Wednesday, April 15, 2015

wise use of time


Lately, I have been reevaluating my use of time. With a new book out, hours went into getting it seen-- which meant networking in the places readers and writers gather. While that was happening, I was writing for two blogs (once a month for a third), editing what will be the second in the Oregon historical series, and began writing the fifth in the Arizona historicals.

I am sure there are exceptions, but professional writers, those who take writing as their job/career) must network or someone else must for them. The simple truth is to sell, work must be seen by someone who buys their genre. Writers who are particularly good at this have teams set up ready to buy their newest work, which will guarantee it to show up well in Amazon's rankings, as soon as it comes out. Once it shows up, who knows whether it will stay selling, but it has a chance.

So writing the books and doing what will get them seen are important uses of a writer's time. Thinking about this has led me to look critically at blogging. I began 'Rain Trueax' in December 2011 when I put out my first indie book, Desert Inferno. My intention was for it to be a place to write about creativity, my books, other people's books, process, and promotion. I invited guest bloggers and mostly considered I could put anything here that fit with my writing philosophy. 

All very well, except that the blogs I write take time to get them to where I want them. Mostly neither this one nor Thoughts are written stream of consciousness. I like to find a theme or topic and it takes writing and rewriting before I am satisfied. In looking at how I use my time, one of the blogs has to go. Logically, based on seniority alone, it should be this one. So here is what I plan-
1) No more regular posts here, but I will continue, on no set schedule, to post excerpts from books or related images. That kind of thing takes much less time. I have had blogs just for the books-- Rainy Day Romances (something about each book and links) and Romances with an Edge (using an alternate cover and links). They only take work when a new book arrives-- and even then the work can be used multiple places.
2) My regular blog writing will now all be in Rainy Day Thought, mixed into the usual subjects like the ranch, animals, nature, creativity, spirituality, aging, history, photography, art, travel, culture, or whatever comes to mind. If you have never been there, come on by. I will always have a new blog on Saturdays and maybe more often but that's undecided.
Whether I continue with Thoughts, I'll see as I go. I like to write in blogs, but it's not something I must do to fulfill myself-- as is writing fiction. It is something I have done since 2005, but it has to benefit me and readers for me to put into it the time it requires.

Some people make up their mind what they want, and they stick to it for a lifetime. I tend to try this or that and see how it goes. When I began the current year, I reevaluated a lot of places in my life. Times of reevaluation seem healthy for me. Is something worth the time it takes? If it's not, change it. 

So for 'Rain Trueax,' this is the last scheduled post-- although if you are interested in snippets from books, check back once in awhile.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

rebellion leads to...


Romance is the Cinderella of literature. Some would not even put it into the category of literature. The books sell a lot, but many people consider them trashy if not worse. Despite studies having been shown that the average romance readers are content with their real life, that the book is just a momentary escape, you know like a movie, the accusations constantly arise that it's bad for women.

Recently I came across one such article. The accusation went that reading romances was unhealthy for women, even addictive (comparing it to porn). Supposedly, those who read the books are at risk of leaving husbands, have unrealistic expectations for life, and worse yet, spend too many hours reading. 

It's interesting how I never read the same concerns for men reading a Tom Clancy book. Has anyone worried that the Game of Thrones might make someone want to rush off to find that life for real? Romances are often set in fantasy or historical settings also, but something about them seems different to those who worry about romance readers. What could it be?

The feared instability of women is why it took so long for them to get the vote in this country-- not until 1912, the year my mother was born, could women vote in Oregon. This concern over women being easily swayed into instability didn't start recently if you look at Genesis where it was the woman who caused the grief. It was her who had to be controlled or... The or is where the concerns grow.

I posted a few comments in the last such thread. One was that while romance novels can have sex in them (they don't all), they are more about the heroine/hero's journey. I am not going to say all of them. In any genre, you can find books with a great deal to them and those that offer a shallow adventure.

