How Butterflies Saved My Book

When I sat down to write IN THE AFTER, I was battling two forces.  The first being writers block and the second being an undecided ending.

Writing a novel, it’s not easy work.  So much depends on how “in the game” you can get your head, and how much the characters are willing to share of themselves with you.  Without those two things, you’re fighting a losing battle.  And, I had neither going for me.  I was coming off the back end of abandoning a story I been fighting with and for since November … and IN THE AFTER was nothing more than a rough outline and few character sketches.

IN THE AFTER revolves around the story of two women, Emmy and Sidney, they very different women with one commonality … they are best friends.  They never picked their predestined friendship, it was born before before they knew better, it was willed upon them by their mothers who traveled in the same circles.  And still, they never outgrew it.  Each needed the other because, or spite, of their differences.

When Emmy disappeared on April, 7th 2010 … Sidney’s world changed forever.  Gone was the girl Sidney had always known and now she was forced to face not only all the ways she failed Emmy over the years, but the emotional backlash of a loss like that.

I knew, as I stared at the cursor, where I wanted to focus my energies.  The story is lightly based in reality, but blown up to fictional proportions for the sake of “a novel” … and I knew who they women were destined to become to the reader and how I could tell their story respectfully to the underlying current of domestic abuse.  But how did it end?

In a story like this, there is no “add water” ending.  It can’t be a happy one where they skip off into the distance to live forever and ever because something that easy wouldn’t do justice to the other aspects of this book.  But the thorn in my side was the how — how do I create a compelling end to a novel that will stand up against the rest of it, so that when someone does read, they are left with the bigger picture.

Suddenly I was faced, again, with the prick of writers block … and if you’ve ever felt that, then you know, you can’t fight it … it needs to work itself out.  And as I learned, it would …

My husband and I were out running errands one Saturday afternoon when I came upon the thing that would essentially blast my writers block to hell.  It was as benign a coffee cup.  No, I didn’t find the answer I was looking for at the bottom like some tea-leaf fortune … it was written.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending it became a butterfly” – proverb

And I had it — all the answers and all the resolution and the final chapter.  It was really that stupidly simple for me.  So, essentially, butterflies saved my book.  How that will be … I guess you’ll have to read to find out …

Now, I have this weird thing I do … before I go to bed at night I write.  A few minutes and sometimes a few hours.  I’m writing patchwork style and every day is something new and totally non chronological as I tie up the trail of breadcrumbs.  After I close the lid of my computer and climb into bed, I mentally ask my characters to tell me their story … and then, I dream about them.  And when I wake up in the morning, I do have a clearer vision of what they want from me and how I can live up to that.

But, the bigger point is … when you’re feeling like your piece isn’t sewing itself to your side … open your eyes.  LOOK for the resolution you need because it could be out there hiding, waiting to be found.  For me, it was a mug … for you, it may be something else.  Writers block can be disheartening and hard and scary — I know I wondered if I’d be a one time writer, never to publish again — but I believe that good stories can be hard to tell, because if they were easy … everyone would do it.

On a side note, because I’m so tickled by this — while looking deeper into the quote, I’ve discovered how much those words mean to people.  Literally, girls have them tattooed on their ribcages.  And I think that is so special, and I’m so excited to bring that quote to life in this novel.  I just can’t wait for it to be finished and out there!




Which Cover? I Simply Can’t Decide …

Well … Renu has done it again.  And, I’m hopelessly confused.  Each cover is beautiful in its own right.  So, help a writer out … which cover would you like to see IN THE AFTER published with?  If your vote goes towards the winning cover, your name will appear in the gratitude portion of the novel!


Book Cover Number One












Book Cover Number Two












Book Cover Number Three












Book Cover Number Four











Please feel free to leave comments explaining your choice if you’re so inclined …

And So The Giveaway Ends

Tonight, at midnight, I will be drawing winners … check your e-mail starting tomorrow to find out if you won!  So excited to get the book into your hands … just finished proofing!  Congratulations in advice to the winners, I was overwhelmed by the entries, you all just too sweet!  Thank you for your participation.  More giveaways to come as I start my umpteen month long tour leading up to the official release!


I want to say Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law who reads this blog all the time.  I’m so grateful to have you in my life and I couldn’t have ended up better mother-in-law … thank you, so much, for all your support … it means the world to me always.


Stay tuned, as THE MILESTONE TAPES and the journey to publication comes to an end … we’re off and running on the follow up, IN THE AFTER.  I cannot wait to start sharing the details of the novel with you and I hope you’ll love the story of Sidney and Emmy as much as I do.



