Zook’s Corner

ZC cover ebook 72I made a new book, now vunst. That’s how my family messed around with Pennsylvania Dutch. My siblings and I were always told we were part PA Dutch, although I don’t remember being told about a distinct relation. And we never knew any of the language. But some of the food made it onto our table. Chow chow (pickled veggies). Scrapple (what the devil eats). Red beet eggs. Yum. My nana used to say, “You’re Dutch.” A playful term of endearment.

But I’m not sure how much that influenced my book. One morning I woke up with the picture of the first house my husband and I lived in when we moved to Lancaster County from Maine. We had the first-floor apartment. It was located in an area known locally as Zook’s Corner. It’s not a real town or anything. The Amish and Old Order Mennonites have names for places that never make on Englischer maps.

So I had to write a story set there. And in November 2014, I sat down and started to do just that. And that’s how Angie and Ty and Scotty and Anna and Samuel and others came to be in my head and now on pages. It’s a story about strength, facing the past and making a way into the future. Also about redemption, forgiveness, and love, including the romantic kind.

Like my other main characters in my published and unpublished books, Angie is an artist and introvert. Much like me. I’ll save all that for another blog post on another day.

I had help from my faithful critique partners brought to me by the Women’s Fiction Writers Association who read through the entire story 10 to 12 pages at a time and showed me what didn’t make sense, what belonged, what didn’t. Also, my brilliant sister Lori edited it for me finding bunches of stubborn commas and spelling errors. Then it was back to me to format for Kindle, paperback, and Smashwords. Lots and lots of work. Definitely, a labor of love because so far, money hasn’t resulted from my writing career.

I shopped this book around to real literary agents and had a couple of requests to read the full manuscript which is a big deal. But I had many more flat out “no thanks.” I did receive some encouraging comments so at least I came away believing my writing does not suck entirely.

I guess what’s left of this journey is just to finish revising the paperback format, the never-ending promotion, and praying for reviews to hopefully fuel sales. I hope you’ll give it a look. You might like it.

Here’s a review from book blogger Jinger Ertle at Book Nerd Problems. She has a range of reviews on her new site.

Jinger Ertle’s review of Zook’s Corner

And finally, where you can buy Zook’s Corner. It’s on sale for 0.99 for a limited time.

Barnes and Noble

Scribd

Apple

Smashwords

Amazon

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To Free or Not To Free…and Bookcover Update

Sorry, just had to grab that title. I’m debating whether to give my book away for a day or two. There are pros and cons.

Pros: More downloads. Who doesn’t like free? More readers, more reviews, maybe. More exposure leading to more sales. Do people who download free books write reviews? I do because as an indie author I know that’s what is needed to sell books. I suspect most people don’t. Free boosts your ranking on Amazon’s things temporarily and sales get better for a few days. You can try out new genres and authors with no dollar commitment. Libraries are good for that, too, although mostly limited to traditionally published authors.

Cons: I worked hard on my book! For literally years. I want people to read it, sure, but I also want to make a little money. Some people have thousands of free books on their ereaders. And dozens, if not hundreds more free books become available every day. I have downloaded a few of varying degrees of skill and genres. If people get used to free books, will they ever buy one from an unknown writer? Are indie authors jeopardizing our futures by giving things away now? I know some authors who have given away tens of thousands of books and sold a few hundred. Granted, much more than I’ve sold…

I guess time will tell on that one. Indie publishing and marketing is still relatively new and most readers still rely on paper books so the dust has yet to settle. There are at least three pages on Facebook that post free Kindle books. I think they somehow make a little money with their sites.

Right now, I’m thinking when I get my next book out there–probably Whatever Doesn’t Kill You–I’ll do the free thing. Then, if someone likes it, I’ll have another book they can buy that will have a sequel in a few months. I’m not very business-gifted. I don’t know how to play in that sandbox.

But, in the meantime, I finalized the cover for Another Place on the Planet. I went with the pink, but rearranged and added a flower and used the cubism effect. I really like it. Using GIMP, it has 10 layers, if you know what that means. I’ve improved my skills on that program all by myself, using the little  couple people showed me. I’ll utilize the same model for the other two books, using different lily varieties and colors.

So, that’s the latest mental wanderings of this indie author. Have a great weekend!

Overwhelmed

Shut Up and Write

 Just sitting here on the love seat, looking out the door ar the sky filling up with clouds. Listening to the roar of jets from Luke AFB as they land and take off a few miles away. The sound of freedom, someone at our yard sale said last weekend. And waiting for the doctor to call. Adventures in healthcare without insurance. A new learning curve.

