Chantal’s Call is the Indie Book of the Day! What a highlight for my midweek, and what a wonderful honor for my debut novel.
Chantal’s Call is the Indie Book of the Day! What a highlight for my midweek, and what a wonderful honor for my debut novel.
I’ve been AWOL from the blog for a few weeks, and for that I apologize. Most of it has been spent being ill. I’m still not totally well; a respiratory infection hit December 19 and hasn’t left my system completely yet.
I am on the mend though, and will be starting a new job tomorrow. Said job is in an industry where I’ve never worked before – insurance – so I’ll be busy learning the ropes for a while.
At the same time, I’m working on the third Atherton book and a few other writing projects. I’m hoping to make the blog one of those projects, but I’m not going to tell you I’ll be posting on any sort of schedule. I don’t want to lie to you or disappoint you by committing to something and then forgetting to do it.
I will, however, share a short list of things I hope to accomplish this year. My writing goals for 2013:
I intend to work on these goals while learning what I need to get my insurance license. I’ll also be making jewelry, haunting yard sales, crocheting and (hopefully) getting back into my hoops (which will depend on how long it takes my left foot to heal).
Gonna be a busy 2013. Happy New Year! I hope yours is blessed, safe and productive.
There won’t be a review for Let’s Review Wednesday this week. I needed a break from the weekly read-and-review routine (and I didn’t finish the book I was reading on time), so I’m giving myself permission to slack off this time.
Also, an announcement: Brigitte’s Battle, Book 2 in my Women of Atherton series, is in beta reading. Instead of releasing next March, as I’d originally anticipated, I’m now planning for an October launch. As soon as I get the post-beta edits done and the front and back matter finished (copyright page, acknowledgments, etc.), I’ll send Chantal‘s little sister out into the world.
And just so I don’t leave you totally empty today, here’s a sneak peek at the cover and story:
As Brigitte left her bedroom, the doorbell rang and Chantal yelled, “I’ll get it!” Pausing on the stairs, Brigitte laughed as her 30-year-old sister ran through the parlor, skidded to a halt in front of the foyer mirror to check her dress and makeup, then sedately opened the front door.
“Merry Christmas, Marc!” Chantal wrapped her arms around him and planted a long kiss on his lips.
“Joyeux Noel, boo!” he replied with a laugh when he caught his breath. “Can I come in now?”
“Had to break in the mistletoe,” she said, pointing at the top of the doorframe. “Want some eggnog?”
As the couple moved into the dining room where the eggnog sat in a crystal punchbowl on the sideboard, Brigitte descended the staircase unnoticed. She watched them stroll away, joined at the hip, and sighed. If only I hadn’t…
Shaking her head to dismiss the ever-present regrets, she headed for the kitchen to see if anyone needed help with Christmas dinner preparations. She’d only gone five paces when the doorbell rang again. “I got it this time,” she called out and turned around.
She hesitated before grabbing the door handle, but relaxed when she saw Sue and John through the peephole. “Merry Christmas, y’all! Come in – presents can go under the tree in the parlor; we’ll be opening them after Aunt Attie arrives.”
The trio exchanged pleasantries as they deposited gifts under the ten-foot spruce and stepped back to admire the tableau. For years, a professional designer had decorated the tree. This time, though, the Athertons had a tree-trimming party the weekend after Thanksgiving, inviting Marc, John and other family friends. The spruce was loaded with items from the family attic and new ornaments contributed by party-goers.
Brigitte smiled as she saw her childhood hanging from the branches. Sue put an arm around her shoulders. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it, cous? All those good memories, the fun we had, right there on display. Remember the day we made those?” She pointed to a set of three macaroni-and-glitter masterpieces, each featuring a photo of an Atherton girl in her Girl Scout uniform. “It was one of those rare occasions when the Brownies and Cadets got to mingle…”
“I remember the macaroni fight that erupted, and how much Rosie fussed when we came home with noodles and glue stuck in our hair.” Brigitte chuckled.
Laughter broke out behind them, and they turned to see Marc and Chantal entering the room. “Noodles, huh, cher?” Marc teased Chantal. “Pity no one got that on film…”
“Oh, hush.” She gave him a playful slap on the shoulder. “It’s funny now, but boy, did Rosie give us what-for. It took about a week for all the glitter to go away…”
“What about your parents? Didn’t they have something to say about it?” John asked. The entire group turned and looked at him in disbelief. He smacked his forehead. “Oh yeah – forgot who I was talking about for a moment there…”
Brigitte patted him on the arm. “It’s okay, John. They’ve changed so much in the last month or so I sometimes forget what they used to be like, too.”
