Category: Kindle

Revisiting an old tale

Some time ago, my first group of novels went out of print and the rights to them were returned to me. Over the last few years I’ve had new covers made (the original artwork for those first covers belonged to the publishing house) and I’ve put half a dozen back out there on Kindle Select as e-books. These long-ago first books, on which I cut my teeth as a novelist, were written for the inspirational market, which just means the characters had an encounter of some kind with the Divine or divine themes, and their lives were never the same, but in a good way.

The funny thing about going back over the text of a book I wrote a decade or more ago, is I realize how much I have grown in my skills and abilities as a novelist. The way I wrote a book ten years ago is not the way I write a book now. The quirky things I did then, like having the characters say each other’s names to each other as though they might forget who they’re speaking to if they don’t begin the next line of dialog with the other person’s name, and the embarrassing over-use of words like very and actually and just. Yikes. I’m happy to say I’ve thankfully outgrown those bad habits. I also apparently had a perplexing aversion to contractions. All those I ams and we cannots and she should haves that sound so much better as I’m and we can’t and she should’ve are little fixes that I am grateful for the chance to make as I get these story files ready for their resurrected lives back in the book world.

I’m not changing anything in terms of the story itself; it just seems like the story as it was told when I mined it out of me needs to basically stay the same. I feel like I owe that much to that younger version of me, who wanted to be a novelist and gave it her best with the skills she had at the time. But the little technical and stylistic things that don’t change the story, but rather how the story sounds when it falls on the ear, those little bits are definitely getting a once-over.

Today, I am working ON A SEAHORSE IN THE THAMES, which first saw the light of day in 2006. The lovely new cover (which I adore) is the handiwork of my madly talented daughter-in-law. It’s kind of a slow process, looking at eleven-year-old sentences and changing as little as possible while making it as lyrical as a book with my name on it needs to be for me to let out in the wild again.

Sometimes I wonder what the literary greats would have done if they could’ve had back those first novels and been allowed to rework the magic. Would they have done it? Would we want them to?  I think this might be the reason I don’t ever read a book of mine after it’s published, and I’ve author friends who feel the same. The itch to keep working at the sentences would aggravate us too much. And when a novel’s still in print there’s not much likelihood we’ll have the chance to change anything larger than a typo here and there.

There’s a quote by Paul Valery that I’ve always liked about what it’s like to write and release. “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” Like the poets, at some point we novelists have to turn the book over to the printers and walk away.

Unless, of course, it comes back to you… 🙂

Want 10 new books for your e-reader?

FallMarigolds_final coverHey there, reading friends!

I’ve teamed up with nine writing pals to offer a ten-book giveaway won’t have you scrambling to find self space. We’re giving away e-versions of these amazing books you see listed in the graphic above to one lucky winner. Well, make that nine e-versions and one print copy of Amy Sue Nathan’s brand-spanking new THE GOOD NEIGHBOR. It’s super easy to put your name in the hat. Just click ON THIS LINK, which will take you to Steena Holmes’ website, where we have our Rafflecopter form.

You only have to answer one simple question to prove you’re not a cyborg. And it has to do with reading, so easy-peasy.  Since it’s fall, I’m giving away a digital copy of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS. There are lots of good reads in the mix, so don’t miss out on your chance to snag them all:

The Short & Sincere Life of Ellory James (ebook) – by Wendy Paine Miller

Before I Go (ebook) – by Colleen Oakley

A Peach of a Pair (ebook) – by Kim Boykin

Those Secrets We Keep (ebook) – by Emily Liebert

The Good Neighbor (print) – by Amy Sue Nathan

Finding Emma (ebook) –by  Steena Holmes

A Fall of Marigolds (ebook) – by Susan Meissner

Rose House (ebook) – by Tina Ann Forkner

The Virtues of Oxygen (ebook) – by Susan Schoenberger

A Flying Affair (ebook) – by Carla Stewart

Here’s the link again to the Rafflecopter form!

What a decade!


Ten years ago, I went from having a dream to living it. From the time I was a teenager, I had dreamed of writing novels, but surprisingly what I wanted to do most became the most easy thing to put off doing. The list of reasons was endless. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know enough. I was too busy raising kids. And then I was too busy at the newspaper where I was editor. It took the death of my Papa, my dad’s dad and every kid’s dream of grandpa, to shake me up enough to stop making excuses. He died in 2002 at the age 0f 84. I was 42. My life felt half-over because it was. I didn’t want to come to the end of my days having never even tried to write a novel.  I wrote Why the Sky is Blue in 2002, searched for a publisher for a year, got picked up by Harvest House Publishers in 2003, and in 2004 – ten years ago – my first book was published. I have been writing them ever since.

