Posted in authors, children, family, favorite books, fiction, friends, love, parents, wishes, writers

Turning Back the Clock [My Three Wishes Blog Blitz]

blogblitz-logo

Today I’m participating in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, hosted by author Juliet Madison! From 2nd to 6th September you’ll have the chance to win some awesome prizes at all the blogs participating in the blitz, including mine. All you have to do is follow my instructions below for winning the prize I have on offer, and then you can click over to Juliet’s blog to enter her prize draw, and see the list of all other blogs taking part and enter their giveaways as well. How cool is that? Why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz? Juliet’s new  romantic comedy release, I Dream of Johnny, is about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo that proves magic isn’t all it cracked up to be…

What if we could turn back time? If you had three wishes about turning back the clock, what would they be? Stop 9-11 from happening? Of course, but I don’t think I have the skill or no-how to do that. So . . . on a lighter note.  If I could turn back the clock,  I would

1) have believed in myself to make the tough decisions that I either:  a) didn’t do at all   b) made wrong decisions because of  lack of faith in myself.

2) have taken better care of my body so I don’t have all these aches and pains now (or is that just old age?)

3) told more people that I loved them, and more often.

What would YOUR three wishes be if you could turn back time?  Let’s play “Back to the Past” (not the Future) Every person that leaves a comment with their three wishes about Turning Back Time, will get his/her name thrown in the hat for a copy of my debut novel, ACCIDENT.  AND, if you LIKE this on Facebook, your name will go in twice.  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE, since wishes come in  threes, if also link back to Juliet’s page and LIKE her blog, your name will go in the hat a 3rd time.

Accident cover for Outskirts

The competition closes at 12pm Friday 6th September.

Once you’ve entered my giveaway, visit Juliet’s blog & enter her giveaway too, and visit any or all of the other participating blogs to enter more prize draws. You could potentially win a whole heap of prizes! Good luck! Visit the official Blog Blitz post here: http://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/3-wishes-blog-blitz-official-post/

Blurb about ACCIDENT 

Susan Jennings is an alcoholic soccer-mom in the 1980’s that buries her secret buried behind the bottle. Her addiction causes a fatal car accident that kills her only son and the driver of the other vehicle. Her mother and daughter are badly injured. Susan is charged with vehicular homicide and sentenced to ten years in a prison cell the size of her walk-in closet. She must first learn to stay alive behind the dangerous prison walls, and then face her addiction before she can try to win her teenage daughter’s forgiveness. Deanna Jennings awakes from a coma to discover that she has lost a limb in the accident, and her baby brother. She is not interested in forgiving her mother. With her father becoming increasingly distant, she relies heavily on her devout Christian grandparents to get her through the trauma. She meets the handsome and charismatic pastor of their church, Reverend Jim Olson. Despite the vast difference in age, Deanna is convinced the pastor has a romantic interest in her. When Susan discovers that Reverend Olson is now pursuing her daughter, she is determined to use any means necessary to be granted an early parole. She must save her daughter from the snares of the devil hiding behind the clergyman’s collar.

Posted in children, economy, family, friends, laborers, love, nurses, plumbers, retail, service, support, thanks, writers

Cheers for our Laborers

Happy Labor Day.

For most people, this is a day off, to spend with family, to relax on a beach, or to knock out a round of golf.  But all laborers in America are not off on this day. Many still work their regular jobs, while we go about our merry way.

The grocer
The grocer

The purpose of this day is to honor them, and the lucky ones that got a day off. Everyone thinks to honor the “heroes”, the fireman, the police, the first responders. But the everyday service people don’t always get the thanks they deserve.

the plumber
the plumber

Why, I ask? Why do they labor?  Most labor to provide for their families, to put food on the table, to pay that doctor bill. Hopefully they are working a job that they enjoy. Many are not so lucky. Many do it out of need – they cringe every day they get out of bed to face another day at a job they hate. This day – let’s say “thanks” for sacrificing their life to do what they have to do. Head into work on your next workday with a smile on your face knowing someone cares – and thanks you.

the retail store clerk
the retail store clerk

Then there are those that serve out of labors of love. Maybe they are volunteers, or maybe they draw a salary – but their purpose is clear. They love to serve. Perhaps you a nurse or a nurses aide,  thank you for the love and care you give your patients. Perhaps you volunteer or run a non-profit organization that serves the needy, the challenged, the high-risk youth. Thank you for your service.

nurses and aides
nurses and aides

So today, or tomorrow, or the next day – keep this in mind. They deserve your thanks.  I customarily thank a serviceman or woman every time I see one in uniform. This week – make it your pledge to thank the laborers that keep America moving, food in your mouth, clothes on your back, your home running smooth.

the dry cleaner
the dry cleaner

How many of you will say thinks to this week?

