Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Season For Dreams

My new author website is up and running, thanks to hours of work and experimenting on behalf of my husband.  And I love the result!  He surpassed my expectations, and I'm very lucky for it.  Thank you, Paul

The site is really meant to promote my forthcoming book, Plum Blossoms in Paris, to people who don't know of it, or me, but I also had the opportunity to prattle on about how Paris has influenced my writing.  And to post an excerpt of the book for those who are interested. 

Murmurs stays right here.  While I will occasionally write blog posts on the other site, they will revolve around the novel.  I want Murmurs to remain a creative outlet primarily, and not a marketing mechanism.  With the exception of this post, of course.  Ahem.

Just for today, though, I will cross-post my first site entry here, too:
Prelude to a Story

I wrote my first story while I was in medical school.

Buried by exams and gross anatomy during my second semester, and unable to shake the cloud of formaldehyde that hung over me, I sought solace in that other half of my brain. The neglected half. It’s no wonder that my first story’s title would be “A Season For Dreams.”  I was sorely lacking in them. But storytelling was a new experience for me, and it was hard.  Not pathophysiology hard, no.  But a different kind of hard.  I was exercising muscles that had atrophied since the imaginative ballets we all stage in childhood.  And I took tentative, baby steps at first.  But I finished the story, and I enjoyed the process. The immersion.  It breathed new life into my tired hours.

Then I put the thing aside, and forgot all about it.  After all, writing was something other people did.  It was something my fiancé, Paul, did.  Me?

I was a reader.

And, as it turns out, I was something else.  I was not a doctor.  I quit medical school after one year, and considered myself lucky to escape with $20,000 in outstanding loans.  At least I owned my freedom and peace of mind.  At least I hadn’t had the chance to botch a diagnosis.  My new husband and I settled in my hometown of Athens, Ohio.  I got a job in a lab (more stinky formaldehyde).  We got a dog.  I got pregnant.  Bing-bam-boom.

Writing returned to me after the birth of our daughter.  Like so many new parents, I felt lost inside my own skin.  While I loved our baby girl intensely, I needed a refuge.  Something to call my own.  I started writing a novel titled Holiday.  And when I finished it a year later, I was lighter in the soul.  And hungry for more.

Plum Blossoms in Paris came to me during the summer months of 2005.  I wanted to write a book in the same spirit as the film, Before Sunrise, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  A story about two people who were right for one another in every way, but who met in the wrong time and place.  Instead of Vienna, I chose Paris as a backdrop.  And I didn’t know my ending when Daisy first set foot on those cobblestone streets.  I hoped for the best for her and Mathieu, but I couldn’t guarantee anything.  I would see where they led me.  And be swept up in their romance for over a year.

And boy, did I miss them when it was all over.  I still miss them on occasion.  Old characters are a bit like ghosts who’ve decided to haunt other people.  You kind of wish they’d come around more often.  Rattle some chains.  Breathe a few more secrets into your ear.

Long story (very, very) short, the novel was eventually picked up by Medallion Press for publication in August, 2010.  My jubilation on receiving that news was profound, and still lingers.  It was a season for dreams, once more.  My heart swells to think of other people picking up my book, and slipping into the world I’ve created.  I was a reader, foremost.  That was my passion growing up.  And it’s still my first love.

But has anything else changed in my switch from “writer” to “author?”  No.  Maybe that’s premature to say, and perhaps I’m glossing over the busy (and discomfiting) work that comes with promoting your own novel, but I still say, “no.”  I never started writing with the goal of becoming an author.  I started writing because it was a precious escape from the burdens of expectation.  And to a certain extent, that’s changed.  Yes.  But that’s because I started demanding more from myself.  In prose and poetry.  Blog posts, too.  If I couldn’t be satisfied with what I’d written, how would anyone else be? And how in the heck would I fall asleep at night?

Writers are pretty self-indulgent creatures for the most part.  We write what moves us.  We write to reflect, and transcend, reality.  We write to communicate who we are. To stake a legacy.

And yes.  We also write to connect with others.

So thank you for reading.

I hope you enjoy my story.


Charles Gramlich said...

I started doing stories in grad school for much the same reason. I just had to escape the constant rational world of research and let off some steam. I'll check out the site.

the walking man said...

Your old man did a fine job with the website Sarah. Many interesting tabs and such to explore.

I don't remember or know exactly why I first started in this insanity for writing but I suppose like you it was a way to escape into something other than what and where I was at that moment.

That your book was picked up is a fine thing but remember promotion is by necessity shameless.

Indulge it at every opportunity, that is the business end and when all is said and done and the creative effort of the project is over, the other part of the work begins. A book no one reads is simply a window prop to keep glass from blocking the breeze.

You deserve and will have this success you have paid so much attention to. Not that success was the goal or the attention paid to the corporate desire for profit but to the art.

You paid attention to the writing through many distractions yet did not take any short cuts and therein is why you will succeed.

jaz said...

Sarah, the website is fabulous!! It's beautiful and full of great information. (And hey--there are things I didn't know about you even after reading here for so long!)

Mostly, though, my reaction was just that I am so happy for you. You are as lovely as your writing and your website, and you deserve all of your success.

And now, I am off to read the linked story and, more importantly, to preorder your book!

(How is the next one coming? Because come August, I'm going to be impatient for your work, again. But no pressure!)

jaz said...

Okay, I'm cracking myself up here, because for some reason I thought the link was going to be to that first story you wrote! Blame it on sleepless nights--and the sugar high from the Mt. Dew I am freebasing to deal with them. :)

jaz said...

Me again, last comment. Just wanted to let you know that through my fog, I did successfully preorder your book. :)

Aniket Thakkar said...

The website is sleek and clean. With no unnecessary javascripts, etc. Its perfect. ;)

Dropped a comment there too.

