Sunday, December 18, 2011

Viva Independence

A couple of summers back we went to the Midwest to watch baseball and to drive around a part of the country we’d never seen. While there, we unexpectedly fell in love with Chicago. We still find it amazing that a couple of California suburbanites could harbor such affection for America’s Second City, but we found Chicago’s sassy self-reliance and stubborn Midwestern charm irresistible. Last month we virtually met a Chicago independent author whose personality reflects the city where she lives. Elizabeth Marx’s undeniable charm and her robust wit won us over completely. Straightforward while also self-effacing, Elizabeth has an ability to enliven her novels with unforgettable characters, no doubt due to the fact that she is one herself.

Elizabeth discovered our blog when she was looking to promote her novel, Binding Arbitration, which is a story about a major league pitcher and a powerhouse lawyer who have a past they must come to terms with for the sake of a child. Swapping emails, we found more in common than just baseball and the law, so we agreed to read and review each other’s “chick lit” novels. Elizabeth also proposed that we conduct a virtual interview of her for our blog. We were more than happy to oblige since we’d never done anything like that before.

The interview and the emails before and after left us with the impression that Elizabeth is as funny as she is hard charging. We’re sure her two daughters must complain regularly about the embarrassment their mother puts them through but we would also bet that the Marx house is where all the school kids stop by because there is always something entertaining going on. We also wouldn’t be surprised if Elizabeth’s husband has a difficult time getting party guests to leave once she gets on a roll. This take-no-prisoners approach to life, love, and humor is the essence of Binding Arbitration and we figure with her novel, the apple that didn’t fall from her personality tree.

We’ve posted the interview with Elizabeth at http://www.2blynnevans.com/Interviews.html.  At the bottom, you’ll also find our full review of Binding Arbitration. It can be read on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, which is where Elizabeth was kind enough to post her opinions of The Valentine’s Game. Elizabeth has also offered to provide a free copy of the prequel to Binding Arbitration called Cutters vs. Jocks and you can collect your e-copy at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/103123The novella is about a small town girl versus a big man on campus. Love at first sight versus lust you can’t fight. Can anyone win when you don’t play your heart out? 

When we became Lynn Evans, it was with the idea of creating the kind of books we liked to read. We never guessed that such an endeavor would lead us into crossing virtual paths with a lively independent soul from Chicago whose thirst for life is only exceeded by her desire to write it all down. Now that we’ve met Elizabeth Marx, we are really glad that we did.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Words

Lynn sent around an email she received about funny auto correct mishaps. (They are all over on the web, just Google “auto correct mishaps.”) When we quit laughing it got us thinking about words.
 
Our second grandson is a couple of months past his first birthday and is just now starting to make sounds his grandparents can recognize (Mama, Dada, and uh-oh). Not that he needs many words. He knows where we keep the cookies in the cupboard and, now that he’s fully mobile, there no need to ask if he can have some. Just grab and go (he takes after his granddad.) And when he smiles and raises his arms there isn’t a human alive who wouldn’t pick him up for a cuddle. With Aaron, sometimes words just get in the way.

His brother is three years and a month older but the vocabulary difference is astounding. Ethan already has a dictionary worth of words at his disposal and he seems to add more every minute. There is always something new to describe in Ethan’s world. While we struggle to declare an original thought, everyday there is a new four-year-old wonder and new words to describe it. We yearn for a mind that flexible and expansive.

After the holidays, we will sit down for the final edit of our third novel, The Dragon Princess. As it stands now, we’ve used close to 80,000 words to build a fantasy world full of people and places that can only be found in our imaginations. And even with all the words we have at our disposal, we will spend hours and days adding, removing, or rearranging no more than a thousand just to make sure our story is as readable as it can be. Like all the authors before us, we’ve found it isn’t just the number of words you have but how you meld them together that makes the difference. But we love the challenge. That’s why we write, rewrite and edit. And it’s why we really think it wise to have two sets of eyes to make sure what’s written is what we meant. We really do not want to end up on the “I can’t believe that’s in a book” Google search.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This and That

In keeping with the season, we’re providing a cornucopia of ideas.

We’ve received another review for the first BobbieTitan book and it might be our favorite. Sharon Struck wrote:
The e-book, "Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain" was a fun adventure and a great mystery.  The characters in BT were believable and interesting.  As an adult, I was concerned it might be juvenile, but on the contrary, it was very entertaining with the perfect blend of adult and teen themes.  I think of myself as having somewhat of a short attention span so I only read books that grab me quick and this story did exactly that.  I highly recommend "Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain" to readers of all ages. 

