ABOUT THERESA

Theresa Weir (a.k.a. Anne Frasier) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of twenty-four books. Her memoir, The Orchard, was an Oprah Magazine Fall Pick, Number Two on the October Indie Next List, a B+ featured title in Entertainment Weekly, a One Book One Community Read, Target Book Club Pick, and Books-A-Million Book Club Pick.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Care and Feeding of the Tortured Soul


At the core of many writers you'll find wounded people striving for relevancy. Maybe that applies to all art forms.  I've been lucky. Overall response to my writing has been in large part favorable, so this isn't so much about me. It's more about the constant and unending posts and comments I see online about writers needing to grow thick skin and needing to be able to handle rejection and cruel, biting reviews. "It goes with the territory," people say. This is true to an extent. 

Problem is, the "inability to handle bad reviews" comes from a place so deep that a hundred years of therapy wouldn't be enough to crack the code.

If you were to do some kind of study, I'm guessing you'd find that many artists are on a constant quest for approval.


"Wood warms you twice ...once when you cut it and again when you burn it."

The same could be said for writing. When the writing is going well, my mental state is in a good place. The writing warms me. At this point the story is something I embrace in secret, not sharing with anybody, holding it close to my heart, keeping it, and me, safe. Once the book is done and out in the world, the unvoiced dream and desire is for that story to feed my soul once more—with a warm response from readers.  So what I’m saying is that it's more than someone simply being unable to handle negative reviews. Because readers are the second part of this equation. Readers are the wood touched by the match.

Is this to say all writers are unstable and needy? No.  I’m saying if writing is therapy, then the second part, the reader part, is part of that therapy.  This is why we grieve when our books don't do well and receive bad reviews. Grieve.  Sometimes we grieve for days, sometimes weeks, sometimes years. Sometimes we get over that grief and go back to cutting and splitting wood—because we need to.  And sometimes we never go back. 



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

NEW RELEASE ALERT

Haven't signed up for my new release alert emails? Here's the latest and the freshest. Format could be a bit wonky since it's a cut and paste.

New Release Announcement

Hello gang!
 I have a few things to talk about, and I'll get right to them. I'm all about the facts with very little gab. :)  Three books to tell you about, three different genres.

 BOOK ONE —ROMANCE
Out now!

He's Come Undone
New Adult romance
 Penniless and behind on rent, college student and once famous child actress Ellie Barlow takes on the role of a lifetime when she's hired by a group of young women to break the heart of the campus player who cruelly dumped them.
 Transformed from slob slacker to jaw-dropping beauty, Ellie is dressed, styled, bleached and waxed, her chunky glasses exchanged for violet contacts. Along with physical prepping, she's coached on Julian's obsessions, which include long-distance running, Doctor Who, and J.D. Salinger.
 In no time, Julian is in pursuit of his custom-made next victim, but when Ellie goes off script and begins to fall for her target, the newest broken heart in this risky game could be her own.
 Warning: This book is kinda hot.
Special new release price of .99! 


