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A few weeks ago, I woke up from a dream in the night in which I had been looking at my novel on Amazon, and it had received several one star reviews. At the time I had not received any reviews for anything.
I would not exactly rank this as a nightmare, but I suppose it does reflect some of the fear that comes from putting one’s work out into the world. I have done my best thus far to remember that anyone’s opinion of my work is not a personal reflection on me, but I don’t always succeed at that. I try to write for myself rather than for anyone else’s good or bad opinion, but it’s a difficult task sometimes. Nothing slows down my writing process more that obsessing about whether or not my work-in-progress is ‘good’.
However, I was really pleasantly surprised this morning to discover that THREE whole reviews for my little Christmas story have been posted. Apparently they were written in January, but now I can actually read them. I’m not exactly sure which of my friends posted them:) but it was really encouraging to see that some of you enjoyed the story and took the time to review it.
It will be a help the next time I’m slogging through a book that seems to be going nowhere.
The story is here, in case you’d like to read it next December:
Love Divine is officially available in a few different formats now.
It is also available as a paperback through Amazon, (actually through Amazon’s publish-on-demand company, Create Space). All this means is that when you order a copy, they print up a new one for you.
However, I have not yet had a chance to look at the paperback in person, so the cover may be off, and who knows what else. But if you would like to check it out, it can be found here.
Did I mention that I used Draft2digital to do all these wonderful things? They are still in Beta testing, but so far it has been a good experience. If anyone buys the book and finds something that’s off, I would definitely appreciate it if you let me know.
So, there is my news as I inch my way slowly along the path of self-publishing.
If you click on the Look inside feature at Amazon, you can read the beginning of the novel, but just for kicks I decided to post a little excerpt from Chapter 3, so here it is:
From Love Divine:
Lauren stood in the driveway of the beach house considering the enormous cardboard box, thin and tall, that stood against the door of the garage. While she studied the box and the threatening rain clouds in the sky beyond, she heard footsteps on the road behind her and turned to see a woman jogging around the corner and up the hill, her headphone wires swinging with her stride. Lauren received no insight from the jogger, so she returned to her contemplation of the box, exposed to the elements by some inconsiderate delivery service. She decided she would do him a favor by moving it.She knew that someone was living in the house; Mrs. Tripp had said something about her son coming by, and she had seen a car in the driveway a few times. But there was no sign of him now, and the clouds were moving fast. Carrying the box under the relative shelter near the front door seemed like the best thing to do. She gripped both sides of the box, half her height but only a couple of inches thick, and lifted. It was heavier than she had expected and she put it down to get a better hold on it. Then she lifted it again and managed to carry it towards the front door, but her foot slipped on the loose gravel alongside the drive, the box dropped on her toes and a part of the cardboard ripped off in her hand.She brought the box to rest on her unbruised foot and hobbled towards the wall to lean it against the door. She heard the sound of footstep on the road again, another jogger by the sound of it, but she was too engrossed in the damage she had done to look behind her. Instead, she got down on one knee to inspect the damage of the ripped cardboard. She forgot all about the box, however, when she saw what was inside it. It was a painting, and she pressed her nose to the box to get a better look at the myriad of colors under the glass. It was an enchanting glimpse, and she pushed the ripped cardboard down to see as much as possible.
“You like it?”
She fell back onto one hand and looked up at a black-haired young man in shorts and T-shirt and running shoes standing on the cement path behind her.
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I just wanted to move it somewhere dry—” She stood up, and then straightened the bent cardboard with a guilty look. “I didn’t mean to rip it.”
“It’s alright. Doesn’t look like you hurt anything.” He wiped his face with his shirt collar. “Are you the gardener by any chance?”
“Sorry, yes. I’m Lauren Phelps.”
“Benjamin Tripp.” He held out his hand to her, but before she could take it, they heard an enormous bark and her dog came tearing around the house, pushed passed Benjamin and crashed into Lauren’s knees, sending her back a step and into the doorpost. “No, Dante!” she commanded, seizing him by the collar.
“And this must be your dog.”
“Yes, it is.”
“His name is Dante?”
She shrugged. “I was taking a class in medieval literature when I first got him.”
“Ah-hah. You like the painting?”
“Oh, well, I couldn’t really see it. I was just curious—”
He looked carefully at her for a moment and said, “Come inside with me. We’ll take a look at it.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to bother you—”
“Come on. Come take a look.”
“Just let me tie up Dante’s leash.”
