Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cover Art for My Novel, Island Song

Wanted to share the cover art for my debut novel, Island Song. The artist is Beckie Clymo, and I'm not sure what other covers she has designed. I had quite a heated fight with my publisher, Zumaya Publications, over this cover. I had submitted three different ideas for covers, all of which were attractive and upbeat, but I was over ruled on each idea. This cover, although it is not nearly as eye catching as I had hoped for, is certainly an improvement on the first two sketches they presented to me. I would love you know what people think of this cover, good points or bad, so please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Here's a snippet of what the story is about:
After the death of his lover, Garrett Davidson finds himself sitting in a Hawaiian beach shack, staring at the vast unfathomable pacific. He has nothing left. Despair has robbed him of his elegant home, lucrative job, friends, and his sanity. The single thread holding him to reality is the story he has come there to write, Marc's story; the story of his lost love. Then Songoree walks into his life.
When Songoree, a local surfer, attempts to heal Garrett's wounded spirit, they become entwined in an extraordinary relationship. But the stakes are raised when Songoree's grandfather, a venerable Kahuna, uses his ancient shaman methods to harm Garrett in order to fulfill his own aspirations. A clash of wills erupts between grandfather and grandson with Garrett caught in the middle, driving the plot to an unexpected ending that will brutally test the human spirit . . . but not break it!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Break out the champagne!!!

Wanted to share some news with everyone. The week has be a rather slow but satisfying work week for me, that is, until today.

All week I’ve been working on a third round of updates to my screenplay, Daddy’s Money. The work as been very satisfying and I crafted a new ending that I think is dynamite – the first two drafts ended without resolving things for two of the characters.

With that draft behind me, I had planned to set it down for a few weeks while I reworked the opening chapters of my fourth novel, Butterfly’s Child. My husband has been proofreading BC and complained loudly that it was WAY to slow in the opening chapters. So I sat down this morning with all the good intentions of seeing what I could do to speed up the action in Butterfly’s Child, when I checked my email and found the galley for my debut novel, Island Song.

Break out the champagne!!!

For you readers who are not published writers, a galley is a mockup of what the final published book will look like. Its purpose is to show me what the senior editor has changed, all the formatting, and allow me to proofread the work one last time before it goes to print. It is the final stage before I become a published writer.

It’s hard to explain what it feels like to read a novel that I finished over four years ago. I still know the story like the back of my hand, of course, but it reads new to me. I keep reading passages and being impressed with what I wrote. On the other hand, I also read passages and think: Oh shit, I should have said it another way. The galley, however, is not the place to make massive changes, only little edits.

The upshot is that I’m finally, after years of hard work and waiting, in the homestretch of being published. Can you hear the pop, the bubbles?

So for those of you who have been waiting, wondering if it would really happen, let me assure you, it won’t be long now. It should take me a week to crawl through and edit it, then send the edits to my publisher. How long it takes before it shows up on Amazon is anybody’s guess. I would think within two weeks.

The other news I received today was from my literary agent, Pema Browne. She sent me news that another publisher has turned down my third novel, Match Maker. The bad news is that two publisher, Saint Martins Press and Random House, have turned it down. The good news is that both had high praise for the writing, but felt the story line was too limiting (being a gay story) without enough universal appeal.
The other good news is that she hasn’t sent it to the publisher that I’m hoping to nab, Kensington. She mentioned she’ll try them next week when her contacts there are back from vacation. Cross your fingers for me.

Anyway, that’s my news. I’m glowing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Walk With Ol' Smokie

Every morning, rain or shine, weekend or workday, I start my day the same way. I raise myself out of bed around 7am, switch on my laptop, make a cup of tea, and with a cup of Lipton brew in hand I walk my dog Smokie in the hills nearby.

Up until last summer, Smokie, with nose to the ground, would zigzag through the tall grass, flagging his long tail, not content to meander at my slow pace. Being a Chocolate Lab, he loved weaving though the open country. But Smokie turned twelve years old last April, and he’s slowing down. Now it is I who must crawl along at his slow pace.

A few mornings ago, as we trudged up the first hill, I watched Smokie’s stiff, painful looking movements, and I was reminded that this is probably our last summer together. The thought saddened me, even reminded me that my own death is drawing nearer. At that moment, I was bombarded with thoughts of all that I want to accomplish before my time comes to an end. The list is endless, maddening so.

Eventually, I remembered to relax and stop trying to control everything, and then the morning flowed like a lazy river, that is, Smokie and I and the trail became one.

Tall dry grass carpets the meadows, the hills are covered with lumbering oak trees, the crisp air had a hint of sweetness, and the meadowlark’s three-ascending-note song echoed from the trees. This landscape touched my heart with its clattering streams and glistening pastures, and swallows me whole with its fathomless, uncomplicated open space. It was grand being alive and able to share it with Smokie on such a morning. A feeling of gratitude washed through me like a sea-surge.

With Smokie loping along beside me, passing through the quiet buttery light, the moment came when I grew aware of a stillness that was something apart from the stillness of the landscape. It was an interior stillness at my core, a stillness in which there was the absence of all distraction and unrest, a tranquility in which, quietly and without effort, all things melded together. Without shining my thoughts onto it, I knew this stillness was exactly what I try to achieve while meditating. It was a state from which it seems natural, even inevitable, to touch those close to me, to revere the splendor of life, to pray.

Through this inner stillness, a quote from Stewart Lewis’s second novel, Relative Stranger, bubbled up to my thoughts:
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

In this state, I came to terms with a new direction in my life, this curve to a radically different approach to being. I began casting off those items on my to-be-accomplished list, littering the trail with dreams and making myself be content with nothing more than sharing the hillside with Smokie and fully enjoying our time together. When we returned home, I focused that same attention into being with my husband, Herman. And as I sit composing at my laptop, I give my writing the same approach.

I will, of course, continue to write my novels and screenplays, and I’m certain I will continue to publish my work. But my goals have changed. Now I work solely to enjoy the process of creating.

I came to this attitude with a certain amount of regret, which has now metamorphoses into quiet gratitude. It is certainly not what I expected; a life with no grand ambitions has come with several surprises, but none greater than the surprise at my own contentment.