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I wanted to write a post about GMOs—Genetically Modified Organisms—because I don’t understand the issue against labeling for those of us who would rather not risk the possible, or even probable, side effects.  GMOs are engineered seeds for faster growth, resistance to pathogens and fabrication of extra nutrients.  That’s according to those who support GMOs, who would tell you it’s only beneficial and poses no larger threat than regular food.  On the other hand, corn is specifically made to grow a deadly insecticide in each kernel that kills bugs.  Protesters would say it’s not safe to eat.  They would also state that GMOs affect ecological, economical and safety issues.  They argue that the rats that were used to test the genetically modified food developed liver and kidney damage and massive tumors.  Fifty percent of the males and seventy percent of the females died.  Additionally, protesters would point to the insecticides which contaminates fields and the economic hardship to farmers and US exports.  Unless I’m mistaken, all the protesters are fighting for is labeling on the packaging.  Monsanto, who owns most of the companies that are using GMOs wants to keep them hidden and legal, so you won’t know what you’re eating.  Many countries have either placed restrictions on the GMOs or have banned them outright.  Africa, in Asia—China, Japan, Philippines, In Europe—Norway, Austria, Germany, UK, Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Luxembourg and Portugal, as well as Brazil and Paraguay in South America, have placed GMO restrictions.  Sri Lanka, Thailand,  Ireland and Saudia Arabia have entirely banned GMO growing and GM foods.  The simple fix?  GMO labeling, so consumers can decide for themselves.  Until then, buy only USDA certified organics to ensure they are GMO free.  IMHO, it’s the best bet, but that’s just my opinion.  I can’t tell you for a fact that they’re bad, but I can tell you that many people want to know what’s in their food and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that.  It’s the least to ask.

Quirky Conundrum

I don’t believe I’ve ever been so nervous about reading anything before.  My WIP, tentatively titled, Conundrum (although that may well be subject to change), is a big jump from my usual genre of mysteries to general fiction.  I tried to write a quirky novel in which the main character, from her first person perspective, actually falls in love—but, there’s much more to it, including a subplot that drives the whole novel.  I can only hope the quirky factor is prevalent and offsets the romantic nature of the story!  I’m a bit afraid I can’t write quirky well enough—I’ve never tried before and it’s highly possible that I’m not quirky-like minded. If I could truly write quirky, I’d love it to be like Elmore Leonard, or even Cormac McCarthy, my favorite author.  Meanwhile, I’ve got a first draft of my latest, greatest.  I’m setting it aside for two weeks before delving into its pages.  I’m not at all sure how I’m going to make it two weeks without jumping in and beginning my first rewrite.  I’m as nervous as I am excited to get into it, but I’m going to let it slip past my conscious mind in order to get a good “read” on it.  The truth is, I’ve tried to write this quirky subplot in a different storyline before and it didn’t work well.  That book is hidden away in a drawer never to be let out into the real world again.  I tried a second time to use the premise and only made it to page 62 before jumping off the wagon.  Now, I’ve used the same premise in a completely different storyline and I wrote it from start to finish in 125,626 words and four and a half months.  I can only hope the new storyline will make a better vehicle for the premise.  So, the book is written, but there’s so much more work to be done and I’m on a self-imposed two-week hiatus while it festers… and I wait.

