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,



Blogger Victoria Lynn said...

I am a big fan of your books and have enjoyed reading them over the years. I just started reading Once In Every Life, and was curiously surprised when I read the special thanks to...and saw the name Alvan Hannah. I'm not sure if he's the same person, but I have an uncle with that name who lived in the same area. If you're interested to see if he's one and the same, you can check my blog and get my email address. Best of luck on your new book. Regards, Victoria Lynn

March 30, 2009 at 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Finally she's back!! Seriously, I was starting to get a little concerned, but I guess all that really fun stuff
takes time.

Did I like Tully? Short answer, yes.
She was a girl with Hart. Didn't always know how to show it though. And she was a good friend, although I've mentioned that her judgment may have been Clouded by her mother.

Well gotta get to work.

March 30, 2009 at 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Lisa said...


Thanks for the reply to my questions! It's funny, that is exactly how I pictured it. You and Kim are obviously a great team!

Now, my turn ..... I liked Tully. A lot at times, not so much at others. My heart hurt for both her and Kate, for different reasons. I think she was as genuine a friend as she could be. I think she was so wounded, that she would only be able to give so much - - to anyone. To Kate, I think she gave all she could give, but probably hungered to give more. I do wonder about Tully after the novel's end. I often imagine that she had a family of her own and finally knew that Cloud loved her, regardless of her experiences. And, then sometimes I wonder if she took Kate's place in that role. With Kate's family. I don't like that ending, and usually move on to other thoughts. =)

On another note - I finished two Cobin books, and can't wait for the new one tomorrow. But, honestly, I needed a break from all that crime and suspense. So, guess what I started from my collection of "catching up with Kristin" ...... Comfort & Joy. Started yesterday afternoon, and will finish over lunch today. Stayed up WAY too late last night enjoying it. I am really liking it a lot! I can't wait to read all of the ones I missed prior to finding your work. But, in a way, I dread it. Then, I will be anxious and crazy waiting for your book each time.

Enjoy your beach! I'm so glad Kim gets to be along for your trip. You guys have many drinks for us Fireflies!

TaTa .... Lisa

March 30, 2009 at 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Angela said...

Hi Kristin,

My best friend gave me a copy of Firefly Lane for my birthday last weekend. I started reading it last night and stayed up till 2am because I just couldn't put it down. It's the first novel of yours that I've read and I'm excited to read more.

To answer your question, I really did like Tully and I could relate in a small way to her fears of being vulnerable and falling in love. I thought that she was a true friend to Kate, but because of her past she wasn't always able to be there for her the way she should have been. I think what kept me from being too angry with her for the mistakes she made was that her intentions were always good.

I also wanted to thank you for the way your wrote the ending. My mom also had breast cancer and I know what it is like to go through that experience with someone you love. I cried for the last 50 pages or so of the book because the way you wrote their goodbyes felt so real. I would imagine writing it must have been hard.

Thanks again!

March 30, 2009 at 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Robyn Vanderford said...

First of all, I HATE YOU for looking so good. However, I LOVE YOU for bringing back years of my youth in which love was a tangible yet fluttering thing like the gossamer wings of a fairy sprite; so beautiful, light,and shimmering with rays of light, but so easily broken.
I was the child of a bipolor mother; treated with all the "newest" medications in 1960's Northern California, and an alcoholic navy career man who served more than his share of tours in Viet Nam. Both loved me the only way they could, but, of course, I never seemed to be able the grasp the brass ring which would give me a sense of belonging; of being something right, until I became a urse practitioner. Although I cannot, (nor will I) go into details here. Suffice to say that I made it through because of people who DID love me and support me through it all. Because they did beleive in me, and let me know this in their perfect words and gestures, I held on to these things like a HOLY Grail. My father most, who , although his mind could be clouded by alcohol at times to obliterate the devastation that was Viet Nam, he taught me to think, to ask, to believe, to live in awe of what we are internally and externally. And beyond anything else, to treat all people of every color and profession with respect, acceptance, and as an open book to more knowledge; a ripe tree of fruit waiting to be harvested.

