Next New Things and Next Big Things

March is a hopscotch grid away, and there’s a push going on. Everything in the yard is ready to break out. New buds on the trees, new yellow flowers on the forsythia and Carolina jasmine, even though it’s twenty-two. Perennials are ready to push out of the ground. It’s the new time of year. And it’s exciting to see things take shape and come to their own.

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This spring I will finish my book. And it’s a book about being new, as a person. After loss, you go through a process of letting go of all the things that are old, and gone, and you mourn each one. Some things don’t come back after a season, like the maples and tulip poplars do. And the herbs that come back new-green and with a fresh scent.

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As my book testifies, with each new thing that comes about, I take hold and claim it as part of a new, rebuilt me. I’m ready for new things and new books and new life. I can’t wait for March.

In the local writing world, there are new things and new next big things — the focus of a Blog Hop that has been going on. The Blog Hop is for writers who are working on a new project AND maintaining a blog. Do you know how hard it is for a writer who is also a business person to keep up with his/her personal writing, professional responsibilities, community work, and personal life? Well, it’s hard. But we love doing it; we’re driven to do it!

I was tagged last Friday by Leisa Hammett to share about my new book [previous post], and now I’m tagging three writer friends to share about their Next Big Thing.

First of all, Susie Dunham. I’ve known Susie Dunham for about ten years, since she moved to Franklin from way up north—New York, Michigan, Indiana. We’ve been in a writers group together since 2003. She’s funny, has a clever humor about her, and is creative in so many ways I couldn’t list them all in this post. She has been a columnist, published creative nonfiction in anthologies, and now she is on a big adventure of attempting a novel! Please follow the link to Susie’s blog and read what she’s working on.

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Susie Dunham reading at Barnes and Noble

Next, Judy DeLuca. I’ve known Judy for a couple of years. What a talented, delightful person! Judy wanted to be a hairdresser since she was a little girl and lined up her dolls to wash and style their hair. She came to Nashville from Boston for her husband’s songwriting career. He writes country music, and she does hair. And now another creative side of her has surfaced. She’s an author, now working on her second book! About what? A hairdresser, of course. Her first book is a fun read, but also deals with serious subjects that happen in the lives of clients of the main character’s hair salon. Visit Judy’s blog and tell her I sent you! And you’ll want to read her first ebook, Towel Dry and a Good Cry.

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Judy DeLuca, author of Towel Dry and a Good Cry

And Bill Peach. Bill has written five books and is working on another one! Besides that, he heads up an Authors Circle which meets twice a month at Merridees on Fourth Avenue in Franklin, as well as a Socrates philosophy group.

In my opinion Bill Peach is the top Literary Person in Williamson County. He has a heart for education, he has a heart for writing, he has a heart for the community of Franklin and this county—for keeping a record of all the writers who live here and for providing opportunities and events for these writers to come together to network and to sign and sell their books. I wrote the Introduction to the 2009 anthology Gathering: Writers of Williamson County. I defined the county, as below, and Bill Peach was a part of that definition:

“—its narrow backroads that slide through tunnels of saplings and ancient trees, blooming honeysuckle vines, and wildflowers like buttercups and clover and Queen Anne’s Lace; centuries-old low stone fences that follow the roadways and lines of sweet yellow daffodils that mark off homesites long gone; Main Street’s charm in old establishments like Batey’s, Gray’s Drugs, the old theater that brought popcorn and Coke to your seat; and local writer Bill Peach standing against a signpost on the corner of Fourth and Main in front of Pigg & Peach, selling suits, selling his books.”

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Bill Peach at the Southern Festival of Books

Visit Bill’s blog, and read about his new project — stories about Main Street Franklin — and take a look at his previously published books.

By the way, there’s that Boston connection between Bill [his book, The South Side of Boston] and Judy, except her Boston is in Massachusetts and his is in Tennessee.

A lot of NEW going on! Come back and visit us all and keep up with us! Watch for us with our books at local festivals and various venues for signings!

MARCH — TIME FOR NEW THINGS AND NEXT BIG THINGS!

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The Next Big Thing! (An Authors Blog Hop)

Lovely and talented writer friend and Nashville blogger Leisa Hammett tagged me to participate in a “blog hop” about my next book. She was tagged, then she tagged me, and at the end of this post I will  be tagging a few other writers who will share about their next big projects. I invite you to visit their blogs next Friday and to come back and visit me again and keep up with my progress — and hold me accountable!

So, my Next Big Thing, my second book, is a book I never thought I’d be writing, and a book I didn’t want to write. But life after a harsh season sometimes takes us softly into a new season and we feel a need to share our journey. So here’s my book-in-progress ~

1. What is the working title of your book?

My current working title is A Resting Place. When I began, it was Losing Charlie: And Building a Whole New Life. So from that original title, you now know what my book is about. Hmm. Which title is better? My current title comes from a quote of my son who did the funeral service for my husband. The quote is based on a story my husband wrote two months before he died. “My hope is that each of us will — in our own way and in our own time — find a resting place far away from this sorrow.”

