I feel so fortunate to have friend and fellow WRP author, Alyson Reuben, on the ranch today! So many are reaching out to a new mecca, learning how to truly become in charge of their own careers and I’m impressed…intimidated, but still hugely impressed. So what plank did my guest walk? Self-Publication. I want to self-publish in the next few months, so I asked Alyson if she would share a glimpse of her experience with us. Read on.
Alyson, the round pen is yours. Welcome!
Please tell us some of the things you found different than working with a publishing house, please. Don’t forget to tell us about your book while you’re at it. 😀
ALYSON REUBEN: Have you ever had a friend recommend a new clothing store only to get there and discover it’s so different from what you’re used to that all you can do is stand in one place and look all around in bewilderment? Sure, they might sell the same style of clothing, but the place has a totally different layout. Where do you start? Should you head over to where the walls displays are color-coordinated? Or should you look over the mannequins decked out in the trendiest clothes? Then again, maybe it would be better to check out the special sales area first?
That’s how I felt when I first decided to take the Indie route to publishing. Several author friends recommended it to me after trying it themselves. I didn’t jump into it, though. Only after carefully weighing the pros and cons did I decide to Indie publish CASTLES WE BUILD, my latest book. Wow, was I surprised by the process! I had no idea there were so many differences between traditional publishing and Indie distribution. First difference, I worked with my editor independently, rather than through a publisher. Second, I designed my own cover, which – to be honest – was a lot of fun, even if it did take several tries. And, rather than rely on my publisher to send my book to professional reviewers, I had to push up my sleeves and send it myself.
So far, the journey might not be exactly rainbows and lollipops, but at least I can be thankful I don’t share the anxieties of Julia, heroine of CASTLES WE BUILD.
Julia is married to her second husband, Ford, after her first husband, Landon, left for WWI and never returned. Together, they share a majestic beachside home with their children. Life is calm. Life is peaceful. Yet, Julia has no idea what trouble awaits her. Out of nowhere, Landon returns from his overseas captivity and her peaceful world is suddenly one huge tangled knot. She’s bombarded with one obstacle after another – her mother’s unexpected and unwanted attention, her sister’s bankruptcy concern, her stepdaughter’s rowdy behavior, an encounter with a bootlegger, and the alarming kidnapping of her son. Yet, Julia isn’t the type of woman to crumble under the load. She’s prepared to fight for what she wants.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do – push past all obstacles and explore all the great possibilities of the Indie market. It might be a bit daunting – but it sure is exciting!
Castles We Build’s blurb:
She has a chance to relive her past. But at what cost?
When Julia married the man of her dreams, Landon Sloane, neither of them could have predicted the destructive impact of The Great War. Finding herself a widow and single mother in a period ripe with women’s suffrage and the prohibition, Julia married wealthy industrialist Ford Hampton.
Now, ten years later, with a son attending an academy for the gifted, a daughter with special needs, and a flapper stepdaughter who tests her daily, Julia is hardly prepared for Landon’s return from his long foreign captivity to announce he has never stopped loving her.
Faced with unrequited love for Landon, her life truly begins to unravel with the intrusion of her mother, who abandoned her as a child, a devastating factory fire, and an alarming encounter with a tawdry bootlegger. Finally, when her son is kidnapped in a diabolical scheme of revenge, Julia knows she has to make a final decision that will forever change everyone and everything in her life.
There he is. A man whose memory I desperately tried to lay to rest at his memorial site in Westbrook Cemetery.
For a few seconds, I wobble, my peripheral vision closing in. I’m about to pass out….
Suddenly, he grins. And the grin does the same thing to me now that it did nine years ago, saving me from losing consciousness. Saving me, period.
He holds out his arms, and I rush into them, moaning as his mouth claims mine in a kiss that’s like a drowning man clutching a lifesaver. Pulling me inside and reaching behind me to slam the door shut, his hands grip at my clothes and my hair, tangling in them as if hoping to extract the essence of everything I am.
Now he’s kissing my cheeks. My forehead. My chin. The places behind my ears. The hollow of my neck. The skin above my lace collar. My breasts through the voile fabric. My legs as he pushes up the hem of my frock.
