Friday, March 23, 2012

This post has nothing whatever to do with being an author. Just with being a human being. I get sinus infections which give me sinus headaches which more often than not turn into rampaging migraine headaches. I have been having this issue lately, more serious than usual, and today finally got myself to the doc. She decided to save herself some trouble and gave me a prescription for antibiotics with 6 refills. I do, after all, know better than she does when I have a sinus infection. I actually felt a little better today, after a killer week. When the headache decides to go off on it's own for a while (I wonder what it does?) I talk about it in hushed whispers, afraid it will hear me and come rushing back with a vengeance. It's crazy, but I think of it as a live, malevolent thing that haunts me. I don't say, "I have another headache." I say, "The headache is back." Because I know-I KNOW it's the same one,coming back, over and over. I was just thinking today, I should give it a name. And the moment I had that thought, the headache answered me. "We are called Legion," it said. I looked around for a herd of swine, but no, I couldn't do that. I wouldn't wish this thing on anyone, even though their time of pain would be short, since they would run, in their madness, off the nearest cliff.
A few years ago, I had the sinus surgery, which everyone raved about. I was told I would have no more problems once it was done. Weeeell, you ever see those old sci fi movies from the fifties? You know the ones, where some idiotic greedy miners just dig TOO deep and accidentally unleash some hundred thousand year old behemoth that has been trapped and biding it's time while feeding on man-made radiation? That's what that surgery did for me. I have wondered ever since, "What have I done?" Before that, The Headache was just a thing that bugged me sometimes but wasn't angry with me about anything. It thought he and I were in the same boat. Then I tried to anhiliate and drive it out of it's nice little home. I made an enemy out of it. I have tried to tell it many times, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Doesn't work.
And so, I live in hope that the antibiotics, and the super powerful pain pills and the nasal spray will weaken it and drive it back into it's hole, somewhere in the center of my head. We'll see.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Well, I'm giving my manuscript at least one more go through (I cannot stand spelling or other errors), and then at the end of this week I am sending the whole thing off to the publisher of my choice, Deseret Book. One of the nice things about them is that they do not require a query letter. You can just send them the whole thing, and when they get to it, they'll go over it and either accept or reject you. I did write a fine cover letter, if I do say so myself.
Another thing that will be good with them, if I can get through the door, is that they will be good for vetting me. Deseret Book is an LDS Church publisher. My manuscript does contain characters who are LDS and non-LDS, and if I need any help dealing with those differences, I know they can do that and keep me pointed in the right direction. I also know them to be a company of integrity who won't do me over in any way. If Deseret Book itself is not especially interested in me, they might just send me on through to one of their other companies, like Shadow Mountain or Bookcraft. Or, they might say, "sorry, not interested at this time." If they do that, I have decided to do the free publishing with Amazon. I don't think I can trust mainstream publishers with this one, just because of the LDS angle. I don't want it in non-Church hands, at least not until I have more confidence in my own ability to keep control of things.
It will take them 3 months, probably to get back to me. I'll let ya know what happens.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