Now where can I find this "A Season For Dream"? :P

And if I order one through Amazon, I wont get a signed copy right? I want a signed one!

Sarah Hina said...

Charles, it's a huge relief to find a room for creativity in our lives. Thank God for the both of us. And thank you. :)

Mark, self-promotion is a necessary evil in this business. I might cringe at the task, but I understand its value. At the very least, it'll help get that second novel published. And I do want to be read.

Thank you for all your warm words here, Mark. Paul did do a magnificent job! And whenever I feel like complaining about having to hock my book, I will just pinch myself instead. I'm still living a dream. :)

Jennifer, you put an enormous smile on my face!! :) I think you're the first person to pre-order it. And that is a huge satisfaction for me. YOU are my first reader!!! (Well, technically not yet, but details, schmetails)

No worries on the mix-up regarding the "story." I phrased it like that for people who weren't familiar with the book already. You guys have heard me blab about it for months now. ;)

Thank you so much, Jennifer. I've said it a lot, but I am very lucky in my friends.

(And yes--the new book is crawling along...slow, but I feel GOOD about it!)

Sarah Hina said...

Aniket, OF COURSE YOU'LL GET A SIGNED COPY! My God, man. Are you crazy?? Express mailed to India. :D

Thanks regarding the site. Coming from you, that means something. Paul did great.

"A Season for Dreams" has been...uh, misplaced. Yeah. :P

jaz said...

Yes, I'm back. Your comment thread is dripping magenta!

I was just wondering...if I send you my copy (after I read it, of course!) will you sign it??


Karen said...

I think I'll just drive up to Athens and get your signature! Or maybe you'll be in Borders in Barboursville doing an author signing and I'll stand there thinking, "I know you, girl." No, I'm not going to stalk you, I just feel so silly proud of you, Sarah!

Now, I'm off to look at the new website and decide if I'm going to purchase from here or take a chance that you really might be coming to a local bookstore near me...

Congratulations, my dear. You deserve this in every way.

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, personally, after reading Karen's comment, too, I think we should all get together to have a book-signing party. It might be a little expensive to have Aniket fly in, but he keeps promising me that I'm gonna be filthy rich someday, so I'll just go ahead and bank on that. :D

But if it doesn't work out, then yes, I would be more than pleased to send it by mail. Of course! :)

Karen, you know, I was thinking of doing a book signing at the Borders in Parkersburg (if they'll have me). Maybe I can work my way over to Barboursville, too! I'd love that!! :)

Either way, there's plenty of time to buy the book. Although, ever since Jennifer pre-ordered a copy this morning, I now have an Amazon Sales Ranking (of 160 some-thousand, mind you) that I keep staring at. Fun, fun! :D

Thank you, Karen. Your warmth and happiness for me are registered in every word. And I love them all. :)

catvibe said...

I, like Jennifer, feel amazed when I find out these things about you that I didn't know. You ONLY started writing really when your daughter was born? Wow! Because you were born to write Sarah. Thank god you found it because you and the pen are a marriage made in heaven.

I love the book signing party idea. Let's do it!

jaz said...

How can we get you booked at the Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA????

But seriously, what are the book tour plans?

Maybe we could all have release parties in your honor and you could skype in. :)

S. Susan Deborah said...

Dear Sarah:

How nice to know the paths you have tread. I feel a tad closer to you. I wish all the seasons are seasons of dreams for you - a never-ending eternal journey of dreams realized.


Joy always,

Sarah Hina said...

Cat, some days I feel more born to it than others. But that's the headache talking. ;) Thank you for your continued support and belief in me!!

And of course we're having a party. I'll bring the drinks, you bring the tunes. :)

Jennifer, I have Skype! That could work. :)

There won't be a true book tour. Few publishing houses do them anymore, and Medallion's too small. But if I can, I might talk to some bookstores around here. I gotta develop my "pushy" gene! ;)

Susan, your comments are always so warm and sweet. Thank you for those heartfelt wishes, and I would hope all the same for you. :)

Chris Eldin said...

LOVE your website, Sarah! And the excerpt you chose to post is brilliant! (Though I'm sure any excerpt would have been!) I can't wait to read your book. Thanks for sharing your dream...

Sarah Hina said...

Chris, and thank YOU for being here with me for the last 2 years of my journey! Your support has always meant a lot to me. :)

I can't wait until we're all living our writing dreams...

Nevine Sultan said...

Sarah, I want a signed copy too! Really. I mean, how many signed copies do I have, anyway? And I can really say "I know her." We've never met, but I know you through your writing. I can proudly say this, because I admire the way you write. You are a true artist with words, Sarah, and I do wish you all the best with your book.

I also just visited your new site, and... it looks very very professional. I like that. It's professional, but it's not dry. Lots of personal tidbits about you, and lots about your craft, as well. I'll definitely be stopping back in to read some of your stories inspired by Paris. I can't get enough of reading about Paris, and when the writing is coming from you, that is a double treat.

I'm so so so excited for you. A new world, indeed! I hope you enjoy the ride... I KNOW you will!


Sarah Hina said...

Nevine, I read your beautiful comment with a huge smile on my face. Thank you for that (it was needed today).

You dazzle me with your words, and your quickness, and your insight, so I am very proud to know you, too. It's amazing how intimate writing, and sharing, can be. I feel like I know you through your work, too. And you've made Cairo come alive for me in a visceral way through your poetry, so if I can do half as much with my Paris writing, then I'll consider myself well satisfied. (Well, almost--but a writer's self-satisfaction is a topic for another post!)

Thank you again, Nevine. And I've decided for sure now. I want this book-signing party to take place in Paris. And YOU actually speak French!! :)

日月神教-任我行 said...