Tonight we will be heading downtown for fireworks. That’s what you get when your kids are in their adventuresome 20s. Scorning inconvenience, they want to go out and do stuff.
Freedom gives us this right. As citizens, we can peaceably assemble in public places. Although this is Portland, so weirdness will be present too. I’ll keep on the watch for the Unipiper. (That’s him below, yeah, in the Darth Vader mask playing flaming bagpipes.)
I also have the right to own property, to protect my family, and to freely share my thoughts. I can publish books, too, and send them out into the wide world. It’s an amazing freedom, one I hadn’t thought much about until this spring when I did exactly that.
And today I walked to church for morning prayer and coffee. We sat down together like we do every weekday and prayed openly–in a lighted room in front of enormous plate glass windows. Freely, without fear of interference. (Except the sleepy kind. Coffee helps with that.)
In these troubled times, we dare not take our freedoms for granted. I can take no credit for them; I stand on the shoulders of my forefathers and fellow citizens, who scorned Liberty’s cost and dared to make a stand.
Freedom from tyranny is worth celebrating. Happy 4th of July!
So I’ve been promoting Darcy By Any Other Nameas a “beach read.” You know, the perfect book for a vacation. But maybe I’m wrong.
Last week a reader shared a “book selfie” on Facebook. Oh, the places my books go. How I love seeing them! Darcy, can’t I squeeze through the Kindle and come along with you?
The thing is, Rita’s beach is perfectly lovely.No way would I want to be reading a book there, not while the sun and surf are calling!
I saw Rita’s photo on my phone, right in the middle of a road trip. (A coffee break at a noisy McDonald’s, to be precise.) I tell you what, during my travels I saw a few places where I’d prefer to be reading. “Beauty spots” where fictional escape is more than a preference, it’s a necessity.
So should I call my new book an “escape-the-skeezy-motel” read? Would that that prompt you to buy?
Apparently I am quite the source for ‘shoe-leather’ wisdom. You know, the practical, real-life kind.
On this, our final day of school, Laurie, one of my 7th grade students, presented me with a framed commemoration of our year together. Alas, each of these gems has come rolling out of my mouth. Repeatedly.
I never meant to sound so snarkily erudite, but Laurie nailed it.
I’ll put you out like the cat.
Save it for the talent show.
Don’t wake up the sleeping dog.
Pleasure doing business with you.
Grow a filter.
Suffer in silence.
Clear as mud?
Keep your mouth closed and squeeze it out through your eyeballs [a belch].
Life is hard, and then you die.
Get that lip back in your face.
‘Stoopid’ is a choice.
I hope you enjoyed your childhood… because it’s over.
I’ve released a new book, and the process kind of reminds me of surfing. Okay, body surfing. I was never brave enough–or coordinated enough!–to try it with a board. Tanning on the beach? Forget that. Why lie in the sun when you can spend the afternoon catching waves? Many summer days at Santa Monica and Malibu taught me a thing or two.
Surfing is about position, skill, and timing. This means hours in the water, being ready, watching wave after wave. Learning how to know a promising wave from a dud. Being willing to swim like crazy to catch the awesome one. You can’t be lazy as a surfer.
Position would be the intriguing story premise and the cover. These are what put me in the water, and each one represents a risk. I wasn’t sure how the ‘magical reality’ element of the body swap would fly. And that sweet cover was spendy–but worth every cent.
Skill? I’ve been writing for 17 years. If Darcy By Any Other Name is an instant success, know that I’ve been rolled under by plenty of waves. (Yeah, the wipeout thing.) I’ve learned to escape the worst by diving under, but multiple thousands of clunky words lie at my back. Then too, I teach fiction writing to high school students. What I’ve learned in helping them improve is a lot.
And timing is about being in the right place at the right moment. There are more Austen readers now than ever before. No readers, no wave!
Surfing, like writing, only appears solitary. The photo at the top of this page shows a lone surfer, but I’m betting he wasn’t the only one in the water that day. Bobbing heads beyond the line of surf are not attractive, so they’re cropped out. Deal is, no one surfs alone. No one writes a book alone–or should.
The fellowship of like minds is crucial. As with surfing, skills are developed alone but there is safety in companionship. In the water and out, surfers hang together and talk. If writing greats C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien needed a support group, so do I.
Sales numbers continue to roll in, and not because of me. News about Darcy is being spread by people like you, my social media friends. A hectic school schedule has allowed me little time to compose ads or tweet or anything. I’ve put up a few posts on Facebook, and you have been sharing them. I am beyond grateful.