Kristen, prior to even reading your book (which I have to admit I picked out of bordom to keep from attempting to read "ONE MORE PIECE OF CRAP" while on a road trip), I had contacted some of my old classmates to try and connect for a get together. (Please see classmates.com, Macon High School 1979) I was not popular, If you asked any one at the time I graduated what they thought myt future would be, I would suppose they would have said, most likely to be in jail, live on the street, or living in a trailer park with a plethora of kids. Well, guess what? I have been all those things, but I am now a Nurse Practitioner.
I love the way you wove all the styles of clothing, hair styles, music, and current events into your story. I made not have been able to afford, or have the nerve to have those styles, I ALWAYS stayed on top of them.
Music was my escape, and you have captured each iconic song in just the right moment-Bravo!

I will definitely be reading more of your creations.

And, to the class of '79. You bet I'll be there at Macon Night Owl July 18,2009.

Thanks again Kristin for stoking the smoldering flame into a fire for me!
Robyn V.

March 31, 2009 at 12:14 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Fisk said...

Me? Bug you to blog? Point out mistakes?? That SO doesn't sound like me!! LOL But I will admit to politely suggesting Kristin not write in red ink. Okay, I actually throw a fit. I mean, come on. RED INK. I feel like I'm back in grade school and I'm being yelled at. Yes, I'm that weird. So, whenever a new package of pens arrive, I quickly hide the red ones. Ha, that's something I've never told Kristin!!! And to set the record straight: Kristin's handwriting is FLAWLESS. I kid you not. Her writing is incredibly easy to follow. WAIT--I take that back. It's hard. SOOOOOO hard. No one else could do my job. :)


March 31, 2009 at 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

I think Tully is a good friend & person at heart and she tried her best in both areas. She did the best she could but she was a fickle person that just annoyed the heck outta me at times! Although I do love the friend that you can not see for a month then when you get back together it's like it was only a day. because alas life does get in the way of things. :)

P.S. Check out http://www.polyvore.com/vineyard_wedding/set?id=7428438 for my latest inspiration board as promised! :)

March 31, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger princessapr said...


Ooooh, red ink is scary. That said, when I proof read my VP's stuff, I use red pen if I can find mine.

Sadly, there is nothing more exciting than a new package of pens. The possibilities and all that clear and consistent ink. I'm such a geek.

As for Tully and Kate, to say I like or dislike them isn't really fair. Overall, I liked them. As with people, they're flawed. I think it's easier to like Kate, but I still wanted to shake her a couple of times. I loved that Tully was such a big character, but I could totally see how that would be intimidating and overwhelming in person.

I recently mentioned that I knew what was going to happen in Firefly Lane which kind of sucked a little of the new book feeling from it. That combined with the fact that it follows Magic Hour which is one of my favorites. That said, it had one of my favorite devices. I love seeing characters as children and see how they grow up to be men and women. It's difficult to do, to not overshadow the adult years, to write convincing children or adolescents, to not detract or make the early years unnecessary. When it's done well, it makes a book so well-rounded and I do think that's what we had with Firefly Lane. I love seeing the characters evolve and grow.

I actually did like the ending. I think it fit the book. I had some initial grumblings about how fast a lot of things happened, but I actually grew to like that aspect of the book because the ending was supposed to feel like we didn't have enough time, we were rushed. So, I think the effect was perfect.

That's it. I said way more than I meant to, but I tried not to give it all away either.

March 31, 2009 at 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Tavia said...

You gotta use colored ink...it makes life interesting :-)

TullyandKate are "real". They are both flawed in their own ways. I will admit that I wanted to reach into the book and strangle Tully there a few times (Kate too for that matter), but in the end she was where she needed to be. Kate brought out the good in Tully and I think that though Tully turned her back at times, she was ultimately a good friend to Kate. We all have our faults and Tully was no exception. I am extremely interested in what happens to Tully and the rest of the family. I think it would be interesting to see them in a new book down the road, perhaps with Marah as the main character? I don't want to see Johnny and Tully together, but I'd like to see Tully find love in her own way. Having a teenage daughter myself, I'd like to see how Marah turns out.

