Another Reason for Time

 In my new book, The Reason for Time, I quote Albert Einstein, who said: "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." A joke, with significance, and readers will learn that it is not the only justification for the title. But another reason for time is that it encourages reflection.

About eight weeks since the book was released by Allium Press of Chicago and introduced to readers in Gibsons, Vancouver, Toronto and Chicago. Reactions have been positive, enthusiastic. How a writer itches to hear, "I loved that book...," and readers I know, and don't know, as well as early reviews have outright said or indicated just that. At a book club group of young women readers in Chicago, I was particularly touched by how they related to the main character, Maeve, who lived 100 years ago yet had some of the same problems these 30-something's have today. It was also encouraging to meet readers at Chicago's Printer's Row Literary Festival whose ancestors had stories similar to Maeve, who even lived in her old (imagined) neighbourhood.

In this increasingly categorized world of books, I'm known as a writer of literary fiction. The Reason for Time is my first, and may be my only, novel that can also be described as historical. Inspired by the pure fluid voice of Fabian Bas in The Bird Artist, by Howard Norman, and the historical sweep and narrative invention of John Dos Passos, in his U.S.A Trilogy, I hope I've achieved the truth of my character Maeve Curragh, who lived through that one crazy week in Chicago that started with a dirigible crashing into a downtown bank building and ended with the worst of 25 race riots in the "Red Summer of 1919."

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How it's going...

If I were to start a new blog, with advice either on writing, or on how to market one's book, self-published book, ebook, I would have to call it, Something you REALLY have never heard before... REALLY! Though I doubt I could actually think of something that has not already been written, posted, blogged, tweeted, shared. The web is more like a hive.

In my explorations, I have encountered people such as the Passionate Bibliophile, who confessed that yes he is a real person, if also an Amazon affiliate book store. I had to ask, because all the titles he posts on G + made me think he was either a speed reader or a computer program. But no, he is real and he likes books that affirm triumphs of the human spirit. Well who can argue with that? We all like to hear that people CAN overcome hardship, physical, psychological, situational, unanticipated, long standing. Even when we know that, perhaps, most often we accustom ourselves to living with whatever it is, since there may be no other choice, so many things cannot be overcome. At least not with un triomphe étincelante, or a sparkling triumph (though I like the French word for sparkling, which is kind of a visual onomatopoeia). Me, I like mixed motives, unresolved endings.

I persist in feeling most comfortable on sites for readers, such as Goodreads, though that site has come under fire from writers' sites, which now recommend Library Thing and, in Canada, the 49th shelf. Should I join everything, I wonder, just to keep up with the blazing changes in taste? One of the first sites I signed onto belongs to a librarian, Melissa, whose enthusiasm makes me feel as though I am part of an actual discussion, I mean a face to face discussion.

Many sites/blogs, whatever, collect other sites/blogs, just as I am doing here. Yet I find them hard to read. They are like textbooks with too many footnotes. Brian Fawcett, in his book Cambodia: A Book for People who Find Television Watching Too Slow, made literary use of the kind of attention splitting that happens when a reader is following one text and, at the same time, trying to keep track of the supporting information from another, or many other texts. I appreciate all the information people provide, while suffering mentally and ocularly.

Like a novice mariner lost at sea, I keep my eye peeled  for literary fiction writers who are in the same boat I hopped into a few months ago. A life boat of sorts. A literary lifeboat. For when conventional publishers do not share one's vision for presenting her work, there is now the option of e publishing. I thought I snagged a kindred spirit the other day, someone whose sense of humour and publishing experience led me to believe we might develop an on-line friendship. I was about to order one of her books when I saw that her novels are for young adults. No reason why I can't befriend a writer of young adult novels, and yet... Most of the writers whose posts I have read so far produce books that fit on easily labelled shelves.

I am still a baby in this new world, even if a veteran writer. The good news is that You Again, the third in the Shinny's Girls Trilogy, is now available as a separate ebook and will soon be available in print, with another great cover by Stephen (p0ps) Harlow.

Daunted, haunted

In this still new territory of epublishing, I raise a finger to the wind and have to work to keep myself standing in a hurricane of possibilities: best blog sites, how to market your book, the most successful this, the most effective that. Websites, social media advice, instructional youtube videos. Numbers, numbers. The literary fiction sites that seem not to include actual literary fiction. Of course there are also quite informative blogs and sites. I like the sites for readers, the online book clubs, such as Goodreads and others less well known. Reassuring for a writer to know that so many people like to read. Interesting to read their opinions of various books.

Meantime, I'm travelling the old routes of promotion, preparing a talk to deliver at libraries across the country, beginning with our local library later this month. Haunted by memories of beginning the Shinny story, in that little trailer where I escaped to work, writing in long hand and on a portable typewriter, using yellow newsprint. The roaring White Salmon river. Since the mid to late 80's, when I started thinking about the character who became Shinny,  single mothers are no longer considered sluts and welfare cheats. Banks give loans to single mothers, employers don't consider them a bad risk. Many women choose to have children but not to marry.

 I have matured as a writer, too, become more ambitious in theme and design. That began with the second novel, Flashing Yellow. This weekend I found some old tractor feed paper from the time I was writing FY, with handwritten notes on sonatas and string quartets, in the drawer of a small desk I seldom use. Flashing Yellow has four themes, love, death, truth and money, and is divided into four parts. I aimed towards the reflection of a musical form. In my notes on the sonata, I see that it is so like the arc of a story, the beginning exposition, the transition, the recapitulation of the first part, but with changed harmonies.
From yellow newsprint to tractor feed to books delivered by whispernet. From the threat of an obscene caller, to a poison oak infection, to Shinny's suspicion that her boss might be involved with terrorists. Discordance resolves as conditions and characters change.

"Perfection means hitting exactly what you are aiming at and not touching by a hair what you are not." John Gardner