He has a good face, she thought. It was a handsome face that invited one to look longer than was really necessary. She followed him into the house knowing that the warmth of his invitation was almost as compelling as the picture. He must be good with people. Good with women flashed in her mind for a brief moment, and she immediately categorized him as out of her league. As if I had a league, a reflection that made her smile privately to herself. She took note of the muddy sneakers he had kicked into the corner beneath a fragile, three-legged table and a black abstract sculpture that might have been a woman, or might have been a goat.
He had carried the picture easily and now he pulled it from the box and leaned the frame against a wall.
“Have you seen the house before?”
“Once. Your mother showed me the way into the garage. I may need to get some tools from time to time, clippers, gloves, that kind of thing—Oh.”
The painting was beautiful; a bath of color that drew her in until she was standing in front of it.
“That’s my Chagall,” he said, from across the room, where he was leaning the empty box against the wall. “I’m never happy without my pictures, so I brought a few of them along. Only I forgot this one and didn’t have time to pick it up myself. You like it?”
“Oh. Oh yes. I’ve never seen—I’m sorry, I’ve just never seen anything like it before.” She spoke in a quiet, reverential voice. “What is it?”
“It’s Adam and Eve. The garden of Eden.”
“It does look like paradise.” He couldn’t help seeing the unmistakable sincerity in her face, with one hand in her pocket and the other across her body holding her elbow. Minutes passed by and she didn’t say anything.
“Take a look at this one,” he said after a while. “This is Matisse.”
“That’s beautiful too. I never imagined—” she stopped.
“It’s so real. Almost more real than reality.”
He leaned against the counter now and watched her without disguise, unnoticed, as she went from one frame to the next. “I never thought of putting it like that. You must be an art lover?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know anything about art.” She had moved on to the simple drawing he had hung up a few days ago.
“What’s this one?”
“Marc Chagall again. Ruth and Boaz.”
She studied it for a while, and then turned to look at him with a curious expression on his face. “Chagall was Jewish,” he added, “and he used a lot of Biblical events.”
“I never imagined the stories like this. I’m so glad that somebody did. But what kind of paintings are they?”
“Cubism mostly. Picasso is the premier. The yellow one over by the wall is one of his. But there are many interpretations. Not everyone cares much for it, I find. But I don’t know how I could live without it.”
“I’m like that too—with some things.” She went to a black and white print in the corner and he followed after her a few steps behind, charmed by her look of pure delight. She looked almost pretty standing there, moved and enraptured by his pictures, drinking them in as he himself had done again and again. But now she had lost some of her ebullience and her forehead was wrinkled.
“I like it with my mother’s black clock. I don’t why. It seems fitting for some reason.”
She looked intently at the whitened cross and the figure on it and said, “I don’t really like pictures of the crucifixion.”
“I don’t always like them either. I’ve never understood why artists get so worked up about Jesus Christ anyway. I’ve always thought of him as just an ordinary guy.”
“But he wasn’t,” she said, without turning around. “He wasn’t an ordinary guy at all.”
“Well, maybe he did a few miracles or something, but history is full of things that no one can really explain. I’m sure there’s some practical explanation for it all that we just can’t figure out, like how they built the pyramids.” He laughed, but Lauren remained quiet with her attention fixed on the frame. “Can you imagine if he were here today—what he’d say to all these Christians? He’d probably tell them I’m dead already! Get over it.” He laughed again and she turned to face him with a serious eye. It wasn’t a look of reproach or anger or anything like that, but she looked hurt. “Sorry, I’m just running my mouth. I’m like that sometimes. I didn’t mean anything.”
“I know you didn’t,” she said, and moved sadly away from the wall. After a glance at the clock she said, “I should be getting home. Dante’s going to start barking for me. Thank you for showing me the pictures,” she said, and she smiled then.
“You’re welcome. If you ever want to take another look, just let me know.”
She moved towards the door and was gone.
“Poor girl,” he said to the empty house. “So many freckles.” But he found after a few minutes that he was actually thinking of her eyes. They were not remarkable, not at first, but they opened up like a deep well— He stood watching paradise for a long time, as the light of the lowering sun altered the intensity of color, and the long shadows reached around the room.
Thanks for reading! You can read the rest here.
My first novel, Love Divine, is now for sale as an ebook on Amazon.com.
In the next couple of weeks or so, Love Divine should also be available for Nook readers, Kobo readers and through Apple ibooks.