Soon to be available through iTunes and Kobo.
Soon to be available in print through Amazon.
 ~~~
 BOOK TWO — SCIENCE FICTION, DYSTOPIA, PHANTASMAGORIA
 Out now!

 From the Indie Side
 About this anthology
 Featuring Michael Bunker, Peter Cawdron, Kate Danley, Anne Frasier, Sara Foster, Jason Gurley, Mel Hearse, Kev Heritage, Hugh Howey, Ernie Lindsey, Susan May, and Brian Spangler; and edited by David Gatewood. Includes a foreword by Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of WOOL.
 A man who remembers the future and a veteran haunted by his past. A witch ignorant of her powers and a vampire achingly aware of his emptiness. An unmaimed man, a cursed queen, a troubled marriage, a family just trying to survive.
 From an abandoned convent to a Martian classroom, an open-mic reading to a New Mexico mountaintop, these fantastical and imaginative tales will take you on a journey through impossible worlds, all-too-possible futures, and disquieting glimpses into the other side of reality.
 Packed with original short stories ranging from sci-fi to thriller to the supernatural, "From the Indie Side" brings together some of the biggest authors in independent publishing today. Be prepared for a great ride--and don't be surprised if you discover your new favorite author in these pages.
 "When I read indie fiction, authenticity oozes from the page. Sample some unique and talented voices . . . sit back and enjoy the ride." - Hugh Howey
 ". . . it is a great book. It is one that you will want laying in the stack next to your bed or chair or sofa or desk--wherever you read--because you will want to read it over and over throughout the years." - Michael Bunker, bestselling author ofWICK and Pennsylvania

 In order to generate buzz about the book, we're giving away free download codes to newsletter subscribers via Smashwords.  If you enjoy the book (and I think you will) please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

(FYI: I removed the codes since they're just for newsletter/email alert subscribers.)



BOOK THREE—THRILLER
 Okay, this is an old title, Play Dead, but it's been released by Thomas & Mercer with a beautiful new cover.  The second book in the Elise Sandberg series, Stay Dead, comes out April 22 and is now available for pre-order.  Both books are set in Savannah and feature homicide detectives Elise Sandberg and David Gould. For those suspense readers who like a little romance with their suspense – these books might appeal to you. Especially Stay Dead, where we witness the growth of the relationship between Elise and David.   Will they do it???  Ah, that's the big mystery.

Play Dead
 No one is more familiar with Savannah's dark side than homicide detective and native resident Elise Sandburg. She's been haunted for years by her own mysterious past: she was abandoned as a baby in one of the city's ancient cemeteries, and it's rumored that she is the illegitimate daughter of an infamous Savannah root doctor. The local Gullah culture of voodoo and magic is one that few outsiders can understand, least of all Elise's new partner. Now someone is terrorizing the city, creating real-life zombies by poisoning victims into a conscious paralysis that mimics death. As the chilling case unfolds, Elise is drawn back into the haunted past she's tried so hard to leave behind.


Stay Dead
 New York Times bestselling author Anne Frasier takes readers back to her dark, enchanting Savannah—a place as terrifying as it is mesmerizing.
 Homicide detective Elise Sandburg is traumatized after her run-in with a madman the press has dubbed “The Organ Thief.” As Elise takes refuge in her deceased aunt Anastasia’s abandoned plantation to investigate and recover from her ordeal, she begins to question everything—from her dangerous line of work to her complex relationship with her handsome, tortured partner, David Gould. But with a madman on the loose, and her mother’s claims to still hear from Aunt Anastasia, she may have more immediate problems on her hands. In Elise’s world, where cold hard crime mixes with the local Gullah culture, nothing is ever what it seems, and no one is above suspicion—not even the dead.


But wait! That's not all!  Top of the page to the right you can go to Goodreads and enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Stay Dead. FYI: This book as the coolest back-cover design.

 There you go. I'm done bugging you, but I'll be back in April with a reminder of the Stay Dead release!
 Take care and stay warm,
 Theresa/Anne

Want to subscribe to my new release email alerts? 
Go to this joint: EMAIL ALERTS



Thursday, February 20, 2014

PERKS OF SELF-PUBLISHING


One big perk of self-publishing?

While I wait to hear from my publisher about a possible new traditional book deal, I can continue writing. I've written three books while waiting. THREE BOOKS. In the old days, I'd just wait. And wait. And wait. But now I can be productive in what used to be unproductive downtime.  Of course this means I NEVER have downtime, which is EXHAUSTING.

My newest self-published title is He's Come Undone (release date approximately March 1). This is another New Adult contemporary romance set in the world of what I think I’m going to call City of Lakes.  If anybody has a better name for this series, let me know! There's of course the whole come thing, because all books will have come in the title, but come is also a sex word, so it doesn't seem a good idea even though it would be the obvious choice.