It has been another tough couple of weeks at Poway High. Another student has “shuffle[d] off this mortal coil.” That’s the fifth in two years and it’s really taking its toll on the students, faculty, and staff at PHS. We find it’s also snaking its way into our writing. We’re working on another Bobbie Titan novel and some parts are darker than we anticipated. It’s not gothic or anything but Bobbie is older in this book and teenagers today have to deal with issues unimagined in our generation. So even though Bobbie-2 is fiction in the extreme, it feels right to include some burdens faced by the real life teenagers we know.

We’re feeling kind of important in the world of independent authors this week. A writer trolling through the web came across our blog and requested that we review her latest work and offered herself up for an author interview. It went straight to our heads! So now we are reading Binding Arbitration by Elizabeth Marks. We’ll let you know what we think, both of the writer and her work. If you can’t wait that long, here’s the link to her Smashwords page and this is the Amazon  Binding Arbitration link. And in case you were wondering: it wasn’t the kissing pictures that lured Elizabeth into our lair, it was baseball! She thought it was cool that Lynn is on a quest to see all the major league stadiums. Guess it takes all kinds!

We’re still waiting for our first review for The Valentine’s Game. Some of our loyal followers must have had the chance to finish it by now. Come on, tell us what you think! Good or bad, we can take it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lynn's Worth

We guess it’s a good thing to step back once in awhile to take stock and to think about where you’ve been, but it can make you uncomfortable.

Before we were Lynn Evans, Steve wrote a couple of novels for Traci as Christmas presents. Like Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain, they involved young people with super human capabilities. While thinking about what adventures Bobbie might have in book two and who she might encounter, Evans reread some of these early efforts in order to mine them for ideas. It was a humbling experience.

There are flashes of brilliance in Steve’s first novels, but much of the work is undisciplined and careless; at times even clumsy. Evans was so amazed at the low-quality of the work that he reread The Mark of Kain just to reassure himself that none of Steve’s written awkwardness had been transferred to their collaboration. When Evans was through and had reassured himself that their story was as tight, faced-paced, and professional as he remembered, his immediate thought was thank goodness for Lynn.

For every flight of fancy Evans imagines, Lynn is there to enforce the discipline of necessity. Lynn is the one who ensures the story stays on the straight-and-narrow. She’s the one who ensures we absorb the comments from our advanced readers, works with the professional editor to polish the work, and makes Evans wait at least four months before the final editing to ensure perspective is maintained. All of these and her true love of a good story well told make the difference between stumbling over uneven prose and racing through a well told narrative.

Traci still loves her Christmas novels but she doesn’t let Lynn read them. The poor construction would ruin the magic. Instead Lynn makes Evans toe the line in between his wild imaginary escapades on their current efforts. Evans likes to complain that Lynnn is a tyrant, but he really doesn’t mind. He knows that when she’s through the results will be something worth reading over and over again.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pucker Up For Poway High

This week it’s time for a reminder. We are still trying to raise money for the Poway High School Student Services Office. The way we are attempting to do this is through the sale of our eBooks. We’re hoping that providing you with a few hours of enjoyment through reading will make you feel happy to have donated to a worthy cause that does so much to help teenagers navigate the sometime rough waters of growing up in this ever-changing world.

We’re donating all the proceeds from our young adult adventure story, Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain. At either lynnevansbooks.com or le-kain.com, you can read a detailed description about the book and reviews by teenagers and adults. If you like fast paced young adult fiction, we’re sure you’ll like Bobbie’s adventures along the Columbia River in Oregon.
If you just can’t bring yourself to read YA, then how about a quirky romance?  Our other eBook is The Valentine’s Game and it’s all about how a group of 20-somethings compete for true love in games created by Cupid. If you like Sandra Bullock movies, you’ll love reading The Valentine’s Game. And, to show we are serious in our efforts to raise money for PHS, all sales from now until Valentine’s Day, 2012, will also be donated to the Student Services Office. So if you haven’t downloaded Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain, or even if you have, now is a great time to go to lynnevansbooks.com and choose one of the conveniently supplied links to purchase The Valentine’s Game.
If you have already purchased one or both of the eBooks, you can still help us. We are always in need of book reviews, especially at public e-locations like Amazon. So, if you have Bobbie or V-Game, we would love for you to read it and let us and the world know what you think. If you purchased the eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes, please go back and submit a review. If you got the eBook from our sales site, send us an email about what you think and we’ll be sure to post it on our websites. Your opinions might just help someone else decide to get a copy and every sale goes a little further toward keeping a vital program funded during these tough economic times.

By now we’re sure you’re wondering why the pictures in this week’s post don’t really match our words. Well, the fact is that we get a lot more anonymous hits from Google when we include pictures of kissing . We’d love it if just our wit and wisdom drew visitors to our site, but the world just doesn’t work that way. So, with the hope that a few wandering internet eyes might learn about our efforts and help us to raise funds through storytelling, we’ve sprinkled a few salacious images in with this week’s plea. Just doing our part for old Poway High.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Analogy

Reading a good book is like a four-year-old’s Halloween.  If you haven’t yet figured out why, we’ll spell it out for you in a few paragraphs. First, a little personal background.

Evans learned to read because of a girl. He managed to make it through school all the way up to his high school junior year by taking the same classes as his smart older sister had the year before. It was kind of ingenious, really. He “borrowed” the near perfect reports and tests she’d carefully saved as a record to her glorious scholastic accomplishments, made a few deliberate mistakes, and collected an easy “B” from the previous year’s “A.” But then Evans fell in love with a dark-eyed literate beauty and, in the hopes of having something intelligent to say to her, actually read a book. It was Catcher in the Rye and it irrevocably changed his life. The beauty went on to marry her childhood sweetheart while Evans began to gorge himself at the literary feast where he once just pretended to eat.

Lynn’s introduction to the joys of reading were not too dissimilar. She was too popular and too consumed with social interaction to do more than the minimum reading to get through high school. But she fell in with a learned crowd in college and they introduced her to The Lord of the Rings. Mesmerized and enchanted by worlds she’d never guessed existed, she would often avoid the mundane subjects her major required in order to pursue love and high adventure between the pages of a paperback novel. Lynn hopes her students never learn how good friends and good books allowed her to procrastinate in business classes while she collected her bachelor’s in Marketing. It wasn’t until Evans helped convince her that she needed to line up her talents with a suitable career that Lynn began her three plus decade of excellence in the science of education, first as a student and then as a teacher. A side benefit was that the reading is so much more entertaining in the Education Department.

We’ve both learned what other devoted readers have: that a good book captures you. It’s not like going to the movies or interacting on the web. Maybe it’s because a reader must meet a book halfway before the magic occurs, but being consumed by another’s written story is an unparalleled escape that can’t be matched by cinema, an amusement park, or Facebook, at least not when you’re an adult. It seems different for kids. 
Before we are capable of understanding that there is more to the world than what happens outside our five senses, we can happily get lost in make believe. Watching our four-year-old grandson don a costume and ask for treats on Halloween looks like what reading a good book does for us. In both cases there is a transformation that goes beyond logic and touches on magic. We lose the innocent escapes as we grow older and more worldly, but, luckily, they can be replaced. There are worlds and wonders waiting for those who are willing to experience a book and, this time of year, they even come with chocolate.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

When All Else Fails, Try Poetry

We’ve got nothing this week! Nada. Zip.
So Evans dug through the back of his hard drive and came up with some free verse he’s written. The first one was from Promise, the book we killed last week. The rest are from moments in time when it seemed like the best way to say something was a poem. We hope you like them.

A Warrior’s Request
Slip away from your patent leather existence,
with its neat bows and reserved affections,
and bathe with me in the ice blue silk of our pleasure.
Don’t be frightened.
When my ragged longing reaches to hold your naked hopes hard next to mine,
the demon’s desire won’t devour you.
It won’t.
It won’t.
I promise.
So slip away and take me into your clothless beauty
where two caring can quench their thirsts for each other.
Then show me how I might find a certain peace in your arms
without battle
and guileless dreams in your touch
without war.

An Impossible Notion
A thought.
A wondrous possibility,
too rare, too fine, and too unlikely to be true,
keeps tickling me.
I need to find out if you’re laughing too.
Playing Hooky
The sunlight found my window today when I was supposed to be working
and teased me until I left the data to analyze itself
while I walked among the roses.
It would have been smarter I know,
just to close the blinds and concentrate,
but it’s too late now.
The flowers held me captive
and the warmth drained away any hope of coherent thought.
So, since there was nothing for it,
I decided that I might as well think of you and wonder
if the sunlight found your window too.

Alternatives
Other hours call me
from beneath our public smiles
and hint of breathless possibilities
both naked and daring.

How
How can we still be connected? 
It’s not rational and I’m always rational now.
But from yesterday’s somewhere, a girl I loved found me
and we picked up the conversation as if we’d just got out of class
instead of letting more than a quarter century slip by.

How can I hear her laughing?
It’s not reasonable and I’m the king of reason now.
But her firelight pixie voice echoes in the soulless bits sent through a virtual desert
and her teasing smile is transmitted along with today’s mischief
into my inbox.

How can she still care (and why does it matter)?
It’s not something I should think about now.
But a woman, who was once a girl I loved, found me
and I can’t stop feeling that some of what we were then
is timeless.

