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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Always Go Home

The Rainbow Rock Romance series has been my writing "home" for the past couple of decades. Though I occasionally step outside the series to write something else (and some of these books may actually be better stories; my sister likes MAGGIE RISING best of all), I always seem to come back to that fictional small town in northeastern Arizona where everyone finds a home. Like Marcie in Book #7, I always RETURN TO RAINBOW ROCK.

Why? It's what my imagination has conjured as the best of American small towns. People care about each other and take care of each other and yes, that sometimes expresses itself as gossip, but even the gossip is never mean-spirited as folks reach out to help their neighbors. The high desert has a natural beauty that becomes a character in its own right as the people of Rainbow Rock learn to adapt to this rugged, harsh, wild but beautiful landscape. Add in the other neighbors, the Navajo and Hopi cultures with their ancient traditions, and you have a lovely mix for comedy, drama and romance.

Occasionally folks ask me about the order of the Rainbow Rock books. Here you have the authoritative word. 

1. Ride the Rainbow Home, the story of Jim and Meg
2. At the Rainbow's End, about Alexa and Kurt
3. Don't Promise Me Rainbows, Sarah and Chris
4. A Little Night Rainbow, Max and Cretia
5. A Rainbow in Paradise, Eden and Logan
6. The Trouble with Rainbows, Angelica and Joe
7. Return to Rainbow Rock, Ryan and Marcie

Coming Soon! #8, Danny's Girl, the story of Danny Sherwood and ??? Find out soon!

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=susan+aylworth+%2B+rainbow+rock+series&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Asusan+aylworth+%2B+rainbow+rock+series


Yes, in the end, I always go home. I invite you to join me there.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 11 published novels now available for ebook readers. A 12th is scheduled for publication in June 2014. She lives in northern California with her husband of 43 years, a devoted old dog and two quirky cats. Her 22nd and 23rd grandchildren are expected next spring. She loves to hear from readers. Find her at www.susanaylworth.com (sign up for the newsletter too)susan.aylworth.author@gmail.com or @SusanAylworth

Monday, January 13, 2014

Some Resolutions for the Over-Scheduled

How does it feel to be a multi-published author, a mother of a whole sports team (pick one), grandmother to a small army, and president of a busy local women's group? Don't ask me; I don't have time to think about it--or time to think about much of anything for that matter.

Like most women I know (and many men), I'm programmed by the American work ethic: push, push, push, do, do, do. Be organized; be efficient; be productive! More than once I've wondered about the efficacy of the ethic we all seem to value so highly. Is it making us healthier? wiser? happier? I could be wrong, but I'm not seeing it. So, on the assumption that we can use some perspective in this hectic world where better is more, I propose some resolutions for 2014. If you like them, you are welcome to adopt them as your own:

1.  Take Time to Be Still -- and Not Feel Guilty
A favorite scriptural snippet says, "Be still and know that I am God." How can we contemplate the enormity of the infinite (or even how best to remove that ugly stain from a favorite sweater) if we never take time to think? We do not live to do; we do to live. In 2014 I promise, at least once in a rare while, to take time just to ponder, to wonder at the magnificence of all that surrounds me. If I lose my capacity for wonder, how can I inspire it in readers? (See? I've even found a way to make it productive. Oh, how programmed I am!)

2.  Enjoy the People, Not Just the Task
In my family, my writing, my church, my neighborhood, I am surrounded by lovely people, beautiful people who inspire me to do and be a better human being, not just a more efficient one. In 2014 I promise to keep reminding myself that the people around me aren't on my checklist of Things To Do. They are my soulmate, my children, my grandbabies, my sisters and brothers and friends. They deserve more of me than the few minutes we spend working together, and frankly, I deserve some quality time with them.

3.  Take Care of Me
If you're like me (and I'm guessing you are), you've spent years on the family, the writing, the work. Self-care has fallen by the wayside or been managed with a lick and a promise. As the years pass, each  takes a toll, but to quote Indiana Jones, "It's not just the years; it's the mileage." In 2014 I promise to make some time for me: for the exercise I know I need (and for which my body always thanks me), for preparing healthful meals (at least most of the time), and for an occasional pedicure or massage. (Okay, maybe not many, but some!)

4.  Single-Task Now and Then
The downside to multi-tasking is the lack of focus. Sometimes a task (a talk with a child in pain, a final edit of a cherished manuscript, a date with my sweetheart) is worthy of total 100% dedicated focus. In 2014 I promise each day to do at least one thing of value that gets my full attention--at least for a little while.

