Category Archives: Writing

Starting Over~ From Barrett’s Garret

hands on keyboardA Year in this writer’s life~~  

As romantic a vision as it may be, I don’t really work from a freezing writer’s garret. My little old office does nicely. Today I have some writing news I wanted to share which will partly explain why I’ve been quiet these past few weeks.

I’m working on a brand new romance series called Sea View House, and I’m about halfway through the first book. The working title is The Perfect Wife, but that may change. So many things change from the conception stage to the final product that with titles, we always call it a working title until the final choice is on the book’s cover.

Funny how things come about. As the new year approached, I did NOT want to make any resolutions. Most resolutions fail. They fail after a week or two because most are tied into losing weight. As we all know by now, losing weight doesn’t happen by magic or by starving yourself for a week. Good stories don’t get magically written either. They need a lot of planning and a lot of time reserved only for thinking. Or dreaming. Thinking is not overrated. It’s a must.

By last November, I felt blah. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just didn’t have the energy for new projects. I’d lost my joy, my mojo, not only for writing, but for family fun. My golfer guy and I planned a cruise with friends, but honestly, I didn’t care one way or another if we actually went. With writing, normally, my hands start to itch for the keyboard. My mind drifts off, daydreaming about new characters and what they want and why they can’t have it. Now my mind was just blank. Burned out. So I looked back over the year to figure out the reason. I thought if I couldn’t, then maybe it was time to cover the keyboard and call it a day. Or a career.

Exactly one year ago, in January 2013, I officially started my journey as an author-publisher.  During the year, I released two full-length new works: a novel (Family Interrupted) and a memoir (Hopefully Ever After). I wrote over 60 short pieces for this blog (Starting Over), and participated in Facebook posts many times per week. I arranged for a blog tour, made personal appearances at several groups and was featured in a newspaper article here in Florida. I also gave as much support to other writer-friends as I could by sharing their FB posts or highlighting them in my blog.

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I kept up with industry news through writers’ magazines, blog posts by agents and authors as well as through group discussions with my own lifeboat of author friends and professional author loops. But by the time I boarded the cruise ship on December 30th, I had no idea where my writing was going next or if it was going anywhere at all. I was ready for a vodka tonic every night. And ordered them!

I enjoyed cruising with my friends. I learned how to snorkel and was thrilled to see the gorgeous fish swimming in front of my eyes, their bright colors flashing through the water. On the ship, if I was hungry, I ate. Without having to cook. If I was tired, I slept. Without having to make the bed. If I was in need of a shower, I took one. Without having to launder the towels. I played a Team Trivia game every day. I window shopped jewelry and other pretties. I arrived home relaxed, still undecided about the next step on my career path, but not worrying about it so much. Yes, I was born a worrier.

About three days after arriving home, after food shopping, laundry and cleaning the house, I sat down at the computer and continued working on The Perfect Wife. Time flew. It took me a week to get back on Facebook.  So what? I waited a few days to reconnect with my author friends, but I didn’t worry about it. They’d understand.

I found the joy again. As always, it lurks in the writing waiting to be rediscovered. Truly a gift that keeps on giving in the best of ways. After publishing  fifteen full-length books, you’d think I’d know that by now. That I’d remember it when days are gray. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget when  a long list of “should’s” and “have to’s” obscure it.

So my resolution this year is to be mindful of the joy. The stressors of writing must remain in a corner to be addressed when I can. Hmm….? Maybe I am shedding weight after all–from my mind, not my body.

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

Linda

P.S.  My short story Man of the House will be available soon for 99 cents at all ebook stores.

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Starting Over ~ Riding the Wave or Not

hands on keyboardOBSERVATIONS FROM AN INDIE AUTHOR AFTER ONE YEAR

If your timing was right and you were lucky enough to ride the wave of independent publishing a year or two ago, you’re probably gung-ho about this new world of publishing. Riding the wave meant: 

1) you had a backlist to promote,

2) you were adept or quickly learned to be adept at social media,

3) you understood how to promote on book selling sites and blogs and had the shekels for paid ads you deemed necessary,

4) you had a nice handful of other authors at your side to support each others’ efforts by cross-promoting,

5) you believed in yourself enough to shell out some additional bucks for editing and cover design services,

6) you had enough money left over for technological services for uploading and distributing books to all the big electronic book stores,  OR

7) you had the innate ability to conquer whatever technology you needed to learn

8) you had the temperament to jump into the deep end of a new business with not much but your own chutzpah and a lot of discipline related to time and money management

9) you were ready to work 24/7 and lucky enough to have an understanding spouse

I am here to tell you that Items 2-9 on this list are the gravy items. Without Item 1 – the backlist – don’t count on your career sky rocketing. Not even if you are a multi-published author who’s won awards. Not when your books are still owned by a traditional house. Without appreciable on-line content for sale–content that’s in your control—significant income or any income is a long shot.  

