Creatively Thinking: Why I blog my novels as I write them

I don’t think a lot of people are worrying about this, but I thought I’d share today why I blog my novels as I write them (or shortly after).

It’s probably not the best marketing move to put my novels on my blog, chapter by chapter, but, well, I’ve never been good at that marketing stuff, for one, but also, I like the interaction I receive when I share my novels on my blog. The interaction is worth more me to than the money, although you might have to remind me of that when we are pinching pennies to get groceries some weeks.

I like that my handful of blog readers interact with each chapter and share with me their impressions or their ideas for how the story should unfold. Based on those impressions, and impressions of friends or family, I adjust and rewrite the story before the final publication. Or sometimes I rewrite it because I like it better. Putting the story up on my blog also forces me to finish it and to edit it chapter by chapter because one, I have “fans” waiting to read the rest of the story (okay, I have maybe 20 people reading and four that comment, but I don’t mind writing it for just those people. I’m not even kidding.) and two, it also forces me to focus on each chapter individually, write before I copy it to the blog to publish it.

I am sure some authors (am I really one of those? I don’t know. . .but it sounds good, right?) wouldn’t want to share their books on their blogs. They’d rather write them, leave them on their computer and then one day get their nerve up and send it to a literary agent, hope the agent picks them up and pitches their book to a publisher and that publisher signs them and their book is marketed to millions and then they become a millionaire. Sharing the book on their blog could mean no one will ever pay them for the book because the readers can simply read the book for free on the blog, right?

Not necessarily.

In my case, I only have about 360 blog subscribers and of those 360, only about 5 interact with me on a regular basis and only about 20 actually follow the stories I share on the blog. Not only that, but of those who might find my blog, how many of them will really want to scroll from chapter to chapter for free, versus buying the book later on Amazon in it’s completed form, or at least “borrowing it” through Kindle Unlimited?

Probably not that many.  In addition, once I’ve shared the chapters on my blog, I take down the page that links to each chapter and replace it with an excerpt and a link to my book on Amazon, or wherever else I might choose to sell them in the future. In the end, sharing the novel on my blog is a motivator for me, but also a nice distraction from other stresses in life (like the news) and from what I’ve heard from those who read it, it’s also a nice distraction from them.

I don’t expect that my novels will ever win awards, but they’re already winning me something else – a little bit of sanity and a whole lot of distraction.

And while I’m on the subject of sharing my novel on here, I have two new chapters scheduled this week: one tomorrow and one Friday.

I am in the midst of writing a new novel called The Farmer’s Daughter, but I haven’t yet decided if I will share it here as part of Fiction Friday or not. I have a feeling, though, it’s a story some of my regulars will really like. I’ve shared a little of it on here before.

It’s the story of Molly Tanner, who still lives on her parents farm at the age of 25 and wonders if there is a life for her beyond the farm. At the same time she’s pondering this, she notices that farmhand Alex Stone is paying more attention to her, but she’s not sure why. Five years older than her and her brother’s best friend, Alex is battling some demons of his own, mainly that he’s falling for Molly but he doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for her. He covers his pain from his low self-esteem and his lack of attentative parents growing up by drinking a lot and dating women.

Other characters are Molly’s brother, Jason, her parents Robert and Annie, her grandmother, Franny, and her best friend, Liz. Robert and Annie are facing their own concerns throughout the book as Robert fights to keep the family farm, which he and his brother have now turned into a farming enterprise, running.

This will be the first book in a series, but I’m not going to overwhelm you with the other characters and their backstories. At least not yet!

 

Fiction Friday: A New Beginning Chapter 2 Part 2

Just issuing a “warning” again: If you haven’t read the first part of Blanche’s story, A Story to Tell, you might not want to read A New Beginning, which is the second part of her story. You can find the first part of Blanche’s story on Kindle or in Paperback, on Amazon (after December 17 it will be on all ebook readers and on other paperback sellers). However, you don’t have to read the first part to be able to enjoy A New Beginning. Also this week, there is a *trigger warning* for anyone who has suffered a miscarriage. There is nothing too graphic but just in case it brings up some difficult memories.

