Quick Update

“The more failures, the more successes. Period.” ~ Tom Peters, Author of In Search of Excellence

“It took 15 years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because, by then, I was too famous.” ~ Robert Benchley, American Humorist

I’m back, temporarily, to give you an update on my latest creative activities.

It’s monsoon here, which means almost everyday there is a thunderstorm, which in turn means, I have to turn off the computers and internet. That has slowed down the progress of doing the audiobook version of The Space Between Time. I could complain about that, but it’s actually been a good thing. Let me explain.

Some years back I found this wonderful fantasy series by Alexes Razevich, The Ahsenthe Cycle. The first of the series is Khë. It’s one of the most imaginative fantasy series I’ve read in a very long time. I loved these books so much, I joined Alexes’ mailing list.

About a month and a half ago, Alexes sent out a call for reviewers for the third book in her Oona Goodlight series. I jumped at the chance to read this new set of books and promised to review all three for her. While The Ahsenthe Cycle is pure fantasy, The Oona Goodlight books are basically paranormal mysteries. They are fun.

In the process of reading the books I had cause to email Alexes about errors in the manuscript for one of her books and during that exchange she agreed to review my novel. As our messages went back and forth about our writing and my audiobook project, she told me of her experience recording the audiobook for another of her books. She found mistakes, and portions of the book that she thought needed revisions. She decided to take the time to improve her manuscript, and upload the corrected version.

In the meantime, I had discovered a few mistakes in the first couple of chapters I’d recorded, and there were sentences in others that felt clunky when I read them. Alexes suggested that I would not be sorry if I took the time to improve the manuscript. I knew she was right, but it’s a long book and I’m both narrator and audio engineer. I was hoping to get the audiobook published next month. And yet, it’s never a bad idea to take the time to do my very best work. I decided to think about what to do while I took a little break preparing my fall semester classes.

And, the verdict is: I will go back, find those rough patches and little mistakes and improve my book. It costs nothing to upload a new version at Smashwords, and only a small fee to order a new proof at Amazon. Even though the friends and family who have read my book have told me they love it, I’m enough of a perfectionist to want to do the very best I can on this final version before going back to finish book two. I don’t know who said it, but it’s true, you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. And since I haven’t sold even hundreds of books yet, I might as well make sure subsequent readers get the best book I can produce.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I’ll check in again in the not too distant future.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Writing Lessons So Far

Thunderstorm over Corfu

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” ~ Gustave Faubert

This morning as I awoke, for some reason I was thinking about what I’d share with eager attendees of a writing workshop should I ever conduct one. Sometimes I wake up with these kinds of flights of fancy rolling around in my head. I don’t know why. Maybe they are part of a dream I was having so it’s fresh in my mind.

In any case, since I’m not finished reading the next book I want to write about, I thought I’d write down some ideas so I can get them clear in my mind just in case one day I end up writing a memoir, or conducting a workshop about my writing process.

In my mind, memoirs by creative people are much more valuable to the new artist than a how to book about writing. I know, how to books are very popular. And common wisdom tells writers to get a MFA in creative writing, or take writer’s workshops. But I’m a contrarian. I take the view that the only person who can teach me (or you) how to write is me. I’m not saying don’t take that writing class, I’m saying that if you are going to be creative in any way, the muses are going to speak to you differently than they are to me. And what you have to share with the world is unique to you alone. No one else can share what you’ve experienced.

Last year I read Ann Patchett’s wonderful memoir, The Getaway Car. It’s about her writing life. It’s called The Getaway Car because in the beginning Ann tells about being a waitress and writing her first novel was her getaway car out of a job she hated. I loved that image, because I had a similar feeling about my writing.

But the point I wanted to make about her memoir is this, she writes about a fellow writer who had to move her writing desk away from the window so she couldn’t look out. She did this because her writing instructor told her having her desk by the window would be distracting. I was appalled! I would never presume to tell someone how to organize their writing space, nor what rituals to adopt, or what time is the best for writing. I wouldn’t do that because what’s great for me, might be disastrous for you.

My writing desk is right next to a window. I love seeing the wildlife that traipse under it. It gives my mind a little break every once in a while so that some new idea can sneak in. I prefer to wake up, get my husband off to work, then meditate, read something inspirational, write in my journal all before entering my office to write. That’s my routine. You may write better at night, or very early in the morning. You may need to play music. I can’t do that, it’s too distracting. See what I mean. Every one of us is unique. And if you’re going to be creative, you’ve got to plug into that core desire that is beating in your chest, train yourself to listen to what it’s telling you, and dive into a life apart from most of the people you know.

