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The You I Never Knew was written, sold to a publisher, and edited…and then it was orphaned. In publishing, this means the editor who acquired it moved on while the book was in production. This is usually not the best news for a book,  because that acquiring editor loved the book and was its in-house cheerleader. The project was handed off to a new editor. This is a bit like getting a foster child you didn’t ask for.

In my case, it turned out to be a mixed blessing. They were right in the middle of designing the cover, and it looked like this:

cover never used on the you i never knew

the art i never used on the you i never knew

literary collection of stories

Now, this is a fine piece of original art. The design and layout are Image result for the horse whisperer nicholas evansreminiscent of both The Horse Whisperer and a Nicholas Sparks cover, so those are pluses. It also looks a bit like Annie Proulx’s Close Range.

Does this mean the cover is right for this book? Probably not. First of all, The You I Never Knew would be a paperback original, not a hardcover book, so the art needs to “pop” on the shelf in order to stand out. The colors of this cover are muted and the mood is chilly. It might work on a hardcover jacket, but it doesn’t look instantly warm and inviting, like a “feel-good” novel.

The new editor came into the middle of cover design, knowing nothing about me or the book. There was a bright spot, though. The new editor was the extremely smart Maggie Crawford, and she was the kind of foster mother the book needed–an experienced editor who understood the market for this book. She’d worked with many bestselling authors and had a fine eye for marketing women’s fiction. She took on the cover art issue with aplomb, and came up with this.

The You I Never KnewIt’s one of the least-relevant yet most commercial covers I’ve ever had. Here’s my analysis: Splashing my name on the cover in huge letters gave the illusion that this was a big book by a big author. The lettering itself–big, graceful block lettering–was reminiscent of the font used for blockbuster author Sandra Brown. 22 Indigo PlaceAnd of course, it capitalizes on the galloping popularity of the biggest novel of the ’90s, The Horse Whisperer. Cover Image

So I’m back on track, right? My new editor rescued the novel from obscurity and now all I’d need to do is kick back and let the sales roll in. Oh, and I’d be working with Maggie on the next book, brainstorming the plot and building on the success of The You I Never Knew. Right? Right?

NOT.

The lovely and talented foster-editor for this book was so lovely and talented that another publisher hired her away. By the time my novel was published for the first time, there was no one home. My calls were fielded by hapless assistant. With no in-house cheerleader, no marketing budget, and no PR, my book was destined to die of slow strangulation in that publishing twilight zone known as “the midlist.” If sales were poor, the publisher wouldn’t want anymore books from me, and my days as an author were numbered.

BUT.

I had a secret weapon, and that secret weapon was YOU. The You I Never Knew, aka READERS.

One of the great things about publishing is that readers don’t care what a book’s marketing budget is. They don’t care how it’s positioned on a publisher’s list or catalog. They care about the story. Not only that, when they like the story, they tell their friends. And their librarians. And their hairdresser. And the next thing you know, the book is a bestseller.

Against all odds, the first edition of The You I Never Knew made the USA Today bestseller list. Thanks to readers, the book is still in print, in a fresh new edition this week.

The You I never Knew 2016

The latest edition – in stores now!

The You I never knew-SP

the 2010 edition

 

 

 

 

For me, and probably for a lot of writers, self-confidence is a friable and tenuous thing. The least little nay-saying inner voice can derail a whole project. I cherish my friends who inspire me with a sense of possibility. Here is a shout-out to one of the wisest women I know, author Dorothy Allison (remember, her watershed novel is BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA). Susan Wiggs and Dorothy AllisonLove this woman. Love her books. Her writing speaks for itself:

“I wear my skin as thinly as I have to, armor myself only as much as seems absolutely necessary. I try to live naked in the world, unashamed even under attack, unafraid even though I know how much there is to fear….I tell myself that life is the long struggle to understand and love fully. That to keep faith with those who have literally saved my life and made it possible for me to imagine more than survival, I have to try constantly to understand more, love more fully, go more naked in order to make others as safe as I myself want to be. I want to live past my own death, as my mother does, in what I have made possible for others–my sisters, my son, my lover, my community–the people I believe in absolutely, men and women whom death does not stop, who honor the truth of each other’s stories.” –An excerpt from Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature by Dorothy Allison

