Tag Archives: starting over

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…

THAT DESERT ISLAND QUESTION…

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Danger, Brashear

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ Check-up Time

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

Available October 3rd
Available October 3rd

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

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

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

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

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

FORCE LOGO

FORCE LOGO

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Danger, Brashear

 

 

 

 

 

DeeDavis_MatchMadeinManhatten_200px

 

 

 

 

 

ARe DEBRA SALONEN 7-1

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over ~ 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 ~ 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!

UnsuitablyPerfect_zps11428b3b

Love Me Some Cowboy - 5 book package

Starting Over ~ Wasting Time or Recharging?

LEAVE ME ALONE!     file951258260864

When my oldest son was about thirteen years old, I found him lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling, hands behind his head. His knees were bent and one leg crossed over the other. The afternoon light penetrated the room. I couldn’t stand it.

“What are you doing?”

“Mom! Can’t I just do nothing for awhile? I never get to do nothing.”

Well, that gave me pause. Fair enough.  As  working mom, I’d made sure my kids were programmed from morning til night, particularly after school. Between homework, bar-mitzvah classes, a newspaper route, and a basketball team, my son may have had a point. So I said, “Okay. Let me know when you’re ready to return to the world.”

That little incident has stayed with me, and I’ve sometimes repeated it when friends talk about kids and their activities. I’ve learned that my generation was not the first to program their kids. From what I can gather, my son was lucky. Kids today don’t have a minute to daydream.  Between soccer, dancing, music, gymnastics, scouts, Little League, clubs….there is a team or a class for every age, every stage and every wage. Classes cost. file0001683376869

Another dream deferred...until now?

Another dream deferred…until now?

We want to give our children everything. Or at least, as much as we possibly can afford. But I wonder if what they most need is time. A free commodity. Which will allow dreams to flourish, creativity to develop, and the mind and body to rest and rejuvenate. Even children need peace of mind. I’m glad some others think like I do:

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”   ….John Lubbock.

My dreamtime occurs in the early morning hours, before my eyes open, before my brain is fully engaged. In that delicious time between sleeping  and waking, my mind drifts to the stories I’m writing, and I usually solve a problem. It drifts to this blog, and a new topic that might interest me. I dream about my own mother and father and miss them to tears. During my dreamtime hours, my mind is free to wander. It conjures up images I didn’t know I had inside me. I love those moments because something good usually results from them. When I actually get out of bed, I’m not only refreshed, but I can’t wait to get to the computer.

Ladies First Choice

Ladies First Choice in Clearwater, FL

We need time to reconnoiter with ourselves. I found the quote from John Lubbock printed in a newsletter from Ladies First Choice, a “stylish ladies boutique” for women who’ve had mastectomies. Women who know that “rest is not a waste of time.” Rest is mandatory for healing and becoming whole again. That’s right. A whole woman–in mind, body and spirit. The breast is not the person. While fighting for our lives, our dreams are laced with nightmares. When we regain our health, our minds can rest.

An active life deserves time for thinking and daydreaming.  Just ask my busy son. Who still fights for a moment to do “nothing.”

What about you? Are there times of the day that are natural dream hours for you?  Do you close yourself away from the family for awhile each day? Refuse to answer the phone?

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over when I’ll announce the winner of the July contest.

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LEAVE A COMMENT AND YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED INTO MY JULY CONTEST. Prizes are a choice of two books from the selection below, written by the authors of On Fire Fiction. Plus a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or BN.  Remember, some of these stories are hot, hot, hot while others….not so much.  Your choice!

MA25EC~1ARe DEBRA SALONEN BANG 2Brashear, Texas RootsDire Distraction_lo resRelease-MeNewJpgbook cover

 

Starting Over ~ Dive Right In

I’m one of those people who eat to live, not live to eat. So I wouldn’t call myself a foodie. Niko's counterBut there are definite exceptions to my take-it-or-leave-it  eating habits. Why is it that I find the very best meals, meals that I would become a foodie for, in the small, elbows-on-the-table kind of places. You know the ones I mean. No tablecloths. Order at the counter. Grab your own plastic utensils and drinks. And then wait for your order to appear on giant paper plates.

When I discover a dive that sets my taste buds singing, I’m in heaven. At that moment, it’s all about the food. These place don’t depend on ambiance because there isn’t any. But the food…? OMG!  Whether ethnic, American, breakfasts, lunches or dinners, I don’t care. When I find an eatery that makes we want to keep it on my list of “regulars,” I’m so happy.