Here’s the thing about embracing the wild and crazy life of an artist. It isn’t easy, nor even fun sometimes. It can be scary and frustrating. Sometimes what you want to express plays tricks on you and hides. And the only way to come to terms with your fear and illusive ideas is to take a break for awhile. Sit by that window and watch the birds, or the storm gathering. Let your mind wander. Sometimes I go do housework, or read a book. But no matter what, you can’t let anything stand in your way of finishing that project. You have to go back to that chair, or into the studio and practice, practice, practice.

Barry and I had a voice teacher before we got married who used to say, “Perfect practice, makes perfect.” And I have a writer friend, Debrah Strait, you should check out her books by the way, who says, “The rough draft is always crap. Don’t worry about that just keep writing.” Those two statements may seem antithetical, but I disagree. As you practice, you do the very best you can at the moment you’re creating. When you go back to look at it later, you may well say, “This is crap.” But you practiced as perfectly as you could at the time. Then you throw away the bad parts and take the good parts and mold them into something new. Or you start over again with a new idea. We learn more from our failures than we do our successes. At least, I do. So, as Elizabeth Gilbert suggests, tell that critical voice in your head, “Thanks for sharing, but I’m going to get back to work now.”

I’ve been writing full-time for ten years now. I have two books published, and five years of blog posts trailing behind me, but I still feel like I’m an amateur. Taking creative writing classes may have helped me move along faster, but, again I’m a contrarian. I don’t want an instructor giving me writing prompts and then criticizing a story I didn’t want to write in the first place. I’ve learned that I’m a slow writer. I don’t do well if I have a deadline and that’s why I self publish. I have to let my story roll around in my head picking up little tidbits to add from lots of different sources. I never know how long it’s going to take me to finish my book and that’s okay with me.

So, if you feel the urge to create something, don’t let anything stop you. Jump right in. You will learn as you go.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Writing Lessons

“… writers are often the worst judges of what they have written.” ~ Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales

“I became an artist because I wanted to be an active participant in the conversation about art.” ~ Kamand Kojouri

“Ask yourself: Who has the greater influence on you? Is it the people who inspire you, or the people who critique you?” ~ Akiroq Brost

“We write to test life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~ Anaïs Nin

“I don’t know what I think until I write about it.” ~ Joan Didion

I’m in the middle of reading several books, some for myself, some for inclusion in this blog, and some to critique. Since posts about what I’m reading aren’t ready, I have some thoughts about my writing life that I’d like to share with you.

Last Friday I was the featured author at an Open Mic night sponsored by Cochise College Writing Celebration and a couple of other local organizations. I got to talking with a fellow college instructor, who is also an author, about the problems and joys of writing. He’s working on his second or third novel that has multiple story lines and we were commiserating about how to make sure the through lines of each timeline get completed, while at the same time keeping them straight. During our conversation he said he loves the creative process but hates the revision process. We got interrupted before I got to say that I feel the opposite way.

It’s strange to say, but the creative part of writing is sometimes difficult for me. I feel that there is a story there, but sometimes the story is illusive. For example, Time’s Echo came to me while I was finishing my first novel, The Space Between Time. I wrote the opening scenes of both timelines and came to screeching halt. Though I knew where Morgan’s time line would end up, I had no idea about Jenna’s. That was back in 2014. As you might guess, Jenna’s story didn’t emerge until very recently with the birth of the #MeToo movement.

Elizabeth Gilbert tells an amazing story in Big Magic, about getting an idea for a book, which she begins. Then life gets in the way. For two years she has other things she has to take care of. When she gets back to the book, the muse has flown away. Elizabeth thought it was dead, but then she met Ann Patchett.

Their friendship developed through letter writing. But on one occasion they got to meet in person at an event at which they were both to speak. They had breakfast together before their day began. In their letter conversations they shared about Elizabeth’s failed book about the Amazon, the one that got away. Ann had shared in her letters about a new book idea she had about the Amazon. During breakfast, Ann and Elizabeth shared their Amazon stories and low and behold, it turned out that Ann’s story had the same plot, and characters that Elizabeth had originally started. They were essentially the same book with very minor changes. Both women were stopped in their tracks. The muses work in mysterious ways.

Now if the muse can move to a new author if a story just needs to be told, then I believe the muse will sometimes wait for current events to catch up so its chosen author can write the book. That’s what I’ve felt about Time’s Echo. There will be lots of authors who will write about the current women’s movement, but none of them will write about Morgan in the past, involved in the suffrage movement, and how that affects Jenna living in our current circumstances. I’m the one who created, with the help of the muses, Jenna and Morgan. No one else is qualified to write their stories but me, because they are based on my experiences.