Daydream
I catch my breath with the thought of you sometimes.
And in that reality suspended second,
released as I am from structured expectation,
your image will float before me smiling,
inviting my touch.
It’s ever only a moment.
The phantom suggestion dissolves with my stuttered exhale.
But it will make me wonder
if your breath is ever caught over me sometimes
and, if so,
does it leave your fingers tingling.

Indian Summer
Even now,
when black sky besieged by a tireless moon
blossoms in bare light dress,
I’m reminded of how the water reflected glow
danced in your eyes.
These are the nights,
warmed by hot cloudless days,
where I recall how your soft pink nipples pressed their anxious lead
and enticed me to bathe in the dark lake of your sweet summer smell.
In this luminous dark,
I hear again the strings of cherished fidelities as they fly from my lips
and feel again that desire for my hands to wander
over your tanned and laughing body.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Death Of A Story

Last week was exciting. There is something incredibly fulfilling about finally completing everything and rolling out a new novel. This week we had the opposite experience. We killed a book without publishing it. Although we can’t hide the fact that it is disappointing, in many ways we learn more from our “failures” than from our successes.

Promise was first written in the heat of passion. Evans wanted to capture the overwhelming feelings of unexpected first love that was both unusual and universal. A love that was instant, deep, quiet, and scary all at the same time. And he wanted unforgettable characters that everyone could relate to. In short, he wanted to push the boundaries of a young adult love story. The first draft was 120,000 words, twice as long as it was supposed to be and, while obviously full of passion, it was a jumbled mess.

We worked on Promise together for more than two years. Lynn loved the ideas but knew that the book couldn’t work the way it was first delivered. She was ruthless about restructuring the story to make it coherent while trying to divest it of anything not germane. She sent it out to readers multiple times and we reworked the narrative over and over again, eventually getting the word count down to 95,000. Then we sent it out again and the reviews weren’t great. One of the biggest problems we had was selling the idea that high school kids could be that mature. The other was that there wasn’t enough doubt about how it would end up. Our readers loved some parts, but not the book as a whole.

Evans took it back and restructured the first half, making the characters older and removing anything not connected to the main story. We reread it this week with the idea that we’d pick Promise up again and push it through until it was finally right. However, we both reached the conclusion that Promise was never going to fly. We know at this point that many independent authors would just go ahead and publish the last clean copy anyway and we can understand why they would. But even though we’ve spent hundreds of hours working on it, we just can’t ask people to read something we’ve written if it isn’t our best. Instead we’ll move Promise into the home of wayward stories with the hope that we can mine some of our favorite parts for future novels.

So, though it’s a little sad that you may never get to read the scene where the protagonist gets her face slapped during her best friend’s art exhibition or learn how passionately we can write a lesbian love scene while still remaining tasteful, we know we’ve grown as writers from the experience. And, maybe, making writers better is the most any book can do for its authors. If that’s true, then for us Promise has been a success.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Valentine's Game

We love weeks like this! After the challenge of writing the novel, the struggle to edit and refine it, and then the pure toil of getting it ready to be published, there comes the time to announce that it is finally available for everyone to read. That’s what’s happening right now. Our second novel, The Valentine’s Game, is out in the world just waiting for hungry eyes to devour it.

This time it is even more exciting because we have a brand new internet location to go with the book. Now all you’ll have to do is go to www.lynnevansbooks.com to find descriptions, reviews, and links for all our published novels. It’s the easy way for you and all your friends to get your very own copy of The Valentine’s Game and all of our other published novels.

We naturally think all of our stories are worthwhile, but there is something truly special about The Valentine’s Game. It’s a romance but not like any romance we’ve ever read or even heard about. It’s fun, fast paced, a little quirky, and, even if we must say so ourselves, a pure delight to read and re-read. It’s the perfect escape from the everyday.

Like our previous novel, The Valentine’s Game is an eBook available in a number of easily accessible formats. For our loyal fans who have favorite reading devices, it can be purchased directly from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple iTunes bookstore. Although we make a dollar less per book when you buy it from one of these locations we actually want our readers to get them at these sites if you’ll give us a review when you’ve finished reading the book. That way, people who haven’t discovered Lynn Evans yet will believe you when you tell them that The Valentine’s Game was a great read. If there is no way we can convince you to give us a review, then you might as well buy the book from us and read it on your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. We promise to put the extra dollar to good use.

