After Christmas this year I felt the need to do something other than sit at my computer all day so I was elated when I found this unopened jigsaw puzzle in my basement. It had been there so long its source was no longer known but I hauled it out and spread it across my dining room table. There would be no dinners there for a while!
Undaunted by the number of pieces–500 or was it 10,000?–I searched for the border to give the scene a shape, first and foremost. The colours called me and I started to see similar tones, grouping them together in bunches wherever I could find a clear spot on the table.
I was diligent about sitting down to the task but counted myself lucky if I placed 5 pieces properly in a 20-minute session. The task seemed impossible and I soon wondered if I had bitten off more than I could comfortably chew; nevertheless, I found myself drawn to sit at that table four or five times a day or even just stand and stare at it until I saw something. Rarely did I walk away having found nothing.
The picture grew on my table but certain parts just wouldn’t come together. I couldn’t find the right pieces to complete them so I just worked on what did make sense. And I loved the struggle. Beautiful windows full of books and wine glasses and artwork fit together in one extended scene, like a bunch of comparative words filling in the subjects of a grand metaphor.
I took pictures, realizing that this was a work of art in progress and I would do well to record its birth as I do the rough drafts of my novels. By now February had whistled in with cold drafts that made sitting in the warmth at my table just a little more pleasant. And, of course, the puzzle began to reveal itself more clearly to me. I had to push on, excited at the thought of a finished work.
Back at my computer not much was happening with my writing. I had several ideas that went nowhere; I tried to decide just what project might excite both me and my readers; I consoled myself in my indecision by sitting at my dining room table and solving at least one puzzle. If I couldn’t decide on my next writing project I could certainly find the solution to that mass of pieces on my table.
And it calmed me. My need to be creative was sidetracked into that by now very beautiful work of art in my dining room. I felt anxious to finish it. Besides, I wanted to have a dinner party. It was time!
Near the end of my puzzle odyssey I invited my sister and her husband for dinner and actually laid newspapers across the almost finished puzzle and then placed my tablecloth over the top. They might have been just a little intimidated because I cautioned them against any spills!
By now the third month of the year had marched in and I longed to finish. Like a horse putting on that last burst of speed before the finish line, I sat longer at the table and actually laughed out loud at each piece that found its resting place.
Finally the day came. I grabbed my phone and recorded the finished puzzle just to prove I had done it. I’m sorry now I didn’t take a shot from the bottom of the scene but you get the idea. Notice how many extra pieces are on the table. None!
This is so like our journeys as writers. I learned to set myself a goal each day (3 pages) and watch the word count rise and the printed chapter pile get higher and higher. Putting finish to my novels took about two years for each one. My biggest accomplishment, I think, was to keep going little by little until I reached my goal. I certainly remember the day my first box of books arrived in my home. The Loyalist’s Wife was no longer a dream but something I could hold in my hand. For some reason I can’t find that photo but, believe me, it’s engraved on my heart. Patience, persistence and perseverance paid off beautifully. I wish that feeling for each hard working writer out there.
It’s Ten Years!!! Since Day One of My Loyalist Trilogy Writing Journey.
The time seems to have sprouted little white wings and just flown. From that day when my son said to me “If not now, when?” and gave me the oomph I needed to start writing the trilogy, I’ve never had to wonder what to do next. Always more ideas of my own and more suggestions from others made my days way too short to get it all done.
Please join with me and celebrate!
Over that ten years a trilogy came to life, one that touches the history of my family and the families of other Loyalists here in Canada. The books are in print format, e-book format, and even an audio book of the first one is almost ready to made its debut. I learned how to do so many things connected with writing and publishing, all of it fun and all of it from really helpful and knowledgeable people. I am so grateful for all those along the way, many of whom are still in my Contact list, thank goodness. A special thanks to all those who’ve invited me to speak at events where I could sell my books. You are the best!
Everyone has been wondering what is in the works for me now and I’ve been a little cagey about my answer. I could write more about the Loyalists, perhaps down East either where my husband’s family originated or further East in the Atlantic provinces where most of the Loyalists escaping during the American Revolution landed. I will be getting my audio book of The Loyalist’s Wife, 2nd ed., out very soon. I am currently learning more about writing a screen treatment and script for my Loyalist trilogy. (Wouldn’t it be fun to see John and Lucy on the big screen?) And I am definitely exploring writing a book about my writing journey with a view to helping other writers. I have in mind that this will be an e-book only, at this point, but you never know.