Everything’s an experiment during the first year of going indie. Assuming you have a nice backlist but sales are slow, you can change covers, promote at different sites, ride the freeway or offer big “deals,” such as 99 cents permanently for a book. If one idea doesn’t work, just try another. Sooner or later, you’ll hit the right note.  Proof will be with your income.

Most author friends have told me that during their first year as indie publishers, they worked exclusively with their backlists and didn’t write any new work. Getting those older books up and out is hard work that consumes your time. But it must be done. Think of it as the building block to your new work.

For the author without a backlist, like moi, that first year is a whirlwind of trying and learning. While you’re writing new books, you’re also trying to have an Internet presence: Facebook, Twitter, Blogging – Tribrr, Goodreads.  The goal is “getting your name out there.” I’ve heard that phrase so much, I say it in my sleep.  So I spent eight months writing two blogs a week with pictures, and posting them on my website. I loved writing them, and my readership grew from about 450 to 2000. Little did I realize, however, that maintaining that pace sapped my energy and creativity for writing new books. I didn’t expect to earn anything with my blog—I was “getting my name out!”

Lesson learned:  Take care of the muse!

I’d written thirteen books in the romance genre before my indie adventure. The rights are still held by my traditional publisher, so I started fresh. Different. I wanted to stretch my writing chops, so I wrote a women’s fiction novel called Family Interrupted. Put it on sale in April 2013. It received wonderful reviews from both professional reviewers and readers.  I promoted it, even gave it a blog tour.  The money I’ve earned so far could perhaps cover the cost of a steak dinner. One dinner. One time.

In October, I released a work of non-fiction.  A memoir of surviving two bouts of breast cancer called Hopefully Ever After. Again, the reviews were terrific, but sales so far…not so good. Maybe a chicken dinner.

Also in October I participated in an anthology with four other authors. Romance stories celebrating holidays around the year.  Price: 99 cents. I’m not counting on steak here either.

My current work-in-progress is a romance – the first book of a new series. I guess my writing chops were stretched enough. At least for this year.

Lesson learned:   Have the patience of Job, and give readers what they want.  

As always when writing a blog, essay, or opinion piece, I speak only for myself. These observations are my own. I based them on my true life experiences. I didn’t conduct any surveys – scientific or otherwise. I have a broad-based network of author friends who share stories. I read blogs written by others in the industry, and try to keep up with what I need to know. Will I ever know enough?  Will you?

This new wave of publishing is still an industry in flux. I don’t see it settling down yet. There are times I feel I’m running on empty. At other times, I can’t wait for a new day to begin. One thing I know for sure – I’m never bored.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to seeing you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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P.S.  Shh-h…here’s a little secret I’m sharing with you first. Hopefully Ever After will be only 99 cents next week, from Monday-Saturday at all ebook stores.  Regular price is $5.99.  Make a note and enjoy. Happy holidays!

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I’m very proud of the reviews and comments I’ve received about Family Interrupted. This novel is excellent for book clubs. In fact, the conversation lasted over an hour at my own book group. Hope you’ll pick up a copy.

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Starting Over ~ Fingers on the Keyboard

RESEARCH?  WHO, ME?                   hands on keyboard    

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you depend on the author to provide an accurate setting for her story. Whether it’s England in 1215 at the signing of the Magna Carta or American soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy over seven hundred years later, an enthusiastic reader will slam the book shut if mistakes in geography, dress, cultural mannerisms, scientific inventions are found. Readers expect to be drawn into the story completely. They want to be a part of that distant time, and they can be — within the pages of a well written book.  Historical fiction devotees often have favorite time periods they enjoy reading about. Regency England comes to mind. Or the Viking period. Or Colonial America. Or the settling of the American West. Authors are expected to have expertise in showcasing the attitudes and conventions of the times as well as the physical setting.

This is not a novel but a reference book about everything Regency – clothing, clubs, royalty titles, entertainment, food…etc.

