Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When a Line Edit Isn't

All writers have their quirks. Here's mine: a novel never feels finished.

I'm one of those writers who sculpts a scene over many weeks, adding texture, paring superfluous language, deepening character or reshaping dialogue. I've learned the lesson of patience: write it, set it aside. Wait a day or two or ten before starting the first of many edits.

This tendency would slow me down with any novel but now that I'm deep into the edit of Second Chance Grill, the next book in the Liberty series, I can't help but think, "There are scenes missing from this baby."

The first book in the series, Treasure Me, has received so many complimentary reviews that I'm understandably nervous about releasing the second book until it's flawless. Which is why I must write those missing scenes, dang it. Gun-toting Theodora and skillet-wielding Finney deserve nothing less. The romance between Liberty's saintly yet sexy single dad, Anthony, and the new doctor in town, Mary Chance, has some very amusing scenes. I want to make those scenes perfect.

So now I'm wondering if I should take more time to work on SCG and release another novel instead. The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge is finished (yes, even by my standards) but it's dramatic women's fiction. Not comedy. And it isn't a book in the Liberty series.

Will I confuse readers if Tree appears next on Amazon? Especially since I've been promising Second Chance Grill? Yikes. I have no idea.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Update

This is becoming a hectic week.

Marguerite and I are moving to Charleston, SC in August. Barry will follow soon after, and Marlie, Christian and Jame are heading back to college.

Two houses for sale, what to bring/what to sell before leaving Ohio, attending freshman orientation with Marlie next month, completing the edit for Second Chance Grill--my days usually start around 5 a.m. and don't finish until 10 p.m. Of course, I'm incredibly excited about the move to South Carolina and the prospect of never again living through six months of snow. I imagine sitting in a pretty Charleston park writing a WIP on an iPad while my pooch, Nala, frolics in the flowers. Barry and I both dream about wandering the beach at dusk. Marguerite is excited about making new friends and living in a city where art rules.

Charleston, here we come!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Me, Cubed

I spent thirty minutes this morning battling Gravitar for a user name. It's a familiar struggled waged in the electronic age.

In the pre-Internet world, it never would've dawned that three other "me's" walk the planet. We're all communicators. Three of us are writers. Two of us write fiction--novels (me) and screenplays.

Dr. Christine Nolfi--who I believe changed her Internet presence to Kristine Nolfi in the last year--is a physician from Rome, Italy. She writes on holistic subjects and natural alternatives to healing, issues that are dear to my heart. In case you haven't already guessed, my family (on my father's side) is from a small village outside Rome. I'm 99% certain I'm related to Dr. Kristine.

There's also a Christine Nolfi who's an attorney on the east coast. I think she's in her thirties and lives in Philly. The fourth, Chris Nolfi? He's a writer in Hollywood.

These discoveries have effectively banished any hubris I might've harbored regarding my individuality. Geez, I'm wrought from a cookie cutter mold, and all of the me's arrive with the desire to write. Why haven't I found a Christine Nolfi, real estate agent? Or secretary? Hey, there should be a Christine Nolfi, chef, but maybe that one exists in all four: you know, the Italian thing. We like to cook.

If you're reading this post, I must ask: have you found duplicate selves in cyberspace? Do those other "you's" share the same interests? The same career?

Do tell.

Drawing: A random sketch by my youngest daughter, Marguerite

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gummy Bears Underfoot

As I write this on a sunny Monday morning, a herd of teenagers are a few feet away. They've taken over my kitchen. Pots clattering, egg shells flung across the counter and Gummy Bears underfoot--the last time I checked, they'd grabbed the chocolate chips and were tossing them into the pancake batter. Yesterday 100-plus people arrived for Marlie's grad party; the kids in the kitchen are the pals who decided to spend the night in the basement.

Tomorrow evening I have a critique meeting with Mary Ann and Ellen. There's a stack of pages on my desk awaiting one last edit. My inbox is full. I picked Barry up from the airport last night--he worked a Wellness show in Chicago--and he's dead to the world in my bedroom. How he's managing to sleep through the chaos is a mystery.