The really big news? I’m currently working with a coach to extend my reach as a writer and speaker beyond where I have taken these things on my own. This is huge and I had to do a lot of soul-searching before shelling out the money.
To thank my readers, today I am offering a free e-copy of the second edition of The Loyalist’s Wife, complete with new cover and a few changes, to all who comment below. I’ll contact you and ask for your email. Then I’ll send you the epub or pdf copy of that beautiful book. You can read it on your computer, your iPad or perhaps other reader (not sure about that). So make sure you write a nice comment below!
Also I’ve reduced the price of that book in e-book format on Amazon where you can order it for $2.99 and it will go right to your Kindle. Their rules wouldn’t let me put the price any lower. Sorry.
Both of these specials are only available until April 5 when my next post goes up. Take action! Send your friends to my site. This is a limited time offer. Afterwards it’ll be back to $4.99 US$ on Amazon.
Don’t forget to sign up for both my twice monthly newsletter and to receive notice in your InBox of my weekly blog posts. And if you’re a writer or a reader, don’t forget to write reviews, especially for my latest book, The Loyalist Legacy, on Goodreads and Amazon. You can put the same review in both places.
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. My writing friends, my beta readers, my lifelong friends and family–all of you are part of what makes me who I am so that I can write. You are a joy which touches my very soul.
Okay. Now the mushy stuff is over!
So after somewhere around 3650 days of writing professionally and this small celebration, I’m still moving forward and I hope you’ll all come with me. Don’t forget to write a comment and win a free e-book!
The Loyalist’s Wife, The Loyalist’s Luck, The Loyalist Legacy
One of the gifts I received for Christmas shows yet again how closely my husband is tuned in to my writing life. He knows that having just launched the third in my Loyalist trilogy, I am working even harder on marketing. After all, what good is writing a great series if few people know about it?
While my next writing project is simmering in my mind, I’m going to step up my already busy book marketing life. My husband bought me this book: Online Marketing for Busy Authors. (Click to see it on Amazon.)
Now I have a closet full of books on writing and even a few on marketing. The first book I read on the subject linked writing and selling right in the title so I know how important the selling part is to a writer’s career. And before I open Burke’s book I’m going to list my own marketing methods to date:
Talk about your writing whenever you can. So many people will be thrilled that you’ve included them in your writing inner circle. (Of course, you don’t want to become annoying!) Believe it or not, having published books seems to give a writer the right to call herself an author and most people respect that.
Get on as many social media outlets as you can handle comfortably and keep them up to date. I use Facebook, both my main page and my author page, sometimes I do ads on these; Twitter; Pinterest; and, to a lesser extent, LinkedIn. I’m planning to step up my YouTube game in 2017 and post regular videos.
Look for speaking gigs that relate to the subject matter of your book. Historical and Loyalist groups are delighted to hear about my Loyalist trilogy. Elementary schools would be excited to get in children’s book authors. Those with non-fiction books can look for their peeps among those who need/want their books about dog-grooming, lifestyle suggestions, or dating advice.
Offer to do special presentations where your book is most suited. Last summer I did a July 1st (Canada Day) table at a wonderful museum in London. For that I did special games for kids that related to the history at the museum and in my books. Of course the woman who wanted to dumb my games down for her kids by giving them the answers kind of missed the point.
Make it your goal to do at least one thing to market yourself and your books EVERY DAY. This keeps you on top of your marketing game and increases your chances of the world finding out about your books. It also results in all kinds of people knowing you. Just a few days ago I received a lovely thank you letter from a couple who subscribe to my twice monthly newsletter telling me how much they enjoy it and wishing me Merry Christmas. I so appreciated that both for the kindness it showed and for the feedback on what I am doing.
Here is a link to some blog posts related to this topic which will show you my journey along the marketing road. On that blog I really talk about my writing journey to publication and beyond so there may be other things there that interest budding writers. Whatever your interest I hope the articles help you. Meanwhile I am going to push on with marketing my Loyalist trilogy. For this morning? I’m going to go down my list of previous speaking venues and see if there is somewhere I might seek a return gig now that it’s almost four years since I’ve been to some of them. Happy New Year!
