Sunday, February 28, 2010

updates on the home front

It's been a busy week!

A few people have wished me a happy birthday following one of my comments on a recent post, so I would like to say thank you! My birthday is actually on Leap Year day, so this year I'm celebrating on Feb. 28th AND March 1st, a tradition started by my mother many years ago when the Buster Brown shoe saleswoman told me how sad it was that I only had a birthday every four years.

My mom proceeded to inform her that I was indeed not sad but lucky because it is a very special birthday to have and after that, I had double birthdays on the off years. As you can surmise, my mother is pretty savvy!

Later today she'll visit to help us celebrate. Redford will be in on the action, but to be honest, I think the equines are more happy about the weather than they are anything else. There have been numerous sightings of equines laying flat out in the sunshine, on ground that is not muddy but has a lovely spring to it. Yesterday Keil Bay scared me to death when I went out through the back gate to see him lying flat in the barnyard. I've never seen him lie down in there, and I had to call out to him three times to get him to move! We've had a string of gorgeous days, although I now see there is MORE SNOW predicted on Wed.

In advance of that, I spent yesterday working on the back field, mulching leaves, adding to my compost piles, clearing fallen wood. Salina and the donkeys stood in the arena and monitored my every move. For some reason Salina kept calling out a warning whinny, with her keen eye pointed into the woods. There must have been some animal in there, and she wanted to make sure I wasn't taken by surprise.

It's a good feeling to be under the protection of the boss mare!

In other news, my novel, claire-obscure, made it through the first round of the Amazon 2010 Breakthrough Novel Award contest. This is the novel that has had two agents and much praise, but which never quite made it to the green light stage when it was shopped around to editors. I've always felt (along with most of the agents and editors who read it) that it deserves to be published, and in a sort of whimsical "I'm taking control of my writing life" move in 2010, I entered it in the Amazon contest.

If it makes it through round two, Amazon customers/readers will have the ability to read excerpts and offer comments, and in the final round, the ability to vote on the novel they feel should win. If I make it to that round, I hope you'll consider taking a look and voting if you feel thus moved.

This is probably as good a time as any to announce that I am starting a small press, which I've named November Hill Press. After 7 years trying to break into traditional publishing and coming close but not quite succeeding, I've decided that it's time to take matters into my own hands.

November Hill Press will be focusing on "books that transform" - and will release books in e-book format (Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, as well as the free e-book software PC owners can install on their regular computers, with a Mac version supposedly coming soon) and as POD trade paper editions probably via Lightning Source, which will make it possible for bookstores to easily carry/order print editions.

As of now, I have three finished novels, a nonfiction book in the final stages, and a middle grade novel nearly complete. I'm not opposed to selling any of these to traditional publishing houses, but have stopped the exhausting, frustrating, querying for agents process in order to focus my energies on getting books in front of readers.

As most of you know, I love the process of writing, and will do it no matter what. But the sister to that process is when a reader engages with the characters and the story and is moved in some way, and it's past time for me to give some energy to that side of things.

All of this is a work in progress, and I'll announce things here as they move forward. With so much chaos going on in the traditional publishing world, it seems a good time to experiment with the possibilities afforded by technology.

As anyone who knows me well can vouch for, I have rarely done anything the "normal" way, so perhaps this option has been sitting and waiting for me to get to it for a longer time than I even realize. In any case, I'm excited. Between equines and books, I'm entering the second half of my life with lots to keep me busy!


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday(s)! Very exciting news about both Amazon and your press endeavors!

Nachodonkey said...

Indeed, you do have a special birthday! It is scary that I remember Buster Brown shoes. They had an x-ray machine that you stuck your foot into and looked down to see where your foot fit in the shoe. Wonder we are still alive with all of the bad press about x-rays!!

Happy Birthday for whatever day you celebrate and lots of luck with the publishing. I have always been an avid reader so look forward to reading your work.

Figured how to put a picture up. This is Nacho and his Mom Easter yesterday.

Grey Horse Matters said...

The November Hill Press sounds very exciting. I will be looking forward to hearing more about it in the future. I think this is a great idea. If you could let us know when your book is available on Amazon I would love to read and comment on your book. It's all very exciting and seems like it may finally be coming together.

Being born on a Leap Year shows how special you are and I think it's wonderful that your mom celebrated the two days. She sounds very wise.
Have fun with the critters and family these two days.

MitMoi said...

Happy Double Birthday!

And congratulations on starting November Hill press. I'm sure you will be a stellar publisher. "Books that transform" ... is exactly what we need a little more of around here.

Kyle said...

Happy Birthday, Billie! And congratulations and lots of luck. I'm looking forward to reading part - or all - of claire-obscure.

Jane said...

Happy Birthday Billie! I can't wait to read claire-obscure. Very exciting also about November Hill Press. May every possible success come your way. You certainly have done the hard work.

Victoria Cummings said...

Happy Birthday! And congratulations on the Amazon contest. Yes, let us know as you progress and when the time comes, we will help flood them with words of praise for your novel. The November Hill Press is a wonderful idea - and the second half of your life is going to be even better and more exciting than the first! Have fun celebrating!

baystatebrumby said...

You are the first person I have "met" that has a leap year birthday! So right away that makes you special. Also, you are a writer and being a writer with an agent and a publisher is no easy feat! I like you better already. And finally when I opened up your blog and saw that picture on your banner, I thought it was one of the most beautiful scenes ever. Do you live there?? If so, you must feel quite lucky because that place looks AWSUM.
Happy birthday.

ponymaid said...

Billie, Happy Birthday Squared from all of your friends in the frozen north! Your writing and publishing news is very exciting indeed - rest assured that I will vote for you early and often in any endeavour that requires enthusiastic reader participation. You're so busy these days I'm relieved to hear Salina is looking out for your safety.

billie said...

Thanks to all - it's an exciting time around here. Now if we can just get through this week's snow event and get on with spring!

Enchanted Forrest said...

Happy Birthday Part Deux Billie!

Starting your own press is a fabulous and exciting idea! I'm sure it will be a huge success! I look forward reading all your great works. Cheers!
Lulu storefront:
And now on

jme said...

happy b-day! you're the only person i've ever known with a leap year birthday! so cool!

how exciting! i think it's great you're starting your own publishing, and i can't wait to read your work! do keep us posted on the amazon contest - i'd be happy to check it out and vote :-)

Máire said...

Happy birthday! And congratulations on the book and your publishing idea which sounds wonderful. Please keep us informed.

I hope you have celebrated both today and yesterday.


billie said...

Thank you j, Sue, and Maire! I am excited and it's been a great birthday for many reasons. I appreciate all the wonderful greetings from friends here!