Moi, the Indie Author

Photo: Simon Cocks (Creative Commons Flickr)

What Wallace Stegner said: “Hard writing makes easy reading.” Photo: Simon Cocks (Creative Commons Flickr)

How we love the summer beach read! But these delightful books don’t get that way on their own. Lots of rereading, lots of edits. This describes my August as a novice Indie author.

“We do not suffer by accident.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Trust Jane to set me right. Yes, it was my choice to publish this new book on my own. My choice to shoulder the work. And there is a lot to do.

“Nobody can tell what I suffer! But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

July came with a few setbacks. A surgery and a stint in the hospital for observation. And, ha, a broken flash drive. “Crack” went the plastic USB connector. (Plastic! Who knew?) And along with it my notes for the ending of my novel. Which as you know, were the very finest words I’ve ever written.

“We are…unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room…”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Ah, but I’ve since regenerated the missing material, and my fears were groundless. The new is, in my humble opinion, much better than the old.

“How clever you are, to know something of which you are ignorant.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

And hey, this week’s blood work results were “fabulous” (my doctor’s words), so I am looking at a normal, productive August.

“All the world is good and agreeable in your eyes.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

It is! And I even have Darcy By Any Other Name formatted as a print book. I can learn a new skill.

“If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Proficient might not be the word I’d use to describe my progress, but I’m coming along. Here’s a screen capture from the first chapter to prove it.

As you see, I am learning how to format a book. What a kick!

Formatting your own book is rather fun. Um, once you get the kinks edited out. I continue to find more.

School does not begin until September 9th, so who knows? I might be able to squeeze in some of that delightful beach reading. Someone else’s book instead of my own.

“There is a temperate zone in the mind,
between luxurious indolence and exacting work;
and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor,
that summer reading belongs.”
Henry Ward Beecher

Interviews with Darcy, Bingley, and Charlotte

A few weeks ago, I invited readers to submit questions for the characters in Jane Austen’s books. Today, Charles Bingley, Charlotte Lucas, and Fitzwilliam Darcy graciously respond to Joy Dawn King and Laura Hile.

Carolines

Mr. Bingley, Mrs. King would like to know why you have allowed Caroline to continue to live with you after she has caused you and your beloved Jane so much grief.

Ah! My good friend Darcy told me of Mrs. King and her questions. I have long grappled with the conflict I feel concerning my sister, Caroline. My father talked to me before his death, solemnly emphasizing my duty towards both my sisters. I would be no better than John Dashwood if I turned her out, and we all know how he has fared with Austen fans. I would rather be seen as a lovable man who is too forgiving than one who ignores the needs of his family. Let us all hope that Caroline’s twenty thousand pounds will attract a husband soon. However, if it does not, both my angel, Jane, and I are willing to contribute another five thousand pounds to her dowry if it will expedite the matter.

Thank you, Mr. Bingley. Mrs. Collins, Mrs. King has a question for you as well.

Is fifty miles of good road enough of a distance to see the need to feather your own nest?

CharlottesOh, Mrs. King, you know that felicity in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. I would add that it is usually a matter of choice. I chose to marry Mr. Collins, and while there are times at which it would please me greatly to be fifty miles from him, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be fifty miles from Meryton instead. As Elizabeth and Jane left soon after I did, I do not regret my decision at all. In fact, I have the comfort of seeing Elizabeth at least twice a year – once in Meryton and once at Rosings. We write each other often and make certain that we will be in those locations at the same time.

Darcys

Mr. Darcy, Laura Hile asks you explain to us why you feel the need to consume a diet drink. She realizes that Jane Austen wrote you as being a proud man, but  advises you to have a care. “Dear Jane also wrote Sir Walter Elliot, and we all know how anxious he was to maintain his figure. Has modern fame gone to your head? Or, er, waist?”

Well, Mrs. Hile, perhaps you should direct the question to Coca-Cola or Mrs. Helm. After all, Mrs. Helm bought said “diet soda,” and the soft drink manufacturer placed my name on the drink without my permission; they chose to put me on a “diet soda.” I think it was most presumptuous, as I have never, in any of my incarnations pictured above, needed to lose weight.

As to the second question, every woman appears to have a favourite Darcy whom they hold to be the paragon of all which is manly and attractive, and they become positively violent when faced with the idea that another actor might do the part as well. How could fame “go to my head” when I have no idea who I actually am? Each generation brings forth yet another Darcy with a different interpretation of my character and my appearance. I have heard of a mental problem which afflicts some people called “multiple personality disorder.” Perhaps that would explain why there are so many Darcys.

