“Show up, show up, show up and after a while, the muse shows up, too.” ~ Isabel Allende
This week I’ve been doing the week 6 exercises from Pam Grout’s Art & Soul Reloaded. We were supposed to write seven blog posts, which was a bit of stretch for me. I’ve been posting once a week since spring or summer of 2013, yet as I put my mind each day to what I was going to write for the next post, ideas came to me. Now I won’t say that they were fantastic ideas, but since I’m in the habit of doing lots of self-reflection, I was able to come up with enough ideas to complete my assignment.
The amazing thing is that this week my in-laws have been visiting and we’ve been doing some galavanting. So, I’ve had to fit my writing in where I could. And that’s the real advantage of doing this exercise, making writing my priority. Doing that is what Steven Pressfield calls being a professional. In his book The War of Art, he explains the difference between being an amateur and a professional: Don’t fit your creative endeavors around the rest of your life, make your art a priority and do it every day no matter what.
I have to say that I write almost every day, but I’m not sure I’ve got that professional attitude quite yet when writing my novels. I am always thinking about my novel, but I’m not always sitting in the chair writing new scenes, rearranging, or revising everyday.
After doing these exercises, however, I’m going to commit to two things, I’m going to add a blog post on Saturdays so that I’m posting twice a week, and I’m going to sit down and do some work on my novel every day.
That’s all for today. We’re going on an outing again today, the last day or my in-law’s visit, so see you Wednesday.
Thanks for reading, commenting and liking my posts. I appreciate it.
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list
“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different styles.” ~ R. L. Stine
“Every year the literary press praises dozens if not hundreds of novels to the skies, asserting explicitly or implicitly that these books will probably not be suffering water damage in the basements of their author’s houses 20 years from now. But historically, anyway, that’s not the way the novelistic ecology works.” ~ Lev Grossman
“Buy other author’s books when you go to their events. Even if you aren’t going to read it. Even if you are going to give it away. Even if you aren’t interested. Not just for the author but for the bookstore. It’s karma and just plain good manners.” ~ M. J. Rose
Okay, I admit it, I know almost nothing about how to market and promote my book. I loved writing it, even on the hard days. But I get a headache when I try to make a plan to market it.
The other day I was fretting about how to spread the word that I’ve published a book. I mean isn’t that a great accomplishment? Yes, it is and I feel good about that, but there are thousands, perhaps even millions of books published every day. So how do I toot my horn loud enough so that people will pay attention to my work, but not become annoying with roboposts on social media?
There are so many books and articles with tips for the independent author about how to “build your brand,” or how to “build your audience.” They say you’ve got to build a social media presence, create an email list, write a blog, do a podcast, or video series to help you find your target audience. Of course you have to take time to figure out who your target audience is while doing all that. I wish I could find someone to do all the marketing for me. But since I don’t have a big publishing firm behind me, I have to do it myself. Which means I keep reading and trying to expand my social media reach. Some tips are helpful, but to be honest, most of it makes my head spin and my heart sink.
I hit upon this fantastic idea to search for women writers who might be willing to review my book on their blogs and I came across an Arizona writer who specializes in writing reviews for little known women authors. Aha! I thought I’d hit the jackpot when she said the description of my book sounded interesting and she was willing to review my book. Then, in subsequent emails, she mentioned that she didn’t like fantasy and my heart sank. Of course she wanted me to buy and review her book in return. (I’m sending mine to her for free.) So, what to do? I told her that my book was kind of on the order of Outlander, and not surprisingly she wrote back that she hadn’t read the series, that’s how much she hates fantasy. Okay, by this point I was getting extremely frustrated. She is not the first person I’ve encountered who says they hate fantasy, and won’t even try reading it. To me, reading lots of genres of books is what keeps my reading life interesting. On the other hand, fantasy is like eating my favorite comfort food. If I’m feeling upset, or bored, I go choose a fantasy book to lose myself in. Some are fantastic, others not so much, but when I hit a gem of a book, I follow that author.
Here’s the thing, my book, The Space Between Time, and Outlander, are not strictly fantasy. They are really in a new category called magical realism. Both books have elements of historical fiction, while including time travel, and a bit of intrigue and romance thrown in. They’re kind of a hodgepodge of genres most of them with realistic settings and events. Isabel Allende’s book The House of the Spirits is always referenced when talking about magical realism. But, it’s not a category we could choose when publishing my book. So, what do I call The Space Between Time, and how do I find my audience? Fortunately, we had a wide range of tags we could attach to my book description, from women’s fiction, to fantasy, to historical.
