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.
I'd can't resist sharing this lovely
review of Growing Toward the Sun,
written by Gina over at Home Joys blog.
Though Gina blogs about a variety of
topics, her book reviews are hands
down my favorite.
So of course I was super excited to see my own book featured on her blog yesterday. It especially pleases me to know her nine-year-old daughter read and enjoyed the book as well. After all, I wrote Growing Toward the Sun for the kid I used to be.
Check out Gina's book page for excellent reading suggestions for both adults and kids. Check out her Mennonites page for articles about her branch of Mennonites. And read her review of Growing Toward the Sun here.
Tomorrow is a first for me. I'm doing a book signing of Growing Toward the Sun with Betty and Vanessa, two author friends from my local writers' group.
Vanessa is providing the location: her family-friendly pool hall in Gallatin, Missouri. The town of Gallatin is holding their annual Christmas on the Square this weekend, so hopefully town will be buzzing with Christmas cheer.
Vanessa is the author of The Case of the Missing Crown, among other books. Betty's book Dreaming of Missouri follows the lives of her ancestors.
Stop by if you're in the area! (Betty's making cookies. And there's snow in the forecast.)
For someone as scatterbrained as I, Goodreads has saved the day by keeping track of my books. Over the years I've located and shelved many of the books I read as a kid and teen, as well as kept track of most of the books I currently read.
I've also entered quite a few Goodreads giveaways and actually won a book once. Now it's my turn to offer this opportunity. For most of May, I'm running a new Goodreads giveaway for Growing Toward the Sun, open to readers from the United States and Great Britain. The giveaway ends May 25th. Good luck!
Two weeks ago my husband and I spent a day in central Kansas. We were there for a school-related meeting but stole a few hours to visit my old haunts.
I grew up in McPherson County but chose to set Growing Toward the Sun in nearby Reno County. The descriptions of book places, though, come from all over my small childhood world.
We drove through my tidy hometown, past the rest home where Grandma worked, past the hardware store, the library, and the former grocery store. The gas station isn't one anymore. My childhood best friend's house is still there and Elm Street, where Grandpa and Grandma lived, is as shady and pretty as I remembered.
In Newton, I was sad to find a large empty parking lot where the old Alco store (Kmart in my book!) once stood. The Taco Tico is still there, though, the place I turned into a burger joint for one of the first scenes in my book. I'll bet one could still keep a sharp eye on the parking lot from the booth where I sat as a kid.
Later, we toured a place I've had on my list for years: the Kauffman Museum, specifically the permanent exhibit called "Of Land and People," which tells the story of my people, the Mennonites who immigrated from Russia to the Great Plains in the 1800s. Many familiar family names mark the exhibits and I wondered if an ancestor brought that worn leather coin purse across the Atlantic, if a distant relative wore that battered fur hat.
The workshop and tools reminded me of Great Grandpa, the cute front porch replica of Great Grandma. If I could get my hands on a one of those wooden chests, or better still, a handmade wardrobe or bench...
The museum is small but worth the visit. Don't forget to take the path through the trees to explore the Voth-Unruh-Fast house and the Ratzlaff barn. (Yes, it smells like Great Grandpa's.)
It's good to re-examine one's roots. I hope to write a book about those roots someday.
I'm super excited to announce that copies of Growing toward the Sun are now available at "brick and mortar stores" in several new locations.
Here in Jamesport, Missouri, you can purchase copies of Growing Toward the Sun at the following locations:
Last but not least, my wonderful library bought a copy. I'm a member of the Gallatin Writers' Guild and we meet at the Daviess County Library every other Tuesday afternoon. The last time I arrived, the librarians were waiting with my book and requested an autograph. Kids checking my book out at our local library? A childhood dream come true...
The Gallatin newspaper, The Northwest Missourian, sent a reporter to one of our November guild meetings and she interviewed us all collectively and separately. The full-page article came out in the December 6 issue. The well written story painted our group in a complimentary light and also served as a nice bit of free advertising for those of us with published books.
One more thing: my Goodreads giveaway is over but another begins on April 25. Stay tuned.
Just a reminder: you still have a couple of days to enter the Goodreads giveaway for Growing Toward the Sun. It's open for US and Canadian Goodreads members.
Happy New Year!
Growing Toward the Sun officially goes live December 5th!
It will be available in paperback on Amazon, directly from me, and at Bricktown Coffee in Jamesport, Missouri. Ebooks will be available on Amazon.
You also have a chance to nab a free copy. I'm giving away two copies on Goodreads, starting November 29.
Watch for more giveaways - both here on my site and on Goodreads - in the future.
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*
I've shared my Growing Toward the Sun with writing friends, chapter by chapter, but until this week, no one has ever read it cover to cover, like a real book.
This week I sent it to my first round of beta readers. Their assignment? To read the book--like a real book, within two weeks--then email me for the list of questions I've prepared.
That was hard, figuring out what kind of questions to ask in order to get the information I need. Questions about my characters (likable? unlikable? stereotypical?) and about plot (boring, too detailed parts? glossed over parts? favorite sections?)
Most of the beta readers requested Word docs, but one requested a print version. I slid the whole, inch-thick document into a manila envelope, sealed it, and took it to the post office. As I stood at the counter, answering routine questions about what the package contained (MY BOOK!) and value of item enclosed (UNMEASURABLE! It's My Book! Didn't you hear me? My BOOK!) I had to think of an old fashioned novel I once read about an aspiring author.
Anne of Green Gables or Jo March or Hildegarde Dolson, or whoever it was, stood hopefully in line, waiting to mail her manuscript to a Big Magazine. She wondered how the postman could handle Her Manuscript with such casual disinterest. She glanced at those waiting in line and hoped someone would say, "Excuse me. I couldn't help but notice--is that a manuscript you're mailing, there? Are you perhaps An Authoress?"
I watched the no-nonesense postal clerk affix the postage crookedly in the top right corner and grinned to myself. Then I drove across town to deliver another copy to Grandma. The first person who ever told me I should write deserves to read it first, I think.
Now I wait. Which I'm not particularly good at. But I have a feeling it will be worth it, and Growing Toward the Sun will be a better book because of my beta readers.