The Loyalist’s Wife, The Loyalist’s Luck, The Loyalist Legacy
November is launch month for The Loyalist Legacy, the third in my Loyalist Trilogy and what a month it has turned out to be. Our thoughts are on our American neighbors to the south and the most vitriolic and divisive election any of us can ever remember. No matter whose side you’re on, this was a dirty fight and it was hard to see dignity and even honesty go out the window.
And it’s the time of year when we specifically remember those who served that we who have come after might live our lives in freedom.
Of course almost my every waking thought is on my book launch with personal appearances, book signings and speaking engagements, and my three-week book tour all over the Internet. Yesterday I did a newspaper interview here in my hometown after two major events on the weekend. So much fun! Meeting people who love historical fiction in general and my Loyalist trilogy in particular is pretty darn rewarding.
As I drove home after one of these events I thought about the connection between my latest book (the Loyalist Legacy), November 11th and Remembrance Day, and this pivotal American election.
Five Items to Make Us Feel Better This November
Though our history is relatively short it is full of catastrophic events which could have ended Canada. Wars, rebellions and civil disobedience are part of our past and yet here we are. My Loyalist trilogy is a testament to the efforts of individuals fighting for a good life here.
Canada suffered through the 1837 Rebellion in Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) yet managed to survive and become one of the best countries in which to live today. William and Catherine Garner, the real couple whose names I borrowed in The Loyalist Legacy, were there for that rebellion and survived.
Reading fiction and particularly historical fiction lets us imagine things that may have happened in the past from which our ancestors recovered. We see the strength in ordinary people when faced with disheartening and even terrifying events going on all around. We can recover.
One of the things my daughter started me writing with her is a gratitude journal. Every day we try to write 3 things for which we are grateful and it helps me to focus on the good in my life as well as have a wonderful view into just who my daughter is. We pick each other up with that journal and we remember how lucky we are.
In The Loyalist Legacy the difficulties of being settlers in an unsettled land, of fighting to save children from disease with no healthcare, and of seeing one’s neighbors divided over just how to solve political and social problems every day–those difficulties seem so much larger than ours just at this moment. There is a bigger picture. Perhaps we can all focus on it while we strive to build a better world.
When the first book in my Loyalist trilogy was published, I was ecstatic. The cover was fabulous, the paper quality excellent, and everything else seemed just what this perfectionist wanted. The bubble floated along with me in it until, little by little, snippets of doubt crept into my mind. Oh, my readers mentioned over and over their excitement, their sleepless nights, their need for the next book just as soon as I could get it written. In fact, readers have been all that I could expect and much more.
Still, a few things bothered me. I’d missed checking the chapter headings and numbered them incorrectly. That was a relatively simple fix and that’s why the printer sends a proof copy. Then, as I did numerous public readings, I found the odd error. Horrors! The worst one was using the wrong name for one of my characters, an error which I discovered right in the middle of a public reading. Luckily my performance genes took over and my audience never knew. But I did. The worst was finding sections where the writing was just not what I am capable of and I hated those bits. Did I mention I’m a perfectionist?
This past spring and summer, I upped my author game by recording this first book for an audio book and that led to a perfect opportunity to go back and fix all those things which bugged me, and more. As I prepared each chapter for the recording sessions, I made changes in the text. Then when I was reading for the two hour recording sessions I always had a pen in hand. A large squiggly black thing in the margin was quick to put in as I was reading and, once home, I made the correction needed. This was a fabulous way to check my own work. Reading aloud makes me notice every little word and if it doesn’t read well, it’s probably not written well. Now I’m a convert for proofreading aloud. This is particularly good for dialogue bits and the dialogue tags with them.
At the same time as I was recording and editing the 2nd edition of The Loyalist’s Wife, my third in the trilogy, The Loyalist Legacy, was in the review process and I had cover decisions to make. Even though I loved the first cover for Wife, the thought of a trilogy sold as a set made me think about making the books similar. The second book, The Loyalist’s Luck, had such a striking cover I directed my cover artist to use it as a model for the third. While she was at it, she suggested the artwork above for the first one. I loved the idea and what you see above is the updated cover for the second edition. It cost me a bit of money but not nearly so much as you might think. Well worth it.
