Tag Archives: Family Interrupted

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.

bn LINDA BARRETT 2

book cover

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.

Man of the House_300dpi(1600x2560)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 🙂

Love Me Some Cowboy - 5 book packageUnsuitablyPerfect_zps11428b3b

Starting Over ~ Family Stories

WORDS AND PICTURES — A TRUE TEAMfile0001743539956

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”  We’ve all heard that phrase so often, we take it as fact. But I say that without words, a picture can be lost forever in the mists of time. I’m talking here specifically about your family pictures.

I’m not the only one who’s recognized this truth. Legions of us have gazed at snapshots, either in an album or thrown into boxes and didn’t know who we were looking at. But it was an uncle. Or great-grandfather. Or your mom’s first cousin whom she remembers very well and with affection.. Sadly, you don’t know this lovely lady at all. And what about all those photos of the guys coming home from WWII? Now, WE will recognize our dads, but will our grandchildren know who these heroes are? And what they looked like?

I don’t know whether this idea of anonymous family members gathered in the ether as some ideas seem to, but suddenly a few years ago, creating scrapbooks become part of our popular culture. Everyone was doing it. The craft stores couldn’t keep enough stock on the shelves. And boy, were the choices pretty. Colorful, patterned, with space for pictures and WORDS.

Fast forward a few years to our digital world where, with the help of cell phones, everyone has become a photographer. They’ve discovered their inner shutter-bug. They’re so happy creating file000741571851 digital albums and preserving memories. I sincerely hope, however, they’re adding descriptions to each photo they take and save. Or one day, these current memories will also be forgotten in the mists of time.

In my world, the story comes first. Then I add a picture. Or a recipe. Or an item of remembrance. Before I became a published author, I wrote a series of stories about my family.Each one was a snapshot of family member, or an event, or a place. Most were combinations of the three. A couple of weeks ago, I shared the story of Real Grandmas with you. I’m hoping some of you will be inspired enough to try writing some family stories of your own. Don’t panic! I’m going to help. For right now though, and for illustration, here are some of the other titles and first lines from my binder, so you can understand what I mean by simple family stories:

Oh, You Kid!   My Uncle Sid was the Pied Piper in our family.

The Cop, The Commissioner and the Half-a-Doctor  (referring to my mom & her two sisters)

A Fine Romance – In a street length aquamarine dress and white netting in her hair, the bride file7371279077008nervously waited for the signal to walk down the hall to the large front room of the parlor floor where her wedding would be held. The year was 1945. (This is the story of my parents’ wedding. And, no, I wasn’t there!)

Visiting Murray – My cousin, Murray, viewed his profession as one-half art and one-half science flavored with a pinch of comedy. And that was why he was the best dentist in all of Brooklyn…

The stories continue for up to four pages at  most. They capture one idea, one event. You can do this!!  Members of my family who read these stories long after I’m gone will build a connection to their roots. They’ll have some answers to the age old question of “Where did I come from?”  Which I think really means, “Who am I? and Where do I fit in?”

No matter how many books I wrote, books that appeared on store shelves and in book clubs, my mom always insisted that my best book was the one of family stories. What do you think?

Next Tuesday, I’ll continue this thread of writing family stories and give you concrete ways to start out. And then we’ll decide whether to continue.  So, post comments!  Let me know if this idea appeals to you.

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

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LEAVE A COMMENT AND YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED INTO MY JULY CONTEST. Prizes are a choice of two of the books below, written by the award-winning authors of On Fire Fiction plus a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or BN. Remember, some of these are hot, hot, Brashear, Texas RootsDire Distraction_lo resRelease-MeNewJpgbook coverhot, while others…not so much. Your choice!

