Monday, May 28, 2007

Being Home

It feels like weeks since I've been home but it's only been a few days. After Chicago I headed to Sunriver and Redmond for book groups and events then Jerry drove me back to the airport for a trip to St. Louis. I loved both cities, by the way. Especially St. Louis. Everyone there was so friendly. The staff at the hotel, people riding the elevator, people at the restaurants, really, it was very small town-like. I commented about that to the events coordinator at the Missouri History Museum and he said it was a way of disarming people, that when they greeted them with exurburance then walked away the person was too stunned to do anything criminal to them. I think he was kidding. My publicist and I also did a little tourist trip up the arch. The sign at the ticket counter said "conditions at the top: movement. Enter at your own discretion." Gee, that could describe my life sometimes....though the movement part hopefully is a good thing. We did take the ride up the tram, felt the arch movement at the top, looked out two windows then walked to the other side and rode down. Flying is fine...standing on top of a moving piece of cement at 680 feet isn't.
We had a brief tour of the Missouri History Museum built during the time of the 1904 World's Fair. As we moved into one of the sections I noticed a glass case housing red and crystal glasses, shot glasses, tumblers, etc. with "1904 World's Fair" written on them. I have one of those in my own cabinet at home and I realized at that moment that my grandmother, from whom I received it, must have been here! It was a delight, really and made me ask about photographers at the fair. I learned there was only one official female photographer and that got me thinking along a story line since my grandmother was a photographer (not the official one!) and so was my grandfather. It peeked my interest anyway and who knows where it will take me.
Meanwhile, I signed a contract for my quilt book! What follows is the official news release.

Jane Kirkpatrick, author of thirteen award-winning and bestselling historical novels and three non-fiction books has just signed with WaterBrook Press/Random House for a new project combining history, quilts and crafts. Her agency, Hartline Marketing and Literary Services announced the agreement today. Stitching Stories: The Quilts and Crafts of the Aurora, Oregon Colony will be published in the fall of 2008.
Both a gift book of inspiration and a tribute to the longest-surviving communal Christian colony in the western United States, Stitching Stories is set to coincide with renewed interest in the American craft movement as well as the 150th anniversary of Oregon's statehood in 2009. Kirkpatrick's Change and Cherish Historical Series is based on the life of the only woman sent west to help found the western colony in the 1850s. Book three in the fictional series, A Mending at the Edge will be released by WaterBrook/Random House in April, 2008. A Tendering in the Storm, book two, has received critical acclaim since its release in April.
Settled in 1856 as a German-American Christian community whose members traveled from Pennsylvania and Missouri to Aurora, Oregon, its artisans were known for their weaving of beauty, faith and function through their colorful quilts and fibers, unique basketry, fine music, hand-tooled furniture and the culinary arts that served their neighbors and each other. The colony disbanded in 1884 but the town it founded continues on the historic register as one of the oldest settlements in Oregon and its history is one of a faith community living with relevance to the outside world. A fine museum houses the artifacts including more than 80 original quilts many of which will be highlighted with photographs in this coffee table gift book.
Keep your good thoughts coming for me as I finish the final revisions on A Mending at the Edge and begin work in earnest on the Quilt book.
Hope your days go well.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tendering: a book event, a meaning, a transition

tomorrow I fly to Chicago. If any of you are near the Wheaton, IL Borders at 7:00 PM I hope you'll look for me. It could be lonely if no one comes. That is one of the unknown's we writers live with though. Carolyn See who wrote Making the Literary Life says you should always travel with an entourage and bring your friends and relatives to signings. My publicist will be with me but I suspect I'll have to go around and herd people standing in the stacks and ask them if they're in that select group of millions who have never heard of my work!
Regionally, my books do well so yesterday at the Aurora museum, we had close to 100 attend. They were good sports since we held the event outside and it was in the 50s and chilly. But people brought their mom's for Mother's Day as a surprise to come hear me speak and several said they need an annual "Jane fix" so keep track of my schedule. It's great.
So if it's lonely in Chicago I'll think of all those people who braved the chill with me and stood in line to get books signed.
There has also been a nice response to people who have read my interview at I hope you'll take the time to read it. Cindy Crosby was the interviewer and she asked great questions. On top of that, she did a review that I think I'll take with me to Chicago so when I'm there by myself I can be reminded that someone who likes books and reads many of them found A Tendering in the Storm worthy of her time.
One last little note: I chose the title with tendering in it because a tender is a small ship that goes between a larger ship and land, a transition, if you will. My character was in a transition in her life. I also liked the meaning of something fragile being tender and my character was fragile from grief and disappointment. How she chose to deal with that created additional problems for her. Then last week I was reading the glossary of a history of fabric book and there I found the word tendering again. It means the shattering of a fabric when exposed to toxic chemicals. It was perfect! My character was exposed to toxic relationships and it did shatter her. But she came through and it was a transitional time for her just as we have those transitional times in our lives. I took finding that meaning as a small gift from the universe.
Hope your day goes well. Thanks for stopping by. Jane

Monday, May 7, 2007

Strange appearances

I'm not talking about UFOs here with strange appearances but rather the unusual places where my latest book might appear. The cover is the lead photograph in the Aurora Antique's newsletter snuggled there between Shaker furniture and old dolls. It's like being on Antique's Roadshow, one of my favorites on OPB. The cover is also on a lovely invitation to a salon in Portland, OR where I'll be meeting with people and talking about community, especially the community of my latest series. Their invitation compared my work to an Armani suit...I'd post these (you can see the Armani suit invitation at my website on the schedule but I don't yet know how to add pictures here.)
We spent the weekend on the coast for a book signing and then drove up the Pacific before heading inland. As we drove up the coast, we watched gas prices go up too and wondered how long book tours will really be feasible. One more reason to know more about blogs.
Today I'll be spending the day indoors revising my latest then head to a library board meeting in town, 25 miles away. That's a drive that allows me to watch the progress of the wind farms going up in our county. There's a place where the green spring wheat covers the rolling hill and behind it you can only see the tops of the windmills turning, turning. They remind me of slender children dressed in silver performing cartwheels across the grass. Always a reminder too, to find time to play. I hope you will today. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Editors and self-editing

I've been fortunate to have great editors in my writing career. They have the ability to give me an overview of how my story comes across and what I need to keep and what might be able to leave and best of all, give guidance about how to do that. Ultimately, it's my task to perform but a good editor makes all the difference. They ask the right questions: "I wonder what would happen if you had that character do this or that?" or "I didn't feel finished with that issues and maybe you could..."
I live too far out to really be part of a critique group even though one meets in Moro every week. I once signed up for an online group but realized I couldn't make the commitment to write a chapter or a piece a week for comment and also comment on all the others who were making submissions. If I sent in what I was working on for a publisher, I could see myself getting fifteen points of view and getting really lost in them. But I do think there are great ways to find a way to look objectively at our woek even if we aren't part of a group or don't have the gift of an editor awaiting the manuscript.
One of those ways is by reading books about writing and revising. Two that I'd recommend are Elizabeth Lyon's A Writer's Guide to Fiction (she also has a guide to non-fiction) and Renni and King's Self-editing for Fiction Writers. I haven't read James Scott Bell's book on writing but those I know who have also rave about it. He writes for Writer's Digest as does Elizabeth Lyon. Each offers practical ways to look at what you've written with a new eye.
That's what I'm off doing today: looking at my WIP with a new eye that this time includes my editor's eyes as well since we talked at length yesterday.
Stay posted, too, as I just completed an interview with that will be posted sometime next week. Great questions I thought; I hope I did the answers did them justice. Be inventive in your writing! Jane