Many romance novels follow Joseph Campbell's hero's journey. They are also about Pinkola Est├ęs' running with wolves. Their characters do choose their own path... and I have to say that may be the fear these articles are expressing about the risk in romances. Not that a woman will leave her husband, but that she will not follow society's rules as usually written by old men to maintain power.

Romance novels can serve to be a sharing experience for women. An example from my life is one year I was staying in a hotel in Massachusetts (where my husband had been sent for a project) and was in our room often when the attendant came to clean. This was a period when I was buying a lot of used romances to get a feel for the genre. She saw them, and we talked about the books. I asked if she'd like some. She was pleased. So when she'd come, I'd give her the ones I'd finished. She told me she passed them onto her daughter. It was a female bonding experience on several levels. 

While I know some men read romances (they are the ones who understand the stories are about heroes and adventure as much as heroines), the majority of readers are women. Maybe the real threat in romance novels is that those female heroines sometimes do what they want and don't follow the rules set out by a more rigid society. Can't have women doing that, now can we? Who knows to where it would lead.

An example is the snippet from my historical romance, Arizona Sunset:


    In her bedroom, Abigail wrestled with buttons and fabric, that adhered to her sweaty skin, as she pushed her dress up and over her head. She tugged loose petticoat ties and stepped from all three. When she was down to her chemise and drawers, she stood in front of her floor mirror and stared at her reflection.

    Serafina's knock with water and towels interrupted her frustrated evaluation. Told that her father and Martin had also come home early and were already in the parlor, Abigail managed thanks and a faint smile before Serafina closed the door, leaving her alone. On an impulse, Abigail wriggled from her undergarments and turned again to the mirror. She felt a surge of guilt as she stared at her naked body-- the sins of the flesh.

    She remembered the pastor’s preaching on Sunday, had even then felt it to be directed at her. Perhaps the narrow minded man was right about the dangers of hidden desires, how it led to rebellion. One step out of line and you were over the edge. Well, that was all right. She felt in rebellion. Against him, against her father, against all she had been taught.

    What was wrong with being aware of her body, of her own skin and curves, the soft womanly places that were hidden from all, usually even herself. She watched in the mirror as her hands stroked over the fullness of her breasts, down the line of her hip, to her flat belly. She felt scandalized but unwilling to stop. What was she hoping to find? She had no idea. But something. Definitely something.

    Feeling mutinous, she walked naked to her wardrobe and looked at her dresses, selecting the lightest cotton on the rack. She shook it and fresh underwear out, just to be certain no scorpions or spiders had taken up residence, then dressed, this time with a light chemise and only one petticoat.
For Abigail, just to change her garb is a major shift, because even that was dictated in her society in Tucson, Arizona 1883. I suspect that might be the concern being expressed by those who tear into women who read romances-- how dare women take their lives into their own hands and not stick to serious endeavors like-- reading the books written by the ones writing those warning articles.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

if you are a writer

 in front of my computer-- where I write most everything

You are a writer if you write. It's not complicated. Writers write. It isn't about whether they publish or are bestsellers. They write. They don't have to be good. They don't have to sell. They don't have to finish anything. They write. Who decides if someone is a gifted writer-- that's subjective. Sales don't determine greatness in anything, and yet what else do we have? But to just be a writer does not require that person be gifted. Some of the books that have sold the most have been panned by critics. But the person who wrote them was a writer.

What makes someone an author is another of those things people ask. Author has more than one meaning. You can be the author of a new idea and not have written a single word. But if we take the word author and combine it with words-- it'd be someone who wrote an original work. 

Not everyone needs to give themselves a title. Many don't care whether they are regarded as an author or a writer. They do what they do, and titles be damned. But if someone needs a title to identify themselves, which our society can request multiple places, what would make them an author?

The same debate can be made over painters or photographers. I love taking photos and enjoy painting; but if I was identifying myself to someone else, I'd not call myself a painter or a photographer. What would it take to bring me to the place where I would?

