Monthly Archives: October 2013

Starting Over ~Fingers on the Keyboard

Hitting the Pause Button….  hands on keyboard

Every so often in a writer’s career, she’s reminded of why she’s writing in the first place. Last night was such a time for me. So I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled post today to share the email that brought me to tears and then turned my tears to sobs:

Review: HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER by Linda Barrett

“This book is non-fiction. A courageous true story…”

HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER is a book that must be read by everyone.  It is a story of encouragement for all cancer patients, it a story of  affirmation for families and friends of someone with cancer and it is a story of celebration for cancer survivors.  But it is more than that, it is Linda’s story, a story of surviving breast cancer not once but twice in ten years.  Through her ups and downs, life continued for Linda and she faced it all in a very human, “let’s do this” kind of way.

Battling cancer is a team effort that is made bearable with support.  Ms. Barrett allows her readers a glimpse into her journey and all the twists and turns and bumps along the way.  Her Knight in Shiny Tinfoil, aka her husband, played an indispensable part as did her team of doctors, surgeons, oncologist, radiologist, and nurses.  Although fighting cancer does take a huge chunk of time and effort, Linda Barrett did not let it rule her life.  She continued to teach adult literacy classes, write novels and fulfill her roles as mother and wife while preparing to move from Texas to Florida.

HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER contains information about breast cancer and especially about the BRCA1 gene mutation of which Linda Barrett is a carrier.  But it also describes a life being lived to the fullest with love, persistence and encouragement.  Talented Linda Barrett has always been a favorite author, I have followed her career from her first published romance novel, but HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER is her greatest love story to date.  Thank you Linda, for telling your story, one that is all too familiar to a number of people, and for putting a face to this frightening disease.

Donna Zapf,  Reviewer — CataNetwork/Single Titles  Star Rating:  5 Stars
Not only do I want to thank Donna Zapf for her thoughtful and well-written review, but more important, I want her to know that I cried because she “got me.” She understood what my journey was really about.
Communication from the heart is what every author hopes to do with every single reader. That is why we write.

My very best to each of you. As always, thank you for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over when the pause button will be released, my regularly scheduled blogging will resume and the winners of the October contest will be announced 🙂

OCTOBER CONTEST:  Two winners in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Post a comment and your name will be entered in this month’s drawing for two of the books shown below and a $25 gift card to either Amazon or BN. Your choice!

Texas Danger, Brashear

 

 

 

 

 

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate_Back

 

 

Starting Over ~ Fingers on the Keyboard…

THAT DESERT ISLAND QUESTION…

I’m in the middle of a blog/book review tour which will last through kitts3_016November. This means that lovely websites run by lovely bookaholics will be posting about my two  most recent books: Family Interrupted and Hopefully Ever After.  [In fact, Hopefully is a featured book today at Bibliotica – just Google the name if you want to see what this is all about.]

Sometimes, these websites simply post an excerpt of the book and my bio. Sometimes, they read and review the book. Sometimes, they “interview” me by sending me questions in advance. Then they post the Q & A.  This is the first time I’ve jumped into the blog tour world, so I’m learning as I’m going. Yesterday, I received about two dozen questions from which I was to select six and respond. I always love the creative questions best. Even if I’ve heard them before (and some have been around a long time), they still intrigue me especially if I’ve never given them a lot of thought. I found one such familiar question on the current list, so familiar you’ve probably all heard it in some form or another…

If you were stranded on a desert island…what one book would you bring with you and why?  There are variations on this question of course. For example, with whom would you like to be stuck with on desert island?  But we’re talking books.  So which story would you choose?

It only took me two seconds to come up with mine. Except that my vision of the story is beyond what Victor Hugo imagined when he wrote the magnificent Les Miserables.

 

So on my desert island, I have a tablet or a CD player. I have seen the stage production of Les Mis several times. I taped the 10th Anniversary PBS choral rendition of it years ago and watch it once or twice a year. I bought the updated version of the same production – fancier camera work and a little editing – and I own the music on CD.  Of course, I’ve seen the recent movie with Hugh Jackman.