“Is someone casting aspersions on my character in here, and on Christmas Day at that?” a pleasant rumble came from the dining room. Brigitte and Chantal’s father Martin entered with a cup of warm spiced tea in one hand and a celery stick in the other. “Your mother, bless her, won’t let me anywhere near the sausage balls. Celery sticks – it’s Christmas, for pity’s sake!”
“Now, Dad, we all know you’ve managed to sneak at least one sausage ball already. Mom’s trying to look out for your health; she wants you around for a long time – although I’m not entirely sure why…” Chantal grinned, squeezed his shoulders and kissed him on the cheek.
Brigitte moved in for a hug from her dad, lingering a bit longer than her sister had. Martin set his snack on a side table and held his youngest daughter. “Merry Christmas, sweetie.”
Sue and John wandered into the dining room for eggnog, and Chantal gave Marc a tour of the downstairs rooms, showing off the decorating the Atherton women had done together for the first time in over a decade. They ended in her father’s study, where a handmade quilt from Chantal’s aunt, Attie Mae Smith, was the focal item.
“Looks good in here, boo.” Marc drew Chantal down onto the antique loveseat.
“Can’t take credit for it.” She curled up next to him. “Mom and Dad did this room by themselves. Dad said if it had to be decorated, he didn’t want it all girly. They spent a lot more time in here than the decorating warranted, too…”
“Ah, so the spark is rekindling?”
“Yes indeed. I caught them necking like teenagers this morning, right out on the front porch in full view of the entire town.”
“So we didn’t truly break in the mistletoe…”
“Not really… I don’t think you mind much, though, do you?”
He pulled her into his lap and kissed her soundly. “Not one bit…”
“Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to disturb y’all.” Brigitte stepped over to a shelf and pulled down a thin book. “When you’re ready to rejoin the family, Dad’s waiting to start.”
“I didn’t hear Attie arrive,” Chantal said.
“She came through the kitchen entrance with a double armload of food. She’s in the parlor now. Everyone is in the parlor now…”
“Okay, sis, I get it; we’ll be right there.” She chuckled and shook her head as Brigitte closed the study door. Chantal started to stand, but Marc kept his arms wrapped around her.
“Honey, you heard her; they’re waiting on us.”
“I need to ask you something…”
She sighed. “I thought you agreed not to bring that up for a while.”
A pained look came into his eyes. “I know I did, and I’m trying to be patient, but it’s been a month. I don’t understand – why won’t you give me an answer?”
She stood and drew him to his feet. “Marc, you know I care for you a great deal. But your proposal came so soon after we met and everything else that happened. I want us to take a little time, get to know each other better – that’s all. I want to make sure what we’re feeling is real and not just a response to the drama we went through earlier this year.”
“Is that really all it is?” He pulled her close and searched her eyes. “It’s not because of anything – or anyone – else, is it?”
She stroked his cheek. “It’s not because of anyone else, certainly not Ryan, if that’s what you’re thinking. We dated briefly in high school, but that was over years ago…”
“The way I’ve seen him looking at you, I don’ t know…”
“Trust me, there’s nothing but friendship between Ryan and me. I do need to deal with something, though, and until I can find peace about it, I can’t give you the answer you want.”
Marc moved to a bookshelf and ran a finger over the spine of a leather-bound volume. Chantal noted with amusement that it was Jane Austen’s Persuasion. “I wish you’d share whatever it is with me,” he finally said. “That’s the kind of thing couples are supposed to handle together, isn’t it?”
She put her hands on his shoulders. “I can barely think about it. I’m not ready to talk about it yet. Can you please give me a little more time?”
She blew out a breath and backed away as a tear escaped. “I don’t know! Trust me, I’d love for this to be settled in my heart, but I can’t snap my fingers and make it be. I know this isn’t fair to you, but I can’t – not yet.” She opened the door as Brigitte was about to knock again.
“Everything okay, sis?”
She nodded and wiped her cheek. “Yeah, Brigitte. We’ll be there in a minute.” She turned to Marc. “Please be patient with me. I promise it’ll be worth the wait.”
Marc tried to smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He joined her at the door and gave her a brief kiss. “I’m tryin’, cher – believe it or not, I am trying.”
Chantal's Call (The Women of Atherton)
Chantal Atherton grew up sharing her last name with her hometown, and as the oldest daughter of the founding family's current generation, she chafed under the expectations of her parents and their country club set. Her plans to establish a life away from the Mississippi town that shaped her early life are derailed when her father suffers a heart attack.
