Yay! It's happening!
Full Moon, Half a Heart, the second book about spunky schoolgirl Celeste, is available on Amazon. Yes, you can find it right here.
I have a few details to work out--the book description looks a bit wonky, and I haven't set up the "look inside" feature yet--but the main deed has been done.
Double back flip! Triple cartwheel!
This book has been ages in coming.
Full Moon, Half a Heart started out approximately eight years ago as a mostly true account of my childhood. It has morphed into an almost completely fictionalized story about a Mennonite schoolgirl who faces big life changes and learns much needed lessons.
Of course I care about Growing Toward the Sun, but Full Moon, Half a Heart is my firstborn. It takes me back to a time when I thought math homework was tough stuff, a time when I thought life sounded like the recess bell and tasted like cherry chapstick.
When I read it, I feel about twenty-seven years younger and a lot more than twenty-seven pounds lighter. I ordered a proof copy to check for typos, and it's like having the ghost of my childhood, all my opinions and beliefs and fears and joys, lying on the nightstand.
So yes, I'm excited for kids to read it.
Watch this space for upcoming giveaways, the ebook publication, and other news about Full Moon, Half a Heart.
My local writers' guild met Tuesday, after what seemed like a long time and a lot of cancelled meetings. When we parted ways, we all pledged to write every day for the next two weeks, be it ever so little.
Since February, I've also been part of a writers' accountability group via email. Making monthly goals and knowing I'll have to report back on how well (or poorly!) I met them has been surprisingly effective. It also helps if I make my writing goals specific. (And realistic!)
As I announced last month, tomorrow I'll be manning a table at the local authors' expo at the Livingston County Library, hiding behind a stack of copies of Growing Toward the Sun. My friend Betty Mooney Plymell, author of Dreaming of Missouri, will attend as well. If you're in the area, stop by to say hi. (And to make me feel less awkward!)
I had hoped to have Full Moon, Half a Heart available for the expo, but it's not going to happen. My copy editor did send the final edits, I made revisions and ordered a proof, and several long-suffering people read it for typos. As soon as my cover artist sends me the completed paperback cover, book two will be available for purchase. Of course, I will update you here.
Growing Toward the Sun has not only landed in the hands of beta readers across North America, it also has a cover. A quite gorgeous one.
(I can say that, because I had nothing to do with it.)
Cover design terrified me, actually, and I had no clue what I wanted. However, I had nothing to fear. The very talented Louis at Indigo Forest Designs read a short description of Growing Toward the Sun, looked over my list of favorite covers, read my mind, and handed over the exact cover I didn't even know I wanted.
Here it is:
Isn't it lovely? (Yeah, that's what I said, too.)
Lovelier yet, he also designed a companion cover for Full Moon, Half a Heart, and they look fabulous together. (I'll share the second cover soon.)
Now, all I have to do is make the insides as pretty as the outsides.
*sighs, bites nails, and goes back to editing*
Do you know what a blog hop is? I didn't either, until a writing friend tagged me. (And now that I know what it means, I still dislike the term. It sounds so...hoppy.)
But this is a blog hop about the writing process, how it differs for each writer, and I'm always curious about topics like that.
Last week B. L. Draper, the above-mentioned writer friend, described her writing process on her blog. I'd encourage you to go over and sample a few of her excellent stories.
B L Draper lives in northern Australia where she teaches by day and writes by night. She has stories published by Youth Imagination Magazine and Spellbound and hopes one day to complete her novel before she’s too old and senile to enjoy it. Online she can be found at www.bldraper.com
For today's blog hop, I'm supposed to answer four questions. As a survey/questionnaire addict, I enjoyed this way too much.
What am I working on?
I write like I cook. Here's an illustration:
It’s ten minutes to fancy dinner time, with five dishes started. One is mostly ruined, one mostly finished, and the rest somewhere in between.
Right now I’m concentrating on two middle grade novels, loosely based on my childhood.
Growing toward the Sun has themes of growing up and being a good example. It also contains a mini-mystery that any kid could picture him/herself solving.
Full Moon, Half a Heart follows the same characters through a cross-country move, with themes of accepting change, dealing with hard times, and — again — growing up.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My characters are set in my world: a Mennonite community in small town/rural USA. There aren’t too many books about Mennonite kids, and not very many books that fall into the gray area between contemporary or historical. I describe my books as Little House on the Prairie set in the late 80's, early '90's.
