Blurb of “Stardust Summer”: Single mom Grace Mason doesn’t believe in miracles, magic, or love at first sight. She likes the quiet life, complete with her eight-year-old son, their tiny house, and her teaching job. For Grace, happiness means that nothing much ever changes in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Then, one thousand miles away, tragedy strikes. A massive heart attack leaves Grace’s estranged father comatose in an Upstate New York hospital. While a team of doctors fight to keep Henry Mason alive, Grace and Evan rush to his bedside to say their final goodbyes. Henry’s passing brings little closure for Grace, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her new surroundings. What begins as a short trip results in an entire summer spent with Henry’s second wife, Kathleen, and her next-door neighbor, Ryan Gordon, the town doctor. When a series of unlikely events lead to Evan’s disappearance, Grace must face her worst fears to find her son and bring him back home. Stardust Summer explores the complexities of forgiveness, what it means to be a family, and the fabulous possibility of falling in love—again.
“Releasing A Backlist Title: Scary and Satisfying”
Being a published author is frightening. Really scary.
For me, a novel’s release day is the equivalent of bungee jumping or cliff diving—complete with a pounding heart, racing pulse, and sweaty palms. (And I should mention that I’m terrified of heights!)
I have perpetual anxiety about the storyline, the characters, even the punctuation. I worry about the ending, the first sentence, and a potential sagging middle, even though a manuscript has been read and reread a dozen times.
So what’s a writer to do?
As many of my author-friends have discussed, it would be SO nice to have a formula. A tried-and-true, no fail, plug-and-play guarantee for a blockbuster novel. If such a formula existed, I imagine the equation would go something like this:
500 Hours of Writing + 50 Hours of Editing + 10 Hours of Proofreading
= A Great Story that Everyone Loves
Unfortunately, no one’s discovered this equation—and when someone does—it’s unlikely that he or she will share it with me.
Don’t get me wrong—many readers DO appreciate the time spent planning a manuscript, the research that goes into a book’s development, and all of the time spent writing. Readers especially love careful proofreading—this I know for sure! But in the end, for the same readers—those people who’ve been super-sweet enough to pay hard-earned cash for an ebook or paperback—it’s only the story that matters.
I’ll say that again.
It’s only the story that matters.
Whether the effort takes five hundred hours or five minutes, the actual time spent creating a novel is irrelevant.
The story is key. Do the characters resonate? Is the setting interesting? Is the dialogue realistic?
I’m also an avid reader, so when I choose a new book and dive in, I ask myself those same questions, plus a few more. Is there enough conflict? Is the ending satisfying? Does the story stay with you after you’ve turned the last page?
With all of that in mind, the decision to release Stardust Summer was not an easy one. After all, I’d written the novel seven years earlier. It was a different time in my life. I hadn’t grown as much as a writer. It wasn’t exactly chick lit.
But, I liked the novel on a basic level. The setting—my favorite childhood vacation spot—is still a place I love. And no matter how hard I tried and how long the manuscript sat in a virtual “drawer” on my laptop, I couldn’t quite forget about the characters, their stories, and an ending that made me pretty darn happy.
More than a year ago, out of curiosity, I dug out the manuscript and sent it through cyberspace to a few trusted friends. Reliable writer-friends who would give me an unfiltered, unbiased opinions. And I braced myself for the constructive criticism. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long.
Yes, the novel needed work. No, it wasn’t terrible.
So, when life threw me a few unexpected curve balls recently, Stardust Summer nudged me again. As if to say…I’m still here. And it ended up being the perfect project on which to focus my energy. I attacked the novel with renewed vigor. Over the course of three months, I streamlined chapters, cut sections, revised dialogue, and polished each page.
I’ll admit that I’ve had a lot of questions and much advice about my decision. Why this story? Why a backlist title? Isn’t it risky? Shouldn’t authors should stick to the same genre? What if Stardust Summer isn’t successful?
I decided to release anyway. And today is the novel’s official debut! Of course, I’m back to standing on the edge of the imaginary cliff. I’m a little giddy. My nerves are shot. There’s a pit in my stomach. And, for about a month, my mind will spin off track with “what-ifs.”
As scary as it all is, this particular release day also brings with it a huge sense of relief and satisfaction—the same sort of content that comes with finishing a long project or accomplishing a difficult goal.
Now, it’s all up to you. Seven years later, it’s still only the story that matters. And you, as the reader, have the final say on that!
**Buy the “Stardust Summer!”
**About the book:
Title: Stardust Summer
Author: Lauren Clark
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Number of Pages: 280
**Contact the author, Lauren Clark: