Author Giveaway, The Gold in These Hills

 

If you climb a mountain to talk to God, you’d best be prepared for Him to talk back.

“Sit and stay a while,” He’ll say. “Get comfortable.”

With a backward glance over my shoulder, I can see that my writing career has been anything but a straight line. One year in, it most resembles mountain climbing. Lots of crashing through the underbrush and scaling boulders. The occasional rattlesnake scare.

It’s been an adventure and so much fun that I forget to stop every little while and check my compass.

Today, I want you to meet a new author friend, Joanne Bischof. I discovered her in the usual way: crashing through the internet looking for authors who write historical fiction. Her name flew by, and after a couple of curious clicks, I became a fan. One of her books was in my hands, muy pronto.

We had some things in common.

She writes female protagonist, historical fiction, pioneer American, turn of the century, tiny mountaintop…inspirational romance.

Well, now.

And then I discovered she lives…in actual Idyllwild. Hm. I was going to live in Idyllwild for an entire week at the end of July for our yearly family Bible camp. Coincidence? I think not.

I did something I never do. I emailed a complete stranger and asked if she wanted to meet for coffee and talk writing.

And she said yes.

It percolated in the back of my mind all week during camp, this Friday afternoon coffee meet up. How should I present myself? Could I ask all my questions without taking notes? What if I was too intimidated to ask anything at all? What if she asked me something I didn’t know? Like my name?

Joanne met me at the coffee shop, and we introduced ourselves while we waited for our order. Outside, the sky grew dark and began to spit. Rejoicing in the possibility of rain, we took seats on the veranda at the rail and started talking.

You, gentle reader, already understand the lovely idea of a summer storm in Idyllwild. And its implications.

The wind gusted a bit as we discovered almost immediately that she worked at the very camp I’d been staying at all week. That we’d been together all along, incognito.

The rain began as Joanne told me about a new book she was releasing in August.

Lightning streaked overhead and thunder boomed as I admitted to a new book I had released in July.

“Mine is set in Idyllwild,” she said as the hail began. We dragged our chairs away from the rail.

“Mine, too,” I said. “It has, um, it’s called Summer Storm.” The heavens opened. The streets began to flood.

“I had to do a lot of research for it during Covid,” Joanne said. “On this area, on 1902, on the Cahuilla, on the first settlers. Hard to do when you’re trapped at your desk.”

“Oh, boy.” I took a long sip of latte. Gutters overflowed.

“Did you know there are a couple of abandoned gold mines up here?” she asked.

This is when we moved our chairs up against the building and the wind blew so hard we were getting wet, anyway. Our coffee date had passed its polite expiration, but we were trapped at the coffee shop by a storm that raged for two hours solid before easing up. Plenty of time to ask all the questions, exchange all the stories, and for the shocking amount of coincidences to soak in.

Because, of course, I’d just had a week of classes to remind me that there are no coincidences. I took the opportunity to reset my writing compass to true North. Reminded myself to see the forest instead of constantly running into trees in my haste. She showed me a gentler way to author.

When it was finally safe to swim to our cars, Joanne promised me an advance copy of her new release, The Gold in These Hills. It arrived today and I’m passing the excitement forward and giving it away to a lucky blog subscriber!

Visit Joanne on her website anytime, enjoy one of her videos here, and follow her on all the things.

To enter a drawing for this copy of her new book, drop a random fun fact from one of my books in the comment box below. You know, like the name of the mine where Red lives. Or something. Ahem.

Entries accepted through September 9th at midnight and I will announce the winner in the newsletter on September 23rd. (You do get my newsletter, do you not?) Winners must provide a continental USA mailing address to claim the prize.

 

Ghostwriter

Ghostwriter: a writer who authors books, manuscripts, blog posts, stories, texts, music, memoirs, political speeches, cookbooks, hip-hop lyrics, college term papers, wedding invitations, drug prescriptions, and generally anything at all – but will never get the credit for it – because you were hired by a big fat cheater cheater pumpkin eater.

Who are these cheaters you ask?

I’ll tell you who: “VC Andrews” and Wolfgang A. Mozart. Politicians and medical professionals. Comedians and comic book artists and college kids.

It means that if I’m Hillary Clinton and want to write my memoirs but I just can’t find the time because, darn it all, I’m trying to be president and stuff, then I can hire someone else to throw it together and pay them $500,000.00.

All the ghostwriter has to do is everything, and sign a teensy little anonymous contract:

“I, someone who can write with Hillary Clinton’s accent, promise to deliver a whole book on time and never, ever, ever, tell a soul about it. I won’t tell anyone what is in her closet, even the color of her socks….I will just pocket the money and disappear into the dark alley where ghosts hang out. Rich ghosts.”

Except Hillary, of course, will pocket her EIGHT MILLION DOLLAR advance royalties and “write” more books later that say “By Hillary Clinton” on the cover.

Not only have I lost my faith in humanity, but they just put the “lie” in “library”.

The last holdout for limitless paper imagination, and beacon of hope for starving wanna-be authors everywhere.

I mean, maybe I raised my eyebrows a tad when Janet Evanovich put out her twenty-first book in as many years. I want to believe the woman has it in her. That her comedy runs true and deep, and when it fumbled around in the first couple, it was her genius taking hold of the concept, and when it fumbled around in the last couple, it was her genius saying, “Kid, take a break, I’m exhausted from being witty.”

God forbid she calls in a ghostwriter when her own plots begin to wane, so that she can keep cranking out books every year and making mad money.

I mean, not that I can’t wait for “her” next book to show up. But still.

For all I know, the whole public library was filled by ten writers, tops. And they’re ventriloquists.

I really should have suspected the Nancy Drew series, now that I know what I’m looking for. Carolyn Keene does not exist except in the ghostly pens of mysterious contributors. I will miss your titian hair, Nancy.

Great Scott. Was Titian a lie too? Do you suppose he retired like a king in Cagliari at twenty and paid someone else to keep going for him?

“Just throw some red in there,” I can hear him say to his ghost-painter, “everyone will assume my style is evolving,” as he takes a swig from his cabernet, “People will believe anything.”

And so it ends, another day, lying face down on the ground of disillusionment.

How the mighty have fallen.

And as long as I’m down here, just let me know if there’s any Oscar acceptance speeches you need written.

If you have the money, I have the time.

Maybe I should drop Janet a line…