The Inspiration for ‘Remainder’

the following post first appeared on REMAINDER’s book page. Having updated that part of the site, I am re-posting it here so that it can be read and archived.

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I wrote REMAINDER in response to a number of things. September 11. A  friend, who was also my daughters’ godfather, dying of pancreatic cancer. A desire to lift up a diverse community’s ability to get along, even during times of stress. Fracture lines don’t always have to be along lines of heritage.

It became a love story and a coming of age story and a story of life. What happens when ordinary people meet circumstances that exceed the boundaries of their power? What makes a good decision, and when the decision is good for one but bad for another, how do you choose?

Living in community, even when the goal is to be independent, means that somehow, some way, your decisions are going to affect and be affected by other people. What does it look like when we navigate that?  How does it play out?

Remainder, Tennessee is a small community – not even incorporated – inhabited by people who just want to live their lives their own way. The world has already made demands upon it in response to 9/11. And every resident has their own personal story. Into this delicate balance comes a steamrolling powerhouse intent on showing terrorists developing land into planned communities. Remainder stands as the final site, and Wilson Parker must acquire the land necessary for his company to build. How much land? All of it.

The residents of Remainder have decisions to make. Sell, or fight it. Even as they each  face personal critical points in their lives.

The end of one life, the coming of a new one, and the daily  struggle against the ghosts of past lives – like all of us, the residents of Remainder have things on their minds. How do they all cope? What becomes of the community?

Read it to see what remains.

And the answer is…

The results are in. While it appears that my manuscript may have spent a little longer than some on the discussion table, ultimately Hallmark decided it was not suited to their needs.

Now, to be fair, I realized when I wrote it that a) maybe I just couldn’t write an excellent manuscript in that short a time and b) I had approached this from a direction that Hallmark doesn’t usually take. Which, honestly speaking, may have been my ace-in-the-hole excuse for if they didn’t accept it. We writers can be sneaky, even to ourselves.

Nonetheless, like any other writer, I was disappointed.

Strangely enough, I picked up the email during a meeting of one of the writing groups I attend. My son and my friend who leads the group noticed the less-than-pleased look on my face, so I had to share the news, and wound up telling the group at large. Their support was a big help. I’ve also fallen back on the promise I made to myself to simply market it elsewhere, so that is in the game plan. I’ll go over it first, a little more slowly, to see if I can spot something it needs. Then I’ll send it out again.

It’s one of the hardest things a writer can do, brand new or seasoned, keeping a book circulating until it finds a publishing home. I’m not counting those writers with such a following that they seem to have self-perpetuating contracts. After all, I want to hate those people. For most of writers, every new book is an adventure not only in writing but in marketing as well. Like our children, we don’t know where our books will end up. We do our best and just hope they’ll end up someplace good for both of us.

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Speaking  of not knowing where a book will end up…

A niece of  mine contributed one of my books to the ship library aboard a Princess cruise. My college roommate is planning on leaving a copy of another in the common room of the place they’ll be staying when they visit Ireland.  A third posted on Facebook  about reading boating mysteries at the waterfront, with a copy of my book in the picture. And another niece consistently passes along my posts and tweets, along with her own compliments of my books, because she likes them. There’s nothing like the support of family and friends. Special thanks to the ones who keep faithfully encouraging friends to read my work. It really helps.

 

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Screenshot-2018-6-20 Robin Minnick - Robin Minnick shared a post

 

 

 

 

a ‘How do I get myself into these things’ update?

Okay. I was tempted to call this a Busy Person’s Update, but I could just hear someone saying out loud, “We’re all busy these days!” And they’d be right, But there’s phenomena at work here, at least for me, and it’s something I think we’ve all seen.

How the busy person, despite vows to the contrary, gets busier, no matter what.

I had come off a full year of ‘stuff’ in my life. Getting two books up on Amazon, some personal and family illness, house reno, doing my part on a group anthology, escaping a hurricane and recovering from its aftermath, prepping for Christmas, Christmas with all the family in…. and then I go and decide to attempt the Hallmark project.

Why do I do these things? I was already set to focus on just 2 of my books, two I plan to market for traditional publication. The anthology was behind me (although our group is eagerly taking on another one). In the back of my mind I was prepping for returning to the  home reno I’d  had to temporarily  (see that word, kids? temporarily) abandon. But, as mentioned previously in this blog, the opportunity was too good to pass up. I did finish the book, complete with proper revisions, and submitted it in time. 82,000+ words. No word back yet.

Still, even with that in submission limbo, I was left with 2 books with major tangly problems to work on, and a house and yard  begging for attention. You’d think that was enough. No, I had to get the bug to write an article about a local meadery – I have developed a taste for mead, or honey wine, as some refer to it. I want to share what I’ve learned. So, I’ve gone and pitched an article for that.

WHY do we do this to ourselves? Is it because we can’t stand being idle? Does it hearken back to school days where every teacher loaded you up saying you needed to do all these assignments in order to pass/succeed? Is it because we feel a responsibility to ‘step up’ and take on something we’re asked to do, even if it’s ourselves doing the asking?

Is it the ‘shiny new thing’ distraction? We just have to do the new thing?

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Today we seem to be caught between the idea of slow-down-stop-to-smell-the-roses-appreciate-life approach and the drive-to-succeed-I-can-do-everything-bring-it-on mentality. How do we handle that?

I think a few people thrive at either end of the spectrum. Some of us cycle between the two approaches – although personally I could use a little longer on the smelling the roses bit. Unlike a true bell curve, I think only a few strike a balance.  I envy them, I think…although  a little bit of mania in life can be a good thing. We should feel free to enjoy the rush while it feels good.

Maybe that’s the thing: doing what works for you. People are different; what works for one can be killing to another. Find your own working process. Find your story. And then thrive.