Come As You Are and He's Come Undone take place in the same location, same year, same month, same days. Characters in both books visit the same areas of Minneapolis, work in the same cafes, drink lattes in the same coffee shops, go to the same movie theaters, and walk down the same streets.

 Why I’m reluctant to call it a series:

In He's Come Undone and Come as You Are there's no character crossover although a main character in He's Come Undone bemoans the fact that the Kurt Cobain class is full (because Molly from Come As You Are took the final seat), and another character in He's Come Undone gets a job at Bad Waitress (where Molly works/worked.)

 If He's Come Undone does well and I continue with the books, I envision some scenes in which characters from the third book interact with characters from the first and second books – IN THE SAME TIME SPACE. Because the books will ALL TAKE PLACE IN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER OF THE SAME MONTH AND YEAR.  So readers who want more of Molly and Ian will be able to experience them through other characters.

What I've done differently with He's Come Undone.

I listen to readers. I don't know if listening is a good thing or a bad thing, but a lot of readers felt Come As You Are didn’t have a satisfying ending.  It had an HEA ending, but I didn't go into details of that HEA. So I kept that complaint in mind when writing HCU. Another comment readers made? They wanted more hero time, so I've given Julian, the hero of HCU, more and longer POV scenes.  Last thing? He's Come Undone is sexier (this was simply my idea. Ha!).  I could also add that listening to readers is another perk of self-publishing. I can watch sales in real time (thus knowing which books are selling and which aren't), I can read the feedback, and I can adjust quickly and accordingly.

And here I must also confess that Come As You Are was an experiment in a genre I knew little about. The book was probably written too quickly because, quite frankly, I didn't think it would sell. Was I ever wrong.

I like He's Come Undone and think a traditional publisher would snatch it up. I briefly thought about submitting it, but when I realize it wouldn't be released for a year or more… Just don't want to wait, and don't want readers to have to wait. (That waiting thing again!)

I came up with this plot last summer, wrote it down, and just couldn't let it go.  I really wanted to write it.

Blurb for He's Come Undone

Penniless and behind on rent, college student and once famous child actress Ellie Barlow takes on the role of a lifetime when she's hired by a group of young women to break the heart of the campus player who cruelly dumped them.

Transformed from slob slacker to jaw-dropping beauty, Ellie is dressed, styled, bleached and waxed, her chunky glasses exchanged for violet contacts. Along with physical prepping, she's coached on Julian's obsessions, which include long-distance running, Doctor Who, and J.D. Salinger.

In no time, Julian is in pursuit of his custom-made next victim, but when Ellie goes off script and begins to fall for her target the newest broken heart in this risky game could be her own.



City of Lakes

New Adult contemporary romances set in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Come As You Are
He's Come Undone











Thursday, January 30, 2014

FROM THE INDIE SIDE

Just released!!  
I'm thrilled to be a part of this fantastic anthology, From the Indie Side



Grab it at the special promotional price of only 99 cents - FOR A LIMITED TIME!

A man who remembers the future and a veteran haunted by his past. A witch ignorant of her powers and a vampire achingly aware of his emptiness. An unmaimed man, a cursed queen, a troubled marriage, a family just trying to survive.

From an abandoned convent to a Martian classroom, an open-mic reading to a New Mexico mountaintop, these fantastical and imaginative tales will take you on a journey through impossible worlds, all-too-possible futures, and disquieting glimpses into the other side of reality.

Packed with original short stories ranging from sci-fi to thriller to the supernatural, "From the Indie Side" brings together some of the biggest authors in independent publishing today. Be prepared for a great ride--and don't be surprised if you discover your new favorite author in these pages.

Featuring Michael Bunker, Peter Cawdron, Kate Danley, Anne Frasier, Sara Foster, Jason Gurley, Mel Hearse, Kev Heritage, Hugh Howey, Ernie Lindsey, Susan May, and Brian Spangler; and edited by David Gatewood. Includes a foreword by Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of WOOL.

"When I read indie fiction, authenticity oozes from the page. Sample some unique and talented voices . . . sit back and enjoy the ride." - Hugh Howey

". . . it is a great book. It is one that you will want laying in the stack next to your bed or chair or sofa or desk--wherever you read--because you will want to read it over and over throughout the years." - Michael Bunker, bestselling author of WICK and Pennsylvania


Purchase:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

THE LANGUAGE OF WINTER


I live in a church, which isn't easy to heat.

 Enter the winter of 2013/2014.  Twenty-seven BELOW ZERO IS THE NEW NORM.

 To put this in perspective, I'd never experienced a low of -27 in my entire life until this winter, and this winter we just keep hitting that number, and it's rare for temps to get above zero during the day. Propane jumped from 1.43 per gallon to 5.50, which means it might cost 1K to heat my place for one month if I keep the thermostat at 58. I wear layers of clothing and move from a chair in front of a space heater to a bed with an electric blanket. Forget showers or washing hair.

