January 23, 2013 by Lillie
Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING blog hop! This is a fantastic new way for readers to discover authors they may not find in their local bookstore. Welcome to my blog, especially those of you who have discovered it for the first time by following the blog hop.
I am the author of the romantic mystery novel Dream or Destiny and the contemporary romances, Fern’s Fancies and Stroke of Luck. I also have written several how-to ebooks. Click on the Books tab above to learn more.
I spend more time editing and formatting other authors’ books than I do writing my own. Authors who choose to publish independently can find lots of help here. If you’re an author who would like to know what is available, click on the Services tab above to learn some of what I do. Feel free to email me with questions, as my list of services isn’t complete. My assistant, Jan McClintock, is working on a new website for me. Come back soon to see it.
In this BIG BLOG HOP, I’ll answer ten questions about my current work in progress. You can learn a little more about my writing. Then check out the links below this post to my fellow authors at their blogs to find out more about their works in progress.
Thanks to Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson for inviting me to participate in the Blog Hop. Vickie and Loretta are sisters and writing partners. They have co-authored 40 novels and twice that many short stories, in the mystery and Western genres. I recently read The Curse of Senmut; you can read my review on Goodreads. One of the things I appreciate about their books is that in addition to enjoying a good story you won’t be embarrassed to give them to your grandmother or your teenaged daughter. Visit their website at Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson Website.
Here is my Next Big Thing!
1: What is the working title of your book?
Like someone who is “between jobs,” I’m between books right now. I just finished Jack Stories: Favorite Memories of Jack Jordan Ammann Jr, a different kind of biography. After my husband died in September, so many people told me stories about Jack, who was a colorful, unforgettable character, that I wanted to preserve the memories. I compiled the book in four sections. The first section includes Jack’s favorite stories that he told—often!—about his own life. The second section is a collection of more than 50 stories from friends and family members. My memories—some of which originally appeared on my blog and some of which I wrote for the book—came next. The book ends with his obituary (which Jack’s brother said had obviously been written by someone used to writing long books) and the story of his final goodbye to me. The book just came out and we had a booksigning and a celebration of his life on the occasion of his 80th birthday. This certainly isn’t a book that will be a best-seller, but it is available on Amazon.com. The stories are fun, entertaining, humorous, and heartwarming.
Now I intend to get back to the book I quit working on when I became a full-time caregiver for Jack after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, along a number of physical ailments. The working title is Act of Faith.
2: Where did the idea come from for the WIP?
I actually combined ideas from several sources. I’ve had a story I’ve wanted to write for 36 years. At that time, my sister was pregnant with her fourth child. Her third child was severely handicapped as a result of spina bifada. She was paralyzed from the waist down and was severely mentally retarded. The doctors didn’t know why Becky had those serious birth defects, and they were concerned that this next pregnancy (which occurred in spite of my sister being on birth control pills) would end up with the same problems. Several doctors encouraged my sister to have an abortion. She was under intense pressure—the doctors strongly pushed her to abort, and she knew caring for two severely handicapped children would be extremely difficult. However, because of her faith, she believed abortion was murder and would not agree. Thank God, the fourth baby was perfectly normal.
But after seeing how much the doctors pressed my sister to have an abortion, I wanted to write a story about a woman who defied medical advice and popular opinion to refuse an abortion because of her religious beliefs.
I decided to have my heroine become pregnant as a result of a violent rape. Rather than worrying about the possibility of a mentally and physically handicapped child as my sister did, the woman in my story would worry about seeing the face of her rapist in the face of her baby.
Then after Dream or Destiny was published, readers encouraged me to write a sequel that would feature one of the secondary characters from Dream or Destiny. I chose Bonita Hernandez as my heroine; she was trying to rebuild her life after her affair with a married man ended.
So my goal is to pull all these ideas into a great story in Act of Faith.
3: What genre does your book come under?
It will certainly be a contemporary romance. I’m still considering whether there is a mystery as well, as there was in Dream or Destiny. Once I get back into the manuscript and start writing seriously again, I won’t be surprised if the characters lead me in directions I can’t anticipate. That’s what happened with Dream or Destiny. There will be a Christian/inspirational aspect to the story as Bonita turns her life around.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I know I’m a freak of nature, but I don’t watch movies and have no clue about Hollywood actors.
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Bonita Hernandez was changing her life after an affair with a married man, but his revenge led to a whole new host of problems.
6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
I’m not sure how I will publish Act of Faith. Dream or Destiny is published by a small independent publisher, GASLight Publishing. I have also self-published a novel and several how-to ebooks, as well as Jack Stories. I will probably submit to GASLight first since I think it would be a good idea to keep both titles in the series with the same publisher.
