I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Sunday, June 15, 2014
When we moved to this old house almost fifteen years ago, there was nothing but grass. Not a single sprig that could be described as landscaping. I started small, claiming ground at one corner of the house where once a wraparound porch had stood. The soil was thick, black and sticky--the material sod houses were built of when this part of the country was settled. As I dug--increasing the size little by little each year--I fought crabgrass and good old-fashioned weeds of every obnoxious variety, working in peat moss and manure until eventually the soil stopped resisting and began to cooperate. Together, that plot of virgin soil and I brought forth an abundance of color and scent, a place where hummingbirds visited in the spring and the Monarch butterflies tanked up for their flight south late each summer.
I was overly ambitious. Today the garden is almost too much for me to handle alone. I've moved away from annuals to perennials and bulbs, which require far less digging and will in time fill the space with colors and textures without so much help from me. And I've taken on a helper. It turns out my granddaughter likes digging too. It's quite possible that just as I did, she understands on some level that this communion with the soil is more than just dirty, sweaty work, and that the rewards are infinitely more than just a few bright blooms. If I could pass anything along to her, there's nothing I know of that will bring her more pleasure or provide her with a better way to "keep things in perspective."
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Oh, don't get me wrong, I love lots of sales, which translates to lots of readers. Those months when the numbers on my Kindle Direct sales report page just keep jumping upward are exciting, no doubt about it. But there's real satisfaction in the slow months, too. Each time a book sells, I envision a reader--most likely a woman past the first bloom of youth in a well-loved home with pictures of kids and maybe grandkids on the walls--opening her Kindle and settling back with a cup of something warm and comforting to read. Now that's what I call exciting!
One on one, we share the story I had the audacity to write and she had the curiosity to download. She meets my characters, who have become my family and friends through the course of telling their stories. She sees the farmhouse and the little mountain town through Emily's eyes, the Manhattan apartment and the concert halls through Stani's, just as I did. Together, we learn back-stories and witness struggles, fall in love and overcome doubts, laugh and cry and dance, right along with them.
Some readers tell me they appreciate the musical element in these books, some say they can "see" the scenes depicted. One reader told me she'd love to sit down in the farmhouse kitchen with Emily and share a ham sandwich. Another told me about her excitement at walking into a concert hall and discovering a poster of a violinist who "was" Stani Moss. Knowing that these characters and their stories are as real to the reader as they are to me is incomparably rewarding. Money can't buy that kind of connection.
In the beginning, I set out simply to write the kind of book I wanted to read, just for myself. I had no expectation of being published. I had no grand scheme to sell thousands of books. In fact, I had no desire for anyone else to read what I was writing. I wrote because the story was there--had been there for forty years in some form or other--and I wanted to see what it might become. Writing had been on my to-do list all my life, and time was running out. That my books have now gone to live in thousands of Kindles, that several hundred readers have let me know they've been read and enjoyed, is so far from my original mission it continually boggles my mind.
But when all is said and done, it's the vision of one reader and one book that means the most to me. I've often said I'd love to follow each book home and spend a minute or two getting to know the reader. I get excited over each new review, every Facebook message and comment. An email from a reader gives me chills. I've even made "reader friends" in places I'll probably never get to see, including New Zealand.
One by one, the story of Emily and Stani and the Miracle of Valley Rise has been passed from me to you. That in itself feels like a miracle to me!