Authors might feel secure in deeming themselves such, if a big publishing house bought their book. That would mean they had been taken seriously by someone in the business. It is about the only reason I can see anybody would want to sign a contract for their book because those contracts limit the writer's rights-- for a very long time. Big publishing houses also take part of the profit from each sale. They often don't advertise anybody but their biggest writers. What they do offer is that cachet of saying you signed a contract with them. By the way, if you have yet to bring out your first book, be very careful that that desire for a publishing house doesn't lead you into one of the vanity presses, which can make your book so costly that it won't be purchased and limit also your rights for future independent action.

Does being an author require bringing out more than one successful book? If that was so, Harper Lee was not an author. Does that sound right to anyone? The new book coming out by her was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird and from it came the masterpiece due to an editor's suggestions to take another look at how Mockingbird was told. So the new book is a sequel that actually was written first but forgotten. 

Lee is not the only author of works regarded as masterpieces who only published one book. Did she remain a writer all of her life? Good question as she is rather private, and I am not sure who knows the answer to that one.

Monday, April 6, 2015

an article by Diana Gabaldon author of the Outlander series of historical novels


Going along with the earlier video on writers on writing, I thought this might interest some readers. It is by Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander books. I have not seen a link to it since I got it from following her on Facebook. I will look forward to when she writes a book about her process as it is interesting to see how successful authors, with a lot of sales, have approached it.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


MIND GAMES
[Excerpt from THE CANNIBAL’S ART (not published; in progress)]
by Diana Gabaldon

The greatest thing about writing is that it’s just you and the page. The most horrifying thing about writing is that it’s just you and the page. Contemplation of that dichotomy is enough to stop most people dead in their tracks.

Success in writing—and by that, I mean getting the contents of your head out onto the page in a form that other people can relate to—is largely a matter of playing mind games with yourself. In order to get anywhere, you need to figure out how your own mind works—and believe me, people are not all wired up the same way.*

Casual observation (i.e., talking to writers for thirty years or so) suggests that about half of us are linear thinkers. These people really _profit_ from outlines and wall-charts and index cards filled out neatly in blue pen with each character’s shoe size and sexual history (footnoted if these are directly correlated). The rest of us couldn’t write that way if you paid us to.

The non-linear thinkers are described in all kinds of ways, most of them not euphonious: chunk writers, pantsters (_really_ dislike that one, as it suggests one’s literary output is not from the upper end of the torso), piecers, etc. ** All these terms carry a whiff of dismissal, if not outright disdain or illegitimacy, and there’s a reason for that.

Anyone educated in the art of composition in the Western Hemisphere any time in the last hundred years was firmly taught that there is One Correct Way to write, and it involves strictly linear planning, thought, and execution. You Must Have a Topic Sentence. You Must Have a Topic Paragraph. YOU MUST HAVE AN OUTLINE. And so forth and so tediously on…

Got news for you: You don’t have to do it that way. _Anything_ that gets words on the page is the Right Thing to Do.

Now, as a non-linear thinker myself, I prefer less pejorative terms. I like “network thinker.” Consider thinking and writing as a process that lights up your synapses (which it does): a linear thinker is like a string of holiday lights. Red-blue-green-yellow-blue-red-orange-yellow-green-red! And it lights up and then you can wind it around your Christmas tree or your Kwanzaa flag and it’s all pretty.

Well. You know those nets of lights that you throw over your front wall or your cactus or anything else that it would be inconvenient to staple strings of lights to? Those look like this:
Red - Yellow - Blue - Green - Red – Orange
l l l l l l
Blue - Orange - Red - Yellow – Green – Red
l l l l l l
Yellow – Green - Blue - Red - Orange – Red


The logical connections (the electricity, if you will) between any two lights in that network are there. It isn’t random, and in the end, it’s logical. It’s even linear. It just…isn’t necessarily a straight line.