 But then we have this. The language of winter.

It's hard to truly capture nature because the camera eliminates all but the visual, but there's a bleak beauty to winter than really seems to lend itself to the lens.

Here's my theory: Unlike the language of summer, which relies on sight and scent and touch, winter can be a purely visual experience. What you capture is what you feel deep in your bones.





Thursday, January 16, 2014

DON'T ADD A MURDER TO YOUR MEMOIR


The danger of toxic agents

He was one of the most sought-after agents in the country, a dream agent, but shortly after signing with him I began calling him Agent Orange.

I've talked about this before, but I was just telling someone about the agent who asked me to add a murder to The Orchard. It would of course have been published as fiction. Just my life story—with a freakin' murder tacked on.  The truly amazing thing is that I actually did it. I added a murder for this guy. But I quickly came to my senses and had him withdraw the book from submission, fired (his word, not mine) him, and tossed his murder idea. Not only tossed it, but stomped on it with both feet. Our final conversation was my unsuccessful attempt to get him to understand why his idea was such a bad one. He would not budge.

This illustrates the danger of toxic creative input.

I've had some good agents in my career, and I might work with an agent again under the right circumstances, maybe even a previous agent, but I love being able to write without someone dictating the direction my stories should take in order to have a product that can be sold to a particular editor the agent has courted.

How the agent thing works

Most agents, especially today, have lunch with editors, find out what they're looking for, and tailor their writers to those luncheon discoveries. This makes sense from the agent and editor perspective. Instead of blindly submitting books, agents find out what editors are hungry for and deliver it, but this leaves out so many good books that will never make it into an editor's hands.  And if you submit to an agent who replies with a rejection, chances are that agent simply doesn't have an editor on her list looking for your kind of story. Simple as that. This is one of the reasons big-name agents are more successful. They know more editors, have lunch with more editors, and have a larger list of story wants. The other thing about agents? An agent who's been around a long time, an agent who's friends with many editors, that agent has no desire to blindly shop a book. His career has moved beyond what to him is paying dues.

The odds are against you in this game of feeding the hungry editor via the hungry agent

Say you tailor a project to an agent's specifications—that agent has nothing to lose and everything to gain. But you, on the other hand, might lose a year or two of writing and income while involved in this common practice. I often wonder how many of these tailored books actually sell. Like the percentage. I'm guessing it's small. Five percent? Fewer than that? Two percent? One? And when the dust clears, when the rejections finally come back, the agent has two hundred other writers to pull from, and those writers are all getting the exact same spiel…but you only have yourself and the years you just wasted.

But back to the murder thing 

At that time I was one of the walking wounded after being dumped—that might be too strong a word, but I can't think of anything else, so let's say dumped—by an agent I'd had for twenty years who had no interest in submitting my memoir. Numbing blow. My self-worth as a writer dropped to basement level, and my confidence was shaken to my bones.  I didn't trust anything I thought or felt at this point, and I was desperate for guidance.

  Enter hotshot dream agent.

 At the lowest and most vulnerable point of my career. 

Why in the bloody hell would I agree to representation by someone who told me to add a murder to my memoir? Looking at this with a logical mind, it makes absolutely no sense, and it's scary to think I did what he told me to do. That still freaks me out, and now I kind of understand how the brain goes to such a weird place, and how people succumb to things like Stockholm syndrome and cults and weirdasses like Jim Jones. When we are in that state of having no faith in ourselves, of no longer trusting ourselves, it happens. When someone powerful comes along and begins talking with 100% conviction, we listen because we are lost and are no longer listening to our own voice. We don't even know where our own voice has gone.

I've not given up on agents, because, like I said, I've had a good one or two, but I'm working hard to get myself to a place where I no longer need an agent (by self-publishing and signing with houses that don't require agented submissions) because it's too easy to stop listening to my own voice when it comes to my art.

Not listening to yourself is where shitty books come from.  And shitty music.  Creativity is a wonderful mystery, and when someone else steps into that mystery it's no longer a mystery, it's a product.

 Trust yourself.  Don't off yourself with Kool-Aid. Don't add a murder to your memoir.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

THE INSPIRATION FOR MY CAT BOOKS

With the release of Geek with the Cat Tattoo, people have been asking if I have a cat. "You must have a cat! You know them so well!"

This is kind of a downer, but I thought I'd rerun a post from two and a half years ago. My cat of twenty years was the inspiration for the Cool Cats books. He and I actually had a conversation about it.

