Hello everyone. My name is Carolyn Niethammer and I am very excited about the release this month of my first novel (and tenth book) The Piano Player. Although I’ve been marketing my books for nearly forty years, having a novel is a new and exciting experience. The piano player in the title is Mary Rose, a well-born young woman who comes to Tombstone in 1882 and goes to work as an entertainer at the Bird Cage Theatre. She finds that nothing she previously learned about proper womanhood pertains anymore, and she must toughen up and transform herself into Frisco Rosie if she wants to survive.
The novel isn’t a huge departure from my previous writing, other than being largely made up. All my earlier books are set in the West. Five of them involve food, mostly recipes for edible wild plants. And food continues to be addressed in this book. One of the main characters in The Piano Player is Nellie Cashman, based on the real Nellie, a famous cook and boarding house owner. After Tombstone collapsed as the silver mines filled with water, she travelled from boomtown to boomtown, always elevating the level of food service wherever she settled. When gold was discovered in the Yukon in 1897, she hiked in over the ice to try to stake a claim even though she was nearly 50 years old. In the novel, Rosie goes with her, hoping to find a claim with a payoff big enough to let her establish her own saloon business. But since it is a novel, things don’t go as planned, and both women have to reinvent how they are going to survive in far north Dawson City.
Some people are natural fiction writers; I had to study. In fact, as a journalism major I had to unlearn much of my schooling to become a good novelist. Among the many books I studied, my most important guide was the classic Structuring Your Novel: From Basic Idea to Finished Manuscript by Robert C. Meredith and John D. Fitzgerald. My copy is so well used the pages are falling out. How to Write and Sell Your First Novel by Oscar Collier and Frances Spatz Leighton was also good. The most fun was a class I took on-line in writing sex scenes. Turns out there is an orderly progression to seduction to get the reader ready along with the heroine. There are no explicit sex scenes in The Piano Player, but we know what is going on and are left to imagine the rest.
The fiction writing experience has been so much fun that I’m 30,000 words into my next still-untitled novel. I’ve had to stop writing for a bit to get The Piano Player off the ground and I’ve left the heroine in the new book in a very unsettling situation. She’ll just have to wait for me to get back to her.
You can visit Carolyn at www.cniethammer.com. She shares a blog about Southwestern food with three other women at http://savorthesouthwest.wordpress.com. The Piano Player is available at Oak Tree Press and Amazon. Her other books can be found at Amazon and Barnes & Noble or ordered from your local independent book seller.
Thanks for sharing your publication story, Carolyn! Even "natural born" fiction writers have a lot to learn! We look forward to more novels from you!