Ten Writerly Reasons To Be Thankful

 

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  1. Thank you Google, Wikipedia, other parts of the Internet: though you are often a distraction, you are just as often a life-saving research helper.
  2. Thank you to my publisher who believed in my story enough to bring my books to a wider audience. Thank you for sending my book to reviewers, entering my books in contests, and helping me to learn how to be an author.
  3. Thank you booksellers for carrying my book, inviting me for events, and recommending my books to your customers.
  4. Thank you book reviewers – from newspaper columnists, journals, and commenters on Goodreads, Amazon, and book blogs near and far – you are helping others to hear about my book and telling readers who don’t know me about my novels.
  5. Thank you writer organizations, especially my Sisters in Crime, who support, motivate, and mentor women writers.
  6. Thank you librarians. You go above and beyond what is available from the web for research, and I appreciate you for buying my books for the library and having me come speak to patrons.
  7. Thank you writer groups for motivating me to write and for reading and commenting on my work. A special thanks to those writer friends who answer my panicked calls to read something quickly, commiserate with me on the trials of the writer’s life, and celebrate with me when I experience a success.
  8. Thank you friends for reading my books and recommending others do, too.
  9. Thank you to my family who supports this weird thing I do where I hide out for hours, days, years while I attempt to create new worlds and sometimes do nothing at all but dream. Thank you also for buying my books and telling your friends about the author in the family.
  10. And last but not least, thank you so much to my readers – people who buy my books, check them out at libraries, tell your friends about me. You are why I am more than a writer. You make me an author, and for that, I am especially thankful.

Writing a novel in a month is one thing….

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbAs the more than gazillion National Novel Writing Month writers prepare to knock out another 40,000 novels next month, here are some words of advice: follow your muse, but don’t worry if you decide you don’t get along after all.

My debut novel, Washed Up, was produced in the 2009 NaNoWriMo.  I revised it over the next year, and it was published in 2011 by North Star Press, receiving a “smashing debut” review by the esteemed Library Journal.

It was not, however, the first novel I ever wrote.  And, since publishing Washed Up, I’ve written four more novels. So far, two of those are complete — they are follow-ups in the mystery series and they have been published.  Two are in progress.

Then there are the other novels I don’t talk about, both completed and uncompleted works. For all of these, my muse and I started out inspired and with high hopes, but the books languished, I lost interest, and I expect never to return to them.  These are novels where my muse and I didn’t exactly see eye to eye. And frankly Muse got a bit pissed off that I paid no attention to his ideas (my Muse is a he), and called me a lazy hack more than once.

Since then we’ve reached an understanding and are on speaking terms, most of the time. Here’s the understanding: some novels die an early death, and many will never to see the light of day on a book shelf or in an eReader. Others get finished, but author lacks the interest or ability to go back and do the necessary revision that will get them where they need to be.

It’s hard, at first, for a new novelist to understand the difference between a first draft that can grow up to be a real novel, and one that has nothing but high hopes of greatness. New novelists may develop wonderful characters, but have them do nothing. Some may come up with a great plot idea, but develop flat, boring characters that can do nothing with the great story they are given. My problem is generally a great love of place and poetry, that shines through, but interesting people and stories live elsewhere and no one comes to visit.

I learned a lot from writing my novels, especially the ones that never got finished or will never be published. The real lesson was that sometimes I just needed to let the unfinished project remain unfinished. There’s no point in beating yourself up over a book that refuses to be a book, and basically letting that stagnation keep you from writing anything. Take what you’ve learned from it and move on to the next one. Trust me, the next book will be better. The next one after will be even better. And maybe you’ll publish the fourth one, like I did and it may even happen to be a NaNoWriMo novel.

The important thing is to do the work. If NaNoWriMo helps that work happen for you, wonderful. I’m wishing all gazillion 2013 novelists the best of luck.

Burnt Out? I Have the Book for You

Check out what Erin Hart and Brian Freeman have to say about the next mystery in my Arvo Thorson series.

“Prickly-but-principled social worker Christine Ivory is feeling burned out on the job, and retreats to the family place in Minnesota’s north woods. Burnt Out, the third in a richly realized series from Susan Koefod, captures the complex push-pull of home and family, not to mention the dark underbelly of idyllic small-town life. Add a missing geologist and a ripped-from-the-headlines clash over oil and gas rights, and Koefod hits a gusher of motives for murder.”

Erin Hart, award-winning author of The Book of Killowen 

 “Koefod skillfully captures the many layers of drama and tension underlying small town life.”

Brian Freeman, international bestselling author of Spilled Blood

✭✩✩✩✩Stinky Yes, But Not From the Cheese

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Just joining our story?  It starts here . Or you can begin with this installment and hear what some readers think of the Big Cheesy Novel. Starting with this back cover blurb. You can always trust back cover blurbs, right? 

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Praise for the Big Cheesy Novel

Beautiful, lush, and a tour- de-force, the Big Cheesy Novel is the late 20th century’s Vanity Fair. Bonnie Huber is a modern Becky Sharp: a plucky, likeable heroine climbing the American social ladder of the late 1970’s. Rich, poignant, and at times hilarious, this novel sets the standard for THE American novel.

Bob Burdicker, best-selling and award-winning author of the Lucky Hands and Winning Streak.

First Online Review for the Big Cheesy Novel

✭✩✩✩✩Complete Waste of Time – The Big Cheesy Novel is a Big, Gooey Mess.

By Ann Amison-Reader

The Big Cheesy Novel is appalling, ludicrous, superficial, and a complete waste of the time it took to write this sentence. Still, I wanted to warn readers out there who might believe the false advertising on the book cover and attempt to read this thing. There are so many things wrong with this book I don’t even know where to begin.