So go to www.lynnevansbooks.com right now to read details about The Valentine’s Game and choose a place to get it. Trust us; you’ll be glad you did. It’s a story worth the read.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dedicated To Love

Our baby girl wasn’t much for being a baby. Sarah was grown up by the time she was ten and she was so smart it made us nervous. Sarah was beyond us mathematically before she was out of grade school. She was so far ahead of the rest of her trigonometry class in the eighth grade that the teacher didn’t include Sarah when he set the curve and some of the college kids she was taking the class with paid her to tutor them. Going against stereotypes, however, Sarah was and still is an immensely social being. She has friends from one to a hundred and every parent she met, she seduced. We had a hundred offers to take Sarah off our hands. She also loves to dance, tells delightful stories, and isn’t afraid to make a fool of herself. Her extended family has her pegged as a klutz and whenever something is spilled during a holiday meal, Sarah usually gets the blame, even when she isn’t in the same state.

Sarah has a physics degree from Stanford and a law degree from Berkeley. She can relate hilarious tales about cross-dating young men from these notorious rivals. But it was dancing away from academia where she met the young man with whom she now intends to spend her life. Being parents, we weren’t sure at first if Terence was a good fit for our Sarah. He is every bit as intelligent and even more worldly than she is. But Terence doesn’t fit neatly into a box either. He is equally at home wining and dining celebrities and the press as a public relations hot shot or in working alone in the wilderness cataloging wildlife, which is what Terence did before he got a job with the Berkeley Repertoire Theater. We wondered if there was too much chemistry between them and worried that their love would combust with the slightest spark. But they have told us separately how much the other means to them and the look in their eyes convinced us that their love cannot be denied. And, when we think about it, since it is Sarah, it couldn’t be any other way. She was never meant for a safe and quiet life. Like everything else she does, Sarah’s love for Terence and his love for her must be written large across the emotional landscape. It can’t be whispered in a quiet breeze but must be sung on high from a choir of a thousand angels.

In one of those wonderfully serendipitous moments in life, we finished a love story about a young couple who has to overcome some unique challenges in order to find true love at nearly the same time we learned of Sarah’s and Terence’s engagement. That made it easy for us to figure out who we would dedicate the novel to. So now, when you get a copy of The Valentine’s Game and see our inscription to Sarah and Terence, you’ll know that we are thrilled that our baby girl has found love with a charming and clever young man. We just know that their lives together will be the stuff of legend and can’t wait to see what happens when they join forces completely. We are also patiently waiting for our next grandchild and will apply absolutely no pressure on our daughter and future son in-law to hurry up and give us a reason to spend our free time buying baby clothes in Berkeley. Really, no pressure whatsoever! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bottoming Out

We had the best of intentions.

As all of you are aware by now, Lynn’s day job consumes a large portion of her life. She has built the Poway High Student Services Office into a model counseling, support, and enrichment facility for the teenagers who attend PHS. Times being what they are, however, the program is chronically underfunded and always on the cusp of being washed away with the latest round of budget cuts. Fundraising is an unfortunate and, quite frankly, unwelcome part of the job.

Earlier this year we learned that one source of funding for Student Services was going away and the office was going to receive $10,000 less support. It was Evans who came up with the “bright idea” to try and replace this money with sales from a book. We were actively searching for representation for our novels anyway; so, why not give one to PHS? This meant a change in direction since we couldn’t wait the years required to get in with a publishing house. This wasn’t a huge deal because, besides believing that the publishing business is floundering, being independent appealed to our “can do spirit.” So we chose what we thought was our most appropriate work, poured our time, energy, and money into making it the best eBook possible, and launched it with parental pride.

Our first worry was that we had been kidding ourselves–that we really couldn’t write something worth reading. We were nervous that, even though we’d been honing our skill for years, had attended writers’ conferences, had paid a professional editor, and had sent the novel out to advanced readers, it really was crap not worth the money someone would spend on a box of Girl Scout Cookies. We felt better when the first reviews came back positive. Teens and adults told us they either liked or loved the book. Breathing a sigh of relief, we thought, “We’re on our way!”

Although we do have one marketing degree between us and have both spent some of our formative years selling in department stores, self-promotion is not our strong suit. Knowing this, we designed a simple marketing formula–The 3 Rs: Reading, Reviewing, and Recommending. We relied on our extensive network of friends, family, associates, and the PHS students to read Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain, have some of their opinions posted where “strangers” could see them, and encourage them to let others know about the book. Our goal was to sell about 3,000 books over the course of a year, with the volume ramping up, peaking, and then sliding off. By then we hoped to have Bobbie-2 out so that those who liked the first book would get onboard for round two.

