At home in Saipan

LauLau Bay from our balconyA whirlwind month we have just had! My husband accepted a job transfer from Hawaii to Saipan at the end of December. He had to report for work in just over a month. We came on mission to help plant a church, and God got us here far sooner than we’d been planning!
We did not hire a moving company, but sold off or gave away everything that wouldn’t fit in a box, and mailed 78 parcels to ourselves. At the outset this seemed a simple proposition, as we’d done the same thing moving from Idaho to Hawaii four years ago. However, this time each box had to be measured, weighed, and labeled with a detailed customs form. But this tedious process turned out to have a bright silver lining, in that as we went I numbered the boxes and made a detailed list of the contents of each one. We’ve been referring to that list ever since!

Everything else involved in setting up our life here has been packed with unexpected challenges, made easier by the lovely people, without exception friendly and willing to help far beyond what I’d grown to expect in mainland USA.

I’ll offer some insights on moving across the ocean soon. For now, I’m happy to share the view out my third-floor balcony window.

one tiny step: choosing my author photo

It’s more like a teeny-tiny baby step, perhaps. But with mush-for-brains at the end of my work day, it feels like a significant accomplishment to get this done! Montana Rising, Wordplay, must have a little picture on the back and here it is. Thanks to my hubby Zack for taking a zillion pics for me to choose from.  What do you thinbest-2016-author-pick? I realize God is going pretty heavy on the platinum highlights in the front these days, but that’s how it grows.

Next up, the author bio, in several different lengths. Nothing teeny-tiny about that task! First, think of me as she…and go from there.

 

Cruising the book aisles at Target

I live on an island, and I work at home. So I don’t visit many bookstores, though I spend an unconscionable amount of time on Amazon.com! But on many a Saturday, I trek to my local Target store to buy hamburger buns and ketchup and LoveCrunch Dark Chocolate granola, and weave through the accessories section to see if there are any purses on clearance that I can’t resist.

No purses on clearance today, dang it. But I did spend a little time cruising the book aisles, and it was depressing. I mean, weight on your chest, darkness at the edge of your vision depressing.

Trying to figure that out.

My two primary theories–wait, I guess that would have to be my primary and secondary theories…are these:

  • I’m in the midst of indie-publishing my first novel, and the competition, even at just one box store that doesn’t really focus on books, is voluminous and very, very shiny. How can I find a place in this polished and crowded market?
  • The books are dark. Many are evil, scary, mean and hopeless, and/or blasphemous, shallow, pornographic or otherwise worthless. Is this really what Americans want to read?

It’s discouraging. I don’t know whether my story will flop, because it’s full of hope and humor and faith, or whether it will be a welcome bright spot because it’s full of hope and humor and faith.

img_4675Not that there aren’t some hopeful and meaning-filled books on the shelves, of course. There are, and if you want to you can buy cookbooks full of healthy recipes, classic children’s stories, volumes of local history, a bright purple Bible, or a copy of Da Jesus Book, which is the New Testament in Hawaiian pidgin. I did snag one of those, and hubby and I plan to read it aloud to each other over the course of 2017.

I don’t fully understand the dark feeling that my cruise through the books provoked in me. I didn’t like it. I need to ponder it. I need to invite my Creator to search my heart and see if there is any grievous way in me connected to competition, envy, greed, or pride. Because whether my book flops or shines is largely irrelevant. That I please my Jesus and become more like him, this is what matters, only and always.

I think a few minutes meditating on Psalm 139 might help…

Today’s Milestone: ordered proofs of Montana Rising

I still can’t quite believe I get to mark that off my list.

I’ve been writing this story since…at least 2010? That’s the oldest file I can find, but I’ve changed computers and software so many times I could have started even before that. It’s beginning to feel real…

Milestone
Photo by J’Ram DJ

My plan was to use my proofs as ARCs for my beta readers. But, I was only allowed to order five copies. This means I’ll have only four to share out and those are instantly gone (if only I could remember who I’ve promised one to, besides my mom). I’ll shift to ebooks for betas. I hope my Maui Christian Writers sweeties will be okay with that!