What about authors of contemporary stories? The general perception is that they–myself included–get away easy.  We don’t have to bother with research because we live during the time period we write about, and therefore, we know it through osmosis and observation. The things we take for granted — television, computers, airplanes, rocket ships, supermarkets–are obvious. Who needs to research? Well, let’s see…

Try writing a police procedural and getting the crime scene wrong. Readers will condemn you forever, as well they should.

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Try writing about a health condition without getting your facts straight, and you’ll hear about it. Try writing about a career…let’s say air traffic controller, hospital administrator, or bakery owner…and not understanding what goes on behind the scenes…fugeddaboutit! You’ll have lost your readers forever. They simply won’t trust you to tell a story they can believe in. So, authors of contemporary fiction do a lot of research before writing the first paragraph of a new work.

A few years ago, I wrote a four book series set in the fictional town of Pilgrim Cove, MA. The town was modeled on a real town south of Boston along the Atlantic coast. I spent hours figuring out the tides and weather patterns in all seasons. I discovered the existence of a commuter ferry service to Boston. I researched the businesses a town that size could support. And then began the particular research regarding each main character’s background including their careers.

Moffitt Walk for the cure & Pilgrim Cove 007

In the first book, The House on the Beach, the heroine was a voice-over announcer doing radio commercials. What does a recording studio look like? Who would be with her? Does she have an agent to help get assignments? Her background in speech and linguistics helps her connect with the hero’s young son, a boy who stutters. My research included the causes and types of stuttering and how those around the child should react to him. The hero of the third book, Reluctant Housemates, was a marine biologist. I have a fat folder on that topic! And when trouble on the ocean came calling, I discovered how a Fresnel lens works, the kind used in lighthouses.

Recently, I had the idea to return to Pilgrim Cove and catch up on what’s happening. There’s a veterinarian, a single dad, who wants nothing to do with romance. If I proceed, I see tons of research ahead regarding veterinary clinics, common illnesses of dogs and cats. How about birds and bunnies? This vet happens to be part of the local greyhound rescue association. So, now we’re getting specific, from dogs in general to greyhounds and the characteristics of that breed as well as the effects of living the life of a top notch canine athlete. I started browsing this material and was blown away at the tough adjustment these wonderful dogs have when adopted by a forever family.  Of course, a romance is also brewing despite what our hero thinks. So more research awaits on the background of the heroine.

Almost all authors find the research part fun! It challenges us to learn about stuff we never knew before. And it’s interesting. But here’s the bonus:  good research might provide plot points for the story, plot points that the author wouldn’t have thought about on her own. You know how you want to look up something on Google? And how that one search can lead to ten more searches?  Well, that’s what it’s like for a writer to throw herself into her job. I love it!

So now, as part of my research, I need a favor:  can you comment on whether you’d be interested in visiting Pilgrim Cove with me? I’m thinking about setting several new romances in that town. Each romance would stand alone, but the townspeople and the town remain constant. You could jump right in, and it wouldn’t matter if you hadn’t read the first four books. Would readers believe that?

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

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NEW CONTEST FOR NOVEMBER:  I’m celebrating my co-authors of our Celebrate! anthology which was released last month. The winner of the November contest gets to choose two books from the list below. All are other works written by Rogenna Brewer, Barbara McMahon, Deb Salonen, Karen Sandler and moi.

Available October 3rd

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 ~ 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

 

 

 

 

 

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Starting Over ~ Fingers on the Keyboard

CHOICES, CHOICES…hands on keyboard

“I wish I’d started earlier.”

That is the lament of many authors, usually women, whose writing careers started beyond the first flush of youth…hmmm…let’s say, beyond the first flush of marriage, motherhood and other careers. This is the lament of those who had never really considered professional writing as a career until later in life.

I clearly remember several conversations with my own mother when I was a teen and thinking about the future. College was definitely on the agenda. But careers?  “Teacher, nurse or bookkeeper,” she’d said. She was not the bad guy. Her attitude was simply a sign of the times.  Four years after I graduated, my cousin Ilene started a pre-law major. So much for me being on the cusp. I’d chosen teaching and was starting my first job when Ilene began her legal journey.       nurse_cap1.gif, cuter

So, I became a teacher on the grammar school level, and soon developed Sunday night stomach-aches at the thought of Monday morning. I was a good teacher, and the kids were happy and learning, but I could not bear the thought of spending the following 25 years stressed on Sunday nights. I was definitely miscast for this important role.  But to have become a writer instead? Never thought of it. Even though I was an avid reader and my own teachers had encouraged my written work. Anyway, what kind of career was writing? No salary. Nothing to count on. I guess either the undeniable “itch” to write just wasn’t there yet or I’d never allowed it to develop.