As if I don’t get enough NaNo insanity in November, now I’m joining the ranks of 30-day novelists at Camp NaNoWriMo. We’ll attempt to draft two (yes, two) 50,000-word novel drafts, one in June and one in August. I’m using these two write-a-thons to punch out the drafts for Brigitte’s Battle (a bit of a cheat since I’m already about halfway through it) and the next book in the series, Sue’s Salvation.
To my fellow campers, best wishes and bring the bug spray…
Chantal’s Call is now available in print on CreateSpace (soon to be up on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions).
This has been an exciting and exhausting time, but my baby is finally fully delivered. Now to grow her up and get to work on her little sister…
This month on the Christian Writers blog chain, we’re talking about the word “savor” and its many possibilities. What have I been savoring lately? Oh, that’s an easy one – I’m savoring the experience of being a published writer.
It started earlier this week, when I uploaded Chantal’s Call to Amazon as a Kindle e-book. I was expecting 12 hours or so to elapse before the book went live, so I went to bed that night at my usual time, around 10:30. Four hours later, I woke up needing a bathroom visit. When I returned to my room, I thought, Wonder if the book is live yet?
So much for sleep.
I spent the next three hours on Facebook, here and anywhere else I had an account, announcing my baby’s birth to cyberspace. Even tried to notify my entire Yahoo address book via an email BCCed to everyone, but Yahoo would have none of that – its spam police “detected suspicious activity” on my account and blocked the message from going out. What, I can’t tell everyone I’ve ever exchanged emails with about my book? How rude…
So now, I’m savoring the feeling of being in freefall as I monitor book sales (yes, I’ve sold a few copies in the two days it’s been available), look for ways to increase distribution, discover my mistakes (why didn’t I just use Smashwords instead of separate uploads to Amazon and B&N?), reacquaint myself with the formatting needs of a print book (oops, forgot the page numbers; gotta fix that before CreateSpace can release the POD edition), and even consider creating a business for my hobbies turned kudzu. I have no idea where I’ll land, but I’m skydiving in tandem with God, so I know I’ll survive and even enjoy the fall.
While I have you here, let me bounce an idea off you: I’m thinking about incorporating as Bonney Enterprises LLC, with Bonney Designs (my Etsy shop) and JTH Publishing as divisions. Any thoughts?
I can hear you now – what’s JTH? That’s Jumping Through Hoops, my friends. I even have a logo idea in mind…
One last thought: Yesterday’s Cryptoquote puzzle offered a bit of wisdom I found especially well timed as I continue making small steps into publication: “The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it.” – Charles de Lint
May you savor the road you’re on as you journey toward your goals.
Update 3/31: The Nook version went live this morning! Now Mom’s co-workers who’ve been waiting three days can download it.
At some point between 9:30 p.m. Central last night and now (2:45 a.m.), Chantal’s Call went live on Amazon. I’m too excited to sleep, so I’m sharing the news with y’all now rather than wait until a reasonable hour.
For now, it’s only available on Amazon as an e-book, but in coming days I’ll be uploading it to Barnes & Noble’s PubIt site and then I’ll look into a POD (print-on-demand) version. Please help me celebrate the achievement of a lifelong goal – I’m finally a published novelist.
Now, if only I can get back to sleep for a couple of hours before I have to go to my day job…
I’m still editing Chantal’s Call. Back before I decided to self-publish it, I pitched the novel to an agent. After reading my sample pages and allowing me to rewrite and re-submit them, she passed on representing me. She said my writing had potential but displayed a number of bad habits she was afraid I wouldn’t be able to unlearn.
I wasn’t happy with her assessment, but I used a tip she offered and ran Word’s “Find All” with highlighting on my manuscript. The overuse of “that” was the issue she had pointed out, and when I ran the search, I saw she was right.
So, now I’m running a search for other overused filler words. I write like I talk, and apparently I start a lot of sentences with “Well,…”.
After eliminating far too many of that word, I moved on to “just” – another major conversational crutch. Some of my pages have it five or more times, and I found three instances of it in a single paragraph.
Please understand – I’m not nitpicking on these final edits. I will be done with the novel soon, and then it’s merely a matter of adding all the other pages a reader expects to find – title, copyright, acknowledgements, etc. Then I need to recreate and finalize the cover art image (long story, but if you’ll notice in the photo above, my name is barely visible, and that won’t do), and finally there’s formatting and uploading the manuscript.
I’m not procrastinating the launch; really I’m not. It’s just that, well, I know how annoyed I get reading the same word over and over and over and over…