Release Week! And a Facebook Live Chat!

Hi friends, today is the day-before-the-big-one! Although it's funny to even say that--tomorrow won't necessarily feel like a big day because not much is happening (other than people finding my book (my book!) on their doorstep). I'll take the kids to school, probably go for a walk, and swing by a bookstore to check out HURRICANE SEASON on the shelf. The kids will come home and it'll be business as usual. But I'll have a second book out in the world! The magnitude of that is not lost on me. I still feel like such a new author, like THE HIDEAWAY is still fresh in the world, yet here's another one coming along. I love this story, love these new characters, and I'm so excited for people to be able to read about their world. I really hope you love them as much as I do!

As far as I know, I will be doing a FACEBOOK LIVE event tomorrow night (Tuesday 4/3) at 7pm CST on my author page.  It'll be a chance for us to chat about whatever you want--any questions you have about either THE HIDEAWAY or HURRICANE SEASON, anything about books or writing or publishing or how ready we are for summer! I'll talk more about HURRICANE SEASON, my inspiration for the story, and what got me interested in writing a book set on a dairy farm! I'd love for you to stop in if you can. If you go onto my author page tomorrow at 7, you should be able to see me chatting away!

If you're not following me on Instagram or Facebook, that's where I've been posting a lot of goodies like behind-the-scene Pinterest boards and quotes from the new book. I'll be listing some giveaways soon too! But don't worry, if you're not a social media person, I'll post about giveaways here too. (If you do want to follow me, click the links above or click the FB or IG buttons at the bottom of the page.)

What I'm Reading

news.jpeg
light.jpeg

 

I recently finished two really good books, News of the World and The Hidden Light of Northern Fires. It was interesting to read them back to back. Hidden Light takes place in a small town in New York (actually a town that seceded from the Union, despite being so far North) during the Civil War and News of the World takes place during Reconstruction, although this time in Texas. Both have a type of outlaws--Hidden Light has bounty hunters looking for runaway slaves and News has Indians and a wave of ruthless cowboys in a basically lawless land. I really enjoyed both stories. 

gift.jpeg

 

I stumbled on Anne Morrow Lindbergh's The Gift from the Sea in a used bookstore in Bryson City, NC, on our spring break. I've been wanting the book for a while and was so pleased to find it. Now I have to decide if i'm going to start it now or wait until I'm farther south near the water. 

LAUNCH PARTY

We're putting finishing touches on the launch party for HURRICANE SEASON! It'll be this Saturday, April 7 (also known as TRP's birthday ;) at Little Professor Book Center in downtown Homewood. 6-8pm. If you're anywhere close by, I'd love to see you! 

I'll be updating my EVENTS page very soon with new book signings and appearances (including Page and Palette in June!) so check back in!

Hope to "see" you tomorrow night on FB Live and/or at the party Saturday night! Have a great week!

 

Bookish People--Ella Joy Olsen

It's the second edition of the Bookish People interviews, and today I'm featuring author Ella Joy Olsen. Ella and I were matched as critique partners through WFWA (Women's Fiction Writers Association). She read The Hideaway for me and I had the privilege of reading her second book that will be published next year. Her debut, Root, Petal, Thorn, is out now (and available here!) Check it out if you love a blend of contemporary and historical fiction and old houses filled with heaps of history. 

 

1.     Give us a quick overview of the book(s) you’ve written.
A quick summary of my debut, Root, Petal, Thorn is: The braided stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same historic home over the course of a century –love, heartbreak, and courage entwine each woman, and each generation, to the next.

My sophomore book Where the Sweet Bird Sings will be published in September 2017. The teaser is: Though she has a loving husband, Emma Hazelton is adrift, struggling to rebuild her life after a tragedy. But one day, a simple question and an old black-and-white photograph prompt Emma to untangle the branches of her family tree, where she discovers a legacy of secrets. What connects us to one another? Is it shared history? Is it ancestry? Is it blood? Or is it love?

2.     What’s the hardest or best criticism you’ve received, either after your book was published or as you were editing, revising, or getting feedback.
After processing the thoughtful feedback from a critique partner, I realized I have to keep my characters out of their own heads. Sometimes they (meaning I) spend too much time explaining why they are upset, sad, happy (and so on). The reader should be able to figure these things out if the rest of the story is told well.

3.     Funniest (or best or worst) thing that happened during a book signing or book tour?
I have a stalker who shows up to all of my events. He’s actually a nice old-ish guy and has a fair amount of time on his hands, apparently, because he goes to the readings of many local authors. The creepy thing is that he tags himself in all of my event photos on Facebook. I’ve had to change my settings.

4.     Describe your writing process. Is it orderly, scheduled, daily? Erratic, middle-of-the-night, gimme-a-piece-of-paper now? Or something in between?
When I’m actively creating a story I write my best stuff between about 6:00am and 10:00am. After those frenzied hours I can still work on editing, playing with language, and social media because it doesn’t require so much brainpower. I plan the days I’m going to write based on a weekly schedule and try to stick with it.

5.     Is there a topic/theme/setting you’re particularly interested in that you’d like to write about in a future book?
Dreaming of new book ideas is one of my favorite things! Every idea at conception is so perfect and lovely. A new one I’m toying with is set in the Gilded Age in NYC when scientific exploration was occurring at a rapid clip via the American Museum of Natural History. Science and conspicuous consumption all in one story.

