Hurricane Patricia caused all sorts of problems in Mexico and East Texas, but in our part of the Texas Hill Country, she gave us just what we needed: rain. Five-plus beautiful inches of gentle, persistent rain. The soil was so dry that there has been very little runoff, which means that the plants and trees will be able to soak up the moisture. It's also a gift to the spring wildflowers, which need autumn rains to begin their life cycle, from seed to blossom to seed. Today: gray skies, an autumnal drop in temperature, and a brisk breeze out of the north. A good day to stay indoors and write, read, and put in some time with the current needlepoint. The top border is complete--I'll repeat that on the other three sides and be finished. I'm not sure what the next needlepoint project is. Still thinking...
Book report. I decided to get an early start on the 2017 China Bayles mystery (The Last Chance Olive Ranch). The book isn't due until next March, but Loving Eleanor (the story of Eleanor Roosevelt's friendship with Lorena Hickok) comes out in February and I'll be busy with that. So I'm aiming to finish Olive before the holidays.
But Eleanor is already far along her path to publication. The advance reading copies (ARCs) arrived last week and I've started mailing them out to long-lead review venues and important indie booksellers. As soon as the eBook file is formatted, it will go to NetGalley, where review copies will be widely available to librarians, bloggers, other reviewers.
Somehow, I feel more connected to, more a part of, books I've published myself. The words are mine, the pages and cover and the work of getting the book out into the world--all of it, from start to finish, belongs to me.
Yet while I do the work, I wonder: will it be read and understood for what it is? Or will a reader's biases and prejudices keep her from understanding the story? The mysteries are easy to read, comfortable and predictable, and most readers claim to enjoy them. Why not? They're entertaining, and there's nothing there to object to--beyond a few dead bodies, of course.
The biographical fiction I'm writing now, novels like Rose and Eleanor, is much more risky. These are books about real women, leading real, not fictional lives--lives that are very different from what we have understood them to be.
Maybe I should put a note on the front cover. Warning: This book may be perilous to your long-held views of this woman. She is other than what you imagined.
Reading note. You write a book and it’s like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. You don’t know if it will ever reach any shores. And there, you see, sometimes it falls in the hands of the right person. --Isabelle Allende