Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Color of Water and Glaciers

Dear readers and writers,

I wrote about the indescribable color of the water in bays with tidewater glaciers that slowly pour their ice into the water before I went to Alaska to visit Glacier Bay.  I thought I'd post a few of the pictures I took there.  It isn't possible to capture exactly the blue that you see when there, in fact I see when I paste them in that the computer won't even show the same blues I can see on my camera screen, but you can get some indication of how overwhelming the presence of these natural phenomena can be.  What I can't show you at all is the crack and thunder you hear when the new icebergs give way and fall into the water from the face of the glacier.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Libby Grandy Interview Re Desert Soliloquy

Hi readers and writers,
Libby Grandy has recently published a suspense novel, Desert Soliloquy.  Here is an interview with her about this new book, which I highly enjoyed.  Cheers,

LH: How did you become a writer, Libby?

LG: I loved English in school, but most of my writing was in the area of journalism. I didn’t attempt fiction until I was in my forties. I took a creative writing class and began writing short stories. One of those short stories became a novel, because I fell in love with the main character—Lydia, an eighty-year-old woman. 

LH: What is your favorite thing you’ve written?

LG: I have to choose my novel, Lydia, the second book in my women’s fiction trilogy. The character is a compilation of all the wonderful women in my life. I also loved writing the sequel to LydiaTrue Abundance. I plan to publish the first book of the trilogy, Promises to Keep, a ghost story, in the spring of 2013.

LH: You blog about writing a great deal. What kinds of resources will writers find on your blog?

LG: Writers will find suggestions about writing and marketing in my blogs, but I have full-length articles on my website. They cover subjects such as researching agents, critique groups, guidelines for first-time writers, self-publishing, writing tips, etc. Several of the articles have been published in Writers’ Journal, so I have to assume editors found them helpful. 

LH; In your novel, Desert Soliloquy, you keep the story grounded in the characters but at the same time, you weave in a lot of very current ideas about mining, industry, finances. How did you get up to speed on these topics?

LG: My husband and Google. My two best friends. My husband has worked in both law enforcement and aerospace and really helped with the central plot in Desert Soliloquy

LH: Do you outline your novel before you start or do you write in part to find out what’s going to happen in the story line?

LG: I write from “the seat of my pants,” and hope that the next chapter will come. It might not be comfortable for some writers, but I love not knowing for sure what is going to happen next. Sometimes it surprises me, and that’s always exciting. I worry about plot details after I’ve gotten the main story down. My weekly critique group often has invaluable suggestions.

LH: The setting for the story is in the desert, and I wonder if you used specific locales and buildings that you researched in the story?

LG: There is a renovated silver mining “ghost town” in the high desert of California. I fell in love with Calico the first time my husband and I visited the town. I incorporated the historical facts in regard to Calico into the novel. Anyone visiting the ghost town will recognize the locations from Desert Soliloquy.

I remember sitting in the town’s old cemetery around noontime, leaning against a tombstone, typing on my laptop. I suddenly realized a woman was staring down at me. She said, “Are you from LA?” I had to laugh. Apparently if you are sitting in the middle of the desert in a cemetery in the hot sun, on a laptop, you must be from LA. I explained I was from a small town thirty miles east of LA. I believe she was a bit disappointed.

LH: A part of the novel hinges on development of a love triangle involving the heroine. She is not a twenty-something but a mature woman. Did you encounter resistance to using a mature woman in this plot?

LG: Since the main character is a mature woman, the love triangle simply developed naturally. Young readers need to know that mature love can be just as emotionally and physically passionate as young love. The relationships between the two young characters and the older characters provide a window into both worlds.

LH: As in most suspense novels, sophisticated medical knowledge and weapons know-how were required to write the book. How did you learn about these topics?

LG: I wish I could say that I interviewed prominent doctors and military men, but the truth is, again, my resources were basically Google and my husband.

LH: Did you have an agent? Tell us about publishing this book.