Now, the reason that the educational establishment insists on the linear model of writing is that you can force a non-linear writer to work linearly (or apparently linearly). You can _not_ make a linear writer work non-linearly. (In fact, every time I describe the way I write to a linear-thinking person, they get annoyed. “You can’t _possibly_ do it that way!” they say. By which they mean that _they_ can’t possibly do it that way—and they can’t.)

But you can make any fifth-grader cough up a reasonably coherent essay using the linear model—and no one ever mentions that this isn’t the only way to do it. (Every time I go talk to an elementary-school class for Career Day, I pause mid-way and ask the teacher to turn his or her back. Then I tell the kids, “OK, the teacher can’t see you, so tell me the truth. When you get one of those essay assignments and you have to turn in an outline and a rough draft and a polished draft and a final copy….how many of you just write the final copy and then fake up the rest?” About a third of the class will raise their hands. I think it would be more, but some of them are scared to admit it.
……

• *This is why you can read an article purporting to tell you How to Write, and discover that you just can’t write that way. That’s because the writer is not really telling you how to write; he or she is just explaining how they write. Maybe they have the same kind of brain you do—but maybe they don’t.

• ** This is the insidious principle that underlies Politically Correct speech, btw—the undeniable recognition that names have power, coupled with the invidious notion that by insisting on a specific term, the person assigning the name thus controls the person named, by controlling the perception of the named party. Hence the tiresome attempts to rename political parties as “haters,” “tax-and-spend liberals,” etc.


Stupidly annoying as this may be—it works. Frankly, it’s a lot older than the notion of PC; it’s one of the baseline techniques of exorcism and voodoo. As a character in one of my books observes, “Ye don’t call something by name unless ye want it to come.”
http://www.siwc.ca/

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sky Daughter-- Free, are you kidding me?

I have said I'd never do another free book but here I am with this one. It is the only one I could do free because it's in KU as an experiment. At the beginning of May, it goes out back to the other sell sites. 

When I first began ePublishing, I did a lot of free books but quit it before Sky Daughter came out. It began to seem wrong to me-- not so much for me as for the business of writing. It creates a mentality that books really are free. They aren't. They take work and there is an investment in any of them. Still, it is kind of fun to give away a book like this. Actually, I do give away books still but not in a block of time-- just to individuals. So I shall see how this goes for three days. Happy Easter :). 
 


Sky Daughter was my first paranormal. It is set in contemporary times, in the mountains of Idaho. The characters are like anybody when they come across something that logic alone cannot explain. For the supernatural aspect, I researched the kinds of experiences some people claim to have had with the other side. The mystery the characters must unravel is what is real. Are there powers out there, which can be accessed sometimes to catastrophic results? 

Maggie Gard, the heroine has no idea who her family is or what she will face when she moves back to her grandfather's mountain. Something is wrong there. Part of it is human, but it's not all. Her world becomes even more fraught with peril when Reuben Delgado arrives on the run from an unseen enemy. Neither of them are looking to fall in love and certainly not looking to deal with a human and supernatural enemy.

Sky Daughter has, what was for me, a fun secondary cast of characters as Maggie's grandfather has not been ignoring the dangers building around him, and he has lifelong friends-- oh and maybe a little something more. 

Some strong language and mild profanity.
Heat Level: ♥♥♥♥
Free April 3, 4, and 5 for Kindle (always check that Amazon already has it at $0.00)

Snippet:
   When he put up his hand to signal no more, she sat back and studied him. "I am no doctor but I think we need to look at your wound and be sure it’s not infected."
    “I suppose so." His tone was understandably reluctant.

    “I hadn’t meant to shoot you, but you were threatening me."

    "I was out of my head. You should have shot to kill. You didn’t know I didn’t intend worse than kidnap. If my mother had been there, she’d have said kill him.”

    "It happened so fast. I never meant to pull that trigger at all."

    "A reassuring thought. So you're no better at handling a weapon than I."

    She gave him a look. “I’m not a bad shot. Just you rushed me.”

    “I don’t like guns pointing at me.”

    "I had it for protection."

