As a writer, I’m always reading…reading someone’s glance, another’s strained look, or the revelation that a certain elderly couple met on a train – he going to war and her somewhere else to teach, that brief encounter was enough to bring them to an eventual life together. Those moments of tension or glory become seeds of inspiration in my thoughts, some sprouting into pages and pages of living and dying, loving and hating, reactions and regrets. You are the book I read.
First was the news story about a woman who disappeared and the ensuing conjecture as to where she had gone and why. From that came “Mine to Tell,” a wife’s account of her two week disappearance unearthed after two generations of shame having crippled her family.
Second was “Asked For,” a tale based on what I heard a man, ages earlier, say of another man’s wife – “She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.”
And lastly, “Love on a Train” came about from knowing of far too many relationships formed for all of the wrong reasons – convenience, pressure, ‘the right thing to do’…instances where the heart belongs to one, yet we find ourselves with another.
I have notes jotted here and there of smiling husbands alongside expressionless wives, widows realizing too late they’d been cut from their husbands’ wills and goodwill, fiancés and spouses who vanished without explanation or trace, and a multitude of other skeletons writers can see on the closets of people’s faces, and even in their own mirrors.
Fact is stranger than fiction, helping us write what we know and write it well, whether it’s our own stories or yours. Somewhere in most stories there is an element of truth – he said, she said, he did, she didn’t, everyone should have. It makes the truth more palatable when it’s shared, and observed at a safe distance in characters who overcome.
Annabelle Crouse believes her great-grandmother’s, Julianne Crouse’s, story is hidden somewhere in that boarded-up house Annabelle’s great-grandfather sequestered Julianne to after an unexplained two week absence. Both great-grandparents long since gone, the shame lives on, binding all of the Crouse women into ceremonial right living that is never enough to undo their tainted reputation. Against her fiancé’s and family’s insistence she leave the past alone, Annabelle unboards Julianne’s house and moves in, her only companions the shy man down the road she’d ignored during childhood, and the story her great-grandmother had left hidden behind. Walking in her great-grandmother’s past, Annabelle uncovers Julianne’s tale and discovers the two of them – two women, two generations apart – shared a singular path in love, loss, and forgiveness.
“Write the book.” Leigh Michaels, successful author of too many published romance novels to count, gave that advice at a conference to spare the wide-eyed wannabe authors the paralyzing shock of the demands and responsibilities regarding social media. I know we are told that beginning to market yourself soon is never soon enough, but I stumbled, relieved into Leigh’s advice and focused on writing the book. That book was “Mine to Tell,” and once written and published by The Wild Rose Press, it shot to number one on Amazon, giving it its own sort of promotional momentum. Shortly after that publication came the inner unction that said to write, write, write. Give your readers who loved one book, more to read. So I do that…I write. It’s my priority, and promotion happens because of and in addition to the sage advice to write quality and quantity first.
Have thick skin that only goes so deep. I decided before I ever put a pen to paper that I would have thick skin – I accepted I wouldn’t please everyone, nor would I always write as well as I intended. Both convictions were true, and both were put to the test countless times. It was the second part of my lesson which came much later – thickness that only goes so deep. Not every critique is without personal criticism, nor is every person qualified to render judgment or suggestions as to the value of what I’ve written. I had to learn to know where to draw the line between true support and that which was best left behind. True support isn’t always flowery, but comments best left behind are generally destructive rather than constructive. Therefore, there is a tough but permeable layer beneath my epidermis where words with no profitable merit are never allowed to pass.
“Mine to Tell” http://amzn.to/1PNJo4S
Other buy links:
Buy Link to “Love on a Train” http://amzn.to/1m9eYCx
Buy Link to “Asked For” http://amzn.to/1TyflEu
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