Why do I write what I do?
I’m writing what I know, which I find nostalgic and fun.
The main reason I write what I do, though, is there aren’t a lot of modern books suitable for Mennonite kids.
My mom screened my books closely, which meant I read a wagonload of classics before I left home at 18. Classics are great, but what about hesitant readers? I would’ve read the dictionary, had nothing more appealing showed up, but not all kids are like that.
I want to write books and stories that are simple, relatable, stimulating, and wholesome. Plus fun! I want to write for kids with moms like mine.
How does my writing process work?
Wait a minute. We're supposed to have a process?
Uh, remember that fancy dinner illustration? I’m going to keep building on that.
That dinner started long before I stepped into the kitchen. A week earlier, while I waited at the car wash, I flipped through cooking magazines for ideas. While I washed dishes one evening, I planned my menu. I prepped veggies and set the table the day before.
Like dinner, my stories begin long before the actual writing.
By the time I started to cook, that dinner was finished in my mind, the dishes steaming on the table, spoons ready to dig in.
When I sit down at the computer, the books and stories I planned earlier transfer easily to paper.
It’s a great feeling.
Why, I muse, this is the best meal ever. The best story I’ve ever written. And the easiest. How quickly I finished. What a breeze.
I look closer. Sample a corner. Blech, I added way too much salt to this, stirred this too little and too late. Something must be done!
Oh, but I don’t have time or energy right now, so I’ll shove it to the back burner. The guests will be content with this. Or with that. Or...
Tomorrow is another day.
Do you smell something burning?
There you have it: a glimpse of my writing life. Next week, you can peek into the writing process of two more writers, both friends of mine.
May I introduce:
There's magic all around us, if we just know where to look. Angela Castillo has a goal as an author; to help people see. She comes from the small town of Bastrop Texas, where she loves to walk in the woods and shop in the local stores. Castillo studied Practical Theology and Music at Christ for the Nations in Dallas, Texas. She was home-schooled all through high school and is the oldest of 7 kids. Castillo's greatest joys are her little girl and two boys, who 'are the best inspiration for writing ideas.' Castillo has been published in The First Line, Aardvark's Ark, Heartwarmers, Thema, and several other publications, and also has works available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.
Find out more on her website.
Jade Beals is a short story writer and aspiring novelist. She earned a BA in English from CUNY Brooklyn College where she received awards for her creative writing and academic work. Besides her literary pursuits, Jade enjoys nature walks, loose leaf tea, and Classical music. She resides with her husband in the suburbs of Massachusetts.
Read more about Jade on her blog, Blush of Dawn
The closer I get to finishing my middle-grade novel, the more I think about publishing it someday. (Possibly!) The more I think about publishing, the more I think about book covers.
A writing friend designed her own cover for inspiration after the temporary cover she paid for didn’t fit the bill. Her cover is so creative and fun.
I thought about trying something like that, but lately I haven’t been feeling very crafty. (No, not the fox or squirrel kind! You know what I mean!)
Then I remembered some photos I’d come across on Katie Troyer’s blog about Amish and Mennonites in Sarasota, Florida. I went back and scrolled through pages of photos until I found one that fit each of my works-in-progress.
Three little girls with bare feet below their bright dresses became Celeste, Farrah and Karolyn in Growing toward the Sun.
A lonely looking girl sitting on a fence became Celeste in Full Moon, Half a Heart, after she left Kansas and her friends.
Katie was gracious enough to let me use her photos, and also allowed me to edit them to fit my characters. (In other words, chopping all the heads off!)
The photos fit my stories, give me a visual writing prompt, and add color to my page. Thanks, Katie!
For a colorful glimpse of Amish and Mennonite life in Sarasota—-volleyball and bike riding in dresses, happy children in bonnets and hats, and old gentlemen shootin' the breeze-—hop over to Katie’s blog.
Everybody is sharing their New Year's resolutions, and it's making me nervous. Resolutions and lists are so much fun in January, still motivating in February, but come May or so, they're about as appealing as that piece of peanut brittle you sweep from under the stove.
Nevertheless, resolutions are helpful, even if they only keep one writing/cleaning/dieting/smiling/whatevering through Easter.
Since this site is about my writing, and this blog is for writing news, I've made a short list of writing goals for 2014.
There. That looks doable. Please check back with me come May.