Publicity and All That Jazz

I’ve been a bad blogger lately … and I’m sorry.  This blog has been painfully slow as I try to balance writing my second novel with putting the finishing touches on The Milestone Tapes.  I apologize and I’ll try to be better.

Before we jump into this latest post, I have a little housekeeping to do.

1. Please, please, please remember to sign up for the The Milestone Tapes Giveaway!  We have just under a month left!  More information can be found here under the “books and events” page!  Thanks for your continued support as we round third towards home.

2. I’ve finally, thank you Jesus, broken the curse of writers block.  Abandoning my initial idea allowed me to tell a story I’ve been haunted by for years.  Like with THE MILESTONE TAPES, IN THE AFTER will hit close to home for me as I explore what it means to really be a friend in the darkest of hours.  IN THE AFTER, unlike with THE MILESTONE TAPES, is a morbid story that will ping directly into current events and hopefully put a looking-glass over the definition of spousal abuse and the ricochet effect it has on relationships.

Okay … now, onto the topic …

Yesterday I posed a question on the Kindleboards about whether a new author would be better served going Select or if they should branch out into the wider distribution of B&N, Smashwords and the like.  I also mentioned that I had hired a publicist to work with me on the launch.

While some people stayed on topic, hashing out the highs and lows of Select … others broke off into the idea of a new author using a publicist to spread the word of their release.

I was told that with one novel my success will be nil and that it’s only with the what I do next that I will see what kind of author I meant to become … of course, I’m paraphrasing, but more or less, that was the gist.  That, rather than investing time and money into my first book, I should be killing myself for the second — dedicating every waking minute available to seeing the second novel through to completion.  Of course, this was from authors will multiple books in their signatures.  I was told that I should just publish, publish, publish … and if, in a year or so, I decide my work reads as “amateurish” … I can always pull particular works down.


As I’ve said … over and over again … I’m not a seasoned vet, rather, I’m a first timer with no back-list and yes, that puts me a real disadvantage.  Everything I publish will be from the moment, and I will give to it all I can manage.  I won’t ever have the luxury of being a fast and furious author.  If I can publish one a year, I’m doing good.  Each book will come from its own place, literary fiction doesn’t lend itself well to sequels by the nature of it being.  And, the audience of literary fiction is an interesting bunch itself.  There is a set expectation of a book that is written for the genre … and it’s different from YA or SciFi or Romance.

So … let me tell you why I’m still going ahead as planned …

THE MILESTONE TAPES, draft one, was finished in August — or rather — five months ago.  I’ve held on to it now for longer than it took to write.

The editing of THE MILESTONE TAPES was completed November — or rather — nearly three months ago and I’ve still kept it to myself.

The cover, number two that is, was finished in November as well, for three months I’ve stared at it.  But, cover number one was completed in October.

The formatting for THE MILESTONE TAPES was finished earlier this month — I have the proof in hand and it’s flawless, but still, I haven’t clicked “publish”.


Because it’s not ready. The book in and of itself is as good as it ever will be … and its publishable material.  As I write this entry, the truth is, I could be a published author.  I could have had THE MILESTONE TAPES up for sale for nearly a week now.  Heck, I could have slapped a cover on it and it could have been for sale months ago … but that isn’t my style.  That’s not what I wanted for this story and it won’t be what I want for any story that shall follow… and that’s not how I’m going to step into the publishing world now or ever.

When a Big Six publishes a book there is hoopla.  It gives an author — new or old — a presence.  This mantra of letting the pot boil is one that was honed by trial and error.  They obviously know what works when it comes to launching a book and meeting sales quotas.  I, do not.  But, to my credit, I’m a researcher.  I was a reader long before I was a writer and I that sort of branches out into my quest to get it right.

The irony is, is that when an indie author grumbles about poor sales … the first thing that is often suggested or commented on is promotion.  Why?  Because it’s a way to get the word out, inspire interest, cultivate excitement … as the Big Six regularly do.  In the case of sluggish sales, either the author didn’t do enough or didn’t manage to target the correct areas.  But, in my mind (and to quote Larry the Cable Guy) … that’s like checking on your burgers after they’re burnt.  It’s an after the damage is done kind of thing.  New books have a short shelf life before they become old books.  Strike while the iron is hot is my personal philosophy.  Make as much of that moment as you can, give yourself every opportunity possible and you’ll never wonder what if.

With all of that said, I also know that everyone is on their own journey.  That what works for one may not work for another.  So, rather than make blanket statements about what you must do … I think it’s more pertinent to encourage all options.  Success comes in many forms … and that path too it is often different and designed by an individual.

So … now it’s question time … as a new author, what did you do to spread the word?  🙂