A Self-Publishing Writer’s Role Model. Introducing . . .

Posted by admin on Saturday Sep 22, 2012 Under Uncategorized


. . . Erika Robuck.

Three years ago when I was fishing around for what to do with my novels now that I was living so far from anything that could in any way resemble a publishing metropolis, I came across a few brave souls, pioneers, pushing forward on the vast prairies of self-publishing.

One of those very brave souls was the lovely young woman you see on the left. I read her very first blogs about her self-published women’s fiction novel Receive me Falling and ideas started percolating in my head. A voice started whispering, You can do this, Jane.

In those days before e-books, the perils of self-publishing were really daunting. Along with worrying about whether you were kamikaze-ing any future career you might wish to have or whether your book would ever be permitted to go onto the shelves of brick and mortar stores, you had to make several other decisions. Should you create your own publishing house? Should you go with one of the self-publishing firms? There were not a lot of people out there to help, and besides, you had to deal with utter contempt from anyone remotely associated with traditional publishing. And it cost big bucks.

My, how times have changed.

For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to write about the women who inspired me, who still inspire me. Today, it’s Erika.

After the birth of her first son, Erika’s life-long desire to write surfaced, and during her son’s naptimes, she completed Receive Me Falling , set on a haunted Caribbean sugar plantation.

Her son’s naptimes? Dear Lord. That in itself is inspiring, don’t you think?

After many revisions, she began the agent-query, request-for-partial, dead-silence-plus-rejection level of Dante’s Inferno that all writers are required to go through.

Her problem she began to realize from agent responses had less to do with the book than with the fact that she had no publishing credentials, no platform.

When her husband suggested she self-publish the book, she hesitated. That old stigma thing, again.

Long story short: she DID self-publish (see book cover on right). She did create a platform for herself by blogging and getting book clubs to read her novel and so on. She did create a path for other writers far away from the center of the publishing universe, so they could move forward. Thank you, Erika.

And it’s not just writers who benefit, it’s readers. There are stories you might never have heard, set in places that have never seen the light of day or the dark of printer’s ink—like my story set in Mexico, in the Condesa/ Roma neighborhood— had writers like Erika Robuck not done all this hard, scary work.

To tell you the truth, I have only recently started thinking about these women who’d inspired me. I’ve been caught up in learning to pod-cast and blog and completing all the tasks necessary to get an e-book on AMAZON. It wasn’t until I started to get close to the end that I began to remember that distant past before e-books, before iPads and Kindles, before all the wonderful writing sites and book reviewing sites.

In fact, I was reading one of my favorite book reviewing sites—Goodreads— when the book cover you see on the left popped up.

Well, I’ll be darned if it wasn’t Erika Robuck. The novel-in-progress she’d been blogging about when I last checked in had found a traditional publisher—Penguin/NAL. It was something she always wanted, and she made it happen.

If this sounds like an OPRAH moment, it is.

Anyway, you can Google Erika Robuck and read about her books and her story on her own blog. She also has lots of book reviews on that blog and interviews with writers, so if you’re looking for something to read you can get a recommendation that way.

There are going to be many, many new ways for writers and readers to connect in the future. This is especially important for voices that tend to be marginalized—women, minorities, people in rural and even suburban areas and even older people. Maybe ESPECIALLY older people. See next week’s blog about Elle Newmark who was 60 when she first published. You see, everything is changing, and I feel thrilled to be a part of this change. One small step for Jane . . .

What’s that dictum? Be the change you want to see in the world.

Okay, so what are you going to change?

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Mexico City (Part 2)

Posted by admin on Thursday Dec 16, 2010 Under Uncategorized

Here’s a picture of my friend Frances and me.

On the morning this photo was taken, we’d met for coffee in leafy Parque Mexico before Dave and I were to embark on the rest of our day. However, we ended up spending a lot of time talking about our families, our gardening plans and our enneagram signs. ( I’m a six. She’s a two. Does this mean anything to you?)

I’ve come up with a new math equation. Women + Interest in Personal Growth = Cultural Universal. Anyway, Frances and I always marvel at the fact that we come from two different cultures and yet have so many of the same interests.

When we finally looked at our watches (OMG the time!), I got on the cell phone—like every other Mexico City resident— and arranged to meet Dave in another of my favorite neighborhoods in Mexico City—The Roma. Actually, the two neighborhoods that I love sort of merge into one another and are sometimes referred to as Condesa/Roma.

I wanted to walk around Parque Rio de Janeiro—the setting that inspired my novel. After the 1985 earthquake, the buildings around the park, which are so romantic, fell into disrepair. Many were abandoned, and it didn’t take long for Mexico City’s artists, musicians and writers to move in.

I don’t know what it’s like for other writers of women’s fiction, but I didn’t make a conscious decision to write about the two expat sisters—Vivienne and Lili— who inhabit a house on this park. They just came to me, like new friends do—and I spent the rest of the time trying to get to know them—their passions, their rivalries, their secrets. Finally, the whole draft came together and the title —Palace of the Blue Butterfly— as well. I have no, I mean it, no idea how I got the title. It just flew into my head the way a bird might fly into a room.

If you are familiar with Nahautl, you’ll know that Quetzalpapalotl means Blue Butterfly, and if you know that, you’ll know that Blue Butterfly was the rain god’s (Tlaloc) wife. Okay. Actually, the real translation is iridescent, blue-green butterfly goddess. Not really a book title.

Well, to continue in this pedantic vein a moment . . . the actual Palacio de Quetzalpapalotl is a beautiful temple to Blue Butterfly at Teotihuacan, which houses this mural . . .

The Paradise of Tlaloc. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of Pre-Columbian art.

A little digression, I know, except that’s Mexico—so many layers, ancient, colonial, modern—and they all sort of blur.

After poking our heads into the OMR gallery, Dave and I ended up in a little tea shop on Orizaba—the street that wraps around Rio de Janeiro Park, the street where my characters Vivienne and Lili live. Okay. Live? I can hear you say. Uh . . . Jane?

Oh dear. That’s why I have to get this book out there in the world . . . as an e-book, anything, so Lili and Vivienne can actually live— in someone else’s head not just mine— and can be sitting at a table in this exact cafe on a lovely, autumn evening when one of them gets the news that . . .

If any of you folks out there know anyone who has published an e-book, I’d love to hear about it. And yes, I’ve gotten agents and so on. They were both lovely, supportive people who only wanted the best for me. And then, there’s the publishing industry, the economy and well . . . If you write, you know the rest of the story. Let’s just not go there. Life, my friends, is too short, and there’s still so much to do!

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Mexico Trilogy Graphic Link