The other day I was contemplating this marketing dilemma just before meditating. And, behold, in my meditation an answer came to me. Go join fantasy groups on my social media sites. There are many shades of fantasy, and among those fans must be people who love magical realism, or soft core fantasy as one of my students calls it. While I was doing that, another thought came to me to join sites, and organizations that are for women writers, and about women’s fiction.
So, even though my head still spins after spending time networking with these groups, I do feel like eventually, I will find my readers.
Having written all of the above, I challenge those of you who say you don’t like fantasy, to read a book by a friend of mine, Stacy Bennett. The book is Quest of the Dreamwalker. I just finished rereading this book because my sister, niece, brother-in-law, and I have formed a book club group. They wanted me to suggest a book, and since we’re all lovers of fantasy, I suggested, Quest of the Dreamwalker. It’s a book I loved when I first read it, and have continued to think about long after I finished the last page. To me well written fantasy books such as this, help me get a better perspective on human experience, and human nature. Maybe it’s because I’m a magnet for other people’s feelings, but sometimes books that are set in my time period are too jarring. If it could happen to me or my neighbors, then I’m reluctant to read the book. But, historical fiction, mystery and suspence, fantasy, magical realism, even classic literature help me separate from the situation a bit, while still experiencing the story along with the characters.
Here is a short description of Quest of the Dreamwalker, from my perspective. As Cara and Falin, helped by Khoury, Archer and Bradan, face danger from an evil sorcerer, they try to unravel who they are, and what their aborted purpose might be. In the process we get glimpses of their hopes, fears, grief, love, and connection to one another. While the book does take place in a made up world, and there are sorcerers, and a reluctant dragon, this book could almost be classified as medieval historical fiction. There are shamanic type characters and paranormal experiences, but if you’ve read The Shack, or The Alchemist, you’re used to that kind of thing anyway. Think about it, aren’t dark sorcerers just a representation of the darker side of human nature? And dragons, as part of our mythology, represent greed, or intelligence, or love of the land, or even wisdom. To me the main themes of this book are the same as most general fiction. It involves characters who are wounded and dealing with unhealed grief and pain. They are seeking self-discovery, finding their purpose, and finding and expressing love. I highly recommend this book, even to those of you who might not think you like fantasy.
Okay I’ve done my good deed for the day. I will continue to explore genres of fiction that I might normally shy away from. I will also continue to learn how best to promote my work.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, woman’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.
“I’m full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock
“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock
“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock
I’m a little slow on the uptake, or maybe it’s just that now I fully understand, on all levels, that key ingredient that makes great writing endure. It’s emotion. You have to engage the reader, or audience member emotionally, or they won’t remember your work. “I remember most how the books made me feel.” A recent guest said on the “What Do I Read Next” podcast by Anne Bogel, that I have recently subscribed to.
I’m also taking a course through Turner Classic Movies about Alfred Hitchcock. An interesting thing I’ve learned about his style was that he always wanted his audience to connect emotionally with his main characters.
Then I felt chagrin when I realized, my last two posts, which got no likes or comments, were too intellectual. They didn’t express the emotion that I always feel when I make connections between big ideas. I often feel a sinking or rising feeling in my solar plexus. What I feel physically confirms what I think I know intellectually. But now I see that I have not done a good job expressing those emotion so you, my readers can connect to my excitement, or dismay, or whatever the heck I’m feeling. In a way, I’m just following my strengths.
I don’t mean to play “The Devil made me do it,” card. Let me explain before I go on. When I was teaching high school, someone recommended that I read the book Teach With Your Strengths, by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller. I love finding out more about my personality traits, so I bought the book. At the end you take the quiz to discover what your top five strengths are. Mine are empathy, intellection, connectedness, ideation, and strategic. Four of those strengths have to with the way I use my brain. Even though empathy is at the top of the list, I have to admit, I was completely surprised by the last four traits. Never before had I even thought about why I love to analyze everything. But when I watched the interview segments last week with Alfred Hitchcock, I got it. I’m a little bit like him, deadpan on the outside, swirling with emotions on the inside.