Indeed, Mrs. Helm herself told me that she chose to use a collage of the Darcy actors in order to avoid offending any of your gentle readers, though I must candidly admit that your comparison of my person to that of Sir Walter Elliot is highly offensive to me. (As a consequence, I have raised an eyebrow. You may picture that in your mind.) I am not at all like that gentlemen, though my valet takes great care with my appearance. I allow him to dress me as he likes in order to keep him content, for he is such an asset to me, and training a new valet to my exacting (but entirely reasonable) standards would be quite strenuous.

When you realize that you have to be the Tortoise

Photo: (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Kaybee07 (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: David Stanley (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: David Stanley (Creative Commons Flickr)

“Slow and steady wins the race,” right? I was in grade school when I learned the lesson of Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare. I liked this story. I knew that the tortoise was better than the foolish hare, and I was even happy that he was the winner.

But I lived my life as if I were the hare. Because the hare was strong and fast, he could run when he felt like it. His do-it-at-the-last-minute skills (the bane of smart people) worked for him. Best of all, along the race route the hare was able to kick back and relax. What’s not to like?

Being the tortoise is just plain hard. The poor fellow plodded along, one foot in front of the other, hour after hour. It takes guts and determination to remain on-task.

Oh, I still run portions of my life along “when-I-feel-like-it” lines, but it’s not working well. (Case in point: house chores.) My ability to juggle multiple tasks and keep a running to-do list in my mind isn’t what it used to be. My fly-by-night last minute skills no longer cut it. I’m learning to plod along.

Photo: Tomi Tapio K (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Tomi Tapio K (Creative Commons Flickr)

Writing is probably the most tortoise-like task I face because producing a novel requires staying at it. Or in my case, stopping and then starting again, day after day. Darcy By Any Other Name, in draft form, currently weighs in at 113,000 words. A testimony to the every day courage of the tortoise!

“A day may come when the courage of men fails…but it is not THIS day.”
– Aragorn  (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Ah, but the hare has his moments. He rushes in and does the polishing work, putting the right emotional spin on each chapter. With his “feel-right” approach, he’s my go-to for dialog and sparkling banter. Best of all, he’s the one who will drop everything and meet a friend for coffee.

I can’t always be the tortoise, right? I’d be vacuuming and dusting instead of reading a book, and how dreary is that?

Redecorating, redesigning, and requiring answers

I am rejuvenated after my busy summer, and I checked an item off my bucket list yesterday. I finally redesigned the kindle covers of Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy – the three books in the Guardian Trilogy.
GUARDIAN 5 I may even tackle the print covers soon!

As soon as I can, I plan to submit newly formatted interior files for both kindle and print versions. I loved writing this series, and it deserves better than what I did five years ago when I was just learning to use the technology.

Now, new (free!) cover technology is available online which is simple to use, given my background in yearbook design. Those who have used the Createspace cover templates know that they are quite limited, and I was overjoyed to find a better alternative yesterday. Out with the old; in with the new.

SoulFire 2Legacy 1

Last week, I invited readers to submit questions for my front porch tea party. These questions were submitted by J. Dawn King. Thank you, Mrs. King, for participating in my little question and answer session.

Mr. Darcy, have you given consideration to how Pemberley will feel once Georgiana has flown the nest? Does your heart long to keep her forever? Can you empathize with Mrs. Helm?

While I have great sympathy for the circumstances of Mrs. Helm, it will be many years before I am in similar straits, for Elizabeth and I have wed. Georgiana will likely still be at Pemberley to see her nephew or niece born before she “flies the nest.” Yes, it is with pleasure that I announce my wife’s delicate condition. There will soon be an heir to Pemberley. I would use an emoji here, but the idea is just too undignified.

My heartfelt wish for Georgiana is that she will find a love as great as ours.

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Mrs. Darcy, you give the impression that you longed to flee your nest. Was it because of your mother or were you merely curious as to what is beyond your particular tree?

I must say, Mrs. King, that you have a gift for seeing right to the heart of the matter. I will not speak ill of my mother, but I will say that Mr. Darcy’s offer of marriage was very propitious. To have me return with no prospects to Longbourn after the marriages of my eldest sister and my youngest sister would have been quite trying for my mother’s nerves. As go my mother’s nerves, so goes the entire household.

I love long walks with my husband; consequently, I am greatly enjoying all the trees at Pemberley.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, for answering the rather intrusive questions left for you by Mrs. King. She is a lovely, curious soul. I will continue with the interview questions for Charles Bingley and Charlotte Collins next week. If any dear readers have further questions, please leave them in the comments. I will be happy to ask any of the Austen characters whatever you wish to know.

