Friday, May 27, 2011

On the Road Again (and again and again...)

Well, I've not been on the road as much with this book. As I said in earlier posts, my publisher didn't pay for a book tour this year so I've been only doing booksignings in California and Arizona. I will be doing a few signings in Colorado in June. I'm visiting my dear friends, Sally and Brett, at their ranch in Idalia, Colorado. That's why I'll be speaking and signing at the Quilts of the Plains Quilt Show in Wray, Colorado and speaking at the Burlington Colorado library. Check out the dates and times on my website under appearances. Years ago, Sally and her daughter, Robbie, drove hundreds of miles to come to one of my Denver signings. I think Robbie was seven or so. Robbie is now in college! Watching the children of my fans grow up has been such a wonderful, fun thing for me. Drop by if you happen to be near Eastern Colorado in June.

Signings have been a lot of fun, as they always are with you all. On my Facebook page we've been posting the photographs fans are taking. It's under Spider Web Booksignings 2011. I have to admit this about's a lot easier to get things up than on a website. If you join Facebook, you can keep all your information private, but still have access to looking at other people's pages (my fan page is open to personal page you just have to "friend" me--but most of what I'm doing is on the fan page). So, don't be afraid to try. I was reluctant, but now am okay with it.

But I'll not desert you here on my website! I know that everyone doesn't have the time or inclination to go on Facebook. Shoot, I still send out snail mail postcards (though only to the places where I'm physically going to sign--too expensive now to send to everyone on my list).

Not much going on here in SoCal. Spring is here (and pollen, pollen everywhere). Everyone in the Fowler household, including Boo, is taking antihistamines. I've been watching with dismay and shock at what tornadoes have been doing to Alabama, Missouri and the rest of the South and Midwest. Here's hoping and praying the worst is over.

I'm working on The Cattle Singer. It's been great reconnecting with these characters, and I'll admit, since it's not a mystery novel, I'm so glad I don't have to kill anyone! Other than that, life goes on. Daddy's relatively stable. I visit him once a week and though he doesn't always know me, he says he's happy. We love the place where he is living.

Hope you all are doing fine. Have a great Memorial Day weekend and take a few moments out of your weekend to remember our veterans--past and present--and if you get a chance, thank them for their service. God bless America!

Happy Trails, Earlene

p.s. Will get the photos for new contest up this weekend, I promise! I have to take them, then send them to Tina. I just need to get organized...:)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Speaking of Spider Web

It was great seeing a lot of you out at Bears Quilt Shop on Sunday for the launch of Spider Web. I'm looking forward over the next month or so of seeing more Benni Harper fans as I sign around California and Arizona. For those of you who can't make it to one of my talks, I thought I'd tell a little about Spider Web here. I wish I could do a ten-week cross-country book tour, but this will have to do (actually a book tour like that would likely make me crazy!)

It's hard for me to talk about Spider Web in great detail because the things I want to discuss would give away too much of the story! So, I'm trying to choose my words and subjects carefully. With this book--the fifteenth in my series--I chose the title before I had a story. (I've done it both ways--have a story, then chose the title and vice-versa). I liked the way Spider Web sounded and I just had a hunch it would be an easy title to fit a story around.

Of course, when I sat down in front of that blank (computer) page, I thought, okay, what in the world is this story going to be about? In a long running series like mine, it starts to become difficult to write a book that doesn't sound exactly like the last one. With plot-oriented series (or series where the mood is lighter, that is, the author really isn't concerned about their characters growing or seeming real) the writer depends on the mechanics of the plot or a clever way of killing someone to carry the story. Since my books have always been character-driven rather than plot-driven, that just doesn't work for me. I also didn't want my characters to have the same old problems throughout the series. Seriously, how many times can Benni and Gabe fight about her getting involved in dangerous situations? Though a reader's willing "suspension of disbelief," is practically a genre requirement, I do want my characters to seem like believable people. So, I've attempted to move them forward and change their problems.

In State Fair I deliberately wrote it so that Benni and Gabe weren't arguing. I did it just to give them some relief! (Some of you didn't like that--you like their arguing!) In Spider Web, they aren't arguing, but there is tension because of outside stress that sets off Gabe's PTSD. When my father had his fall a few years ago and was in the hospital, some medication they gave caused him to have terrifying hallucinations. Some of his experiences with WWII came to the surface (as well as the time his father, an alcoholic, locked him in a dark root cellar). That started me thinking about PTSD, how it never truly goes away no matter how many years pass, no matter how much a person seems to have their life together. And it can be the smallest thing that sets it off. So I started studying PTSD. Then I started thinking about Gabe and what would set off PTSD for him. At the time, a local city here in California had their police being targeted by an unknown assailant (with bombs). I thought about how devastated Gabe would be if his officers were being stalked. That's how plots start for me. Something touches me and I start researching it and before I know it, it works its way into a book.

So, that's just a small part of what I go into when I talk about the writing of Spider Web. I'll try to tell a little bit more about how I write my books as I continue these blogs throughout the year for people who aren't able to come to my signings.

Thanks so much to all of you who are buying and reading Spider Web. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me on my website or find me on Facebook. I'll answer the questions there and also on this blog. Facebook has ended up not being as time-consuming as I worried it would be (though it is tempting to stay on there and chat! It's like the big ole church potlucks I remember as a kid). Just one more way to communicate. Not a bad thing.

I gotta get back to work now. Take care and Happy Trails until we meet again,