No matter how many times I watch or listen to this story, I am NEVER bored. The many themes and conflicts in this powerful work criss-cross each other and resonate deeply: God. Faith. Hope. Idealism. Loyalty. Politics. Honor. Hypocrisy. Greed. Sacrifice. Redemption. And of course, love. Love on many levels: Parent-child. Close friendships. Unrequited love. Romantic love. And as though that weren’t enough, wrapped around these storylines is a stunning musical score. It soars, weeps, and then makes you laugh. It shadows the story, rising and reprising itself as the events unfold.

The musical retelling of Les Miserables is the story that touches my soul. Words, music and exposition of life. Of the human condition. The strengths and the frailties. If a young person were to ask me about the meaning of life, a subject young people often ponder, I would direct him or her to Les Mis and say, “start there.”

If you have never seen this play, check out the PBS listings especially during their fund raising weeks. The “big” productions are often run at those times, Les Mis among them. If you’ve seen this play, let me know and share your reaction to it. I can think of worse situations than being stuck on a desert island with Les Mis.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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OCTOBER CONTEST: Two winners in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Post a comment and your name will be entered in this month’s drawing for two of the books shown below and a $25 gift certificate to either Amazon or BN.  Your choice!

Texas Danger, Brashear

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ Check-up Time

A cancer survivor never forgets anything that has to do with her medical

Available October 3rd
Available October 3rd

experience. This includes discovering the lump, the gasp when receiving the actual diagnosis, the crappy treatments, and most important, the support of friends and family.  When all of that is in the rear view mirror, she never, ever forgets doctor appointments.

I had my regular six month appointment this week on Tuesday. You may have noticed a FB post about it. Once made, I never change the  appointment. This year, I gave up a tour and luncheon at the Moffitt Cancer Center’s main campus in north Tampa because of my appointment at their smaller facility across town. I didn’t know about the tour when I scheduled my appointment. Just too bad for me. I didn’t change the appointment. I wouldn’t change the appointment. Perhaps I’m superstitious. Ya’ think?

I was NEVER a superstitious person before I became a writer. Shortly after beginning this career, I began noticing my “rituals.” First, I close my office door. Against who? I don’t know. I’m usually alone in the house. Second, I drink coffee from the same mug every day. Written on the mug are the 011words: Working on a Best Seller. I hand wash it daily so it’s ready for the next morning. Thirdly, no radio, iPod, television or any aural distractions allowed. Other authors must create a playlist for each book before they start writing, but I need silence. In addition, I can’t begin a book without first thinking up a title. Even if it’s changed later on, the manuscript MUST have a title before I begin Page One. I also can’t begin a new story without arranging the research folders on the table next to me…and arrange them just so. I have to begin each day with the piles exactly the way I want them.

Once at the computer, I check email first. Then Facebook. Sometimes a game of Spider Solitaire. The truth is, I’m procrastinating the real work–writing the book! Creating something out of nothing is hard. Very hard for most writers. But here’s another truth: once you sit down and jump back into the story, the writing becomes easier. It’s the thought of starting again that’s worse than the actual doing. In any case, writers have developed a load of ways – rituals – to procrastinate the work.

Which brings me back to medical appointments.  My check-up this week was fabulous! My doctor is fabulous. I gave her a copy of HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER and she immediately started browsing it and laughing out loud. “I love the chapter titles. Oh, look, the Rolling Stones.”  And then, “I have a lot of breast cancer patients who’ve had the disease twice.”  Just like me. I gave her bookmarks to share with others.  She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in the chapter called, The Search for Dr. Wonderful.  She’s also in the Acknowledgement section.

FORCE LOGO

FORCE LOGO

I mentioned FORCE – Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered–which is the only non-profit foundation in America that focuses solely on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It’s located in Tampa, and my doctor knew about it! Some of her other patients…the two-time survivors…must be aware of it, too.