As anyone who reads by blog regularly knows by now, I’m a big fan of self-publishing and independent publishing. In fact as a freelance editor, I work with authors who are self-publishing to help them create a book they can be proud of.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft is far from finished, so I can’t begin to say.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m not far enough along to feel confident about comparing the story with any other books. I expect my characters will lead me off the path I’m envisioning.
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Seeing the stress my sister went through made me want to deal with the issue of a woman pressured to have an abortion who chooses life. That was the initial inspiration for the story.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think most of us like to read redemption stories. Bonita thinks she is a terrible person because she had been the mistress of a married man. She has to repent, accept God’s love and forgiveness, and forgive herself before she can be born again as a new woman.
Here is a list of the authors who will post their Q&A on their own blogs January 30. Be sure to bookmark them or check back next Wednesday and click through to their blogs and find out about their NEXT BIG THING!
Margaret Blincoe is a Christian devotional writer with a unique twist. All her devotions are based on one word written in an acrostic. She even wrote an acrostic for the title of her first book, Message in a Word: Message in a Word means exploring specific subject and getting enlightenment in nutshell as written oracle revealed deity. The book has 52 devotions—one per week to give you time to study each one. As her editor, I’m delighted that she is almost ready to send me her next book, Message in a Word 2.
David Bowles is my client and the author of the Westward Sagas. Although fiction, the novels are based on real people and real historical events. The stories are true to history and everything that he writes about could have happened. However, he has added his imagination to create characters, dialogue, and scenes to make the stories exciting. The series follows the Mitchell Family as they move westward from Pennsylvania. Currently three books are available: Spring House, Adam’s Daughters, and Children of the Revolution.
Edith Eveon Brown and I worked togetherat Your Information Center, and I’m editing a novel for her that will be available soon. On her website, Edith has for sale a number of how-to ebooks on a range of subjects, including home maintenance, travel, starting and running a business, and religion. She is extremely knowledgeable about business start-ups and also offers writing and consulting services to businesses.
Dawn Colclasure is a blogger, book reviewer, and prolific writer. She has written poetry, advice for writers, children’s books, and books about haunted houses. Her latest book is On the Wings of Pink Angels, a book about breast cancer. Dawn is donating her royalties from this book to Courageous Kids.
Wanda Thomas Littles is a Christian poet and author. I worked with Wanda on her poetry book, Like a Thief in the Night. She has published three other books of poetry and the novel Preacha! Everything Wanda writes reflects her Christian faith.
October 27, 2010 by Lillie
My client David Bowles has had two kudos recently:
His novel Adam’s Daughters: Book 2 in the Westward Sagas was named an award-winning finalist in the Fiction & Literature: Historical Fiction category of the Best Books 2010.
David will join me, along with four other local authors whose books I edited, on Saturday, October 30 for a group booksigning. Hope to see you there if you’re in the San Antonio area.
October 20, 2010 by Lillie
Booksigning at the All Saints Anglican Church Fall Festival
Saturday, October 30, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
11122 Link Drive in Castle Hills, San Antonio
For more information about the festival and a map to the church: www.allsaintsanglican.net
I’m excited to be signing books along with five of my clients:
- David Bowles
- Margaret Blincoe
- James Doughty
- Patricia Eytcheson Taylor and Rev. Dr. James C. Taylor
- Richard Turner
Check out the websites of participating authors. I was honored to work with each of them editing their books and preparing them for publication. I’m confident you’ll be happy with any book you buy at the signing, including Dream or Destiny.
November 6, 2009 by Lillie
Lillie: Thank you for visiting A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye today, David. Of course, I know all about Adam’s Daughters, but my readers don’t. Please tell them about your latest book.
David: The Westward Sagas tell the story of the Mitchell family’s 100-year odyssey west from Pennsylvania to Texas. In Adam’s Daughters: Book 2, Peggy Mitchell, a survivor of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, grows up in Jonesborough, Tennessee during the tumultuous first twenty years of the nation’s existence. Though haunted by memories of war, she matures into strong, independent young woman who is courted by Andrew Jackson and who has a freed slave as her best friend. Her younger brothers and sisters become her surrogate children and students. Together the children of Adam and Elizabeth take on renegade Indians, highwaymen, and the hardships of an untamed land.
Lillie: I always like to know the story behind the story. Where did you get the idea for The Westward Sagas?