Here’s the full updated cover for The Loyalist’s Luck. I’ve added the other two covers on the back as well as extra words on the front for all three. (The second book of The Loyalist Trilogy on this one.)
Notice the number at the top of the spine. I love that! My three books will look great sitting together on my wonderful readers’ bookshelves, don’t you think? Because I made significant changes to the interior and to the cover of the first book, I chose to give it the second edition label on the inside title page. You’ll still be able to buy the first one online for a while but for my speaking and signing engagements, once those are gone I won’t order more. Get ’em while they last!
I have used the cover for the third book here. It will be launching in November with a three-week blog tour weekdays Nov. 7-25. More about all of that later. For today I just wanted to suggest to other authors that doing a second edition is not as difficult as you might imagine and when I received my print copies a couple of days ago, they pleased and excited me just as much as the first one did about three and a half years ago.
I’ll be looking for new editions from other authors from now on!
This morning I’m writing my weekly blog post while on a bit of a car trip with my husband. We are driving down highway 401to Windsor early this warm and humid day in southern Ontario in connection with hubby’s STEM Camp duties.
All along the flat lands surrounding Chatham and Tilbury and beyond, rows of hydro-producing wind turbines stretch farther than I can see. Part of me loves this new technology for producing electricity but another part abhors the blight on the farming landscape.
It is mesmerizing. Slowly the giant tri-armed monsters rotate at the same pace, but not in sync. Always the author, I think in metaphors. I think of writing and the slow journey each of my books has been. And the way each day is just a few more pages written or facts found or ideas hatched, and sometimes all three at once. And when I’ve completed enough of these days, the books are done.
The wind turbines, costing millions of taxpayer dollars, diligently turn, turn, turn, and in the homes and businesses across Ontario lights burn, factories churn, and we all spurn the days gone by when two hands and a strong back took the place of all this power. But there is no completing the task for these giants. Our hunger for more and more power just grows.
These days the debate rages about reading itself and about paper versus electronic books with the camps on either side of the debate, sure their viewpoint is correct. I like both. Just now I’m delighted to be sitting in a Tim Horton’s with my water and my iPad writing this post. Traveling is my favorite time to read electronically.
I’m usually old school when it comes to reading. I love to touch the pages, to see physically how far I’ve read, and to organize my favorite books on my shelves, by author and/or subject. Before we downsized I treasured over 1500 books in my very own library, part of which I’ve kept.
I see no reason why we readers can’t enjoy both ways of reading, according to our tastes and circumstances. And I haven’t even mentioned audio books! Just now we’re putting the finishing touches on the audio version of The Loyalist’s Wife. More on that in the weeks to come.
How many of you are like the wind turbines, bit by bit fueling your own valuable creations? And what do you think of running our lives through this type of electricity creation?
This day has been a long time coming, this day of relief and smiles. No, I’m not talking about the two books in my arms although they’re part of my joy. Today I’m writing my first post for my updated blog on my brand spanking new website. So that’s my number one reason to be ecstatic today and, I hope, for a lot of days to come.
My new website is finally up and running after months of struggles. Thanks to the two people who came to my rescue. We’ll have more changes and updates and upgrades but the site is live today.
My audio book of the first in my trilogy is all recorded and just waiting for me to have a spare moment to finish off the packaging details. Now The Loyalist’s Wife will be available to accompany listeners in their cars, their showers, and on their iPods. So great for those who have trouble finding reading time. Here’s a blog post listing great reasons for authors to create audio books.
A re-edit of that first book is moving along nicely for the second edition coming out this summer along with a new cover to match the others in the trilogy. For some reason the e-version ended up with a lot of formatting errors so I’ve taken the opportunity to do a second edition for both print and electronic formats. Of course the audio book is of this updated version and will have the new cover on the CD versions.
Book trailer number two for The Loyalist’s Luck is almost here, too. I might even have it next week. If you missed the first one, here’s the link. It takes a minute and a half to watch.
My revisions for The Loyalist Legacy are well underway with all but one of my beta readers having finished and returned the manuscript to me. These wonderful people are from varied places and have a multitude of experiences to bring to this very important job. I love that they each see the work differently and am so thankful to have their help. Today is the day I’ll start going through their comments and suggestions, on track for publication in November.
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