    "From someone like me." It wasn’t a question.
    "Well at the time, it seemed a good idea." She rested a hip on the edge of a dresser and studied him. She had been around, lived other places, but Reuben Delgado was like no one she’d known.
    "I am in trouble," he said. She saw him considering, trying to decide. “Worse, I don’t know whether I can trust you.”
    “You have a choice?”
    He managed a smile. “I have enemies.  I don’t know who they are. Not even what they look like, nor do I know why.”
    “You are sounding insane.”
    “I know. I was drugged. I can be sure of that much. I then had all my money, identification, even clothing taken from me. Whatever they wanted from me, I don’t think it’s over. There are people out to get me, who I won’t know if I meet them on the street. You could be one of them, and yes, I get it. It sounds crazy to me too.”
    She stiffened. Maybe he was crazy. This was not good. If he was crazy, maybe schizophrenic, she had him in her house with no phone and no help nearby. But wait, who heard voices? She managed a smile while she tried to think through what he had told her.
   “Yes, but if I’m nuts, you are more so for taking me in.”
   “Sounds that way.”
    “Somebody was hurting me. You saw that when you treated my wound.”
    “Men get in fights. That doesn’t require some invisible enemy.”
    He shook his head and looked away. “I wish I could tell you something that made sense. I can only tell you what I know and that’s not much.”
    “You make me nervous, New York.”
    “New York? Why’d you call me that?”
    “Your accent. Not all the time but when you get upset like now. You have a New Yorker twang.”







Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Kathleen Eagle interview

Seeing a writer as they discuss their work has been one of my secret pleasures. You can learn a lot by these discussions and get more of a feel for who the people are behind the words. I have shared a few links here, and this is another that I found informative by romance author, Kathleen Eagle.


Literally I don't remember the first time I read one of her books, but I was very taken with her themes and writing. Listening to this interview is a reminder of why I felt that way. Her stories are set mostly in the west, like Montana or North and South Dakota. She frequently writes about cowboys, and Native Americans-- her accuracy is helped by her long time marriage to a Lakota Sioux. She brings a reality to her romances that have always made them both romantic but with a feel that this could be.

If you are interested in being a writer, not necessarily even of romance, I think you will find this interview worth your half an hour as she discusses from where her ideas come as well as her process. I especially liked the last thing she was asked regarding a motto for writing. (also if you have a slower service, put the link on and then click pause to let it buffer. It makes for a much more harmonious outcome (got that one from my granddaughter on methodology and the term harmonious outcome from the Tom Selleck western film, Crossfire Trail).

She left the discussion with one piece of advice--

Writers Write!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

why we write

Naturally, I cannot speak for all writers but will say where it comes to me, every time I bring out a new book, I am uneasy. Is now the right time? How will it be seen by others? That was never more true than with this last one, Round the Bend. It is the book of my heart. How objective can you even be with something that close to you? 


My edginess, where it came to this book, was why I had waited so long. I have mentioned that it took finding the right image for the hero, who had so long been in my imagination. It took something more-- my recognition that win or lose, the book deserved its chance. Books come from so many things. They aren't just created out of the writer but out a whole host of experiences, people, and yes the muses (which might not be the same through a creator's lifetime). I decided I could not stand in its way out of my own fears. This book deserved its chance, these characters deserved their chance, this story of the Oregon Trail deserved its. 

This might be hard to understand, but, as I see it, the story is always more than the writer. Once an artist creates something, painting, photograph, poem, it has an existence also. I don't mean I see it as human, but it is real. I had created a story that had a right to be seen-- rejected or liked.

There are writers where every single book goes into the stratosphere, as they have street teams and fans eager to read every word they write. I am not in that league. I have no street team. It's not that I'd object to giving out a lot of copies ahead of a book's release for reviews. It's that I don't know who would even want them. In view of that, I did all I knew in the way of getting the word out to those most likely to want such a book. Previously, I had joined two writer/reader groups oriented to the type of book I write. It's not easy for me to go out with a blurb, but I did it. I tweeted, blogged, commented, and posted everywhere I had the right. 