It’s almost three years for me now, and my luck is holding. I’m not taking any chances whether rituals or superstitions make sense or not. I don’t walk under ladders, but I do keep original appointments.

Anyone out there have their own rituals or superstitions? Come on. Tell all. Curious minds want to know 🙂

As always, thank you for stopping by.  I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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OCTOBER CONTEST:  Two winners in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Post a comment and your name will be entered in this month’s drawing for two of the books shown below and a $25 gift certificate to either Amazon or BN. Your choice!

Texas Danger, Brashear

 

 

 

 

 

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ Fingers on the Keyboard

Toot the old horn…or not?  Warning: blatant self-promotion coming up!hands on keyboard

Writers live in a cave of their own making. Caves are necessary because writing is done alone. Sometimes, it’s lonely work. At other times, the characters are so alive, so in your face, filling the cave with chatter, chatter, chatter. Perhaps too much of a good thing 🙂

My goal as a writer is to come out of the cave’s darkness and into the light of day. I’m talking about PUBLICATION. What satisfaction!  What accomplishment!  What j-o-y….  Oh, yeah? Not so fast, my friends.  After giving birth to the baby, what happens next? How do we cave-dwellers know if anyone likes or appreciates or cares about our beautiful labor of love?

We don’t know. Except for two things: reviews and sales. Personal emails are nice too, but we live for reviews. They are the only feedback we get after sending our child nekked into the world. So, now I’ll share with you what some readers and reviewers are saying on Amazon about my newest babies starting with the novel, Family Interrupted:

This one's also on my shelf! And in my e-reader.

This one’s also on my shelf! And in my e-reader.

Barbara, a reader, says:  Read this book! Amazing book. From beginning to end it keeps your interest.

Bookaweek, a review site: I’ll read more by Linda Barrett.

Sue, a reader, says: I loved this book. I was so hoping for a happy ending, and it was better than I had hoped for.

Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews: An emotional roller-coaster ride

Allison, a reader, says: Great story! Ms. Barrett’s writing is engaging and her character’s are very real.

FAMILY INTERRUPTED  received 4 and 5 star reviews from these readers and others. Nothing less. Just check the reviews on Amazon and see for yourself.  So, I’m happy and proud. And hope that you’ll help me spread the word about the book.

Available October 3rd

Available October 3rd

HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER was released two weeks ago, so it hasn’t garnered as many reviews, but I’m very pleased with what’s been said so far:

Joni Rodgers, NYT bestselling author says: Linda Barrett’s frank, funny memoir delivers an honest account of her difficult journey…Highly recommending for the newly diagnosed.

Jane Perrine, author and reader gave it 5 stars!  She says: Emotional tale beautifully told. …Linda’s strength and wit kept me reading. She’s completely honest and shares intimate details of those years but not in a way to make the reader uncomfortable.

 

Celebrate copy

And now we come to Celebrate! my youngest offering, an anthology only five days old:  Welcome to the world, baby!  You’re beautiful. Sweet. Romantic. And full of second chances at love. Not to mention a great line up of writers starting with NYT Bestselling author, Barbara McMahon who’s accompanied by award winning Rogenna Brewer, Deb Salonen, Karen Sandler and moi. No reviews yet. But I’m sure readers who love the stories will jot a sentence or two on the Amazon and BN boards. It’s just a matter of time. Who could resist a beautiful face like yours?

So today I’m spreading the word that this cave dweller yearns for some honest feedback. Am I tootin’ my own horn?  Let’s look at it another way. Do moms brag about their kids?  You can be the judge!

As always, thank you for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over–and on Facebook, too.

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OCTOBER CONTEST:  Two winners in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Post a comment and your name will be entered in this month’s drawing for two of the books shown below and a $25 gift certificate to either Amazon or BN. Your choice!

