Friday, May 18, 2012

Mark of the Loon by Molly Greene: Excerpt & More

Mark of the Loon is about a single workaholic who falls in love with an old stone cottage in Northern California. Madison Boone renovates and sells property in addition to her real estate sales career, and her work-centric lifestyle leaves little time for anything other than business and her three wise, hilarious friends. When she buys a house built by an ornithologist and his eccentric Irish-born wife, a series of events both endanger her and lead her to love – and a permanent home. Madison’s story is about taking risks, dealing with loss, and about deep, satisfying, wonderful friendships.

Chapter 11

A heap of framed pictures tilted haphazardly against Madison’s living room wall, stacked among random possessions and packing supplies. She sat cross-legged in the midst of the disarray. A grubby yellow dust cloth, a dozen jacketed books, and an open, empty Sterling Vineyards carton were within reach. A half-full glass of chenin blanc balanced precariously on the coffee table, wobbling on its makeshift coaster of bubble wrap and rags.

In the slanted light of early evening, the final rays of the sunset struggled to cling to what little life was left in the day. The ceiling fan circled listlessly overhead, nudging the muggy air with a soothing, lazy breeze that held the Indian summer’s sticky humidity at bay. The radio was tuned to local oldies station KFMZ. She sang along in a pitchy attempt to mimic Frank Sinatra as he crooned the words to a well known mid-sixties hit.

She felt the sudden prick of tears, no doubt due to the nostalgia of hearing one of her mother’s all-time favorite songs combined with the wine she’d recently consumed. Madison tucked a book into the cardboard box, then swallowed hard and linked stiff fingers behind her head. She arched her back in a much needed slow motion stretch.

The threat of tears diminished as she opened her mouth wide and drew in a deep, deep breath. Feeling safe, she reached to pick a photo from the shelves. The poignant notes of Ole Blue Eyes’ sexy ballad intervened and she stood, lifted the glass from its place among the ancient, torn-up t-shirts used to wipe up dust and grime, and walked to the French doors.

When the ice cubes in the goblet clinked with the movement, Jack shifted in his bed and raised his head to watch her progress across the room. He returned to his dream when he realized she was not going outside.

She stood at the window, humming along with the melody. Her throat constricted and she stopped, content just to listen and watch as the final bit of light faded behind the distant hills. She felt like an outsider who stumbled on a private scene of passion, yet couldn’t tear her eyes away from the lovers.

A breeze stirred the soft, translucent sheers. Madison moved with them, back to the kitchen for a refill. She returned to her task with a full glass, kneeled among the rags, and reached for the simple silver frame that held a candid shot of her parents on an anniversary trip to Paris.

Jennifer Boone smiled straight into the camera. Her mother looked strong and sure, wearing a bewitching Mona Lisa look that only hinted at the joy billowing just beneath the surface. As always, John Boone’s eyes were fixed adoringly on his wife. He was probably speculating how he ever got the smart, witty beauty to marry him. He often wondered that aloud to them both while he was alive.

Madison wiped the glass with a clean rag, kissed the photo tenderly, then held it out and tried to imagine herself in the scene. Jack whimpered in his sleep. In the background, Sinatra crooned about the march of years and the women who had passed through his life. She hugged the picture to her chest, then gently swaddled it in bubble wrap and packed the memory away.

It's my pleasure to welcome Molly Greene as a guest on my blog today.

Molly, is Mark of the Loon your first novel? No, I wrote a really bad, whiny novel in the late 1990s. Although I worked with a fabulous editor to develop the plot, I finally decided not to save the book. She did teach me the basics: Avoiding the overuse of the verb “to be,” showing vs. telling, building vocabulary to avoid word repetition. (I’m still trying to incorporate them – and still learning about commas.) Writing that book years ago was cathartic. I got over my autobiographical, overly-dramatic tendencies and became a much better writer. Definitely not a waste of time, as it brought me here.

What was your biggest misconception about writing a novel? That it would ready to publish when I finished my own edits. Ha! Boy was I wrong. I actually completed the rough manuscript in April, 2010. I remember the day I wrote, “The End,” then leaped around the house like a crazy person, congratulating myself. That day was just the beginning! I finished the first round of edits that August, then sent hardcopies to three people I trusted. One friend called a week later to say she’d stayed up half the night reading because she couldn’t put it down. You know how friends are: they love you in spite of your imperfections. I still have her note: “Dearest Molly, We loved it! You are going to be the next Great American writer. Thanks for the fun, Norma.” I read it every time I’m ready to quit.

Do you work with a critique group or a freelance editor? I’d never even heard of the term critique group or beta reader until I fired up my Twitter account to learn about book marketing. I began to observe and read everything I could about the process other authors used. I learned about critique groups, content editors to help with plot and story points, beta readers for feedback, and line editors to proof the final before the book is released. Whew! I took a deep breath and approached a content editor last summer. The edits following her comprehensive critique and plot suggestions made my novel a much better read. Several beta-readers followed, and their keen observations improved the mss even more.

Is there anything about your novel or publishing you would change? Every time I read my novel I feel the urge to change something, so yes – but at some point you have to launch the ship and let it sail. I firmly believe that writing the best quality book you possibly can is the key to eventually make the kind of sales we all aspire to. I’m now 30,000 words into my next novel, Rapunzel, and anxious to see where the characters will take it. Time to market one and finish the next!

Are you acting as your own publicist? So far, yes. I started building a Twitter platform and my blog a year ago, and I’ve worked hard at it. I’ve met fabulous writers on social media. They’ve been generous and supportive and have given me direction about how to market. I’ll try to move sales forward myself and see how it goes. Twitter hosts an incredible community of writers, and so far they’ve been a huge source of inspiration. I am deeply grateful to them all.

I’m also asking readers and book bloggers to read and post reviews. Independent book bloggers and reviewers have become the go-to resource to promote indie writers. Terri Long, author of award-winning In Leah’s Wake, told me long ago that “working through multiple channels is the only way to succeed.”

What advice would you give other writers about promoting their work? To actively build a social media platform on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads long before their book is ready to publish. To develop ties with other writers, as well as readers and bloggers. To observe before they begin to market! These networks are not direct-sell communities, and are absolutely not simply an avenue for self-promotion. Support others, and when the time comes they will be thrilled to support you.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences!  I appreciate you stopping by, and it seems like you have learned and are paying forward some informative and valuable lessons.

Molly Greene is an author, blogger and freelance writer with an extensive real estate background. Her debut novel, Mark of the Loon, is available on Amazon. Molly has renovated six homes over the years and is currently completing number seven, all the while plotting her next book and her next life adventure. Visit her blog at  and follow her on Twitter!
Twitter  |  Blog  |  Goodreads 

Free copies of Mark of the Loon in ebook format (mobi, epub) will be raffled to 10 commenters (chosen at random). The raffle will be open through May 31.  (be sure to leave your email!  - ex. lauriej170 at gmail dot com [or similar]).

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