While a few people jumped on all three Rs, overall we stalled almost immediately. We released the book at the beginning of summer break in order not to interfere with the crazy last days of the school year. However, we learned that it is hard to grab people’s attention, particularly the students, when their heads are full of vacation. Of course, when everyone got back to school and their jobs, we had a hard time getting to them because they were now so busy. We also encountered the expected problem of those folks who aren’t yet willing to read electronically but we’d hoped they would do it just this once for a good cause. Paper books are prohibitively expensive to produce and distribute on demand, so we stayed digital and willingly provided free eBooks to the reluctant or others who might not have an easy way to pay for it online. For our strategy to work, we needed a strong local commitment to the first R – reading. “If we can just get them to read it,” we told ourselves, “the rest will fall into line.” To encourage this, Lynn nagged her Peer Counselors and we invested in local marketing efforts. The most recent of these blew up in our faces.

We ordered a thousand postcards with the eBook cover on the front and a description on the back. As our loyal followers know, the cover features the side of a bathing suit covered rear end and an old fashioned pistol (Evan’s stepmom called it “wimpy.”) The school administrators told Lynn the postcards weren’t appropriate to distribute on campus and some of the students said they felt awkward about passing them out. While we could come up with many arguments in favor of using the cover to advertise, we concluded there was no reason to cause problems for the people for whom we were trying to raise money. We’ve even thought of some clever ideas like putting up blank cards on campus with something like “Go to www.le-kain.com to see what they won’t let us show you here.” The only problem with that is dealing with the disappointment when people discover that the cover is pretty tame.

Now we don’t know what to do. Worse (better?) we’re not sure if we should do anything. Maybe it’s time to just let the book-as-fundraiser idea go and see if it has the wings to fly on its own. We certainly wouldn’t mind if we could quit nagging people about the 3 Rs. Still, we know if a small swell of local support doesn’t form soon, the chances that Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain will be discovered by a wider world this year are pretty remote and our goal won’t be met. Then we’ll need to think of some other way to raise the money for Student Services. Still, no matter what happens, we are committed to writing novels. We love creating books; it’s the promotion we’re not that wild about.

And, since we’re on that subject, can we interest anyone in a postcard?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Do You Believe in True Love?

We are not each other’s first loves. We don’t know if we will be our last loves. We are confident that we can be counted as a great love, maybe even THE great love of each other’s life.  But is our long and mutually committed relationship a match made in heaven? Were we destined to be each other’s true loves? We don’t know, but it’s a question we find fascinating; so fascinating, in fact, that we wrote a romantic novel on the subject.

This weekend we are completing the final proof for The Valentine’s Game. Our protagonist, Charli, is a love-jinxed twenty-one-year-old desperate for romance. Her prayers appear to be answered when Cupid shoots her with a love arrow on Valentine’s Day. However, instead of landing the man of her dreams, Charli lands in the middle of the Valentine’s Game where she must contend for true love, participating in games like Blind Luck, Four Play, and Five Hundred Kisses. The book is a fun ride on the romantic side that even guys (so long as they aren’t afraid of affection) will enjoy reading.

Writing this book not only brought back memories of our challenges together when we first started out, but it also made us examine our core beliefs on this universal subject. Luckily for our readers, it’s easy to learn what we’ve discovered about love.  Our philosophical view point is presented by the angels in charge of helping Charli and the other contestants on their quest for true love. Some of you who’ve been counseled by Lynn on your interpersonal relationships might find the angel Crescent’s description of “like, love, and lust” very familiar. Anyone who has ever been to a peer counseling retreat will undoubtedly imagine the innocent games played there in a different light.

The eBook should be available in a couple of weeks. We will, of course, let you know where and when you can get it. In the meantime, you might think about your own ideas of love and relationships so, when you read ours, you can let us know how close we came to uncovering true love in The Valentine’s Game

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Could Use Your Help!

This week we need your help. We have just submitted our second novel to our e-publisher to begin the conversion and preparation for distribution. With the last book, since we were donating the proceeds, we were cool with giving the book its own website (www.le-kain.com). What we worried about then was “short.” We wanted a link that could easily fit in a tweet. While it was that, it turns out that it was also easy to forget and we’ve spent a lot of time retelling people the link.

Now that we are going to have more than one book out in the virtual world we want one site where people can go to find out about any and all of our published works. Like www.le-kain.com, the site’s main function will be to point to locations where our eBooks can be purchased. It will also feature more comprehensive descriptions of the novels and post reviews we’ve received.

Our problem is what domain name to use. “Lynnevans.com” and “lynn-evans.com” are both taken. So is “2blynnevans.com.” Hopefully you know that is our general collaboration website that we don’t want to redo into a book site. So, we need another domain name.

This is where you come in. We would really like to know your opinion. We want to quit putting up websites and concentrate on writing novels but we want you and all of your friends to visit us and buy eBooks. So we’ve provided a list of some of our favorites and would love it if you’d tell us which one you like. Just click comment at the bottom of this post, drop us a note on Facebook, or email us at 2blynnevans@gmail.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Available domains we like include:
Lynnevansbooks.com (with and without a hyphen in front of “books”); read-lynnevans.com; read-le.com; le-books.com; we-r-lynnevans; we-r-le.com; we-be-le.com; lebooks-baby.com.