I love Greek food. In Houston, I ate at Niko Niko’s, which i think I mentioned in an earlier post. I lunched there every week, never minding the wait to order. You can imagine that I sure wasn’t the only one in the place at lunchtime. The meal was worth the wait. Eventually, long after I discovered it and long after the owners enlarged it, the Food Network discovered it, too. It was featured on Drive-Ins, Diners, and Dives. But I get a kick out of know that I was there first!

Niko's

I never, ever thought I’d find another Niko’s in Florida. But…drum roll please — I did!

Leave it to my golfer guy to drag me to this little place where the restrooms are in the outside of the building. What the H…?  But clean inside. And the gyros…freshly sliced meat, and oh, oh, oh! The homemade tzatziiki sauce..(picture me kissing my finger tips). Delicious! The Greek salad, always one of my choices was delicious, too. So, now I’ll got to Peck’s for a real gyro and Greek salad. A new great dive. Maybe one day, it will be discovered by the Food Network. In the meantime, they’ve opened a second location – same family ownership – and everyone who goes there raves about it.

Just for the record, I’m picky about Italian food, too. There’s Italian and then there’s ITALIAN–when that first forkful of lasagna almost melts in your mouth, and you know you’re in Italy. This goes for pizza joints, too. I will try any pizza joint once. But it’s got to be way above average to land on my list of regulars.

Now, let’s switch gears and talk about pancakes. Why? Because I love them! I had a place in Houston called Frank’s. For $5.75, you ordered from a big breakfast menu…which was available throughout the day. Frank’s pancakes with a side of thick bacon slices got me through the weeks of chemo and visits to the plastic surgeon when my expanders were being filled in order to get me ready for implants. That experience was worse than the chemo, which in hindsight wasn’t too bad. I really looked forward to my pancakes at Frank’s as my reward for the fills. The portions of food were bigger than my stomach could hold. The pancakes, themselves, were the size of the dinner plate. But again, I was in heaven. Have I mentioned that I love pancakes?  French toast, too. And Belgian waffles.

Once more in Florida, my sweetie took me for a ride. First, of course, we have to accomplish something. We never just “go for a ride.”  In this case, we dropped off donations at Goodwill, which was a bit self-serving as we got to clean out the garage a bit. After unloading the car, my golfer guy says, “I know a place…for pancakes.”  Well, he didn’t have to ask me twice. Off we drove to Poppi’s.

Pancakes and sausage at Frank's.

Pancakes and sausage at Frank’s.

It might have been Franks. It looked so similar with the casual booths and tables–no cloths–and with the efficient and friendly waitstaff. Windows all around.  But the true test is always measured by the food. The pancakes matched the circumference of the plate. Oh, yeah. Three strips of bacon sat on the side dish. My heart started doing a tango. I drizzled the maple syrup just on the part I would cut. My fork slipped through the two layers, and I ladled it into my mouth.The outside of the pancake had a slight crispy coat–unusual and delicious. Rapture! Another OMG moment for me. I’d found home. In Florida.

I won’t embarrass myself in a high class French restaurant. But I’m basically a low maintenance gal who appreciates quality in the basics. I can usually take it or leave it in regard to food. Truly, I’m not a foodie. But if I visit some good dives on a regular basis, I just might become one.

How about you? Do you have a favorite inexpensive restaurant that sets your palette singing? A favorite food style that you MUST have from time to time?  Let me know in the comment section.

As always, that 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 books written by the award-winning writers of On Fire Fiction, plus a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or BN. Remember, some of these stories are hot, hot, hot, while others…not so much.  Your choice!

MA25EC~1ARe DEBRA SALONEN BANG 2Brashear, Texas RootsDire Distraction_lo resRelease-MeNewJpgbook cover

Starting Over~Fingers on the Keyboard

HERE WE GO AGAIN!   hands on keyboard

There is nothing scarier for a writer than staring at a blank computer screen, unsure where to start. Fingers, type something! Type anything. Truly, anything will do. Nora Roberts said so, and that lady knows a little something about writing books. Paraphrasing Nora here:  you can edit poor word choices, but you can’t edit a blank page.  She is so right. I’d better get crackin’.

I’m starting a new book, I’ve written fourteen other novels and should have the confidence to forge ahead without a second thought. But it doesn’t work that way. At least not for me nor for many other writers in my orbit.

I look at that blank screen and feel my heart race, my palms sweat. Oh, my God. I’ve got to come up with about 300 pages of story. I have to introduce fabulous characters and new conflicts to be resolved. I have to take readers on such an emotional ride that they won’t stop reading until the very last page.  At this point my stomach hurts, too. I visualize a tall, teetering pile of manuscript pages that should emerge at some point and have to take a deep breath. I need a pep talk. So I give one to myself.

My daily pep talk comes with coffee: Once upon a time there was a beautiful and talented writer...

