AVAILABLE NOW at Amazon and as fast as my little elf fingers can type, I’ll upload it to other platforms! Will also be available as a paperback. It’s my first book in The Magnolia Hills Garden Club series. Book 2 will be ready early 2015.
I know public schools in and around New Orleans are already beginning their second week of school today. Some areas, though, might be just starting or perhaps, lucky you (depending on which side of the desk you happen to be on!), won’t labor until after Labor Day.
Anyway…Choose NOW Ministries, founded by Nicole O’Dell, has posted my hints on Time Management for students. I taught high school English to primarily 11th graders, and I used this system for years. And years and years. It proved enlightening for all of us–students, teacher, and parents.
I hope you click over and read my post today. While you’re there, check out this amazing ministry, a non-profit organization, that Nicole has dedicated herself to for teens and their parents. She’s the mother of six, including a set of triplets, so she’s working from a knowledgeable base!
This Saturday (that’s tomorrow!), I’ll be presenting at the Berries, Books, and Bridges Writers Conference in at the Woodland Park Baptist Church in Hammond.
Hosted by the Creative Minds Writing Group, this conference attracts pre and post published writers from across the South. In fact, it’s a great conference for new writers to attend because it offers them the opportunity to talk to published authors in a setting that’s comfortable and engaging. I’ve been invited to attend this conference for the past three years, and I’m always delighted when I’m included again.
New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler, who lives on the Northshore, will be this year’s keynote speaker. Erica has had written over 20 books and has been published in 25 countries. Her new release is Justice for Sara.
I’ll not only be following Erica, which alone is enough to cause me a wee bit of anxiety, I’ll be giving a general session for the first time. I’m going to be talking about Social Media, which seems to be changing overnight, not only in itself, but in the way it impacts writers and books. Other speakers include Lynn Shurr who will discuss e-books and Kathryn Martin whose topic is “I want to Write, but Where do I Begin?”
Breakout sessions include:
Young Adult- Chad and Logan Thompson Romance- Deborah Lynne
Mysteries- Steve Patrick Non-Fiction- Dave Berwick
By the way, this conference is worth attending just for the lunch! Always a great meal.
Go to the conference site to register (or you can do so at the door that morning) and for directions.
Hope to see you there!
Thanks to Sibella Giorello, I’m joining the Monday writers and reacquainting myself with my new website of which I have been quite negligent. But, it doesn’t get dusty or need meals or make telephone calls; it’s self-sufficiency is its own enemy. But, that’s another post for another day…If you’ve not read any of Sibella’s books, please click over to find The Raleigh Harmon mysteries and meet one of the most fascinating protagonists I’ve encountered.
And now to the questions…
1. What am I working on now?
I’m wiggly excited to be working on my first ebook, which will also be my first venture into the land of self-publishing. Since I’m not on a hard deadline with a publishing house, I’ve motivated (tortured?) myself into a deadline by writing a Christmas-themed book. For now, it’s entitled An Unexpected Christmas, and I plan for it to be the first book in the series featuring Callie Fitzgerald. My slightly neurotic, over-committed, and fashion-disabled heroine.
2. How does my work differ from other works in its genre?
My previous novels are all women’s fiction with the exception of one historical romance, and most of them did not tread lightly regarding issues like alcoholism, emotional abuse, inter-racial marriage, and being gay. I did attempt to balance the weight of the content by using humor so my readers wouldn’t need therapy after they finished my books! I’m also from and live in New Orleans and, while I wouldn’t necessarily label myself a Southern writer, growing up in the Big Easy has flavored my writing.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Because I’m lousy at everything else? I tried writing a mystery and gave up when I couldn’t figure out the identity of the killer. Erotica is definitely a no because figuring how to write about two people kissing is about as complicated a maneuver as I can handle. I’d have body parts flying all over the place, and it would probably read like some slasher novel instead. As a recently retired high school English teacher, I’ve given some thought to writing Young Adult. But after spending 25 years with them, I needed a wee bit of a break.
To be honest, though, I find women’s fiction as challenging as it is fulfilling…both as a writer and a reader. Life doesn’t always take us to happily ever after. Sometimes it’s happily never after. Sometimes it forces us to redefine happiness, to ultimately decide what it is we value in life and what we’re willing to sacrifice or pursue for it to happen. The women in my novels grow into themselves in ways they never expected.
4. How does my writing process work?
Oh, my. It’s surprising it does work! My Christmas novel is the first novel that I’ve actually organized from beginning to end, and that is largely due to the efforts of Lisa Miller and her Story Structure Safari Class. She meshes information from a variety of writing experts and authors to create a process that’s do-able for even wing nuts like myself who get tangled up in their own plots. Seriously. Ask Jenny Jones, one of the wittiest writers I know (check out her YA here!), how many phone calls and frantic texts screeching, “OMG. Three chapters in and no novel. Help!” she’s received over my last few novels! I’m not married to the story structure I’ve created, but at least I know now if I don’t end up where I thought I would be…and that, my friends, is why the process is organic!
