Category Archives: My New Novel

Time to Reflect

I have taken the summer off. I’ve biked, hiked, knitted, hassled, fretted, sweated, gardened and napped.

Now the harvest is coming in hot and heavy and soon I’ll be putting food aside for the winter (already have lots and lots of applesauce, raspberries and rhubarb in the freezer for morning oatmeal), and I’m eager to get back to writing.

I recently wrote about the value of lying fallow. This has been a good time for me. For certain, I still write, but what I’m writing has more to do with posts and blogs and copy for Wordcrafters’ variety of literary events. I now need to get back to my personal work.

So this morning, I tallied what I have that is incomplete, but still holds my heart. This exercise was both gratifying and horrifying.

  • Four novels – first drafts complete, awaiting rewrites.
  • Three novels – first drafts in process.
  • Two novels – outlined and ready to go.
  • Four nonfiction books in various states of completion.
  • I also deleted a few fits and starts that no longer interest me.

When I decided to take a few months off, I was convinced that I had exhausted my creativity, that I really didn’t have anything new to say. Today, I look at my list and I am excited to prioritize and get busy, mostly because I have a whole batch of new ideas popping up in my head every day. Clearly, however, I need to finish something before starting something new.

I participated in NaNoWriMo last year (National Novel Writing Month – Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days), and that was not only great fun, but it helped move forward a project that had been languishing. I only wish I had come to it better prepared, as I ended up with a very messy first draft. My first drafts are usually untidy, but not this ugly. So this November, I will work on one that I have already outlined. Between now and then, I intend to complete one of the novels awaiting rewrites.

My self-imposed hiatus lasts until mid-September.

I wonder if I can wait that long to get started.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under My New Novel, National Novel Writing Month, Possibilities, Summer, Writing

Baggage Check

My new novel, Baggage Check, is now out from IFD Publishing and available for the Kindle, the Nook, and all other electronic formats.

This book is about many things, but most specifically sex, drugs, treachery, and–most dangerous of all–love.

Baggage Check Cover Art

1 Comment

Filed under My New Novel

Writing Violence

All writers know that conflict is at the center of a good story. The greater the conflict, the better the story. The badder the bad guy, the greater the conflict, the better the story.

Well, maybe it’s time to change that. Maybe it’s time for a new paradigm in storytelling, where the better the good guy, the better the story.

My new novel has violence in it. Gun violence. The bad guys are pretty bad, and now I’m questioning the entire premise of our reading culture and my role in it. Are those of us who write thrillers perpetuating all the wrong values, even if these books have happy endings, even if the bad guys get their comeuppance? Or is seeing the bad guys get what’s coming to them the part of the story that readers really want to read? Is that the part that validates our stand against violence, against bad guys? Is that part the light at the end of the tunnel, the glory that Truth and Justice will eventually win out?

My new book will come out, because it’s already in the process. Spoiler alert: Really bad bad guys, satisfying ending. But in the wake of the horrific events in Connecticut, I think I’ve lost my taste for writing such things. I think I’ve lost my taste for reading such things.

There are other stories to be told that don’t include the kind of violence that has been a staple of our collective body of literature, and I think it’s time for them to have their day in the sun.

2 Comments

Filed under My New Novel, Writing

The Hometown Book Signing

I’ve written before about the very few golden moments in an author’s life. Mostly it’s just bloody hard work, disappointment and aggravation. Writing, rewriting, editing, marketing, traveling, speaking engagements, working with editors and agents, rewriting again, more editing, more marketing, schlepping books, trying to get paid, shuffling money while the check is “in the mail”…

I know. I shouldn’t whine.

But Sunday afternoon was one of those times when it became crystal clear that it’s all worth it. I held my hometown booksigning and launch party for York’s Moon. Lots of people came. New friends, old friends, people I hadn’t seen since… since my last booksigning.

I felt the love.

What’s important to me about this event is not that I threw myself a party and a bunch of people came, it’s that people are still reading, still buying books, still supporting the local independent bookstore. We held this event at Tsunami Books, where Scott works 70 hours a week to maintain the local new/used bookstore. It’s an institution and worthy of all the support we can give it.

It always amazes me that I’m fortunate enough to continue to be published in this economy. Apparently, I’m writing what people want to read, and that is enormously gratifying. We sold all the books that Scott brought in, along with a few of my out of print titles. As we were packing up the last of the food (just enough for Al’s dinner), Scott came over to me and said, “You have fans!” I know. I’m humbled by that.

It was a great party, a successful booksigning and a fine launch of what I hope people will find to be a good read. Thanks, everyone, for reminding me about how grateful I am to be doing the only thing I was really invented to do.

P.S. How can you not love a bookstore that has a section like this?

1 Comment

Filed under My New Novel, Promotion, Reading, Writing

Some of My Latest News

A quick update on what’s been happening.

First, my newest book, York’s Moon is available at Amazon.com and on my website. The launch party will be at Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette St., Eugene, OR, April 17, 3-5pm. Come celebrate!

The trailer is up on the Candyland website! It’s very dark and creepy.

“Honing Sebastian”, a short story, is available as a podcast at PodCastle.

“Music Ascending”, a short story, is available as a stand-alone.

When Darkness Loves Us is in audio production.

I just got back from a great vacation and am now back at work.

Leave a comment

Filed under My New Novel, Podcasts, Reading, Short Stories, Writing

My New Book!

York’s Moon is now available for preorder from Amazon.com. Click here.

The first two reviews are in, and this is what they had to say:

“York’s Moon is so absorbing and unusual that you’ll almost miss how beautifully written it is–almost. Elizabeth Engstrom’s mesmerizing and unique style will draw you into a world of mystery, violence and heroic struggle. Ultimately, this story celebrates the uplifting power of the human spirit. Do not miss it.” –Susan Wiggs, author of Marrying Daisy Bellamy

“With quirky, engaging characters, York’s Moon is as much about understanding the human condition as solving a murder mystery.  I cannot imagine anyone but Liz Engstrom writing this fine novel.” –Terry Brooks, author of the Shannara series

2 Comments

Filed under My New Novel

York’s Moon

My new mystery novel, York’s Moon, is on track for a February hardcover publication date.

Here’s the back cover copy on the Advance Reading Copy:

When a dead guy falls off the train just yards from Yorktown, a hobo camp near West Wheaton, California, all manner of forces begin to collide.

Three men live in Yorktown: York, the old blind hobo and self-proclaimed mayor and minister of his little enclave, Denny, the young rail rider, and Sly, the damaged Vietnam vet. When they are blamed for the murder, the town fathers are ready to bulldoze the camp that has existed there for forty years or more.

Clover, the girl who works at the donut shop and keeps the bums in day-old and toothpaste as her personal ministry, determines to save the camp and the harmless guys who live out in the open. She has the compassionate ear of the sheriff, but his deputy is a hothead, and in the pocket of the mayor who has shady business dealings he needs to have accomplished under dark of night.

When Clover and her boys discover who really killed the guy on the train, tensions ratchet up and a van full of thugs are hired to go clean up the hobo camp by the light of the full moon, but blind old York and his two inept sidekicks are ready for them in as unconventional a defensive posture as possible.

Eventually, everyone knows it’s the end of the era where rail riders can live out their freedoms, and the inevitable is going to happen, but before it does, those who wield unreasonable power must have their comeuppance, and those who have been doing good works all their lives must be rewarded.

York’s Moon is an unconventional murder mystery, a story of love, hope, and how the little guy can fight city hall and win. Sort of.

Leave a comment

Filed under My New Novel