I recently received my first review of my second novel, What Happened To Robbie Tibbons by Kym Kemp in the Lost Coast Outpost.  That’s not to say it was my first review of just my second novel, but my actual first review.  I guess eventually, most writers receive their first review and, if they’re lucky, it’s a good one.  Fortunately, the Kym Kemp review was very good and I was happy to spread it around.  I have to admit here, the review was written by a friend from childhood, but I don’t believe that factored into the kind words.  At least, I don’t want to believe that was a factor and I do believe in the integrity of my friend, the journalist.  So, all in all, I’m thrilled by her analysis of my story and the two young characters.  While she did describe my writing as “uncertain” and “[at times] rough,” she also states that, “it perfectly captures the personalities of her characters and what it was like to swim in the scorching sun in the cool green lake.  Eeriness crawls in and out of the story as Lyddy and Sally search the lake looking for a missing boy.”  I also particularly liked the final sentence of the review: “From the beginning of the book, you know why Robbie Tibbons disappeared, but where he has gone and why will pull you through the darkening lives of two girls whose choices draw them farther and farther from the safe shores of childhood.”  I think that sums up the book very well.  And, I have to say, this evaluation of my writing and the book itself served a greater purpose for me.  In my mind, it catapulted me into the realm of “real writers.”  Before actually being reviewed, I felt like I was pretending to be an author, despite having written three books and publishing two of them.  For someone to have taken the time to write such nice words about what I wrote makes it all seem so bona fide. If you’re interested in reading the rest of the review, find it here:   http://lostcoastoutpost.com/2013/jul/13/what-happened-robbie-tibbons/  And if you’re interested in checking out What Happened To Robbie Tibbons, you can find it at Amazon in both hardcopy and Kindle:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=What+happened+to+robbie+tibbons

How do you get people to want to read your books?  Wait. Don’t go away; I’m really asking.  If you’re anything like I am, you’ve spent more than a year rewriting what it took you a year to create.  You’ve gotten all the necessary parts together, a cover you like, typesetting done, all the publishing processes completed and now you just need readers.  Preferably readers who will like what you’ve struggled over for, oh, so long.  So, you post your links on Facebook and send an announcement to all your friends and family, who mostly think something nice about your accomplishment and then forget it ever existed.  You teasingly remind them, hey, have you read my book?  Oh, I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I’m meaning to…  I’ll buy it soon.  You’ll be lucky if you ever hear from them any more until you can’t stand it and finally beg them to read your damn book!  Again, if you’re like I am, you know how many print and e-books you’ve sold and, to some extent, to whom (that’s how few there really are).  It’s not the sales that are important.  It’s the readers.  This is a hard life, writing books.  Authors.  You gotta love ‘em.

It’s time to make the announcement of the availability of my new novel, What Happened To Robbie Tibbons!  It’s been years in the making, writing and rewriting endlessly, but now it’s finally come to fruition.  It’s the story of Sally and Lyddy, thirteen-year-old cousins, one white, one half-black growing up in a changing era.  It’s about their summer together in 1973 when a boy changed their lives forever.   It’s doing what’s right versus doing what’s best for yourself.  It’s two girls, struggling over a secret that could do them in.  It’s a mystery, suspenseful and quick-paced.  I think it’s the best book I’ve written and I’ve heard that from others. And, while it sounds like a young adult novel, it is definitely written for adults.  I did a lot of research into 1973, as well as living it when I was 13.  I think it comes through in the novel.  I wanted it to feel like ’73, so I wrote it in the present tense, something I’ve never done before.  But, I think it brings more validity and reality to the times.  I wanted it to be almost like being there again.  That’s what I was shooting for and I certainly hope I’ve captured that.  The book is available at Amazon. The print copy is priced at $9.99 and the Kindle version is priced at $2.99.  I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think.   Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/What-Happened-Robbie-Tibbons-ebook/dp/B00BQ29EJO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363716418&sr=1-1&keywords=what+happened+to+robbie+tibbons and print copy link: http://www.amazon.com/Happened-Robbie-Tibbons-Sydney-Setterlund/dp/1482661039/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363716418&sr=1-2&keywords=what+happened+to+robbie+tibbons

