Wednesday, February 5, 2020

You never know when inspiration might strike

The other night as I was getting ready for bed, I found myself listening to rain drops slapping a gutter.

It was a distinct sound that cut through the urban noise clutter...and before I knew it this wonderful tale started spooling out in my imagination. Such moments are magical and I hope to turn it into a short story or novella soon.

I share this because it's a reminder that you never know when inspiration might strike: in the shower, on your daily commute, while walking the dog or watching your children sleep.

Whatever it might be - a string of musical notes, some song lyrics, a poem or a scene from a future book - find a way to remember it and respond. It's your creative side at work and the more you nurture it the more it will give you.

And, speaking from experience, there's something intangibly enriching about listening to those prompts.

So give those surprises room to blossom. You'll be amazed at what can happen.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Disappointed but not discouraged

I received word this week that an agent who expressed strong early interest in my next novel has decided not to move forward and represent me.

While disappointing, I am grateful for what I learned during their considerations and feedback and move forward. I'm still optimistic about the book's potential and hopefully I'll find an agent who wants to work with me. It's a process and this is all part of the journey.

In the meantime, the muse is still active and I'm happy about that.

And a new review on Goodreads for FALLEN TREES made me smile: "I honestly had to read more than once, it was that suspenseful." 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Looking for a memorable Christmas present or a good winter read? FALLEN TREES is both!

I had just arrived at the state library convention in downtown Wichita and was still setting up my display for FALLEN TREES when a woman walked into the room, turned the corner and blurted, "Oh, my God!"

Mind you, I don't get that reaction every day.

"May I help you?" I asked hopefully.

"I can't believe it," she said. "I asked my daddy what he wanted for Christmas - he's awfully hard to buy for - and he said, 'The only thing I want is a book I've been hearing a lot about. It's called FALLEN TREES.' I've been determined to find it for him - and here it is."

She doesn't live in Wichita, but was in town for the conference. She sounded like someone who had discovered a snowflake in the Sahara.

Several months later, I received a message from a reader who told me he didn't read much, but he received a copy of FALLEN TREES for Christmas -- and loved it. It may well have been the father of the librarian I crossed paths with at the conference. I was so pleased he enjoyed the read - and was deeply touched by the daughter's devotion to her father.

I have heard so many stories from readers about how this book touched them and changed their lives. I always viewed the book as a pleasant summer beach read, but it's become much more than that for countless people who have read it. The reaction has been both humbling and inspiring.

Here are just a few excerpts from reviewers on Goodreads:

"Fallen Trees is a story that I could read over and over and find something new and enjoyable each time. It's a story worth adding to your collection." - Kathryn

 "If you're looking for a good cuddle book, I would suggest grabbing a glass of wine, favorite throw blanket and have at it. You won’t be disappointed." - Charletta Barksdale

"There's plenty of great authors who deal with the need or exigency (Raymond Carver) to cut, shorten, sharpen. Some rewrite their works infinitely bringing them to their very bones (Graciliano Ramos, the Brazilian master). Some go straight to the point (Cormac McCarthy). Mr. Finger deserves a place among them." - Len Berg

"A wonderful tale brought to life with great skill, of love and finding purpose." - Hilario

It has been gratifying to see how FALLEN TREES has resonated with readers around the world, not just those in a particular location. It tells me the story is universal.

If you'd like to get a copy for yourself, a friend or a loved one, click here.

If you prefer to purchase it from an independent bookstore, you have a number of options.

Watermark Books, which is in Wichita, has it in stock. So does Eighth Day Books, a religious bookstore in Wichita that also features local authors. Other Wichita options include the Doo-Dah Market downtown and The Workroom, which is in the Douglas Design District east of Old Town. They're both fun places to visit in person, too!

My book is also on the shelves at Bluebird Books & Cafe in Hutchinson and Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore in Emporia.

Fans have been begging me to write a sequel and I have good news: I have started work on it! I hope they love it as much as FALLEN TREES.

I'm blessed to have been given the ability to write...and people who love to read my words. I hope to have both for a long time.

I want to wish all of you a holiday season filled with love and laughter and cherished memories, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or both (or something else entirely).

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Project, project...always a project

I grew up with a Dad who always had to have a project of some sort to work on. He didn't work on it every day, particularly during planting and harvest, but he always had something or two to work on. I have siblings who are like that - especially my twin brother - and I've come to realize I'm like that with my writing. Even as I'm busy with freelance work (thankfully), my brain is chewing on plot points for multiple books and the muse is itching to get busy on one or more of them. NaNoWriMo is upon us (National Novel Writing Month), and while I won't "officially" participate, I look forward to fussing around and letting the muse start working on these projects.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Writing, writing, writing

It's been an interesting year since I left full-time employment with a newspaper. I've been adjusting to the life of a freelance writer and working on books as well.

I've completed a murder mystery as well as its sequel, which wasn't planned until the muse started laying out the plot as I finished the first book. I'm hoping to find an agent for this one.

I self-published "Fallen Trees" because my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I knew she'd never see the cover or dedication page otherwise. She was able to see both the day before she died. That meant a lot to me - and folks even love the cover.

But sales for "Trees" have been modest, despite strong reviews, so I'm hopeful the exposure and promotion that a publishing house can offer will bode well for my murder mystery. It's a different kind of book, but I like it a lot.

Readers of "Trees" have been pleading for a sequel (interestingly, men as well as women have been demanding one) and the muse has finally delivered a plot for one. Hopefully, I can get to that as I juggle freelance assignments, too.

I've built up my Twitter following to 5,000 people and connected with an active writing community online. I've met a number of best-selling authors recently as they've come through town courtesy of Watermark Books and it's been a real treat to discuss the writing craft with them.

This is all a journey and I'm just trying to learn and enjoy the view along the way.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

At long last, I return

As I was returning from the Kansas City Writing Workshop this weekend, it dawned on me that I hadn't posted on this blog for quite a while - two years, in fact.

There are a number of reasons for that, but the primary one was that I had been moved to a shift working nights and weekends at the Wichita Eagle and what time and energy I had outside of those hours were spent on other priorities: writing, marketing/promoting and simply striving to maintain some sense of balance in my life.

But my time as a staff writer for the Eagle has drawn to a close. I was laid off last August as part of a continuing reduction in force across the McClatchy chain. Since then, I have been charting a new course, figuring out what's next for me. I've finished a murder mystery and started a sequel and am doing some freelance writing.

FALLEN TREES continues to garner strong reviews and there has been some renewed interest. Many readers have requested a sequel, but it's been slow to emerge. We'll see what happens.

Monday, February 6, 2017

"An excellent book"

I was delighted to receive more glowing praise from someone who had just finished FALLEN TREES.

It is an excellent book. I finished it last night and can't wait for a sequel.

I find I take tremendous pleasure out of hearing that readers enjoyed the book. That's even more gratifying than hearing someone bought it. I want them pleased that they made the choice to purchase it, making it money well spent.

Maybe that's the farm boy in me, aware of the value of every dollar.

If you've been thinking about getting a copy, they're available at Watermark Books in Wichita, Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore in Emporia, and on Amazon.