But back to my writing process. Once I’ve got all, or most of the pieces of my novel written, I have fun putting the puzzle together. I like rearranging, cutting out the unnecessary parts, and then coming up with new connecting pieces. It’s the most fun part of writing for me. Then, of course, the process of doing the final edits is a real drag. I think I can speak for most authors on this, it’s tedious and feels like it takes forever.

Another aspect of writing that I have a love/hate relationship with is critique groups. I’m in an online group at the moment. Fortunately there are only three of us, which means I don’t have too much reading material to comment on. However, at the moment, I’m reading the entire manuscript for one of the women in the group and that’s on top of the other things I’m reading. It’s times like this that I wish I were a faster reader.

This is the problem I have with critique groups. Neither of the women have read my first novel, so some of their comments don’t apply to where I see the series heading. They don’t know the characters or their past relationships, so they suggest changes that don’t apply to who the characters are at all.

On the other hand, sometimes suggestions they make help me get new ideas for the arduous, for me, process of creating my story. That happened just recently, thank heaven.

I have to say, I prefer to share my manuscript after I have finished the rough draft, or when I’m kind of stuck and need new ideas. Sending pieces that are in progress, bothers me. I feel irritated when my critique partners make suggestions of changes that I have already planned, or know that need to be made. I guess that’s just human nature. We don’t want to hear about the changes in our manuscripts or our lives that we know we need to make. Once the initial irritation is over, however, I can go back to the comments my partners have made and consider them less emotionally.

I am fortunate to have found critique partners who are not only honest, but kind as well. And, if I don’t like their suggestions, I have two local women I plan to share my manuscript with, who have been of great help to me in the past. With the help of all these women, I know this next book will be good. I just have to allow myself to go through the messy process of producing a finished product.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a great hump day.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Movies That Imitate Life

Charles Dickens

“The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.” ~ Charles Dickens

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” ~ Charles Dickens

Last Sunday my husband and I drove two hours to Tucson to see The Man Who Invented Christmas. I don’t know why the local theaters weren’t showing it, but we were determined to watch this movie that I am sure will become a holiday classic since it is about how Charles Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. My favorite scenes all have to do with how Dickens found inspiration in everyday encounters.

In the movie, his last three books have flopped. He’s strapped for money and needs a hit, but he doesn’t have a wisp of an idea. Then one night he overhears the new Irish maid telling his children stories about how on Christmas eve, the veil between our world and that of the spirits is thin enough to allow them to slip through to our side. That sets Dickens’ imagination whirling and the idea of new story is born.

After that Dickens picks up bits of real dialogue, he meets people who inspire characters, and he comes upon situations that inspire events for his novel. But the most intriguing element of the movie is how Dickens and the characters talk to each other. As Dickens is trying to finish the last chapter, he wants to leave Scrooge as an unrepentant miser. His characters “won’t do what I want them to.” They rebel. They keep telling him that Scrooge can be redeemed. Even his Irish maid tells him that the end of the book needs to be hopeful. That’s when we get a glimpse into Dickens’ childhood and how his life inspired his stories and activism on behalf of the poor.

His father was an upper class working man, but he had no idea how to manage money, and so was arrested and put into debtors prison, along with his family. Charles, however, was forced to work in a boot blacking factory at the age of twelve. The conditions in the factory were harsh and Dickens never forgot what it was like to lose everything and be treated as if he were a commodity. So, as he’s writing A Christmas Carol, he must face the fact that he has never forgiven his father for that humiliation.

I know that every author has their own method and personal viewpoint. Charles Dickens wrote his books in serial form, changing his characters and plots as he heard his friends and readers talk about the latest installment. However, he started with a firm beginning middle and end in mind. And because of his childhood experiences, almost all of his books had to do with the inequity between the rich and poor.

Sometimes I wish I was more like Dickens. When I began writing The Space Between Time, I only had a vague idea of my characters, themes, and where I wanted my story to end up. I don’t have conversations with my characters, as the movie portrays Dickens doing. But, I do get ideas just as I’m waking up, or some little snippet of plot will slink by me as I’m doing something else. Sometimes I get inspiration while I’m driving. When that happens I tell the ideas to stay put so I can write them down, or commit them to memory for later use. But like Dickens, my past and how I feel about it, is all part of my written work. I think it must be that way for all authors.

