Congratulations to author Kate Brandes on her debut novel! I have the pleasure of a guest post from her, sharing...
ELF: What was the most difficult thing to overcome on your path to becoming a published author and how did you conquer it?
KB: The Promise of Pierson Orchard is my first novel. This story is Erin Brockovich meets Promised Land, about a Pennsylvania family threatened by betrayal, financial desperation, old flames, fracking, and ultimately finding forgiveness.
I’ve spent my career working as an environmental scientist not as a writer, so my biggest hurdle to writing a long work of fiction was learning how to tell a story. How did I conquer it? Dogged persistence.
I thought it might be interesting to share a novel writing log I've kept over the years of drafting this first novel to give a sense of the ups and downs of the writing process leading up to publication, at least as it was for me.
Many failures can lead to something good, eventually:)
2010 to 2011: Write what I think is first draft of novel, but is really just a concept.
2011 to Mid-2012: Write what I think is first draft of novel, but it’s really just me avoiding the story because I’m afraid. I set the whole thing aside and start from page one.
Mid-2012 to Early 2013: Write first draft.
Early 2013 to Fall 2014: Change premise because I finally realize what the heart of the story is about. Rewrite first draft entirely.
Fall 2014 to Spring 2016: Change main character of the story. Another major rewrite. And more rewrites. And more! Query many agents and publishers. Get rejected over and over and over.
Spring 2016 – But then….Get publisher! Get agent! More rewriting!
Spring 2017 – A published book
The Promise of Pierson Orchard
by Kate Brandes
GENRE: Women's Fiction
In the novel, Green Energy arrives, offering the impoverished rural community of Minden, Pennsylvania, the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a shame-filled twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden—and Jack and Wade–years ago.
When LeeAnn’s parents have good reason to lease their land, but their decision leads to tragedy, Jack must fight to find a common ground that will save his fractured family, their land, and the way of life they love.
Jack looked back at them only once. The baby and LeeAnn, slick with blood and afterbirth, the cord still connecting them, as though they’d both been born of the swollen creek and washed up on its banks.
The sight of LeeAnn with her arms around the child pushed Jack to move faster. He raced back the way he’d come. The ground was soaked and slippery. He fell several times, blindly grabbing onto rocks and trees, pulling and pushing anything that could move him forward. When he reached the cones across the road, his chest burned and his hands bled. Headlights came toward him and he stepped out into the middle of the road with his arms raised. The car slowed. Gabriel jumped out.
“Jack! I heard about the bridge and came right away. What’s happened? You okay? Where’s LeeAnn? I got no answer on her cell or at her apartment.”
“Call nine-one-one. We need an ambulance. She’s downstream, along the shore, straight ahead.” Jack pointed the way. “Stella and the baby, too. They’re alive, but there isn’t much time. The baby’s more blue than pink. I’m going back to wait with them.”
“Take this,” Gabriel said, removing off his coat and handing it to him after pulling his cell from its pocket.
Jack hurried. By the time he got to LeeAnn he could already hear the sirens. LeeAnn was awake, her skin as chalk white as the sycamore in the moonlight. Her lower lip bled.
“Hold on now, LeeAnn. Help is coming.” The rapid, shallow rhythm of the baby’s breath didn’t seem right even to his untrained eye. He wrapped them both in Gabriel’s coat and then went to Stella. When he shook her, her eyes flickered open. “Just lay still for now. Medics will be here in a few minutes.”
He moved back over next to LeeAnn, stripped off his shirt, and lay down under the coat beside her and the baby, wrapping around them to offer what body warmth he could. “Your dad’s waiting for the ambulance. They’ll be here very soon,” he said, kissing LeeAnn’s forehead. “I’m here with you. That’s all I’ve ever wanted,” he said, muttering it over and over, hoping she heard.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
An environmental scientist with over 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental bent. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, the Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wildflowers.
Bookclub Giveaway: In celebration of my upcoming book launch, I'm offering 8 signed paperback copies, 8 small prizes, a $25 Amazon gift card and a list of book-related discussion questions to one lucky book club member to share with your club. All you have to do to enter is tell one person about the book and sign up here: http://katebrandes.com/books/the-promise-of-person-orchard/ Contest runs through my book launch date, April 22, 2017. The winner will be announced the following day! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The tour dates can be found here