Tag Archives: Linda Barrett

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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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.

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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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bn Love Be a Lady

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 ~ 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 ~ 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!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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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