I’m living life

2015-JeepRenegade

You’ve probably seen this summer’s Jeep Renegade commercial, featuring music by X Ambassadors.

“And I say hey
Hey hey hey
Living like we’re renegades”

Images of summer living fill the screen: Wilderness. Water. Off-roading. Youth and strength and carefree fun. And then there’s that closing voiceover: “Take off and take on anything.”

This summer I’ve been doing just that: taking on anything. Or rather, lots of daily everythings. Short, tentative walks on my own. Climbing the stairs. Light house chores. And resting. (Plus becoming thoroughly sick of daytime television!)

I didn’t get the words right when I first saw this commercial (my second day home from the hospital, May 5). “Living like” in my mind became “Living life.”

And I cried a little. From my safe spot on the downstairs sofa, alone with a walker and a cane for company, I shed tears. Because I was alive, rescued by God’s grace and dedicated medical professionals from severe illness. Life is a beautiful thing.

I did not know then what the future held (setbacks from kidney surgeries), and my horizon could well have cloudy skies. But I’m living life, rebuilding health, and I am grateful.

Yesterday, another milestone. I felt well enough to finish that elusive Chapter 33 of my almost-finished novel. A victory!

I guess this means that my novel is living along with me. It feels good to make progress.

And maybe, after the book is released, I should buy a Jeep. You think? But not a hardtop. This is the rainy Pacific Northwest, so of course I must have a convertible.

For the Man Who has it ALL

Sir Walter Elliot,
Born, March 1, 1760
Married, Elizabeth Stevenson, July 15, 1784
2015 – 231 yrs anniversary

question+mark_2158 What do you give the couple who has it all? Sir Walter and Lady Elliot are after all, fiction. The may, simultaneously, have everything and nothing. The gentleman would certainly like more money. But if he had all he wanted, he would not be pursuing the pleasures of Bath and we would have no story. Lady Elliot would probably like to be alive. Though managing her husband’s ego was a full-time job in the early years would now be a job of epic proportions.

Anyway, at JSI we has a little discussion about what would you buy a couple who are celebrating their 231st wedding anniversary.

You can write to various agencies in government and depending on the country of residence, can get a letter from a queen, a president, governor, or probably the mayor of your town, congratulating the happy couple on their achievement. And yes, I think that just surviving some relationships for several years constitutes achievement. Sir Walter would not be impressed after ascertaining the document was rendered on a printer and the paper mere 30% recycled. I can imagine he’d scuttle to the Internet and look up photos of the senders. He’d give the Queen her due, all bets are off on the rest. Any judgments would be in keeping with the official’s skin texture, clothing, and denticulation.

Mens-hair-removal

“I’m doing this for YOU, my dear!”

Laura Hile suggested he would give Lady Elliot a certificate to a medi spa. Before you start saying it’s rude and thoughtless to give a woman of such years–Lady Elliot will be approximately 250 years old this year–a pointed jab at her appearance, I have to tell you the certificate is for him. Walt is a peach of a guy and willing to endure the sucking, lasaring, pulling, and tucking so as to improve her view of the world. I think it’s a great idea and in keeping with his orientation. When you are the center of the universe, you see the value in that sort of thing.

I’m torn. My first impression is like Laura to throw a gift certificate at it and be done. However, there are no restaurants issuing such that would please the Baronet. Imagine him at Outback Steakhouse or Olive Garden. See what I mean? I could go with a Visa or Mastercard gift card but then I face the problem of presentation.

Presentation is vital to man like Walt. gaudy_giftwrap(He’d pop a vein if he knew I was calling him Walt. Hence the continuation.) The more space a gift takes up, the better it is. As a child, who was more likely to fall for the British version of “I’ll trade you this big thick nickel for that teeny, tiny dime,” Sir Walter or Anne? So, shiny, eco-unfriendly paper swaddling a humongous, gaudy box and frothy ribbon trailing over all it is!

What do you give the Sir Walters in your life. Come on, I know you have them. Gag gifts? Gift certificates? A wincing look when they bring up the missed occasion? Let us know. Your tactics in this social landmine situation will be much appreciated.

Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of an empty nest.

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I worked so hard on my porches this summer before the wedding and houseful of company that it necessarily afforded that I’m eager to enjoy them now that everyone is gone. What better way to appreciate a beautiful Southern morning, cooled by a series of thunderstorms the previous night, than to have over a few friends for a chat!

I’m all set for a lovely visit with Elizabeth, Darcy, Charlotte, and Charles.

Do you have any questions for these long-time friends of ours?

Leave your queries to me, and I’ll post their answers next week.