When something happens to me, lots of emotions are churning around inside me. But over the years through lots of moves, and toxic school, and work environments, I’ve learned to play ‘possum. It’s my defense mechanism to keep myself from getting ridiculed. So on the outside I look perfectly calm, while inside my emotions are doing somersaults. Alfred Hitchcock was the same way during the interview we watched in class. He was so deadpan. Yet what his many biographers, the instructor, and many movie critics have said is that, what makes his movies endure is how they make us feel. So, he must have been in touch with universal human emotions on some level.
That’s something I need to keep working on as a writer, especially when I’m working on these blog posts and other non-fiction work. Because the best non-fiction books I’ve read tell personal stories that engage my emotions as a reader. I can relate to the feelings expressed by the author.
This insight couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve begun working on a new book titled, Inner Life of a Late Bloomer Baby Boomer, and even though it’s not a memoir, the essays do express my personal viewpoint about life. Each piece needs to reveal my emotions about the ideas I’m sharing. I think this will be easier now that I’m older and have been more open about expressing how I really feel instead of keeping silent. No more playing ‘possum for me.
Just now as I write this post, I know why I didn’t continue on with a higher degree in religion. It’s because theater grasped my emotions and taught me many of the same things that were expressed in my religion classes. But, theology is too academic. I honestly don’t remember many of the concepts I learned during those years of studying religion. What I do remember was how excited my instructors were to share the subjects they loved. Their excitement rubbed off on me and my world view was expanded, but the details of the concepts are gone.
So, I feel I must apologize to all of you. I’m going to work on infusing my work with more emotion, even while sharing the interesting ideas that spark my imagination. It’s a goal that should keep me busy for the next twenty or thirty years, and I hope will improve my writing.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.
“Our true person is outside of time and space, but looking at the paperwork, I can, in fact, see that I was born in 1954. My inside self is outside of time and space. It doesn’t have an age. I’m every age I’ve ever been, and so are you …” ~ Anne Lamott
The other day I saw a TED talk by Anne Lamott about twelve things she knows for sure. I have to say I haven’t read much of her work, but I’ve heard her speak many times and I love her humor and outlook on life. So taking a cue from her, since I’ve recently turned sixty-four, I’m going to write some things here that I know for sure. At least, so far. These are not in any particular order.
I don’t have children, and though most people don’t say it, I know many of them are thinking that I have no legacy to leave behind me, as if that’s a big deal. I don’t believe that. I think we’re made up of energy and we can’t help but leave our energy signature behind us. Even if a person seems to be leading a negative life, their energy might have positive consequences for those left behind. For example, many people saw the kind of life Hitler led and said, “Oh, heck no, I’m not living that kind of life.” What’s more, anyone who is creative leaves their work behind, and that’s a lovely legacy for all who come after.
Second, there is no reason to worry about the younger generations coming behind you. Each generation progresses, and the generations that come after build on what the ones before have done. I’ve been a teacher of both high school and community college students and I can say from experience that my students were for the most part, responsible, thoughtful, hardworking people. I’m not worried at all about the wonderful things they will accomplish. In fact, I’m excited to see what the future holds.
Third, nothing matters. Before you tie yourself into knots about that, just think about it. Everything that exists just is. We are the ones who assign a meaning to things and situations. The house is not good or bad, it just is. The situation at work is not good or bad, except what we think about it. Whether or not our lawn is mown is not good or bad, it’s just the way people pressure you to think about it. So, take a breath, and see how you feel about what happens to you. Ask yourself whether or not it will matter in a hundred years. If not, then it might be good to let it go.
Four, If you want people to be trustworthy, you have to trust them. My dad used to say that all the time, and it’s true. I practice this principle when I’m teaching. If I expect a lot from my students and trust that they will put their all into doing the work, for the most part they do. If not, I follow what Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” And as Iyanla Van Zant says, “If you see crazy, cross the street.”
Five is related to four, if someone is entrenched in their beliefs, don’t try to change their mind. That’s a situation in which we find ourselves on a huge scale right now, and it’s distressing because the people who believe in hatred and separation are making life miserable for the rest of us. But, as my dad also used to say, it’s best to lead by example. So be persistent in sharing love, compassion, and understanding. Eventually, when the tide turns and love is the way we conduct our places of business, and our government agencies, the haters will either change or die off.
