Job Application for Female Lead Character

I’m now about a quarter of the way through drafting the final book in Callaghan McCarthy’s story-cycle. Soon it will be time for someone new to step forward and tell the story of Woodley, USA from their own perspective. To this end, I am issuing a casting call for potential lead characters to headline the next series.

Job description:

During the course of your employment as Lead Character, you will experience newness and wonder (whether you like it or not) and you will have your entire belief structure fundamentally challenged and overhauled. Your heart will probably break a few times, but you will be provided with allies who will nurture you through this. You will probably also face some physical dangers; unfortunately, you’ll be on your own regarding how to get out of these particular messes. Your job is to figure out how to save not just yourself but your friends, the farm, the town, and ultimately the world. (You will almost certainly never understand exactly how the fate of the world figures in all this, of course, but it’s still your job to do it.)

Requirements include but are not limited to:

  • Adult human female with some life experience. You do not need to have grown children, but this is not a “coming of age” tale. Please have a few hard-learned lessons under your belt that have made you stronger and kinder.
  • Some cynicism and a few PTSD symptoms are OK, but complete douchebaggery will be considered a deal-breaker.
  • Preference will be given to those with 100% human blood, though if you suspect you have a long-forgotten faerie or deity somewhere in your ancestry, you may still be considered.
  • Skinny twentysomething characters with large breasts and flawless skin need not apply.

Please answer the following questions on the reverse side of this sheet:

  • What are you running from?
  • What did you hope to find when you arrived in Woodley, USA?
  • What did you really hope to find? I mean originally, back when you were a kid, before they convinced you it couldn’t actually be found in the real world?
  • Do you believe in ghosts?

If you are a fictional character and wish to be considered for this position, please transmit your answers to my muse ASAP.

Note: While Woodley, USA is a diverse community, I do not feel that I, as a writer, am qualified to represent, through my Main Characters,  challenges I have never personally experienced. While you will be acting alongside characters of many different ages, races, species, genders, physical abilities and neurological types, I feel that stories which feature these characters as the main Point Of View are best told by #OwnVoices.

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Fantasy & Science Fiction Review

My F&SF fantasy come true!

A long time ago in a universe far, far away, I sent a copy of my debut novel to one of my favorite authors of all time. I sent it for no reason other than to thank him for inspiring me by writing some of the most enjoyable fiction I’d ever read, and also to thank him for his support. His support had come, many years before, in the form of what is, to date, still the best writing advice I’ve ever received. That advice, to paraphrase quite heavily, is: “Qwitcherbitchin’ and write!

Imagine my excitement when I received an email this past June from the editor of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine (to which I have been subscribed since I was a teenager – and I won’t tell you how long that has been!) The email asked me to review, before release, a copy of an overview of Seven Turns this favorite author of mine had written in his “Books to Look For” column for the July/August issue. I’ve been bursting at the seams ever since, dying to tell you all about it. Now it is finally July, and I can tell you!

The “Books to Look For” section of F&SF Magazine is at
https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/2019/cdl1907.htm

The overview of Seven Turns is the third listing down, right between Philip K. Dick and John R. Little … seriously, am I allowed to yell “Squeeeeee!” now?

My favorite part is where he refers to some of the spirits Cally encounters in Woodley as “deities.” I wouldn’t have expected most people to recognize that’s what they (some of them!) are, but of course Charles de Lint would know a deity when he sees one!

Naturally I also immediately sent him a copy of Moonlight and Moss. Not sucking up for another review or anything, but I want to see if he recognizes the other deities, because this volume deals much more heavily with the denizens of the faerie side of the meadow gate. (Oh, who am I kidding – he’ll not only recognize them, but is probably on first-name terms with some of them.)

Now, if you are one of my fellow writers in the #writingcommunity and you are wondering how to get your inspiration flowing, how to find time to write, wondering if you’re just a hack or what, here is the best advice I can pass on to you:

Qwitcherbitchin’ and Write!

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This is Real, This is Now!

It’s Launch Day for MOONLIGHT AND MOSS!

