Today, I find myself in writer-bliss — thrilled to be writing a new novel. There’s the phase of editing a book (tough fun) and the phase of marketing it (tough and not so fun), and the best phase, starting one. It’s summer, and ideas are blooming in my head as wildly as the roses I tend in 12 pots are putting out buds and opening red, pink, gold, and white. New story ideas opened up buds too. A lemon grove. A new heroine who’s fleeing a catastrophe in her life to run away to Florence, Italy. More
Promoting your book should be fun and easy — are you crazy? When there are millions of books out there competing for attention, getting your published book to shine in a spotlight that readers can find seems at first like finding a gold ring that’s been thrown into the ocean.
If you’re a new author and waiting for your book to launch, or it has just launched and you’re obsessing over not doing enough, you know the feeling I’m talking about. After the book’s launch I felt like a real novelist, but I was worried that no one would find my published novel. And I read about this thing called an author platform — something like a launch pad from which your book can rocket into the stratosphere. Did I have one? Did I even have the planks for building such a thing?
The most wonderful thing has happened, the thing I always wanted, and I’m in here under the covers hiding from the book launch day for my first novel, The Renaissance Club. It was published on January 23 by Fiery Seas Publishing, a wonderful new publishing company. Your book launch may not be as scary as mine, but probably it will be. You might find yourself hiding like I am because after all the effort to write and rewrite a book, suffer rejections from agents and publishers, finally find a publisher who finally sends it out in the world, you just have too much wrapped up in this thing. All I’m thinking right now is how can I survive the attention?
In Places That Verb Your World- Around the World in Books, I’m going to create a series of posts about novels and nonfiction books that take you traveling. Armchair traveling is one of my favorite ways to travel around the world. I’m not much good on an airliner these days, unless in First Class, and so I do a lot of my traveling via books. I have my longtime favorites and my new favorites, which I’ll list in this series of posts.
Travel Books I Love – Durell’s Books
Lawrence Durrell’s two classic memoirs, Bitter Lemons and Reflectionls on a Marine Venus are nothing less than exquisite love letters to places. They contain some of the most beautiful descriptions of places I’ve ever read, gorgeous prose that made me want to be a write when I read them in my early twenties.
Many people haven’t been to Italy, and without visiting there, it’s almost impossible to see the work of Gianlorenzo Bernini. My time-travel novel, The Renaissance Club, (now available for pre-order on Amazon in either paperback or ebook) features not only his art, but Bernini himself. It’s set in five Italian cities rich with art and beautiful architecture: Rome, Assisi, Siena, Florence, and Venice. Rome especially features his expressive, passionate art. He’s the genius artist of the 17th century, and the idol of the protagonist, young art historian May Gold. Their meeting through the shifting folds of time occurs often near one of Bernini’s artworks.
To help you see the places and sculptures in the book, I created The Renaissance Club Pinterest Illustration Board, illustrating my time-travel novel and has sections for all the cities May Gold visits on her tour of Northern Italy with her Renaissance Club colleagues. All the Bernini art she sees is included, along with places and art associated with time adventures by other characters.
Take a tour of Renaissance Italy — in both May’s contemporary time, and Gianlorenzo Bernini’s 17th century — while you read The Renaissance Club.
It’s starting to feel like the countdown to the offical launch of my novel, The Renaissance Club, in January! As the daughter of a rocket scientist, I have to use rocket metaphors in connection with the word “launch”. Very soon you’ll be able to pre-order my book on Amazon. And also soon, I’ll host a giveaway. My giveaway will include another good read, signed paperback copies of my book of poems and essays, Gods of Water and Air, as well as other prizes.
To celebrate, I’m sharing this free preview of the first two chapters. This free preview is the newest, updated version of the book that will be printed or sold as an ebook. It includes a brand new prologue! So here, without further ado, is …
The Renaissance Club, A Novel
Prologue. The Folds of Time.
If you could go anywhere in time, where would you go? George remembered being asked that question in fourth grade by his best friend Timmy, who was reading it aloud from the famous science-fiction novel, Time’s Wily Thief. Sitting in his favorite neighborhood trattoria in Rome, he wasn’t sure why he remembered that. Maybe because Ancient Rome was one of his favorite places to visit.
George St. James stirred his cappuccino and contemplated a file describing the people he would lead in his next tour group. He would guide a group of college teachers, who called themselves The Renaissance Club, through Northern Italy to study sites of importance to the dawn of the modern era, known as the Italian Renaissance. For the next several weeks, he would shepherd twelve mostly aging professors through more than one hundred sites. Norman, their leader and club organizer, had sent George a wish list for the ages. George would have to pace them, or they’d drop before they left Rome.