And I’m falling backward on a bed that seems to have appeared like magic. Calling his name. Over and over. He answers me with a voice tinted by a slight brogue, as familiar as the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. Yes. Yes, he’s really Landon Sloane. Alive. Very alive. And my name is also on his lips, coming out in hoarse whispers, pressed against my skin, branding me with what’s always been there, never disappearing completely, but only lying dormant — my love for him.
Rising above me, his body comes down over mine in the ancient way that has coupled countless lovers. In the same way that summoned us in the past with pleasure and intoxication. I grip him, pulling him closer, needing him to complete what’s lacking. To satiate me with his heat and energy….
A little girl’s cry floats through the room.
Gracie! Just that suddenly, I push Landon back, forcing his flushed face away from mine. No, I’m not thinking clearly. That wasn’t a girl’s voice. Just a bird outside the open window. One that has a trill similar to a child’s outburst.
For several seconds Landon and I stare at each other, saying nothing. He looks the same. Yet, different in several ways. Slimmer…a little too slim. A leathery tan that makes his eyes brighter, as potent as midnight’s navy sky in a flash of lightning.
I’m lying here half naked. With a husband I thought would never return from the war he left to fight nine years ago. And the question hits me like a rock to the stomach. “Why, Landon? Why didn’t you come home? Where have you been?”
He visibly swallows, his face glistening with perspiration and what might very well be tears. “My ship sank off the coast of South Africa. Most of the men didn’t…. Anyway, me and my lieutenant were rescued by natives. They had bartering friends who traded with them. Local radicals who supported the enemy forces. I think a few of them even had direct ties with Germany.”
His voice has deepened, grown huskier with age. I try to concentrate on his words, needing desperately to understand. To make sense of this unexpected phenomenon: the miracle of his rise from the dead.
“So me and the lieutenant were arrested and held in an encampment. Seventeen straw huts surrounded by a high fence. Guards with guns and long pikes. Shared it with criminals and other detainees. We didn’t even know when the war was over. Guess they liked having free laborers too much to set us free. Or maybe they just liked trapping us like mice in a maze.” His voice is hard now. Gritty. Full of hatred and anger. In a tone I don’t recognize.
“They finally released us last month. Because of some new political uprising, I think. I don’t know exactly who or what…. I only care that I’m free. Back where I can see you. Hold you. And…oh, God, if I can just get all this filth out of my head.” He sits up beside me, gripping the sides of his head.
The hair at his temples is peppered with silver.
It used to be completely dark, the color of coffee with no creamer.
I reach for him, pulling him to me. Prison. For almost a decade. What a nightmare that must’ve been. The hurt is palpable, transferring between us. “It’s over, darling,” I whisper near his ear. “And I’m so glad you’re back, safe and sound. Alive.”
He folds his arms around me so that we’re huddled in a ball. And we stay that way. Unmoving. Quiet. For a very long time.
His heavy breathing steadies to a hoarse snore; the sound of a man who hasn’t had good, clean rest for a long time. He shifts, spreading out his arms in unconscious freedom. And I release him, sitting up gently in order not to wake him.
The bedroom is mostly bare. A utilitarian iron bed. A dresser. A shabby club chair. But nothing else. I stare at the open window where the cage hangs, dangling slightly in the breeze. There are no finches in it. Or any other birds. The door is hanging open, facing the outside.
He won’t cage anything again.
I push my tousled hair from my face, combing both hands through the chin-length strands.
None of this is the way it should be.
It’s all messed up somehow.
Ford’s face enters my mind. Just the way he looked last night, smiling at me from the dinner table.
I’m married to someone else.
And I have a family.
Back in elementary and high school, Alyson was always in trouble for jotting stories in her notebooks when she should’ve been studying for math tests. Detentions and trips to the principal’s office aside, she was determined to become an author someday, no matter the price.
Fast forward a few years — okay, actually several years — she began writing historical romance and women’s fiction, leading to the debut of A BEAUTIFUL CAGE, published by the Wild Rose Press in 2011.
Now she gets in trouble for writing stories when she should be cooking dinner for her family.
Castles We Build can be found at Amazon (ebook Kindle version will be available later this week): http://www.amazon.com/Castles-We-Build-Alyson-Reuben/dp/1479296104/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348024240&sr=8-1&keywords=castles+we+build
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Alyson-Reuben/e/B008MOD09E
Thank you so much for sharing your journey and book with us Alyson. It sounds amazing and you did a wonderful job on that cover! Congratulations.