Could she be any more honest and brave? Her bio reads like one of her novels, only with a happier ending. Born to a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who quit the seventh grade to work as a waitress, Dorothy learned the power and perils of storytelling at a young age. She recalls “hiding out under the porch” and listening to her aunts tell stories, and entering a library or bookstore “with a sense of desperate passion.” Books were her escape from the world. She told Salon Magazine, “To find a way out of the world as I saw it, I read science fiction. To sustain my rage and hope, I read poetry and mainstream novels with female heroines. And I read books by Southerners for ammunition to use against Yankees who would treat me mean.”

The public library has long been important to Dorothy. “My most profound library memory was the shock I got after we moved to central Florida and I went to the school library there. I was thirteen and had gotten used to the South Carolina school libraries which were pitiful—full of biographies of generals and judges but not much else. The central Florida Library was enormous and had a world of books I could borrow—novels, poetry and theologies, history books, and my favorite section of the Dewey Decimal system—with all those books on the occult. I tried to check out everything—which earned me a quick note from the librarian to my mama asking if she knew what I was reading. ‘Did I have permission to read those books?’ ‘Let her read anything she wants,’ my mama told the lady. But it took a signed letter to get me the access I wanted.

“I think I scared most librarians – because I wanted to read the books they thought I should not read—the grown-up fiction and those plays by Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers. But the librarian I worked for when I was in my junior and senior years was a marvel. Mrs. James was fearless and just assumed all young women were like her and wanted to read everything. She was the one who told me about inter-library loan. Suddenly I wasn’t just stuck with what was in the Maynard Evans High School Library. I could request books from other High Schools or even the main library downtown.

“By the time I got to the eleventh grade, I had pretty much exhausted the new books, but Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty got me an after-school job at the school library where I got to record and accession all the new books. That meant I got to read them first. I am still grateful to Lyndon Johnson, and always will be. He may be known to everyone else for his role in the Viet Nam war, but to me he will always be the man who helped me save money for college and made it possible for me to first read the collected poems of Muriel Rukyeser.”

For Dorothy, the library was “the secret world where I could go hide and fall out of this world and into that other one where anything was possible. It had solid wooden tables, sturdy chairs, carpets and air conditioning. If I could have, I would have moved in and lived there. As it was, it was my home away from home—a refuge and a promise. I used to sit on the floor and lean against the bookcases, lean back and dream about having my own place some day—a place where books would be stacked just as high—novels and anthologies and blank books in which I could write my own poems. The library made me think all that was possible, and it was.

“I think the best thing about the library is and was how it always felt to me—not just that it was the repository of what I loved—books themselves—but that it was a place in which a reverence for the word was implicit. Libraries have always seemed to me temples of wisdom—places where study and quiet concentration were honored, and where wanting to read was admired, not held in contempt. I was the child of a truck driver and a waitress, a girl who lived in a claustrophobic house where both the television and the radio were playing loud all the time. The only books in our house—other than the few that were my own—were the big illustrated Bible and my mama’s collection of Mickey Spillane and Ross MacDonald. It worried my family that I tended to hide in a corner and read so much. I was constantly being told to ‘put down that book and go out and play’. But at the library, no one interrupted me, or if they did, they did it softly and with respect. At the library, reading was holy—which is how it felt to me, how it still feels to me.

“In my house, I limited my son’s access to computer and video games, but the house rule on books is simple. If he wants to read it, we will try to find it. And we not only go to the library frequently, we donate books to our local libraries all the time. I want the children in my county to have what I always wanted—new novels on the shelves waiting to be read. It’s just lucky that now publishers actually send me many of them, so that I, in turn, can pass them on.”Elizabeth, Gail, Dorothy, Karen

The Greenville, South Carolina native describes herself as a Southern novelist, feminist, confirmed flirt, femme, expatriate rebel, and born-again Californian. In a 1999 Salon interview, Dorothy says, “I was born to a very poor, violent family where most of my focus was purely on survival, and my sense of self as a lesbian grew along with my sense of myself as a raped child, a poor white Southerner and an embattled female. I was Violet Leduc’s Le Batard much more than I was Le Amazon, that creation of upper-class Natalie Barney. People tell me that class is no longer the defining factor it was when I was a girl, but I find that impossible to fully accept. Class is always a defining factor when you are the child one step down from everyone else.”

