The First Novel – A new direction

It has been a tumultuous couple of months. Despite some upsets, much good has come of them. Taking a break from blogging made me realize how much effort and time I had been devoting to thinking up new material to post about. I have been distracted from my primary goal: writing and publishing novels.

In redirecting my efforts, I realized I almost need to start over in this process. Four of my novels in The Bucks County Series are published on Amazon. The fifth is in the hands of my beta readers —that one can sit on the back burner for the time being. So far self publishing has proven to be less than successful. Why? Because all the marketing and promotion fall back on the author. I have neither the time or the stomach for it.

And that is how I fell into the trap of blogging on nearly a daily basis. I love writing —that is what I want to do. I was telling myself that a popular blog would help me to promote my books. That hasn’t happened. Granted, I’m also not hitting the reader in the face with book promotion every time I write a post. That’s how timid I am about marketing. What I need is someone to do the marketing for me.

Back in early 2015, when I finished my first novel, I tried finding an agent but my fragile ego couldn’t take rejection. After only six tries, I gave up and self published through Amazon. That is not how it works. Many popular and successful authors have been rejected numerous times —sometimes for years before an agent finally agrees to represent them to a publisher. I need to brace myself for this possibility and not let it derail my process.

I also realized that my self published novels need to be the very best they can be. If an agent is even remotely interested in your query and the first five pages you send along with it, they are going to look for you in the cyber world. They will find your Facebook Author Page, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, LinkdIn, and WordPress blog. They will find your Amazon and Goodreads Author Pages. They will see that I have four self published novels. These need to be ready for view —even a brief one.

With that in mind, I have revisited my first novel: Three Empty Frames.  Three Empty Frames_02_HR_front_2In three years since I wrote the first draft of this book, I have learned so much. Fortunately, I feel like the story is strong and it’s just the writing that needs polish. And that is what I have been doing the last couple of months —putting my efforts into making Three Empty Frames ready for an agent. And while I do, I am educating myself on the query process, taking webinars on finding an agent and reading everything I can about how to do this successfully. Hopefully I won’t have to wait years for someone to take a chance.

Survived By a Daughter (Here Lies a Soldier part 7)

By Meg Sorick. Find other parts of the series and a family tree, here.

The fire, which had offered such comfort from the damp and cold of the deteriorating afternoon, now felt oppressively warm.  David pulled the collar of his shirt, swallowing hard.  He must have read it wrong.  For a second time, he squinted at the scrap of paper Meredith had handed him. An obituary — his great grandmother’s. He reached into the pocket of his shirt for his glasses and read the words again. “Survived by a daughter, Gladys and a son, Hayden…” he murmured.

“Cousin?” Meredith asked gently.

“That can’t be right,” he said, handing the clipping back to her. “Could it be a mistake?”

“Do you really think there’s another Ada Henry Jennings that lived and died at that exact same time, in that exact same place? Besides, why would it be in my Gran’s scrapbook, if it wasn’t your great-grandmother?” she asked. She re-read the clipping for herself. “1918…The influenza?”

He nodded. “Leaving behind a baby —or two, apparently— to grow up without either parent.” He frowned. “According to Dad, the great-greats took Hayden in. They raised him as their own.  But I really don’t know much about his childhood. I was hoping perhaps your Gran’s collection would shed some light on it. But now…”

“We have another mystery on our hands.”

He removed his glasses and set them on the table. Then, after taking a healthy swallow of his tea, he said, “You know what this means, don’t you?”

She nodded. “You might have a great-aunt, second cousins. Relatives closer than me.”

“And,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “This… Gladys would have been born before…”

“William and Ada were married,” she finished for him. “How positively scandalous.” She laughed softly. “It happened, you know, even back then.”

“It would have been so hard for them, though.”

“Of course,” she replied. “David, your grandfather, Hayden, never mentioned that he had a sister?”

“He died when I was little. And he didn’t share much with my father.” He paused, took a deep breath. “My father didn’t like talking about it, but I have the impression that he and my grandfather had a… difficult…. relationship.” He sipped again and returned the cup to the table in front of him. “They weren’t on speaking terms when Grandfather died. Dad left home when he was seventeen, joined the army, went to college on the GI Bill and never looked back.”

“But your father never said anything? That he had aunt somewhere?”

David stared at his hands. “No.  He mustn’t have known.  He would have told me.  His mother gave him what little memorabilia Grandfather had saved.  He made sure to pass it on to me.”

“Family was important to him, despite his … difficult relationship with his father?”

“Perhaps, because of it. He always wished for a large family. Mom had a tough pregnancy. They couldn’t have more children after me… He was a good father…” He lifted his hands, let them drop. “I think he really wanted some kind of connection to his own ancestors.  That’s why I started compiling the family history. For my father. I was trying to finish it before my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. It would have been my gift to them.”  He paused, then said quietly, “If they had made it.”

