I cannot bring 2007 to a close without taking time to recall the events of this year: my first book (And the Truth Will Set You Free) was published in July, my first grand-nephew came into this world, I started a new job, my book finaled in the Eppie Awards, and my second novel (Pieces) will be released by Wings ePressin a little over twenty-four hours.
My writing continues to bring me joy, accomplishment, and a sense of true purpose. But, as with most things, there are many people to thank for their encouragement and support. So, instead of making New Year's resolutions that I'll not keep anyway, I'd like to start this next year by expressing my gratitude to those people who made the last year memorable.
The women of the Women's Fiction Writers Exchange: Carol, Judi, Angela, Meg, Cathy, P. Marcille, Verna, Sherry, and Deborah. You challenge me and provide the constructive criticism I need to continue to grow as a writer. I am so grateful for this supportive, talented community of women writers.
My Pennsylvania friends and first readers: Sue Ann, Rosie, Rita, Doe, and Carmela. And to my Southern community--Betty, Mary Ann, Mary Joel, Shari, and Kim. You each encourage me in many ways, and your honest assessment of my writing reflects true friendship. (i.e. only your best friends will tell you the truth--if a chapter sucks, well, it sucks--and you say so. Likewise, you tell me if I've managed to stumble upon a bit of brilliance.) I'm also grateful for the River City Romance Writers, my local RWA chapter, an amazing group of writers with whom to share this journey.
My family: These are the people who are always there, even when I've neglected them terribly--my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my sister, Peggy Kautz. Then there's my new grand-nephew, Jeffery Dale (J.D.), whose wide-eyed, six-month-old smile bears our hopes for the future.
My publisher: Wings ePress, Inc. You took a chance with a new writer and gave her the opportunity to become an author. I am grateful to be able to work with a wonderful staff of editors and artists who take my words and turn them into novels.
My readers: What is a writer without readers? It's like one hand clapping. It's not just that you purchase books, but that you read them and tell me what my books mean to you. For me, a book sale does not indicate success as a writer. Hearing from a reader that I've crafted a story that touched a heart, caused a smile, or changed a life in some small way--that's success.
Now I look forward to 2008 with enthusiasm and hope. My third novel (The Year I Lost My Mind) comes out in May, 2008. I'm sure I'll finish at least two more of my current works in progress. I'd like to find an agent who wants to represent my work.
I hope I will meet new friends, touch new lives, and write new stories that make you laugh, cry, and recognize the blessings in your own life.
I've completed two manuscripts in the past two months, so I've given myself a little time off from writing anything new. I'm itching to get back to my current work in progress, but forcing myself into a little 'down' time.
Except for two things: I promised to review a book that I have to first read, and I volunteered to judge the New Voices writing competition for EPIC. (So much for down time.) But I do enjoy reading the work of other authors and the work of budding writers. I'll be spending my holiday in my home office (sandwiched between the seat of the recliner and my laptop!)
However you spend your holidays, I wish you good fun, good food, good friends and quality family time.
I'll be staying up until midnight on New Year's Eve so I can go to PIECES. Join me at Wings (http://www.wings-press.com/) on January first for my newest release.
My novel, And The Truth Will Set You Free, has finaled for a 2008 Eppie Award. The Eppies are awarded annually by EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection). Winners will be announced at the conference which takes place in March, 2008, in Portland, Oregon. To make the finals in the company of so many prestigious authors is an honor in itself. And to make it to the top three out of eighteen entries in the Mainstream category is awesome. I'm so appreciative to the judges for this year's Eppies and to my readers who make this all worthwhile.
I attended a writers group meeting earlier today. A small group got into a discussion about the writing process. The question posed: Where do you start, and how do you know where you're going with a new story?
Well, you start at the beginning, of course. But every writer's beginning is a little different. And the beginning of each book can be different. When it was my turn to respond to the question, I said, "I start by doing the first thing the voice in my head tells me to do." My response was met by knowing smiles and nods from the more seasoned members of the group. As writers, most of us hear those voices--characters begging to be heard, dying to tell their stories through us. And, so, I essentially take dictation. I write down what they say and try to convey the tone and gestures with which they speak. Those voices tell me where to go. Really! My characters tend to speak their minds and, on occasion, to argue with the plans I have for them. Perhaps it's my years of practice as a therapist that have taught me that you can't force someone to go where they do not want to go. And, so, I listen.
On a few occasions, however, I began a book with the title. I like to work with metaphor in writing. I often choose a title that has a double meaning. For example: Renting To Own. This book is about a young single mother who overcomes one hurdle after another to stabilize life for herself and her child. She is renting a house with the option to buy and sees this as a symbol of her life becoming stable. It's metaphorical of the turbulent life she's had so far. Just as she will one day own the home, she will also own her life.
The fun begins as Lily tells me her story--how she got to the place she is in at the present and where she wants to be in her life. Then, together, we plot and overcome obstacles and challenges to get her there. I gave her a hero, but she rejected him (so much for my matchmaking skills) and chose, instead, another character. I listened to her (like I had a choice), and she was right. Rick was a much better hero than Beau could have been.
About now, my friends who are mental health professionals are calling in for medication. And my writer friends are nodding in agreement (with me, not with the mental health folks.)
My friends often ask, "How do you think up all these story lines?" My answer, "I don't. They're just...there." What am I supposed to say? "The voice in my head told me."?
Oops, gotta go. Jenny (my main character in Act of Contrition, my current work in progress) is calling for me.
Go, listen to your voices, and write something brilliant!
So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to blow my own horn. My publisher, Wings ePress, Inc. http://www.wings-press.com/ is releasing my novel, PIECES, early. It had been scheduled for a November, 2008 release, but will now be available this January 1. Here is an excerpt.
Easing the recliner upright, Claire felt stiffness in her limbs. She stretched, got a glass of water and went to bed, quickly slipping into a sound sleep. She soon sat up with a jolt, awakened by the nightmare. Something was different this time, but she couldn’t immediately recall what it was. She turned on the light and took the notepad from her bed table. Propping herself up on pillows and closing her eyes, she tried to remember the vision, searching for the one thing that was different.
She saw herself looking down into the well, the reflection of the blue sky and clouds, her own small shadow. She jumped as she envisioned herself falling and holding onto the rough, wet rope. The silhouette appeared of the woman peering into the well. Claire saw the outline of the woman’s hair flowing out around her face.
A shiver rolled down Claire's spine. Her eyes flew open--that was it. She could see the face! She closed her eyes and willed herself to return to that place in the nightmare, to see the face again. She sifted through the nightmare quickly, like someone skimming paragraphs to get to a particular line in a book.
There it was--the silhouette, the flowing hair--and the face. The hair now had color--chestnut brown--much like Claire’s. The eyes were dark and frightened and the woman’s mouth was contorted and saying something--then she was gone, as if having been jerked away. The rest of the nightmare had repeated the same as always.
Claire opened her eyes and, with a trembling hand, wrote what she had seen and experienced. She drew a rough sketch of the woman’s face and stared at it. She could be looking at a self-portrait.
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Be sure to check out my website for advance reviews of PIECES.