Never Waste Tears
Like most authors I know, self-promotion and marketing are an author’s least favorite things. Authors want to create and write their stories. However, we must let people know about our work to get readers. Thanks, Author’s Lounge, for allowing us authors to share what our books are about.
I’m Gloria Zachgo, the writer and self-publisher of four novels. I’ve written in three different genres, even though I know that’s not a good business decision. That leaves various target audiences, showing another side of me that doesn’t always follow a successful author’s rules. However, my novels have been written from my heart, and I’ve been honored to have received awards for each one of my books.
When I tell others what my books are about, it’s like telling a new friend about an old friend I’ve recently reconnected with. Let me introduce Never Waste Tears as a historical fiction. It starts with the Civil War and quickly leads to the wounds and bitterness between family members after the Civil War. It explains why two young couples from different states sought new starts by pioneering on the virgin plains of Kansas.
INSPIRATION came from different directions. I grew up in a farming community in the middle of Kansas. Discoveries of yesteryear were waiting for me to find them. Years before I became a writer, my sister and I searched in a pasture for the site where one of our ancestors had lived in a dugout. We were lucky enough to find fragments of limestone that appeared to have been a fireplace or firepit. Had those stones been in a dugout or soddy? There was no creek on that hillside. Where would the people have gotten their water? The rocky soil beneath the buffalo grasses would not have made good farmland. Why would they have settled on a hillside? Did their wagon break down, and they were unable to travel on? Why did no one in our family know what had happened to them?
Years later, my sister and I were driving on a seldom-used, low-maintained country road when we also discovered a cemetery. It, too, was in a pasture. Curious, we stopped and explored. There were no recent graves, though someone had mowed and tended the grounds. Aging headstones testified to long past generations dating back to pioneer days. How I wished I could hear the stories of their life on the Kansas prairies. However, it wasn’t until I’d written my first novel that I attempted to write those fictional stories.
MY FIRST DRAFT found me moving my characters through the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas when my frustrations grew. I was writing the story of the settlers, but it didn’t feel right. I knew I had it all wrong. I’d written in one narrative tone that lacked the individual voices I wanted to hear.
So, I went to the community cemetery located at a crossroad in the corner of land on my maternal family’s farm. I’d lived on that land in my first years. Later, during the 1950s, I attended the one-room schoolhouse that sat kitty-cornered across the road. This cemetery is where area neighbors, family ancestors, and loved ones are buried, and I know many traits of the people eternally resting there. It wasn’t easy for an inexperienced novelist to throw that first draft away, but I did. I started over and gave my main characters individual voices. It was their story to tell.
LISTENING to reader reactions told me I did it the right way. I wanted my readers to feel the grit and determination it took early pioneers to settle on the Great American Desert. The people I wrote about built a new life for themselves and paved the way for future generations. I wanted readers to know Rebecca’s loneliness and despair when she journaled her thoughts, empathize with Nathan when he suffered loss and carried guilt, delight in Carl and Hannah’s love for the land and each other, and understand why Sarah kept several hidden secrets.
CONTINUING THE STORY didn’t happen right away. I had another story to write before returning to the prairie. However, requests kept coming from former readers who wanted to hear more from Carl, Hannah, Nathan, Rebecca, and Sarah. So, I wrote the sequel, Never Waste Dreams. I’m proud that both books received an indieBRAG medallion.