Posted in children, friends, love, spa

What would you do with your BFF ?

Amber and Peyton at the spa

 

How would you spend the day with your BFF if she traveled clear across the country to see you? My grand-daughter, Amber spent the day at the spa with her BFF, Peyton.

Boy would I have loved to join them.  You go girls!  I think I’d go for massages, and wine. (with my BFF, Gwen Smith)

What about you?

 

Posted in authors, characters, children, conflict, fiction, friends, Paranoraml, romance, writers, Young Adult

Exciting Young Blood in the Publishing World

Shannon Thompson is an inspiration to all writers, but most definitely among the under twenty five age group. It is my great pleasure to have her with us today on Author Interview Friday.  Shannon, why don’t we start with you telling our readers a little about yourself.

Shannon Thompson

Shannon: At sixteen years old, I became the published author of November Snow. At twenty-one, I was featured in Poems: a collection of works by twelve young Kansas poets. On May 1st,  my paranormal romance, Minutes Before Sunset was released by AEC Stellar Publishing. It’s the first novel in A Timely Death series.

I’ve lived in five states and moved over fifteen times, which I use as inspiration for writing. I have  dedicated all of my published works to lost loved ones, and I encourage everyone to find their passion, whatever it may be.

I am currently finishing my bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Kansas. You can visit my website at http://www.ShannonAThompson.com

Joanne: Thank you Shannon. Your story is passionate, heart-breaking and inspiring. Can you share with the readers how you started writing?

Shannon:   I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, but my mother taught me to write in order to cope with nightmares and night terrors. After this, I began writing stories in order to understand them since I struggled to differentiate between reality and fiction. Because of this, I mainly wrote for me, but then I began writing stories for friends. However, I didn’t take it very seriously—it was merely for fun. About this time is when my life changed. My mother passed away on March 13, 2003 suddenly and without notice. I was eleven years old, and her death forced a sense of mortality onto me despite my young age. I decided to take my writing very seriously, because I realized death could happen whenever and I wanted to live life to the fullest by pursuing my dream. My mother was also a writer, so—in a way—I’m pursing our dream, and I am very proud of keeping the dream.

Joanne:  You are so young to be such an accomplished writer. How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

Shannon:  My first published manuscript was young-adult science fiction novel, November Snow. I began writing November Snow shortly after my mother died. I finished writing it on December 4, 2006, and it was published by Golden Eagle Publishing under author, T.L. McCown in July of 2007. Fun fact: it was originally titled “It’s Only a Matter of Time.”

Joanne:  Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore. Also, do you also write in other genre?

Shannon: Minutes Before Sunset would be on the young-adult paranormal romance shelf. It’s the first in A Timely Death trilogy. I love writing in almost every genre. My poetry has been published, and the two novels I have published are young-adult science fiction and young-adult paranormal romance. I also have three personal (nonfiction) essays available on my website.

Joanne:  Tell us about your experience with traditional publishing.

Shannon:  AEC Stellar Publishing is my publisher for Minutes Before Sunset. In a unique situation, they found me and asked me if I had a publisher, because I was originally self-publishing the novel for fun. (I already had November Snow out, but I wanted a more recent novel for my followers to enjoy.) When they asked, I told them how I was self-publishing, and they asked me to apply, so I did, and we had a deal within the week.

MBSFinalCover (2)       November Snow

Joanne: Can you tell us a little about your style or narrative of writing?

Shannon:  I switch it up for different stories, but in terms of my two young-adult novels: both are told by two perspectives. November Snow is told by Daniel and Serena while Minutes Before Sunset is told by Eric and Jessica. I enjoy writing from one male and one female, because I think two people can bring different aspects of the story out in positive and negative ways that brings believability to a character. Minutes Before Sunset is a young-adult paranormal romance revolving around a dark fate contrasted with the choice of hope. One of the things I love (and have learned) from studying poetry is what my professor and poet, Megan Kaminski, would say: “You may have a plan, but let it be what it wants.” Basically, even if I have a plan, I am always willing to change it, and I almost always do. In terms of my published novels, there isn’t a structure to whom tells the story (meaning I do switch perspective, but it isn’t back and forth. Sometimes Eric tells three chapters in a row before Jessica tells one.)

I like to think about finding your “voice” as finding your character’s voice rather than my own. To me, characters are in charge. If I try to force them into something, I automatically get writer’s block, and that’s because I’m not being true to them. So my voice is their voice. This is one of the reasons I want to complete a memoir, because I want to practice my life’s voice and see what I can learn from that. I’m also a huge advocate of journaling for this reason, and I have written in a journal every day since July of 2008.

Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Shannon: Every individual novel has been different for me. November Snow was the hardest, because it was my first. It took years to write and publish, and I’ve even rewritten it in a more adult fashion with the plan of getting it published again in the future. In terms of Minutes Before Sunset, I think planning the trilogy was the hardest part. I had to make sure the foreshadowing—along with everything else—linked up in three novels rather than one, and that took a lot of planning and checking to achieve that goal in order to be accepted for publication. Fun fact: all three were written before it was accepted for publication. This happens a lot, because publishers want to know you will finish the series if one book comes out.

Joanne: What do you do to promote yourself and your novels?

Shannon:  I spend every day connecting with readers. This is vital. I often have friends say I never work, but it’s nearly the opposite. I’m constantly on the computer. I’m always on my phone. And I’m prepared to reply to an email or phone call in seconds. Because of this, I have to carry everything with me physically and mentally. I almost cannot take a break, but I do love it—don’t get me wrong. I love nothing more than reading, writing, dreaming, and sharing it with the world while helping others do the same. But I don’t want to get off the topic. In terms of marketing, I update my blog—ShannonAThompson.com—every other day, and I read other blogs every day. I have three Facebook pages—one for November Snow, Minutes Before Sunset, and me—Shannon A. Thompson. These help a lot, because I can track my followers and sales, but I can also connect in an honest and supportive manner.

Thank you Shannon. You are truly an inspiration to other young writers and a testament to what dedication and hard work can achieve.

Readers, here is your sneak peek into Minutes Before Sunset. You get to jump in on Chapter Two. If you HAVE to read Chapter one and  can’t bear to stop reading, you can buy Shannon’s novel by going to  http://www.amazon.com/Minutes-Before-Sunset-Shannon-Thompson /dp/098931281X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374075813&sr=8-1&keywords=minutes+before+sunset

Chapter Two: Eric:

I was raised with three simple rules:

.      Fight defensively and offensively.

.      Under no circumstances is it safe to reveal your identity. (Unless it’s Urte, Pierce, Camille, or anyone else the elders deemed an exception.)

.      Win.

The last rule is my favorite, because of the dishonesty. Win didn’t mean win. It meant murder. It meant I had to kill the second descendant, the power of the Light, and I had no choice. I would get blood on my hands.

I brushed my hand along the shivering trees as my gaze darted around the darkening forest. I rarely had time to leave our underground shelter and use my powers, and I didn’t feel like wasting my night chasing Camille around in the dark.

I threw my senses out around me. The forest reeked of evergreen and pine. I could feel every prickly leaf and see every shadow. From stump to stump, I searched the darkness for Camille’s body heat. No one could avoid my radar.

Bingo. I grinned as I locked onto a girl by the river. I sprinted through the thicket, pushing past scraping branches and leafless oak trees. As I neared the forest’s opening, my body sunk into the shadows, and my skin tingled as it morphed into the chilly air. It was the greatest feeling—other than flying, of course—and I relished in the moment. The blackness of night flowed with me as I floated along the trees, the leaves, or snow. I was enveloped in silk.

I only solidified when I reached the forest’s edge. Just as I thought, a girl stood on the river’s guardrail, but she wasn’t Camille.

She didn’t have Camille’s white hair or mischievous dark eyes. In fact, this girl didn’t even look Camille’s age. She was my age, and she had the dark hair, pale eyes, and the pale skin complexion that our sect had.

She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

My fingers gripped my jacket as I moved backwards, trying to conceal myself in the darkness, but the girl spun around and stared at me. She was perfectly still when her purple eyes met mine. She didn’t budge. Instead, she pointed at me, and the dark magnetically trailed her fingertips.

“Who—” She stepped off of the railing, and her eyes widened. “Who are you?”

I put my hands in front of me and stepped out of the forest. This must be one of Camille’s illusion jokes.

“Who are you?” she asked, backing up against the river’s guardrail.

I didn’t respond. Instead, I flew through the shadows and reappeared in front of her. My body heat escaped me, and she froze, completely petrified by my closeness. I laid my hand on her cheek, expecting her to disappear like any of Camille’s illusions, but she didn’t. She was real, and we were centimeters apart, teetering over the edge of the river.

She didn’t move. I had the ability to hypnotize any shade, but I hadn’t used any power. She was shaking—shivering—beneath my touch, and her heartbeat thundered her energy through my veins.

How odd. She was powerful, yet fear suffocated every bit of her being.

“Shoman!”

A shout split the air, and I sensed a body rushing through the forest. Camille was coming for me. “Where are you?”

