Eighth Newsletter: Celebrate Spring and New Beginnings
I send out a monthly-ish newsletter (more like bi-monthly-ish). This is the the eighth one, sans photos and links that accompany it when it goes straight to your inbox (apparently copying them from the original newsletter is technologically beyond me). If you’d like to see the whole thing, pictures and all, sign up here!
This past week, the kid was on Spring Break from preschool. Though I missed my scheduled work-in-the-parking-lot (or lately, Starbucks) time, we enjoyed our leisurely mornings reading in bed, channeling the pre-Easter excitement with making decorations (thanks to my mom’s suggestion), and spending the gorgeous afternoons outside, mostly digging in the not-so-picturesque mud pit, but also playing with the goats and horses. All of a sudden, this kid has been excited about riding (by himself!) and I’ve been happy to oblige. The other day he asked me, “Can I have a riding lesson every day?” Don’t have to ask me twice!
We also made a visit to Table Mountain, where as a kid and teenager I’d hike and fly kites in the Spring. Since California actually got some rain this year, we wanted to see the wildflowers, for which Table Mountain is (locally, anyway) known, and also the seasonal waterfalls which run off the sides. We were hoping there’d be enough wind to fly kites, which as you can see from the kid’s picture, there kind of was, and it was thrilling! I also had another reason for wanting to go: there’s a scene in the new novel in which Josie dreams of Table Mountain and I wanted to reacquaint myself with it and its very northern California brand of beauty. The pictures below are just a taste!
New Beginnings, AKA Workhorse Mode
Speaking of Josie and the new novel, at the beginning of March, I spoke to Agent Dan about the draft I sent him (you remember: just sending it made me nauseous. It turns out waiting for Agent Dan’s verdict also made me break out in eczema–always super awesome). After talking to Agent Dan about Josie, I’m now firmly back in workhorse mode, working on a complete restructuring of the novel. It’ll be the same story, just a different shape. While it wasn’t exactly the news I wanted to hear, Agent Dan’s suggestions were what I *needed* to hear. This book is going to be better for it.
I spent several days reading Lisa Cron’s book Wired for Story, taking and re-reading copious notes, trying out new outlines, and basically cudgeling my brain as I tried to envision this new novel shape, and put the theory (which I like) into practice (which I confess to feeling crabby about). Then my friend, author Mary Volmer (hi Mary!), told me about her mantra when writing her second novel (Reliance, Illinois, which I just devoured and which hits bookstores May 10): “As long as it takes.” As long as it takes. Or as the teachers at the kid’s preschool say: Focus on the process. I’m taking that advice to heart. The point is to enjoy getting it right, not just get it done.
A Steal & A Giveaway
And now for my Easter bunny moment (because at our house, my husband is the Easter bunny), I have two announcements. The first is that my publisher, Crown, is offering the ebook version of I Shall Be Near to You for an absolute steal of a price ($1.99!) through May 1. I know most of you already have copies of the book, but if you could let anyone you think might enjoy I Shall know about the deal, I would be so grateful. I’d love to share Rosetta’s story with as many readers as possible.
You might wonder why my publisher would offer a book at such a crazy price. I’m not privy to all their reasons, but I’ve seen sales like this push other authors’ books onto the New York Times Bestseller list. That’s a huge deal– not just for the publicity it would bring, but because hitting that list makes publishers more interested in an author’s next novel (which is never a given). Even if the book doesn’t ever hit a bestseller list, each new reader who leaves a review on websites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Goodreads shows that there’s a readership for books like this, and encourages publishers to take chances on stories of women like Rosetta and first-time authors like me. Which is also my not-so-sneaky way of saying: If you haven’t already and feel so inclined, writing a review of I Shall (or any book you love) is a great way to show your support for the kinds of books you’d like to see more of.
But wait! I said there were TWO deals… Here’s the second one: I have two signed (and personalized, if you’d like) hard-cover copies from my personal I Shall Be Near To You stash to give away, in celebration of Spring and New Beginnings. Keep it for yourself and give away your old copy, or send it as a gift to a friend– whatever makes you happiest! To enter, just reply to this email (it’ll go straight to my inbox) saying you’d like in on the drawing. I’ll choose the two winners on Saturday, April 9.
By the time you get this, I’ll be on my way to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference down in Los Angeles. People tell me it’s *the* social event of the writing world, which strikes twin bolts of excitement and panic into my introverted heart (as does the fact that I’m going on an overnight trip sans kid for the first time in his life). I have two official events I’m participating in and the rest of the time, I’m looking forward to attending readings and panels put on by authors I admire, and catching up with (and for some, finally meeting in person!) friends I’ve made in my publishing journey (there’s some of the books by authors I hope to rub shoulders with, above). It should be a lot of fun. If you’ll be at AWP, let me know– I’d love to see you!
I’m also hoping to sneak in some time to put the finishing touches on that new Josie outline (yeah, I’ve lost count, but I think this is the 5th one… or is it 6th?) so that as soon as I get home I can start working on turning that outline into a shiny new draft. I’ll also be preparing for the next #HistoricalFix chat (on 4/24) and the second #BookClubFix discussion (on 5/26) of Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. I’ve already read this one, and if you’re a fan of Jane Eyre (here’s a peek at my fave illustrated edition) and enjoy gleefully wicked vigilante serial killers, I think you’ll get a kick out of this book, which also manages quite a commentary about the plight of women and children, and the impact of imperialism. I really hope you’ll join us for the discussion, either on Twitter or Goodreads.
Here’s to new beginnings and a gorgeous Spring!