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Starting Over ~ Life in the Day Camp–The Book Club

READING AND WRITING AND BOOK CLUBS, OH MY!           LINDA BARRETT (2)

About a dozen women usually show up at the monthly book club meeting in my community. These women, who are becoming friends, are totally engaged in story. They are NOT shy about expressing their opinions on what they’ve read.Or on what the author was doing. Or on figuring out the answer to: What could the author have possibly been thinking? I so enjoy these discussions. After writing professionally for fifteen years, I’m finally eavesdropping on enthusiastic readers. What a treat for me! I hope, too, that I contribute something a little bit extra to the discussions.

Maggie and her Kindle

My friend Maggie and her Kindle

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month, we read The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls. I’d call it a complex romance, search for love and roots. The group enjoyed the story and discussion was brisk. In our new world of publishing, I’m always curious about how people read their books–electronic vs. paper. So, for fun, I took a user-friendly survey of reading  preferences.  Of the ten women who showed up this week, four brought their eReaders with them. Two brought library copies of the book. One came with a trade paperback copy she bought on  Amazon for $6.00–new, not used. Not sure about the others. But I glommed onto the 40% statistic of eReader users.

Here’s what happened next:  We noted the book for next month (Wild Swans) and right there, my friend, Maggie and I downloaded it to our Kindle and Nook. I looked at the others and said, “You just watched me spend $12.38.”  To which Maggie replied, “And why not? It’s just like spending on a concert ticket. It’s entertainment, whether a singer or an author. And I enjoy books.”

As an author, I adore her attitude. I adore her. She spoke spontaneously and with conviction as though saying, how could you think otherwise?

I also discovered that the county library has changed its inventory. There were only two paper copies of Wild Swans – next month’s choice –  in the entire system. More and more books are to be accessed electronically. Many of the women are not happy. They want to hold a book in their hands. Frankly, there are times I want to do the same, particularly at a book club discussion. However, I love reading on my Nook and wouldn’t give it up.

I glanced down the list of forthcoming books for the club:

July – Wild Swans by Jung Chang

August – The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

September – Family Interrupted by Linda Barrett

October – The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Whoa…whoa….back up there. Did you notice that September selection?  That will be a new experience for me. I insisted that someone else is leading the discussion while I hang around quietly, like the proverbial fly on the wall. I’ll keep my mouth shut no matter what they say…unless of course, they turn to me and ask, “Linda, whatever were you thinking?”.

WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?  Let us know if you think it’s a good choice for a club discussion.

Leave a comment and your name will be entered into a great drawing for the month of June. Prizes are your choice of two books out of the six shown below, all written by members of On Fire Fiction. Plus a $25 gift certificate to your favorite eTailer.

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

LInda

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Starting Over – Fingers on the Keyboard

hands on keyboardIT’S ALL ABOUT PASSION —

Sorry, I’m not speaking about that kind of passion, but about other passions that fuel our souls and make us happy. I’m talking about passion in our work or hobby or avocation. Even passion about the hunt!

The ‘hunt’ was explained to me by my friend, Phyllis, a tireless fashionista. “Forget shop til you drop,” she said. “That’s too general. The hunt is about finding exactly the item you had in mind, in the exact color, by the date you need it, and at the right price.” Let’s just say that Phyllis is not only tenacious but has an eye for color, quality and value. She’s taught me a few things along the way–for which I’m grateful because…I have no taste. I have no patience in stores. I get hives after five minutes. I like wearing all kinds of colors, but recently discovered that gray looks horrible on me. What took me so long? For some women, passion lies in working with color, style and texture. Satisfaction can be gained by a trip to a mall or two.

I think passion is revealed in the way we choose to spend our time. I’ve read many true stories about men and women just like you and me who change careers mid-stream because they’d reached their now or never moment. Years pass quickly and they are finite. So, we hit now or never. Do we nurture the yearning that’s lurked inside us but never had a chance to bloom? Or do we continue on our “well trodden ways” putting responsibilities to and for others first and never reaching for our star?  Those with irresistible dreams will figure out how to satisfy their yearning.

I read about a woman who finally learned to play the bagpipes. Another woman started a landscape gardening business, and a third walked the Appalachian trail–finally. My friend, Margo, who has an artistic bent. learned to paint in oils and has sold several pieces. My neighbor does all her own landscaping, not as a business, but because she loves it. She’s always outside, fiddling with her plants, winning awards in the community.