Reflexively, I released the girl and turned to the forest, waiting for Camille to appear. Over here, I said, sending her a telepathic message. Immediately, she appeared in a beam of light.

Her dark eyes were ablaze as she picked sticks and dried leaves from her glittering hair. “What the hell, Shoman? At least tell me where you are going if you want to be alone.”

“I was with—” I closed my mouth as I waved my hand towards the nameless girl, but the ground where she once stood was empty. Nothing. No marks or anything signifying her leave. She was gone.

Impossible. No shade had ever been able to stay off my radar, yet I hadn’t felt her leave. It was as if she had never been there.

“With who?” Camille asked, trudging up to me.

“Shh,” I held up my hand and threw my senses out.

Camille tensed, and her black eyes darted around. “What are you looking for?”

“Be quiet,” I said, spinning in tight circles. My senses were useless. Nothing was there. Not even a bat or a plane. I was being blocked.

I grabbed my guard’s boney shoulders. “Camille, who else was out here tonight?”

“No one. Everyone is at the Naming,” she said, rolling her eyes. “If you haven’t forgotten, you’re supposed to be there.”

“I don’t care,” I said, ignoring the ceremony of the last harvest. It was hard to forget. A thick layer of frost coated the dying grass, and I knew that the first layer had fallen yesterday morning. As the first descendant, I always went, but my father hadn’t in years, and I was beginning to forget the point.

Camille touched my arm. “Is something wrong, Shoman?” she asked, widening her eyes. “Was someone here?”

“No,” I lied, patting her palm. “Let’s go,” I said. I dissolved into a shadow.

Posted in authors, characters, fiction, friends, love, WFWA

X-CEO/ Biker-chick, Author Laura Drake never outgrew her cowboy crush.

It is such a pleasure to have Laura Drake with us today on Author Interview Friday. I feel like I know Laura from our interaction on WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writer’s Assoc.,) but we have never had the pleasure of a face-to-face encounter. I love her style of writing and easy-going manner, both on forum posts and in her stories.

Laura’s bio will capture your heart before you ever read a page of her books.

“Laura Drake is a city girl, who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance. The Sweet Spot, the first novel in her, ‘Sweet on a Cowboy’ Series, was released by Grand Central in May, Nothing Sweeter, in December. Her ‘biker-chick’ novel, Her Road Home, will be released by Harlequin’s Superromance in August, 2013.

Laura resides in Southern California, though she aspires to retirement in Texas. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write, full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.”

Laura Drake

Joanne: Tell us how it all began for you.

Laura: I began writing my first book sixteen years ago. Three novels and 413 rejections later, I landed an agent, and a few months after that, I sold. No overnight success story here! But honestly, I think my story happens more often than the author who hits with their first book. We may know what makes a good story, but getting it down on paper in a compelling way takes a lot of learning. It makes me sad to see writers give up their dream because getting published takes too long.

Joanne: Wow, I am not sure I would have the tenacity to keep going after 413 rejections. You give me strength to persevere. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, The Sweet Spot, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a ‘bricks and mortar’ bookstore?

Laura: In romance. I believe that I write right down the middle between Women’s Fiction and Romance. The editors proved it; half of them thought it was WF, half Romance. The seven books I’ve either written or have under contract all sold as romances.

Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Laura: Yes. I write my contemporary westerns set in the world of professional bull riding, for Grand Central. My small town novels sold to Harlequin’s Superromance line.

The third book I wrote, I knew was special. My crit group agreed. I queried 117 agents – they all turned me down. But I belong to RWA, and was the Treasurer for my local chapter. An editor was flying in to speak at our monthly meeting. I worked close to the airport, so I offered to pick her up. Little did either of us know there was a huge accident on the freeway, and what should have been a half hour trip turned into two hours!

After talking about the market and the industry for an hour, she asked me what I wrote. When I pitched her my ‘special’ book, she asked me to send her a partial. I reached into the back seat and handed it to her! Hey, I was desperate, not proud! She looked a little taken aback, but she promised to read it on the plane on the way home. Good to her word, she contacted me on Monday, and said, “The first thing we need to do is get you an agent.” Yeah, like I hadn’t tried that! She introduced me to my amazing agent, Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates. Don’t ever hesitate to volunteer, or help other writers – doing so got me an agent!

Joanne: Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Laura: By not listening to the editor in my head. By being true to who I am, and by listening to the story I had to tell. I think we lean toward genres that fit our voice, even before we know what it is. For example, I’m an open, friendly, casual person (if I were a dog, I’d be a black lab.) No way would I have a literary voice. I write down-home stories with Western settings; bull riders and biker-chicks. My friends say that they can hear me speaking when they read my books.