Hope this helps!

April 7, 2009 at 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were many times while reading that I hated Tully. I found myself really identifying with Kate and feeling that Tully was extremely selfish sometimes. On the other hand, I found myself frustrated by Kate's lack of confidence in herself and her choice to remain quiet about her feelings for Johnny before Tully slept with him. I think it's easy to see aspects of yourself in both characters...everyone has been in a friendship or a relationship where they might feel like they give more than they take (or the other way around). In the end, it's impossible to dislike either character. They gave each other the strength they needed when they needed it the most...without their flaws they would not have seemed so real.

April 9, 2009 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear victoria Lynn--

Welcome to the blog. As you know, OIEL was based in part on my husband's family memoirs. He had a relative named Al Hannah, who also had a large sheep ranch on San Juan Island. Are you related to him?


April 9, 2009 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Michelle---

Your post cracked me up! Excellent word usage. You must be a writer, too...


April 9, 2009 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Lisa---

Glad to hear you're enjoying Comfort and Joy--my woo woo/strange book. I have to say, that book was a real bearcat to write. If you've gotten to the ending, you know why. I just about tore my hair out over that one...


April 9, 2009 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Angela---

It's wonderful to hear from you. I'm so glad you enjoyed Firefly. As you know so well, it was an incredibly difficult book to write for me, so terribly personal, but it also really helped me in a lot of ways, to deal with the fear and loss and love that I still carry around with me. Losing your mom at any age creates a hole that never quite fills up. I still miss her at the oddest times.

Anyway, my thoughts and prayers go out to you and I'm so glad you posted.


April 9, 2009 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Robin---

what a great post! Thanks for chiming in. (Especially that part about me looking good; unfortunately, that is pretty much all smoke and mirrors and a good retouching, but what the hey, I'm sticking with it). You sound like you had a really rough childhood with your mom. I'm not surprised that Firefly resonated with you, both because of your age and your background. You obviously picked up on my belief that Cloud is bipolar also.

And music is one of the many things that binds us all, isn't it? The songs in Firefly are so important because they remind us all of what we lived through and who we were, and perhaps most importantly, who we once wanted to be.

I hope you reconnect with some old friends.


April 9, 2009 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Kim--

aHA!! so that's where my pens are going...


April 9, 2009 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Wendy---

I think you've hit on what was the point of the book for me. In any long term friendship, there are going to be times of trouble. And all of us are flawed in some way. We recognize the people we live by the fact that they stick around, that they're there for us, even when it's not easy. For me, Kate and Tully were pretty much equally at fault in the times when they were unable to maintain their friendship. As the old saying goes, it takes two. But of course, Tully would try the patience of a saint sometimes...


April 9, 2009 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger Leen said...

Darn it... I so wanted to comment on this blog post before Kristin reacted, but even though I'm younger she's obviously the more trained one of us both, cuz she's darn fast. Unbeatable, even, if you have to run the whole distance from Belgium. And I've never said I was fit anyway.

Obviously, most of what I wanted to say has been said already. I used to hate that when we were in high school: for the language courses we had discussions about certain subjects and since I was a little shy (yeah, really!) I was mostly not one to raise my finger to add something to the discussion very soon, so near the end of the discussion the teachter always said: "Well Leen, you didn't contribute anything yet, so please tell us your opinion." Obviously all I could do was repeat a lot of the previous, which didn't make me feel more comfortable either, so that the next time I was even more reluctant to raise my finger.

Oh well... I guess I could somewhat compare this kinda situation to a book club discussion too, but the difference now would be that if I didn't contribute, it would just be because I was too busy doing something else, but definitely not cause of being too shy.