You know you want this book, right? So enter to win it! There’s a giveaway going on right now at Just Jane 1813. It’s easy, simply post a reply by May 29, 2016.
This is my Ben, and when he sees this photo he’ll be rolling his eyes. And saying, “M-o-m,” as only a grown son can. This selfie was taken with his first digital camera. At age eleven, boys don’t care what they look like. That stupefied pose is deliberate.
Thing is, his expression mirrors how I’ve felt all week. When Darcy By Any Other Name was released on Kindle last Saturday, I could not wrap my brain around it. I’d been peering at the screen since 4:00 a.m, hunting for any last lingering typos in the manuscript, the kind spellcheckers cannot find. And reading instructions and filling in detailed information. Tax stuff and bank account numbers and prices–the kind of work that requires thinking.
You know when your eyes are strained to the dried-cement stage? Yeah, that. After twelve hours of fearful work–click the wrong thing and die! –I pushed the “Save and Publish” button, and my quiet world exploded.
There was my ebook–my own indie-published ebook–on Amazon. I’ve had three books traditionally published, but this was different. Everything is up to me! So I put up an almost laughable post at Facebook with the cover and a text link. Nothing swank or professional or even polished. Almost immediately people began buying.
People began BUYING my book! Paying money for it, and then reading it. I know because reviews began to appear. Amazing reviews, thoughtful and well-written, from intelligent women. Tackling this book is no small feat (662 paper pages), even for a lightning reader like me.
How are people hearing about it? My social media friends. I have been too busy with a frantic school schedule to compose ads or tweets or anything. Facebook friends and Beyond Austen followers and lovers of Austen fiction have come to my rescue. Chautona’s blog review appeared Sunday night. Just Jane 1813’s review came up this morning. People I don’t even know are expressing excitement and are sharing my announcement post.
Ebooks continue to fly off the shelf. Here, I’ll show you.
It’s crazy. Money is coming IN instead of going out–a glorious change in this household. People say that Facebook is impersonal, but I have not found it so. One day the sales wave will crest and flatten out. But thanks to my social media friends, today is not that day.
Hey, there’s an ebook giveaway running at Just Jane 1813. To enter, post a reply before midnight, May 29, 2016.
And if you’d rather not wait? Here’s the link to Amazon. Because the experts say I’m supposed to ask for the sale.
Hat tip to A visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore
Darcy By Any Other Name, my first indie publication, was released today. I ought to be celebrating–and I am–if staring at the screen in shock and wonder qualifies.
Amazon slapped the Kindle edition up for sale in something like twenty minutes, instead of the promised 12 hours. There is no ranking, but the “Look Inside” feature works. The book is LIVE, and you can see it here.
The publication date is the real stunner: May 13, 2016. Yesterday’s date, although I don’t know what caused that. Yesterday just happened to be Friday the 13th. Otherwise known as “Freaky Friday.”
So my Pride and Prejudice ‘body swap’ romance–itself a Freaky Friday tale–has that particular date. Will anyone notice or even care? Nope. But I know, and I’m smiling.
And now you can smile too.Darcy By Any Other Name is pretty much the perfect beach read, just in time for summer. Like my other novels, it’s an ensemble piece, featuring all your friends (and foes) from Pride and Prejudice.
It’s a book I thought I’d never write because, you know, every variation of Pride and Prejudice has been told. Ah, but that was before I came up with the swap idea. Such a hoot.
The print edition will be available presently. The price for that is dictated by length–all 662 pages. If I were you, I’d buy the ebook. It’s way cheaper.
Facebook has added a “Thankful” button to its gallery of Likes. It’s Mother’s Day, and the timing is perfect. I could click that thing all day long. My mom has overcome a series of serious illnesses and is doing well, and so are my sons.
But I am also thankful for Guest Sons. I have a number of them, boys who came into my life after school and on weekends. Who played video games and swam in the community pool and ate whatever I served (pizza or lasagna or shepherd’s pie). They belched and cracked jokes and laughed. Oh, how they laughed.
“Mom, you should make shepherd’s pie for Stephen.” I heard this several years ago, when Nathan’s pal Stephen was on leave from the Navy. “He loves your cooking,” Nathan added. Excuse me, my cooking? I am a utility cook, flinging out meals on a skinflint budget. Surely Stephen was mistaken! But I got busy in the kitchen just the same.
