behind the counter was a wall of local Missouri books.  We snatched up a few on St. Louis hauntings and ghosts, a fav subject of mine and J’s.  St. Louis ghost history wouldn’t be complete without local author, Troy Taylor.  We bought his book, Devil Came to St. Louis.

I asked about bird books, a recent interest of mine.  J checked out the basement of bargain books which he said was pretty spooky.  I didn’t go down there.  Instead, we both went into the children’s section to look for Little House on the Prairie books.  J loves Laura Wilder’s own personal story, and characters from those “good ole” days.  We found all of her original books in hardcover from the 1950s, but we did not purchase them.  I headed upstairs to look at the 2nd floor of books, and to find those bird books.

Back downstairs, we asked the nice employee lady about a few more subjects.  She located some children’s books from the 1950s for us, a steal at $3.00 a piece, and wrote down the title and author of another book we might like which they had in storage.  Seven books later and $77.00 well spent, we were out the door, but will definitely be back.

The Book House was definitely the highlight of our day.  It was nice to have great helpful customer service for a change, and to support a local business.  Check them out online, or if you ever come to St. Louis!

Cover me!

I know I’ve been pretty quiet around here this week. The weekend was wet and rainy. Monday was cold and rainy, but got better. Tuesday? You guessed it. Raining, thunder, lightening, and hale all morning. Then sunshine in the afternoon. Work has been the usual….work.

I’ve spent the last few mornings working with a program I downloaded over the weekend called Book Cover Pro. It’s awesome, and I have totally revamped my next book cover from the previous post. I’m very proud of it and I think you will like it too.

But, I’m not giving a peek at it now. You’ll just have to stick around for that.

The Other Side of What Sale

To celebrate the upcoming release of my new book, Stealing Wishes, I’ve dropped the E-book price of my first novel, The Other Side of What, to just 25 cents!  That’s right.  Download it to your computer for a quarter, or you can still buy a paperback version for just $7.75 (regularly $9.99).

And check back soon for a new contest where you can win a signed first edition copy of both books!  Thanks to all my readers out there for your continued support!  This one’s for you!

Stealing Wishes, my new novel, is about an obsessive compulsive coffee barista in search of Mr. Right.  Obsessed with the number 32, Blaine turns jealous when his coworker and best friend finds a date before he does.  But can a blind date named Edward solve his dilemma and cure his illness? Complications ensue as Blaine obsesses with his hobby of taking pictures, all while trying to capture the perfect snapshot for a local photography contest!

Stealing Wishes will be released in early June!

Stealing Wishes

To celebrate the upcoming publication of my second novel, Stealing Wishes, I’m offering a bigger discount on my first novel, The Other Side of What.

Right now, you can buy the paper back for $7.75 (regularly $9.99) or you can download the E-book version for .75 cents (regularly $1.00).  Check it out!

And don’t forget you can download my first book to your Amazon Kindle for just $5.20.

I received the review copy of Stealing Wishes today!  At 250 pages, it looks great.  I have a few changes to make, including to the book cover (see the previous post for a snapshot of what it looks like now).  But I’m hoping to have it available by the end of the month!  Check back soon right here for update!

A Slap on the Wrist: I was wrong…and rude! :-(

Big apologies to Anne Rice and any fans I might have upset with my remarks in an earlier post about a Time Magazine article concerning the possible publication of a new Lestat novel.  Anne commented and later emailed letting me know there would not be a new Lestat novel.  She can’t make it work, but is instead working on a” new supernatural series” with different characters and a Christian focus.  I look forward to it.

I also was directed to a message on Anne’s site concerning this topic.  She basically does not want to revisit the places and characters she gave birth to in her earlier books, and is putting her focus on new characters and subjects.  Enough said.  I was instantly reminded of the similar words of horror novelist, Poppy Z. Brite, who has done the same thing.  Brite’s recent focus has been all about a gay couple running a restaurant in New Orleans.  She received lots of frowns from angered fans who desperately wanted Poppy to write sequels to her older books or at least revisit the beloved characters she created when she wrote horror.  She said no.  She much prefers to write about new characters, and the recent ones in her Liquor series are indeed brilliant.

