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.

Immersing Myself in the Culture of My Creations

I’ve just finished up a new rough draft, and while I’m very happy about it, I’m also a little melancholy. You know that feeling you get when you finish reading a book and even though it finished well, you wish there was more? I’ve felt that way about a lot of books, most of which still inhabit my bookshelf somewhere. Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang (of course eventually there was more to this one!), Jane Austen’s Emma. The characters and stories of these books became like family to me while reading them, and I found it hard to let them go. That happens to me when I finish writing a story, too.

I think it’s partly because I immerse myself in the lives of my characters. For instance, this most recent book takes place on a scuppernong vineyard in Eastern North Carolina. Of course, I live in Eastern North Carolina, so that’s not much of a stretch. Plus, as part of my “research”, I’ve been drinking the wonderful scuppernong wines my state can boast of. However, to add a little complexity to my plot, I made the heroine part Greek. Of course, this precipitated a lot of reading about the Greek culture, Greek wines, Greek men (yes, that was necessary research!) and Greek cooking (lots of olives). I’ve always been fascinated by Greece, and now I’m totally in love with it. I even learned how to make pastichio, and even my kids enjoyed that!


So what’s next? I’m definitely going to miss my Greek research. I can’t imagine what could top pastichio, olives, and wine, but who knows where my next story will take me?