Instead, I adapted my teaching skills to adult education and flourished. Loved it, loved it, loved it! The programs I ran helped disadvantaged adults get their GED’s, learn computer and other office skills, and successfully interview for jobs. I was doing good deeds all day long! Could any job be more rewarding? In fact, I so enjoyed seeing the these women flourish, that I felt guilty taking a salary. When I mentioned this unease to my rabbi, he just laughed, patted me on the shoulder and told me to keep on with it. So I did. And anytime I had the writing itch–which was becoming more often–I took a yellow legal pad and wrote at night and on weekends.

We make decisions every day. Some are so automatic, they barely qualify as a decision. Should I have tuna or turkey for lunch? Chocolate or file0001694764223vanilla?  On the other hand, we often make decisions with greater consequences, ones which require long thought because of those consequences. My car is old and needs repairs. Should I buy a new one? Should we relocate for the sake of a new job opportunity? The family is growing. Should we buy a bigger house?  Sometimes our decisions are gut wrenching ones which put our emotions in overdrive: Do we need a nursing home for our elderly mom?

Fortunately, most decisions are not life-and-death ones, yet some have a huge impact on our lives. In an alternate universe, I would have begun writing seriously as a young woman. The advantage of more time cannot be overstated. Time is needed to develop excellent craft skills in order to provide a reading experience so engrossing, that a reader exclaims, “I couldn’t put that book down! Finished it at 2 a.m.”  This is the reaction all authors aim for. But that kind of writing doesn’t happen overnight. The apprenticeship doesn’t pay the bills, either. So I’ll pretend that in my alternate writing universe, that money doesn’t matter 🙂

I take comfort in the fact that James Michener didn’t write a word before he was forty years old. Why? According to him, he didn’t have anything worthwhile to say!  Imagine that. Now there are libraries in his name at the University of Texas and Colorado. I guess he made up for his “late” start.

I admire Janet Evanovich. She didn’t start her terrific and hugely successful Stephanie Plum series until she was past fifty. She’d written other works–romance novels under a pen name–before bringing Stephanie, the bounty hunter, to life in One for the Money. I really identify with her timeline!

In the end, however, I have to believe that for everything, there is a season. Whether it’s the season for raising children, maintaining a secure day job to pay bills or writing full time. When I measure my writing journey, all my experiences seem to fit in. I loved doing those “good deeds” with my students while having the energy to be a weekend writer. Maybe my earlier years were not wasted after all. Everything is working out just fine.

Are there decisions you would change in your life?  Leave a comment and we’ll share with each other.

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

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P. S.  For the curious –  here’s a picture of the cover of my very first book, published in 2001:

Debut novel - very exciting time :)

Debut novel – very exciting time 🙂

 

Starting Over ~ A Book Club Evening

IN THE SPOTLIGHT–                

From my own book shelves, authors Emily Giffin, Bridget Asher, Barbara O'Neal

From my own book shelves, authors Emily Giffin, Bridget Asher, Barbara O’Neal

“I just love this type of book!”

When I heard those words at my book club Tuesday night, my heart sang. I felt myself smile. The woman was talking about MY kind of book. The kind I read and write. The type that appeals to women, explores family relationships, and provides an emotional ride based on a what-if reality. What if your child isn’t on the school bus at the end of the day?  What if you discover your husband has been having an affair? What if you find out you and your husband can’t have children?  What if a couple decides not to have children but one of them changes their mind? (Baby Proof by Emily Giffin).  What would you do in these situations? You can safely find out in the pages of a book as you struggle along with the characters who are facing these issues.

I love the James Bond stories. But, c’mon. Half the fun of James and his ladies is the eye candy. As for the plot – we  ride in the most nifty cars escaping the bad guys. It’s a hoot to watch, but then we go back to our everyday issues in our ordinary world.

Except sometimes a woman’s ordinary world is rocked, and that is the premise for the genre I’ve been talking about here: Women’s Fiction. In these novels, we follow the female protagonist’s journey through rocky waters as she navigates to her next plateau. Sometimes, a love interest might surprise her. ( Open House by Elizabeth Berg). She might be surrounded by a “cast of thousands,” — relatives, neighbors, co-workers — but it’s basically her story.

