Manuscript Progress!

Book cover mock-up

I’m thrilled to say that the manuscript for the novel I’m currently working on was a finalist in a contest hosted by the Writers’ League of Texas, in the general fiction category.

I’m now going through a third full draft of The Knowledge of Sorrow and then I will start submitting it to agents. And Just for grins and because I heard an agent tell a group of writers that they should absolutely know what they want their book to look like, I mocked up the cover, above. What do you think? Here’s a synopsis of the novel for you to enjoy!

Elise Halloran is a woman who has suffered blows in her life, the most recent the simultaneous losses of her father and her husband. Her fiancé to lies and betrayal, her father to cancer. Not the beautiful, enjoy-every-minute-right-up-until-they-go-softly into-the-good-night kind you see in books and movies. But the protracted, ugly, kind that makes you wish you had the strength to ease the misery of the dying. Her father was her only living relative or so she thinks until a letter arrives from Ireland.

The condolence letter from Ireland arrives after Elise finds out that her husband of 11 years has impregnated a long colleague. The same husband who didn’t want to have children. Elise put aside her dreams of a family to make her marriage the best it could be for both of them. The next blow comes when the gynecologist tells her that she cannot have a baby on her own, as she planned. She’s waited too long and given up too much. The letter from a woman who knew her father was a vital distraction.

Determined to find out who this woman is and escape her life in Chicago, Elise travels to County Galway, Ireland to meet the mysterious Meara Scott. Once there, she is surprised that the person who meets her at the airport is not Ms. Scott, but a man named Wallace who seems to be the caretaker of the rundown manor house which Meara owns. Wallace dumps Elise off at the manor house with little information.

Alone for the first time since her husband’s bombshell, Elise lets the waves of grief pull at her. Her mother died decades ago and she missed both of her parents. One day, in the lane near the manor, she mets a small girl. Before she can find out anything about her, the little girl runs off.

Elise makes a friend in the town librarian, Ava, who encourages her to get out and meet some people. At a town gathering, she finds out that Wallace is the guardian of the little girl named Eveleen. The child has suffered even more losses than Elise and they are drawn together in their grief.

Wallace is another story and Elise finds him obnoxious and lax in his care of the child. Meara is still out of the country, so Elise tries to find answers in the old house. Unbeknownst to Elise, the house has its own secrets and the two-hundred-year-old portraits in the foyer just might be the key to discovering what they are. She searches the library and closets, finding books and journals that tell of the sad past of the manor house.

Meara finally arrives and she and Elsie meet for the first time. Meara expresses how much she admired Elise’s father, but it is obvious that the woman has a secret.

Will the secrets that Elise discovers damage the memories she has of her father? Will the relationship she develops with the child make her childlessness even more painful? Will she return to husband? Will she and Wallace call a truce? Stay tuned for more!

Crowdfunding 2.0

Photo by Carlotta Stankiewicz

Last week, I was honored to be on a panel at the Writers’ League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference just down the road in Austin. Because of the success of my Kickstarter that funded a three-week trip to Ireland for research on my novel, The Knowledge of Sorrow, the kind folks at the WLT asked me to share what I learned during that process with the conference attendees.

Also on the panel with me was the phenomenal Jodi Egerton, poet, wordslinger and founder of Typewriter Rodeo. Christopher Locke was also a guest on the panel and Carlotta Stankiewicz moderated.

Christopher had crowdfunded several campaigns related to drawing, art journaling and his project Heartless Machine. He’s a high school art teacher and is very funny. Jodi and her husband, writer Owen Egerton, raised funds for their book on writing, titled This Word Now. And the lovely Carlotta, had a successful crowdfunding project for her clever book, Haiku Austin.

We had a dedicated group of audience members for our session and I hope we left them inspired, informed and empowered to move their dream projects forward. It was a lot of fun—just look at how rapt Jodi and I are in the above picture!

The recording of the panel will be available soon from the Writers’ League and I will let you know how and when you can access it, just in case you want to know how to launch your own dream. Until then, here are a few highlights.