I can’t say I’ve ever had writer’s block, as Dickens does in the movie, at least not yet, thank heaven. But there are times when I know that where the story and characters want to go isn’t quite ripe yet. So I have to let the ideas simmer on the back burner of my mind. Or maybe it’s more a matter of me giving up resisting where the characters need to go. While writing The Space Between Time, I wanted to make my characters perfect, spiritually awakened people. But we all have those dark places inside that we must face to get through to the light. For me, dredging up the dark emotions are the hard days of writing. Fortunately I have good writer friends who keep reminding me that the best stories show the character’s struggles before they find a happy plateau.

Not being a person who plots out every event in the book is sometimes a pain. But that’s just not my personality. When I began writing this first novel, part of my vague idea was to have two intertwining timelines, but when I picked it up again after several years, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Then a fellow author encouraged me to go with my first instinct. On the drive home I just said to the universe, “Okay, I want to tell the story of a character in the present and have her discover a character in the past. As a result they learn from each other. How do I do that?” And as I was approaching the San Pedro River, the idea came to me. Jenna’s life would be shattered. She’d find Morgan’s journals and enter her consciousness. From that moment on, idea after idea flowed to me as the story developed. I was energized again.

A similar thing happened with Time’s Echo, the sequel novel I’m working on now. Again the story in the past came to me first. I knew I wanted Morgan to become involved in the Suffrage Movement, but what was happening with Jenna in the present wasn’t clear to me. I wanted her to have some kind of awakening and become involved in advancing women’s rights, but just what was going to motivate her to do that wasn’t clear. That was in 2014. I began writing Morgan’s portion of the book and waited for events or inspiration to come to me about Jenna. I mean, I had been harassed in college and in the work place, but none of it seemed immediate enough to propel Jenna into activism. Inspiration and recent events collided with a vengeance. We’ll see how real life events help me write more of Jenna’s awakening. Like Dickens, everything that comes into my sphere of awareness is fodder for the stories I want to tell.

I hope you will go see The Man Who Invented Christmas. Even if it is fantasy, it’s satisfying to think that Dickens came to understand and forgive his father. The movie is filled with hope that if we forgive, we can find joy in life and change those around us.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Thanks Pam Grout

This picture speaks for itself

“Show up, show up, show up and after a while, the muse shows up, too.” ~ Isabel Allende

This week I’ve been doing the week 6 exercises from Pam Grout’s Art & Soul Reloaded. We were supposed to write seven blog posts, which was a bit of stretch for me. I’ve been posting once a week since spring or summer of 2013, yet as I put my mind each day to what I was going to write for the next post, ideas came to me. Now I won’t say that they were fantastic ideas, but since I’m in the habit of doing lots of self-reflection, I was able to come up with enough ideas to complete my assignment.

The amazing thing is that this week my in-laws have been visiting and we’ve been doing some galavanting. So, I’ve had to fit my writing in where I could. And that’s the real advantage of doing this exercise, making writing my priority. Doing that is what Steven Pressfield calls being a professional. In his book The War of Art, he explains the difference between being an amateur and a professional: Don’t fit your creative endeavors around the rest of your life,  make your art a priority and do it every day no matter what.

I have to say that I write almost every day, but I’m not sure I’ve got that professional attitude quite yet when writing my novels. I am always thinking about my novel, but I’m not always sitting in the chair writing new scenes, rearranging, or revising everyday.

After doing these exercises, however, I’m going to commit to two things, I’m going to add a blog post on Saturdays so that I’m posting twice a week, and I’m going to sit down and do some work on my novel every day.

That’s all for today. We’re going on an outing again today, the last day or my in-law’s visit, so see you Wednesday.

Thanks for reading, commenting and liking my posts. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list

Marketing Lessons

Fsbo – THE SPACE BETWEEN TIME

“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different styles.” ~ R. L. Stine

“Every year the literary press praises dozens if not hundreds of novels to the skies, asserting explicitly or implicitly that these books will probably not be suffering water damage in the basements of their author’s houses 20 years from now. But historically, anyway, that’s not the way the novelistic ecology works.” ~ Lev Grossman

“Buy other author’s books when you go to their events. Even if you aren’t going to read it. Even if you are going to give it away. Even if you aren’t interested. Not just for the author but for the bookstore. It’s karma and just plain good manners.” ~ M. J. Rose

Okay, I admit it, I know almost nothing about how to market and promote my book. I loved writing it, even on the hard days. But I get a headache when I try to make a plan to market it.