You know how it goes: It feels like I’ve been waiting for this day forever, but on the other hand, it all went so fast, once I finally decided on a release date.

That, they say, is normal to the point of being trite. Here’s the really weird thing, though: I feel like it all happened so long ago! I’ve been working a lot, lately, on the next book in this story-cycle, so that now when I talk about my work I get all mixed up about which story I’m talking about. I hope I don’t end up giving away any spoilers that way!

Each of the books in this story cycle is designed to stand on its own. The end of each book winds up the main plot and finishes the current story (with just a few Questions to give you a hint at what the next one might be about!)

You still might prefer to read them in order if you can, though, to avoid spoilers. Seven Turns happens, chronologically, before Moonlight and Moss and also focuses on Callaghan McCarthy. I am pretty sure there will be one more story (not counting the Christmas Episode – stay tuned!) with Cally at its heart. I have tentatively titled the next tale “Rivers and Roads.”

From here, I can see at least seven stories about Woodley, USA and it’s quirky denizens, and that seems like an appropriate number of rivers to cross. But you never know. There are a lot of people – and you know what I mean and do not mean when I say “people!” – calling my name. People who want their stories, also, to be told. I guess I’ll find out when I get to that bend in the road!

…and then they came upon the Thing…


(With many thanks to The Men for their amazing song and all the inspiring imagery it lent me.)

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Moonlight and Moss Launch Party!

It’s official! Moonlight and Moss will be released on May 31, 2019. The launch party will be on Saturday, June 1, at 3:PM at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC.

I can’t say enough good things about Page 158! Not only are they the coziest independent bookstore I’ve ever been inside of, but the staff are all friendly, fun, and knowledgeable, and the proprietors are active participants in the community. They really love supporting local and independent authors. If you live anywhere near Raleigh, you need to visit this store!

But especially visit it on June 1, 2019. Not only will I be debuting Moonlight and Moss, but There Will Be Cake! Just sayin’. 🙂

If you can’t make it to the party, we’ll be live-streaming it on my Facebook author page: facebook.com/kimbeallauthor and I hope to see you there!

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Moonlight and Moss – Coming Very [Very!] Soon

It’s official! The release date for Moonlight and Moss is May 31, 2019. But you can pre-order it right now (see links below)!

Now, I’ve never understood authors who make their pre-order price higher than the regular price. It’s like you’re punishing your biggest fans for their enthusiasm. I think my Biggest Fans should be rewarded! Honestly, I’d make the Kindle version like 1 cent for pre-order but Amazon doesn’t allow anything lower than $2.99, so I did my best! The pre-order price is $2.99 – after June 1, the price will be going up to $4.99. Barnes & Noble has made the paperback available for $11.99; after release it will go up to the full price of $15.99.

My journey to deciding to self-publish was fraught with self-doubt and anxiety, but I’m glad now that I did it. The interior design stuff (especially getting the pagination to match up with my table of contents) was kind of a nightmare! But I really had a lot of fun being an active participant in the cover design. I’m really proud of the final product, and I hope you’ll like it, too!

Let me state unequivocally, here, for any other authors considering whether to self or traditionally publish:

Fear of “loss of creative control” should never be a factor in deciding whether or not to publish traditionally because, frankly, it’s a complete and utter myth.

Even with traditional publishers, the author retains authority (that’s where the word “author” comes from, peeps!) and has final say over any and all suggested changes. Fear of “loss of creative control” was not why I decided to self-publish Moonlight and Moss. I chose this route because it became evident to me early in the querying process that it was highly unlikely any traditional publisher would ever be willing to pick up the second book in a series. Once I finish Cally’s story arc in the Woodley, USA universe (this will happen when Rivers and Roads is released in 2020) I will begin a new series. It will probably also take place in Woodley, but since it will be a whole new series with a whole new main character, I will be ready to begin pursuing traditional publishing again.

Because I have other things to do besides going crosseyed formatting text for PDFs and .epubs. I have many books to write before I sleep!

Oh, and that reminds me: Who would you like the main character of the next series to be? Is there anyone you’ve already met whose story you’d like me to explore from their own point of view? Or would you like a new main character all together? Let me (as the YouTubers say) know in the comments below.