All of the above makes me wonder: how do other novelists find time to write? How is it possible that any books are ever written? It's no wonder that so many works are created in the dead of night, with a pooch dozing at the writer's feet, the phone silent, and those cherished loved ones tucked in their beds. What is even more amazing is how so many novelists pull off the late night writing shift then rise in the morning to greet the 9-to-5.

To all of them, I send heartfelt cheer and a hearty thumbs up. I'd also send a pot of coffee but it won't transmit through cyberspace.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Not My Favorite Business Game

I'm suffering a conundrum.

Social media--FB, tweets, emails and Skype--have become a cherished addiction. I've made some wonderful friends among the great women who run book blogs (you know who you are) and I'm delighted so many of these dedicated professionals have read and reviewed Treasure Me on Amazon and Goodreads. At the same time, I've begun to connect with other authors, joined groups, offered praise and received the camaraderie artists need to make long days of solitary work tolerable. I'm having a blast.

The conundrum arises when it comes to touting Treasure Me, and the upcoming Second Chance Grill, through all of these media outlets.

I'm a pragmatist by nature. It strikes me as silly that many novelists seem intent on selling their wares to other novelists. Most of us break into publishing on a shoe string. We work feverishly to turn a lifelong dream into a lucrative business. Most of us won't strike it rich but some of us--God willing--do build a readership, allowing us to pay the bills, eventually quit the day job, and perhaps even move Fido up from discount kibble to gourmet treats. Personally, I harbor a silly dream that, eventually, my novels will do so well I'll be able to pay off my children's college loans. A crazy dream, but it's mine.

So here's the deal. I'll continue to connect with reviewers and other writers through social media. I'll never feel comfortable linking my every comment back to my Amazon page or to this blog. The way I see it, if I write compelling novels, never slack off, and never publish first-draft rubbish, readers will find me. Not other writers--readers.

That's my new credo and I'm sticking to it.

Photograph: wild phlox by the woods. My youngest, Marguerite, shot the photo

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thank You

Over the last few weeks I've begun to receive many positive reviews for Treasure Me on Goodreads and Amazon. If you're a book blogger who has recently read and reviewed my novel--a thousand, heartfelt thanks. Nothing puts wind in a debut author's sails quite like a nice commentary by a respected blogger.

On another note, the final polish of the next book in the Liberty series, Second Chance Grill, is proceeding well. I hope to have the book uploaded to the Amazon Kindle store in a few weeks. I've also begun researching POD for both novels, wondering if I should use Amazon's CreateSpace or one of the other providers, like Lightning Source, which offers fulfillment in the U.K. and Australia. If you have thoughts on this, I'd appreciate your feedback.

Monday, June 6, 2011

AWOL Blogger

I've been AWOL on my blog quite a bit due to my second daughter's graduation from high school. Come September, I'll have three children in college ... and only one child left in high school. In between preparations for Marlie's grad party next weekend, I'm spinning through a final edit of Second Chance Grill, which will appear in on Amazon in several weeks.

Drum roll, please:
Marlie outside our house on Sunday afternoon. 
That's the barn and riding arena in the background.

My daughters, and Barry's daughter, Julie, at Sushi Rock Sunday.
Yep, we all wanted sushi but my son, Jame (pronounced jA-mee, like Jamie) ordered steak.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bring on Summer

I love this time of year.

The windows are thrown open, the kids have the warm summer months ahead of them, and I write, day or night, guilt-free. There's something about summer that lets you off the hook--you can do whatever you wish, brush your hair or not, catch fireflies at dusk and great story ideas at dawn.

You can let those creative juices flow.

Writers have habits and here are a few of mine: I rise early and immediately head for my office with a cup of coffee. I work in my pajamas for the first hour or two, blissfully aware that a world without high heels is my kind of heaven. I like an orderly desk. Sometimes I eat salads for breakfast and cereal for dinner.

At 52, I feel I've earned the right to do what I like.

Today I'll work on polishing Second Chance Grill, slated for release on Amazon this month, and pray that Joe, a mechanic head, shows up to look at my tractor. I don't know why the Kubota is overheating. Nala visits the vet this afternoon. The mini-beach is now open at the gym, and I might take work up there later in the afternoon--there's nothing quite so fun as completing a line edit beside gurgling waters while wearing a bathing suit.