The other day I was fretting about how to spread the word that I’ve published a book. I mean isn’t that a great accomplishment? Yes, it is and I feel good about that, but there are thousands, perhaps even millions of books published every day. So how do I toot my horn loud enough so that people will pay attention to my work, but not become annoying with roboposts on social media?

There are so many books and articles with tips for the independent author about how to “build your brand,” or how to “build your audience.” They say you’ve got to build a social media presence, create an email list, write a blog, do a podcast, or video series to help you find your target audience. Of course you have to take time to figure out who your target audience is while doing all that. I wish I could find someone to do all the marketing for me. But since I don’t have a big publishing firm behind me, I have to do it myself. Which means I keep reading and trying to expand my social media reach. Some tips are helpful, but to be honest, most of it makes my head spin and my heart sink.

I hit upon this fantastic idea to search for women writers who might be willing to review my book on their blogs and I came across an Arizona writer who specializes in writing reviews for little known women authors. Aha! I thought I’d hit the jackpot when she said the description of my book sounded interesting and she was willing to review my book. Then, in subsequent emails, she mentioned that she didn’t like fantasy and my heart sank. Of course she wanted me to buy and review her book in return. (I’m sending mine to her for free.) So, what to do? I told her that my book was kind of on the order of Outlander, and not surprisingly she wrote back that she hadn’t read the series, that’s how much she hates fantasy. Okay, by this point I was getting extremely frustrated. She is not the first person I’ve encountered who says they hate fantasy, and won’t even try reading it. To me, reading lots of genres of books is what keeps my reading life interesting. On the other hand, fantasy is like eating my favorite comfort food. If I’m feeling upset, or bored, I go choose a fantasy book to lose myself in. Some are fantastic, others not so much, but when I hit a gem of a book, I follow that author.

Here’s the thing, my book, The Space Between Time, and Outlander, are not strictly fantasy. They are really in a new category called magical realism. Both books have elements of historical fiction, while including time travel, and a bit of intrigue and romance thrown in. They’re kind of a hodgepodge of genres most of them with realistic settings and events. Isabel Allende’s book The House of the Spirits is always referenced when talking about magical realism. But, it’s not a category we could choose when publishing my book. So, what do I call The Space Between Time, and how do I find my audience? Fortunately, we had a wide range of tags we could attach to my book description, from women’s fiction, to fantasy, to historical.

The other day I was contemplating this marketing dilemma just before meditating. And, behold, in my meditation an answer came to me. Go join fantasy groups on my social media sites. There are many shades of fantasy, and among those fans must be people who love magical realism, or soft core fantasy as one of my students calls it. While I was doing that, another thought came to me to join sites, and organizations that are for women writers, and about women’s fiction.

So, even though my head still spins after spending time networking with these groups, I do feel like eventually, I will find my readers.

Having written all of the above, I challenge those of you who say you don’t like fantasy, to read a book by a friend of mine, Stacy Bennett. The book is Quest of the Dreamwalker. I just finished rereading this book because my sister, niece, brother-in-law, and I have formed a book club group. They wanted me to suggest a book, and since we’re all lovers of fantasy, I suggested, Quest of the Dreamwalker. It’s a book I loved when I first read it, and have continued to think about long after I finished the last page. To me well written fantasy books such as this, help me get a better perspective on human experience, and human nature. Maybe it’s because I’m a magnet for other people’s feelings, but sometimes books that are set in my time period are too jarring. If it could happen to me or my neighbors, then I’m reluctant to read the book. But, historical fiction, mystery and suspence, fantasy, magical realism, even classic literature help me separate from the situation a bit, while still experiencing the story along with the characters.

Here is a short description of Quest of the Dreamwalker, from my perspective. As Cara and Falin, helped by Khoury, Archer and Bradan, face danger from an evil sorcerer, they try to unravel who they are, and what their aborted purpose might be. In the process we get glimpses of their hopes, fears, grief, love, and connection to one another. While the book does take place in a made up world, and there are sorcerers, and a reluctant dragon, this book could almost be classified as medieval historical fiction. There are shamanic type characters and paranormal experiences, but if you’ve read The Shack, or The Alchemist, you’re used to that kind of thing anyway. Think about it, aren’t dark sorcerers just a representation of the darker side of human nature? And dragons, as part of our mythology, represent greed, or intelligence, or love of the land, or even wisdom. To me the main themes of this book are the same as most general fiction. It involves characters who are wounded and dealing with unhealed grief and pain. They are seeking self-discovery, finding their purpose, and finding and expressing love. I highly recommend this book, even to those of you who might not think you like fantasy.

