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.

Heads Up! It’s a Party!

coverpic011619Just wanted to announce the Off the Page Writing group is holding a Book Signing on February 8 from 7-9 pm for our newly-published anthology: The Mayors’ Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives.

You can learn more about the event at the Mackenzie Wilder/Classic Boat mysteries page.

In addition to reading from and signing the anthology, our writers will have their other books on hand for purchase and signing. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by.

Finding One’s Way

Finding One’s WayI’ve written before about working on multiple projects.

This past  year I had a taste of what it was like to be locked into a large project with a deadline. One that involved co-writers (for the results of that project, see my post from December 16 Press Release: New Anthology).

I have to admit, while I liked working on the project itself – it was exciting! – I was anguished and frustrated over not being able to work on my other projects simultaneously. Next, of course, came the holidays, as well as some neck pain issues, which were directly related to time spent at the computer.

The holidays were finally over. People were headed home. But, unfortunately, my son-in-law, also a writer, and I had a little conversation.

You see, I had fired out a set of notes on a Hallmark-style movie idea I’d had centered on Christmas.  I figured that as I got caught up on my next two projects and got a little braver, I’d see how  you went about submitting  (and writing) a movie treatment or even a script. We all know how these big fantasies go, right? I mentioned this at the table one night when my son-in-law had his laptop up. He nodded his head and went on checking the Intenet.

“You know,” he said a few minutes later, “Hallmark is having open submissions next month for un-agented book manuscripts. I’ll send you the link.”

Ever pause to ponder how much trouble those five little words cause in this post-Internet life?

I was off. I found the link, followed it, read the blogpost it was associated with, followed the recommended Twitter account, and discovered I had basically one month to write a book in if I wanted to take advantage of this situation.  Now, I believe in myself, but I have no agent. Un-agented submission opportunities are rare, nearly nonexistent. This was not an opportunity to be squandered. But, it would mean diving into a concentrated time expense/effort that would isolate me once again from everyday life AND family AND from my other projects. I have 2 novels that have been patient with me for about as long as they can stand. I expect them to hold me hostage and demand I feed them words any day now.

BUT – the opportunity.

BUT – could I write roughly 75,000 words in 30–some days AND polish them into a state for submission? That pace is faster than NaNoWriMo, and more demanding because it has to be submission ready. The decision was not an easy one.

But I come to you now, frazzle-headed, weary, grateful for the P’T for my neck, and so distracted at my part-time job that they must think I’m a twit (a word that means ‘pregnant goldfish’, did you know that?). And I come to you roughly 18 days into this venture and slightly more than halfway done with a rough draft that I am revising on the run as my son and daughter (also writers) provide me feedback.

Those living at home gave me a thumbs up, and organized the rest of the family into my cheering section. I get to brag on my progress, and they get to applaud my efforts.

Is the manuscript  any good? Heck if I know. Right now it’s mostly draft 1.

Will I finish in time? Ditto.

Have I driven my family nuts yet? Well, so far as I can tell, not any more than usual.

What I have done, however, is lived up to the promise I made myself someplace along the way. I know I have a certain amount of talent. I know can persevere, if I only will. So the promise is this: I will try. I will always try, and try my best. I will complete this novel, and I will make it the very best I can. And, if the timing works, I will submit it.

And if the timing fails, I will submit it somewhere else, or at another time.

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Being a writer, finding your story – it’s like any endeavor in life. For any endeavor in life to succeed, you must live fully into it, give it all your effort, your best shot. That is all you can do, but it is what you must do to know you really tried.

 

Try your hardest. Find your story, find your way. And you find yourself.

 

Press Release: New Anthology

RJ MINNICK, December 15       MTbookCvr

I am pleased to announce that THE MAYOR’S TALES: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives is now available at Amazon.com as well as from its participating authors.

I have been lucky enough to participate in a project with a terrific local writing group called Off the Page. At the formation of the group, we were taken with the idea of building a world and populating it with characters whose stories we would tell in an anthology.

As Editor, I was thrilled with how our writers drew on their skills to not only craft solid stories, but to grow their talents. Several of us worked outside our comfort zones. However, the stories, diverse as they are with romance, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy and from similarly diverse authors, build a picture of a small community in North Carolina that undergoes a mysterious event that permanently affects its future.

from the cover:

Welcome to Kyleighburn, North Carolina, (population 3,000). A labyrinthine cavern has suddenly opened up beneath sleepy little hamlet and what it reveals to the startled residents will affect the town and its residents forever. The huge complex is filled with weird glowing flowers and vines tended by a swarm of over-large bees. Where did this come from, and who will it affect? The answers are in the stories.Dip into the archives and read the stories of Kyleighburn, NC and its good citizens. There’s the mayor, Marino Esposito, a very unbureaucratic civil servant who seems perpetually at odds with The Mayor (always with a capital T.M.) who happens to be a canine. Tattooed and pierced and amnesiac, Joe the bartender doesn’t remember his past, and perhaps that why he seems so cheerful about his present. The town’s bubbling, vivacious librarian can’t follow her own rules, and a quiet handyman flutters the ladies’ hearts and confuses everyone with his lack of history.Each story from the archive casts Kyleighburn in fresh light, with tales from the ancient past to the bustling present, stories about love and family and war and cruelty, all tied in some way to the event that changes things forever.In what began as an exercise to see what they could do, writers from Off The Page built a world to share and people to live there. The authors then contributed unique stories, each from their own preferred genres. The result was more than they expected. In this book you will find science fiction, romance, history, comic humor, and mystery, all written in straight-forward fashion. The Mayor’s Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives is an achievement of dedication, talent, and enthusiasm. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Kyleighburn.

 

The Mayor’s Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives

An Off the Page Anthology

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (December 15, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1790966183
  • ISBN-13: 978-1790966189
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches

 

With apologies and credit….

The following is taken from a shared facebook post and is a poem by Sean Thomas Dougherty from his newest book The Second O of Sorrow. 

It speaks to the question of why should one write

 

taken from a shared facebook post

 

from      SecondO