Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting the Word Out Into the World

Dear Friends,
If you have enjoyed reading Saint Sullivan's Daughter and want to help me get this story out into the world, I have two suggestions. How about hosting a home reading and invite some friends you think would like the book? Or how about recommending the book to a friend?

I would greatly appreciate if you would tell them about Saint Sullivan's Daughter, and direct people to Abbott Press Bookstore where my book is for sale. It's also available on Amazon.com, which most people can find without a link.

Through you, I can reach people who I never would otherwise! It's as simple as sharing a link on facebook, and sharing a few words about how you loved the story. It's as easy as stopping to write a review on Amazon and telling your friends to check out what you wrote. And it can be easy to host a reading, too.

It's much easier to host a reading than giving a party, but its just as fun. If you tell me how many are coming, I'll bring enough light snacks for everyone. All you have to do is invite the guests, greet them in your home, put on some hot water and supplies for tea and/or coffee, and sit down to enjoy the evening with friends. You and your friends will hear some special passages of the book read by me, and ask me questions. They can decide whether to purchase a custom autographed copy directly from me, without pressure. I promise. Even if no one purchases a book, each reading is a practice for me, and I consider giving readings a part of being a published author.

This is a wonderful way to support an independent publishing venture, and enjoy gathering with you friends for a literary evening or afternoon. Please, give me a call and we can set up a date together.

Thank you,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dads and Daughters

"Who a daughter gets as the most important man [father] in her life is pretty much the luck of the draw, for better or worse. That luck of the draw fills the heart of every woman with sadness, emptiness, anger and longing; or perhaps joy, confidence, compassion and empathy. Every woman is a daughter, and every woman's emotional abundance or desperation usually has more to do with her father than any other man in her life." -Kevin Renner, author of Fatherhood: Daughters Praising, Speaking Up, Talking Back, writing in the Oregonian in his "Dads and Daughters" column.

A thick strand in the tapestry of themes of Saint Sullivan's Daughter is the importance of fatherhood, not only to the daughter but to the father as well. When a man becomes a father, then the arc of his personal development can't exclude his children. If he rejects parental responsibility, he is but a stunted version of what destiny would have him be.

The curandera, speaking to Barry Sullivan, makes it clear that until he fully claims his parental responsibility, he will never fulfill himself as an artist.  In the early 1960's (the time in which this story is set) fathers were more of a necessary accessory than a vital actor in childrearing. While writing Saint Sullivan's Daughter, my quest was to uncover what would occur in a dysfunctional family if the father were to fully accept his role as the protector and nurturer of an at-risk child? 

Without dropping spoilers, I can reveal that the wise elders of the Irish and Mexican families counsel Barry Sullivan regarding how he might grow as a parent.  Though this is a story of the Mid-century Modern era, I believe the themes still resonate in our Post Modern era. Parents still struggle to make sacrifices for the sake of their children's well-being, and when the extended family and older friends cooperate to help young parents, they help heal the wounds of dysfunction. 

A wise neighbor, a committed grandparent, a counselor or loyal friend can do wonders to heal a situation when the "luck of the draw" (as Kevin Renner calls it) deals a child an unprepared and floundering parent.  Even the best of us are clueless at times. Parenting is a task that shouldn't be attempted in a vacuum.

Consider giving Saint Sullivan's Daughter as a gift to a new or young father. Young fathers can relate to Barry Sullivan's struggle to balance his creative and parenting life, especially when facing single-parenting.

Monday, January 14, 2013

When the Stars Flicker

While reviewing an early draft of Saint Sullivan's Daughter, a developmental editor asked me what my hopes and wishes for it were. I told him, "When someone opens my book, I want stars to shimmer out." I still want that to happen for readers. If just one star can light up a dark place in one heart, it will be worth the years it took to research and write the story.

I hope some will experience a resonance that might change something for the better, and help them believe in something good in their own self. More specifically, I hope that after reading this book people will be gentler around children, more respectful to elders, and truer to their cultural roots after reading my story.When the stars that shimmered fade and flicker out, I hope something true stays with you -- and that it is something healing and redemptive.

Here's a link to Saint Sullivan's Daughter online. Abbott Press

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Backstory: the Truth Behind the Consequences

My goal in Saint Sullivan's Daughter was to introduce characters that feel real. A method for creating three-dimensional characters is to imagine, even write down, a story outside the story. Some of their backstory can be revealed through dialog, even narration, but alot of it is subtext.  Ideally, backstory is a strongly braided cable that can support the character's arc from beginning to end.

I plotted each character's prior history, and imagined their personality quirks, even if I don't have room them all in the story.  Through doing this, I came to love even the antagonists. Knowing the reasons for their behaviors, it was hard to allow Dora to be such a poor mother, to let Barry fail so often, and allow Ceci to suffer.

It also pays to learn the backstory in real life. A mere mile's walk in someone else's shoes would never reveal the alcoholic parents, the kindnesses done in secret, and the dreams yet unfulfilled. We respond differently to others when we hear their stories.

I'd love to know your favorite characters in the book. What do you like about them? If I were to write a sequel, which character would you have me feature?