Okay I’ve done my good deed for the day. I will continue to explore genres of fiction that I might normally shy away from. I will also continue to learn how best to promote my work.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, woman’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What I Learned from Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

“I’m full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

I’m a little slow on the uptake, or maybe it’s just that now I fully understand, on all levels, that key ingredient that makes great writing endure. It’s emotion. You have to engage the reader, or audience member emotionally, or they won’t remember your work. “I remember most how the books made me feel.” A recent guest said on the “What Do I Read Next” podcast by Anne Bogel, that I have recently subscribed to.

I’m also taking a course through Turner Classic Movies about Alfred Hitchcock. An interesting thing I’ve learned about his style was that he always wanted his audience to connect emotionally with his main characters.

Then I felt chagrin when I realized, my last two posts, which got no likes or comments, were too intellectual. They didn’t express the emotion that I always feel when I make connections between big ideas. I often feel a sinking or rising feeling in my solar plexus. What I feel physically confirms what I think I know intellectually. But now I see that I have not done a good job expressing those emotion so you, my readers can connect to my excitement, or dismay, or whatever the heck I’m feeling. In a way, I’m just following my strengths.

I don’t mean to play “The Devil made me do it,” card. Let me explain before I go on. When I was teaching high school, someone recommended that I read the book Teach With Your Strengths, by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller. I love finding out more about my personality traits, so I bought the book. At the end you take the quiz to discover what your top five strengths are. Mine are empathy, intellection, connectedness, ideation, and strategic. Four of those strengths have to with the way I use my brain. Even though empathy is at the top of the list, I have to admit, I was completely surprised by the last four traits. Never before had I even thought about why I love to analyze everything. But when I watched the interview segments last week with Alfred Hitchcock, I got it. I’m a little bit like him, deadpan on the outside, swirling with emotions on the inside.

When something happens to me, lots of emotions are churning around inside me. But over the years through lots of moves, and toxic school, and work environments, I’ve learned to play ‘possum. It’s my defense mechanism to keep myself from getting ridiculed. So on the outside I look perfectly calm, while inside my emotions are doing somersaults. Alfred Hitchcock was the same way during the interview we watched in class. He was so deadpan. Yet what his many biographers, the instructor, and many movie critics have said is that, what makes his movies endure is how they make us feel. So, he must have been in touch with universal human emotions on some level.

That’s something I need to keep working on as a writer, especially when I’m working on these blog posts and other non-fiction work. Because the best non-fiction books I’ve read tell personal stories that engage my emotions as a reader. I can relate to the feelings expressed by the author.

This insight couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve begun working on a new book titled, Inner Life of a Late Bloomer Baby Boomer, and even though it’s not a memoir, the essays do express my personal viewpoint about life. Each piece needs to reveal my emotions about the ideas I’m sharing. I think this will be easier now that I’m older and have been more open about expressing how I really feel instead of keeping silent. No more playing ‘possum for me.

Just now as I write this post, I know why I didn’t continue on with a higher degree in religion. It’s because theater grasped my emotions and taught me many of the same things that were expressed in my religion classes. But, theology is too academic. I honestly don’t remember many of the concepts I learned during those years of studying religion. What I do remember was how excited my instructors were to share the subjects they loved. Their excitement rubbed off on me and my world view was expanded, but the details of the concepts are gone.

So, I feel I must apologize to all of you. I’m going to work on infusing my work with more emotion, even while sharing the interesting ideas that spark my imagination. It’s a goal that should keep me busy for the next twenty or thirty years, and I hope will improve my writing.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What I Know So Far

Anne Lamott Quote

“Our true person is outside of time and space, but looking at the paperwork, I can, in fact, see that I was born in 1954. My inside self is outside of time and space. It doesn’t have an age. I’m every age I’ve ever been, and so are you …” ~ Anne Lamott

The other day I saw a TED talk by Anne Lamott about twelve things she knows for sure. I have to say I haven’t read much of her work, but I’ve heard her speak many times and I love her humor and outlook on life. So taking a cue from her, since I’ve recently turned sixty-four, I’m going to write some things here that I know for sure. At least, so far. These are not in any particular order.

I don’t have children, and though most people don’t say it, I know many of them are thinking that I have no legacy to leave behind me, as if that’s a big deal. I don’t believe that. I think we’re made up of energy and we can’t help but leave our energy signature behind us. Even if a person seems to be leading a negative life, their energy might have positive consequences for those left behind. For example, many people saw the kind of life Hitler led and said, “Oh, heck no, I’m not living that kind of life.” What’s more, anyone who is creative leaves their work behind, and that’s a lovely legacy for all who come after.