For those of you who prefer an actual book in your hand, I am working on a print on demand option through Create Space. This is bit more complicated and I don’t know when it will be available, but it’s coming along.
To make things a little easier, I am using a new service called draft2digital.com to help with formatting and publishing, which I have been pleased with so far.
If anyone decides to spring for the book, and you find typos or errors, please let me know! I can fix them.
I need to get going now but I will be posting an excerpt from the book sometime soon.
I’ve always been mildly surprised that I don’t like blogging very often. After all, I like to write. I’m also interested in myself, which is what I would be blogging about. But it never works. I lose interest, I forget, I get an idea for a brilliant post, sit down to write it, and start working on a story instead. So I guess there’s something to be said for knowing what you are actually going to do, and a consistent blogger I am just not going to be.
SO, I am going to use this lovely little blog to post info about when my books are published and leave it at that. It will likely be more interesting than my thoughts on myself anyway.
My current plan is to format a Christmas story for Kindle and to make it available before Christmas actually arrives. I will also post it here for free, as my gift to anyone who is interested.
My first novel, Love Divine,will hopefully be ready early in 2013. I’m hoping before Valentine’s day at least. I’m looking forward to my little book making its way in the world, and hope that later projects will go smoother once I have at least one book’s worth of experience behind me. So that’s that!
I have happened to mention to a few people that I am working on writing a novel. (At the moment I’m ignoring the novel and bouncing between a novella, a short story, and something that I don’t know how long it’s going to be yet, but that’s another story.) And occasionally people say, I don’t know how you find the time! And although I know that as a stay at home Mom with three littles, yes I’m busy, but I have the same amount of time as everybody else – 24 hours, seven days a week – I do find that I don’t have as much time as I would like to be quiet and concentrate on what’s in my head.
I just finished reading a lovely blog post by Kristen Lamb on writers and organization, which had some really helpful ideas. You can find it here. I particularly appreciate this:
Yet, I have to say that just because something is our nature doesn’t mean that we are to be a victim to our innate shortcomings. In fact, Bob Mayer gives a wonderful exercise in his workshops. He says to look at our Myers-Briggs personality…then look at the opposite of our personality, and likely that is the area we need the most work.
I’m not big on personality tests – I don’t know what mine is except by experience, and that’s confusing enough without giving it an acronym – but I like the idea of looking at the opposite of my strengths to find my weak spots. Because I often feel that way, and feel a tiny bit stupid about it. You know, if only I could be the opposite of who I am right now, this and that and this problem would just go away. Well, probably not, but it’s encouraging to know that this could be a reasonable and possibly productive train of thought and not just pointless wallowing in self-pity.
I’m not sure I’m ready to apply this to my writing. I’m working on being less critical right now since I spent a few months not writing anything because I couldn’t make anything I was writing into what I wanted it to be. I will probably have to compensate by being more critical somewhere down the road, when I go back to thinking everything I write is wonderful and award-winning. BUT, I can see how focusing on other areas, (like paying more attention to how I use my time) could benefit from accepting that I have to put some extra effort into the areas I am weakest in, instead of pretending that my weaknesses don’t exist.
“…they had a moment’s glimpse of glittering plate-glass and rich morocco, and the magnificent motor-car, immense, breath-snatching, passionate, with its pilot tense and hugging his wheel, possessed all earth and air for the fraction of a second, flung an enveloping cloud of dust that blinded and enwrapped them utterly, and then dwindled to a speck in the far distance, changed back into a droning bee once more.”
The Wind in The Willows, Kenneth Grahame
When I started Wind in the Willows to my kids, I knew that I would probably like it. I like literary classics, and almost everything I like to read myself is British, so I’ve been looking forward to reading this one. After plowing through the Cat in the Hat and the Magic School Bus books so many times, I feel like I have gotten a kind of reward now that my son is willing to sit and listen to a book like this. What I didn’t know is how incredibly fun the language in this book would be.
My son was won over by the animals and the map in the beginning of the book. My daughter is a bit young for this one, but she is slowly warming up to this book. But I sit and read with a big grin on my face, because almost every line is an indulgence in language. It’s like a little feast for those who like to dine on words.
I can’t help thinking that Kenneth Grahame was laughing while he wrote this book, and that he shares Mole’s excitement when he discovers the river on a brilliant spring day, because he is excited by all these terrific words he gets to write.
I could be wrong. He may have been slaving at his desk and making himself miserable trying to think of the next phrase.
But I doubt it.