Anyone reading this who has already successfully navigated this journey is probably shaking her head at the mistakes I’m making, but oh well! The advice on how to publish as an Indie Author is many things, including overwhelming, conflicting, vague, inapplicable, indecipherable, expensive, outdated and–occasionally–helpful. And like me, it’s scattered. So far, there has not been anything remotely efficient about the whole thing. But I am learning everyday and loving the adventure!

Now back to CreateSpace to look at marketing channels, and then to my Amazon Success ToolKit, bring the laundry in off the link, send a note to my brother (who is designing my cover, thanks ever so much, Greg!), think about dinner, work on the blog…I’d better go make a list.

Book Review: All our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong TodaysAll Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do you write a time-travel story unlike any other time-travel story? I have no idea, but Elan Mastai has done it! Make sure when you pick this up that you have significant reading time in your schedule, because you won’t be able to put it down until you bash through to the end. No use trying to figure out how it’s all going to work ahead of time, because you’ll never get close. Tom Barren is a terrific character, in all his complexities and screw ups, and if you don’t grow in your understanding of ego, family dynamics, and true love, you weren’t paying attention. Recommended. (Language and sexual content not suitable for kids.)

View all my reviews

Haiku from Hawaii

Web surfing today, unable not to click on any of the hyperlinks in Joanna Penn’s Author 2.0 Blueprint.

One click took me to Orna Ross’s blog, where one of her recent posts describes how she writes haiku and posts them on Instagram. I don’t quite do Instagram yet, so…here’s mine for today:

pau hana pool

Swimming pool
Soaking away the day’s heat
Pau hana

 

(Pau hana means work is done in Hawaiian.)

Thanks for the inspiration, Orna!

 

Montana Rising going out to beta readers

Or at least, to one beta reader so far: my husband.

It’s been intolerable not to quote the story to him a dozen times a week, as I wanted to avoid spouting spoilers. So much of the conversation in the story, the family’s vocabulary, anecdotes and wit (or some semblance thereof) are from our own family history. I kept saying to him, “Ooh, I can’t wait for you to read my book,” while wanting to say “Hey it’s funny you mention that, I used that line in a scene where Monti is visiting her jailed student….” Spoilers.

I hope to distribute the book to my friends in our Maui Christian Writers group soon, and to a  few other volunteers, to start getting feedback. I know that just because the manuscript is as good as I think it can be, does not mean it’s as good as it needs to be to provide an enjoyable, worthwhile read for purchasers. They tell me I’m really just getting started on the work…

To get an idea how long I’ve been working on Montana Rising so far, here’s a picture of what started the whole thing. I never suspected at the time that nearly seven years later I would finally be nudging a completed novel toward the world.

original montana rising scrabble board

For non-Scrabble players out there, this is the backside of a scoring tablet. The other side has the accumulated scores for that particular game. This side shows all the words we played. “All the words we played” being the seminal idea for a story within a story…

Yes, I had the diagram upside down when I was filling it in. Sigh.

Book Launch for Maui Christian Writers Member

IMG_3943

A few friends and I  started Maui Christian Writers somewhat less than two years ago. Our goal is to encourage one another as we write the stories that are on our hearts, as we research and build books to help people, and always to bring glory to God. Now one of our founding members, Susan M. Robinson, has published her first novel, Accused a Traitor. (It’s good, you should read it!)

Bonnie Aleman, a friend from church, opened her house and threw a book signing party for Susan. In grand Hawaiian style, we ate pupus and talked story before giving Susan the floor. She read to us from Accused a Traitor, told us about her writing journey, and graciously signed copies for all of us eager to buy the book and find out what happens next!

All of our Maui Christian Writers members have at least one project in the hopper. Koni is editing an heirloom manuscript written by her grandmother, and writing a historical novel of her own. Karen is researching health and diet ideas, and collecting them into a simple, practicable guide. Joy, an occasional member, has her own fantasy project in its early stages.

And I have finally finished the first draft of my Montana Rising novel, and am now working through the second draft. I hope to finish the revisions by the end of the year, and then to begin asking select people to read it and provide helpful feedback. (Untrammeled enthusiasm will also be welcomed.)