Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another Time, Another Place - St. Joseph MO in the 1920's

 Outside my window it is summer, late June in the 21st century, in a place called Neosho, Missouri.  There, the problems, the tragedies, the triumphs of the current world exist and although I stay grounded in that reality my mind has been in another time and place.

 Chalk it up to just part of the writing experience but since I’m well into my new work-in-progress (my WIP), I am far away.  My current project is set in the past, back in 1925 and in another place, my hometown.  The St. Joseph that I visit daily as I spin out the story is not mine although the one I once knew as well as a familiar friend or kin factors into my perceptions.   The St. Joe that I am writing about is someone else’s – my grandparents.

 My grandparents owned this era, it was their youth and coming of age time.  Some were married, some were not but this was their time.   What the late Seventies and early 1980’s are to me, the Roaring Twenties were to them.   I grew up on their stories, their tales and memories played against a backdrop familiar to me .   What I am writing now is not their story but I would hope that they would recognize the place, that they would feel the times as they lived it then.

 Since my grandparents all are no longer with us, I’ve sought a little help from other family and friends.  One of my cousins, who used to let me tag along when he hunted for “treasure” in our big old Victorian house and the surrounding neighborhood, has pointed me to resources that have been vital.  Others from my old hometown have stepped up to share memories or to give me access to newspaper files from that time.  

 I won’t say much about the story itself – I have a writer’s superstition about revealing too much while a WIP is in its infancy – but while writing this story, I’ve been editing others.  Since late December when my first work debuted, I’ve edited five other novels.  Several are now available from three different publishers or will be in the very near future.

 Today, the second of the three “Love” books was released by Evernight Publishing. “Love Scars” continues the story of Will Brennan and his lady Cara that begun in “Love Tattoo” so I am promoting that work while preparing to launch another, the first novel I signed a contract on last July, “Kinfolk” which will be out from Champagne Books on July 4th.   In the meantime, so far, my contemporary romance set in Neosho, ”Love Never Fails” has outsold my previous titles at every outlet, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more.   Readers have commented on the description of Neosho, those who know it, some who have visited, and others who would like to visit it in reality.  Some of my photographs of places important to the couple in the book – like the Grotto in Big Spring Park – have gained admiration from many.

 At some point, I will leave the Roaring Twenties and old St. Joe behind to delve into somewhere, sometime different.   Even so, I’ve learned that the often repeated mantra for budding writers – that you must love your fiction because you will spend a large amount of time with it for a long time to come – is true.

 I stepped into the publishing world at a time when eBooks began their explosion and epublishing is redefining everything that traditional publishers, agents, authors, and other literary people have known as standards.  This is a brave new world to borrow a phrase from Aldous Huxley and I work long, hard hours to claim my niche within it.

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