Texas Danger, Brashear

 

 

 

 

 

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ Friends and Writers Celebrate!

“That’s what friends are for…”   Celebrate copy

Can you hear Dionne Warwick’s voice in your head?  In good times, in bad times…at all times, and at all ages and stages of life, I find myself making new friends while maintaining the old. New folks enter into our lives at work or in our neighborhood, in a classroom or when pursuing a common dream. In my case, in pursuit of the writing dream.

I received “the call” in May 2000. A phone call from an editor with an offer to buy my manuscript, Love, Money and Amanda Shaw, which turned out to be my very first published work.  After talking to me about the manuscript, my new editor’s next big question was, “Are you attending Romance Writers of America’s conference in Washington D.C. this summer?”  This particular conference is the big kahuna of conferences for those of us pursuing a professional career in the romance genre.

“I hadn’t planned on it,” I replied, “but I will now!”  When I hung up the phone, I bought a ticket–in fact, two tickets–to D.C. Mike wanted to go, and my son drove down from NY to meet us at the hotel. A great idea. He kept my dh busy the entire time I was busy.

One year earlier, author Debra Salonen received the call from the same

Deb Salonen Yoga, anyone?

Deb Salonen
Yoga, anyone?

publisher, in fact, from the same editor who’d made an offer to buy her manuscript. Debra accepted, and this conference was Deb’s first one, too. We both wrote for the Harlequin Superromance line and met each other in person through our mutual editor. I have a picture of us together that summer under which I wrote: Debra Salonen, a new friend who also writes for Superromance. She’s 2 books ahead of me! 

BLMPhotoLinda

Barbara McMahon

From that conference and others, I met Barbara McMahon, Karen Sandler and Rogenna Brewer – all creating stories not only for the Superromance line, but for other Harlequin imprints as well. We reconnected regularly at other RWA events. Some of us also joined Novelists, Inc. and attended their conferences, too. We talked business and had a lot of fun while doing it. And then came the Internet. Whee! Nothing can separate us now.

Karen Sandler

Karen Sandler

Rogenna Brewer

Rogenna Brewer

 

 

 

 

After more than ten years of friendship, it seemed natural for us to dive into some projects together when we decided to Indie authors. Now we write and publish books on our own. And thus, the Celebrate! anthology was born. I knew it would be a pleasure to work with these gals. And it was. Here’s what you need to know about this anthology:

TODAY is the release day!

Celebrate! Five heartwarming stories celebrating the sweet gift of romance on Mother’s Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas with five of your favorite authors: Linda Barrett, Rogenna Brewer, Barbara McMahon, Karen Sandler and Debra Salonen.

Celebrate! is available for $2.99 at all venues where electronic books are sold: Amazon, BN, Kobo, Smashwords.

These women have become more than simply writing friends. They have become friends of the heart. And I think that’s the secret for staving off loneliness throughout life. If your heart is open, new friends are invited in.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by. I hope to see you at the next edition of Starting Over.

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OCTOBER CONTEST:  Two winners in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Post a comment and your name will be entered into a drawing for two of the books shown below and a $25 gift certificate to either Amazon or BN.  Your choice!

[Authors Jean Brashear, Dee Davis and Day Leclaire are other friends I’ve made through the years. We’re all part of On Fire Fiction, a group of award winning authors who’ve come together to support each other–the way friends do! I’m happy to offer their books as prizes here.]

Texas Danger, Brashear

 

 

 

 

 

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ Speaking and Listening

With a microphone in hand…

Available October 3rd

Available October 3rd

I’ve had a busy month since the release of HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER on October 3rd.  In addition to my usual writing and on-line activities such as this blog and Facebook posts, I was part of several programs in the Tampa area which focused on breast cancer and other diseases that tend to “run in the family.”

Most people dread public speaking. They list it right up there with death, divorce and relocating homes. The thought of being in the spotlight and being coherent in front of a filled auditorium makes their heart race and their sweat glands work overtime.  Fortunately, I am not one of these people.  My heart rate may go up a notch, but that’s just excitement.