My daily pep talk comes with coffee: Once upon a time there was a beautiful and talented writer…

Calm down. You can do this. You’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again. You love to make stuff up. You love getting to know new characters and figuring them out. You love making them work for the ending they deserve. I keep talking and listening. Everything I’m saying is entirely true. But that insecure little devil in me challenges: Aw, come on. It’s hard work.It nags at you 24/7. Do you really think you can do it again?

I’ve got the hero in mind. I’d met him a few years ago in Pilgrim Cove. A widower who’d recently gone through a broken engagement. I’d left him alone with his little girl, and ever since, readers have been after me to give Adam his happy ending. Okay, now is the time. But who would be the right woman for him? A woman who’d challenge him and drive him crazy? A woman he can’t stop thinking about? She has to be the perfect match for Adam.

I scroll halfway down the first page. My fingers rest on the home keys, and I slowly type Chapter One. I double space and Indent. I’m ready to start Page One, Paragraph One, Sentence One.

Would she use the ramp or try the stairs?

And suddenly, I’m back in Pilgrim Cove, where the ocean is at your doorstep and the residents are in your business. I’ve got a handle on this woman, but I’ll get to know her better when I see how she reacts to the situation she’s in. And the situations I throw at her.

Once again, I’m engrossed in creating a story, in finding out what happens next. I’m not thinking  about the number of pages in the whole book. At this moment, I’m thinking only about Chapter One, Scene One. This time my heart’s racing with excitement. I’m having fun! Again.    

Are there activities that scare you, but that you want to try anyway?  A parachute jump? Living in another country for a time? Or, perhaps writing a book?

POST A COMMENT AND YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED INTO THE JUNE DRAWING FOR GREAT PRIZES. The winner will receive TWO of the books shown here (your choice), all written by the members of On Fire Fiction as well as a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or BN (your choice).

All of these books are traditional romances. Some are funny, some are more serious in tone. You can browse them at your favorite etailer and Look Inside the Books.  You might be the winner!

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

Linda

LOVE, TEXAS cover

 

 

 

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Starting Over ~ Life in the Day Camp

021A SLICE OF LIFE–AMERICAN STYLE

We hit the pause button yesterday in our day camp for adults. My golfer guy didn’t golf. The mah-jong players didn’t mix their tiles. The pool players hung up their sticks. But at nine o’clock in the morning, we all stood at attention–together–in a Memorial Day tribute to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. We also thought about the men and women serving in our military right now. They were not drafted, but are part of a volunteer force. They and their families have sacrificed a “normal” life to serve their country. Our country.

You and I are the beneficiaries of their sacrifices. We’ve been given the opportunity to raise our voices without fear “and let freedom ring.” To stand in silence in unthinkable when the cost of freedom is so high.Whether our heroes lay in Flanders Field, Normandy or in Arlington National Cemetery, we honor our fallen. We grieve. We remember. And we celebrate them as well.

Color Guard

Color Guard

I find there’s an extra benefit in taking time to pause and remember. It centers us. Reminds us who we are and what we are about. We remember that the umbrella under which we all live is a broad one. It’s a strong one. And there’s room beneath it for those who “yearn to breathe free.” For those whose hearts pump love when glimpsing Lady Liberty in New York’s harbor.

The community I live in is only a few years old, but I can see that traditions are being born in that short time. Our Memorial Day started with a dedication of a Circle of Honor (see above) to our fallen heroes. In that circle are engraved bricks with individual names on them, including that of my own dad, who served in the U.S. Army during WWII. The Color Guard presented the flag. Speech makers inspired us. And then the games began.

The ping of bat hitting ball enticed everyone to stick around and watch our co-ed home grown softball teams. Yes, indeed. Whether baseball or softball – it draws a big crowd. Then came bocce ball, pickleball, horseshoes, shuffleboard.  (A day camp needs lots of activities).  Hot dogs, hamburgers and plenty of soft drinks. And wait…there’s more. The doggie park had a grand opening 🙂 

A crowd pleaser
A crowd pleaser

011

In my humble opinion, life in the day camp doesn’t get any better than what we all shared yesterday.

Now, about today…the pause button’s been released and life is back to the norm. I’ve got my fingers on the keyboard, social media visits to make, and well…I think there’s a hot mah-jongg game coming up this evening. I’ll be there.  

How did you spend Memorial Day? With family? Friends? Or quietly at home?

Post a comment and your name will be added to this month’s drawing. LOVE ME SOME COWBOY was just released yesterday! This is a fabulous package of five books from five terrific authors: Jean Brashear, Ginger Chambers, Day Leclaire, Barbara McMahon and Lisa Mondello.  And I’m giving it away along with my own novel, Family Interrupted, as this month’s prize.