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The night my husband died, my sister (I love her, and she knows I’m telling on her!) arrived from Memphis and said, “Well, Kathy, you just have to build a whole new life.” I didn’t hit her or anything, but I could feel an invisible shield around my body repelling that thought. The old life was just fine; I wanted it back. Nobody who has lost anybody wants to think about starting all over alone and building a new life. But over the course of six months…a year…three years, I slowly and unknowingly crept toward a new normal. It was the struggle of a lifetime. It’s a struggle everyone goes through eventually, unless they die first, before their spouse. I’ve had many women tell me, “I couldn’t make it if I lost my husband.” I was in Huntsville at a conference when a woman who almost lost her husband to a stroke said those words to me, and cried, and my heart was with her, and I knew at that moment I’d write my story.

3. What genre does your book come under?

Easy one. Creative nonfiction: memoir.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Sandra Bullock. She does loss well. How will she look as a blond?

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Everything she had depended on him—job, income, house, companionship, love; he died, and it was all gone, and she journeys from loss and grief of those early days when her bones were in agony, through the struggles and tugs of letting go and holding on, to rebuilding and finding a new normal, a resting place to land. (The she is me. Or I.)

6. Is your book self-published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency.

I will query agents and shop my book around, but since I am not a famous celebrity with a national platform that will lead to billions in sales…well, we’ll see. I will most likely self publish. I have a platform. I know grief and loss. I know a good publishing company.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I will be finished with the manuscript by April 1. (If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that is supposed to be March 1. But, well, things happen.) So that will make it ten months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A fairly recent book is A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates. The time frame of her memoir is much narrower than mine; therefore, her pain is acute and fills the pages, as she curls up in her nest (bed) unable to function. My book takes on these early months and shows the depth of pain, but it spans three and a half years and covers not only the raw mourning that Oates describes, but it moves on to a place where life happens in peace.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As mentioned earlier, the many women who have come to me in private moments and told me that they could not make it if they lost their husbands. Also, the many women I know who depend completely on their husbands to earn an income, pay the bills, manage house and car repairs, and keep them safe at night. Also, to the women who’ve already lost husbands — and hurt and grieve and have a hard time putting one foot in front of the other and moving on to a new normal, when all they want is the old normal. And this book is sort of a tribute to my late husband because it tells the strengths of a man who had good principles, a good career, an interesting life.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

My book chronicles the compounded journey of grief, loss after loss — loss of husband, loss of job, loss of income, loss of second job, loss of mother, loss of house — and because life is this way: JOY comes in the middle of loss in the birth of twin grandchildren. And there is humor in the midst of the raw pain of mourning. There are supernatural moments, obvious ones, and many don’t believe you can see or hear people after they die, but you can, and I tell many instances in the book. Put it all together and I believe it’s a book of preparation, validation, and hope for the many people who have walked or are walking or will walk this grief road.

That’s it! Be watching for my book! Please come back and spend a moment here at First Draft! And please visit my friends next Friday, February 22, as they answer these same questions and/or share with you what they are doing:

Bill Peach ~ www.billpeach.wordpress.com

Judy DeLuca ~ www.judydeluca.com

Susie Dunham ~ www.susiedunham.com

And now, a final shout-out to Leisa! Go visit her blog and warm up to her words of wisdom!


The Power of Memoir

“To craft a memoir means wrestling with the nature of truth and the muscles of story structure. It means that you travel back in time and come back with treasures of memory that must be strung together like beads on a string. A memoir has the power to reveal deep secrets and to expose long-buried thoughts, feelings, and events to the light of day. Writing a memoir is to whisper your secret truths into the ear of the reader.  Writing your truth is freeing, as you let go of the burden of deeply hidden secrets, and let them come to the surface.

“Dr. James Pennebaker, a psychologist who conducts research on the healing power of story writing, says this: ‘A story is a form of knowledge.’ Story is a means of teaching us more about ourselves. Writing a memoir means that you are diving into the shimmering pool of memories and coming up with something that can be shaped into a story, and in doing so you will learn more than you could have imagined. No matter how challenged you may feel about writing a long work such as a memoir, if you enter the adventure of writing with an open mind and heart, and dedicate yourself to a path of learning and deeper knowledge, you will be rewarded with emotional understanding, and even healing and forgiveness.”

These words are from The Power of Memoir: How to Write Your Healing Story by Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., who is President of the National Association of Memoir Writers and a practicing psychotherapist.

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And so in reading these passages twice, thrice, and again, I am spurred on to revisit my shimmering pools — it has been four and a half years since I swam in those waters — and to re-surface with greater meaning and understanding, to see it all in the light of a new world and to feel power and healing.  I am three-fourths of the way across that pool, writing A Resting Place.

I look forward to sharing my story, to whispering my truths into the ears of readers.