[Pre-]order Moonlight and Moss:

Somebody’s Calling Your Name…

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Thanks For the Rejections!

I’ll start, here, by thanking all the agents who have sent me rejections. I know agents have somewhere on the order of bazillions of queries to get through daily. They barely even have time to paste in boilerplate rejection verbiage and hit “send.” Many, nowadays, don’t even do that. So, when I get a rejection that gives me even the slightest hint of why the agent decided to pass on my project, far from being bummed about it, I am actually grateful.

I often feel like I’m working in a complete vacuum with regard to trying to sell my work. I feel fairly confident that my writing, itself, is good. Good enough, I mean, though of course any writing can always be improved and polished. The manuscript I am currently querying is as polished as I can make it, with critique partner and beta reader feedback. I am fortunate that I don’t have to work in a vacuum, there. On the other hand, the query letters I send out about said manuscript, well, really, the only feedback I can get about those, from real industry insiders, is through rejections.

OK, yes, I know: there is a ton – multiple tonnage, really – of Querying Advice on the interwebs. But much of it is conflicting or grossly outdated. Even AuthorTube videos by actual literary agents offer advice that conflicts wildly!  I wade through all this cognitive dissonance and snatch desperately at what seems to be the most common advice. I do my best to incorporate it all into 350 words or less but, in the end, I’m totally winging it. I have no way of knowing – not really – whether or not my query letter is really the killer pickup line that will get me the girl, or just a slap in the face.

Most of the rejections I get are some form or other of the standard boilerplate: “This is not on my list.” And, if this is the actual reason for the rejection (rather than an attempt at the most inoffensive waffle possible) I can’t complain about it. My little world of Woodley, USA is never going to fit neatly onto anyone’s list – it crosses too many genres. Agents who rep Fantasy seldom rep Horror, for instance. Not that there’s any Horror in my work, but nowadays the word “ghost” is synonymous with “guts splattered all over the walls” and I totally understand why some people are not interested in that. God knows I’m not. And, sure, it’s not fair that when a Fantasy-inclined agent sees the word “ghost” in the second paragraph of my query, they roll their eyes and ball up their fists and hiss through clenched teeth, “Oh, FFS, why don’t these #^&$@ writers ever bother to look at my profile – I specifically stated I do not do Horror!”

But it is what it is, and until Western entertainment culture undergoes another sea-change (a sea-change I actually hope to help incite with my work!) I have to figure out how to deal with the situation as it is.

Two rejections I’ve received recently, though, contained completely new and different feedback! This gives me hope that I’m at least getting better at writing query letters. I mean, I’m sure these rejections are also copy-pasted – I can imagine agents need to send this particular one out a thousand times a day, too. But, honestly, I got a little giddy about these because they made me think the agents who selected this particular verbiage from their copy-paste choices had actually got past the word “ghost”!

They said, basically: “The concept of your story just did not draw my interest strongly enough.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dear Agents, for this specific feedback! Even though it may seem like a slap in the face to some, it was a gift to me, and I truly and honestly do appreciate your having taken the time to send it to me.

My first response, of course, was to think, “Oh, OK, so what can I do to change my story to make it more gripping? Give it more pizzazz! How can I make the stakes higher? Maybe I should give in and put in some guts splattering across a wall here and there after all? Oh, I know: a climactic car-chase where the world will end if I don’t make it over the cliff in time to rescue the president from terrorist dragons from Alpha Centauri!”

And then I said:

NO

My story is what it is. It is what it is because that’s exactly what it needs to be. It is internally consistent and beautiful. It gave itself freely to me from an eternal well of Story, and I will be true to it in return. The world does not have to be about to end in order to make the stakes heart-wrenching. Kittens and little children do not have to die horribly. I will not change the actual story itself, even if that’s the only way to get myself an agent. (I don’t believe it is, mind you. I just don’t know how to sell the damn thing, is all.)