What about ya’ll? Are you still resisting the pull of change and growth in publishing, or have you walked that plank and lept right into the muck of self-publishing? Maybe you’re like me, teetering on the edge, still undecided, or sure, but not quite ready to jump?
We’d love to hear from you.
Howdy folks. Welcome to the ranch today. And what a wonderful day it is! My first December guest comes bearing gifts. Alyson Reuben is in the round pen!!!
Care to tell us a little about your writing to kick us off, Alyson? Then we’ll get to the really good stuff; like your intriguing book from The Wild Rose Press, A Beautiful Cage. 🙂 I tell ya gang- this book has the most beautiful cover!
The first question people generally ask is what influenced me to begin writing?
I caught ‘Writer’s Itch’ in second grade after listening to a visiting author share his book at my school. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the title of his book, or even his name, only that he greatly stressed the importance of writing down stories as they come to you. As far as writing about WWII and the Holocaust, the biggest influence came from my now deceased grandfather, who patiently answered my questions and discussed those horrific events with me. He was never overly graphic, though he got his points across. Years later, I sat on the idea for A BEAUTIFUL CAGE while playing around with other less serious stories. By the time I became earnest about writing it, everything eased into place.
I’m a huge believer in writing from my heart and soul. If a scene makes me cry as I’m writing it, I know it’ll probably bring some tears to readers’ eyes. If it makes me smile, it will make someone else smile, too. To give my character’s realistic personality traits, I just observe people in general, taking mental notes of their behavior and body language. Friends and family tell me I scare them — they’re afraid they’ll end up as an antagonist in one of my stories! Ha! It hasn’t happened yet, though.
Determined to become an author while still in elementary school, Alyson Reuben frequently found herself in trouble for writing stories while she should’ve been studying for math tests. Some years later, by combining a love of history with her enthusiasm for storytelling, she seeks to entertain readers with passionate accounts of vintage romance. Occasionally, she still find herself in trouble for writing when she should be cooking dinner. Alyson enjoys small-town life in Indiana with her husband and daughter.
Wanted by the Gestapo, Rebecca Bloomberg is on the run for her life. Sheltering in the home of a reporter who writes absurd lies for a Nazi propaganda newspaper is hardly an ideal solution. Irresistibly drawn to the man, she dares not trust him, until she discovers his journalist position is a mask for involvement in an anti-Nazi resistance ring.
Gustav Von Furst has done all he can to perfect his mask. Neither his family nor his close friends know the truth. Hiding a Jewish girl is the most foolish risk, yet there is something about her that makes him want to protect her.
Eager to forget the outside world, Rebecca and Gustav are caught up in a private world of forbidden passion—until unexpected danger lands on their doorstep and they’re faced with a decision that will change everything. Will love demand a sacrifice too great to give?
Entering Aachen Central Station, Rebecca drew
a deep breath.
People were bustling in all directions—children,
the elderly, everyone in between. Some carried
luggage, others toted parcels. All of them seemed to
be in a hurry, paying no attention to those around
Huddled together, a small choral group was
singing “Silent Night,” their voices barely rising
above the crowd’s racket. “Stille Nacht, heilige
Nacht, Alles schläft, einsam wacht.” All is calm, all is
bright… Ironic, Rebecca thought. All was not bright.
And it certainly wasn’t calm.
“This place is crammed,” Gustav murmured
more to himself than to her.
Was he thinking the same thing she was? That
the holiday might make their situation easier
because the employees’ minds would be less on their
jobs and more on getting home to their family and
She shifted the brim of her hat lower over her
forehead so that it shaded her face as much as
possible without seeming too obvious. Her hair,
pulled back in the style of the girl in the picture on
the visa, did quite a bit to alter her usual appearance,
while her makeup, heavier than she’d normally wear
in the daytime, did the rest.
“Remember, Louise,” Gustav stressed the
counterfeit name, “you’re supposed to be looking
forward to seeing your aunt and uncle, and excited
about going to Limburg, so laugh and flirt with me.
Pretend to be all keyed up.” His jaw visibly twitched.
“Most of all, do not look anyone directly in the eye.”