More from my shelves: authors Kathryn Shay, Barbara Delinsky and Elizabeth Berg.

More from my shelves: authors Kathryn Shay, Barbara Delinsky and Elizabeth Berg.

On Tuesday evening, I had a special interest in the book club discussion. The group–about twenty participants–had read Family Interrupted. My novel.  Disclaimer: the choice was not my idea. A few months ago, a new book list was being developed and boom! It was included. On the other hand, I didn’t nix the suggestion. As the proverbial fly on the wall, I thought I’d get some insights and discover how readers truly reacted both to the story itself and to the writing. Maybe I’d learn lessons I could apply to my next book.

Well, the fly-on-the-wall idea worked for about the first fifteen minutes. I kept my mouth shut, didn’t make eye contact with anyone, and actually wondered for how much longer I could play the part of a robot. It’s really hard trying to avoid eye contact for that long especially when sitting in a big square formation with people to the right, left and across.

I had wanted to disappear, have the gals to forget I was in the room and just listen as they talked about book. What a dumb idea that was! First of all, it didn’t work. After fifteen minutes, I joined the conversation. We were talking about family issues, after all, and I have opinions, too. I’m used to participating every month. Second of all – and this is more important – I sensed that these readers wanted me involved. This seemed logical to me. After all, how many times would a real, live author be present at these meetings? How many times would these readers be able to ask questions directly to the author of a book they’d just read?

So away we went. Some of the discussion followed the questions I’d provided at the back of the book. Why did the characters do this or that? Questions were raised about the story couple’s marriage. Readers wanted to know how I came up with the idea. And one admitted, “You made me grab for tissues several times!” Good. An author wants to tap into a reader’s emotions, wants the reader to care about the characters.

The question that came from me, the one  I always love to ask is, “What do you think happens after the book ends?” We actually talked about a sequel which amazed me because I’d never had that in mind! As an author who worries about everything, and who knows the issues I had to confront when writing the book, I asked a question that no one else considered important at all. “Did the verb tenses work? Did you get confused as time flashed back and then back again?” Verb tenses ate my lunch as I wrote the book (which is one reason I hire an editor). And yet,  here in front of my eyes, these gals laughed at me.

So I learned once more that a good story wins every time. And that I worry too much. I don’t think, however, that I’ll ever stop.

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

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

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

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P.S.  I’ll be sending out a newsletter on October 3rd.  If you’d like to get it–right into your in-box–you can sign up for it here on the website.

 

 

Starting Over ~ CELEBRATE!

Hi everyone – I just got back from vacation and discovered that I screwed up the schedule and never published the following blog so you’d know I’d be away until today. The blog was originally supposed to appear on August 29th. Oy.  I am so sorry. I thought I’d figured everything out and was so organized…  So now, if you’ll indulge me, I’d appreciate catching up.  As a little extra today, here comes the cover reveal–you are the very first to see this. It’s not even been on Facebook yet!

The front cover

The front cover

We’d recently talked about first lines of famous books. I introduced you to four author friends who are joining me in releasing an anthology of stories based on holidays. The book is coming out in mid-October. You’ve gotten a taste of everyone’s story except mine! So here’s what I had prepared for August 29th:

CELEBRATE! — A five story anthology plus a novella about holidays we celebrate throughout the year. All written by award-winning authors of On Fire Fiction.fw2

The month has flown by, and today is the last of the posts about holidays, short stories and the anthology CELEBRATE! of which I’m so proud to be a part. True confession: this is my very first time contributing to a group project. In the past, I just didn’t have the opportunity. But now, as an indie pubbed author, I’ve got the freedom to create opportunities simply by finding other writers who might be interested, and then–just doing it!

If you’re familiar with my work, you know that my romance novels contain lots of families. It seems I enjoy working with “a cast of thousands” rather than with a lone hero and heroine. But the families in my books are hurting and must struggle to find their happy endings. I find this set-up strange because I grew up in a very solid and happy family. So maybe I want everyone to have what I had. My short story is no different. Two lonely adults with two recalcitrant kids are challenged to find their way to love and laughter.