At the age of thirteen, she “…was always calculating how to not kill myself or how not to let myself be killed. That tends to stringently shape one’s imagination. I did not plan to fill up a hope chest and marry some good old boy and make babies….I was a smart, desperate teenage girl trying to figure out how to not be dismissed out of hand for who I was. I wanted to go to college, not become another waitress or factory worker or laundry person or counter-help woman like all the other women I knew. Everywhere I looked I saw a world that held people like me in contempt.”

After winning a National Merit Scholarship, Allison attended college and went on to study anthropology at the New School for Social Research. But storytelling was in her bones, and that, combined with an awakening feminist spirit, informs and inspires her award-winning work. For Dorothy, feminism “…was like opening your eyes under water. It hurt, but suddenly everything that had been dark and mysterious became visible and open to change.” The author believes her first book, The Women Who Hate Me, (1983) “wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gotten over my own prejudices, and started talking to my mother and sisters again.”

Her literary influences are surprising. One was Flannery O’Connor — “that astonishing, brave visionary who told hard truths in a human voice — an outsider holding a whole society up to a polished mirror. She was as ruthless as one of her own characters, and I loved her with my whole heart…If I set aside Flannery O’Connor, I would have to say that science fiction made me who I am today. I spent my childhood buried in those books. Every science-fiction novel I fell into as a child…widened my imagination about what was possible for me in the world. There were those perfectly horrible/wonderful stories about barbarian swordswomen who were always falling in love with demons, and there were the Telzey stories and the Witch World books and countless brave and wonderful novels told from inside the imaginations of ‘special’ young girls….On another world, in a strange time and place, all categories were reshuffled and made over.”

Dorothy’s novel, Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), skyrocketed her to fame, boosted by a full page in the New York Times Book Review which proclaimed the novel “as close to flawless as any reader could ask for,” lauding the author’s “perfect ear for speech and its natural rhythms.” The Boston Globe her “one of the finest writers of her generation.” The novel rose to the top of national best seller lists and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. It was adapted and made into an award-winning and controversial movie, directed by Angelica Huston.

“In my family,” Allison says, “…we all commit some unforgivable sin and then spend the rest of our lives trying to redeem it in some fashion. And the romance of self-destruction: I truly do not know why some of us can resist it and some of us can’t, why some of us kill our children and some of us try to send them whole into the world.”

Dorothy serves on the boards of PEN International, the National Coalition Against Censorship and Feminists for Free Expression, and the advisory board of the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award, presented annually to a science fiction or fantasy work that explores and expands on contemporary ideas of gender.

Her advice to writers is succinct: “You learn to live with uncertainty and poverty if you are going to be a writer. I’m still very blunt: If you want to be a writer, get a day job. The fact that I have actually been able to make a living at it is astonishing. I know so many great writers who can’t and, oh, it is not about justice. I am trying to carry it off with grace and a sense of humor.

“Understand me,” she writes. “What I am here for is to tell you stories you may not want to hear….And to scare hell out of you now and then. I was raised Baptist, I know how to do that.”

Some of Dorothy Allison’s Favorite Books

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown.

Sula by Toni Morrison – “I remember…how this great grinding noise went through my brain. Of course, I thought.”

Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers.

My Antonia by Willa Cather.

The Persian Boy, Fire From Heaven and The Friendly Young Ladies by Mary Renault.

Odd Girl Out and Beebo Brinker by Ann Bannon.

Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ.

The Life of Poetry by Muriel Rukyeser.

What would you risk in order to get the one thing you truly desire?

dsc 0028

Susan at Ross Lake. Looking for a metaphor.

Seriously, what would you risk?