I credit my teaching background where I considered myself “on stage” whether in a room with children or adults. I also credit my mom, who dreaded making professional presentations on her job, but did it anyway. She managed her fear by being prepared. She practiced in the house behind closed doors. Except when she wanted a little critique from my dad or me.  I don’t think she memorized every word, but became so familiar with the material that she created her own comfort zone. Despite her prep techniques and the number of presentations she made, however, she never loved doing it.

I can’t say the same!  Although butterflies dance in my stomach beforehand, I become energized around the crowd. I learned from my mom, however, to be prepared. And I practice the same way she did. The difference between us comes from personality. She was much more introverted and appreciated my dad being “the mayor of the block.”

Each event I attended was different. One was sponsored by a hospital to honor breast cancer survivors — a big crowd showed up. Another was a panel discussion on hereditary genetics with a mid-sized audience.  A third was an intimate gathering of a cancer support group. I have yet to appear at another scheduled event where I’ll be telling my story and reading from the memoir at a community center. Interesting observation – the only time my husband was asked questions was at the support group. I guess intimacy builds trust more quickly.

A radiologist preceded me to the mic at the survivor event. I’m glad she did because she confirmed what I’d already suspected:  implants for cosmetic purposes and implants for mastectomies are placed in the body very differently. One of her PowerPoint slides showed a cancerous mass next to an implant. I have an implant. So that mass stole my breath away until I realized that the amount of breast tissue surrounding the implant was large. I suspected this patient had not had a mastectomy. During a mastectomy, almost every speck of tissue is removed. I raised my hand to ask her to clarify and was told that this woman had had breast implants put in for cosmetic reasons. I breathed again. Sometimes, it’s wonderful to be right! I thanked the radiologist profusely and when it was my turn, I almost danced to the mic, eager to provide hope to other women.

Mom would have been proud.

As always, I want to thank you so much for visiting. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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HEADS UP!  This week five authors, including moi, are releasing Celebrate_BackCELEBRATE!  Five stories, five holidays in one volume. Watch for the announcements here and on Facebook, Twitter and all social media. It’s also one of the books you can choose this month for the contest.

OCTOBER CONTEST!  We’ll have two winners this month to celebrate the release of Hopefully Ever After. Post a comment and your name will be entered into a drawing for two of the books below plus a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or BN. Your choice!

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Danger, Brashear

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ Act II

If not now, when?       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 

I’ve let lapse my subscriptions to many of the glossy women’s magazines that I devoured as a young working mom. Their targeted customer is the me I used to be, not the me I am today. The current me has more years behind her, more experience with life’s challenges, and presides over an empty nest. Nope. I am not their targeted reader. There is a magazine I subscribe to, however, that seems to realize women of a certain age have a lot going for them, including the courage to change the habits of a lifetime.

Second Acts is a column in MORE magazine that I look forward to reading each month. It’s about women in mid-life, going after what they want–usually career related–at a moment when they realize two things: 1) time is limited and,  2) they’ve been unhappy, depressed, or just unsatisfied in how they earn a living which, of course, affects other aspects of daily life. If they want to grab the brass ring labeled “happy,” they’d better take action now!  Some have spouses, others do not. Some have financial substance, others do not. None have acted on a whim. Once they’d made their decision to go after what they really wanted, they planned for it. Step by step. They put their plan into motion and worked harder than they’d ever worked before. The search for job satisfaction is very tempting. And risky. It often requires a huge career change, financial uncertainty, and handling the incredulity of family and friends who usually believe their gal has lost her mind. In short, such a big change is not for the faint-of-heart.

file000422875241In the current issue of this magazine, for example, an economist becomes a restauranteur. In another issue, necessity was the mother of invention and a steam floor cleaner was born in Korea, eliminating the need for scrubbing floors on hands and knees. The inventor? A working woman who took out a 100K mortgage against her home to create a prototype. Others have gone from the medical field to photography, and from advertising executive to cheese maker. Dreams beckoned and lured. Dreams plus hard work plus passion equal a dream job. Maybe a dream life.

