Book Signings

Sat, Nov 13, Stevens Point:
We will be selling books all day at HolidayFest which is held in St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Sat, Nov 27, West Bend:
We will be signing books and the boys will be playing Christmas music at Fireside Books and Gifts in West Bend, Wisconsin.

Thurs, Dec 2, Stevens Point:
I will be selling signed books at the High School Writers Workshop at the student union at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

Being other people

Yesterday morning on The Writer’s Almanac I heard Anne Tyler quoted as saying, “I want to live other lives. I’ve never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances. It’s lucky I do it on paper. Probably I would be schizophrenic — and six times divorced — if I weren’t writing.” This was amazing because I’d been planning to write a blog on this very topic.

I’ve always been a bit of a tom-boy. I don’t wear (or even own) any make-up, and I don’t care about clothes. I don’t notice when my friends get new hairstyles.

Still, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a person who was stylish, who cared about clothes and makeup, who owned hundreds of shoes. What is that sort of life like? Is it possible to be like that and not have much money? How would one manage that?

My character Olivia Snow is an adventure into that sort of personality. She’s fun to write, and she lets me be stylish and obsessed with clothes without actually being stylish or obsessed with clothes. Writing can be so cool sometimes.

And, of course, this transformation can go much deeper than just a superficial aspect like fashion. For instance, what would it be like to be a person who is angry all the time?

Or what about a woman who was happy and friendly and got along with everyone, but who was constantly annoyed by her own daughter? Maybe the mother was an out-going, successful businesswoman and the daughter was a quiet artist type. Or vice-versa.

And what would it be like to be that daughter, who could never please her mother. Who knew no matter what she did, it wouldn’t be good enough because she just wasn’t the kind of daughter her mother wanted. How would that affect all aspects of her life?

I love diving into the psyche of another person, putting on their problems and their joys and feeling what it is like. Of course, it is always nice to slide that costume off and return to my own simple and happy life.

The Best Mom

I have the best mom.

I was talking with her today on the phone, basically explaining everything that was in my last post, how un-inspired I’ve felt, my feelings about writing “fluff,” etc.

What does my mom say?

She proclaims that my Olivia story is NOT fluff. She says it is smart. She says it is as good as anything she’s ever read. She loves the characters and wishes I would write more because she can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen.

And just like that, I am inspired and joyful!

I have the best mom!


Yesterday I spent the afternoon at a workshop run by the UWSP English Department’s ACORN (A Chance tO Read in compaNy) program. The ACORN book this year is Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and the workshop sessions I attended were Tomoko Kuribayashi’s lecture on Margaret Atwood, Per Henningsgaard’s lecture on the role of colonialism in Alias Grace, and Sarah Pogell’s lecture on nineteenth century psychology.

The workshop was fabulous. The UWSP faculty were knowledgeable and interesting, and the topics fascinating. The day was fun and got me excited about literature again . . . . and made me question myself as a writer.

I began my first novel, Charlotte’s Inheritance, while I was in graduate school: taking literature classes, discussing literature, analyzing literature. I was immersed in the literary world. The idea of Syncopation came to me during the same time period, though I wrote it after I’d finished school. These books reflect my mind at that time.

I don’t want to say that my novels are in the same class as the novels of Margaret Atwood or Tracy Chevalier or A.S. Byatt, but they are heavily influenced by these writers. Charlotte’s Inheritance and Syncopation have themes and layers and complicated characters. They could be studied. I’ve spent many years trying to get them published, and a common criticism from agents and editors is that they are “too literary” for such-and-such a publisher’s list.

I’m a practical person. I want to be a published writer; I want to have an actual career as a writer. So, I’ve decided to write more light-weight novels in the hopes that this is what the publishing world is willing to publish—something like The Stolen Goldin Violin. I wrote this with / for my family with no illusions as to it having literary merit. The Stolen Goldin Violin is a quick, light, fun read.

In the past two years, I’ve gotten excited by a few ideas for light-weight books (see my previous blog postings), but after a little time, I find myself uninspired. This didn’t happen with either of my first two novels. I had slumps, but these stories were forged by a fire within me that raged until the story was out.

I don’t want to spend more years of my life pouring my soul into a literary novel which will never be published, read only by a few close friends. I’m not a literary snob. I read everything. I like fluff and didn’t expect to have trouble writing fluff.

Recently I’m just so uninspired, and I guess I’m just trying to figure out why . . . .

A New Story

Gosh, it’s been so long since I posted. With my oldest starting high school a month ago, life has been a little crazy here. I haven’t done as much writing as I’d like either.

So, I guess I should let you know that I’ve decided to put my book about Olivia on hold because I’ve got a great idea for a young adult historical thriller. I don’t want to give too much away here, but I will give you the basics.

There are two parallel stories:

In one, a modern teenage girl goes to Washington DC on a school trip (like my son and I might do in March). In a museum in DC, she discovers a portrait of a woman wearing a tiara that was stolen from her great-grandmother. By digging deeper into the history of the tiara and its owner/thief, the girl puts herself in danger.

The historical story involves the modern girl’s great-grandmother who, as a child, took a ride on the Titanic. With her on that ill-fated ship were jewel thieves, spies, and all sorts of craziness.

I might be writing the historical part of this novel during NaNoWriMo this year. The modern part I would write after my trip to DC (assuming I go on that trip).

So, really, I should be doing research, developing characters, and plotting my action instead of writing this blog to you. Toodle-oo.