As a writer/author myself, who I am to judge another author for choosing to write about new topics in new genres?  I have yet to corner myself into any one particular genre at all.  My first book was considered gay fiction by some, although I called it Southern young adult.  Ahem, there was no erotica in it, by the way.  A lot of readers assume that calling something “gay fiction” means it has steamy sex scenes.  Not so!  But I have to admit, I’ve written a few erotic short stories which are in some anthologies out there.  I’m about to publish my second book which is a bit of a romantic comedy.  And currently I’m writing historical fiction.  So there…I’m all over the map, aren’t I?

Sure, readers will complain when their favorite author leaves their genre for something completely and utterly different.  How dare they get bored with writing about the same old thing we want more of! We may have no interest in reading their new books.  We may boycott them and write rude posts about them in our blogs, but I think I know what it’s like for that writer.  As a writer myself, I have a need to create, to expel my creative energy in whatever means are necessary.  My mind is always churning. One day I’m writing about an obsessive compulsive coffee barista and tomorrow I’m writing about a piano making Civil War soldier.  I’ve never written a bestseller.  My biggest royalty check was maybe 300 dollars.  Thousands of people never lined up to get my signature or hear me read.  But I still write.  I still find ways to fulfill that need, no matter what I’m writing about.  No matter who, or how many, is reading.

It’s not always about the money.  It’s not always about the paycheck.  Sure, we need those things to sustain our livelihood.  I work for a medical book and supply wholesaler by day to pay my bills.  I’d love to write full time and open the paper and see my next book on the bestseller list.  We all dream, don’t we?  A million dollar advance?  Hey, we might as well dream big, right?  For writers, it still all comes back to that need to tell a story…no matter who is listening, reading.

In writing this post now and thinking back to Poppy, who returned to New Orleans after Katrina, and Anne who left New Orleans after the death of her husband, I’m reminded of an NYT editorial that Anne wrote a while back in response to the devastation of the Big Easy after the hurricane.  You can read it in full here, but in it she says…

During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us “Sin City,” and turned your backs.

Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.

In a way, this reminds me of that constant struggle between writer and reader and the need to satisfy the demands of someone.  Writing for others, whether we are compensated financially or not, is very rewarding.  We all love an audience.  But there comes a time when we have to stop and just write for ourselves.  And here I am writing this now for myself in my blog, knowing that someone might read it once I press that “Publish” button.  Or they may not. But I don’t care either way.

I am a writer, and this one’s for me.

It’s official.

Amazon has announced is reasoning behind forcing POD publishers to use their printing service.  Read their announcement here!

It all comes down to saving fuel and shipping costs.  Those are words I hear everyday at the wholesale book company I work for. I never once thought I’d hear them from a billion dollar corporation like Amazon.

This blow to the POD world saddens me and it will be interesting to see what effects it will have on the industry.  I pray that Amazon will be the one hard hit by boycotting, lawsuits, and POD publishers who won’t back down.  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m still plotting away at an attempt to break into the traditional publishing world, and continuing to support the POD world through my review blog.

The fate of both keeps me awake at night.

I want my POD!

The POD (print on demand) industry has been rocked with the news that Amazon.com has started bending the arms of POD Publishers to force them into using their sister company, Booksurge, for printing or they won’t offer their books for sale directly through Amazon. PublishAmerica has already been hit and the BUY buttons of their books on Amazon have been taken down. POD review sites like Podpeep and Lulu have already started voicing their opinions, and I hope POD authors will as well.

POD authors always looked to Amazon as their #1 online marketing tool. As a POD author myself, I jumped at the opportunity Amazon gave me by selling signed copies of my book at my own set price right on the same page where Amazon sold my book. Amazon also gave me my own blog on their site which would show up right on the page where my book was and then promoted it to those who purchased my book so they could keep up with me.

My book’s publisher, Xlibris, has yet to be affected by this move as far as I know, but who knows what’s to come. I personally hope this will be a poke in the eye for Amazon as they try to monopolize this industry. Hopefully it will send readers somewhere else…into your local physical bookstore, perhaps? As for POD authors, our one friend has stabbed us in the back and so our search for a proper nitch in the market continues. We’re like stray dogs and cats on the streets. Some have room in their hearts for us. The pounds are full of us. But most (readers) just don’t really care. POD books are usually overpriced, most poorly written or edited, and now we’ll be hard to get!

Read more about it here!