"I should write a book with a cat narrator," I told him. "What do you think? Maybe a romance. Readers have been asking for another romance."  Of course he thought it was a great idea.

 It's very strange, but I don't think I've gotten over losing him even though it's been more than two years. About a month after he died I had to fly to promotional events for Grand Central Publishing.  A book gig in New Orleans was the first time I'd left the house, and I suddenly found myself at this long table at a fancy fancy fancy restaurant where each meal must have cost several hundred dollars.  I was supposed to perform, but I just wanted to be home with the covers over my head. Weird to look back and realize I've been kind of shut off since then. Or at least not fully turned on. :D

*************************

To preface the following: I sometimes tweeted as him and called his tweets kitty memoirs.

June 5, 2011

His story...

“Yesterday I was put to sleep.” Kitty memoir

My story…

It shouldn’t hurt this much, but it’s like the death of a person. I wish I’d waited one more day. And one more day. I retrace the past week, I examine and wonder, and see the days through a different lens every time I look at them. One minute I think I waited too long, years too long. Another, I think I didn’t wait long enough. I wish he were with me right now. That’s all I know.

He was old. Almost twenty.



The princess (my daughter) and Latoya, St. Paul 2003

The last animal from what I call our old life, the life on the farm.

“He’s so charming,” people always said.

He loved it when a group of people got together and sat around talking and laughing. He loved the sound of laughter.

It’s like the death of a person.

He showed up on our farm as a kitten, probably a dump.
“Don’t touch it,” I told my daughter, who was already mentally cuddling the animal. “It might have some disease.”
“It has devil eyes,” my husband said. “Look at how it’s looking at me. Making eye contact.” There was fear in his voice. “Don’t feed it and it’ll leave.”


But the cat didn't leave, and we began calling him Latoya, thinking he was a female.

He hung around the corncrib and caught mice.

One day I found him there, sick. I took him to the vet.
“Pneumonia,” the vet said. “Never seen a case this bad. If he lives, he’ll always be in bad health.” I found out he was a boy, not a girl.

So I took him home and put him in a box in the basement.
“I don’t want that devil cat in the house,” my husband said.
“What is he going to do? Put a spell on you?”
“Maybe.”
The cat recovered and he was returned to the outdoors. I got him neutered, but we continued to call him Latoya.
He was always around. In the field near the house. In the evenings, when I went for a jog, he would follow me, get tired, and wait in the roadside ditch for me to return, then follow me home. I fed him, and he became my cat.

In 1994, I went on a trip.
“Don’t forget to feed Latoya,” I told my son and husband. “I don’t want him roaming, searching for food.”
While I was gone, my husband accidentally ran over Latoya with a sickle mower, a mower used to trim ditches. He was so mangled that he should have been put to sleep, but my son coaxed him out of the culvert where he’d gone to die. The vet did what he could. “I don’t think he’ll live, and he’ll never walk or use the litter box. Take him home, but you’ll probably need to have him put down.” Poor Latoya had two and a half legs, and half a tail. They’d shaved him, and he was as naked as a mole rat.

Over the next month, pieces of him fell off, but he slowly recovered, and the devil cat became a housecat. My constant companion.


St. Paul, 2005

He had no trouble getting around, and could even run and climb a tree if taken outside. Like the vet said, he had respiratory issues off and on his whole life. But he lived and lived and lived.

Two years ago, he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, but he couldn’t tolerate the medication. And as time passed, he got so he could no longer go up and down the stairs to sleep with me in my bed. His weight dropped from sixteen pounds to five.


Church house, 2009

I would spend evenings downstairs in the living room with him, watching television. He lost his hearing, and began to yowl if he thought he was alone. The social butterfly. A few days ago, my daughter came by and we realized he could hear us, and he enjoyed sitting with us as we talked and laughed. He still loved the sound of laughter.

This day has been coming for a long time, but I didn’t know it would hurt so much. He was a cat. A cat. But it feels like the death of a person. I don’t understand how humans bond so strongly with their pets, but it’s something profound and crazy and painful and maybe beautiful. I’m not sure about the beautiful. It hurts too much for beautiful.

Twenty years. He was with me through the death of my husband, my move from the farm to Iowa, my move to St. Paul, my move to Wisconsin. In the past several years, he required constant care. Because of that, my adult children and I took him with us when we went up north and stayed at a cabin for a week. I’m not sure if he enjoyed it, but he took it all in stride, the way he did everything.



 Latoya and me at cabin in northern Minnesota, 2010
(Yes, he even came with us on a family vacation.)


I’ve had a lot of cats in my life, but he was special. Unique and almost human. I can’t believe he’s gone. The house is so empty. There’s a giant hole in my heart that I don’t think any other pet could ever fill.