Because I know it does, in fact, “draw my interest strongly enough.” I know for a fact that it does this to other people, as well. I am even reasonably confident that the kinds of people whose interest is drawn are not all that uncommon. These are the people I wrote it for. People who, when I describe it to them, say “Oh, I LOVE that sort of thing! Where can I find a copy?” Readers who say, “OMG I hope there’s going to be a sequel – I want to read more about this world!”

If I change my story in order to land a publishing deal, I will be betraying them. And I will be perpetuating the literary vacuum that led me to write this story in the first place because I couldn’t find enough of it in bookstores. There are people out there who want to walk down Main Street in Woodley, USA, and sleep in the Rose Room, and bump into George in the hall in the middle of the night, and jump the fence into the meadow and discover what lies beyond. Hang in there, peeps: I’m still trying to figure out how to reach you, but I am reaching!

All this by way of saying, I am grateful to all who have contributed the various data that has helped me make a decision. Thank you readers, critique partners, beta readers, and literary agents. I think I’ve made a decision? I’ve been trying to make this decision since last fall. I think I’ve decided I’m going to go ahead and self-publish Moonlight and Moss. Maybe. Probably. I will probably do this sometime in May 2019 (which is about a year since Seven Turns came out.)

On some level, it feels like I’m accepting defeat, but I’m not, really. I just don’t want to leave my readers waiting too much longer for the sequel to Seven Turns. My pride isn’t as important to me as loyalty to my readers – they’ve earned it! That’s the only thing of which I am absolutely certain.

I am fully aware that the second I hit that “Publish” button over at IngramSpark, I will turn to check my inbox and see I’ve just received an offer of representation. Because of course I will. Murphy is a real jerk, sometimes! OK all the time. Maybe I’ll kill him off in my next book.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep gathering data and polishing my querying skills so that someday when I finish this series and start a new one, I will – as I am still determined to – obtain agent representation.

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Cat Readers vs Dog Readers

A werid thought occured to me this morning as I watched my husband playing with the cat. OK, weird thoughts occur to me all the time, but the gist of this one was:

Some readers are dogs, and others are cats.

Dog readers, when they open a book, want all that high action immediately.  They don’t want you to stroke them gently on the head – they want vigorous rib-thumping pats and scratches and rubs with both hands which will, if all goes well, morph quickly into a wrestling match. They want full body contact, and lots of it – they want you to really throw that ball just as far and high as you can! They don’t want you to build up to it or demonstrate how, if you hold the ball at a certain angle, the logo glitters in the light. They just want to chase the ball or, even better, flop down on the ground with you and wrestle the ball. If you try to take a breather they will run circles around you barking and jumping, and if you don’t throw the ball again pretty quick, they will give you that big, sad, betrayed look.

I am what Jackson Galaxy calls “bi-petular.” I usually have both cats and dogs in my household but, I have to admit, even the dogs who have loved me best have been a bit disappointed with me because I, myself, prefer to play like a cat. I mean, sure, I can throw the ball pretty high, and even throw it repeatedly, but I just don’t dig wrestling.

Cat readers, when they open a book, want to see the feather lying on the ground, fluttering tantalizingly in the gentlest breeze. They want you to tug it just out of reach. They want your foot under the quilt to wiggle and a little bit to the left, and then to the right or, even better, unexpectedly to the left again. They are not interested in the ball until they see how the logo glitters in the light. They will pounce on the ball if you roll it gently toward where it might escape under the couch, but if you pick it up and throw it, they will simply leave the room. They like it when you carefully seek out and gently scratch that spot under their chin, just behind the ears, that makes them flop over onto their side and purr, but if you try to rub and thump them the way you would a dog, you are almost certainly going to lose some fingers.

Of course there are exceptions in both cases, and gray areas, and pets as well as readers who are – and like – a blend of both.

I tend to be more of a cat-type reader. I guess this goes for movies and television entertainment, too. When my husband wants to watch an action movie, that’s a good time for me to go into a different room and get some writing done.

As a result, I guess I tend to write more for cat readers. I imagine dog readers might never get to the part of the book where I throw the ball really high. Now, this is always the part where I’m afraid cat-type readers are going to give me the stink-eye and stalk away to go and sleep on top of the laundry basket, but somehow they never do. Maybe by then I have twiddled the feather-teaser to the point that they will do anything, even chase the ball across the meadow, to see where it goes.