Six, there is so much good in the world. Make a practice of looking for, and being grateful for it. When you do, your life will be so much happier. Tell people you appreciate them, be thankful for even the smallest things that go right during the day.
Seven, loving yourself is the best gift you can give the world. When you love yourself, the mistakes, the dark places, the triumphs and all, then you have added to the expansion of the human race, because we’re all connected, you know. So, take the time to forgive and love yourself. You will contribute to changing the world.
Eight, there is only now. As so many teachers have said, we can’t change what happened in the past and the future isn’t here yet, so pay attention to the moment you’re in, cherish it and/or learn from it.
Nine, love is stronger than hate, the sensitive, empathetic, compassionate people are the ones who are changing the world.
Ten, I wanted to mention chocolate, since Anne Lamott did in her list. I’m not funny like she is, so I’ll just say that drinking my supercharged hot chocolate every morning is one of the great pleasures of my life. I’m grateful that its rich goodness was discovered and developed for all of us to enjoy.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment sharing something you know for sure.
“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but If we do each thing calmly and carefully, we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.” ~ Viggo Mortensen
What more do I need to say? Viggo Mortensen’s horse master had it right. That’s why I’m taking the slow route with my book promotion.
My friend Debrah, the writer who helped me hone my book, and I are getting together tomorrow to plan strategies to promote our books. Debrah has published three, soon to be four, books. She and I are kind of alike. We want to plan our own strategies for promoting our books. It’s good to read about how other people have created massive interest and lots of sales for their products, but I’ve always been a little bit of a rebel when it comes to rules. I hardly ever follow a recipe exactly as written, and as I’ve written before, I didn’t follow all the rules when I was a teacher. I feel the same about promoting my book.
There are so many stories of people and their “instant” success. For example, hugely popular actors like George Clooney who slept on his Aunt Rosemary’s couch for a year or so, then took small parts for ten years before his big breakthrough. Or Jim Carrey who at one point lived with his family in their Volkswagon van, before getting his break as a stand up comedian. Even authors like J.K. Rowling had hurdles to jump over before their books became hits.
Taking our cue from others who “made it” after lots of effort, Debrah and I will create our own method, all the while believing in our work, forging relationships and continuing to write.
Since the ebook version of The Space Between Time is finally published, find the link below, I’d like to share some ways you can help promote my book, should you choose to read it, and those of your favorite authors.
I got these tips from an article “13 Ways to Support an Author Without Ever Spending a Dime,” by Florida author, Steph Post, from a site called Lit Reactor. You can read the full article for yourself. I’m picking and choosing my favorites to list here.
Check out a book from the library
“Anyone, anywhere, can purchase a book on Amazon. A library book can give an author a sense of how far their book has traveled,” Ms. Post writes. I plan to ask friends all across the country to request that their local library carry my book, which is the second suggestion on the list. Request that your local library carry your favorite books.
Review a book
You can go to sites like Necessary Fiction and Small Press & Indie Book Review and request a free copy of a book you might like to review. This can help you if you’re a new author and/or reviewer. It also helps the author. Another way to help an author is by writing a review on Amazon, iBooks, or Goodreads. I have an author page on Goodreads and have just listed The Space Between Time on it. If you follow any of my author pages throughout social media, consider writing a review. That helps me get more exposure. Again, you can do this for all your favorite authors, especially those just starting out.
Talk to your local bookseller
If you read a book, especially one by a new author, and your bookstore doesn’t carry it, suggest they stock it. This goes for any book you liked reading, even if you checked it out from the library. You can suggest they create a feature books display, or introduce it in their newsletter. I have friends in Portland, Oregon and I plan to ask them to suggest my book to Powell’s Books. It’s the largest independent bookstore in the world, so if one of their employees reads my book and likes it, and they feature it in their newsletter … well, that would be a dream come true.
Face a book out on the bookshelves
When your local bookstore listens to you and buys the book you suggested, pull the book out so the browsers can see the cover.
Take a book selfie
Use your selfie stick and social media to promote books you have read and loved, even if they are older. It might revive interest in the book. Remember to be creative!
Nominate a book
I don’t know about you, but it seems self-serving to nominate my own book for an award. I have a love-hate relationship with awards anyway. However, as Ms. Post points out, many sites with awards, like Goodreads, are reader driven, so nominate your favorites.
Recommend a book to a book club, and talk to your friends about the books you love
Word of mouth is still the best advertising tool, so be creative about sharing the news about books you have enjoyed reading.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with your friends.