When I was an emerging writer in my 20s, trying to sell my first book, I risked a lot. I had a great life–wonderful teaching career, adorable baby, cute dogs, a house in the ‘burbs, good family and friends. Why would I take on the stress and struggle and uncertainty of a career as a novelist? It was a massive risk on many levels.

In practical terms, I was subjecting my daughter and myself to financial risk, because writing is about as stable as betting on horses. I also gave up social time with friends. I had to forego my book-a-day reading habit, entire series on TV (okay, not a huge sacrifice there) and forget sleep. There was at least one night when I stayed up all night working on my novel. I looked out to see the sun coming up, so I combed my hair, put on my lipstick, took the baby to pre-school and staggered off to work that day. (You can do stuff like this when you’re in your 20s.)

There’s something more than financial solvency at risk when you decide to publish a novel. The emotional risk is huge in writing. Even in a made-up story, you’re showing people your hidden self. Will readers think I’m Faith, the struggling single mom in Starlight on Willow Lake? The cheated-on wife in Just Breathe? Will they get a glimpse of me in the brash, emotionally distant Tess, or the the so-shy-you-want-to-slap-her Isabel? Or am I Annie Rush, the passionate, ambitious wronged woman whose world comes crashing down on her?

I’m a fan and friend of acclaimed writing coach, Michael Hauge, who is fond of issuing this challenge to writers. Brace yourself. It might be the toughest statement you’ll ever make in your writing career:

FILL IN THIS STATEMENT FOR YOURSELF:

“I’ll do whatever it takes to be a

successful writer;

but don’t ask me to ___________________,

because that’s just not me.” 

Common responses to “…just don’t ask me to…” might be:

  • -quit my day job

    -walk away from a bad deal from a publisher

  • -tell my family to give me space
  • -follow somebody’s writing formula
  • -abandon somebody’s writing formula
  • -take a writing class
  • -reveal my innermost thoughts on paper
  • -write about deeply personal matters
  • -write about people who might recognize themselves in my book
  • -subject myself to criticism and rejection
  • -set a work schedule and stick to it
  • -learn to type
  • -YOUR OWN BLOCK OR DEMON GOES HERE: ____________

Your answer will reveal what you’re avoiding in order to protect yourself.

Some of you might be thinking, “Oh, it’s easy for you, an established author, to deal with these fears. You’ve already cleared the hurdles.” All right, you be the judge. Here are a few steps I had to take on my writer’s journey, and believe me, they were not easy. One year, I had to hock my beloved Juzek cello for money to live on. Another time, I failed to enter my book for the RITA Award because I used the entry fee for groceries. I had so many rejection letters from agents and publishers that I quit counting after 100, and actually papered the walls of a bathroom with the rejection slips. I endured skepticism, sleepless nights, people wondering why I was wasting my time writing stories instead of ________________. <–insert what your judgmental friends and associates would add here. You have to care more about your writing dream than you do about people’s opinions. Do you? Can you?

I dare you. Go!

 

 

Q: Why, oh why, did you leave Daisy twisting in the wind like that? Curse you! May you burn in hell! (But after you write Daisy’s story.)
A: WARNING. There are bound to be a few spoilers in my reply. If spoilers bother you, please don’t read! If you don’t mind the spoilers, roll your mouse over the hidden parts of the reply to highlight and reveal the text (I’ve written it in white font).
Oh, Daisy. When will you learn? We’ve been following you since you were a troubled child of divorce in Summer at Willow Lake, a pregnant teen in The Winter Lodge, leaving home in Dockside, a college student in Snowfall at Willow Lake, a career girl in Fireside and a busy single mom in Lakeshore Christmas.
And all we’ve ever wanted was for you to find your happily-ever-after.
You keep being pulled back and forth between Logan, the handsome, well-born father of your child, and Julian, the dangerous but adoring adrenalin junkie in search of adventure.
And now this! Somebody’s about to pop the question and we don’t even get to know which one, or what your answer is!
Argh! I could kill you dead right now!
There is no way everyone is going to love everything that happens to a character in a book. I just hope I can be true and fair to the characters and storylines I’ve set up.
It’s true that there is a major, major unanswered question at the end of Lakeshore Christmas. Daisy finds herself in quite a pickle. A delicious pickle.
The good news is, somebody wants to marry her.
The bad news is, we don’t quite know which somebody.
Do I know who dropped the d-bomb on the train platform? Yes.
Is it who you think it is? Probably not.
Disclaimer: Even though I do know how this is going to go down, I haven’t finished Daisy’s book yet, so it’s subject to change. Sometimes a story goes off in its own direction and I have no choice but to follow.
I have a title I really like: Daisy+Logan+Julian which doesn’t really give anything away. It’s a working title and my publisher tends to change them so I’m not holding my breath.
One thing I can promise: The book will be Lakeshore #8 (after the March 2010 release of The Summer Hideaway).

