The Writer and Her Book Tour

I named it the Great Pacific Northwest Book Tour and I’ve been on the road just over a week, driving from home in San Diego north on the Interstate first to Oakland for an overnight with my daughter, Amy, before I headed north again for Ashland, Oregon where I had my first book event at Bloomsbury’s Books, and where I got to hang out with my friend Midge Raymond. Midge just shared the good news that her novel, My Last Continent, has been picked up by Scribner! Hooray for Midge. (Midge and her husband, John Yunker run Ashland Creek Press, a small press that publishes gorgeous books with an ecological sensibility.)

JR & Midge @ Bloomsbury'sThe event at Bloomsbury’s was terrific fun with a lively audience in a great setting. I was thrilled to discover that on a shelf just behind the podium in the upstairs loft at the bookstore, a copy of A Writer’s Book of Days, almost like it had my back and I read from Wild Women, Wild Voices and talked about writing from our Authentic Wildness, and we all did a couple of writing explorations from the book.

I’m writing this blog at the second stop on the GPNWBT, Portland, where I’m staying with my friend Dian Greenwood who’s also got a book in the works. Tuesday evening, May 12, the Wild Women, Wild Voices and I will be at Annie Bloom’s Books and I’m so looking forward to seeing some Portland friends and writers there, including Laura Stanfill who’s such a great supporter. Laura also runs a small press, Forest Avenue Press. More gorgeous books: “page-turning literary fiction.”

After Portland, I’m headed to Seattle where I’ll be at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, just north of the city. Another Indie bookstore that supports writers and readers and that keeps the lights burning for people like us. I am so grateful to all the men and women who keep the light burning and who are keeping the faith in neighborhood bookstores. Support them, folks. They’re on our side.

I’ll be back home in San Diego mid-May, then come July, I’ll head out again. This time for the East Coast for another branch of the tour.

So why does a writer go on a book tour? Well, to make noise about her newest book, and to sell a few, she hopes. But for me, it’s more than that. I love to meet and interact with readers and writers from different parts of the country, and to discover their worlds. We writers sit in our rooms, or at a cafe, or maybe the library, alone with our words, our notebooks or laptops, our imaginations and characters and stories. We do our work and we send it out to— we don’t always know where. What we want to know is: Did it connect with anyone? Did anyone hear my voice? care about my story, my characters? what I believe in and want to say? For me, one of the most basic of human needs is this connection with another and for writers going on the road is often the only way to find it.

wild women @ WarwicksThat’s why I packed way too many clothes (and not the right ones for cool and rainy Portland), why I’m driving up and down the west coast of the US: to connect with others, to say Hi, I’m Judy Reeves. I care about writing and stories. Who are you and what do you care about?

Wild Women Set Loose

Wild Women, Wild Voices: Writing from Your Authentic WildnessApril 7 was the official release date of Wild Women, Wild Voices. Thank you New World Library for creating this beautiful, wild book.
Now comes the part writers alternately look forward to and look away from during the writing, the rewriting, the editing and the thousand steps that happen between idea and published book. You’re finally taking your baby out for its first public viewings. Ready or not … here goes:

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Evolution of a Book

The idea for Wild Women, Wild Voices came out of the Wild Women writing workshops I’ve done for many years, dating back to the mid-90s, but it wasn’t until August, 2013 when one morning I suddenly found myself writing a mini-proposal to my editor at New World Library. A little less than a month later I had a signed contract with a pub date of Summer 2014. Fortunately for me, the pub date got bumped to February 2015, then, even more fortunately, to its current release date of NOW!

box o' booksIn between the signing of the contract and the arrival of the books in bookstores and at my doorstep — some 18 months later, a gestation period more akin to an elephant than a human being — are many, many steps. First the idea, which was already in place, but an idea isn’t the same thing as a book. So you build the skeleton (structuring all those bare bones into some kind of coherent form), and do the research. You scratch out the terrible and lengthy first, raw drafts, followed by more research, followed by the second, third, fourth, etc. etc. drafts, and finally, months later, the final draft goes to your editor.

WWWV page proofsThen begins the next cycle: her edits and your rewrites from her edits; the long email exchanges and occasional panicky (on my part; she never panics) phone calls; next the more final final draft and the book goes to the copy editor. Another cycle: the copy editor’s edits, the revises from her edits, the proofreader’s edits, then the revises from her edits, the page proofs (this is where you get to see how the book really looks and where you grin so big your cheeks hurt), then a few corrections and the printer check arrives (this is how the book really really looks), just these last few tiny details, and then, for the longest time: Silence. You hold your breath. The book has gone to the printer.

All along during the back and forths before the book goes to the printer, you’re getting permissions where they’re needed, you’re double-checking references, you’re asking writers you admire if they’d be so kind and generous to “blurb” your book. They are! You’re all giddy and a little shy at what they write. You file away printouts of the first, messy drafts and say a prayer of gratitude for your editor who you’ve come to believe has special, magical powers that mere writers can never hope to possess. (Enduring gratitude to Georgia Hughes)

Judy ReevesYou get a new author photo taken. Your son, a talented photographer, takes several. He’s a patient man. In the end, it’s the very first one he snapped that you choose. You ask if he can, um, touch up a few places. He just smiles.

Also during the back and forth, you get to see the first draft of cover images. It may take a few tries to finally get the cover image everyone agrees on, but it’s worth it. You’re crazy about the cover. (Thank you, Tracy Cunningham). This is also when you find out your book will have an Index. Your first Index!

The in-between is also the time you to see the interior design of the book. Beautiful! Tona Pearce Myers has done it again. And again, you thank whatever benevolent spirit or lucky stars or whom- or whatever is responsible for you getting to have this long and rewarding relationship with New World Library, a publishing company that has brought so many beautiful and important books to the world.

The in-between time is also when you begin dialogues with the marketing staff and once again, you realize how fortunate you are to work with such pros. This is also when you start to get a little anxious and you remember that writing the book is just the half of it. Now you’re required to become a marketing pro yourself. And much as you like to give talks and make presentations and how easily you can go on and on about other writers’ work, making a Big Noise about your own work is a bit intimidating. You remember what your mother said: “Don’t brag on yourself, it’s not attractive.” So there’s that dragon to beat down. Plus you know you don’t know an iota of what you should know about social media.

To be continued …