These pictures are of the Erie canal as seen from the small village of Medina in Western New York. I thank Mike Bukiewicz and Peggy Silkowski for these gorgeous shots. Now, I ask you-who could live in a place like this and not be inspired in some way? Recently while living in Medina again, the town where I grew up, I got some inspiration of my own. I wanted to write a book, and I wanted it set here. Now it's written and I'm trying to decide what to do next. I become more convinced every day that self publishing is not an option to be ashamed of. I have talked to successful self published authors who say they would not change a thing, will continue to self publish, even though they now have offers from mainstream publishers. It's still up in the air for me. I'm trying to be patient, but at other times, I think, "Why wait?" There are, however, a lot of pitfalls that a professional editor and publisher will get you over. Self publishing, you're a bit more on your own.
I'm LDS. That means "I'm a Mormon". Especially with Mitt Romney's recent bid for President, there have been a lot of questions floating around out there about those peculiar Mormons. Along with that have been an awful lot of people who just don't like Mormons and who think they know things that they actually don't know. I want people to know that it's okay to ask those questions. We want to answer them! And I decided that I wanted to write a story that would appeal to many different people-not just Mormons, or non-Mormons, or dog lovers, or people from Western New York. I wanted to reach out to all of those people, as well as anyone else who might just want to jump on and go for a ride. I'm going to try and create a brief synopsis of my book, and maybe some of you will tell me what you think. Would you read this?
Ann Bixby was born and raised as an only child in a small village on the banks of the Erie Canal. When she was 15 years old, the unthinkable happened. Her mother died. Having been raised a devout Mormon, she knew that she and her father would see her mother again-because they know that families are meant to be together forever. After a year of unspeakable loneliness, however, her father decides that living in that town without his beloved wife was more than he could bear. He takes his teen aged daughter and goes to live in Eastern Oregon, where he had a sister.
And so they moved to an even smaller town than the one they left. Ann thought it was at least "a thousand miles from anywhere". After she had graduated high school, she thought briefly of going off to college, but quickly dismissed the idea of leaving her lonely father even more alone. They lived there for more than ten years.
Grief struck again. Walter Bixby had joined his wife on the other side. Their daughter, now 27 and alone, had to make a decision. Would she stay, or would she go? And if she went, where?
(And that, folks, is just background!!) The actual book begins at this point.
Well, you guessed it-she moves, back home. Her best friend, who was more like a sister growing up, is Kell Harris. Kell and her family still live back in Charlestown, NY (the name I chose for my fictional Medina-I named it after my ancestor, Charles Hecox). The Harris family are a mixed race, African American-Caucasion family and are also LDS. They are like a second set of parents to the tall, quirky, unpretentious Ann. During the process of looking for a place to live, Ann comes across a fellow orphan. She knows immediately that taking him in is the right thing to do. His name is Henry. He is two years old. He weighs 200 pounds. He is a Great Dane. She has never had a dog. She has never had so much as a hamster in her life. But doing the right thing comes naturally to her and she knows that he needs her.
A dog that big needs a lot of walking, and she spends much of her time doing just that. Thanks to these walks, she meets people she never would have met, people that become as dear and dearer than anyone she has ever had in her life. Representing those that become dear are Mr. and Mrs. Tom Tipple. Tom is a Person of Short Stature who amuses himself by walking about town dressed as an elf during the Christmas season, and who dresses as a large garden gnome during the spring and summer months. Ann mistakes him for an actual statue and almost has heart failure when he speaks to her. For more about the Tipples, read the book.
Ann buys a house, and one day while out walking, she meets, unbeknownst to her, the town hermit. He doesn't look like a hermit to her. To her, he looks like a male cover model. That's how he looks to everyone else, too, but he isn't aware of it and wouldn't care anyway. His name is Kyle Mendez and he has had enough of people. He is corrosive, off-putting, large and intimidating. He tells her, "I stay away from people. I don't know what they think. I don't care what they think. I don't ask them what they think and they don't tell me what they think." Ann is the first person in a long time who will look him straight in the eye and tell him exactly what she thinks. He knew the first time he saw her, she was different. She didn't know he was a hermit and she wasn't about to let him be one. She begins slowly drawing him out and he can't help but go with her. The story of his past peels back like the layers of an onion, and brings as many tears. Slowly she shows him how to forgive, how to love, and how to live again. She also introduces him to something he never would have predicted would interest him-the Mormon Church.
She gives him the gift of something he had long forgotten-joy.
So---would you read it?? Or could you barely get through these few paragraphs?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Been A While

I have noticed in some of the other blogs that I follow that many people are proficient bloggers. I'm not. Sometimes I just can't think of anything to say. But today, I have this to say. Book one is, in my humble opinion, finished and ready to be edited. Book two is also finished, but in that case, when I say finished, I only mean that I need to go back, start at the beginning and rewrite. Rewrite and rewrite. I actually have started to do that. But sometimes I get the feeling that I need to leave it alone. These ficitional people have almost completely taken over my brain. They are like squatters and I am helpless to move them. It's a good thing I like them a lot or I would go totally insane.
I have gone over both books, but especially book one, with a fine toothed comb, looking for spelling errors, punctuation errors, inconsistencies, etc. I have found and fixed many, but if I go through it again, I know I'll find more. A professional editor will, I assume, go through it again and slash ruthlessly with his or her little red pen. I'll tell you why I brought that up. I am currently reading a book that was written by a new friend. It's published, and everything. I love the story, story is great. Characters are likable, leading man is fall-in-lovable, girl is beautiful but sufficiently self-effacing to make us like her too, their friends are all cool and the bad guys are the kind you love to hate. Here's my trouble. An editor's name is listed at the beginning of this book, and so I know that there was an editor. But he did an awful job.
Every page is a study in punctuation and spelling errors. "Hit the breaks!" (paraphrasing) is one glaring error that I can't quite get over. What good is an editor who doesn't spot it when your spell check has substituted there for they're or their? Commas run rampant, put, in the middles, of sentences and places where, commas don't belong, get the message? I can forgive an error here and there. I have read my own over and over and as I said, always find at least one new one that I missed before.
Now my quandry is, what do I do about it? Should I point this stuff out to my friend? Book is already out there, I don't know that there is any point in telling her, and if she is anything like me, she has read it 1000 times herself and should have already noticed some of these things. It makes me wonder more about the publisher than about her as an author. But if my book were to hit the shelves with mistakes that would draw lethal glares from English teachers everywhere, I would go live under a rock for the next 20 or 30 years. Or at least I would think about it.
So, what do I do?