Finally Fini

Well, What Happened To Robbie Tibbons is fini!  It’s been so long since I’ve written for my blog that I had to read back through to see where I left off.  It was spring, which means it’s been nearly a year since I’ve blogged.  I know you’ve missed me, my six readers.  Allow me to bring you up-to-speed.  Robbie Tibbons has been taking up much of my time, but I have started two new novels.  The first one I made it through fifty or sixty pages and decided it was going nowhere.  So, I went back to concentrating on RT.  As that began to come to fruition, I thought it was time to start another something new.  I’m eighteen pages into my next novel (we’re counting it as number three; however, in reality, it will be the fourth book I’ve written) and, again, I’m not sure it’s going anywhere.  Of late, I tend to get a good start, but find it lacking or lose interest after a certain number of pages.  I’ve tried outlining the plot, but stall at about halfway through.  Of the two I’ve actually finished and published, I wrote them from scratch, without a plot outline, but with a good idea of where it was going and how it was going to end.  Now, I find myself winging it and I don’t think it’s working.  I need to know where I’m going or I flounder fast.  But, I was talking about Robbie Tibbons.  I have to note that I have had the best help from friends and family and would never have gotten this off the ground otherwise.  From the writing processes through to the typesetting and cover art, I’ve had help and I would have been lost without it.  Sometimes you really have to lead me around by my nose and publishing is definitely one of those times.  What Happened To Robbie Tibbons never would have come full circle without the help of a few special people, who all prefer to go unnamed.  As much as I want to shout it out in my blog, they won’t have it.  Some won’t even let me thank them in the book, which I think is unfair censorship.  They know who they are and I sincerely hope they know just how much I appreciate all the help.  So, the last blog was in the spring of last year and it’s rolling around again soon.  I look forward to the lovely colors and fresh smell in the air, but, most of all, I look forward to writing and rewriting my next novel.

Spring has sprung!  Not that we had any degree of a hard winter, but the days are longer and spring is in the air.  I find myself wanting to write more than ever.  I started something new, of which I had only written about a page, but it was good.  Now, I can’t find it anywhere.  I’ve gone through all of my documents and can’t find it anywhere.  I know I saved it!  How could it just be gone?  I guess it was just the universe telling me to go back to work on What Happened to Robbie Tibbons and finish that before starting another project.  It’s a good point, but I’m kind of stymied on the rewrites of this book.  It’s been through so many rewrites that I can’t find anything else to fix; however, it doesn’t feel done.  What I really need is someone objective to read it and critique the story.  My fabulously well-read and brilliant friends and family have already read through it twice, critiquing the story and writing, and schooling me in the power of words.  Each of them has brought something different to the table, each seeing and feeling separate situations.  It wouldn’t be what it is already if not for the help of a few select people and their feedback.  What I need now is a new reader, one to whom the book would be fresh.  In the meanwhile, I’m going through it again, hoping that something will strike me and I’ll finally finish this book that I love so much.  It wasn’t the first book I wrote – that one is in a drawer and will never come back out.  I probably should destroy it; however, it is a whole book that I wrote, the first book that I wrote and that means something.   But, back to WHTRT.  This is the second book I wrote and has some parts of the storyline that are very close to my heart.  The characters are make-believe, all fiction, but I did grow up with a half-black cousin and we were the same age.  That relationship did affect the story, but the characters and the plot are all made up, just from scratch.  It is my favorite book, of the three that I’ve written, and I want to do it justice.  I just need to find a new and interested editor and finish WHTRT before I begin again on a new project.  Anything else will have to wait.

