Feeling Like a Guest on My Own Blog

I’m starting to feel like a guest here on my own blog. I’m getting so many visitors to my “guest event” on the future of books, that I spend my allotted blog time wandering from one “referrer” link to another to see where everyone is coming from, and I never get around to posting my own work. If I’m not careful, I’ll forget the reason I started writing this blog: me. A month ago I decided I would stop inviting guest bloggers and reclaim my blog, but that resolution died even before the new year began. It’s just too much fun finding new voices (and established voices) to come guest, and for me, that’s the real purpose of this blog: fun. As addicted to the Internet as I’m getting — or as seduced by it — I still find this blog to be the most enjoyable online activity. I like saying what I want and just throwing it out there. Sometimes people agree, sometimes they don’t, but I’ve met some of my best blog buddies (bet you can’t say that three times!) because of discussions resulting from this disagreement.

So, here I am with a blank slate, and nothing to say. Actually, the problem is that I have too much to say, and it won’t all fit in a single bloggery. I want to talk about how amazing it is that writers such as Suzanne Francis, author of the Heart of Hythea books can make up such wonderful-sounding words and worlds. When I needed a name for my disease in A Spark of Heavenly Fire, the most exotic one I could come up with was . . . ta da! . . . The Red Death. It fits (people get red eyes and vomit bright red blood) and it’s probably what it would have been called if such a disease really had decimated Colorado. (And that is the correct use of the term decimated — about a tenth of the residents of Colorado end up dead.) But it isn’t a clever, made-up word.

Another thing I would like to talk about is the incredible journey a novel takes from that first glimmer of an idea to a book in the hands of a reader. Each step is a big one: the first word, the first chapter, the first draft. You think you are unique because there is a good chance you are the only person you know who writes.  And then you start querying, and find out you are one among millions, and no one cares. Finally, you find someone to publish your opus (or you decide to self-publish) and have you entered the rarefied atmosphere of the few? No. For some reason, once you start promoting your work, everyone you encounter is also promoting a work. So who buys these books? Someone, I hope, because eventually the delays will be over, and my books will be available.

Another thing I would like to talk about is . . . oops, my allotted blog time is up. I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Unless I have another guest blogger.

Not Exactly a Rave Review, But a Fair Assessment

Well, here it is. The Publishers Weekly review of my Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award entry Daughter Am I:

A group of spunky octogenarians joins a woman on a search to discover the truth about the grandparents she never knew she had. After inheriting the farm of her estranged, murdered grandparents, Mary Louise Stuart discovers photos and an address book in the Colorado farmhouse and becomes obsessed with finding out who her grandparents were and who would want them dead. With each question, another senior citizen joins the quest — former friends and gangsters with names like Crunchy, Iron Sam, Happy, Lila Lorraine. The mystery deepens with each stop in their whirlwind tour of the Midwest: who’s following them? A love interest ensues between Mary and Tim Olsen, whose grandpa was good friends with her great-grandfather. While the author certainly researched the history of the Mafia, too many of the numerous historical asides — and subplots — are tacked on under the guise of story time, making the story drag with detail abut Wyatt Earp, the JFK assassination and bootleggers. But underneath the relentless bouts of story time is a delightful treasure-hunting tale of finding one’s self in a most unlikely way.

Not exactly a rave review, but a fair assessment.

I can understand why the reviewer didn’t like my “relentless bouts of story time,” but the whole purpose of my writing the story was to debunk the myths about the so-called Mafia in this country. The Mafia as we know it is a figment of Hollywood. Teach, a con man and the storyteller in my novel, says, “People talk as if the Mafia and the Syndicate are still active today, but the Syndicate phased out the American Mafia, wealth phased out the Syndicate, and now new gangs of all races and nationalities have taken their place.”

I wanted a framework for telling the history of gangsterism in this country, and I decided on a mythic journey using aged gangsters for the archetypal figures. As the hero’s journey progresses, her mentors tell stories of the old days. Listening to the stories and putting all the pieces together, she learns who her grandparents were and who she is.

I suppose I could take out some of the stories to make the novel more publishable (which I will do if an agent or editor ever requests it) but for now they stay. Until I read this review, I hadn’t realized how much I miss the all those novelists who did tack on historical asides. In fact, I used to seek out books by authors such as Taylor Caldwell and Noel Barber for that very reason.

So, if that’s the only thing the reviewer objected to, I have no objection to the review.

You can take a look at my entry here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00121WDKQ