As for me? When my now or never moment came, my writing career was born. I’d always produced bits and pieces along the way – a poem, a short story, a family story. But I could never envision a professional writing career without feeling guilty–and worried. How could I count on writing to pay the bills? Publishing is definitely not an exact science. My solution was to become a weekend writer for the first few years. I wrote and submitted proposals to my editor again and again. Until I could prove myself.  

I’m still proving myself. I’m starting over as a writer one more time. Changes in the publishing industry have provided new opportunities for writers, wonderful opportunities. But as usual, there are no guarantees. The road is still a rocky one. Between learning new technology and “getting your name out” as you must, authors worry about having less time to write. I used to worry about that, too. But not anymore. I’ve learned that although my daily schedule and “to-do list” may have changed since I’ve become my own independent publisher, my fingers are still on the keyboard. The words still come. Passion isn’t fleeting when it fuels the soul.

What are you passionate about? What is the one “want” you’d love to fulfill if you could? Dancing? Piano? What’s stopping you from trying?  Leave a comment below, and let’s start the conversation!

CONTEST NEWS!  This month’s drawing is for a fabulous package of books. Five authors from OnFireFiction are offering a five story romance package called Love Me Some Cowboy.  Each story is a full novel from Jean Brashear, Ginger Chambers, Day Leclaire, Barbara McMahon, and Lisa Mondello. I’m a proud member of OnFireFiction and am happy to provide this terrific prize in addition to a copy of Family Interrupted, my recently released novel of women’s fiction. LEAVE A COMMENT and your name will be added to the drawing.

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

Linda

 

Love Me Some Cowboy - 5 book package

book cover

 

 

Starting Over ~ Life in the Day Camp

Golf Clubs 2DIRTY DANCING? Hmm…not exactly…

Work before play. Work before play. That’s the philosophy my DH and I have followed since we married a million years ago. We’ve tried to live our lives responsibly. I’m sure you’ve done the same. We’ve worked hard while raising a family, contributing to the community and making friends. In what seems like the blink of an eye, however, my golfer guy is now chasing a little white ball over a sea of green grass  every day and loving it. I wonder what happened to our old routine.. What happened to “going to work?”

“I am working,” says Mike. “I’m working on my golf game.”

Ah, yes. the golf game. Absolutely. And the fishing club. And the softball league, pickle ball game and the Dine-Around group. Let’s not forget the poker game at the clubhouse. And while we’re at the clubhouse, don’t forget about the swimming pool…and the pool table. Others who live here are still working real jobs.  Ahem…that would be me. But with our move to the Sunshine state, the truth is that we live in a day camp for adults.

This is not my first experience with day camps. No indeed. Remember the movie Dirty Dancing? A sleeper that became a huge hit with Jennifer Gray and the late Patrick Swayze who played a dance instructor at a resort hotel for wealthy vacationers.. The movie was set in 1963, in the Catskill Mountains of New York about a hundred miles north of the city.

I spent many childhood summers in the Catskills. However, I was not wealthy and did not stay at a resort hotel. My family rented a little cottage at one of the many “bungalow colonies” for which the area was famous. A few hundred dollars bought us an escape from the concrete heat of the city during July and August. More important, the Catskills provided a possible escape from the polio virus, infamous for summer attacks in urban areas. And so my family schlepped “to the country” each summer, the car loaded with pots, pans, bedding, dishes – everything we’d need to sustain us through the season.

Every bungalow colony had a day camp for children. After all, mothers needed a break, too. Whether it was arts & crafts, nature walks, swimming, knock-hockey, punchball, softball, blueberry picking, or campfires with ghost stories, the kids were kept busy from morning til night.  Every bungalow colony also had a casino–not the gambling kind–but a big social hall for adult parties and shows on Saturday night. These were the  places where the comedians and entertainers of the time honed their skills and sharpened their acts. Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle, Eddie Fisher…they all found their way to these summer audiences. But the parents agreed that the best talent show of all was the one put on by their kids in the day camp.

Last month I attended a talent show by the “kids” in my day camp for adults. A home grown entertainment that was second to none this year. As though the spirit of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland hovered over the place and cast, the “Let’s put on a show” theme had imbued this day camp. On the big night, the turnout in both talent and audience was exceptional.

So now that this day camper and her golfer guy live in a 55 and better community, what has changed about day camp from our earlier years?

Not a darn thing! The fun activities and making new friends are still part of the schedule. And if the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is a little shorter, or more time is spent fishing instead of running bases…well, some accommodation is to be expected as gray begins to dominate our natural hair color. (Not that it dominates for very long around here!)  We might not be up for some “dirty dancing,” but the dance floor is definitely crowded on New Year’s Eve.

From those bungalow  colonies in the Catskills to this day camp for active retirees, my life echoes the past. I’m holding onto the happy times and the loving memories of family long gone. I’ve  become an older iteration of who I once was, proving once again that the “child is father of the man.” Or, as a famous sailor enjoyed repeating, “I yam who I yam.”

What have you held onto from your childhood? Can you recognize yourself in the mirror of time? Has your life come full circle?

CONTEST NEWS!!  I’m thrilled to add a fabulous prize to this month’s drawing.  Five authors from OnFireFiction are offering a five story romance package called: LOVE ME SOME COWBOY. Each story is a full novel from Lisa Mondello, Jean Brashear, Barbara McMahon, Day Leclaire and Ginger Chambers. I’m a member of OnFireFiction and am happy to provide this terrific prize in addition to a copy of FAMILY INTERRUPTED.

Love Me Some Cowboy - 5 book package

Post a comment and have your name added to this  drawing!! Contest runs through May 31st.

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

Linda

Starting Over ~ A New Home

These match. Mine don't :)

These match. Mine don’t 🙂

LET’S GET REAL…

Happiness in a  home can be measured in closet space. Whether you live in a one bedroom apartment or a four bedroom ranch house, closets are the real in “real estate.”  As an extra challenge, basements don’t exist in the southern tier of this country, So say goodbye to a terrific storage alternative. I spent my early married life in Massachusetts in a house with an unfinished basement, but it was large enough for us to throw down a rug and use as a playroom.  Mike even built a “sports” closet under the staircase–much appreciated for the basketballs, baseball gloves, ice skates, even sleds and whatever else kept our three boys busy during each season.

Then we moved to Texas, and now live in Florida. Southern enough? Definitely no basements. My organizational gene was challenged, but with a little surprise help, I conquered this issue..

In Texas, my lower kitchen cabinets were filled with a hodge-podge of pots, pans, storage containers, cutting boards, trays, colanders and even a George Forman grill. I will never have a color coordinated matching set of anything because everything I have still works beautifully, So how can I throw them out? Besides, I’m a basic cook. A decent basic cook. I know which pots I use for brisket – the two Dutch ovens. I know exactly which crummy one I use for boiling eggs so no other pot will turn black inside.  I’ll admit I’m a creature of habit and comfortable with my array of stainless.

But I wasn’t comfortable messing around inside the cabinets, trying to dig out the exact pan I needed. Aerobics in the kitchen. Bend. Reach. Bend. Reach. Left, right, center. Crash. Crash, crash. Oy, the noise! Every time I went through another crash routine, I’d think about installing sliding drawers which I’d seen at Lowe’s. But then I got busy and forgot about it until the next time.

Finally, next time arrived.  One Saturday, I walked into the kitchen to see a mess of Reverewear, Farberware, Emeril and whatever else I’d collected all over the floor. Mike was lying on his back, his head and arms scrunched inside that bottom cabinet. I could hear the curses and grunting emanating from the depths. Then the commands:

“Lin, hold this screw.”

I held it.

“Lin, I need the screw.”

I gave it.