It’s Frustrated Reader time in my in-box. Definitely the most frequently asked question is this:

Q: Why, oh why, did you leave Daisy twisting in the wind at the end of Lakeshore Christmas? Curse you! May you burn in hell! (But after you finish Daisy’s story.)

A: WARNING. There are bound to be a few spoilers in my reply. If spoilers bother you, please don’t read! If you don’t mind the spoilers, hold down the mouse button and roll over the hidden parts of the reply to highlight and reveal the text (I’ve written it in white font).

Oh, Daisy. When will you learn? We’ve been following you since you were a troubled child of divorce in Summer at Willow Lake, a pregnant teen in The Winter Lodge, leaving home in Dockside, a college student in Snowfall at Willow Lake, a career girl in Fireside and a busy single mom in Lakeshore Christmas.

And all we’ve ever wanted was for you to find your happily-ever-after.

You keep being pulled back and forth between Logan, the handsome, well-born father of your child, and Julian, the dangerous but adoring adrenalin junkie in search of adventure.

gettyimages.com

gettyimages.com

And now this! Somebody’s about to pop the question and we don’t even get to know which one, or what your answer is!

Argh! I could kill you dead right now!

There is no way everyone is going to love everything that happens to a character in a book. I just hope I can be true and fair to the characters and storylines I’ve set up.

It’s true that there is a major, major unanswered question at the end of Lakeshore Christmas. Daisy finds herself in quite a pickle. A delicious pickle.

The good news is, somebody wants to marry her.

The bad news is, we don’t quite know which somebody.

Do I know who dropped the d-bomb on the train platform? Yes.

Is it who you think it is? Probably not.

Disclaimer: Even though I do know how this is going to go down, Daisy’s book is full of surprises. As the story unfolded from my imagination, the twists and turns surprised even me. Sometimes a story goes off in its own direction and I have no choice but to follow.

I had a title I really like: Daisy+Logan+Julian which doesn’t really give anything away. It’s a working title and my publisher tends to change them so didn’t hold my breath. Ultimately, the perfect title emerged from lengthy discussions with my editor and agent: Marrying Daisy Bellamy.

One thing I can promise: There is an enticing excerpt from Lakeshore #11 in the back of the new edition of Daisy. Please enjoy the exclusive preview of Starlight on Willow Lake.

So after telling you about the process of writing a novel, I promised to talk about cover art. How does a publisher get that sucker all spiffed up and ready for the bookstore?

Oh, so carefully. Most publishers have an entire dedicated art department whose sole purpose is book design–the image, the fonts, endpapers, you name it.

Back when I was self-publishing, I designed my own.

bringing you bad books since the age of 8

bringing you bad books since the age of 8

p10603411

Art was not my forte, clearly.

Book cover art is the topic of endless and passionate debate among writers and people in publishing.

Because it matters so freakin’ much. It’s the reader’s first glimpse of your work. You’ve got a split second to grab her attention. And in that split second, you have to convey that a) this is YOUR kind of book and b) it’s a particularly great read and c) she should just ignore all those other books on the shelf nearby that are vying for attention.

How does a book get from the mess on my living room floor…

Barkis is bored. He just doesn't get it.

Barkis is bored. He just doesn’t get it.

…into the reader’s hands?

Buy a book from Wendy!

You need not just a beautiful cover, but the RIGHT cover. For example, this cover is beautiful:

Where's the romance?