BTW – Family Interrupted is now available in print from Amazon as well as for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo or iPad.  I am so-o happy about this. Many readers have asked for a “real” book to hold in their hands. So, here it is!

The PRINT edition is here!

The PRINT edition is here!

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

Linda

 

Love Me Some Cowboy - 5 book package

Starting Over ~ The Pink Ribbon Sisterhood

FACING OUR RISKS–Br Ca Blog icon 1

She is stunningly beautiful. Amazingly talented. And emotionally brave. Last week, Angelina Jolie shared her personal decision to stave off breast cancer by revealing she had undergone a bi-lateral mastectomy of her healthy breasts. Privacy is paramount to this actress, and she could have kept silent. No one forced her to say anything to the public, and she had no obligation to do so. But she did.

angelina jolie

Breast cancer shakes the soul. Shakes the sleep from our eyes, When the probability of forming a cancerous tumor is a shocking 87 percent, everything else takes second place. Suddenly, what could have been kept a secret became a secret to be shared. And that’s the point. Spreading the word about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations will encourage at-risk women to be tested for them. We know that knowledge is power – the more, the better. With the information we have today, women at risk have choices.

No one said they are easy choices. In fact, they are tough choices. Discussions abound. Criticisms abound. Even among caring physicians. Sure, the probability of cancer is high if you carry the gene mutation, but it’s not a guarantee. So why not wait?  Why not get screened often? Maybe every six months. Or every three months. Or maybe monthly? MRI’s. Mammos. Alternate them. Screening makes sense medically. Absolutely. And if you also remove  the ovaries…? Maybe that would be enough.

A hundred people will have a hundred opinions. That’s why in the end, each woman must decide for herself. She must weigh the risks and benefits. In my own experience and in my conversation with others, the decision is usually psychologically based. If you multiply a healthy woman’s anxiety while waiting for the results of her yearly mammogram by the factor of a thousand, you’ll understand why some at-risk women say they can’t live with the stress of monthly or quarterly screenings. The worry shadows them, affecting their emotional health. Will they find something this time? Next time? The time after that? Every high risk woman struggles to figure out the route she needs to take in order to live as “normal” a life as possible.

I developed a tumor before I knew I was a BRCA1 carrier. So my psychological decision was between a lumpectomy and mastectomy. The risks of recurrence were the same regardless of the surgery.  In the end, I chose the lumpectomy in the hopes of continuing to look like my natural everyday self. Hear that? My natural self. So I understand the enormity of choosing preventive mastectomies. Of how upsetting and unnatural that would be. But reducing the risk of cancer from 87% to less than 5% is enormous, too. In fact, from where I sit after two bouts of breast cancer, I think that’s a good deal. I vote for a natural life span 🙂

So, thank you, Ms. Jolie for spreading the word about hereditary cancer. Thank you for raising the awareness of choices.

A celebrity’s voice, especially a celebrity of Angelina Jolie’s stature, carries far, wide and deep. When Michael J. Fox revealed his Parkinsons disease, he raised national awareness of this condition. He established a foundation, raised funds for research, testified at congressional hearings, and kept on working, too.

Celebrities are a wonderful resource in grabbing the public’s attention. But we can’t sit around waiting for a famous person to get sick! Behind the scenes, day by day, and year by year, are professionals and volunteers who maintain the public’s awareness of medical progress.  I’m very proud of one such organization which was mentioned in the press last week because of Ms. Jolie’s revelations. That organization is called Facing Our Risks of Cancer Empowered, aka, FORCE.  

FORCE Logo

According to their website  (www.facingourrisk.org):  FORCE was founded on the principle that no one should have to face hereditary breast and ovarian cancer alone. We are the only national non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. 

FORCE is laser-focused on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The founder of this organization is Sue Friedman, DVM. She and two others wrote a book called, Confronting Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, published by Johns Hopkins Press. I own a copy and find it an excellent resource when I want clarification about these issues.

As always, I encourage conversation here. If you have a story to share about today’s topic or have questions, please post them and we’ll talk!

LEAVE A COMMENT and your name will be added to this month’s drawing for a fabulous package of books. Five authors from OnFireFiction are offering five stories in LOVE ME SOME COWBOY. Each is a full novel from Jean Brashear, Ginger Chambers, Day Leclaire, Barbara McMahon and Lisa Mondello.  I’m a proud member of OFF and happy to provide this prize in addition to a copy of FAMILY INTERRUPTED, my recently released novel of women’s fiction.  (Now also in paperback!)

YES, YES…FAMILY INTERRUPTED IS AVAILABLE NOW IN PAPERBACK AT CREATESPACE. WHEE…I’M VERY HAPPY ABOUT THAT!!

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 packagebook cover