1. Do your homework. Research all the crowdfunding sites to determine which one is right for your project.
2. Outline your project and what your goals are for it.
3. Create a detailed budget for your project.
4. Know that there are people out there who want to support your dream. Many of them you don’t even know.

The Emerald Isle

The Mountains of County Clare

I am long overdue for a thank you post to all of you who supported my Kickstarter campaign and my research trip to Ireland. I spend three wonderful weeks there in March. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I achieved all of my research goals and then some while I was there. A few plot knots even got worked out, serendipitously.

Dublin streetlamp

Anyone who has traveled to Ireland will tell you how gorgeous the countryside is and that is certainly true. But I will tell you that I fell in love with the people even more so. You will not find a more generous, gregarious, humor-filled group of people anywhere. I wish there was some way for you to experience the warmth of the Irish from this blog, but I believe you’ll just have to go there yourself. Until then, enjoy a little Irish vacation at your desk.

Daffodils at Glenlo Abbey Hotel


Frolicking lambs in Headford.


See Jane Kickstart

A few months ago an artist friend talked about how it is such an exciting time for artists because we get to take our work into our own hands, and through indie publishing, crowdfunding and other user-friendly methods, we can bring our work to fruition. Artists, writers, inventors and creatives of all types have more control than ever.

Art patronage has gone viral due to crowdsourcing. As many of you know, I have written a novel that I am shopping around to agents. So far, all reports are positive, but I’ve not found the right match yet. My friends who have published tell me that since I am receiving positive, personal feedback from agents, then I am on the right track! This is great, but what is a writer to do during the hurry-up-and-wait process of querying?

Well, this writer wrote anther novel. I’ve completed the draft for a book about a woman who is dealing with some very serious life blows when she is invited to travel to Ireland. She leaves her life behind in Chicago, including her soon-to-be ex-husand and his mistress, and runs away to the Emerald Isle.

The book has a parallel story set 200 years in the past and has some magical realism thrown in to help the characters along their way, because, why wouldn’t you include some magic in Ireland? And if the Celtic people didn’t invent magical realism, then they are certainly some of the most dedicated champions of the literary device.

After completing the draft, titled The Knowledge of Sorrow, I was thrilled with the material. Except for one thing. The setting and language seemed two dimensional. So, I watched a bunch of Irish films, read some books and reworked some of the draft. Nope. Still flat.

I realized I needed to do some deep research in order to do the book, the people of Ireland, and myself justice. I knew this book could be better and no matter how many drafts I wrote, there was only so far my imagination could take it. I knew I needed to experience Ireland, study the people, interview historians and study customs particular to Galway where the story is set. To know the rhythm of a place, the sights and smells, is invaluable to making a book come alive.

Then I met a lovely, talented, energetic writer who told me, “You should totally do a Kickstarter!” She and her writing-parter husband had recently concluded a very successful crowdfunding campaign to indie publish their book on the writing process. She graciously agreed to go to lunch with me and tell me everything she learned about crowdfunding because she’s that wonderful. And because the writing community in Austin is that generous and supportive.

So, a couple of months later, I had followed all of my friend’s advice, researched the crowdfunding industry and was ready to launch my project. A good friend helped me with the filming. I set some enticing rewards for backers and I am now one week into the three week campaign. I decided to use Kickstarter because they have superior analytics to help creators know what is working about the campaign.

I am happy to report that I am halfway to my goal of $5500. The funds will cover travel, lodging and research costs during my three-week stay in Ireland. I’ll be visiting with university professors, historians, writers and shop owners to get the details correct in The Knowledge of Sorrow. I am very excited about improving this book.

The caveat is that some crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter, only fund if the campaign goal is reached. If I don’t raise the full amount then I receive nothing and the donors are not charged. So, I’m working diligently to make sure the project moves forward.

Please take a look at the video below for more details. If you help spread the word and/or make a donation, I would be ever so grateful to you.