LG: I have had two agents over the past few years, one for my ghost story, Promises to Keep, the first book of my women’s fiction trilogy and the other for my mystery, Desert Soliloquy. Both had been agents for many years and were sure that they would have no trouble selling the stories. Unfortunately, it was when the economy began to go downhill, and neither could get anyone to read the manuscripts. My agent for Desert Soliloquy was basically told that the companies she had successfully sold manuscripts to in the past were not reading work from new writers. Both agents have semi-retired, in the sense that they still represent their old clients but are not taking on new ones.

I have to say, however, it was a wonderful experience working with them. They were so helpful and supportive of my writing and my stories. The last agent pointed out a flaw in one part of the Desert Soliloquy plot, which was easily fixable. She also taught me to lose the unnecessary adverbs. I will always be grateful to her for that. I just recently talked to both of them, and they are thrilled that I’ve published Desert Soliloquy

Last year, I began researching self-publishing, using Mark Levine’s book, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, as my guide. I finally decided on CreateSpace, and it has been a wonderful experience. I plan to publish one book a year with them for the next four years—my trilogy and the manuscript I’m presently working on.

LH: What tips do you have for the blog readers about marketing?

LG: I believe it is very important for writers to begin building their platform and brand long before their first book is published. Having a website and/or blog is essential. Join Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all social media venues possible. Brand your name, not your book. Who is going to remember the word “soliloquy,” let alone be able to spell it? Hopefully, they will remember Libby Grandy when my other books become available.

Most of all, focus on the word “social” when you begin marketing your book through the social media. Use the venues to support other writers. Enjoy meeting new people through your marketing. 

This is a very exciting time for writers but don’t get so caught up in the marketing process that you forget to do what you love to do best—write!


Book Giveaway on Goodreads

Hi readers and writers,
If you'd love to read my memoir about breaking into science or know a young woman you'd like to inspire to keep trying and know it's possible to balance family and a demanding career, enter the Goodreads giveaway for Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling here:

There are just a few days left, and 10 books will be given away.  Right now, it looks like you have about a 1 in 10 chance of winning one.  Free free free, not even any postage and handling costs!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friday Fictioneers: The Buzzard

Hi readers and writers,
Madison Woods, on her blog, challenges writers to come up with 100 word responses to a photo prompt each week in Friday Fictioneers.  Here is mine for this week.  I would love any constructive criticism or general reactions to this piece, as usual.  Cheers, Laura
                                                               The Buzzard

Roger said, “C’mon, Susie.  They’re beautiful, how they soar up there with so little effort.  See how they go around in spirals to rise up so high?”

“I know, but they eat carrion.  Not birds of pleasure for me.  Never can see them without a shiver.  If one of us dies out here, they’ll get us, right?”

“In the Australian outback, people put dead bodies on a platform, giving them to the buzzards to eat.  It’s not wrong, it’s part of the whole schema…”

I got up and left.  I’ll just go for a run and let him sit under the tower.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Friday Fictioneers: The Power of Adobe

Hi readers and writers,
I was cruising in Glacier Bay, Alaska last week, so I missed the usual Friday Fictioneers exercise.  But I'm back, and now I can't resist the photo prompt, so I will write it late.  If you enjoy reading the many, various ways people can approach the same stimulus as much as I do, go to Madison Woods' blog here and check out the responses.

To Friday Fictioneers who drop by later than late:  I'd appreciate any constructive criticism on my 100 word piece.  The photo is by Amanda Gray and is called "Outside Pecos."
The Power of Adobe
We barely survived, Ricky and me.  When I drank the last drop of water he shouted, "Lupe, no!"  We believed in the mirage of a tiny rectangle on the endless plains and we dragged ourselves here.  Behind the abandoned adobe hunkered a well with a pump.  Ricky jacked out water into his hat and we drank, laughed, poured it over our heads and down our backs.  And inside the house, the mud bricks sheltered us from the sun with their thick, earthy power.  But now, Ricky wants to go on.  Why can't we stay, make the power of the adobe our own?