As always, this is the first draft of a story. There will be typos and in the future, there will be changes made, some small, some large and as before I plan to publish the complete story later as an ebook. Also, sorry about the lack of indentations at the beginning of paragraphs. I can’t seem to figure out how to make that happen in WordPress.


 

Light, Shadows & Magic (2)As I rode in the back of Daddy’s new Oldsmobile with Jackson, on the way home from Emmy’s, I thought about that awful night almost four years ago at the hospital.

I had held Edith against me as she sobbed, her body trembling. The delivery room smelled of antiseptic and blood and nurses worked to clean Edith’s legs and change the blood-soaked sheets.

“It’s going to be okay,” I told her, though I really wasn’t sure how it was going to be okay.

Nothing was okay about Edith going into labor so early and her baby girl being delivered already dead. I was shaking, trying not to cry so I could be strong for her. Guilt consumed me. I’d done everything wrong, eloping with a man who turned out to be abusive, throwing my education and a chance at a career away, yet Edith was the one being punished.

Edith’s crying stopped abruptly and she went limp against me. I looked down at her pale face, her eyes closed. Panic seized me and I could barely breathe.

“Edith?” I shook her gently. “Edith?”

Her head flopped back away from me, toward the pillows on the bed.

“Edith!” I screamed.

A nurse rushed toward us, reaching for Edith’s wrist and laying two fingers against Edith’s neck.

“She’s just unconscious,” the nurse told me then darted out the door, calling for the doctor.

The doors to the delivery room burst open moments later and the doctor rushed in with Jimmy behind him.

“Edith?” Jimmy stepped toward the bed, but the nurse stood in front of him.

“Let the doctor check her,” she said. “Just hold on.”

I was still sitting on the edge of the bed, holding Edith’s hand, trembling with shock. I looked at Jimmy, his eyes filling with tears.

“She’s lost a lot of blood,” the doctor said, laying his hand on my shoulder. “We are going to start a blood transfusion and we need you to step outside while we prep her. We’ll be out to talk to your family when we have a better idea what is going on.”

Jimmy helped me stand, his hand on my arm. I stumbled with him out into the dimly lit hallway to the waiting room.

Mama stood from where she’d been sitting, holding Daddy’s hand, and I fell into her arms, crying against her chest, shaking.

“The baby – the baby didn’t make it,” Jimmy said his voice breaking with emotion. “They’re giving Edith a blood transfusion now. She’s lost a lot of blood.

“Oh, dear Jesus.” Mama gasped the words through her tears.

Her arms tightened around me as Daddy began to pray out loud.

“Father, we commend the spirit of Edith and Jimmy’s baby into your arms and we humbly ask you now to spare our Edith, keep her safe, bring her back to us while always understanding that it is your will that will be done. Amen.”

Daddy’s voice was loud and clear, full of love, yet tinged with sadness.

Mama, Jimmy and I echoed the amen, before collapsing into chairs to wait for the doctor. I drifted to sleep against Mama’s shoulder, jerking awake an hour later as the doctor entered the waiting room. The expression on his face was relaxed, relieved. “She’s lost a lot of blood and she’s weak, but I think the worst is over.”

“Thank God,” Mama said, her eyes red from crying.

“I don’t want you to think this is going to be an easy recovery,” the doctor said, his tone somber. “She’ll be here several days and will need weeks to recover, but –“ He smiled wearily. “We’re in better shape than we were a couple hours ago.”

Jimmy stepped forward and took the doctor’s hand.

“Thank you, sir. Thank you.”

The doctor’s eyes rimmed with tears as he clasped Jimmy’s hand. “Of course, young man. I’m sorry we couldn’t save the baby.”

“You did the best you could,” Jimmy said.

As the doctor turned to leave, Jimmy stopped him.

“Doctor?”

“Yes?”

“Will we – will she –“

The doctor smiled weakly, clearly exhausted. “You’ll be able to try again, if that’s what you’re asking, yes. Not right away, but eventually, yes. This was just a fluke, you might say. I don’t expect it will ever happen again.”

Jimmy wiped his hand across his face to wipe away the tears.

“Thank you, sir.”

“When can we see her?” I asked.

“You can go in anytime but keep the visits short. She needs her rest.”

