Where’s Auralia Today? Report #14: Charlottesville, VA; Waco, TX; and beyond

September 8, 2007

Here are a few of the emails I’ve received recently:

Geoffrey Deweese in Virginia writes:

I just bought Auralia’s Colors at the Barnes and Noble here in Charlottesville, VA. There were two copies, now there is only one. Hope they put out more! I’ll be trying to read it between classes at the JAG Graduate Course. I’m enjoying it so far…

Thanks, Geoff! We found two at our local Barnes and Noble too. I kinda happened to put one down on the New Sci-Fi and Fantasy table, and five minutes later, a woman picked it up and bought it. Hmmm. I’m not saying you should do that, but… well… 

James Ewing from Texas writes:

I just wanted to drop a quick e-mail to tell you I saw your book at our local B&N in Waco, TX. Actually I almost missed it because I was browsing quickly through the store and it was right near the front. They had four copies of it and I would have bought one but I’m very low on cash. But I was impressed because this store hardly ever places a Christian Fiction book outside it’s section. Heck, I haven’t ever seen them place out Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti on any of their tables for that matter. The cover really stands out from the rest so I have a feeling it will catch a lot of peoples’ eyes as it did to me. Just thought you’d find it encouraging that yes there is a bookstore that has your book where a lot of people will see it, and hopefully buy it.

James, that *is* encouraging. Once again, three cheers for Kristopher Orr and his amazing cover art! I hope the story inside lives up to the cover. But you’ll have to be the judge of that.

Here’s a recommendation: If you don’t have the cash to pick up a copy, call your local library. If they don’t have it in their inventory, place an order. Most public libraries will order just about anything their customers need.

For example, here’s a note from my Facebook page, posted by Jen Cox:

Woohoo! I asked the library to order this a couple of weeks ago–looks like they listened!

Personal author: Overstreet, Jeffrey.
ISBN: 1400072522 : PAP
Title: Auralia’s colors : the red strand of the Auralia thread / Jeffrey Overstreet.
Edition: 1st ed.

Displaying 2 order(s)
Library Copy Status
NOBLESVILL 1 ON-ORDER
FISHERS 1 ON-ORDER

Glenn McCarty, who wrote to inform me of Madeleine L’Engle‘s passing, goes on to say:

I also wanted you to know how much I appreciate Auralia’s as a fresh entry into the fantasy canon. I bought it Tuesday on my way home from school (HS English teacher) and have been reading a chapter to my wife the last two nights. Thanks for making your dream a reality. I am sure you will touch many hearts and minds with this and future entries. I am also inspired once again to muscle through and finish up my own novel. Any suggestions on making the grind of novel-writing a little less grind-y?

Glenn, I’m so grateful that I learned about L’Engle’s passing from you and not from some random news update. Thank you for thinking of me.

I am also moved by the idea of another couple reading Auralia’s Colors together at night, since the story grew up in drafts I read to Anne at night… over ten years…. And we’ve read so many of my favorite stories together that way: Watership Down, Momo, The Tiger Rising (or *anything* by Kate DiCamillo, who is just awe-inspiring). We even read The Golden Compass out loud together at night, and loved it. But then we read the sequels, which became much less interesting as the characterization deteriorated and the story was overrun by Pullman’s obvious and bitter desire to attack Christianity. (He fails miserably… he critiques Christians who behave badly, but can’t manage to find any fault with Christ himself. Heck, Jesus himself criticized misbehaving religious leaders. Nothing new there.)

Anyway… you’re asking for suggestions about how to make fiction writing less tedious…

Here are a few tips from my own Writers’ Survival Kit. But keep in mind… writing isn’t just an adventure. It’s a job. And sometimes, like any job, it is hard work. So I resist those occasional spells of tedium by practicing some of these:

Write in coffee shops.

Write at the beach.

Write outdoors.

Write where you’ll find a lot of stimulation.

And don’t hold back from investing in little things here and there to make writing a little more pleasant. We’ve spent a fortune in cups of good coffee and cookies, just to make it easier on days when writing doesn’t sound any good.

On top of that: I don’t buy the rule that says you Must Write Every Day. Your imagination and artmaking capacities are like muscles. They do need rest occasionally. Inspiration is a season. Sometimes, you need to let winter come and go around experiencing some things without putting any pressure on yourself to Make Something Of It.

Finally, it always helps me to jump-start my imagination by reading a few pages from a favorite author. By pouring some powerful language into my head, I find myself rising to the challenge to try and answer it. I often read a few pages of Mervyn Peake or Guy Gavriel Kay or Patricia McKillip… or, yes, even Tolkien… just to get the wheels turning again. Frederick Buechner’s Godric or Son of Laughter are also essential — so rich with inspiring, visceral language.

Oh, wait, one more thing: Prayer. And I don’t say this lightly. Prayer. Many chapters of Auralia’s Colors began as journal entries in which I asked God for ideas. Artmaking is as important as any work God has given us. Why not ask him for inspiration? I think he’d be delighted by the invitation. Madeleine L’Engle referred to great artmaking as “collaboration with God.” If anything I’ve written proves meaningful, the credit should go to God. He makes the meaning. I just arrange some of the pieces he’s provided.

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