Yes, yes, I really will throw the ball! Who’s a good boy? WHO’s a good boy? You are! Yes! You are! Meow!


Afterthought: On proofreading this, I noticed that in writing about dogs, I used a lot of verbs and gerunds, but while writing about cats, I tended to use fewer verbs and more adjectives. Hmm…

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To Self or Not To Self

As promised, here is my little tale of “Why I Might Have to Self Publish Whether I Like It or Not.”

As most of you know, I am currently actively seeking representation for “Moonlight and Moss,” which is not technically the sequel to Seven Turns, though it takes place in the same universe. And has the same main character. And happens chronologically just a few months after the end of Seven Turns. But still, it’s not a sequel, per se! I have been careful to make sure it could stand alone, if someone reads it who has not read Seven Turns. Beta readers have assured me it is in fact perfectly easy to follow even if they do not know what happened in Seven Turns.

Still… try explaining that to a literary agent. I mean without adding the above ninety or so words to an already-probably-too-long query.

Agents, as a rule, are not keen on picking up an author mid-series, and I can’t say I blame them. Some are OK with this, though, and I will continue to search for one.

But why not just publish Moonlight and Moss through my existing publisher, you ask? The one who published Seven Turns? Well, this is where it gets tricky. I like my existing publisher just fine, but they don’t have the capacity to give my work the kind of service I feel it deserves. They do not have a marketing department, for one thing, and yes. Yes, yes! I’ve already heard it a million times! “But today’s authors are expected to market themselves!” Yes, I know! And I do! I do All The Things. I’m not very good at it, but just look up at the top of this page and click the link to the previous post to find out why I am not interested in learning how to become good at marketing.

“Fine, then,” you say. “This means you are doomed to obscurity because unless you are published by the Big Five, the success of your writing is based solely on  your marketing skills.” This is not completely accurate for two reasons: 1) There are more than five publishers who don’t expect their authors to be the only person on the marketing team and 2) my work is, in fact, good enough for the Big Five. (But that’s a different discussion all together.)

The thing is, it’s not just about marketing – it’s also about distribution.

I had never heard the word “Distribution” before Seven Turns came out. Well, not in the context of publishing. I didn’t realize, until after I started trying to market my work, that bookstores do not like having to deal with Amazon. My publisher – like many other small, independent publishers – distributes only through Amazon POD. I noticed early on in my marketing efforts that the minute I used “the A-word,” as they called it, bookstore managers would grimace and shake my hand and wish me luck. I didn’t understand what was going on until the owner of my own lovely local indie bookstore explained it to me.

Apparently, Amazon treats booksellers like crap. Amazon considers its colleagues in the publishing industry to be competition, and Amazon does not appreciate competition. It wants to be the only game in town. For this reason, it does not offer retailer discounts on books, nor does it offer a return policy on unsold copies, as do the book distributors who work for other publishing companies.

Get Local at IndieBound.org
Buy books locally at IndieBound.org

Mind you: your local bookstore will happily order a book for you from Amazon, but they will not make any profit on it, and they will have to eat the shipping costs, as well, but they will do it for you because they want to be your friendly neighborhood bookseller. They will not stock Amazon KDP-produced books on their shelves, though some do happily stock them for me if I order them myself with my author discount, then carry them to the store myself and hand them to them to sell on a commission basis.

This works fairly well for me, for my local booksellers, but I am not going to be able to physically carry or ship copies of my book to every bookstore in the country, and that’s where I want my books to be available: in every bookstore in the country. For that, I need a distributor.

So what I am searching for, now, is a publisher who works with an actual distributor, so that booksellers can obtain copies of my books the way they do the other books you see on their shelves. I may be able to find this publisher on my own, or I may need to obtain representation from a literary agent to find one for me. I’d much rather have an agent, if I can.

Except that “the serial problem” mentioned above is making this already daunting task several orders of magnitude more difficult.