Second, there is no reason to worry about the younger generations coming behind you. Each generation progresses, and the generations that come after build on what the ones before have done. I’ve been a teacher of both high school and community college students and I can say from experience that my students were for the most part, responsible, thoughtful, hardworking people. I’m not worried at all about the wonderful things they will accomplish. In fact, I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Third, nothing matters. Before you tie yourself into knots about that, just think about it. Everything that exists just is. We are the ones who assign a meaning to things and situations. The house is not good or bad, it just is. The situation at work is not good or bad, except what we think about it. Whether or not our lawn is mown is not good or bad, it’s just the way people pressure you to think about it. So, take a breath, and see how you feel about what happens to you. Ask yourself whether or not it will matter in a hundred years. If not, then it might be good to let it go.

Four, If you want people to be trustworthy, you have to trust them. My dad used to say that all the time, and it’s true. I practice this principle when I’m teaching. If I expect a lot from my students and trust that they will put their all into doing the work, for the most part they do. If not, I follow what Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” And as Iyanla Van Zant says, “If you see crazy, cross the street.”

Five is related to four, if someone is entrenched in their beliefs, don’t try to change their mind. That’s a situation in which we find ourselves on a huge scale right now, and it’s distressing because the people who believe in hatred and separation are making life miserable for the rest of us. But, as my dad also used to say, it’s best to lead by example. So be persistent in sharing love, compassion, and understanding. Eventually, when the tide turns and love is the way we conduct our places of business, and our government agencies, the haters will either change or die off.

Six, there is so much good in the world. Make a practice of looking for, and being grateful for it. When you do, your life will be so much happier. Tell people you appreciate them, be thankful for even the smallest things that go right during the day.

Seven, loving yourself is the best gift you can give the world. When you love yourself, the mistakes, the dark places, the triumphs and all, then you have added to the expansion of the human race, because we’re all connected, you know. So, take the time to forgive and love yourself. You will contribute to changing the world.

Eight, there is only now. As so many teachers have said, we can’t change what happened in the past and the future isn’t here yet, so pay attention to the moment you’re in, cherish it and/or learn from it.

Nine, love is stronger than hate, the sensitive, empathetic, compassionate people are the ones who are changing the world.

Ten, I wanted to mention chocolate, since Anne Lamott did in her list. I’m not funny like she is, so I’ll just say that drinking my supercharged hot chocolate every morning is one of the great pleasures of my life. I’m grateful that its rich goodness was discovered and developed for all of us to enjoy.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment sharing something you know for sure.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time which is available in ebook format at Smashwords and on the iBooks store. It will soon be available at Amazon.

Slow Boat to Book Sales

Revised book cover for The Space Between Time

“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but If we do each thing calmly and carefully, we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.” ~ Viggo Mortensen

What more do I need to say? Viggo Mortensen’s horse master had it right. That’s why I’m taking the slow route with my book promotion.

My friend Debrah, the writer who helped me hone my book, and I are getting together tomorrow to plan strategies to promote our books. Debrah has published three, soon to be four, books. She and I are kind of alike. We want to plan our own strategies for promoting our books. It’s good to read about how other people have created massive interest and lots of sales for their products, but I’ve always been a little bit of a rebel when it comes to rules. I hardly ever follow a recipe exactly as written, and as I’ve written before, I didn’t follow all the rules when I was a teacher. I feel the same about promoting my book.

There are so many stories of people and their “instant” success. For example, hugely popular actors like George Clooney who slept on his Aunt Rosemary’s couch for a year or so, then took small parts for ten years before his big breakthrough. Or Jim Carrey who at one point lived with his family in their Volkswagon van, before getting his break as a stand up comedian. Even authors like J.K. Rowling had hurdles to jump over before their books became hits.

Taking our cue from others who “made it” after lots of effort, Debrah and I will create our own method, all the while believing in our work, forging relationships and continuing to write.

Since the ebook version of The Space Between Time is finally published, find the link below, I’d like to share some ways you can help promote my book, should you choose to read it, and those of your favorite authors.

I got these tips from an article “13 Ways to Support an Author Without Ever Spending a Dime,” by Florida author, Steph Post, from a site called Lit Reactor. You can read the full article for yourself. I’m picking and choosing my favorites to list here.