I’ll close with a shameless self-promotion of my latest release, Test of Faith. One of the covers I adore!
Elle Butler has managed to hold on to her politically-driven husband and her secrets until the unexpected happens. When one phone call rips her world apart, Elle will have to decide if the truth is worth the consequences. Especially when it threatens to destroy the world she’s so carefully built around her life and her marriage.
Note from Christa: This was my post from last month’s Girlfriends Book Club blog. I’m one drool away from smashing my forehead against my keyboard, but I wanted to make something new-ish appear here! So much to catch up on, so stay tuned…
Years ago, before the release of the movie it inspired, Simon Birch, I read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Over a decade later, it’s still on my top five favorite books of my so-far lifetime list. (Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels is also in that number. If you’ve not read her novel, stop reading this…buy it now…and be prepared for a beautifully written, searingly haunting, and heart-exploding redemptive novel.)
I binged on Irving novels for a while after that until I read A Widow for One Year. Three-fourths of the way into the novel, it seemed as if he grew weary because the remaining one-fourth went by at warp speed. I remember closing the book wondering what caused him to gobble up all the lose ends of the novel with one gulp rather than allowing us to savor what remained.
Now I know.
I’ve written five novels, and I experience the same angsty impatience three-fourths of the way to the finish. I hate my characters; they’re whiney relatives who came for a week and stayed for a month. And when they’re not whining, they’re mute or engaged in a gab fest entirely unrelated to anything I ant/need them to discuss. I hate the novel. I wonder why I thought it was brilliant 300 pages ago. I want to curl into the fetal position inside a cloaking device and become invisible because, when the book releases, everyone will finally know what a fraud I am.
So, anytime I’m near the end of the novel, and I’m scurrying about like Chicken Little’s twin sister, I remember Irving. And I breathe, then call a friend who can walk me off the ledge. I make sure I have a case of Coke Zero, boxes of Mike& Ike, and I allow those insistent, annoying characters to take me where they want to go.
Sometimes, they’re actually smarter than I am.
Perhaps if I wore a latex bikini and waved around an oversized foam finger with one hand while I tapped on the keyboard with the other. . .I could make money as a writer. The first two seem to be working for Miley Cyrus. And she probably doesn’t have a clue that twerking became popular while she was still in diapers.
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for MTV)
I seem to have a knack for choosing creative pursuits that aren’t lucrative…like teaching high school, bagel-dipping in Nutella, and writing. Maybe I should have actually read the book Do What You Love, The Money will Follow. But since I’d already discovered outlets that “fulfilled my needs, talents and passions,” I didn’t require direction, just affirmation, so I didn’t read more than the title.
Maybe I could write Fifty Shades of Blue Because I Didn’t Think of Fifty Shades of Gray Before She Did. Or The Sun Before Twilight. Or a prequel to the Harry Potter series. But that would be as successful as me at the age 61 attempting to twerk on-stage with Robin Thicke.
Word to the unwise…back away from your laptop if you’re pursuing fame and fortune as an author. I’ve experienced the wiggling excitement of being offered representation by agents, book contracts, seeing my name on the cover of a novel, finding myself in a bookstore and on Amazon. Yet I’ve invested oodles more in marketing, classes, and conferences than I’ve earned.
So, why do I continue to write?
Because I can’t not write, and that’s never been so clear to me as it has recently. I’d been officially retired for five months after having taught high school English for 25 years when my husband decided to open his own business. He’s a veterinarian.
This is what I do while I’m at work: I smile and say, “Hello. How are you?” or Hold on” and/or “I’ll find someone who can help you.” I’m entering inventory and clients in our database, shelving drugs with unpronounceable names, counting pills for prescriptions, mopping the floors every morning so the clinic won’t smell like the population it serves, answering the phone, leaving the house every morning at 6:30 and not returning home until after 7:00 pm, taking emergency calls with him and working almost every Saturday and often going in on Sundays to catch up from the week.
My consumption of Blue Bell ice cream is increasing in an inverse proportion to my hours of sleep and direct proportion to my depression. I went to bed at 7:30 last night and woke up at 4:00 in the morning to write this post. It’s the first writing I’ve attempted outside of chart notes and prescription labels in over thirty days.
When your passion is suddenly taken hostage, you eventually find a way to survive. To entertain it in your mind where it can’t be constrained. I mop and spin ideas of women once wealthy and powerful who assume false identities and hide out in low-end jobs to escape someone or something. I devise stories around clients who own ten dogs and/or cats. I name future characters after some of the clients’ pets. . . I try to not dwell in the land of, “if I’d written a blockbuster before this, I wouldn’t be wiping up unknown glick on the floor.”
I hope to be ransomed one day. In the meantime, I’m following the advice of my writer friends and keeping a journal. Maybe the glick on the floor will lead to a break-out book. Maybe not. But this I’ve learned: you can’t sacrifice your passion on the altar of someone else’s dreams.
Do what you love. If the money doesn’t follow, your sanity will.
What about you? Doing what you love?