Lynn really hopes you don’t choose the last one – that’s Evans humor, folks!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Rebirth of Inexperience

If you live a purposeful life, then experience is your reward. We like to believe that our lives, both the parts shared and the time we’ve spent apart, have left us with heaps of real world knowledge. Lynn has spent nearly three decades at the same high school and her opinion is sought on everything from how to deal with the most horrific tragedies to the refreshments served during staff meetings. Evan’s first computer-assisted analysis was conducted on punch cards and fed into a computer that wouldn’t fit in our living room. It makes him smile when younger colleagues gripe about how the company’s dual-core Pentium processor laptops with gigabytes of RAM and half-terabyte disk drives are “not all that good.” 

It’s not a boast to suggest that we know our way around our professions. We’ve applied ourselves for a long time and now, not unreasonably, we’re considered experts. So it has been something of a shock to realize that we are “wet behind the ears” when it comes to the writing game. Not so much creating a novel. There is a lifetime of stories, plays, and poems in our past and we have been dedicated to learning the craft of “can’t put it down” book length fiction for over five years now. It’s the stumbling about after the novel has been completed that reminds us of when we were young and our hearts raced at rooms filled with vacuum tubes or wide eyed students.

This post novel production might have been easier a few years ago when there was really only one path to take. But Amazon and eBooks changed all that. Now, when century old publishing houses are floundering about how to sell books and agents only want to represent the sleazy and notorious, everyone is on the learning curve. We realize that, while there has never been a better opportunity for independent writers, it hasn’t come with a road map. We often feel lost, frustrated, and like complete rookies. On the bad days it makes us wonder if it’s worth it. On the good days it reminds us of when we were young, newly in love, and believed there was nothing we couldn’t do as long as we never let go of each other’s hand.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Finding It Independently

Trust us, we know that sometimes it is hard to get noticed even when you do something worth someone’s attention. As independent eBook authors, we struggle against the perception that if you haven’t been swallowed by a large publishing conglomerate, your work must be second rate. We know it’s the same for others in the world of arts and crafts. So, in order to foster good karma and so we can practice what we preach, we like to support other independents who have made the effort to produce quality work on their own. This week we have the chance to do this three times.

One of Lynn’s current students turned personal tragedy into a remarkable work of fiction. If we weren’t old enough to know that there is plenty of room for good writers, we might be intimated that one so young could produce such a fine novel her first time out. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to recommend Slipping Reality by Emily Beaver. We got an electronic copy from Amazon (find it here) and read it on our Kindle and on our laptop’s Kindle Reader. It is definitely worth reading even without knowing the back story. We are both happy and proud to wish Emily continued success in writing and look forward to reading her next eBook.
 Another former student and long time friend married an artist who works at a bookstore to help make ends meet. He had his first gallery showing this month and we went down to see it. The show’s title, “Imagination Rules the World” could not have been more accurate. To quote from the brochure: “The artist, Daniel Ketelhut, leads you on an imaginative journey through fantastic artscapes where expressive, surreal creatures lurk just outside the realm of the known.” We’d never seen anything like it and were so impressed, we bought one. The Abduction of Persephone is going to hang in our living room as soon as the show is over. If you are within driving distance of The Main Street 5 Gallery in El Cajon (124 E. Main Street) we highly recommend visiting on or before Labor Day. It might be the only chance you’ll have of seeing all these amazing and inventive creatures in the same place again. 
You could say that Evan’s cousin makes bags out of banners, but that would be nearly tragic in understatement. What really happens is that Mary Alice Kessler turns outdated vinyl banners into functional art. Clicking through the picture of tote bags on her website (www.wheresmybag.biz) reminds us of thumbing through the pictures in National Geographic. It’s simply mind boggling that so much eye-popping imagery can be wrapped around something so practical. We also find it hard to believe that these masterpieces were created from something (let’s face it) you never even noticed hanging on the side of some building. We were so impressed that we had her make us a custom tote from the cover of our eBook. Starting next week it will be filled with healthy snacks and be prominently displayed in the Poway High Student Services Office.
You could look at it like it was a fair exchange; that we simply traded money for goods. But we know that it was more than that. Our lives were enriched because we seized the chance to learn what other creative folks were doing and took the opportunity to be part of their future success. Now, when you discover Emily, Daniel, and Mary Alice, we’ll be able to say, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah! We knew them first!”  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Picture Posting

This week’s post is about posts; more specifically about making our posts a little more interesting. To help with this we like to include pictures. The good ones we download from a royalty-free image site but, since we also like to keep it personal, we try to include a picture we’ve taken. This can be quite a challenge.