The Space Between Time will soon be available at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook retailers. You can download it today at Smashwords. I’ll let you know when the print versions are ready.
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” ~ Edward de Bono
“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” ~ Yo-Yo Ma
“I was a writer before ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ and I’ll be a writer after it’s over. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
I was going to make this post about the marketing and promotion that is a necessary part of publishing a book, but this morning I saw a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert from 2009 about what happens to many creatives after a big success. She related what she had experienced after the explosive success of her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. It wasn’t her reaction to the fame, that caused her to take a step back and examine the creative process, it was the reaction of others.
I don’t know why we think we have a right to comment on, or be concerned for other people in intrusive soul killing ways. When Elizabeth related the fact that people were indicating that she had created her ONE masterpiece and how did she feel about that? And how was she going to cope with that fact? I cringed, just like she did.
The thing is, she has written another big block buster book since her first. It’s Big Magic, which I have read. It’s about the creative process and it’s been an inspiration for me. She debunks lots of old myths about the tortured artist idea. She’s right it’s time to think of artists in new ways. And she wrote the book for artists, so they can be cycle breakers. I decided to break out of the starving, tortured artist mould and just have fun writing.
Here’s the thing, I’ve written a novel, my first. It took me seven years to complete. It’s taking my husband a week, to prepare the manuscript for publication as an ebook. Then it will take us two or three weeks, maybe more, to complete the process to publish it for the print-on-demand version. It will be a big relief and, of course, I’ll have lots of work to do promoting the book. It may be popular, it may not. But I have lots more to say, and in fact, I’ve started work on its sequel. In addition, I have begun a fantasy book, and I’ve got an idea of taking some of my blog posts and creating a book of them as well. None of my work may hit the New York Times bestseller list. I have fun visualizing that one or two will, but if that never happens, I’ll be just fine. Because I write for me, not for you. Sorry if that sounds callous.
I do hope that my work touches people, that they get something out of it. But, my writing is about doing what poetess Ruth Stone does, I’m catching ideas as they flow by and putting them down on paper. Only in my process, unlike hers, some of the ideas come and pitch a tent, go fishing, hiking, bathe in the sun, roast marshmallows at the campfire for a while before they turn back to letting me in on what it is they want to say. I have lots of ideas camping out in the back of my head. So if one of them comes to fruition and it’s popular, that’s great! But I’ve got others waiting to let me in on their secrets, and when they do I’ll learn something as I’m writing them down.
I hope next week to share the download link for The Space Between Time. If you decide to read it, I hope you’ll share it with others, and even write a review.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share this post with a friend, and leave a comment.
After seven years, it’s finally happening! In a way it’s hard to believe that The Space Between Time will launch Memorial Day weekend. The book should be available at all ebook retailers by May 30 or 31. it takes Smashwords awhile to format the book for the different e-reader formats.
My husband and I have decided to do what we call a soft launch by publishing the ebook first. In two or three weeks we’ll launch the print-on-demand book, which we hope to make available in both hard and paperback.
It’s been a long, at times frustrating journey, but one that has convinced me that the writing life is for me. I’m already working on the sequel novel tentatively titled Time’s Echo.
Below find the book description, written by my good friend Debrah Strait. It’s much better than the one I wrote. Also endorsements from Debrah and another friend, Dorothy Sander, their books and contact information are also listed. I’m so grateful to both these women for their comments on, and support of my work.
Life is not going well for Jenna Holden. Her live-in-fiancé walks out. Instead of the promotion she’s expecting at her book editor job, she’s fired. Her estranged mother is in a terrible accident that may kill her. And Jenna must return to the small town where she grew up to recoup. With all that’s happened she sees no future for herself.
But then, in her mother’s attic, Jenna finds journals written by a long-dead ancestress. They transport her to another time and place, giving her access to the thoughts and feelings of another woman, also alone in the world, who is facing similar trials of heartache and loss. Reading them somehow gives Jenna an escape from her own pain and sorrow, yet offers a doorway to resilience, healing and the joy of a supportive love. Jenna need only find the self-knowledge and courage to step through, into that space between time.