And just a few hours and a week away from NaNoWriMo. I have to look at my outline, but I’m not concerned yet. My main concern is it’s going to take me another 3 years to complete a book. But it won’t. I spent a lot of time on character exploration and research, and with that information at hand AND an outline, it should only take one year, tops, to write the sequel.

Nano is becoming pretty popular in the writing business world. Writer’s Digest offered a set of books and tools to help write a novel in 30 day. Writing software offers free trials. Writing expert hold workshops to help people be successful. There is money to be made.

There’s a few things I wish I could afford for writing, mostly conference and workshops. And now, someone to design my book cover. Books, workshop, conferences help us learn, but nothing helps us sit down and do except having a goal. Nano is good for that.

When I sat down at my computer on Nov. 1, 2008, I had NO CLUE what I was going to write, No character, plot. Nada. And it was thrilling. There was a blank page with a blinking cursor glowing on the screen representing a whole new adventure waiting to be experienced, characters waiting for life and conflicts waiting to tortrue them. I was a god who had but to type a world into existence.

And I typed and typed as often as I could. I was a bit disappointed when a romance came out. Not a bodice-ripper, but something developing between two people not quite ready for it. Once I accepted the fact it was what it was and not literary fiction that would change the world, it was fun. I couldn’t wait until the characters told me what would happen next. I loved thinking of new plot twists and writing out the drama. I ended that year with 62,000 words. I had written a book.

A bad book, a shit draft, but worthy, in my mind anyway, of further attention. That’s were the books and blogs came in for me. No workshops or conferences yet. I learned some things I needed to learn. I learned I knew some things I didn’t know I knew.

Lots of people have more money to spend on stuff than I do and if someone wants to support fellow writers, God bless you. But, if someone wants to write, SIT DOWN AND WRITE. There are so many distractions and some of them are about writing. I believe there is only so much research a person can do and not apply it before she ceases being a writer and becomes a researcher. You can only rewrite the beginning so many time before it becomes a means of avoiding the end. You can only say you want to write so many times before you’re no longer a writer or a wannabe writer but merely a parrot saying something you think sounds cool. Only writing makes you a writer.

Eat, Pray, Love

The movie comes out on Friday. My daughter gave me the book for Christmas and I was excited to read it, but, well…I put it aside. I was having issues with it.

I read the first chapter or two or three. The writer-Elizabeth Gilbert, if I remember correctly, decided she needed to divorce her husband. She didn’t go into all the issues because she wanted to respect the privacy of her ex-husband. The issue she talked mostly about was the fact she felt trapped. She decided she didn’t want to start having babies and do other things that were expected of her, things she basically agreed to when she said, “I do.” Or even before when she said, “Yes.” I guess I have a little problem with that. I’ve been married for over 27 years. My husband is a good man, but he has a head injury and, frankly, wow, how do I want to say this without making either one of us sound less than we are. Well, he’s lacking certain qualities I wish he had. I have to do many things I wish he would do, but he can’t because his brain doesn’t work that way anymore. And honestly, I didn’t realize all these things before I said “Yes, I will marry you,” and “I do.” In some ways, my marriage is not what I thought it would be or what I hoped or envisioned. I don’t think many are, but some of us manage to work through the frustration and disappointment, find the good things about the relationship and make it better. I’m sure I have disappointed my husband in many ways, too.

So there’s that. Then–well, maybe this is envy speaking but–I would like the opportunity to travel the world to “find myself.” I’d also like to travel to lose myself and be myself. EG was fortunate to be a travel writer and had an opportunity to begin her spiritual adventure by working. I’m not sure how the rest was funded, maybe the same way. I certainly don’t have a problem with that. But if most people who “found” ourselves had to wait until we could travel abroad to do it, well, we’d be permanently lost.

I have a hunch that “finding oneself” is a recent luxury of middle and upper class America. Most people alive today and who preceded us consider “feeding oneself” and her family a blessing. I’m extremely blessed to be able to sit in my comfy cool home in the desert summer and spout off about a tidbit of pop culture.

I may be missing a lot by not reading this book. Often, however, hyped movies and books leave me feeling, “Really? So what?” Not all the time, but many times. Maybe the movie would be simply a good story if I didn’t have issues with the book. And maybe, when the DVD makes it to Netflix, I’ll find out.