I have been advised by industry professionals to just scrap the entire Callaghan McCarthy/Woodley, USA storyline and start over with a new series, which agents will be more willing to look at. But I’m not gonna do that, y’all. I’m not going to pull a George R. R. Martin on you! I promise I will finish Cally’s entire story arc before I start writing the stories of some of Woodley’s other denizens.

This means that if I do not get some more traditional nibbles for “Moonlight and Moss” soon, I will go ahead and self-publish it, so that people who are clamoring to find out what happens next with Cally and Ben and George and Emerald are not left hanging. I had originally intended to release about one volume a year, when I set out, and I am determined to remain as close as I can to this schedule. If this means I have to self-publish the next two volumes, so be it!

And then I’ll start in on the story of one of Woodley’s other quirky citizens. Who would you like it to be?

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Rivers and Roads

or:
Why I Don’t Want to Self-Publish

River Under Moonlight

So, my dad was a writer.

He always called himself a writer, and whenever he did, people would ask him what he wrote, and he would say: “I write words.” He would laugh, and everyone thought that was pretty funny, at the time. Now I sometimes wonder if he really found it funny at all.

For most of the time I knew him, he wrote advertising copy. He worked for a number of advertising agencies, and once or twice he ran his own agency. (By the way: I don’t remember it being anything like “Madmen,” except for maybe the quantities of booze. To tell you the truth, it was more like Darren Stevens’s environment in Bewitched.) He wrote for Schick razors and Rockwell power tools and Coleman camping equipment, and in 1976 he wrote massive quantities of interesting historical stuff for the Pennsylvania Bicentennial, which is still in use by the Pennsylvania Tourism Board today. He wrote all this stuff to put food on the table and a roof over our heads.

One day, under said roof, I opened the little door in the alcove in my bedroom and began to explore the dark, cobwebby cubbyhole under the unfinished eaves. My parents had stashed several boxes there, the day we moved in. I rearranged these and, between them, I built a nest of blankets and pillows and stuffed animals and, taking the lamp from my night stand, turned it into my little reading haven. Mostly I read horse-stories, there, and my mom’s massive collection of gothic romances that I smuggled, one at a time, up from the cellar.

It was inevitable that I would open the boxes and nose through their contents. One of them contained old stuff my dad had written. This was not advertising copy, though. These were stories. Some of them were about growing up in the 40s with his brother, and one was a snarky satire about, apparently, a former employer with whom he’d had a falling out. It was titled “Alf the District Sales Manager and the Good Fairy” and was full of clever but acrimonious wit involving things like chopped liver and steam rollers.

One story, in particular, stands out in my memory. It started with the words “Let me take you to a place…” It took me to a place, too, right out of my little blanket-lined box-cupboard to a moonlit riverbank where mysterious characters, each of whom had a story of his own, paused beside the dark, glittering water to sip clear liquid from mason jars and let the river carry their cares away to parts unknown, if only for one night. This riverside retreat was presided over by a scrawny old black man cooking ribs on a half-drum barbecue grill. His name was Jerome, and he was famous for his barbecue sauce, which everyone called Hell Sauce.

Dad passed away at the age of 60 from a massive coronary. I found out some years later that Jerome and his Hell Sauce and his barbeque grill by the riverside were all actually quite real. One of my brothers brought some of Jerome’s famous ribs to share with us at a Thanksgiving dinner after-party at Mom’s house. They were still being made by Jerome’s son, who had inherited his dad’s operation and had moved from the riverbank to a bricks-and-mortar storefront in sight of the Monongahela river. I didn’t think the Hell Sauce was all that hellish, really.

I did remember Dad’s story, though, but the boys told me not to bother looking for it. The box was still there but, in preparation for selling the house, my old room had been remodeled and the cubbyhole paneled over without removing any of its contents. The house has been sold, since then, to someone who probably doesn’t even know there’s a cubbyhole under the paneling. My dad’s stories will be among the detritus that gets bulldozed into a landfill when the house is eventually demolished.

