Insight From Down Under

Recently, I received a reivew on BUKU and BUKU: Sun and Shadows from a reader in Australia.

First off – Australia! There are many challenges to being an indie author. You have to be your own “general contractor”, hiring out or DIY-ing your own editing, cover, formatting, marketing, etc. It can be overwhelming. You also face the task of trying to sell your book when you are one of millions of authors on sites like Amazon. On the other hand – I sat at my computer in little Gallatin, TN and uploaded my book to the internet, and a reader in Australia was able to find it and read it!! Pretty dang cool.

Even cooler, the Australian reader liked both books. I think one of the fears I battled when writing BUKU 2 was that I wouldn’t capture what I had done in BUKU 1. From reviews, it appears that I was successful, so I am relieved and happy.

What prompted my post today was what the reviewer had to say. I loved the reader’s review for BUKU, which in part said, “This is a story really worth reading – the storyline is engaging, the characters are believable, and the baddies are just bad. Have a read – it’s a good one.” That had me smiling.

The reader also reviewed BUKU: Sun and Shadows, (which I really appreciate!) He writes: “What I really like is reading a story and thinking, ‘I want more of this style of writing.’ BUKU has this in spades.” He goes on to say: “The first book was about the creatures that made these people who they are – filled with love and foibles and everything that makes us human. This book is about these people wanting to be better and the hurdles they face trying to do this. Every character here is relatable and realistic to a point where you can’t help but see where they are ‘coming from’ even if you cannot agree with their actions. This book is actually about human frailty and where it can lead the individuals involved – for better or worse.”

So here’s the thing. I can tell you a lot about the elements of both books – they involve spirituality and politics and survival and love and duty. But I don’t think I would have ever described them this way. I don’t think I saw that one was about the creatures that made these people who they are and the follow-up being about human frailty and people wanting to be better.

As the author, I’d tell you I simply followed the story. I created the characters, put them in different scenarios, and tried to figure out what they would do. Don’t get me wrong. I was deliberate with the overarching themes, and I carefully constructed the outcomes, but I don’t know that I was aware I was writing about human frailty. Though, yeah, I guess I was.

I think it’s cool, and part of the wondrous world of art and literature, that what we create becomes more than us. Bigger than us. It transcends us. You can’t take a picture of the moon without it calling up emotions of awe and fear, if not for you, then for others who see it. You can’t create a painting of a rose without making someone consider beauty or their dead grandmother or God. And when I write a post-apocalyptic, dystopian thriller with giant hippo monsters, someone on the other side of the globe contemplates human frailty.

How very thrilling. More thrilling, even, than running from buku. I’ll be frank. I’m not making much money at this whole indie author thing. But creating stories is a calling for me. Something that has called me since I was a child. It means the world to me to have you read my words, enjoy my stories, and perhaps get out of them things I wasn’t aware I was putting in. Thanks for reading. Thanks for the letting me know what you think of what I wrote. Thanks for being the other part of what I do. I am a storyteller. I wouldn’t get to be one without you to tell my stories to.

Let’s Walk On Water

I was thinking about the story of Jesus… and Peter… walking on water. I looked at the reasons why Peter was able to walk on water, however short-lived the experience was. The obvious reasons are because he had faith… and Jesus was on hand to command him to do it. But beyond that… before that… he first imagined that he could do it… he dared to think that he should do it… and then he asked Jesus to allow him do it. I thought it was a good thing to think about as we look ahead at the things we want to accomplish in the new year. We always focus on the things we want to change about ourselves… to work on our faults. What would the year look like if we imagined something big… dared to think we should do it… turned to God for the approval and the assistance… and had the faith to do the seemingly impossible. That’s my resolution. Happy New Year, everyone.

Going Home Again

Jerri Harbison book signing Jennifer AndersonYou know what they say about home. They say you can’t go back.

I know why they say it. Because home isn’t just a location. Home is also about a time… and about people. So even when you can plant your feet in the same physical space, time has marched on. And people have grown older, or moved away. Or died.

For all intents and purposes, I left my hometown of Eldorado, Illinois back in 1982, the year I moved away to the University of Illinois. Thereafter, I always had a different zip code, and quite a few at that. I was often in Eldorado since that’s where my family was. But I no longer lived there. At the end of the week, or the weekend, I always went back ‘home’, to somewhere else.

