Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reader reaction

The thing I'm going to love most about being published is the response from readers.

I've been warned that I can't please everyone.  So, yeah, I understand that.  Not every book I read appeals to me either.

But there will be some people who do like them. They're going to love my characters. Readers will gasp over, worry over, cry over the things that my characters go through. And then readers will talk to me about it, and we'll compare notes, and imagine what happens after The End.

I can't wait.

I got a taste of it this weekend. I submitted Whispers From the Past to my editors. Editor-J finished the book this weekend, and we've been sending a flurry of email talking about what happened to whom and how it made us feel and...

I loved it.

All of you readers out there, send me email or come to my book-signings or stop me at conferences where I'm speaking. And talk to me about books, characters, consequences, emotion, love.

That's why I write stories. That's why you read them!

P.S. I took the above photo on vacation in Belgium this summer. The B&B where we stayed had a beautiful backyard garden.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hard to say goodbye

I submitted Whispers From the Past last night to the publishing house.  It's a milestone to celebrate and to mourn.

I love the characters in the Whisper Falls series, especially my hero and heroine. Mark and Susanna are household names around here. We talk about M&S as if they were real. If I swear, DD2 will say "That's Mark's favorite curse word."  Or if I mention our second president, someone will remind me that "Susanna calls John Adams a vain toad", as if she's an authority on the subject.

I cried when I came to The End. Really. It was like going through empty nest syndrome.  And on the day a few months hence, when I approve the final edited version and see the third book head off to the printer, I'll probably cry again.  I'll want to write novellas and short stories about Mark and Susanna and their fictional friends, just so I can slip into their world(s) again.

There will be other series to write. Other stories to plot. But this book is my first-born. I'm going to miss it a lot.

Yes, M&S are members of the family now.  It's time to let them go.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Write WHERE you know

Several years ago, I read a book that was set in Mississippi. I was raised there, and it's where most of my family still lives. The book felt like it had been written by someone who had, at best, visited. I put the book down after the first chapter. The author had not only captured the setting wrong; it felt as if this peculiar-and-diverse state had been described disrespectfully.  I'll never read that author again.

It's one of the reasons I chose to set Whisper Falls in North Carolina. I'd lived there twenty-five years. I know this place.  The little nuances and Raleigh-isms just flow. Writing my first published novel was hard enough without being tripped up over getting the location correct.

My summer vacation has really brought this home. I'm spending a week in Rotterdam, Netherlands while my daughter attends a conference. I'm not planning to do anything except revise two sequels and enjoy "living" here.

I don't have any plans to set a book in Rotterdam, but I am noticing little details that are completely different from the life I have in the US. Things like:

  • supermarkets are not open on Sundays (which I wish I had known on Saturday)
  • most stores of any kind do not open until around noon on Monday
  • nothing is air-conditioned--including some big, expensive hotels
  • bicycles are almost as numerous as cars; cyclists are more aggressive toward pedestrians
  • there are more ethnically-diverse couples
  • parents hold hands with their children into their tweens
  • people like to eat outside at sidewalk cafes
  • everybody speaks decent (or better) English
 So maybe I'll never use any of this specific data in a book. But no longer will I take A/C, the opening hours of stores, modes of transportation, etc for granted when I write.

In fact, it's just easier to stick with North Carolina. For now.