6.     What’s the strangest/most inappropriate place you’ve ever brought a book? (Example, a family dinner, a baseball game, etc.)
Until I had a Kindle (with backlight) I spent many pre-dawn hours in hotel bathrooms reading. I’m not a great sleeper so on family vacations I’d sneak into the bathroom, flip on the light, and read propped against the bathtub for hours.

7.     Tell me a few recent books you’ve read that you really liked.
I’m trying to read as many books as I can by my writing buddies. Last month I finished The Memory of Us by Camille DiMaio, Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypole White, Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner, Sweet Carolina Morning by Susan Schild, Thought I Knew You by Kate Moretti. I am surrounded by talent. I loved them all!

8.     Can you name a book you liked that you didn’t think you would? Maybe because of the subject matter, or an author you didn’t think you enjoyed, or a genre you weren’t used to reading.
My book club read In Love and War, a memoir written by Admiral James Stockdale about his time as a POW during Vietnam. It was long, detail jammed, and written in the 1980s, so the style of writing was a little antiquated…but after getting into the story, it was fantastic and illustrated a time/political climate I knew little about. I’d read about the protests during the Vietnam War, of course, but this was written by one of the soldiers who believed solidly in country and duty.

9.     What are your pet peeves as a reader—something you read in books that really bugs you?
I’m a pretty forgiving reader and look to find something I love in every book that I read. I guess I’ll give up on a book if the characters act too often in ways that defy logic, meaning their responses are too extreme, or not justified. I also don’t love a bunch of preaching/religion in a book.

10.  Books: print or e-reader? Similarly, calendar: paper or electronic?
I always have both a print book and an e-reader and an audio book going at the same time. I love the feel of print, the backlighting of an e-reader, the multitasking option of audio. Calendar: paper. Hands down.

11.  Chocolate or vanilla?
I feel like I’m not an either/or kind of girl. Both.

12.  Coffee or tea? Or something else?
Again, both. Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.

13.  Tell us what you’re working on now.
Currently I am taking time to “fill the well”. My debut published at the beginning of September and right after that I worked long hours on content edits for Sweet Bird. I need a little time to cross a few things off my real-life list, including Christmas prep and planning a family vacation. I’m also taking time to read like crazy. However, my brain is constantly churning through new story ideas. I’ll be eager to write fresh words after the New Year.

You can find Ella on all the major social media hangouts and at her website

Thanks to Ella and to you for reading!

Synopsis III (Yes, really) and my two cents on women's fic

So the synopsis is supposed to be 1-2 pages, right? I have whittled this thing down from 4 pages to 2.5, and now it's down to the *very last line *of the 2nd page! That counts as 1-2 pages, yes? Just kidding (partly.) Yes, it's down to 2 pages, but I still need to tighten a bit more. And the strange thing is, I think this has been a helpful exercise. It's possible most of the agents I query might not even request it, but it's helped me condense the story down in my mind to its main parts. I've been able to see what's most important--those parts I just cannot cut out of the query. Sure, I've cut out parts I wish I could include--parts that are essential to the story--but I think I've covered the story well enough to at least cause someone to say, "Hey, this is interesting, I think I'll read more." Which is really the whole purpose, right? The thorn in my side is still the fact that it only tells one timeline of the story, and I have two. But it's proved impossible for me to write the synopsis succinctly AND cover both timelines/POVs. Just won't work. So my hope is that the agent remembers from my query that the story is told in alternating POVS, and the synopsis just covers one. I've alluded to the other MC's story in the synopsis, so hopefully that is enough.

Whew, this thing truly is a beast.

In other news, I had a dear friend--who's also a reader, writer, and editor--read my manuscript. She loved it. She even got a little teary telling me what she thought--and not because the story itself made her cry, but just because she was really proud of me. That made me feel good. She said she thought all the storylines worked, the pacing and voice were spot on--and it kept her up late reading!

And another friend (who is also the big trifecta of reader/writer/editor--I seem to have a few of those friends!) has offered to read the manuscript. I'm giving it to her Monday when I go to HER BOOK SIGNING at the Alabama Booksmith! (Anyone who loves good music should check out her book Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music!)

I'm feeling good about THE HIDEAWAY's prospects, to tell you the truth. I just feel like it needs to land in the right set of hands--but that's always the case with any author's work, isn't it? I'm feeling more and more these days that I need an agent really works a lot with women's fiction--not YA, YA, YA, and a little women's fiction on the side. YA is so hot right now, but it's just not anywhere close to what I write. The bells and whistles of YA (dramatic cliffhangers, world-ending choices, evil dictators, etc) can lead people to look for those things in queries and manuscripts--even for women's fiction. My story (and much of women's fic) is about a woman's journey. If THIS doesn't happen, the world won't end, the bad guys won't win, and no one will be banished forever. Most likely, the woman's life will go on, just maybe not as good as it could have been. I guess you could stay they tend to be quieter stories. (Yes, women's fic can have humor, cliffhangers, exciting things, etc. Of course it can! It just lacks the THE WORLD WILL EXPLODE IF THIS ONE THING DOESN'T HAPPEN! storylines.)

All that to say, I hope I can find an agent who who loves women's fiction and *gets* my story. It'd also be nice if the day she reads my query, she's not suffering from indigestion from a double-decker cheeseburger she had at lunch, which makes her uninterested in anything she reads. (Ha! Just a nod to the subjective nature of this whole process!)

Take care!