Not all second acts are related to careers. Some people’s passions are personal and satisfied by finally taking action on them. I clearly remember one story from years ago, about a woman who’d always wanted to play the bagpipes. She learned. And practiced at 4 a.m. in her basement when everyone else was sleeping. I don’t remember the aftermath, but I’d like to think she used her talents in her community perhaps at parades, weddings or funerals.

Act II is about making changes. Sometimes it’s related how we look –  hairstyle, body fitness or cosmetics. These personal changes might follow a significant life event, such as a divorce or a “big” birthday. Or it might happen because you look in the mirror one day and realize the woman staring back at you is not quite the one you used to see. The woman in the mirror needs some freshening up!

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I buy more make-up now than I ever did years ago. Not because I apply it heavily, but because I apply it, period!  A dash of lipstick will no longer do. I’ve discovered I like playing with color palettes- eye shadow, lipstick, nail polish. I like chatting with the gals behind the Clinique counter at Macy’s. I’ve learned to trust their opinion. I don’t buy a lot–and they don’t really push–I just think they like their job: make-up artists sharing their knowledge and tricks with everyday women. After we figured out the right shade of foundation and blush, I enjoyed experimenting with other stuff. I’ve become pretty good at it now. More important, I’m having fun. And I think that’s what Act II is all about.

Grab that brass ring, ladies! Have a little fun. If not now, when?

One more thing –  If you missed this on Facebook, here’s the link to an article about me that ran in a Tampa regional paper to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month for them. I was interviewed at home, and the reporter had to condense a lot of information. I think she did a pretty good job.

http://www.observernews.net/thisweek/front_page/4504-Romance_author_tells_the_story_of_her_battle_with_breast_cancer.html

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope I see you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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Newsletter Note: If you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you should have received it last Thursday, October 3rd. If you didn’t, please let me know. If you’d like to receive it, you can sign up here on the website. It’s an easy way to keep up with my writing news, and I promise not to clog your In-box. The newsletter comes out four or five times a year at most.

OCTOBER CONTEST:  We’ll have TWO winners this month! Post a comment and your name will be entered into a drawing for two of the books below plus a gift card to BN or Amazon. Your choice! All books from authors of On Fire Fiction!

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ Life in the Day Camp

I AM NOT JULIA CHILD!

 

But on Sunday, I wished I were. Last time I struggled to make pecan pie. This time it was crepes. Crepes!

Two months have passed since the last neighborhood dine-in where several people host a dinner for eight or ten followed by all participants having dessert together. Everyone is expected to contribute something to either the main meal or dessert. Assignments are made by the “committee.” Very fair. But here’s my question:  Why, oh, why do I get the assignments that challenge my sanity?

Last night’s dinner had a French theme. I could have provided an hors d’oeuvre of assorted French cheeses–Brie comes immediately to mind–and fruit. Grapes, kiwi, raspberries…But non-non, I got crepes. Made from scratch. With nutella, chocolate sauce, sliced bananas and whipped cream. So let’s take this piece by piece.

A recipe was provided for the crepe. Eggs, flour, milk, salt, oil. Everything processed in a blender. So far, so good. Then came the actual “pour 1/4 cup of batter into pan, tilting to coat surface. Turn once until golden.” Friends, when the blender is filled with batter, you can’t really read the amounts on the side of the glass. So, I estimated. I poured a little oil into my non-stick 8 inch skillet and then poured some batter. Oops.

Pour, tilt, flip, Oy!

Pour, tilt, flip, Oy!