This book about a mother and her two daughters (the first being a much-loved, wanted child, and the second, the surprise result of a brutal assault), sadly didn’t stay in print as the years went by. Since it was published before the true advent of e-books, when it disappeared from the marketplace, it ceased to exist outside of personal libraries and secondhand bookstores.

But two days ago, this sleeping book was resurrected.  For the first time in its ten-year history it became available as an e-book exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle Select, with a beautiful new cover. (I loved the original cover by the way, but it was not mine to continue using, only the words inside still belong to me).Why the Sky is Blue sm final

I knew from the get-go people would wonder why I chose Kindle Select. I did this for a couple reasons, the key one being discoverability. Kindle Select will allow me to host special promotions from time to tome that will highly increase my visibility in the netherworld of indie-published e-books. I am hoping that having Why the Sky is Blue for a great price on a very visible platform, including Kindle Unlimited, will mean more readers will discover me and my other novels.

And the cool thing is, anyone with a smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer can read a Kindle book because the Kindle app is free.  You can get the Kindle app for your iPhone or iPad in seconds! I may choose at a later date to dis-enroll the book from this program and publish to all the other formats, which is another benefit. I am not locked into it. My hope is I will gain many, many new readers by using Kindle Select at this time for this book.

I made very few changes in the book as I prepared the old file for its new life as an e-book. Reading this book again for this first time in probably nine years was sentimental, and I was reminded how scary and wonderful it was to attempt to weave 80,000 words of story together.  Coming across quotes like these was nostalgic in all kinds of good ways.

“Sometimes asking God for a reason for something is like asking Him why the sky is blue. There is a complex, scientific reason for it, Claire, but most children, including you, are content with knowing it is blue because it is. If we understood everything about everything, we would have no need for faith.”

I hope you will avail yourself of the opportunity to read it again or read it for the first time.  Perhaps you remember reading it way back when and can tell me what it was about it that made you want to keep hanging out with me! Because I am so glad you did. THANK YOU, thank you for being a part of my writing life. You really are the reason I love to tell a story…

In All Deep Places – revisited

Some years ago I wrote a book called In All Deep Places that really impacted me in the writing of it. It was my first – and to date only – time to write from the point of view of a man. I remember wondering the whole time as I wrote if I would be able to pull it off and I also remember my utter relief when my editor on that project, the amazing Nick Harrison, told me I had.
But it wasn’t the literary feat of getting inside the male point of view that left me pondering life’s inequities when I finished it. It was the content. I got the title for this book from Psalm 135:6 where we are told that God does whatever He pleases – in heaven, in earth, in the sea, and in all deep places. It is a marvelous and mysterious and mesmerizing thought that there is no place where God’s penetrating eye and strong arm can’t or won’t reach.

Marvelous because I sure wouldn’t want to be somewhere where God isn’t, but mysterious and mesmerizing because sometimes it seems like He has turned aside, shut His eye, withdrawn His hand – left the building, if you know what I mean.

In this story a mystery writer named Luke, who is happy with his successful life on the East Coast, comes back home to Iowa after years away when his father suffers a devastating stroke. Troubling memories of girl-next-door Norah re-visit him from the get-go and he quickly gets swept up in the unfinished emotional business surrounding this girl who was his first kiss. Norah tried to blossom despite the chaos of her dysfunctional family, and it seems to Luke she would have had God not continually turned His back on her.

Deep down he knows God would never do that, but it’s in those deep places that we all struggle to understand why God doesn’t bless or at the very least intervene. Luke’s question is the question of the ages. I don’t supply the answer-to-beat-all-answers of course; no theologian or philosopher has been able to definitively answer the problem of a good God allowing bad stuff to happen to people who don’t deserve it, but I spend a good part of the book contemplating this question, as I think everyone should at some point in their life.

Well, after several years being out of print, I am happy to say In All Deep Places is back from book heaven as an e-book, with a new cover and a new Part Two.
If you read the first version, you might recall writer Luke is compelled to pen his own story when he arrives back in Iowa, if nothing else than to purge his soul and find closure. His childhood story is Part Two of the book. In the new Part Two in this e-book version, Luke tells his story in the first-person, as most memoirs are best told.  This part came alive for me in the rewriting as I substituted he and his for I and my. The emotional tension and release was exponentially more satisfying when the story fully flowed from Luke himself. I hope you will agree!
Would love for you get a hold of the new e-version and let me know. It’s also available on Nook and Apple iBookstore.
Have a great weekend!