David: Actually, I started writing my family history. Adam Mitchell is my fourth great grandfather. He was a patriot in the Revolutionary War, and I wanted to share his story and the story of the rest of his family, who were also heroes. However, when I wrote the family history, it was so boring that my children and grandchildren didn’t want to read it. So I decided to write the stories as fiction so I could use my imagination and creativity to fill in the gaps in known history and add dialogue. I still wanted the history and genealogy to be accurate, so I’ve done a great deal of research.
Lillie: I’m impressed that you write nothing that couldn’t have happened. Even when you make something up, you make the story fit the known facts. In Adam’s Daughters, Peggy Mitchell is courted by and eventually spurns Andrew Jackson, who went on to become the seventh president of the United States. Can you share a little about that with my readers?
David: I’ll be happy to. There is no record that Andrew Jackson courted Peggy Mitchell. However, it is possible—perhaps likely. We know Andrew was in Jonesborough in 1788. He and Peggy were both young and unmarried, and there were not many marriageable men and women in the area at the time. Judge McNairy was a close friend of both the Mitchell family and Andrew Jackson, so it is probable that he would have introduced his friends to each other. Andrew Jackson recorded Margaret Mitchell’s will in Nashville, so he obviously had some contact with the Mitchell family. Did Andrew Jackson court Peggy Mitchell? No one knows. Is it possible? Absolutely.
Lillie: I know how meticulous your research is and how much input you get on your work in progress. Tell us something about your process.
David: I’ve always loved history and was fascinated by the stories of my ancestors I heard from my relatives when I growing up. I’ve been researching my family for years, but I did a lot more research for the books. I’ve made several trips to North Carolina and Tennessee where the stories are set, even worshipping in the church my ancestors attended more than 200 years ago. As I finished each chapter of the book, I had you do a quick edit then took it to the Christian Writers Group of the Greater San Antonio Area for critique.
Lillie: Those quick edits were just to clean up grammar, spelling, and punctuation so the writers of your critique group could focus on content.
David: The members of the group really gave me valuable feedback. I’ve learned a lot about writing from them, and my book is much better because of their input. After the critiques, you and I talked about the suggestions, and you made edits to incorporate the changes. When I finished the entire manuscript, you and I each went over it several times and discussed what we found or changes we thought were needed. One of the best things we did was a read-aloud edit.
Lillie: I encourage writers to read their work aloud, ideally to another writer or an editor, but if that’s not feasible, just reading aloud or into a tape recorder is a huge help. It’s amazing what you can discover by reading aloud that you didn’t catch when reading silently.
David: Reading aloud was helpful, and so was getting feedback from my advance readers. People who live in the area where the story is set, someone who knows Jewish customs (for a scene where Peggy and her sisters have Shabbat dinner with a Jewish family), folks who know about the history of the time and the genealogy of the people involved, and readers who enjoy a good book all gave valuable feedback. Then you and I talked again, and you incorporated the changes we agreed with. When I started writing, I had no idea there would be so many edits and revisions.
Lillie: Most writers don’t realize how much writing and re-writing comes after the first draft. Maybe it’s a good idea they don’t—they might hesitate to start writing if they did. I’m glad you started and followed through with The Westward Sagas, and I know readers agree. You’ve done a good job of building your platform and promoting your book. Tell us about it.
David: Early on, I understood that I have a large market among descendants of Adam Mitchell as well as other families in my books. I launched Adam’s Daughters in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Many of the people there are descendants of families in my books, and if they’re not descendants they know of the families. The Chester Inn is on the book cover—it was just being built in Adam’s Daughters, and it’s a landmark today, a historical building that serves today as the offices of the National Storytelling Association. The people in the area recognize it immediately and are likely to be interested in a book about their hometown. Another segment of my market is people who love history but who don’t have a direct connection to the setting or characters in my books. They enjoy reading about history and appreciate knowing that the history is accurate—either it really happened or it could have happened as written based on known history.
Lillie: You have a well-defined audience, and you’ve marketed to it successfully. I know you sold a lot of books in Jonesborough during the National Storytelling Festival as well as at the Adam Mitchell family reunion. For readers who missed you in those place, where can they buy the book? Is Adam’s daughters available both in print and e-book?
David: Yes, Adam’s Daughters is available in both print and electronic formats. Readers can order an autographed copy of the print book or download an e-book on my Web site, WestwardSagas.com. They can order the book in print and Kindle edition from Amazon.com, in print from most bookstores (often by special order), and in e-book formats at Smashwords.com. I’m happy that through Smashwords I’m participating in Operation EBook Drop—through that program I give free e-books to soldiers.
David: They’re invited to visit my website, WestwardSagas.com. To read the blog, click on Blog on the menu. To learn more about me or my books, click on David Bowles or Westward Sagas.
Lillie: Is there anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked?