Did I say a little oil. Non, non, my friends. Too much oil! Now I realized what “brush with oil” meant. I hurriedly searched for a basting brush while the first crepe became “golden”  on one side. When I thought it was done, I took two spatulas and turned this poor little pancake over. A minute later, I slid it onto a plate. This prototype crepe had ragged edges, “golden” was questionable with all the shades of brown, and the thickness was uneven.  In essence, the crepe looked awful. In fact, it looked like another word that starts with c-r–.

My stress immediate jolted skywards. Fifty people would be looking at these crepes later on, eager to culminate their French style meal with the quintessential French dessert. Oy. Trying again, I poured off a little oil into a small dish and dipped in the ends of my non-stick brush before brushing the bottom of the pan. This time I poured a bit more batter and tilted, tilted and tilted that pan, cursing under my breath the entire time. With each crepe, I wished Julia were in my kitchen, at my stove, relieving my stress. Since I couldn’t have Julia, however,  I turned to music.

I hit random play on my CD player and immediately  BARBRA, NEIL, BILLY, ELTON and Susan Boyle had me dancing and moving, spatulas in hand. Instant stress relief!  As I continued to estimate and pour and tilt and “turn once until golden,” I began thinking the crepes looked pretty good. I stacked them, paper towel in between, until I

Crepes 002

had enough batter left in the blender for just one more crepe. Images of TV chefs deftly handling their pans filled my mind. Wasn’t I supposed to be a French chef? My crepes deserved a grand finale.

I looked up at my kitchen’s the high ceilings. I looked at the 8 inch pan. I brushed it with oil, poured the last of the mix, waited a minute and carried it to middle of the room. I hefted the pan a couple times to get the feel of it, glanced once more at the ceiling, then at the pan and…I tossed that sucker straight up. Then watched it come down and land.

Perfect!!  I’m taking a bow. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I never could have done it without Julia at my side. With confidence returned, I attacked the chocolate sauce.  But that’s another story.  Maybe next time… Crepes 004

As always, thank you so much for stopping by.  A heartfelt thanks to those of you who’ve picked up a copy of HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER. If you haven’t gotten it yet, I hope you’ll consider it. And I certainly hope to see all of you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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OCTOBER CONTEST:  To celebrate the release of Hopefully Ever After, I’m awarding prized to two people. Gift certificates for $25 and two books from the choices below. All books have been recently released from the authors of On Fire Fiction. Just post a comment and your name will automatically be entered for October’s drawing.

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ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER is AVAILABLE TODAY!

Playing favorites…

Available October 3rd

Available October 3rd

As parents, we don’t play favorites among our children. Each one is unique. Each one is special with both sweet and exasperating ways. Therefore, each one is a favorite. I have  three sons, and I used to tell  David that he was absolutely my favorite middle child 🙂

As authors, we usually don’t have a favorite book among our body of work. Readers ask that question all the time. We might have certain warm memories about writing a particular story. One story may have been more fun to write than another. But the work is always challenging and the usual–and honest–answer to that question is to say that our favorite book is whichever story we’re working on currently. We’re excited, our minds are engaged in the current story, so our work-in-progress is a truthful answer. Certainly, if you write enough books, a few will stand out. The debut novel holds a special place in our hearts because it’s the first. It holds a unique status as the bridge between wannabe and professional writer status. More than likely, however, it will not be the best book in the author’s repertoire.

Among my own fifteen books, a few claimed my heart. In The House on the Beach, Laura McCloud went on with her life–and found love–after fighting a bout of breast cancer. Naturally, she mimicked my own medical experience at that time. Another story that claimed my heart was The Soldier and the Rose, a book set in my own hometown of Brooklyn, New York right at the start of WWII. I loved revisiting not only the setting, but the sensibilities of the time–attitudes, foods, fashion–the energy of people trying to make it through the war and afterwards, no matter what.

As touching and emotional as those stories were for me, they were merely a prelude to the emotional frenzy of writing HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER: Breast Cancer, Life and Me.  This book is non-fiction. It is a memoir. A true story of surviving cancer twice. This is not fiction based on truth, but true on every page. This is not a  story “as told to” another person where truth might get lost in translation with imprecise language. The events I write about really happened to me.