I like the letter E

I was a Kindle hold-out for a couple years, I confess.

I had a debilitating devotion to paper and ink and I just didn’t want to give them up. I only wanted books with pages, thank you very much, and I ardently rubbed away any interest in an e-reader the moment it popped up.

But when you are in the book industry, you simply cannot ignore the signs of the industry’s times. You can ignore it if you are a reader, but not if you are a writer. And the fact is, e-books are the way in which we are headed. Just like cave drawings gave way to papyrus and papyrus gave way to paper, paper is giving way to digital.  You can still read books on cave walls if you want to, but you can’t write one on a cave wall and expect anyone will read it.

All that is to say, I got a Kindle for Christmas last year, after hinting that I was ready to give it a try, and am flabbergasted by how much I love it. I can take fifty books with me wherever I go. I can get a book in seconds, if I need it. Case in point: When I finished reading Catching Fire, the second in the Hunger Games trilogy, at midnight, I nearly hyperventilated as I frantically clicked buttons on my Kindle to buy the third one so I could begin reading it at 12:01. Which I did.

I can fit my Kindle in my purse. I can make notes. I can highlight. I can do everything I did with paper books except loan them to friends – and I think the day is coming when that will change, too.

And the really wonderful thing about e-books for me personally is, my Out-Of-Print early books are finding new life in the electronic book format. Blue Heart Blessed, a fun romantic sorta-comedy that I loved writing and which has been out of print for more than a year, is now back in circulation as an e-book with Greenbrier Books.  Three more of my OOP books will be available in the coming months via Greenbrier. And that’s happy news for me.

If you haven’t bought an e-reader yet, I totally get why you haven’t. If you have, may I suggest Blue Heart Blessed (the e-book) for the incredibly low, everyday price of $2.99?  If you haven’t read it, and you love a love story, I think you will enjoy it.

I plan to blog again tomorrow. Yes, on a Tuesday! Something big is happening tomorrow…

See you then.

A love letter

Dear Books with Pages:

Before you get all hot and bothered by what I am about to tell you, know from the get-go you are still my first love. I will never abandon you. You will always have a place in my house, in every room, just like you do now. That will never change. Not in my lifetime. Not for me.
You will still draw me with your intoxicating scent and smooth touch. I will still slip you into my carry-on when I travel. When I turn out the light at the end of the day, you will still be on my bedside table, just inches from my sleeping form – often the last thing I touch before falling into dreamland.
Now go back and that read that again. And again.
Brace yourself.
I got a Kindle for Christmas.
And I actually asked for it.
Dear, dear Books with Pages, hear me now. I am finding out why people love e-Readers. Did you know, Books with Pages, that in a matter of seconds I was holding Anna Karenina in the palm of my hand? Just like that – for free? And that Medici book I need to read for research? In seconds I had it. In my hand. Okay, not for free. But still. In seconds. In less than half an hour I can literally have 50 books in the palm of my hand. It’s astounding.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “Those are not books. Those are words floating around in an invisible world and which can disappear the moment the cyber-world has a major hiccup. Or the moment you lose that little bit of plastic and wires. Or you drop it into the ocean. Or the tub. Or a vat of melted chocolate.”
My beloved, I totally get what you are thinking. I thought that too and that’s why I waited until the end of 2010 to finally own a Kindle.
But here’s the thing, Books with Pages. You are not the paper you are written on. You are not. That is just your outward form. Just like I am not a skeleton wrapped in muscle and skin. The soul of me is like the soul of you. It transcends the physical. You are the words and they come to us in many forms. On paper, on audio, on E-readers, and on the voices of our mothers when they read us bedtime stories. The words stay with us, inside us. And the words that change us stay with us forever. Surely you know pages won’t stay with us forever. And neither will E-readers for that matter. Even our mothers will eventually leave us. But the words that your writers used to give you life will not disappear. As long as there is just one person who remembers the story, you will never disappear.
So you see, dear Books with Pages, your immortality has not suffered. Your beauty has not diminished. Perhaps in decades to come you will become more Art and less Text but that is not such a bad thing. I have always thought your lovely spines looked beautiful on my shelves. And maybe, maybe in centuries to come, you will become treasured heirlooms and museums will honor you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.
But you have not been replaced, usurped, or forsaken.
You are more than your pages.
You are the boundless expression of your creator.
Just like me.
And I will always love you. . .