For close to three decades now, the Nashville, TN area has been home. I currently live on a quiet street in a town called Gallatin. It’s a pretty good size, compared to Eldorado. I usually don’t run into people I know at the store. Some of my closest ‘local’ friends are still miles away. But it has become home to me. Meanwhile, back in Eldorado, my parents have both passed. Many of my friends are no longer there. I don’t find time to visit very often.

But a couple of weekends ago, I went home again. I stayed with my brother. I shared meals with family and with good friends. And I did a book signing for my debut novel BUKU at the Eldorado Memorial Library. I’ve known the lady who set up the event a good portion of my life. My brother stayed for moral support the whole time. My dear friends Bruce and Julie came and took pictures.

The first guy to walk in the door was Scott. Scott and I never did hang around together. But I’ve known Scott since we were in elementary school. The same with Jeff. And Mark. And Bonnie. I caught up with Chris and Janet and Sally and Mike. My neighbor Kim, who I spent countless hours riding bikes with back on Bramlet Street, was there. As was one of my besties from as far back as I can remember; Valery and I have so many shared memories of camp and school and sitting on the back row at church and giggling so hard the pew shook.

Former neighbors, mothers of friends, the husband of a former teacher. Jerri, who I was on a speech team with when we both attended the local community college. And Gary, my coach from those days. I hadn’t seen either of them since the 90’s, and we talked fast and tried to fill in the years.

There’s something about people who knew you when you were young. Who are a part of your history. Who know your family and have stories on your brother. Who remember your parents and your grandparents.

Eldorado isn’t the town it was when I was growing up. Many of the downtown buildings have collapsed due to age and neglect. My parents are gone; their house sits sad and empty. I can probably walk into the grocery store there and not recognize the faces. But how incredible is it, that thirty-four years after I moved away, I can go back and remember so much? And be remembered by so many. I was afraid I wouldn’t know people. But I did. I may have forgotten people I worked with ten years ago. But I remember the faces of my hometown, the people I knew, and who knew me, when I was young.

So here’s the thing. You can’t turn back the clock. You cannot bring back those you love. But turns out, you can go home again.

I have lived in nine different towns (and parts of Nashville) since I moved away. I now reside in Gallatin. But no matter how long I live, I will always be from Eldorado, Illinois.

You’re a Dog. Hey, I’m a Dog Too!

Some friends were out of town, and I was over at their house walking their dog. Suddenly, their neighbor appears in his yard with his dog. Both dogs let out a yelp and strained at their leashes trying to get to each other, whining in frustration.

I wonder if we would be like that if we could easily spot fellow writers and other creatives. Would we have an instinctual urge to run up to them, check them out, size them up and shoot a hundred questions at them trying to figure out if they have a secret we don’t have? Just a thought.

Wanna read the start of the prologue to my novel Buku? http://jenniferandersonwriter.com/2018/04/10/buku-lock-stock-and-oil-barrel/

Just Write

In my quest to learn what I need to know about writing and publishing a book, I have subscribed to a dozen or more different blogs/email lists/Facebook pages/etc, all with instructions on how I should write, why I should write, what I should not do while I write. There seems to be a lot of advice and rules and suggestions and no-no’s. I find that some apply to me. Some I disagree with. Some are talking about the kind of writer I will never be. The only thing I know for sure… the one rule that I will state applies unequivocally to every writer, in every genre, for all time… all of my knowledge and wisdom summed up in one sentence is: If you don’t write, it won’t get written.

And by the way, I think this applies to all creatives. (And we are all creative.) What we have inside of us, the part that is unique to us… if we don’t express it in some way, we stop it from ever being revealed to the world. Or at least our world. Or maybe even, just to us.

Kitty help

Working on the novel. This is what I have so far, with the help of the cat.

“Shepherd,” she said. “He’s not our enemy.”
999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999He glanced at her, but his eyes returned immediately to Oso.

Today

Today. I waited a long time for today. Dreamed about it. Worked toward it. Thought it would never arrive. But today I can officially say I have written a book. I just finished my final self-edit and am sending it off to a few beta readers. There are several more steps I need to take before I can hold a copy of it in my hands, but today is a big day. Today I can claim to be an author.

Check out the start of the prologue to Buku.   http://jenniferandersonwriter.com/2018/04/10/buku-lock-stock-and-oil-barrel/