All this means that I am [quite probably] the youngest person alive who has ever been to Jerome’s by the riverbank under the moonlight (and almost certainly the only female, because women were not allowed. It was considered to be far too rough a place for the fairer sex.) I have been there only because I read my dad’s story, which is lost forever now because his stories, his real writing, had had to be stuffed into a dark, dusty corner to make room for the business of business, for writing the words he got paid to write.

He probably hoped that, someday, he would be able to retire from writing the kinds of words he didn’t really dream of, in order to write the words in his heart, but he never lived to see that day. Did he ever really mean to resurrect those old stories, anyway? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the spot on the kitchen floor where his heart exploded and he fell down and died was almost directly underneath the box stashed in the cubbyhole.

Everyone has always told me I inherited my dad’s proclivity for words from him, and this is probably true. But I do not want to inherit his fate.

This is why my flesh absolutely tries to crawl right off my body every time someone tries to tell me how I should self-publish because “even though I insist I am not a good marketer, if I really work hard at it, I can learn to become really good at it and make a fortune!” My dad worked hard at becoming a good marketer – he did it all his waking hours for the entire time I knew him, while his real work, his stories, languished in a box under the cobwebs under the eaves. I have already wasted too many decades of my life making money doing things I am good at but which are not writing my stories. The old things I used to do: copy editing, technical writing, website development, are still, always, trying to suck me back in, and I fight them on a daily basis. I do not need to learn a new skill to fight off so that I can do what I’m meant to do.

I know I can never re-write Dad’s stories so they can see the light of day and give others the same feelings they gave me but, somehow, I have managed to retain Jerome. He’s taken on a new life in my work, beside a different river. A very different river. And yet, somehow, the same river…

Note: Women are allowed, now, at the real-world Jerome’s, though moonshine is no longer available!


Stay tuned for Why I Might Have to Self-Publish whether I Like It or Not, coming soon…

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New Year, New Story, New Plan

So I took a break, after finishing the final draft of Moonlight and Moss (working title – but probably actual title, too!) to clear my mind before diving into Query Hell once again.

During the month of November, I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote a little (for me) vignette about what Christmas is like in Woodley, USA. I really like how it came out! It’s been fascinating to find out why it snows every Christmas in Woodley, in a part of the country that ordinary doesn’t get snow at all. And, I found out what happens if you don’t have a wish to whisper into Santa’s ear at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Christmas at Vale House

I’m so pleased with it I’m going to polish it up and self-publish it as a gift to my readers. Someday I’ll also include it in the boxed set once the third Woodley novel comes out. The title is A Midnight Clear. Chronologically, it falls between Moonlight and Moss and the third volume which does not, yet, have a working title.

Now that I’ve got all the Beta-reader input back on Moonlight and Moss, I’m going to comb through it one last time to make sure it’s as perfect as possible before I begin submitting it for publication. I have received some great coaching on querying from people in the industry (particularly from Meg LaTorre at iWriterly, who gives a great online class on query-writing) and maybe I’ll have better luck this time finding good representation for traditional publishing.

That was my New Year Resolution for 2019: to find a new traditional publisher.

And here I must apologize to you, dear readers. Since I am, in fact, looking for a new publisher for “Moonlight and Moss,” this means it will take longer to hit the shelves than I anticipated, had I stayed with my current publisher. I feel terrible about this, because I know so many of you are clamoring for the next story. Believe me, I can’t wait for you to see it, either! But I really do feel these stories at least deserve a publisher which has distribution and marketing capabilities, and I must do right by them and find one.

To make it up to you for this delay, I’m going make the story I wrote about Luke, the proprietor of Motherboard Pizza, available for free. I can do this for the e-book version, anyway, though Amazon does require I put a minimum price of $2.99 on paperback copies. It includes a map of Woodley and the floor plan of the ground floor of Vale House, if that sweetens the bitter pill at all!

Also, I intend, in the interim, to give you some sneak-peeks at sample chapters of Moonlight and Moss, here on my blog. Stay tuned…

I know that’s not what you’re asking for, though, and I do promise to get “Moonlight and Moss” out there as soon as humanly possible. Without taking shortcuts on quality or on carefully reviewing publishers’ qualifications, of course!

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