And twenty minutes later, I had a stainless steel two-drawer storage unit. Pots on the bottom; covers on top. I couldn’t stop smiling.

“Surprised?” he asked.

“Sure am. How did you know to take this on?”

“Hard to miss with all that complaining you did.”

“Moi? Complain?”

His eyes gleamed. “Maybe just a little. Now, how about a kiss?”

I stepped closer, my feet bumping into the pans still on the floor. This time, I didn’t care about the noise. All I saw was the pleasure on Mike’s face for having made me happy.

So maybe “real” isn’t about closet space at all.

In Florida, I actually have enough drawers for the pots and pans, but those plastic and aluminum foil rolls, the plastic baggies and dish washing soaps had to go somewhere. And the space beneath the sink is totally inadequate the way it is.  Another item on the “honey-do” list.  And another kiss–maybe more than one–from me. Just keeping it real 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping by, Hope I see you next time for another story about Starting Over.

Linda

Thanks so much for stopping by.  If you have a story you’d like to share about what love looks like to you, send me an email and it might appear in this column. Spelling and grammar don’t count!  

DRAWING:  Remember to leave a comment and your name will be in a drawing for a free copy of Family Interrupted. Drawing held at the end of the month.   

 

Starting Over ~ The Writing Life

hands on keyboardWRITERS ARE NOT LONELY…

All writers begin as readers. As a kid, I read voraciously. My weekly trips to the library are still etched in my mind’s eye. I felt rich with a pile of books in my arms! As I walked through the stacks, I occasionally wondered about the authors of my favorite books. I was happy NOT to be them. In fact, I felt sorry for them. Always alone in a room, writing, writing, writing. No friends to play with. No fun. I had a much better life 🙂

What does an eight-year-old know? When I’m engrossed in writing a story, I’m never alone. I’m never lonely.  My characters are alive, talking to me and I to them. The hours disappear and night falls. When I taught the adult GED class in Houston, I often wondered how the heck I arrived at my job. Daydreaming about my book people, I must have driven on automatic pilot because suddenly I was at work. Going home was no better, and I often missed my exit. Fortunately, I knew the roads very well, and couldn’t go fast due to the heavy traffic. I know, I know. That’s still a lousy excuse for a driver.

At a party one time, Mike and I were chatting with a small group of people. Sweetie said something–don’t remember what–and I replied: “What if the husband leaves her?”  A total non sequitor. Silence grew in our immediate circle. Quizzical expressions appeared on a few faces.

“What did you say? Who’s leaving their wife?”

Mike grinned, shook his head. Finally he put up his hands and said, “Nobody’s leaving anybody. She’s working on a book.”

The others nodded as if they understood, then flashed looks at each other. I recognized those kind of expressions. The guests thought I was crazy. I didn’t understand why. Other professionals, deep into their careers, think about work a lot. On weekends. At night. Maybe even behind the wheel…  Writers are no different.

I’m starting my writing career over, and I am not lonely!  How can writers be lonely when social media throws out tempting lures? Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads. Not to mention ordinary e-mail.  Loneliness has been banished for writers and everyone else. In fact, there are too many interruptions. Too many temptations. How many times have I promised myself a five minute Facebook break which turned into 45 minutes? I like catching up with my friends. I like sharing the latest about my own writing life or interesting items I’ve come across. So monitoring my on-line social time is a must.

I also love writing this blog and reading the comments you leave. It’s communication in another form. More intimate. More in-depth than some other social media. So, where do you fit? Are you lonely behind your computer? Distracted by too much on-line social life? Or have you managed to balance your time? If you have, please share your secrets!!

I appreciate your visits here and our conversations. If you leave a comment, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free copy of Family Interrupted. Winning name drawn on April 30th and announced in the May 2nd blog. As Kristin Lamb says in her wonderful writing blog, Kristin Lamb’s Blog: We Are Not Alone “to show you my love, I’m giving away…”  She keeps her promises. So do I. 

Until next time,

Linda