So my point might have been made already and I don't feel like repeating the Master herself either, but still... what she put in her last post (the one in reply to Wendy) especially was (I thought) very wise and true. If I would have to choose one friend out of Kate or Tully, I'd have a hard time picking one, since I loved them both. I pitied Kate for being a bit nerdish, not really good at speaking up for herself, but I pitied Tully all the same for becoming such a harsh kind of person all because her feelings seemed to be so locked in because of what she went through when she was younger. And at the same time I admired them both too: Kate for being such a good girl, a fighter too and Tully for persevering in her own way, to be able to get what she wanted and still being able to know a guilt feeling (deep inside - not shown on the outside, of course) sometime when she seemed to step on one too many toes in the process. They were strong characters, in each case, which to this day makes Firefly my favourite book, even though I tried my best to like True Colors even better.

I noticed there were little to no reactions yet to Kristin's question about what happened after the book ended. This is one of those books (like some movies too) where I'd love to read/see the sequel too. Only it would never be as good as the first part, so I don't think it's a good idea to write it anyway. But I do have my own thoughts on it.

Of course, I'd love things to go smoothly after the last page of the book was turned, but then that wouldn't make a good story and that's not how things go in life either, so I don't think Tully should just marry Johnny and adopt the kids and they should live together happily ever after. There should be lots of drama in it (Marah screaming: "You're not my mother!" and eloping to her grandparents' house, for instance) and unexpected choices to be made by the main characters (I'd like to see Cloud in one of Tully's TV shows baring her heart and admitting she wasn't such a great mother - or did she already, I don't seem to remember what happened to her in the end). And I'd love for Marah to find an equally good friend as Kate found in Tully. Or an equally good friend as the one I was on the brim of losing while I was crying my heart out over this book. We're the exception that confirms what I wrote above: that "all's well that ends well" is hardly ever the case in real life. Or maybe it's just what Kristin said: every long term friendship will have its ups and downs and even if it takes the patience of a saint sometimes (which I think I have proven to have) if the friendship is really worth keeping, you might have to fight for it from time to time.

Unless one of the people I've known for almost 20 years is right and long term friendship doesn't really exist. But then I ask her why she thinks she's been stuck with me for such a long time already and she doesn't seem to have a reply to that either. So I'll just continue to believe and read great books about sisterhood, soulmates and friendships like Tully and Kate's.


PS. Kristin: dumb dumb dumb... luckily you're old and blonde, so we can take some blame off your shoulders. But don't ever stay away that long anymore OR... (ok, have to think about a good punishment)

PPS. I LOVE red ink. Gotta show that I'm a teacher somehow anyway. But I hate correcting and I have at least two more days of it to be done before Easter break (2 weeks off and we're in the middle of it already) is over again.

April 10, 2009 at 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Unless there was a misprint in my Dallas Morning News today, someone we all know and love jumped to #2 on the Non-HardBack Fiction National list. YAAAAAAAY Queen 'O The Fireflies !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations! Can't wait for #1!


April 12, 2009 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Hey Kristin!

Okay, so I am officially back from the dead! I recently finished True Colors on MP3, and I have to say that I loved most of it. There were definitely times that I didn't like it though.

Those times were when Winona was not being kind to herself. I have SO been where she was in the book, and it took a very good friend who is also a BBW to pull my head out of my butt and make me realize that I DO have something to offer and it isn't about being the resident "fat girl" who never went to prom or on a date until she was in her late 20s, early 30s.

I kept hoping that Winona would start to look at herself differently and stop comparing herself to Vivi all the time. Unfortunately, I know why she did it. I fought that inner battle with my own father as well.

How is it exactly that you were able to write about something so accurately anyway? Did you grow up with someone who was socially "less than perfect" or someone that was "different" and had to fight the battles of not being the popular chick in the crowd? I cannot imagine you ever having hands-on experience with being overweight, so I dismissed that thought rather quickly. So spill!

How did you tap into those feelings of insecurity that most of the overweight population feel so easily?

