Giving presents is one of the best parts of Christmas for me. I usually start early thinking about each person I want to gift on my list of family and friends. Since my parents and sister live in Ohio, I know I need to have them finished first so I can mail their gifts off right after Thanksgiving.
It's great fun to find unique gifts for my parents that they wouldn't think to buy themselves. One year my husband brought home a Leatherman tool for my dad. It's one of those ten tools in one thingys guys love. Well, Daddy has always carried a majorly big pocket knife for as long as I can remember, but this was cool because it had a screw driver and pliers in it, too. So I wrapped it still in its package so the present was odd shaped with lumps. Mom said she kept walking past the living room and there was Daddy holding the present, feeling the lumps and saying, "I wonder what they got me." When Christmas Eve rolled around and he finally got to open it, she said he looked like a kid who just got the key to the toy store. And even though I wasn't there, it still makes me smile to know he got such joy out of that gift! This year he got an electric wine bottle opener. He said, "I've got a bottle of wine to use it on tomorrow, as soon as I figure out the instructions." And I heard the smile in his voice.
Every year one of my gifts is a tray of baked goods for my co-workers. They always enjoy every cookie I make, but one item stands out in their minds for the next year. I always make Buckeye candy, known simply as Buckeyes. Peanut butter balls dipped in dark chocolate to resemble the Buckeye nut that grows in my home state of Ohio. These things are addictive and probably have 1/4 or your daily calorie intake, so I ONLY make them at Christmas. One batch=9 dozen. Every year, right after Thanksgiving, the girls at work start asking, "Are you making Buckeye this year?" How could I say no?
My kids are easy to buy for, not because I know them so well, but because they make me detailed lists, complete with pictures, sizes and where to buy them. The lists are rather large, because they send them to each other as well. While they truly want everything on the list, they don't expect to get everything. According to my daughter, "If people get me something on the list, it will be what I want, but I won't know what it is until I open it, so it's still a surprise." The added benefit for the rest of us is that we spend time talking through the holiday shopping season, calling each other to be sure everyone knows what we already bought off the list. And the girls add their children and significant others to the list, too. Now, my son's list isn't as detailed, but he does give us one and last year I gave everyone one, too.
This year my list was simple, I wanted an iPod. They went in together and that's what I got, mostly. Big Smile!!! But I also had a special gift from one of my daughters. We'd been talking about the stalemate I seem to be in with the publishing world. She caught me on the rare self-pitying days I get about the "good rejections" (isn't that an oxymoron?) that I keep getting. Those items that hack me off, but others pat me on the head and say, "It just means you're real close to selling."
Anyway, my daughter said, "Why don't you publish it on the internet?"
"Oh dear, I don't want to self publish. I want to be paid for my work. I want to be recognized for the effort. I want a book contract."
"Mom, I meant serialize it on a blog, like fan fiction. A chapter at a time, like Dickens did when he was a struggling writer."
(Now the girl had my attention.)
So after some more chat about how to format it, how to add pictures, how to market it, I asked her, "Would you format this and get it started for me as a Christmas present?"
Soooooooooo two weeks ago we launched "THE ROCKYMOUNTAIN ROMANCE SERIES" on blogspot. Here's the link: http://rockymountainromance.blogspot.com/
It's actually a series of stories I wrote a long time ago just as the market for American Historical tanked. REFUGE is the first book about a woman with a life threatening secret who becomes a mail-order bride to a man who's been burned by a woman who kept secrets from him. Every Monday we'll post the next chapter, but anyone coming to the blog, can click on the side bar to pick up the previous chapters and catch up quick!
One of the challenges has been illustrating it. We started out with color pictures, but quickly realized black and white gave it a more period feel, since it is a historical after all. But it's been fun finding pictures of who I think might make the best hero and heroine and all the secondary characters!
Why did I decide to do this after my arguments about self publishing?
1. As I said earlier the market for American Historicals is almost non-existant, but I believe there are readers out there who are craving something different in the historical romance genre. Something west of England. Something with grit and spunk.
2. Self promotion. I'm hoping my writing will draw in more readers, maybe even an edtior looking for something different to read on the net, who might like to read more and even be willing to take a chance to bring back the American Historical Romance market. Someone brave!
3. Stories are meant to be told. Once they're written, they need to be read by others. They're meant to be shared.
So, my friends, my gift to you and anyone you choose to share this with is a FREE on line book, one chapter at a time for the next year! And yes, you can feel free to comment on the blog and tell me what you think.