Where’s the romance?

…but it doesn’t scream “sweep-you-away-historical-romance” the way this one does:

Sexy tiiime!

Sexy tiiime!

The Drifter reissue

They’re all nicely done, but guess which one sold the best? Yep, the one that looked the most romantic, dramatic and compelling to the reader most likely to enjoy that kind of book.

After the original edition of The Drifter was published, the art department took another look at what my books were about and what my readers love–romance, fantasy, passion. So my next book, THE CHARM SCHOOL, went through a major transformation. Here is the cover-in-progress:

I sent my editor a little thumbnail image from a book of clipart. I just thought it was pretty. The main character was a bookworm with a rich fantasy life, and this image made me think of her:

Clip art that inspired The Charm School cover

Thanks to my very smart editor, she got this sketch out of the art department, and I knew we had a winner on our hands:

sketch for Charm School cover

I was hoping it would turn into a pink valentine of a book because, well, we readers love pink valentines. And Lo:

Now, THAT's a cover.

Now, THAT’s a cover.

Flowers, purple foil, generous endorsement from iconic romance author. It even had a peek-a-boo window with a glimpse at the illustration inside. And although the real Isadora looked like this:

Isadora, the main character of THE CHARM SCHOOL

Isadora, the main character of THE CHARM SCHOOL

…she got a makeover for the cover art. This image is inside the front cover. It’s known as a “step-back.”

ready for action

ready for action

I’m proud to say, The Charm School was my first national bestseller. The book got good reviews, won some awards, made some best-of lists, but I credit the sales to the right cover on the right book. 

Oh, and here–with apologies to the redoubtable Erik Larson–is my nomination for the worst book cover ever. On one of the best books, ever.

Foreign edition of Erik's iconic work, Devil in the White City, with unfortunate cover art.

Foreign edition of Erik’s iconic work, Devil in the White City, with unfortunate cover art.

One of the questions I get most frequently is “How many books are in the Lakeshore Chronicles series? In what order should I read them?”

Brrr!

Today’s plan: Stay inside where it’s warm and curl up with a good book.

You can read the books in any order because each book is a complete novel unto itself, but if you want to go chronologically (and if you’re a fan of the Daisy Bellamy storyline, I recommend this), it’s

1. Summer at Willow Lake
       (a) “Homecoming Season” (a novella in the anthology MORE THAN WORDS: STORIES OF COURAGE)
2. The Winter Lodge
3. Dockside
4. Snowfall at Willow Lake
5. Fireside 
6. Lakeshore Christmas
7. The Summer Hideaway 
8. Marrying Daisy Bellamy 
9. Return to Willow Lake
10. Candlelight Christmas
11. Starlight on Willow Lake

How many Lakeshore books will there be? Well, here’s a hint:

Wheelchairs on Willow Lake cartoon

(This glimpse into the future comes to you courtesy of the multitalented Suzanne Selfors.)

I was a storyteller before I could speak in fully formed sentences, or write words on paper. I know this because I have the kind of mom who tended to save things she deemed important—like a toddler’s markings on an old church collection envelope, or stick-figure drawings featuring imaginary characters. This is how I know that all my stories have always been about the same thing—an ordinary girl, facing extraordinary circumstances, whether it’s a kid up a tree with Bad Things after her…or a lonely young woman who suddenly discovers a family she’s never known.

But that’s just the spine of the story. For me, the magic happens when I discover just the right setting and tone for the story to unfold. I created the town of Archangel, in glorious Sonoma County, as the setting for THE APPLE ORCHARD, because I wanted to evoke that golden, sweep-you-away quality that comes over the reader as she sinks into the world of the story.

Besides the setting, my favorite aspect of this story is that often, the key to the present is found in the past, sometimes deeply buried. As Tess, the main character, uncovers the hidden dramas that have brought her to THE APPLE ORCHARD, she uncovers her own heart’s desire.

BIG NEWS: THE APPLE ORCHARD (have I mentioned the title enough?) is 50% off when you preorder from Barnes&Noble on April 3 and 4 only. So grab a copy for yourself, and maybe order an extra for your mom, your BFF, your local library…I do love a sale!