I wish they hadn’t. I wish I was an innocent instead of being an innocent victim. I wish I had no personal knowledge and had nothing to contribute to the national conversation about breast cancer. But I don’t have that luxury, not if I want to consider myself a human being of substance. So, I sat at the computer and began to write.

You’ll love the ending. Heck, I love the ending! After all, I lived to tell the tale. So, I invite you to take this journey with me. After a lot of turmoil, I landed in a soft place. You’ll like it there. I promise.

Before talking about the new contest, I want to thank everyone who visits the blog or follows me on Facebook for all your support and good wishes. I appreciate every one of you, and I hope you know that I wish you only the best in return. As Spock would say, “Live long and prosper!”  And as always, I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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NEW CONTEST:  To celebrate this month’s release of Hopefully Ever After: Breast Cancer, Life and Me, I’m awarding two $25 gift certificates to two lucky people. Your choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Plus books. Choose two from the group below which were released very recently from the authors of On Fire Fiction:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

DeeDavis_setupinSoho

 

Starting Over ~ Speaking about Breast Cancer…

HERE COMES OCTOBER…  Br Ca Blog icon 1

This year the month of October is especially busy for me. Not only am I promoting two new books, but it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I’m scheduled to speak to several groups. Some are interested in learning more about this cancer in general. Others are specifically interested in the genetic connection and how this disease is passed down from generation to generation in some families. We’ve spoken here about my own experience with breast cancer.

Today, however, I thought it would be fun to let you know what went on behind the scenes before I made my first presentation this past Sunday.  Hadassah luncheon 010You might say it was a last minute frenzy…at least for me. After thanking the audience–about sixty people–for having me as their guest, I shared with them the same story I’m sharing with you now:

I had written and revised  my talk over several weeks and thought I was ready for prime time. But on the day before the presentation, a friend approached me and said, “Tell me your joke.”

“Excuse me?  What are you talking about?”

“If you’re making a speech,” he said, “you need to start with a joke. That’s the rule.”

I stared at him hard. “Do I look like Tina Fey? I don’t write jokes, just books.”

“Oh-h-h,” he said. “Then I wish you very good luck. You’ll need it.”  And he walked away.

Did I want to hear this?  But when I got home, I made a bee-line for my writing cave. This is the place where brilliant thoughts are supposed to rain down like manna from heaven. I sat at the computer, fingers on the keyboard and waited for brilliance. And I waited. And waited until I was so frustrated, I was ready to tear my hair out.

Tear my hair out?

“Idiot!” I said to myself. “You’ve already done that twice. And you didn’t like it. The third time is not going to be a charm.”

My hands were back on the keyboard. And my brain was flickering. I decided that breast cancer is like politics. A very lopsided subject. First it’s left. Then it’s right. God  knows, there’s no middle.  And like politicians, the ta-tas can’t be trusted. Now you see them. Then you don’t. They take off to fight some battles, and when they return, you notice that their territory might be a bit different, but still recognizable.

Next I decided not to worry about making any jokes. I knew that if I just put my breast foot forward, I’d be all right.

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And that was exactly what I told that first audience before thanking them for letting me get this off my chest…such as it is.

My original talk followed this introduction, and for me, was a huge relief.

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What I learned from this is that comedy is harder than tragedy, and that Tina Fey can sleep easy. She has nothing to worry about from me!

Happily, I was also able to distribute pamphlets on inherited breast cancer which were provided by FORCE – Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. This is the only non-profit foundation in the country whose mission is solely to educate and raise fund for the research of inherited breast and ovarian cancer.

FORCE LOGO

FORCE LOGO

As always, thank so much for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over–which is this Thursday. REALEASE DAY for Hopefully Every After. A new contest will begin on Thursday, so please be sure to visit 🙂

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Look for Hopefully Ever After on October 3rd!

Available October 3rd

Available October 3rd