Of beaches and book clubs and too much quiet...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hello again my friends---

It looks like you all missed me as much as I missed you. I'm glad to be back! As you can see by the photo at the left, I'm settled in Hawaii again, trying to regain my breath and slow down a bit. If you can't slow down in paradise something is wrong, right? So I'm practicing my deep breathing...

A LOT has been going on in my life lately. But instead of excuses, let me fill you in on all of it. First, the fun part. Last week, my beloved husband and I went down to sunny Southern California to see our son at college. As you know, he is a junior now, and we haven't been to visit him since he moved into his own apartment. It was sheer heaven just to hang with him again. Since there's just the three of us, we've always been really close, and we enjoy traveling together. And he's so grown up. Honestly, I'm amazed and humbled by him. He is a really wonderful young man. But even so, I still lsometimes hear echoes of the kid who used to say "you're not the boss of me..."

After a too brief stint in So Cal, we came home (this is the time period when I SWORE to myself I would update my blog) for two days. What was I thinking? Two days between returning from one state and going to another? I know, I know, you don't feel sorry for me because I was heading to Hawaii. All I can plead is lunacy. I was an idiot to think I could get it all done. Oh, and I planned to repaint two rooms and recarpet one on those two days.


This is about the time Kim started bugging me to update my post. I like to think I answered her very politely and said I would do it instantly. :)

Then my editor called with only a few changes that needed to be made to the book for 2010.

And then my agent called with the good news that Random House is going to republish On Mystic Lake and Between Sisters in trade paperback. (which I think is totally great, btw). Everyone is very excited by the prospect. All they need from me is new reader letters, new discussion questions for the book clubs, and a couple of new interviews...in three days.

So there. That's what I've been doing for the past two weeks. I know it's a long time for radio silence and I'm sorry to jump ship, but I literally haven't had ten minutes alone with a computer until now.

But now that I'm back, let's get to the book club thing we began last month. As promised, I'm going to start by addressing some of Lisa's great questions. April also posed a few good ideas, and I'll save them for later in the week.

So, Lisa wanted to know how I work exactly. The easy answer, of course, is that I write all of my novels longhand--on narrow ruled yellow legal pads with a fine tip gel pen (black, unless I want to get a rise out of Kim). I number the pads so that Kim can always follow where I am. I write my books from beginning to end; I do not purposely skip around or write ahead. Every one hundred pages I give the work to my friend, Megan Chance, who never fails to puncture the balloon of my hope and tell me where I've gone wrong. Kim is also very good at pointing out mistakes. So, at that point, I begin again. I keep what was working and throw out everything that wasn't. From this point on, it becomes a quest not only to tell the story I've imagined in the best words possible, but to make sure that I've told the story in the best way possible. In firefly, for example, I threw out literally hundreds of pages until I found the "right" way for me. In one draft, Kate and Tully were both actresses in Los Angeles, in another draft, Tully found true love, in yet another, Cloud was central to the end of the story.

I hand these pages to Kim, who amazingly, reads my handwriting (and my mind), and she inputs them in the computer and gives me back a hard copy of the material. Serious edits are a compilation of new material written on yellow pads, woven through the hard copy and identified by asterisks. I know a manuscript is beginning to coalesce when most of my edits are sentence/paragraph changes that can be contained on the page.

As to the logistics of it all. Kim has an office that is connected to my house. She is quite the Queen Bee over there and I'm afraid to touch anything. Especially the computer. She can always tell when I've snuck over and made a few secret changes...

I write whereever I feel like. Often I'm in bed, or on the beach, or sitting on my deck, or in my living room. That's why I started writing longhand. I need to be able to write in lots of places. Also, to be honest, I often work twelve hours days and the computer was tough on my back.

So there you have it, ladies. The first book club discussion! Now let me ask one: Did you like Tully? Did you think she was a genuine friend to Kate? Do you wonder what happened to her after the novel's end?

Now that I'm back on the beach, I'll be around a lot more. I look forward to continuing this discussion.

Thanks for sticking around...

Aloha for now,


Book clubs rock and I want to belong to one...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hello fireflies and friends---

Okay, ladies, check this out and get out your pens and paper. This is the Firefly cocktail, brought to us by a book club that really knows how to have fun. The glow stick as an especially cool touch, don't you think? I should have written down the recipe---it could be the website's official drink. Unfortunately, as you know, I have limited organizational skills.
I have been talking to a large number of book groups lately, and I have to say, like blogging, it turns out to be surprisingly fun. I belonged to a book club once, for a few months, and no one really read the book. We got together for lots of great appetizers and we had fun gossiping, but there wasn't much book discussion. I wish I'd belonged to one of the groups that call me. These ladies are Smart, and Fun, and Opinionated. Some of them even dare to tell me what they didn't like about my work, and I think that kind of honesty rocks. I mean, really, very few books are perfect. Even when we love something, we wonder about something or are bothered by something. I love it when people feel confident enough to say which books of mine they liked, and which ones they didn't. And if I'm lucky, they loved one or two.

Here are a couple of the book groups I've spoken to lately.

Can't you tell how much fun we had? I've encouraged both groups to enter the Hallmark.com sweepstakes so that maybe I'll have chance to visit one of these groups in person. Honestly, women who gather to talk about books rock. One of these groups even matches cocktails and appetizers to the book. How cool is that?

Hence the firefly cocktail, of course. I recommend they read Shadow of the Wind and drink Sangria and eat tapas.

Is Sangria Spanish or Mexican? Does anyone know? And while I'm asking, does anyone have any other great book/drink/food recommendations? Maybe I'll start a book club of my own... We'll start with the book, Molokai, drink pina coladas, and eat pu pus. Anything but poi...

Check out those firefly cocktails below...
And these are the LitWits. One of my favorite book clubs of all time. They were a real hoot. TOTALLY fun to chat with...
Wait a sec. All of this makes me think. I don't have to join a book club that actually meets every month. WE can be a book club, those of us who follow this blog.
So go ahead. The obvious starting point is Firefly Lane. Ask me questions and I'll answer, or make any comments that come to mind. I'll answer any questions about the book or my process or why I made certain choices...
Well, now I'm off to the television. It's Tuesday night, which means American Idol. If a man doesn't win this year, I'll be amazed. Adam, Scott, and Danny are amazing.
Keep in touch--