Check out a book from the library
“Anyone, anywhere, can purchase a book on Amazon. A library book can give an author a sense of how far their book has traveled,” Ms. Post writes. I plan to ask friends all across the country to request that their local library carry my book, which is the second suggestion on the list. Request that your local library carry your favorite books.

Review a book
You can go to sites like Necessary Fiction and Small Press & Indie Book Review and request a free copy of a book you might like to review. This can help you if you’re a new author and/or reviewer. It also helps the author. Another way to help an author is by writing a review on Amazon, iBooks, or Goodreads. I have an author page on Goodreads and have just listed The Space Between Time on it. If you follow any of my author pages throughout social media, consider writing a review. That helps me get more exposure. Again, you can do this for all your favorite authors, especially those just starting out.

Talk to your local bookseller
If you read a book, especially one by a new author, and your bookstore doesn’t carry it, suggest they stock it. This goes for any book you liked reading, even if you checked it out from the library. You can suggest they create a feature books display, or introduce it in their newsletter. I have friends in Portland, Oregon and I plan to ask them to suggest my book to Powell’s Books. It’s the largest independent bookstore in the world, so if one of their employees reads my book and likes it, and they feature it in their newsletter … well, that would be a dream come true.

Face a book out on the bookshelves
When your local bookstore listens to you and buys the book you suggested, pull the book out so the browsers can see the cover.

Take a book selfie
Use your selfie stick and social media to promote books you have read and loved, even if they are older. It might revive interest in the book. Remember to be creative!

Nominate a book
I don’t know about you, but it seems self-serving to nominate my own book for an award. I have a love-hate relationship with awards anyway. However, as Ms. Post points out, many sites with awards, like Goodreads, are reader driven, so nominate your favorites.

Recommend a book to a book club, and talk to your friends about the books you love
Word of mouth is still the best advertising tool, so be creative about sharing the news about books you have enjoyed reading.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with your friends.

The Space Between Time will soon be available at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook retailers. You can download it today at Smashwords. I’ll let you know when the print versions are ready.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

My Book is Published. Now What?

Elizabeth Gilbert At TED

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” ~ Edward de Bono

“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” ~ Yo-Yo Ma

“I was a writer before ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ and I’ll be a writer after it’s over. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

I was going to make this post about the marketing and promotion that is a necessary part of publishing a book, but this morning I saw a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert from 2009 about what happens to many creatives after a big success. She related what she had experienced after the explosive success of her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. It wasn’t her reaction to the fame, that caused her to take a step back and examine the creative process, it was the reaction of others.

I don’t know why we think we have a right to comment on, or be concerned for other people in intrusive soul killing ways. When Elizabeth related the fact that people were indicating that she had created her ONE masterpiece and how did she feel about that? And how was she going to cope with that fact? I cringed, just like she did.

The thing is, she has written another big block buster book since her first. It’s Big Magic, which I have read. It’s about the creative process and it’s been an inspiration for me. She debunks lots of old myths about the tortured artist idea. She’s right it’s time to think of artists in new ways. And she wrote the book for artists, so they can be cycle breakers. I decided to break out of the starving, tortured artist mould and just have fun writing.

Here’s the thing, I’ve written a novel, my first. It took me seven years to complete. It’s taking my husband a week, to prepare the manuscript for publication as an ebook. Then it will take us two or three weeks, maybe more, to complete the process to publish it for the print-on-demand version. It will be a big relief and, of course, I’ll have lots of work to do promoting the book. It may be popular, it may not. But I have lots more to say, and in fact, I’ve started work on its sequel. In addition, I have begun a fantasy book, and I’ve got an idea of taking some of my blog posts and creating a book of them as well. None of my work may hit the New York Times bestseller list. I have fun visualizing that one or two will, but if that never happens, I’ll be just fine. Because I write for me, not for you. Sorry if that sounds callous.

I do hope that my work touches people, that they get something out of it. But, my writing is about doing what poetess Ruth Stone does, I’m catching ideas as they flow by and putting them down on paper. Only in my process, unlike hers, some of the ideas come and pitch a tent, go fishing, hiking, bathe in the sun, roast marshmallows at the campfire for a while before they turn back to letting me in on what it is they want to say. I have lots of ideas camping out in the back of my head. So if one of them comes to fruition and it’s popular, that’s great! But I’ve got others waiting to let me in on their secrets, and when they do I’ll learn something as I’m writing them down.

I hope next week to share the download link for The Space Between Time. If you decide to read it, I hope you’ll share it with others, and even write a review.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share this post with a friend, and leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017