Fall is Like Heaven in Arizona

While my friends are turning on heat, watching the first snow, and bundling up in coats and scarves, I am basking in 70 degree temps in the valley of the sun. Only desert dwellers can appreciate what 70 degrees feels like after 5 months of what we call triple digit heat. (100-115 degrees F.)

The doors and windows are open. I can sit outside and read or have coffee or tend my vegetable garden. It is like heaven. People are climbing out of their houses for the first time in months, and it’s interesting to realize people actually live on my street.

Usually November 1st is our turn-around date. We drop from 90-70 overnight. This year, we’ve had California weather for the month of October with tons of rain and 59 degrees early morning. All I can say is “I guess I survived another summer in the Southwest.”

My book critiques came back from my beta readers, and it appears there is lots of work needed on this latest manuscript. Like most authors, I have tucked all their notes in a box along with the book and will revisit it when I feel I can face it. Revising is often a daunting task.

Meanwhile, I’ll be at the Tempe Book Fair November 3rd from 10-3 and will have my books available at the Mesa Book Fair on December 8th from 2-7 p.m. If you’re in the area, please stop by.

Sales are up considerably this month. Most of my author friends noticed a drought over the summer just as I did. And Amazon ads seem to be working as well. If you are an author, I can say for certain that the ads are selling my books right now. I didn’t believe it till I tried it. Last month I upped my “bids” for my sponsored ads and am showing up on numerous book sites (paid ads). It seems to be working.

Halloween is coming up quickly for those of you who love the holiday! Have a wonderful fall week!

I’m off to my lovely patio to begin Barbara Shapiro’s newest book which I just picked up this morning. The Collector’s Apprentice. She had me at the first paragraph when the main character appears in Paris. Love it.

New Cover

So excited to try a new cover for my sequel, We’ll Find a Way. I loved the old one. I picked out the photo which my son had taken in Oxford, UK and wanted the colors to match The House on 4th Street. But sales have been lagging, and I decided to give it a new dress.

I like the subtle, softer tones and the couple. So what if it doesn’t match with my first novel, right? It’s so hard in writing and publishing. Some people say brand yourself by having an almost identical cover in terms of color, style, font, etc. for every book. Others say choose something that shows well – it doesn’t matter if it even relates to the content.

Reminds me of all the writing courses and retreats I’ve attended. Different sources – different advice.

I guess that’s sort of like “life” in general, right?

Here’s the new look:WFAW_cover_Final_03

 

 

 

Fall in Arizona

I keep thinking it will eventually feel like fall. Halloween costumes and candy fill the aisles in every store. Sweaters, jackets and boots line the shelves in the clothing and department stores. Football is on nonstop for 24 hours each weekend. I’m wearing my college jerseys every Saturday. We are making plans for Thanksgiving and booked an Airbnb this week. My garden is taller with new soil, just waiting for seeds.

And yet …  108 degrees yesterday; 105 today. Will we ever see double digit temps again this year? I’m not certain. All I know is I came back from sunny, green, yet cool Minnesota weeks ago and I cannot adjust. I’m just too danged old. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

I’m completing jigsaw puzzles, reading more novels, playing nonstop Spider Solitaire on my iPad. I’m getting up early to get outside or to the store before it hits 100. I am bored and cranky … along with the rest of Phoenix. Our tempers are short and our frustration levels low.

On a lighter note, my manuscript is in the hands of 9 beta readers. I’m pretty sure I’ve missed the mark on this one, but I have time to fix it. Not headed to a publisher any time soon. It’s discouraging to read the critiques, but it’s also a lesson in perseverance.

I just read The Paris Wife – a good book, by the way. Hemingway struggled every single hour of every single day with every single word and phrase. I guess I’m in good company.

I did read something this week that I didn’t learn in my Creative Writing course work though. I’ve struggled with 3rd person POV. This current manuscript kept wanting to be 1st person in order to get to her intense feelings and struggles. Come to find out, I need to be using what is now called Deep POV. Lots of leeway to be in the head of the protagonist, feeling her feelings, thinking her thoughts, watching her life unfold.

I’m excited now to give this a try. I’ve read enough to have a list of specific do’s and don’ts. I feel prepared to give this a try, and I hope it is the answer to making this a better novel. Time will tell.

SO—onward and upward toward October and hopefully cooler weather and fun holidays.

Back Home

So here we are approaching September already. I spent three weeks in Rochester, MN just soaking up the green and the coolness. I’m hoping it will sustain me through two more months of heat here in the valley. My AirBnB was just as adorable as it looked online. So cute and so ME. Everyone loved it and I may be renting there for a month next year.

Being with friends almost daily was just a wonderful treat! As much as I sometimes hate being the 5th wheel, it also feels really good to be around male energy when we’re all together.

Highlights included: a visit with our 4th musketeer – Rebecca – from Portland. Such fun memories with her in Lanesboro having lunch on the river and the funniest play I’ve seen in years. Dinner on a rooftop restaurant in downtown, walks along the Zumbro and reminiscing a little as we drove past previous homes and hangouts. I’m so glad she could make it.

Other highlights: Fireflies in the park at dark. Geese at Silver Lake. The Genome exhibit sponsored by Mayo at the new (to me) art center. Getting a library card at the new (to me) library. Shopping at what was once the Red Owl grocer and Hunt Drug. Grandma’s Kitchen. Bridgeman’s ice cream. The old rec center where I spent hours waiting for the kids to finish with gymnastics and ice skating and ballet.