It’s not that these Guest Sons were ungrateful–no hungry teen ever is. It’s just that I never realized how much they enjoyed hanging out at our place. Nothing special was offered. The boys’ shared bedroom was cramped at best–especially with all those scrounged TVs in there. Through the closed door I could hear hooting and hollering as they played Super Smash Brothers Melee for hours.
Hospitality, not entertainment, was all I had to offer. An open door. And in they came. Now I miss having them around.
What a way to end the A to Z Challenge, by talking about money! And yet selling books is part of the equation. Readers are always on the hunt for new titles–and authors–to love. They are! Don’t lose heart, writing friend.
This is the age of the story. I mean, look around. People are addicted to Netflix and Hulu, binge-watching an entire series in one weekend. Even using their phones, which I think is crazy. How can they see? Then again, these are twenty and thirty-somethings with young eyes.
Get in on this craze, because readers do the same with books. Feed them! Keep that idea factory running.
Nothing sells older titles like a new book, right? And eBooks? Those are instant-gratification mind candy! One click, and… let the reading begin!
People do judge a book by its cover. A book purchase is impulsive, driven by curiosity and emotion. I think the cover designer for Darcy By Any Other Namenailed the intrigue of the body-swap. The publisher’s designer for my Mercy’s Embrace series? Not so much.
Speaking of Darcy, choosing which passage to share each day has presented a quandary. I cannot betray what happens at the end, or in the middle, or, well…anything! So let’s finish the A to Z Challenge with a no-spoilers smile. From Chapter 30, here is Collins-as-Darcy in all his bumbling glory. Dear me, with Collins at the helm, the handsome “Mr. Darcy” is fast losing ground.
The evening wore on. It was Miss Bingley’s stated intent to accustom him to fashionable hours, such as he would find in London. What brutes Londoners were! Supper had been abominably late—even Mr. Bingley had complained—and then they must play cards and converse and listen as Miss Bingley played the pianoforte until the small hours.
But Collins’ tedious evening was brightened by the contents of Netherfield’s wine cellar, in particular a decanter of beautifully-aged cognac. Such a lovely, golden amber it was, served in special glasses to warm it. Bingley sipped his. Collins, who had never before tasted brandy, tried to follow suit but could not. It was simply too delicious. Mellowed and warmed, he found himself humming a tune as he refilled his glass.
Not that he’d had the funds in those pinched university days for as much as a pint of beer. But from the mists of memory an old drinking song bubbled up.
“With women and wine I defy ev’ry care,” Collins sang. “For life without these is a bubble of air.”
He drained the glass, marveling at the delicate flavor of the brandy. He stole a glance at Miss Bingley. She was looking both surprised and disgusted. Wonderful! Smiling, he continued humming. “A bubble of air.”
Charles Bingley began to laugh. “Upon my word, Darcy,” he said.
Again Collins reached for the decanter. Wasn’t it odd that a song he’d never sung came so easily to his lips? This time Charles Bingley sang with him.
“Each helping the other in pleasure I roll, And a new flow of spirits enlivens my soul—”
“Really, Charles,” said Caroline Bingley, “you shouldn’t encourage him. We have enough to put up with in Mr. Hurst.” And she tugged on the bell pull.
Collins shared a grin with Charles Bingley.
Sometime later Holdsworth appeared, as neat as a pin, wearing his usual wooden expression. Apparently the man’s intention was to escort him to his bedchamber.
“Good night, Miss Bingley,” Collins called, as he was led from the drawing room. He was soon grateful for Holdsworth’s arm, for he staggered as they climbed the staircase together. Bingley followed.
“For life without cognac is a bubble of air,” Collins sang. “A bubble of air.”
Yes, a merry song. For some reason Holdsworth did not enjoy it.
Again, thank you for joining me for this challenge. It’s work, pumping out twenty-six posts in a single month, but it’s been enlightening and affirming. I expect the artwork for the print cover soon, and then we’ll be off and running. Check here for details!
Excerpt is from Darcy By Any Other Name by Laura Hile, copyright 2016
Celebrating the A to Z Blogging Challenge with quotations on the writing life.
You can fix anything but a blank page.
The rough draft is like the ugly duckling, not the goose that laid the golden egg. Nurture your draft, work with it, revise it. Allow it to grow into the novel it deserves to be. You might surprise yourself with what it becomes.
Photo: Bill Smith (Creative Commons Flickr). Image is link.