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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

 

 

 

 

If you’ve ever taken a trip on a train or ferryboat, you know what I mean. You’re forced off the grid, leaving you 2 choices: read or write. It’s singularly relaxing. This is known as reader (or writer) heaven. From Paris, we took the TGV (tres grande vitesse) train to Aix-en-Provence. 3 zippy hours in a comfy seat with France out the fenetre.

Paris gare de lyon

What did I write on the train?

Sometimes productivity is overrated.

Sometimes productivity is overrated.

And what did I read? An international bestseller called THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND… by Swedish author Katarina Bivald. It will be published in the US in January, and you’re going to love it.

Get it right

Get it right

Help me out here, people. For the umpteenth time, I’ve had a note from a reader telling me about an error in my book. Many writers I know, including the peerless Tess Gerritsen, get this kind of feedback.

Now, ordinarily, I love getting corrections from readers because it means that in future editions of the book, I can change, says “commissary” to “dispensary” or put the Pax River Naval Station in the right state (blush).

But quite often, a reader wants to change a word that’s already correct. The latest? Gabbie K. tells me I’ve spelled “minuscule” wrong. She wants me to spell it “miniscule.” Is it because it’s derived from the ancient root “mini” as in, “mini marshmallows”???

And don’t get me started on words that are spelled right, but are perennially misunderstood. There has to be a term for this–words that don’t mean what you think they mean. You know, like toothsome. Ask anyone what she thinks it means. Use it in a sentence, even. “He had a toothsome smile.” Trust me, toothsome does NOT mean toothy. It has nothing to do with teeth. Look it up, I dare you.

And niggardly is not a racist term, although this word is so misunderstood that I’m nervous just typing it. niggardly“>It means stingy, and always has. Out of ignorance, some people think it’s an offensive term. So much so that when I need to say “stingy,” I’ll just say “stingy. Or maybe if I’m feeling daring, I’ll say “begrudgingly.”

Oh, and just so you know–when someone makes a speech and you want to agree with them vociferously, it’s “Hear! Hear!Not “Here, here,” unless you’re calling a dog. And did you know that if someone was killed by hanging, he was hanged, not hung? And the past tense of sneak is sneaked, not snuck. Check it out, people. You know I’m right.

[Note: Some sites like the New York Times have a  new lookup feature. Select any word, and it will takeyou to a dictionary link.]

Here are a few more “counterintuitive-nyms” for you. Treat this as a pop quiz. Do you know what these words mean, how to use them and how to spell them? If yes, then YAY YOU:

Noisome, inflammable, invaluable. Chasten, bemuse, vilify. Fecund, lachrymose. Guttural. Timorous. Restive, leman, sacrilegious.

How about you? What are some sadly misunderstood and misspelled words in your writing world?

I hear it from emerging writers all the time. I’ve got a great idea for a novel. I’m going to sit down and write it as soon as I…

  • …get my day job under control
  • …get my final kid into kindergarten
  • …into college …out of jail
  • …get my finances in order
  • …fix my marriage
  • …finish painting the house
  • …pay off the car
  • …clean the can opener
  • …clean the rain gutters
  • …get the puppy housebroken
  • …retire from my job
  • …finish watching the third season of “Weeds”
  • …get my Bachelor’s…Master’s…PhD…LLB…MD
  • …pay off my student loans
  • …read all the Outlander books
  • …check in with my nineteen thousand Facebook friends
  • …upgrade my computer
  • …make tenure
  • …landscape the yard
  • …take a vacation
  • …host my book group
  • …teach my teenager to drive
  • …finish knitting this sweater
  • …forgive my parents …forgive myself
  • …get over my fear of failure …get over my fear of success
  • …get permission from my parents/spouse/children/therapist
  • …hire an agent
  • …learn to use the subjunctive case
  • …quit worrying about what my family will think of my story, especially the dirty parts
  • …stop smoking/drinking/playing online games
  • …figure out the business of publishing
  • …lose 20 pounds so I look good in my author photo…

You name it, and a procrastinating writer has said it. Here’s a dirty little secret. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the cruel reality is this. There will never be a good time to write. Life will always intrude. That’s what life is. Be glad for that. If you have no life, you have nothing to write about.

The good news is, there’s a simple solution. Make time for the things that are important to you. If writing your story is important, make time for it. Simple as that. Turn off the TV, leave the dishes undone, close your e-mail, grab a notebook and pen, and tell your family, “Don’t interrupt me unless your eyes are bleeding.” You’ll be surprised by the respect they give you.

The way you spend your day is the way you spend your life. So quit being your own worst enemy and start being your own best friend. Make time to write, even if you don’t have time.

I have procrastinated my way through the writing of many books. Somehow, the story emerges. The Beekeeper’s Ball hits the shelves next week. There’s a lot of love and food in that book. Let me know what you think.

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

This is my donation to a grass-roots movement to help a beautiful friend & neighbor in her battle against cancer. Learn more about this insane swim-around-the-island, and see photos by Pete Saloutos here: http://www.armsaroundbainbridge.com/

torn between two lovers...

torn between two lovers...

Those of you who have been reading the Lakeshore Chronicles have met Daisy in every book, but her whole story hasn’t been told…until tomorrow, the official pub date of MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY. It’s a very cool story, if I do say so myself.

In Lakeshore Christmas (2009), her story progresses, but again it’s only a secondary plot, so we don’t get to dig too deep.

Daisy’s juggling single motherhood, school and career. And because this is a Wiggs book, she is looking for love. Her dilemma? Does she want to find it with Logan, the father of her child? Or with Julian, the sexy adrenalin junkie who first captivated her when they were in high school?

MY dilemma in Lakeshore Christmas was how far to take the storyline. I can’t reveal who she chooses, but I needed to play fair with the reader. It was tricky. What do you think? Should she choose Logan? Julian? Or what about Zach, the steadfast best friend? Or someone brand new and unexpected?

Well, Daisy made her choice, but it wasn’t easy. Early reviews are good, bless you reviewers, and most of them non-spoilerish.

LAKESHORE CHRISTMAS has arrived. First time in paperback. Yay! I’m so excited. Thanks to Pam for the field report from Susanville CA:

what’s on my mind right now:

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