Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nice to know the industry is still out there

Last night I actually spent a little time with my Google Feed Reader. Marked a lot of things "read" that I didn't have time to read, chose the option to hide the total of items unread so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed by how far behind I've gotten...
Then I started going through Publishers Weekly posts, and discovered that iPad had been introduced--and I had managed to hear about it on the same day. It looks interesting. Here is a link to the Publishers Weekly article, which is nice and short. There are a gazillion places to read more about it.

It might be a nice option for people, though right now it's really pricey. I like that it isn't "just" an ebook reading device. But once again I'm reminded how happy I am with iPAQ, which fits in my purse (or even my back pocket), and does lots of things (similar to iPad, it seems). In the last couple of months, I've pulled it out and read when there was time in hospital waiting rooms, doctor offices, etc. I keep medical notes in my laptop and sync to the iPAQ so I can refer to them away from home.

Anyway, no real point here except I'm interested to see a new device introduced that can do several things. I imagine that's the way ebooks will be read in the future.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Reinvention, the hard way.

Maybe you have noticed I haven't been here lately. Maybe you have noticed I haven't been at anybody else's blog lately, either. Today I decided I'd just as well tell you what is going on.

We have a crisis in our family. My husband has a cancerous brain tumor. It's fast-growing, inoperable due to its location, and is also considered incurable. He has changed so much in the last several weeks due to this horrible thing--he's gone from being the smartest, most capable person I know to someone who relies on me for just about everything.

When I first started writing this blog, in October 2008, I said I was going to reinvent myself. Back then my thinking was very, very superficial. In the last couple of months--especially this past month--I have been reinvented because of this cancer.

We live in a small town and are surrounded by hundreds of people who care about us and are incredibly supportive. Home-cooked meals have been brought in, volunteers take my husband to his daily radiation treatments, and we had a huge turnout for the pitch-in dinner held in my husband's honor. We receive cards, emails, calls, hugs, and more types of help than I can name.

But essentially, it comes down to me. Little me, the gal who avoids decision-making because she's bad at it, who hasn't checked the oil in her car in all these years of marriage because it was done for her... I'm not the same person I was a few months ago, or even a few days ago.

It's reinvention. I guess I'll be a better person because of it.

Lately a few people have asked me if I'm still writing. I had a book due to come out electronically in March, and I haven't quite finished writing it. Haven't touched it since (I'm guessing) mid-November when we were beginning to try to figure out the cause of my husband's symptoms. But if I can, I would like to write again. I want to go back to Legend, Tennessee, and reintroduce myself to the characters I left in the lurch so many weeks ago.

People do, I know. People persevere in creative pursuits even while their hearts are breaking and they are emotionally exhausted. Not sure if I'm that kind of people or not.

Thanks for listening. I have missed being here...


Monday, January 4, 2010

CyberTour: Susan Crandall and SLEEP NO MORE

We have a guest today, Susan Crandall, a fellow RWA-WF member whose novel Sleep No More is now available. Welcome, Susan! Now...

1. Tell me about your book.

SLEEP NO MORE is the story of Abby Whitman, who was a sleepwalker as a
child, setting a fire that destroyed the ancestral home and scarred her
younger sister for life. Abby's sleepwalking passed with puberty,
but the guilt did not. She lives alone, structuring her life to insure
that if her sleepwalking reoccurs no one else will be in harm's way.

Now Abby's mother has recently died, her sister is being her usual
manipulative self, and her father is showing signs of Alzheimer's.
And her sleepwalking has returned.

One night Abby awakens behind the wheel of her van at a fatal accident.
Sleepwalking, or more specifically, sleep-driving, is the only
explanation she can come up with for her presence at the scene. But it
soon becomes clear that there was a third party involved, and that
person begins making threats for Abby not to tell what she saw. But
Abby has no recollection of the accident. She seeks the help of a
family acquaintance and psychiatrist, Jason Coble to try to figure out
what happened at the accident and why someone is threatening her.

Abby's journey toward truth and self-forgiveness uncovers long
buried secrets in both her family and her town. Secrets someone will go
to any lengths to protect.

2. When did you first begin writing?

I didn't actually begin writing until I was in my thirties. My
younger sister sort of dragged me into it. She came to me one day with
a stack of paper and admitted she'd been writing in secret and
wanted me to look over her work. Being the older sister and an avid
reader, naturally I had an opinion. We worked on some stories together,
then she stopped writing, but I was totally hooked. I could no more
stop writing than I could stop reading. The first novel I wrote solo
was RITA and National Readers Choice winner, BACK ROADS.

3. What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least
favorite thing?

I absolutely love the beginning stages of writing a book. I love the
brainstorming, the research, the exploring of possibilities, the laying
awake at night pondering "what ifs." It's the stage when
everything is possible and you aren't yet hampered with the reality
of making all of the parts work.

My least favorite? This may sound contradictory, but it's the blank
page, the blinking cursor waiting like a teacher with a tapping foot.
It's that stage between all of the daydreaming and actually having
something concrete to work with. It's the place where you have to
begin to make the real choices that will chart the course of your
character's journey. Once I have something started, it's fun to
work with it, expand, delve more deeply into my characters.

4. What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Because my son is writing his first novel, this is an easy question; I
give the same advice on a weekly basis:

1) Read widely, and read like a writer. When an author has elicited a
particular emotion from you as a reader, take the work apart and figure
out how he/she achieved it. Study the story construction, the pacing.

2) Continually hone your craft. Learn from workshops, classes, and just
chatting with other writers.

3) Learn to trust your writing instincts. We writers are filled with
self-doubt, constantly questioning the quality of our work. If
you're a writer, there is something special inside you that lead you
to it. Don't follow every suggestion made by everyone who has
glanced at your work. Carefully evaluate criticism. It's a
valuable tool, but it must be weighed.

4) And lastly, put on your armor and send your work out there into the
world. No one is going to come knocking on your door and say, "I
heard you're writing a book. I'd like to publish it." Yes,
you'll probably receive rejections. That's all part of the

5. What is next for you?

Now that SLEEP NO MORE is safely launched, I'm focusing on two
novels. One is a mainstream women's fiction. The other is a
slow-boil psychological suspense. I'm having a great time with both
of them!