Dorothy Sander endorsement
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden cosmically blends the lives of two women, generations apart, and takes her readers on a compelling journey into the heart, mind and soul of every woman. The Space Between Time is a clever, page turning book. Worlds apart, each woman wrestles with the familial and cultural claims on their lives and the vagaries of life itself. Determined to follow their hearts, no matter where they take them, their severest tests birth their greatest strengths. Separately, yet together, they grow in wisdom and understanding and find their way home to their hearts. A great read.
Dorothy Sander, Author of Finding Hope, Quotes & Inspiration for the Midlife Woman, and founder of AgingAbundantly.com. She can also be found at Dorothy Sander about.me/dsander and Aging Abundantly on Twitter.
Debrah Strait endorsement
This intriguing story of two women, living in two different time periods, caught me early on and never let go. There are accurate historical details, challenges of loss and heartache, mysteries to solve, and love to find for both women, in a well-paced and satisfying read. It is a book to be savored and re-read.
Debrah Strait can be contacted at debrahstrait.com . All her books are listed there, along with samples and first chapters. Her e-mail address is listed on the first page::(email@example.com)
The Sweet Trade — pirate adventure yarn
The Dragon’s Gold – comic fairy tale
Flash of the Pen – 22 pieces of flash fiction, plus two haiku.
By July, book #4 will be launched. Title: Notes From Bisbee; Twenty years on the Border with killer bees, rattlesnakes, and folks in need of attention. It’s a collections of her Christmas newsletters sent out every year since 1996, a memoir of sorts.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
“You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.” ~ Susan Wiggs
Today I’ve just returned from Portland, Oregon. Actually, as I write this, I’m fantasizing about my upcoming trip which begins in a few days, so technically I haven’t gone yet. However, I won’t get back in time to prepare this post, so I’m scheduling it ahead of time.
It’s been nearly twenty-one years since my husband and I moved from Portland to Southern Arizona and believe it or not, we’ve never been back. It was a great place to live mostly because of the scenery, lots of fantastic entertainment, and the great bookstores.
In fact, Portland can boast of having the largest independent bookstore in the entire world. Powell’s City of Books took up an entire city block when we lived there. I can’t wait to see if it has expanded. You can be sure I will be making at least one visit to the store and I plan to buy at least one book while I’m there, more if I can fit them into my luggage for the trip home. As I recall the bookstore had a coffee shop, several levels and rooms each dedicated to a specific genre it may take me several days to explore it. I’ll be taking pictures, you can be sure, and I may dedicate my next Loving Literature video to my experience there.
I haven’t told many people this, but it’s a favorite fantasy of mine to have book readings at the store. It may not happen until I’ve published my fourth or fifth book, but I keep visualizing what it will be like to read and talk to a huge room full of fans about my writing process and share parts of my new book with them. In my mind’s eye it will be a rare sparklingly sunny day with the profusion of flowers, particularly rhododendrons, azaleas, and the roses the city is so known for.
I’m not a very gregarious person, but I hope to strike up some conversations with the employees and maybe interest someone in The Space Between Time. One way I thought I’d do that is to ask for advice on a little known, but great book to buy. Or maybe I’ll sit in the coffee shop writing or reading and find a friendly patron to talk with. I’m determined to be more open to great conversations with people who love books.
Thinking about books and how much reading has done for me, I thought I’d share a scene from my second novel, tentatively titled Time’s Echo. This is a rough draft, and may not end up in the final version of the book but I thought you might be interested in reading it and making comments.
Time’s Echo begins two or three years after the end of The Space Between Time. Jack, Jenna’s husband, has opened his center for the arts. Though Jenna’s primary job is working on her second novel about her experiences with Morgan, her three-times great-grandmother, she also offers classes at the center. In this scene, she and her friend Naomi are wrapping up just such a class. My idea for this novel is that Jenna’s ideas about women that she expresses in her writing and in public will put her and her family in some dangerous situations. This scene shows that not everyone hates her.
“Ms. Holden, I wanted to thank you for teaching this class. I had no idea there were so many powerful, and creative women throughout history,” said Amy. She was one of the students who was taking classes on scholarship at the Umpqua Center for the Arts. She was a bright girl. Jenna was glad she had been privileged to have her as a student.
At first Jenna had thought she’d be much too busy writing the next book about her adventures with Morgan, her three-times great-grandmother, to teach classes. Since finding the box containing the journals, she had been living in two worlds. It was sometimes difficult for Jenna to focus on the present moment.
