Hello Again Annabelle

Hello, Thursday Morning! It’s Spring Break in my area of the country, and oh, what a busy week. We’ve had beautiful weather so far. Today, I’m taking a break after spending too many hours on the computer finishing the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series, due for release in August. So, I thought I would run a reprint of the original post for the first book in the series, Annabelle’s Ruth.

Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1 Kinsman Redeemer Series – the book of my heart.

My mother and father had a “meet-cute” — an event that brings a “fated” couple together for the first time, usually in a cute, romantic way. She worked at the candy counter in a movie theater in Seattle. He was a cocky, slightly inebriated sailor, just in from Korea.

He flirted with Mom’s best friend, who already had a steady boyfriend, one who was due to walk through the door at any moment. Mom to the rescue. What are best friends for? She stepped over and distracted the handsome but too happy young sailor. Her mission accomplished, she felt pretty good. When the young sailor sobered up, he came back. Several times. And then they eloped.

They eloped all the way to Biloxi, Mississippi. At the end of Dad’s furlough, he left Mom with his family in West Tennessee. My dad was not totally honest and up front with his young bride (she was only seventeen, he was nineteen). He talked long about his home (as in long, tall tale). He told Mom that his mother and step-dad lived on a ranch in the rolling, green hills of West Tennessee. They had horses and cattle.

IMG_4622In actuality, they were sharecroppers who lived in a rickety house. The cows weren’t theirs, and the horses–work horses that pulled a plow. And that house–no indoor plumbing. A fireplace for heat. Bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Grandma cooked on a wood stove. And they raised cotton and corn and everything they needed to live. They worked hard all day long, every day.

No rolling, green hills either. Flat. Dirty. Muddy. Mosquitoes. Snakes. Yuck.

My Mom was from a broken home. She lived with her Mom in urban Seattle and spent summers at her Dad’s in urban L.A. They were middle class. She dressed well, ate well, and was popular in school.

Culture shock. Dad went back to the Navy. Mom stayed with his eldest sister and her husband and young daughter, in a slightly better abode closer to town. With summer came heat and humidity the likes of which, Mom had never experienced. And she was pregnant.

I’ve wanted to tell this story for a long time. I’ve wanted to write it, but each time I tried, I failed. Not long ago, after I had finished re-reading the Book of Ruth, an idea popped into my head–a “what-if.” What if this happened in more modern times. What if I set it in West Tennessee…in the 1950’s? I could combine the two stories I loved so well.

I talked about it–a lot–to everyone I knew. Mom shared more memories. My older brother (the baby in the above narrative), helped me research it. I got excited about it then sat down and began to write.

But wait–I don’t want to leave you with a negative idea of West Tennessee. Seen through Mom’s young eyes, it was not her favorite place, but she spent most of her life there and ended up loving it. My dad could never be far away from it, especially while his mother lived. And its roots are deep in my heart. I don’t live there anymore. I live in Kentucky with my husband of more than forty years. I love it here, but I still like to visit West Tennessee, where I have family still. The place holds precious memories of Grandma, Uncle Bud, the aunts, and numerous cousins.

It gets under the skin of my heroine in Annabelle’s Ruth, too. She finds a reason to love it, sets down roots, and stays.

I hope you’ll love the story I’ve woven from these two threads.

Sutter’s Landing continues the story begun in Book 1. Soon, I’ll announce Book 3 (as yet untitled), the final in the series.

Writing a Life

I have my cup of morning coffee. I’m ready to jump into my story and write the perfect ending. A happy ending, almost as satisfying as that first sip of freshly-brewed coffee. I ignore several pings on my phone, because I know they’re email pings. Not going to be pulled away from the story to check the email.

How could you say no to this face?

But then…I get that text ping. It feels like a needle prick that deftly separates my attention from the words on my computer screen. Who is texting me at this hour of the morning? It has to be work, or one of the kids is sick and needs a place to stay for the day. Grandma works at home.

The story is placed on hold, and my coffee is cold.

So how does an author deal with interruptions? When you’re in the “zone” and your writing seems inspired–it flows–it’s energetic. Then poof! Life happens.

Recently, I read a meme that pictured a harried female writer staring at the computer screen. The caption said something like, “If your house is neat and clean, you’ve probably never finished writing a book.”

The problem is real, especially if you’re a writer on a deadline. You’ll be burning the midnight oil. The family has to see to their own meals and laundry. Even when you’re with them, you’re not really with them. You’re constructing scenes in your head. Jotting notes on napkins, dictating conversations to your phone. Because we all know, you get the best conversations at times like those, amid the cacophony of a carload of quarreling children.

You finish writing your book. Time for a break, right? Ha ha ha! What a crazy dream. No. The work has only just begun. Now you have to get it ready. It has to be edited and sent here and there. Then the whole marketing scheme needs to be planned and put into motion, well ahead of the release. And then the release! You get a break, right?

No! Now the real work begins. You have to sell! Sell! Sell! You have to talk about yourself in third-person, like you’re the greatest thing since peanut butter.

But it’s still not over. Even after all the hoopla, now it’s time to move on. Write another one. Make it better than the one before. Dream up a brilliant story idea, preferably a series. Then it’s research, hunker down and write.

It never stops. Kind of like cleaning house. The work is never really done.

Allow me to introduce you to my latest effort:

Sutter’s Landing, Book 2 Kinsman Redeemer series

Any day now, you’ll be able to preorder it from Amazon.