David: Just how important it is that we tell our family stories to our children and our grandchildren as the stories need to be passed on for future generations.
Lillie: Thank you for visiting. I’m sure I didn’t ask everything my readers want to know so I hope you’ll check in during the day to answer questions.
David: I’ll be glad to respond to comments. Thank you for having me as your guest today.
David Bowles, a native of Austin, Texas, lives in San Antonio with his best friend and constant companion Lulubelle, a yellow Lab. He grew up listening to stories of his ancestors told by family members in the generation before him. The stories fascinated David so much that he grew up to become a tale-spinner, spinning tales through the written word in The Westward Sagas and through the spoken word speaking to groups of both adults and children.
David started writing stories of his family to ensure that his children and grandchildren had accurate records of the family history. However, while the original versions, written in narrative textbook style, did maintain the records, they didn’t maintain the interest of the readers. So he used his imagination and creativity to fill in the gaps of what might have happened when the details weren’t available. He created dialogue and scenes to add true life drama to the story of the Mitchell Family from colonial days to the settlement of the West. He hopes these stories fascinate his readers as much as the stories of his ancestors have always fascinated him.
Disclosure:David pays me for work I do but did not pay for this interview. The Amazon link is an affiliate link; if you order books through the other links, I do not make a commission.
March 11, 2009 by Lillie
In addition to this week being Read an E-Book Week, the entire month of March is Small Press Month.
Although e-books don’t necessarily come from small presses, many do. In the early days of e-publishing, the large, traditional publishers didn’t publish books electronically. Most large publishers didn’t show much respect for the new publishing method, having the attitude that only print books were real books.
Even print books from independent publishers (small presses and self-publishers) have often been considered to be something less than real books.
Small Press Month was created to honor independent publishers and introduce readers to the quality and diversity of books published by small presses.
Since an individual or small company can set up an independent publishing business with a relatively small investment, not all published books are equal in quality. However, small publishers who take their business seriously can and do produce books equal in quality to those produced by large, mainstream publishers.
Independent publishers can often be more flexible than their mega-conglomerate counterparts. Acquisitions decisions in large companies are based on expected sales and return on investment. Small publishers are more apt to take a chance on a unproven author or an unusual storyline. They can be less strict about the exact number of words in a book or the sell-through history of a previously published author.
To writers, that means more opportunities to have their out-of-the-ordinary stories published.
To readers, it means more opportunities to find new and unique voices.
Oh, those big publishers that thought e-books weren’t real books? Most of them are now publishing books electronically. They’ve discovered that there is a growing demand for books that can be delivered immediately at lower prices, books that don’t take up valuable space in crowded apartments, books that don’t fill up the landfills.
Small presses pioneered e-books, and now the mega-corporations are reaping sales from the seeds planted and nurtured by independent publishers.
Not all small presses publish the same way. Some publish print books only; some publish e-books only; some publish both. Many specialize in niches too small to be of interest to the large publishers.
Several of my clients exemplify the greatness of small presses. I’ll give you two examples:
- Grace Anne Schaefer writes The People of the Frozen Earth series about prehistoric Indians. Although many things about the civilization of native people two thousand years ago remain a mystery, Grace Anne has been careful to use the information that is available and avoid writing anything that doesn’t fit with what is known. In spite of the success of Jean Auel’s books, traditional publishers aren’t especially interested in books set in this time period. Grace Anne knew her readership would come from people interested in Indian culture and history, so she and her husband formed GASLight Publishing, LLC and are self-publishing her books. They sell books primarily at Indian pow-wows. Recently Grace Anne got a comment on her blog from a reader who was amazed the books were self-published because they were as professionally written, edited, and published as any book the reader had seen from a traditional publisher.
- David Bowles writes The Westward Sagas historical novels. The books are stories about his family, and everything is consistent with known history and genealogy. David does extensive research to ensure that his facts are correct and fills in the gaps with his imagination. His target audience is the 10,000+ descendants of the ancestor who is the hero of the first book in the series. While that is too narrow and small a niche for a mainstream publisher, it is ideal for an independent publisher. David publishes his books through Plum Creek Press, Inc. and has received awards and outstanding reviews for his work. Although some buyers of his books are readers interested in history and genealogy, most come from his target group of family and descendants of other real people who are characters in the book.
You may not be interested in prehistoric Indians or the history and genealogy of an American Revolution patriot. Whatever your interest, though, you can probably find excellent books from independent publishers on the topic.
Sherman Alexie, the public face of Small Press Month, says:
The small presses represent what is most brave, crazy and beautiful about our country and our literature. So let us all sing honor songs for the independent publishers.