Leaving the backlist behind

Over the past week—especially since Wednesday when I discovered my dog had chewed through my computer cord—I have been working on getting the last three of my self-published books online at Smashwords. Smashwords will make these books available in multiple formats at multiple outlets, so that you aren’t just limited to Kindle if you wish to read in ebook format. In a few days, every one of my books will be available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks—you name it, I’ll be there. Every format.

Revisiting my backlist became less of a chore than I’d imagined it would be. I actually found myself giving my last three books (Weeds and Flowers, Ducks in a Row, and Saturday Love) a thorough proofreading…and enjoying it. I haven’t read those books in ages.

Weeds and Flowers isn’t even a romance like I write now. More of a coming-of-age story that was written in a sort of patchwork quilt way—bits and pieces that I stitched together to make a novel. Appropriately, it was actually probably the first novel I wrote, though not the first one published. I had forgotten how much that book meant to me, though. It’s the only one—so far—that has something in it that actually happened, not actually to me, but to people around me. Re-reading it was like reliving some of my own childhood, even if I was more watching than experiencing at the time.

As for the other two, Ducks was the most difficult book I’ve written thematically. I think of it as sort of an anatomy of both a marriage and an affair. I actually still dislike the heroine, though she did grow a lot during the course of the book. And I fell in love with one of the male characters. So much so that he ended up getting his own book, Saturday Love, because I just couldn’t leave him hanging like he was at the end of Ducks. Regardless of my feelings for the characters, however, re-reading those books was like visiting with family I hadn’t seen in a while. And it revived a past resolve to write a third book in that series. If I can ever get past the two or three other projects I have waiting for me now.

But for now, I am returning to work on Dickens Magic, my next in the Sleight of Hand series and my first ever attempt at a holiday-themed book. I’d reached a sort of roadblock on that one. I couldn’t quite figure a believable way to drive a wedge between the hero and heroine but over the course of the week, I had a brainstorm. I plan to give myself two more weeks to finish the first draft of Dickens Magic, then I have another start on a not-magic-related book and at some point I have to get to work on Magic at Sea… 

But maybe that would wait. Maybe I could start my third book about the Hubbard family, Agape Mou (Greek for “My Love”). There’s a reason it’s Greek. If you read Ducks and Saturday Love, you’ll understand. I have plans for a very good-looking Greek hero for that one, but his ties to the Hubbard family are very complicated and bound to result in some drama. Especially when he gets involved with the daughter of the family…

Oh crap. If I’m not careful my imagination will get stuck in sunny Greek vineyards instead of a theater all decorated for Christmas. Better get back to work! Herete, my friends.

A Little Romance for Valentine’s Day

Writer’s note: When I say little, I do mean little. I used to write flash fiction—stories less than 1,000 words. Mine were often half prose poetry, half story. I set out this morning to write one for Valentine’s Day, sort of a little message to potential readers that it’s never too late to find a new author to love.

Other People’s Memories

By Michelle Garren Flye

The letter crumbled in her fingers when she pulled it from the pages of the old book. She smiled. She loved finding things in the old books she bought that belonged to their former owners. She’d once found a third-grade report card of a U.S. Senator in an old copy of The Hobbit. She often found bookmarks, grocery lists, recipes and little scribbles. She treasured these bits of other people’s lives, keeping them safe in a drawer of her desk.

Her husband didn’t like it. He said it was like taking something from a graveyard and would surely bring bad luck. He didn’t understand the draw of the tiny pieces of history she found. But because he loved her, he let it go. And because she loved him, she kept her little crypt of old memories quietly, without comment.

She read the letter and thought about how her husband would like it if he let himself. The book had belonged to an author he admired, so the letter most likely had too. She could leave the letter there, let him find it when she gave him the book. But would he see it as a treasure or a dark omen? A bit of the past come back to haunt him.

Maybe it was her chance to share her love of the old, but in the end, she decided it would be best to protect him from the accidental discovery. And she put the letter away with all her other antiquities, locking the drawer with a golden key.

The line is drawn, so pick a side: How Amendment One has affected my November vote.

My beautiful state of North Carolina has passed one of the most prejudicial, hate-inspired, judgmental amendments to our state constitution with the so-called “Amendment One”. By doing so, my beloved state has become the only one in the United States to have both laws and an amendment banning gay marriage. Well, if we’re going to be prejudiced, we’re going to do it thoroughly.

I am one of the thirty-nine percent who voted against this amendment. I did not vote against it because I support gay marriage, although I do. I did not vote against it because I was concerned about the possible legal ramifications for other unmarried couples or because it will make it more difficult to attract businesses. I voted against it because I love this state. I loved it even when Jesse Helms was a senator here. I loved it when it helped vote Barack Obama into office. I have always loved North Carolina and I always will.

But I don’t want it marred by hate. That’s what has happened now, and it makes me sadder than I can say. By approving Amendment One, North Carolina voters are saying that it’s our way or the high way. Get out if you don’t like it. We’re a bunch of hillbillies with guns. We legislate morality here and you damn well better obey the law.

I know what some people will say. They’ll tell me to read my Bible. Okay, but maybe you better have a second look, too. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you should hate or judge someone for the lifestyle they choose. In fact, I think I remember from some of my Sunday School teachings the words “Thou shalt not judge” and “Love thy neighbor”. Don’t those words mean anything anymore? If they don’t, then defining marriage is not going to save our society.

North Carolina’s passage of Amendment One is a dangerous precedent. Barack Obama has now come out in support of gay marriage while his soon-to-be opponent Mitt Romney is firmly against it. This is what our political system has come to, then. The line has been drawn. No matter how much people talk about the economy and foreign affairs and who has the best curriculum vitae, it’s going to come down to whether or not you support the right of two people to make a lifelong commitment to each other even if they’re of the same sex.

I sigh when I write this because I know which side of that line I’ll come down on. I don’t support hate and prejudice, so in spite of the fact that I think Mitt Romney has some excellent qualities, I cannot afford to offer him my vote. I do not want to see my nation follow the same way my state has gone. I do not want to support anyone who might one day approve an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will further denigrate a sector of our population that already has more than enough hatred following it around. My conscience won’t let me.

So listen to your conscience and remember your Sunday School teachings from when you were a kid and everything was simpler. (I’m sure my parents will be relieved to know I still remember some of those teachings.) I believe those are the laws we need to remember.

  • Love your neighbor. Even when he does something you don’t agree with. Even when he isn’t a straight Christian. God never said to hate Muslims and gays, did he?
  • Don’t judge others. We all make our mistakes. Both God and the U.S. Constitution give us the freedom to do that, though.
  • And one more I just remembered. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What else does this mean but to respect each other? Respect other people’s right to live their lives and you should be able to expect the same.