I chose to combine MOTHER’S DAY and FATHER’S DAY as my holidays to celebrate. It’s tough to separate them when the theme of the story is second chances for everyone–the adults and their children. Although this story has never been published before, it has been seen by other eyes. I entered the shorter version into a national short story contest when I first wrote it some years ago, and it placed in the top ten entries out of almost 2000. That achievement gave me the confidence to keep writing, to keep trying for a professional career. And here I am!

STORY TITLE:  Man of the House   

FIRST LINES:  This can’t be good news. The readout on Nancy Wyatt’s desk phone said Pulitzer Middle School, and her stomach knotted as tightly as a fishing line around bait.

Uh-oh. Doesn’t every mom’s stomach hurt when her kid’s school calls in the middle of the day? Poor Nancy. What’s in store for her after she picks up that receiver.

I hope this peaked your interest as a first line. Maybe not in the class of “Call me Ishmael,” but in its own class of contemporary fiction.  As a reminder, my women’s fiction novel, FAMILY INTERRUPTED is available at all the usual places that sell electronic books. But it’s also available in paperback at Amazon or CreateSpace.  Here’s a pic of me holding it in my hot little hands.:

 

The PRINT edition is here!

The PRINT edition is here!

I still get a kick out of seeing it!

As always, thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of blogs about the authors of CELEBRATE!  And I hope you add the book to your collection.

Announcement:  I’ll be on vacation next week. Hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over on Thursday, September 12th.  Thanks for being loyal visitors. I appreciate each and every one of you!

Thanks for letting me share the background of this story a little later than I had in mind. Next Tuesday, we’ll be back to regular blogs about Starting Over.

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CONTINUING THE AUGUST CONTEST AND WILL POST A WINNER ON TUESDAY. JUST MAKE A COMMENT AND YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED. THE PRIZES ARE A CHOICE OF ONE THE SELECTIONS BELOW AS WELL AS A $25 GIFT CERTIFICATE TO AMAZON OR BN. YOUR CHOICE 🙂

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Starting Over ~ Meet the Authors of CELEBRATE!

CELEBRATE!  –  A five story anthology plus a novella about holidays we celebrate throughout the year. All written by authors of On Fire Fiction.  file0001398207570

I feel like I’m hosting a party, introducing people who I know will turn out to enjoy each other’s company. At least in the world of books. Wonderful authors matched with enthisastic readers. That’s what I call a party.  Of course, it used to be called a book signing…but I think that’s evolved to its electronic versions–blogs and other social media. To me, it’s all good as long as writers and readers connect.

It’s time to connect with Dee Davis who’s favorite genre is romantic suspense. She’s written lots of them. Has won awards for them. Somehow, she figured out how to combine a thriller with holiday good times. With a little inspiration from one of her favorite movies, Die Hard, she managed to combine loss and hope…and a killer. Dee is the author of our stand-alone holiday novella, Still of the Night..

In another life, Dee would choose to be a rock singer, an actress or a winery owner. Hmm..is there a theme here.  Maybe creativity?  She loves anthologies because she usually gets to know authors who are new to her, stories she can read in an hour or so. “I’ve found amazing hew authors and worked to find copies of old anthologies with stories from authors I already loved.”

Dee Davis

I agree with Dee. I view an anthology as a schmorgasbord of stories and authors. You can taste a little from everyone at the party. Dee Davis is part of the On Fire Fiction group of authors, but her holiday story stands on it’s own as a separate publication. Here’s a taste of Dee’s novella:

STORY TITLE:   Still of the Night

FIRST LINE:   “I’ll be home for Christmas…” Judy Garland crooned in surround-sound, and Jenny Fitzgerald resisted the urge to throw something.stillofthenight-DeeDavis

Oh-oh. I think Jenny’s world is upside down. That’s a huge reaction to the words home and Christmas, the opposite emotions of what those words usually generate. Maybe she’s getting divorced. Maybe she lost her job. Maybe…maybe…maybe… Maybe she’d being blackmailed.  I want to know more!  A good first line.

We’re going to wind up this series next time with my own contribution to CELEBRATE!. As always, thank you so much for stopping by.  I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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POST A COMMENT AND YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED INTO MY AUGUST CONTEST. THE PRIZES ARE A CHOICE OF ONE OF THE SELECTIONS BELOW AS WELL AS A $25 GIFT CERTIFICATE AT EITHER AMAZON OR BN.  YOUR CHOICE!

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Love Me Some Cowboy - 5 book package