Mama hugged me and Daddy hugged us and then we pulled Jimmy in with us. We stood in the middle of the waiting room and cried together, mourning and rejoicing at the same time.

Daddy and I watched Edith sleep that night, him sitting in a chair next to her bed, me curled up in a chair near the window. We’d sent Jimmy and Mama home to rest, knowing they’d return tomorrow and send us home to rest. The fading daylight cast a pink hue across the room and left a chill in the air.

Edith looked so frail against the pillow. Her skin blended in with the sterile white of the hospital sheets. I stood and brushed her hair back off her forehead, watching her sleep, remembering all our nights together as children, before our teenage years, before she decided I was a boring stuck in the mud.

“Blanche, do you think there is really a God up there?” she asked one night as we laid in our beds in the dark.

“Yes,” I said confidently.

“Why?”

“Well, I can’t imagine all the beauty of the world came together by accident.”

“What about all the ugliness of the world?”

I laid there, silent, thinking.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly.

“Why doesn’t God stop the evil of the world? Like why are there wars? Why did Uncle Jason have to die in Korea?”

I wiped at tears with the back of my hand.

“I don’t know,” I said again. “But one day we’ll know, and we’ll all understand why God didn’t stop it. I guess it’s like Pastor Frank said, God gave us free will and sin was chosen by Adam and Eve. Once sin entered our world even innocent people suffered. I don’t know why Uncle Jason died but I know we will see him again one day.”

Edith sighed in the darkness and I swore I could hear her eyes rolling.

“Oh, Blanche, sometimes you’re just so naïve and trusting.”

Now, in this hospital room filled with wires and IVs and beeping machines, Edith and I seemed to be reversed in our beliefs.

“God has a plan,” she had whispered to me when she woke up, after the first round of blood loss, before drifting off again into another round of deep sleep.

“A plan for what?” I wanted to ask. “A plan to take away your baby? A plan to let Hank become bitter and abusive?”

I was angry at God, but I didn’t know if that was a proper emotion to feel. I was angry that God had taken Edith’s baby. I was angry that it seemed like Edith was being punished when she’d made up for all her past mistakes and was doing all the things the Bible said was right to do in the sight of God. Why wasn’t I the one being punished for my mistakes?

I heard a soft sigh and looked over at the chair where Daddy was sitting, leaning forward, his head in his hands.

“Daddy? Are you okay?”

I heard him softly crying and tears dripped through his fingers.

“I’m sorry, Blanche,” he whispered.

“Sorry? For – ”

“I’m sorry I let my anger over what you did drive a wedge between us for so long. I’m sorry I made you feel like you couldn’t come to me when Hank started hurting you. I’m sorry I -” His voice caught with emotion – “didn’t protect you from Hank. All I keep thinking is how I could have lost both of you. My God. What would I have done without both of my girls?”

I walked over and knelt in front of Daddy, pulling his hands from his face. His eyes were swollen from crying. I kissed his forehead.

“It’s okay, Daddy. I took for granted how much you loved me and how you were trying to protect me when you told me to stay away from Hank. I’m sorry it took me so long to admit that what I did was wrong.”

Daddy leaned his forehead against mine and we sat in the floor of Edith’s hospital room, in the glow of a setting sun, crying together. It was the forgiveness we both needed.

“So, Blanche…” Mama’s voice cut through my memories and I looked up at her, wiping tears from my face. “Oh. Why are you crying? Are you okay?”

Mama looked concerned and reached over the back seat, reaching for my hand.

“I was just thinking about Edith,” I said as her fingers encircled mine.

“I know, sweetie. We never know what God’s plans are, though. Things could change for Edith and Jimmy and maybe they’ll be blessed with the baby they’ve always wanted, just as Emmy and Sam are. We can’t give up hope.”

She pulled her hand away to grab a tissue from her purse. “You’ve got to start taking tissues with you places if you’re going to be sniffing and weeping like your mama.”

I laughed as I wiped the tears and blew my nose.

“Your nose is snotty, Mama,” Jackson informed me.

“Thank you, honey. I would never have known if you hadn’t told me.”

My sarcasm was lost on my son.

“You’re welcome,” he said. “Glad to help.”