First, do we really care about another college girl’s trip to Paris and its ripple effect through the rest of her boring life? That premise might have been okay if a more interesting character undertook the journey. But Bonnie Huber is as lame as the name sounds, with a lackluster physique to match her late-1970’s era fashion sense, though of course she’s perfect for THAT lamentable era of smock tops, bellbottoms, and earth shoes. She is as bland as stale toast on a cloudy, midwestern day.

Don’t believe what the book title advertises; it’s marketing drivel, but I guess that’s how they sell books. I was expecting delicious, gooey cheese, and lots of it, and while there is a lot of SOMETHING in this novel that stinks, it’s not cheese, not even flavorless, cellophane-wrapped American cheese which would have been at least SOMETHING.

I am insulted by the blurbs on the back cover, like the one from the so-called famous author Bob Burdicker. Never heard of Burdicker. Based on how this novel is going, I won’t be checking him out soon.

The fact is that a wimpy, unsexy girl with a bad haircut cannot sustain even a small, “serious” novel, and certainly not a big cheesy one. Take my advice, avoid reader’s indigestion, and walk away now from the Big Cheesy Novel.

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Bonnie considered Tom’s plea. It was going to be tough enough for him to survive in Paris without any knowledge of French, but no money and no passport could have some severe consequences. Sure, he might be able to eventually find his way to the American Embassy with help from some passerby, but here she was, capable, someone he knew, someone who already knew her way around Paris. How could she turn him down? It would be cruel.

Still, turning him down was her first thought. Her only thought.

He’d needed her before. He’d needed lots of people. But his needs were driven simply by an arrogant laziness; everyone knew that, including Tom. He was smart enough to know that the easiest, surest path to success was to have others lined up eager to do his bidding. And people seemed to fall all over themselves to do just that. Bonnie wasn’t one of those people, but it wasn’t because she’d always had the guts to say ‘no’ to him. He’d rarely asked her for anything. He didn’t have to. There were already plenty of people falling all over themselves to do whatever he wanted.

They guy had charisma, whether he was hung over or not. He lit up a room, and she could see that had not changed.

They were in the land of the Louis XIV, the 16th century monarch who’d ruled France at the height of its powers. Regarded as a miracle at his birth, he was also known as le Roi Soleil – the Sun King. The Louvre, now the world’s richest museum, had been his palace.

Tom was the Sun King of Sunray Lake High.

He had, however, been less than sunny the last time he’d asked something of her. They had been taking a calculus exam, one that counted for half of their final grade. Even though it was nearing eleven a.m., Tom was still wearing the rumpled overcoat of a hangover, and he leaned close enough for her to smell the alcohol on his breath. He nodded towards her nearly complete test paper, giving her what he probably thought was a charming look. She immediately dismissed him, shocked that he was actually insisting that she help him cheat. Bonnie had been willing to share a few homework answers here and there, but letting Tom copy an entire test was something else.

The flash of annoyance that crossed his face when it was clear she had rejected his request made it clear how he felt. No one turned down the Sun King of Sunray Lake High! For the rest of the year, whenever they passed in the hall — him with a half dozen friends, her alone —she could see that she didn’t seem to register in his face at all. He’d forgotten her the moment she turned him down and quickly moved on to more accommodating subjects.

And that was fine with her.

“So you will help me out?” he asked. “Right?”

“Sure,” she said. What else could she say? “After the Louvre.” She was not going to have him messing up her plans. She didn’t have a year to bum around Europe like he did, she had just two more weeks.

“The Louvre, huh. They serve wine there?”

She knew he knew exactly what the Louvre was. And how he would have preferred to spend the afternoon. The guy had lost everything, and still the only thing that mattered to him was where his next drink was. So she shrugged and gave the same response she’d given when he’d asked her to cheat on the final calculus exam.

“Suit yourself,” she said, turning away to and continuing on her way across the Tuilleries.

“Still a hard-ass,” he said, instantly at her shoulder again, “taking everything so seriously. Not everything’s a final exam.”

She kept walking, feeling the blood rush to her face. So he had remembered.

“Look, once I get things straightened out, I’ll take you to dinner. I’ll owe you,” he said.

Bonnie gave him another look and tried hard to detect even the smallest amount of sincerity. And while it was still the face of the Sun King that beamed back at her, she thought she might have seen the slightest dimming of his damnably blue eyes. Perhaps she had convinced him that dorky Bonnie Huber still had the guts to turn him down. But she would have to decide without knowing for sure, suspecting that she was seeing what she wanted to see in those blue eyes, and not the truth.

“I said I’d help you,” she snapped, “– after the Louvre.”

-— Want more cheese? Head right this way —-

Recommended First Novels (October Library Journal)

First Novels | Fall Fundamentals.

Today, my debut novel was cited in the semi-annual list of notable debut novels recommended for library collections.  That makes it two months in a row that Washed Up has been noticed by a leading publishing industry trade journal.

Wow. Wow.

I’m so thankful to get listed not just once, but twice. Now that I’m getting my feet wet marketing my book (i.e., trying to get the book noticed among the thousands and thousands of choices readers have), I’m understanding better the tremendous odds my little book faces. So I’m thankful for every reader who buys the book, for every friend, relative, and fan who might have good things to say, maybe convincing another reader to read, and everything that helps my little book take its journey on the other side of the imagination. And especially thankful when the industry helps spread the word.

The sequel is in the works, and news like todays really spurs me on. It helps me to keep believing in myself, in my writing, that I have learned how to imagine, craft and create a decent book. That people actually LIKE my writing is great.

Thank you, thank you!