5.  Unplug--and Like It
Do I have a new email from my agent? Has my cover artist responded to the request I sent an hour ago? Did I get an answer to my text? If you're like me, you have fallen into the ubiquitous 21st century habit of being plugged in and turned on (at least electronically) during almost every waking minute. I've become so attached (I'm avoiding the word 'addicted') to my various electronic brains that I sometimes fail to use the one in my head. In 2014 I promise to unplug completely--from everything, even the TV--for at least an hour a day. Well, most days anyway. And I promise to do it without getting the shakes.

Those are a few of my resolutions for the new year. As I write, it is almost the middle of January and I've only broken five of them a few times so far. But resolutions are to help us with the things we don't already do well, right? Misquoting Robert Browning, "A woman's dreams must exceed her grasp or what's a resolution for?" (Hmmm. Better leave the literature to the masters.) I wish you all the best with your new goals and aspirations. May your new year be blessed.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 11 published novels now available for ebook readers. A 12th is scheduled for publication in June. She lives in northern California with her husband of 43 years, a devoted old dog and two quirky cats. Her 22nd and 23rd grandchildren are expected next spring. She loves to hear from readers. Find her at www.susanaylworth.com (sign up for the newsletter too)susan.aylworth.author@gmail.com or @SusanAylworth.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Plan for 2014

People at writer's conferences like to talk about author career planning. Until recently I thought it was some kind of silly mind game:  Tell them career planning is possible, and then watch while they plan and struggle and see it all collapse in smoke. Fooled them, ha-ha!

Publishing is such an odd business and only a small part of the business decisions are made by the author. Once the publisher gets a signed contract, in come marketing, cover design, layout people, promotions, yada-yada-yada. It's enough to scare many talented people out of the game.

But the rules are changing. It's been most of a decade since a writer colleague sent me an article called "An Author Needs a Publisher Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle." The article extolled the virtues of digital self-publishing and how an author can have full control over all her own publishing, marketing, promotional decisions, cover design, etc. All she has to do is take all the risk and do all the work. No biggie there.

I still see advantages to traditional publishing, especially with the Big Six in New York. Have a book published by Random House or Doubleday or [fill in the blank Big Publisher] and the odds are you'll reach a much bigger audience with a broader range of backgrounds and interests. That's no small thing. Still I have finally jumped into the world of electronic self-pubbed novels with the release of MAGGIE RISING and RETURN TO RAINBOW ROCK in the last three months. With that in mind, I've cautiously made a plan for 2014.

The Basics
First comes DANNY'S GIRL, the eighth book in the highly successful Rainbow Rock series. Readers who have eagerly inhaled the first seven books are looking forward to seeing what kind of woman Danny Sherwood needs and wants. That book is well on its way, expected for an early spring release, and there will be further books in this series since I love returning to Rainbow Rock.

Next comes the yet-untitled second book in the Maggie Rising Case Files. We left Maggie at an interesting place in her life  at the end of MAGGIE RISING. Now we need to move her forward, letting her become a young adult, cheering her on as she discovers new talents and abilities.

There's a new series in the works, one I hope to market to the Big Six. Set in a medical center in fictional Hope Creek, California, the series will focus on the private lives and romances of the doctors and other medical personnel who live and/or work in a former Gold Rush town in the Sierra Nevadas. I'm having great fun with the early-stage research and writing. Somewhere in the next year, I also hope to make time to continue developing my novel set in the Italian Renaissance and featuring Lorenzo di Medici. (Can you see me crossing my fingers?)

If you've enjoyed the books so far, you can help in a variety of ways: (1) Drop me a note. Tell me if you might enjoy being a beta reader for an early manuscript of one or more books and which genre you prefer. (2) Review the books you've already read, especially on Goodreads which is fast becoming the major book reviews site since being acquired by Amazon. (3) Tell your friends, neighbors, mail deliverer, life-long enemies and people you meet in the grocery store about the books you've enjoyed most. Encourage them to read and review. Word-of-mouth advertising is always the best.

The Goal
My ultimate goal for 2014 is to be successful enough with the books to greatly reduce time spent at the day job and greatly increase the time I spend writing. That's what I've wanted since I was nine years old and started my first novel on a yellow legal pad. It stands a chance of coming true in the coming year.

For you, faithful friends, I have another plan:  May the New Year bring you your fondest goals, dreams and wishes and may it be a happy, healthy and prosperous time for you and those you love.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 11 published novels now available for ebook readers. A 12th is scheduled for publication in June 2014. She lives in northern California with her husband of 43 years, a devoted old dog and two quirky cats. Her 22nd and 23rd grandchildren are expected next spring. She loves to hear from readers. Find her at www.susanaylworth.com (sign up for the newsletter too)susan.aylworth.author@gmail.com or @SusanAylworth