When the book came out the 21st, I started editing the book which will come next (Where Dreams Go will be out June 21st). It takes the story of some of these characters farther into Oregon's development as a Territory on its way to statehood. Communities were growing into towns and the people were trying to decide what they wanted them to look like. Working on it was a way to distract myself from worrying about how Matt and Amy were being seen by readers.


With happiness, from the start, the sales were the best of any of my books since I stopped offering them for free days. The only one that had come close was Arizona Sunset. Now these results weren't the spectacular ones of some authors, but for me, they were good. Book One was not immediately falling into Amazon's black hole.

Then I became uneasy when no reviews showed up. Now, I've had some books that never got a review... not one. But I was hoping that this one would get a few. Reviews are supposed to be for the readers, but they mean an awful lot to writers-- even those who have had a ton of them. For me, it would be my first chance to see how readers felt about a book that probably is as dear to me as any I ever wrote-- given the length of time it's been in my life.

Then the first review showed up. Nervously I looked down to read it.
"This is my first experience in reading one of Ms. Trueax's books and I wasn't disappointed. The story was exciting and never got boring. Amy and her family were traveling to Oregon along with Matt, his brother Morey, and father. It was a large wagon train so the storyline had many characters. I just loved St. Louis the Wagonmaster. He was the salt of the earth with so much experience in leading and understanding people. St. Louis had healing experience which was invaluable to those who traveled with him. I've never read a book like this with so many avenues that kept me fascinated. Amy and Matt were lifelong friends but he started feeling more than mere friendship. Amy actually began being courted by Adam, the Wagontrain Scout, but found out "the feeling" just wasn't there and soon realized her love for Matt was more than being a friend. Matt's brother, Morey, was disturbing in this book and led to the violence in Matt's life. The father was also part of the lies and deception that led Morey to hate his brother, Matt. I don't want to spoil this story for you so I won't go on. However, if you want an exciting, adventuresome and mysterious book, this historical western genre is for you. There is some violence and sexual content but the author did a great job in making all actions part of the story itself. I loved it!"
Wow, I was so happy-- a new reader and she loved the book. She saw the things I had hoped others would see in it. I've read how some resent it when a writer calls their book their baby, but it does feel like you sent off your kid into the world, hoping the world will appreciate all their qualities but worried it won't work out that way.

After that, there was another review from a longtime reader. Again I hoped the reader had liked it. Nobody wants to disappoint those who have been reading all you wrote.
"Rain Trueax is at her best from the first sentence. Each phase of the plot and characters are richly developed.
The Oregon Trail experience, physically and mentally grueling, either built character in the hero Matt or caused dangerous psychopathic mental breakdown in Matt's brother Morey. The wagon master St. Louis Jones' experience went beyond previous trips on the Oregon Trail. He had lived with Indians and trappers. He had a depth of understanding of humanity. He was a believable mentor for Matt's amazing growth. Through him Trueax revealed insights to the Indian and emigrants' points of view and their conflicting interests. Obviously Trueax's writing reveals extensive research with exact details of folk and Indian medicine, cooking, weapons, and geography. On fly fishing I thought didn't exist until after the civil war but I was wrong and Trueax was correct to have dry flies and a bamboo rod. I am eager to read more of the series to find out if Loraine finds her true love and the destiny of Scout Adam Stone. Will they eventually get together?"
Her in depth review doubled my happiness. I never know what people will think of my work until they tell me through an email, comment somewhere, or best of all, a review. Writing is pretty much a lonely game, but promoting and talking to readers about what they thought, that's where it becomes less so. This was a book that I knew some might not know what to think. So the fact that it got a pretty good launch made my week brighter.

The map at the top was drawn years ago by my archaeologist daughter when she was still in college. She gave it to me as a gift because she knew I had been writing this book. I appreciated it then and now when I can finally share it with others.