As you may have noticed by now, we are not particularly good photographers. We try to compensate for our technical shortcomings with originality. Usually this means setting up something at the kitchen table with the camera is set to automatic while it is perched on top of a stack of books. It can get pretty funny sometimes – pushing the camera’s timer and dashing into position while dodging the cat or some inanimate obstacle. It can also be amusing as we discuss what body part we want to get cropped out when we photoshop the result.

We’re not sure why we really go through all of the effort, except maybe that the blog is beginning to take on a life of its own. Still we’re pleased when our post pictures get noticed. The one we did when we were talking about a book with an alien theme received the most enthusiastic response so far. Our favorite was the one where Lynn has her fingers stuck in her ears. In these cases, and in a few others, we think we were able to capture a little of the fun we have together when we’re creating novels and in the rest of our lives. Hopefully you see it too.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

When The Readers Just Don’t Get It

We have a novel we’ve been working on for three years now. When Evans drafted it originally it was a love story between two exceptional high school girls and how their getting together played out among their exceptional friends. Each chapter started with a poem. While sometimes gritty, the language these young people used was not guttural and often used vocabulary not common to TV teen dialog. The original draft was also long for the typical young adult novel, coming in at around 120,000 words, twice the length suggested for YA.

The chapter poems didn’t survive Lynn’s review and neither did a lot of details Evans thought of as “back story.” More cutting was done with our multiple reviews and, when we were through, it was a leaner 99,000 words but the central themes and advanced teenage dialog remained.

The problem was that our advance readers didn’t believe it. They thought subject matter, scenes, and language were too advanced for high school kids. The fact that we’d known teenagers every bit as capable and loquacious as our characters couldn’t be transferred to our written world. At least we couldn’t transfer it. There also seemed to be doubt that “children” could understand their own hearts as well as our characters portrayed. There needed to be more doubt and more struggle before our made up story would feel real. We found it strange that our fantasy and science fiction works were viewed more realistically than our novel based on real life.

So we are reworking the novel yet again. Now, instead of being in high school, the central characters are college age. We’re also eviscerating the back stories surrounding the supporting characters.  If it doesn’t support the emotional journey of the two central young women, it’s gone. We’re learning you need to be stubborn if you’re a writer and, if you expect others to read your work, you need to listen to what they’re telling you. We like to poke fun and say that our advance readers “just don’t get it,” but of course they do, which is why they are so important to producing a solid novel.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Like Mother Like Son

When you’re a writer, you need to pay attention to patterns that repeat, even when they take awhile for them to come full circle.

Eight weeks shy of twenty-six years ago we were celebrating the fourth birthday of a darling little girl. Our daughter Laura was such a sweet child that she fooled us into believing that raising children was a snap. Her sister Sarah, who was born 16 ½ months later, soon set us right. But on that special day our quiet first child celebrated the way all little girls do with a pink little party that had lots of friends and family spoiling her with cute little gifts.
  
She didn’t stay pink very long. While always short of stature, she grew into the toughest 9-12 year old we’ve ever known. She loved a number of sports but excelled at softball where she practiced pitching until she was the master of control. Her specialty was the drop ball. When she let it go it looked like it was a meatball in the center of the plate. But, about the time the batter started to drool and let loose a swing straight out of Casey at the Bat, the bottom would drop out of the pitch and the ball would dive toward the corner of the plate. Invariably the batter would nick the top of it and the ball would roll weakly for one of her teammates to gobble up and throw over to first base. The infielders loved when Laura pitched while the outfielders fell asleep.

But even sweet little girls don’t stay young forever. They grow up, get married, and have children of their own. Four years ago this week our sweet little girl had an even sweeter little boy. Ethan is charming, pleasant, and the absolute apple of our eye. On top of that he has his mother’s love of baseball. So today there is a baseball themed party being set up in our backyard and soon loud and happy voices will be echoing through the neighborhood while the birthday boy celebrates with his family and friends. No pink, but plenty of party.

Eight weeks shy of twenty-six years ago we penned a birthday poem for our little girl. Today we are giving it to our first grandson and sharing it with you. Happy Birthday, Ethan!

Hurray for a Four-Year-Old’s Birthday!
Happy birthday sweet Ethan.
Happy birthday we say.
You’re one more year older
starting today.

You’re one more year wiser
and you’ve grown a lot too
since the last time we sang
happy birthday to you.

From this day onward
you’ll be three never more.
For after today
you’ll be counted as four.

So happy birthday sweet Ethan.
Happy birthday my dear.
Stay safe ‘till we sing
happy birthday next year.