Do you have a fiction story you’ve shared on your blog? Leave me a link in the comments so I can check it out. If I figure out how to offer a link-up on my blog, I plan to start doing that in future weeks!

Fry bread, Smoke Signals and cat mysteries. Or what I’m reading this week

Here we are to Sunday Salon, where bloggers share mainly what they’ve been reading and sometimes what they’ve been watching and doing. Want to get involved? Feel free to link up to Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon post (which is usually up by Saturday).

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We made Navajo fry bread for homeschool a couple of weeks ago which made me think immediately of this scene from Smoke Signals:

That meant looking up the movie and finding it for free on Hulu, so we watched it as the family movie for my birthday. In case you’re interested in the movie, I’ll leave a link to the trailer. It is based on a short story called This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” from Sherman Alexie’s book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993).

In my son’s textbook, they called it flatbread, but I’d always heard it called frybread. My first attempt at making it with the kids wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t the worst either. We hope to try it again soon, even though I personally can’t eat gluten (I won’t lie, I did try some of the fry bread and I paid for it with some achy muscles the next day, but not as bad as it could have been.)

As for what I have read or am reading right now:

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I started The Runaway Pastor’s Wife by Diane Moody, a self-published author I discovered, that my mom and I are really enjoying and who was sweet enough to answer me by email when I had some questions for her this week. I’m really enjoying the book. It’s fast-paced but also weaves a lot of thoughtful sections about the struggles both pastors and their wives face while serving in ministry.

I first discovered her husband, McMillian Moody, on Kindle Unlimited with his Elmo Jenkins series. I’m in the first book of that series and I’m not catching on to his book as quickly as I did The Runaway Pastor’s Wife. Diane’s one book series about World War II is based on her father’s time during the war, when he dropped from planes for people in Holland. I’m looking forward to delving into those books soon, especially since she will be releasing the fourth book in that series in 2020.  I need to hurry and read the books, though, because my mom rips through books at high speed and she keeps returning the books in Kindle Unlimited before I get to them (we are on a joint account). Seriously, I can get them back later, but come on, Mooom! Slow down.

51xr-HD6D7L._SY346_I’m in the middle of another book, Murder in Cherry Hills by Paige Sleuth (real name Marla Bradeen), who is another self-published author. So far the book is carrying me along quickly. It is about a woman (Katherine Harper) whose neighbor is murdered and she starts to investigate it, even though the police, including a childhood friend who has turned all hunky, are already investigating it. Katherine is a former foster child and that aspect is woven into the story as well.

I just need to find some time to read it and finish it since I’ve also been writing my own book (the follow up to A Story to Tell, which is out on Amazon Kindle now), homeschooling my children, cooking dinner, and pretending I’m an actual housewife.

Also on the reading list, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein. Fantasy isn’t always my thing, but I am reading it with my son for his English for homeschool.

On the watch list lately has been Lark Rise to Candleford on Britbox (through Amazon). I’ve already watched Season 1 and am on to Season 2. I understand the series is based on a series of books, which I plan to look up at some point. I don’t watch a ton of television so I usually watch one series with a couple episodes a day and then go on to another series.

I also rarely go to the movies but a friend invited me to see Brittany Runs a Marathon at our local theater (which was a shock, because our smalltown theater rarely shows movies that are more independent). It was pretty good. Language and sexually suggestive moments warning for anyone who is bothered by those types of aspects in a movie. I could have done without some of the language and the sexually suggestive portions, because I don’t know that they added anything to the movie, but it was still a good (and inspiring) movie (and, forgive me if I offend you with not being impressed with the F-word being used so much. I’m a bit of a prude at times 😉 ) I’ll leave you with a trailer for the movie, in case you want to check it out. I would imagine it will be up on Amazon before long, since it was produced by Amazon.

As for what I’ve been doing, I rambled a little bit about that on the blog on the following posts:

Grumpy posts and a busy weekend

I found some old photos and it was the most exciting thing that happened to me all week

Our Homeschooling Journey So Far This School Year

I also rambled a little about self-publishing on THIS POST.

How about all of you? What are you reading, watching, writing, doing? Let me know in the comments or add a link to a recent blog post that covers those subjects.