He squeezed her hand.
She nodded. “Let’s go.”
As they made their way to the checkpoint, she
forced an exchange punctuated with giggles that
didn’t, in the least, belong to Rebecca Bloomberg, but
perfectly suited the woman who was accompanied by
the striking Nazi, proudly sporting a swastika
armband over his expensive wool coat. Squeezing his
opposite arm, she leaned toward him, angling her
head, and in doing so noticed someone out of the
corner of her eye. A man standing off by himself was
staring at her and Gustav in spite of the surging
crowd all around him. There was no time to point
him out to Gustav before the line moved and they
were face to face with an officer, dressed in Nazi
“Heil Hitler,” Gustav addressed briskly, arm out.
The officer, looking fresh out of Hitler-Youth,
returned the greeting, staring at Gustav before
casting a casual glance, like an afterthought, at
Rebecca. She forced a smile, concentrating on his
forehead and not directly at his eyes. But it didn’t
seem to matter; within seconds it was clear he was
focused more on Gustav, obviously impressed by his
height, which towered above him by several inches.
“To Heerlen, Limburg,” Gustav announced with
the brusqueness of a businessman.
Rebecca was careful not to appear too anxious as
she pulled out a compact from the purse that Bertie
had given her and laid it on the ledge, making
believe she had to search for the papers.
“Oh, here they are,” she crooned. “Silly me,
forgetting which compartment I put them in.”
Handing the documents over, she couldn’t help but
cast Gustav an anxious glance. The officer studied
the papers carefully. Very carefully. If he had any
doubts or suspicions…
Her stomach was churning like ocean waves in a
storm, threatening to send an earlier cup of coffee
back up her throat. She swallowed down the bitter
bile and prayed she didn’t appear as ashen as she
And then, suddenly, he reached toward the
Rebecca closed her eyes, bracing for the worst.
But a dull thump was immediately followed by the
swish of paper, and she opened her eyes to see that
the officer had been reaching for the nearby inkpad
and was proceeding to stamp each of the three
Her passage had met the final step of approval.
Could a person die of relief? Her heart was
beating three times its normal speed, as if the blood
had been drained and it was now having to struggle
to make a fresh supply.
The officer handed everything back to Gustav—
not to her, she noticed. Was he intimidated by
Gustav? Probably. She understood the feeling all too
And now he was actually telling her to have a
It was done! It seemed unbelievable.
As she and Gustav turned in unison toward the
train, she saw the loitering man again. He’d moved a
few steps closer, glowering at them with a silent
threat that pasted chilblains all along her upper
Suddenly, he strode ahead of them, meeting
with another official who was passing by. His hand
gesture caused the second officer to crane his head to
look at them.
Did Gustav notice?
Yes. The pressure on her arm signaled her to
change paths, bypassing the men. Just a few
more feet and they’d be out of their sight.
A few more feet and…
Suddenly a voice called out behind them, “Halt.
Entschuldigen-Sie, mein Herr.”
Without looking at one another, Gustav and Rebecca both
turned to face the second officer. This one was much
brawnier than the previous one, nearly matching
Gustav’s size. He held out his black-gloved hand,
wiggling his fingers, indicating they needed to hand
something over to him. His smile was a polite one
but didn’t reach his eyes. Beside him, the mole was
leaning against the post, staring at them with
“Is there a problem, mein Herr?” Gustav
addressed the officer, his voice unmistakably cold as
ice. Clearly, Gustav wasn’t about to let either man
In spite of herself, Rebecca glanced again at the man
leaning against the post. His tattered coat was
probably five years old. He was, she guessed,
someone who needed money and would probably do
anything to get it—including hounding Jews for
payment. Right now, he stood unmoving, his face a
Their eyes met for the briefest of seconds. His
were dark, full of malice and anger.
She wasn’t supposed to look anyone in the eyes,
and now she understood why. This man was her
Yet she had no idea what spurred his hatred.
BTW, we’re doing an ebook giveaway too, aren’t we, Calisa? I’m perfectly happy to give away one or two copies.
Yes, let’s do two winners to start the giving season off with a bang! Whooo- Dogieees!!!!
Oh, happy days! I’m so thrilled you found your way here Alyson.
Thanks again for inviting me to blog for you!!