The best thing I can think of to write about now is my next novel.  Well, and the weather, which is glorious.  I know everyone will say, “We need the rain!”  However, I say, “I am loving the blue skies and mid-60 degree warmth.”  Other parts of the country are getting cold, wet and snow, but here in California, we’re enjoying beautiful days.  Except for a couple of rain storms and a wind storm that knocked out power for three days and four nights, it’s been a winter more resembling spring.  I have absolutely NO complaints about the weather – I don’t think it could be nicer.  Now, back to the novel.  It’s titled What Happened To Robbie Tibbons.  It’s actually the second book I wrote (In Darkness was the third novel written, but the first one published), with the first one stuck in a drawer never to come out again.  WHTRT (What Happened To Robbie Tibbons) is about two thirteen-year-old cousins, one white, one half-black, spending the summer together.  It’s set in 1973 on a lake where the girls swim, play and canoe.  The plans for the summer are terrific right up until a fatal mishap changes the girls’ lives forever.    The cousins spend the rest of the summer trying to uncover the truth.  My synopsis sounds like a Nancy Drew story, but it’s not.  It’s definitely written for adults, not their children.  I’m doing the final rewrites now, but I’m trying to build on the character of one of the girls and having a rough time with that.  Rewriting is hard!  How I wish I could write a book that was immediately ready to publish.  I tend to write the books quickly, but I then I spent a year rewriting In Darkness.  It was grueling.  I read that book probably thirty times before I was finished.  And now I’m doing the same for WHTRT and I hope to have it ready for publishing in a few months.

I’m presently waiting for some news.  I don’t wait well.  I don’t wait patiently.  I wrap my brain around possibilities and what-if’s and never let go.  I wonder.  I fret.  I plan for things not yet realized.  It’s my nature to be curious and I’m always trying to work things out in my head, whether I have the facts or not.  There are no guarantees, of course.  It could be bad news, just as easily as good news, but I tend to believe that good outweighs bad.  I tend to look forward to good news instead of preparing myself for bad news.  I suppose that’s because I’ve received more good news than bad.  The plan is to hear back next week, if all goes well.  I can wait a week.  I can wait two, if necessary.  But, that doesn’t mean that I’ll be waiting patiently, careful not to get my hopes up.  I don’t know which is better.  To prepare myself for bad news or to expect good news.  I find, when it’s something I really want, I tend to believe it will work out.  And, if I’ve learned anything in my time on this planet, it’s that everything happens for a reason.  Each and every time I’ve been disappointed by bad news, it has eventually worked out for the best.  There’s always something just around the corner that makes me glad to be available, which I wouldn’t have been, had the news been good.  So, I wait and I wonder.  Will the news be good?  Or, will I be let down easily (“it’s good, but not for us”) so that I will be available when the next better thing comes along down the pike?

Overall Outage

It’s amazing how I take things for granted.  I’m reminded of that when they’re not around anymore.  Such as the electricity.  It went out at 7:00 pm on Wednesday and didn’t come back on until Sunday morning around 9:00 am.  Three days and four nights of nothing but cold, cold, cold.  I did some knitting and read a book, but most of the time I was huddled under a pile of blankets just trying to get warm.  I did a lot of thinking while I waited.  I had no heat, no hot water, no way to cook, no phone (battery was dead), no TV or music and no computer/internet and I was running out of food quickly.  I rationed the two fiber bars, four bagels and cream cheese, the last bit of peanut butter and saltine crackers.  Finished off my hoarded pepper jelly, too.  Everything else in the house had to be cooked.  While it was fortuitous that I hadn’t gone out and stocked up the fridge and freezer the day before the outage, it did leave me with very little to eat.  I think it would have been harder watching a lot of food spoil, though. The lack of information was difficult, as well.  Not having a phone or TV to get caught up with what was going on was excruciating.  It’s taught me that I really need to have a good radio for just such occasions.  I kept begging the PGE God to turn back on the power until finally on Saturday I realized that the power wasn’t ever going to come back on.  This was how it was going to be forever more.  Never warm, never clean, never full, and never in touch with those I love.  I was sure electricity was over for me.  I even cried a little.  I cried a little when the power came back on Sunday morning, too.  And I will never take electricity for granted again.  This was the longest I’ve gone without power in my adult life and I hope to never do it again.  The shower I took on Sunday was one of the best I’ve ever had.  It took all the heaters about five hours to get the chill out and warm up the place, for which I am very grateful.  I’m tentative, though.  I have this understandable fear that it will go right back out again.