How did you tap into the resentment that Win felt towards Vivi Ann on so many different levels?

Lastly, is it more commonplace than not for daughters to try so hard to win their father's love throughout all of their life?

I know that for me, I used to dream of the day when my dad would tell me that I was his "poo-poo" (his nickname for me when I was a small child). I dreamt of the day when he would not question every statement that I spoke as being the truth and demanding proof of what I told him so that he could believe it. I dreamt of simply being his little girl so often in my life. The way that you wrote about Win's fight to be loved by her dad was so true to my own life that I would tear up whenever she would try so hard to win his love in the book.

I suppose that I got lucky when my father told me that he loved me more than I ever knew 6 months before he died in 2004. He also wrote a note to all of his children posthumously that was read at his funeral. He told my brother that he was so proud of all of the accomplishments that he had made in his business and in his life. He told me that I would always be his "poo-poo", his little girl, and that he was honored to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, was honored to finally see me find the love of a good man. I was SO bawling in that church that day, but I did cherish those words, and I am crying as I repeat them here on this post.

It really is amazing to me to see the statistics that are out there about girls looking to their fathers for acceptance and how to find a man who will treat them with dignity and respect. If they grow up with a father who doesn't do that, 9 times out of 10 they will pick a partner who treats them with disrespect and/or abuses them on some level. I used to envy my friends growing up because they had the type of father that loved them unconditionally. As a result, they grew up confident and self-assured. I grew up to question everything about who I was, and I still question it when the negativity rears its ugly head to roar at me.

Okay, I am starting to get on a soapbox now, so I will sign off. I did love the book, even if it may sound differently. I just wish that Win would have found love with Luke in the middle of the book so that she could feel how great it feels to be loved so much. Even though she found professional success and found financial freedom, she didn't find the man to share her accomplishment with and her life with for sure. You hinted at her getting together with Luke, but I kept waiting for it to really happen. I wasn't quite sure if they hooked up in the end or if you were intentionally leaving that hanging in case of a sequel.. :)

Aurora.. Middle sister. Was she the glue that held them all together?

I think that I am going to go listen to Firefly Lane again. It has been over a year since I heard it the first time, and I would be willing to bet that I will get something completely new from it on the 2nd go round.

Perhaps you could talk to Brilliance Audio and get them re-publish it in audio format. When True Colors came out, they discontinued FireFly Lane. From what I gather, the only people that can get it back on their available list are the author and your publisher. Care to give that a shot?

Oh, from what I remember about Tully..I liked her. I think that she was, on some level, incapable of really putting herself out there to anyone, including Kate..She didn't really get what she had in Kate until the very end of the book.

Isn't it ironic that you never know or understand the depth of what you have until it is no longer available for you to lean on?

Take care. I hope to read more of your blog posts soon! I have definitely missed coming out here to chat with you and all of the other readers. It is SO cool to chat here because you actually respond to our questions when you have a minute to breathe!

My birthday was the Saturday before you posted this blog post. I turned 46! God, I am getting OLD!

Until next time,

April 23, 2009 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger April said...

I had never read any of your books until last week when I saw Firefly marked down at Border's and picked it up. I was addicted from the very beginning of the story. Now, I can't wait to go and find your earlier releases! I did like Tully, I thought she was a little self centered, but found herself in the end. I would love to know what happens after the funeral. Not only to her, but the kids and Johnny.

I am happy to have found you!

April 28, 2009 at 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Dori said...

Hi Kristin! I just finished Firefly Lane last night and I absolutely loved it. I cried both on the subway and on a treadmill while reading the last 30 pages or so. I couldn't put the book down.

To answer your question, I liked Tully until later in the novel. I didn't like how she overstepped boundaries to do things for Marah after Kate said no. I compelely stopped liking Tully during the talk show ambush. And I was disgusted by her when she expected Kate to apologize for it!

But, she redeemed herself in the end and the book was wonderful. I couldn't identify with Tully but I was able to appreciate her spunk.

May 27, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

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