I’m beginning a new DIY writing retreat! Heading down a new path of revising my draft of Novel #2 – better known as The Romantics, a story of two half-sisters and the cottage they inherit in Italy, along with its resident ghost.
It was drafted last year during National Novel Writing Month, (NaNoWriMo) a month-long writing marathon in which you commit to write 50,000 words of a new book. Are you jumping into this national writing craze too? I rashly signed up and plan to revise last year’s book.
Did you know you can use NaNoWriMo as a rebel? You don’t have to make your goal 50k words. This time, I’m committing to two hours of revision every day, for 30 consecutive–my part-time DIY writing retreat.
If you’re venturing down the #NaNoWriMo path with me — maybe your first-time? — here are some ideas to keep yourself going. Take your courage in both (typing) hands, and tell yourself every day, “I’m now going to do my beautiful writing!” Also, make yourself a structure. Here’s mine.
Structuring a 30-Day Writing Sprint
You need some sort of promise to yourself — that’s the structure. It could be “I’ll write every day” or “I’ll think about my book every day.” My goal is to give myself a month of part-time StayWriCation (as I call my stay-at-home writing retreat) and revise my 353-page novel. NowI’m not counting words, but chapters — 48 chapters to revise. More
Ways to Plot a Novel
Working on a plot outline so you can plunge into your next big creative project, or getting ready to jump into National Novel Writing Month — could you use at least 10 ways to plot a novel? I have a list of articles for you. Actually, it’s a lot more than 10 ways.
Writers in the Storm has an excellent article on different ways to plot your story. From a basic framework, such as Martha Alderson’s Plot Planner, to Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method, this article has lots of ideas for you, even if you’re a freewrite kind of novelist.
Plot Bunny Method
Then there’s my favorite The Plot Bunny Method. Step one is to have an idea that won’t let go. Step two is to write it down. Sounds simple? I did that after spending seven years in the torturous process of learning what a plot is and turning my plot bunny into a full-fledged novel, then testing it on beta readers, agents, and editors. (The Renaissance Club is forthcoming in January 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing). The second time I did it the other way around. I developed a plot bunny and immediately tested it on agents who were complimenting my pitch but regretfully making an exit. Here’s my plot bunny, just as I first wrote it:
The Romantics is the story of two half-sisters who clash over inheriting a cottage on the Ligurian coast of Italy, along with its resident ghost, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Every single agent and editor said they wanted to read that book! So I went for developing the plot bunny, only I didn’t outline. I proceeded to Step Two. Determine an element that interests you. That was easy. It was the complicated relationship between siblings. I was newly mourning the death of my beloved brother, my only sibling, and thinking about just what such a connection with another human being is worth in your life. That was what I wanted to explore in my plot.
Theory Behind What Makes a Plot Good
At that moment in time, I happened upon a book every fiction writer should read: Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I think that was the first time I actually understood in an analytical way what makes a story fascinating: the working out of how to solve a problem the protagonist carries within herself or himself. It’s the human story — how we overcome our foibles to achieve our successes.
So those are my 10 ways to plot a novel. But I’m not a born outliner. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, or what’s known in fiction writing circles as a “pantser”. I follow the Plot Bunny Method, only I never knew it was actually a method. For you pantsers dipping toes in the outline water, I leave you with Sigrid Nunez’s Panster Anthem.
By Writing Holiday, I of course mean Writing ON a Holiday. Holidays are better known as Writer’s Retreats, for all writers truly addicted to their art seize on the first amount of free time to face the blank page. Or the written page that desperately needs revising.
Novel writing occurs over an extended period of a year or more. Long form story writing requires you to visit your work as often as possible — that’s my main writing tip to novelists! Novelists are like that Beach Blanket Babylon lady who carries the whole city of San Francisco on her hat. We carry our long, complicated stories around in our brains months and even years. More
In case you haven’t read about this already, I’m giving away a free chapter of The Renaissance Club, due to be published by Fiery Seas Publishing in January 2018. You can claim one from Instafreebie here, or simply by going to my website.
Would you give up everything, even the time in which you live, to be with your soul mate? May Gold, a college adjunct teacher, often dreams about the subject of her master’s thesis – Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who invented the Baroque.
But in reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and older boyfriend. She considers herself a precocious failure and yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit. Over the course of the tour, she realizes she has to choose — stay in a safe but stagnant existence, or take a risk. Will May’s adventure in time ruin her life or lead to a magical new one? The Renaissance Club is forthcoming from from Fiery Seas Publishing in 2018.
These aren’t the actual covers, but I had fun playing around with images! If you want to comment, please do.