Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Library, aka, Jackson's Bar

So this summer, I visited a lot of the places that were inspiration for One Crappie Summer. I thought I'd show you some of them here. Today, I'm showing you my inspiration for the bar owned by Jackson. It looks like a house, but is definitely not. Plus, when you're a college student, you can say, "I'm headed to The Library" and parents are so proud.

Do you have places you use for inspiration when you write?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Do You Do at the Beach? (book inspiration!)

This beach is located on Lake Texoma
in Oklahoma. It's called West Burns
Run. It's an awesome beach for
swimming. Not so much for thinking...
well, not in July. It's too hot!!

I’m very much in love with the idea of the beach. I want to be the kind of person who uses the beach like Kate does in my little ebook, One Crappie Summer.

Kate uses the beach to help her think. She’ll drag her lawn chair down there and plop down with a glass of iced tea for a good long think. In one scene, Kate and a cute television reporter take a walk on the beach. Evening gray-blue sky. Waves. Gentle breeze.

In reality, I’m very much in love with the beach, but the use of the beach is much, much different.

Take today. I took my children there at 9:30 this morning. The sand was already so hot that they insisted that I apply the sunscreen while they stood in an inch of tepid water.

Then, (in my vision as I packed the car this morning) I planned to the latest issue of O (it has quizzes!) while the children splashed each other in the water.

In reality, the sun was so hot and blinding that I sat on the chaise lawn chair I’d brought with me for no more than sixteen seconds before I dove in after the kids and got wet head to toe.

I had fun. We had fun. But this is not the beach I envisioned Kate using to think about how to get her life together after college. 

The beach I envisioned in One Crappie Summer was the one I used in late afternoons after work during high school. I kept a lawn chair in the trunk of my car. I'd stop at the convenience store for a diet orange soda and then drive over to a little strip of sand that very few people knew about. I'd plop the chair in shallow water and lay out in the sun until the chair's legs had sunk into the wet sand so deeply that I could feel the water under me. I thought about a lot of things on those days.  I was restless then, waiting for the next phase of life, impossibly unsure of how to make it happen.

And so badly, in this book, I want Kate to find her own way. I want the beach to work out in that way for Kate.

What do you do at the beach?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Why an Ebook?

Let’s face it. We all know that I published One Crappie Summer as an ebook because I couldn’t find an agent interested in it. I didn’t ask all of them, but I did ask a few. Agents who read the book said good things like, “Love the story, but Kate needs to be younger for me to sell this.” “Kate really needs to be younger so this fits the YA market.”

Kate, sitting on the boat dock
behind the cabin she rented from a
fishing guide named Skeeter.
For one agent, I tried to write her younger. And then the agent said, "This isn't realistic. A high school kid wouldn't photograph a dead body."

Of course she wouldn't.

Because Kate is not younger. She’s 22. She just graduated from college. And can’t find a job. So she has to go back to her old one where she writes how-to stories for the annual crappiethon. As in fish. And it totally sucks. Until she finds a dead body but not the shooter. To figure out what happened, she enlists some frat boys for help. And all goes well until they find themselves needing to do one little tiny breaking and entering…

One of the problems more than one agent mentioned is that this novel fits into the category very few authors publish in…the category between YA and chick lit. A protagonist needs to be 16 and coming of age or 28 and needing to make life happen before the big 3-0. But I believe there’s an audience, though, even if it’s small.

Of course exceptions exist. Dianna Peterfreund, for one, whose books I adore. 

I have another reason for publishing this book as an ebook. When I was a teenager, I could buy novels for $3. And even though that was a “few” years ago, I could afford $3, and I don’t think it’s fair that novels cost so much more now. I love that Kindle books can be downloaded for less than $3.

When I published a textbook recently with a big publisher, we had a long discussion about the price point because the book is a crossover title written for students and professionals. We all know textbooks cost much-much-much money, and I wanted the book to be affordable for anyone who needed it.

I’m being vague about that book because I’m up for tenure this year at my job that pays the bills, and writing novels doesn’t jive with my research field, so I have to keep the two worlds separate for a little while.

So there you have it. A three-in-one post: You now know: (1) C.J. Branscome is a pseudonym; (2) I write novels secretly at night when no one is looking; (3) I’m completely stressed out about getting tenure. (Well, that last little bit just goes without saying, don’t you think?)

What's in Your Beach Bag?

If you clicked on this link thinking you might find some good sunscreen, two novels, and the best sunglasses on the planet, you should probably go read Vanity Fair. For the record, I have none of those things in my beach bag, but I do have serious questions about why anyone needs $12 Band-Aids at the beach, despite how cute they are.

I have to use an extra-large L.L. Bean tote bag
to manage my ridiculous inability to relax
for the first four days.
For me, packing the beach bag is psychological. I have a hard time switching from work mode to I'm-at-the-beach mode, so the contents of the bag are instrumental for this transition.

First, I need to have some editing work to do. (Having a pen to mark up the pages doesn't matter. The purpose of having this work in the bag is to tell myself I'll actually relax and get some work finished.)

Wired Magazine to feed my geeky side, but in all honesty, my son reads it while we're waiting for our hamburgers at the snack shack.

Pistachios in the shell. They give me something to do with my hands besides eat all my children's Oreos.

Complete change of clothes for each child and myself because we might need them to transition from the beach to going Somewhere Important.

A beach towel. Because, eventually, I give up the work-relax pretense and admit we're already Somewhere Important.

How do you switch from work mode to relax/vacation mode?