However, Her mother’s dear friend Naomi had suggested the class about prominent women and their contributions to the development of humanity. She offered to team teach the class with Jenna. Given the political climate, the two women saw the class as their way of helping their students see that women have always been making important contributions.
This was the last day of the class. Jenna had thoroughly enjoyed teaching it with Naomi, though they were really more like facilitators. The students were the ones who had chosen women they found interesting, then taught each other about their achievements.
“You’re welcome.” Jenna said to Amy, “I’ve had fun learning about women I had never heard of before. Which woman was your favorite?”
“That’s a hard one to answer. Eleanor Roosevelt I guess. She was one of my favorites because even though she came from a wealthy and powerful family, she always looked for ways to help people, and that made her feel better about herself.”
“I like her too. I hope you’ll consider taking other classes with us.”
“Oh, I will. I want to try acting and some of the art classes. I’ve always wanted to paint.”
“Good for you. I look forward to seeing you around the Center.”
The center was a success because the course offerings were designed for the enrichment and enjoyment of local residents of Roseburg and the surrounding environs as well as drawing students from farther afield. The courses were unique, relatively inexpensive, and weren’t offered anywhere else.
Obviously the class had been a big hit because other students hung around to talk to Naomi and Jenna. What surprised Jenna was the fact that several young men had taken the class. Because of that there had been some lively discussions about the rights of men and women. In the end through consensus, the students decided that the class was really about human rights.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
“Nobody needs me to sing MacDonald’s praises, but that yard of books did more for me than provide excellent entertainment. For some reason the McGee books spoke to me like textbooks. I felt I could see what MacDonald was doing, and why, and how, as if I could see beneath the skin.” ~ Lee Child
“Dickens didn’t write what people wanted. Dickens wanted what people wanted.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” ~ Stephen Pressfield
I’ve gone back to working on my sequel novel to The Space Between Time, and because of that and the political climate, I’ve been doing lots of thinking about my characters Jenna and Morgan and their relationships with their husbands. I’ve known for quite some time that Morgan becomes a Suffragist, and Jenna has a tangle with the conservative right who want to keep women in their place. But when I first started working on that manuscript in 2014 I felt a little bit stuck. Things were going along pretty smoothly at the time but events have turned to give me more fodder for my imagination. Because of that I’ve been thinking about how Jack and Seth will react to their wives becoming activists. I want to get into their heads to see what interesting things their struggles will bring to the story. This book may turn out to be more about how men and women relate to each other than Jenna and Morgan’s involvement in the women’s movements of their respective time periods.
As I’ve no doubt written before, my mind is rarely quiet. I’m always storing away bits of information I pick up from the books I read, current events, the movies and TV shows I watch, and conversations with friends and family.
Every once in a while all the disparate things I’ve been thinking or observing come to a conjunction and I get a big AHA. I’ve recently had one of those ahas when I read an article about “The Awesome Omega Male.” I don’t want to go into detail about how my thinking came together, however, I will say that I’ve come to some interesting conclusions about the different kinds of male characters in movies and books.
My husband and I had been watching many action movies lately. After reading the above mentioned article, I realized that male oriented action movies come in two basic categories. There are the alpha male movies with the characters who are egotistical and on a rampage of revenge. It could be as trivial a reason as somebody messed with their stuff, or crossed them in some way. I don’t like those kind. They don’t seem to have a point.
In the other category there are characters who are alienated from society, but they have more omega male qualities. These characters are introverted and like it. They don’t go seeking trouble but if it comes, they have the skills to take out the bad guys. They can be empathetic and kind, but for the most part they like working on their own. They don’t have much of an ego because they know their own strengths and weaknesses and how use both to accomplish their goals. In this last category of movies, the men use violence only when necessary to protect those who really need it.
One thing I loved about the article on omega men was it defined the type of men I grew up knowing. I knew that I could go to my father with a problem and he’d listen without judgment. I could rely on him to protect me if I needed it, but he also encouraged me to stand up for myself. So that’s the kind of male characters I created for The Space Between Time. When my writer friend told me that she thought my male characters were too soft, I told her I wrote the kind of men I knew, yet I did consider making them tougher. However I just couldn’t do it. I liked the men I’d created, and I didn’t want to change them. The article on omega men gave me the justification for the type of male characters I had written.
As Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series says, “Character is king.” He’s right. We remember characters over plot, but the plot is what the characters swim in to learn their lessons, to grow and change, and to accomplish their goals. That means that we must create lots of challenges for our characters to deal with, which in turn helps us show who our characters are.
Child also said in the introduction to the first Jack Reacher book, that he likes characters who are winners but alienated in some way. He likes characters who are confident and who can defeat their enemies. We have traditionally thought that the winners are the alpha males, the strongest, loudest, most domineering egotistical men. But the world is changing and so are men. We need winners who fight for all of us, not just to make themselves look good.
As I’ve been thinking about the omega male model, I’ve been comparing it to the female psychological models. According to an article I read by Stephanie S. Covington, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., and Janet L. Surrey, Ph.D., women’s primary motivating drive is toward connection with others. Alpha males think that’s a weakness but we’re discovering it’s a huge strength. That’s the one omega man trait that the above movie characters struggle with. Many of them have had a significant close relationship, or they would like to have a connection with someone but for now, they’re loners.
Since reading, as the Lee Child quote above says, is like taking a writing seminar, I’m reading some Jack Reacher and other books with strong male characters. I want to get a different perspective on men so I can use this information to flesh out Jack and Seth and the other male characters in my book. I want them to be distinct from each other and believable, but most of them will continue to be omega males.
I’m discovering that reading really is a fantastic way to become a better writer.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” ~ Viola Davis
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” ~ Aldous Huxley
“Our minds influence the key activity of the brain, which then influences everything; perception, cognition, thoughts and feelings, personal relationships; they’re all a projection of you.” ~ Deepak Chopra
One thing I’ve learned is that we each see the world from our unique perspective and often, because of our personal filters, what we think is true, isn’t true at all.
I first began to consider this through someone else’s story. This woman is a kind of mentor figure to me and she told me of an incident with one of her children. They were reflecting on some event when he was young and she said to him, “And do you remember the love?” to which he replied, “No, what I remember is the condemnation.” This was, of course, a shock to her.
As she and I talked I understood that no matter what happens to us, we interpret the events through the filters of the way we feel about ourselves, and through our responses or reactions to what has happened to us in the past. My friend taught me to take a step back when I was in conflict with someone else. I had to take a breath and ask myself, through what lenses am I seeing this situation? Is my perspective affected by my reaction to past events? Asking those kinds of questions is a vitally important communication tool.
With that in mind, here is another short section of The Space Between Time. In this scene, Jenna and her new friend Jack, have gone to a barbecue with some of her high school friends. Here Jenna finds that maybe she had been wrong about her mother’s reasons for being distant. Perhaps her mother did love her and one of the ways she showed that was to support Jenna’s school activities. There is more to that backstory, but you get the idea.
Let me know what you think, and don’t be afraid to point out any errors, or improvements that I could make.
During dinner, Jenna was surprised when the conversation turned to her mother.
“Remember the sleep overs your mom let us have?” Matt said.
Jenna crinkled her brow. “Sleep overs?” She had no idea what Matt was talking about.
“Well that’s what we called them. You remember, when we had a deadline for the paper. Sometimes Mr. Stevens would have to go home to be with the kids because his wife had the night shift at the hospital. When that happened, we’d go to your house to finish the mockups.”
Gina chimed in, “Those were fun nights. All our parents knew if we were at your house, we were okay. And your mom was great bringing us snacks and making suggestions. She would stay up all night with us, then feed us breakfast before sending us home to get ready for school.”
Jenna was stunned. She didn’t remember those times at all.
Fred said, “You had the cool mom. We loved hanging out at your house. It’s sad she’s not here to see you become a writer. I think she would have loved that.”
“Yeah, I miss her,” was all Jenna could choke out. I had the cool mom? Why had she blocked out those memories? The swirling telescoping feeling she had the day she stood on her mother’s front porch after the funeral came back. Guilt engulfed her. I have blamed you for my unhappiness all these years. She couldn’t wait to get home to her journal to process her tumultuous emotions.
I wanted to include this little scene in my book because I, like many of us, blamed my parents for things that happened in my childhood. But, as children, we never know what our parent’s are dealing with. We don’t know their whole story. We forget that they have challenges and emotional baggage too. Most of them are doing the very best they can. I wanted to show that Jenna was finally growing up and able to understand her mother a little better just as I did my parents.
By the way, I had the “cool parents,” and I loved that.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.