Squirrels who visited each morning and bunny rabbits that silently stood watch just off the deck. Thursdays on first and third. Movies. Car shopping. Lunch and dinner with Dianne and catching up on life. We’ve been friends since our husbands opened Rochester Meats back in 1970? Something like that.

The city has grown so much, I got lost numerous times, but the growth has created a beautiful, vibrant, cultural and international city. The skyscrapers didn’t exist in the old days, and the traffic and parking are a concern for the locals. But the buildings themselves are beautiful and the entire downtown is connected with glass walkways that span block after block. (much needed when it’s below zero).

So I’m back in AZ, looking at pictures of green trees, green grass, green everything and missing my MN friends. But perhaps I will finally get back to editing this final manuscript which I managed to ignore during my time up north. My goal was to finish it by Sept. 1st.  “aint’ happening!” ha

Good to be back to a normal routine I suppose and I’m setting a new goal for completion – October 1st.

Looking for Readers. I need six to eight people who will read with a critical eye and a red pen! Let me know if you’re willing.

Enjoy the memories below…

Stay tuned …

craft room back

Today, I got my craft room back and my office cleaned up as well. It feels odd not having every wall and surface covered with taped notes, research, questions, etc. But, my biggest job is done. My manuscript came back with major recommended revisions which I’ve been slowly working on. Yesterday I tore out the final scene and replaced it entirely. Earlier, I deleted most of the opening 44 pages including the prologue. It’s been a Slash and Dice project with a machete instead of a pocket knife. Ouch!

I loved some of my words, sentences, paragraphs and scenes. I miss them. But I also trust my editor. I’m still deciding on two more “suggestions” which may mean eliminating two characters completely. Ouch!

I’m headed to Minnesota for three weeks and the goal is to have this complete when I return and ready to go back out to her for final line edits.

This book has been difficult for me. I’m used to having a lot of history, historical characters, interesting events happening in their lives. It’s fun to research and fun to write. This time, the entire story is present day and the topic isn’t often playful either. In fact, pieces of it can be downright depressing. A story of resilience and strength.

I’m looking for a half dozen “beta readers” – I think this time the requirements will be: enjoys women’s literary fiction. Likes character driven story rather than plot driven. Empathizes with characters when they are well written and believable. Probably female themselves although that’s not an absolute. The manuscript is 370 pages (not nearly that in print form, but still …).

I can provide a flash drive, an attachment and am willing to print it off and mail it if needed. The benefit to having a hard copy is it’s easier to use your red pen and make margin notes along the way. The negative is you have to return it. If you have a program where you can edit as you read, that helps.

Let me know if you’d like to be a reader.

So—off to cooler climes and out of this ridiculous 116 degree weather. Stay tuned …

 

Book Recommendation

Factfulness: ten reasons we’re wrong about the world and why things are better than you think is on the best seller list. Author: Hans Rosling. Internationally recognized physician, scientist and researcher, World Health Organization, World Economic Forum, TED talk presenter, and to quote him ‘educator to a world who has less knowledge than chimpanzees.’ His factual information is current as of 2017.

I just finished the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author calls himself a ‘posiblist’ – instead of an optimist. However, I found his concepts very optimistic. It was also a mind-opener to our tendencies towards seeing gaps between things and people, toward negativity, toward fear, urgency and destiny.

Seeing gaps can be dangerous. We tend to divide the world in two: the haves and have nots, immigrant vs citizen at birth, black and white, sour and sweet … you get the idea.

But when we begin to view the entire world this way, it becomes dangerous and simplistic. Rosling suggests something more useful — divide the world into 4 groups instead of 2. You can compare any issue using these four levels.

For example, when comparing income levels, he suggests dividing it this way:

Level 1 (poorest)   Level 2 (poor)  Level 3 (approaching wealthy)  Level 4  (wealthy)

Instead of dividing by rich and poor, when you run the statistics (factual) you realize that most of the world is on Level 2 and Level 3. This provides a much more accurate picture — because Level 1 and Level 4 make up a much smaller percentage in every category.

Using income levels, one person per billion resides in Level 1 countries. Three people per billion reside in Level 2, with 2 people per billion in Level 3. Only one person per billion resides in Level 4.

Yes, you read that correctly. 3 people per billion live in Level 1 and Level 4 combined.

The majority – 5 people per billion live at Level 2 and Level 3.

I’ll let you read the book if it interests you. By the way, he acknowledges there are 5 issues in the world that warrant our concern, fear, and urgency. But all of the others, when you look at statistical data from professional and accurate fact finding sources, warrant almost none of the time, energy and drama we give them. (and guess what, the media loves drama and gets paid to provide it)

Oh, he also has a tip on where to be investing your money …  I’ll let you find that too.

I hope you’ll give it a read. Unfortunately the author died of cancer last year but his son and daughter-in-law are continuing his work, including his website Gapminder.

To close, Here are 3 of the 13 questions he asks in the first of the book. See how you do!

1. In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
A. 20%
B.  40%
C.  60%                                                                                                                                            (answer is C)
2. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has:
A. Almost doubled
B.  Remained more or less the same
C.  Almost halved                                                                                                                      (answer is C)
3. How many people in the world have some access to electricity?
A.  20%
B.  50%
C.  80 %                                                                                                                                        (answer us C)