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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

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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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.


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 ~ 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.


Writing is What I Do…

Linda at front doorI’m starting over in a new home.

Last year, Mike and I moved to an “active” retirement community in Florida. We discovered that we’re not 55 and older.  We’re 55 and better. We discovered that almost half the residents are still working-many full-time. A line of cars leaves every morning and returns at night.  The rest of the community is so busy, busy, busy. Who has time to retire?

I sure don’t. With a clean bill of health, I’m back to writing, writing, writing. Because that’s what I do. That’s what I enjoy. Which is the answer Neil Diamond gave when asked why he was still traveling around the country giving concerts.  “Because singing is what I do.” He loves his work just as I love mine. I attended one of his concerts a few years ago in Houston, and for a few hours forgot all my troubles as Sweet Caroline, Forever in Blue Jean and so many other favorites filled the air. I thought Diamond’s voice was better than ever. He gave a hundred and ten percent of himself to the audience that night. I’ll remember that concert for a long time.

Just as Neil Diamond’s goal may be to entertain audiences, my goal is to offer an emotional story with characters you’ll care about and remember after the last page is turned. I hope my writing improves with every book. I also understand, however, that I won’t please everyone all of the time. And that’s okay as long as I write the very best story I can.

I’m starting over in a new genre, extending my reach into women’s fiction or some might say plan old general fiction. <Sigh>  Categorizing books these days seems to be almost as challenging as writing them!  However, I love the stories of Jodi Picoult, Barbara O’Neal, Emily Giffin, Barbara Delinsky, Elizabeth Berg and so many other wonderful writers–and I don’t worry about how to categorize them. I just read them!

Family Interrupted is my first novel of this type and I intend to write more of these bigger stories with satisfying endings. However, I’ll also continue in the romance genre because I love writing a ‘happily ever after’ ending as well. Isn’t that what we all want in real life?

Have you read any books recently that are lingering in your mind? Tell us about them in the comment section below. Book lovers are always looking for another great read. I just finished reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. I loved it. Clever, emotional, so warm and wise. And my book club is discussing it this week. Can’t wait for that.

See you next time,


P.S. Almost Forgot!!  CONTEST!! You have a chance to win a copy of Family Interrupted or a copy of  any of my backlist books just by leaving a comment. I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month.