Susan Wiggs

Pre-Order The Apple Orchard today!

Susan Wiggs - The Apple Orchard

Today is the official pub day of Return to Willow Lake. I’m so grateful to all the readers who helped make it a bestseller in hardcover. Now, paperback fans will find it in stores. You can also find the book in audio and digital formats, and in lots of different languages.

The hardcover edition was published during an exciting time in my life.

And I’m excited about the paperback, but for me, there’s something bittersweet about the publication of this particular book. When I first conceived the story, I knew I would be dealing with some big issues

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Just out in paperback

. However, I didn’t know how personal the central issue would become for me.

One of the storylines in the novel involves a young woman returning home to help her mother through the ordeal of breast cancer. Now, on the eve of the paperback publication, I’ve discovered that one of my best friends has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Loretta is a wife, a mom, a sister, a friend. She’s facing the fight of her life.

So in addition to the dedication in the printed book, I would like to unofficially dedicate the paperback edition to my beloved friend, Loretta. She’s sharing her journey on a blog, and I’m so proud of the courage and humor in her writing, and in the responses from her friends and family. Here’s a link to her most heart touching post. Keep the Kleenex handy. You’ve been warned.  http://blog.lorettastanton.com/?p=114#comments

“Bookshops are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books that were written because authors couldn’t find anyone to talk to.”

–Alain de Botton

n95311.jpg

The Firebrand

is a valentine to booksellers and a testament to the power of love and the mysteries of fate and happenstance. It has a lot of ground to cover.

In the midst of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, unconventional debutante Lucy Hathaway risks her life to save a baby girl, raising the orphan as her own while running The Firebrand, a bookstore that caters to suffragettes and free thinkers. Five years later, fate throws her into the path of Randolph Higgins when she discovers the scarred, bitter, divorced man believes his baby died in the fire. She realizes Maggie, the child she saved that terrible night, is his lost daughter.

Now the conservative banker and the fiercely independent Lucy must deal with each other for Maggie’s sake. Despite the resulting clash of wills and differing political views, the powerful attraction that drew them together five years earlier still exists. Can these two stubborn, opinionated people find a way to create a family for the sake of Maggie, risking their own battered hearts?

I would love to meet you! Please mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

1 October 2010 – Poulsbo WA

  • 6:30pm
  • Chocolate and Wine with Romance Authors: Susan Wiggs, Sheila Roberts, Kimberly Fisk, and Julia Templeton
  • Kiana Lodge, Poulsbo, WA
  • Ticket Price: $25.00
  • Join Susan Wiggs, Sheila Roberts, Kimberly Fisk and Julia Templeton at Kiana Lodge to support your library! An evening of chocolate, wine and words in a romantic setting. Discuss their writing styles, careers, and stories for an unforgettable evening of fun.
  • Click here http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/109614 for tickets and more information.

11-16 October 2010 – Seattle WA

  • “The Novel: LIVE!” event to benefit literacy. 36 authors. 6 days. 1 blockbuster novel. For more info please see Words4Women-subscribe.

    Firehouse Veggie Chili (adapted from www.marthastewart.com)

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 carrot, chopped
    • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 pound dried lentils, rinsed
    • 1/3 cup tomato paste
    • 1 (15-ounce) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 (15-ounce) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 stewed (28-ounce) tomatoes
    • 1/3 cup chili powder
    • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • toppings of your choice–sour cream, chopped green onions, cheddar cheese, etc.

    In a large pot, warm the oil. Saute onion, green and red peppers, carrot, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Stir in 7 cups water, lentils, tomato paste, kidney beans and pinto beans. Add stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about an hour. If the chili starts to dry out, add hot water as needed. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with toppings and corn bread.

    Stay cool!

A revised manuscript finally wings its way out the door. I’m posting this so you can see 1) this funny cartoon and b) the time stamp on the e-mail.

From: Susan Wiggs Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:55 AM
To: my long-suffering editor
Cc: my cheerleader of an agent
Subject: Daisy v. 2
Importance: High

what’s on my mind right now:

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