Meredith didn’t say anything. David had told her the story the first time they had met. How his parents had been driving south like they did every winter to their house in Florida. Thomas Jennings had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel and drifted into the path of an oncoming truck. He and his wife Ellen had been killed instantly.

“Anyway,” David sighed. “I can’t understand why there was no mention of this Gladys in William’s letters.”

“And why did they wait to get married?”

David’s eyes widened. “You’re right. Why didn’t they marry as soon as they learned Ada was pregnant? Surely, it would have saved them both a little humiliation.”

“You’re sure there’s nothing in the letters? Something you might have overlooked or not recognized for what it was?”

“We’ll have to look again.” He turned in his seat to face her. “Suddenly, I’m no longer so tired.”

Meredith rolled her eyes. “Well, I am. I’m the one who had … um, very little sleep last night.”

“Oh, right. Forgot about that.” He raised an eyebrow. “I don’t believe we finished that conversation.”

She stood and reached for their teacups. “Just leave it, David. I don’t want to talk about my abysmal love life and my weakness for charming, intellectual assholes.” She continued over her shoulder, “Let’s start dinner and make it an early night. I promise we can spend the entire day working on it, tomorrow. But for now, let’s talk about something else.”

“Fine,” he said following her into the kitchen. “What else would you like to talk about?”

“Well, since we’re on the subject,” she said, grinning wickedly. “You can tell me about your abysmal love life, instead.”

He laughed. “Now, I’m going to need something stronger!”

***

Thanks to some wonderful suggestions in the comments of my post on writing different timelines, I now have the ideas as to how to proceed.  Special thanks to Meritings, Jack Binding and JS Malpas!  

Tan Lines

This is another round of questions via the Sunshine Blogger Award. My lovely friend Alex has bestowed this honor upon me and so I will play along. Alex Rafael has a wonderful blog about film, music and pop culture. Be sure to go visit and follow if you aren’t already!

Alex’s questions:

Which literary character would you most like to be? Robinson Crusoe – as long as I had the skills to survive, I would totally love to be marooned on a deserted island. I just have to figure out who I want to play Friday! And I’d need a trunk of books to survive the wreckage and wash ashore, too. And coffee. Unless it was already growing on the island. This is getting complicated.

Which TV character do you find most inspiring? The Doctor – because even though he has all of time and space at his fingertips, he has particular affection for Earth. That’s very nice of him.

If you could choose one specific drink to make healthy, which would you choose? Tough question. If you mean ANY drink then probably one of my favorite potent potables like a Hendrick’s martini, or maybe Irish whisky. Non-alcoholic? Possibly the Starbucks peppermint mocha. It has like a thousand calories so I rarely get one, but if it were healthier I might treat myself more often.

Which actor/actress did you think would become more famous but faded away? Julia Ormond. Absolutely beautiful and a fine actress. She was in demand in the early 90s and then poof! Nothing. Although, she did play a very small role in the last 2 seasons of Mad Men.

What was the first album you bought/downloaded? When did you last listen to it? Alright so, I remember this very clearly. Right after I got my first record player (dating myself here) I bought three vinyl albums at the same time: The Eagles’ Hotel California, Van Halen 2, Fleetwood Mac Rumours. I only repurchased one of those albums as a digital download – Rumours. And I may have listened to it within the last 6 months, but not real recently.

Which famous mystery do you wish you could know the answer to? What happened to Amelia Earhart and her navigator.

Have you ever had a film ruined by a bad cinema experience? If I get there late and get stuck in the front rows? Yeah, that pretty much sucks. 

Which family member are you most like and why? I would like to say most like my father. He was kind, smart and funny. And he had a knack for storytelling. Nevertheless… For years my mother tried to tell me I was most like my psychotic grandfather. (Nice, right?) So who knows?

What’s the most disappointed you’ve been with a film adaptation from a book? I really avoid movies from books that I truly love. I’m always disappointed. In my mind I have already cast the actors for their roles and inevitably, Hollywood chooses someone else. Oh, alright, hold on I just thought of one! I love the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. They cast Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. Ridiculous. Jack is supposed to be like 6 foot 6 and 220 pounds. Cruise is probably 5’7′ and 160. Ugh.

Which famous person do you wish could live next door to you? Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters – he’s having more fun than anyone. Plus can you imagine the parties? He knows everyone.

What would your dream profession be? Dave Grohl’s event planner. Kidding. Shipwreck survivor? Also kidding. Best selling novelist.

As per my custom, I never play by the rules and pass these on. However, if you want to share your answers or opinions on any of the questions, consider yourself nominated.