But that doesn’t come until you are comfortable enough to write what you want – not what you think you should write.

Joanne: Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most, and why?

Laura: Oh wow, you know how hard this is for an author (or any reader, for that matter,) to do! I love: Barbara Samuels, Joann Mapson, Jodi Piccoult, Pat Conroy, Anne River-Siddons….I could go on and on.

What draws me in the most is emotion and passion. I love to immerse myself in a character and experience the world through their eyes. I love it when I come across a sentence that so perfectly describes an emotion in a fresh way that I stop reading and think, “That’s just how it feels!”

Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Laura: Outline? What’s that? I’m a pantser with plotting envy. Therefore, the plotting is the hardest. I know the characters when I begin, but it takes me a while to figure out what to do with them! Eventually the plot develops organically, based on their flaws and what they have to learn, to end in an HEA!

Joanne: I admire a pantser. I need a guide dog to get through my stories. It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Laura: Well, I’m not sure anyone knows what increases sales, but I’ve found Twitter to be a wonderful tool for me. Because I write about bull riders, I’ve found PBR fans, Rodeo fans, farmers, ranchers, dairymen, etc., on Twitter, who would hopefully find my books interesting. I began as a fan of the sport, hoping to connect with other fans – years before I sold a book. So when my book came out, all my ‘Tweethearts’ wanted to buy it!

Joanne: It can be so frustrating and discouraging (especially if you got 413 rejection letters.) What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Laura: Enjoy the learning. It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something this complex – and it took me at least that long. Don’t start looking toward selling yet, or you’re going to give up in frustration. Stay focused on why you started writing to begin with – and I’ll bet it had nothing to do with selling a book!

Joanne: What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Laura: The Sweet Spot is the first in my ‘Sweet on a Cowboy’ series.

Charla Rae Denny’s role as a traditional ranch wife and mother fits her like custom-tailored Wranglers. When her only son is killed in a tragic accident, Char retreats to a world of grief and Valium. Her reeling husband takes up with a blonde buckle bunny half his age. Their ranch, which supplies bucking bulls to the Pro Bull Riding circuit, is split up in the divorce. Jimmy gets the bulls, Charla, their valuable semen.

All her county fair ribbons won’t help Charla now. She’s alone, addicted, ill-equipped, and has no one to blame but herself. In spite of her fear of horses and smelly cows, she stands up, takes off her apron, and learns to run a ranch. She and Jimmy have lost their way. But through months of hard work, tears, and some hard knocks, they both learn to forgive – themselves and each other.

Where should readers go to find out more about your books and buy them?

http://LauraDrakeBooks.com

Twitter: @PBRWriter

http://WritersintheStorm@Wordpress.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/LauraDrakeBooks

We would love a sneak peek into your story. Please share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite

The Sweet Spot

The Sweet Spot

Charla rolled over, pulling the covers up to block the light, but it was no use. Consciousness was as relentless as the dawn that inched across the ceiling, highlighting the crack above her bed. It had been painted over many times, but the lightning-shaped fissure had been a constant of her mornings as far back as her memory reached.

She felt around the edges of her mind. She’d forgotten something. Something important. It barreled from a tunnel and slammed her to reality. The hollowness in her chest made her gasp and she hugged herself, afraid she would implode.

Benje is gone.

She pulled the covers up and curled into a ball. Another day to face, when her reason for facing it was gone. Why bother?

She heard the answer in the shush of slippered feet passing her door. Daddy. The grief counselor pointed out that they still had responsibilities. She had to go on for those. Dashing the tears from her cheeks, she threw back the covers and shouldered the sunrise.

Laura: Thank you so much for having me today!

Joanne: No, thank you. this was a delightful interview. I know I will be rushing out to buy The Sweet Spot as I imagine other readers will as well.

Posted in authors, friends, support, WFWA, writers

Finding your audience

We spend hours perfecting our craft, regardless if it is books, art, photography, dance or the theatre.
But even with the perfect masterpiece, without an audience to share it with, what is the point?
You can say it is for personal satisfaction. And I believe we must be our own biggest fan. Perhaps it is therapy. Very possible, but for most of us the process can be as stressful as it is therapeutic.
The vast majority of artists are looking to share their masterpiece. So where does this audience come from? Certainly the Internet has helped by leaps and bounds, but the Internet is also as vast as the ocean. As great as we believe our work is; it is a minnow in a ocean.
I would love to hear from readers on how they announced their work to the world. What worked? What didn’t? Did you pay huge amounts on advertising to make a few sales? Or did you find a niche to market your work that cost little but reaped great rewards?
Step up folks. Tell us your best and your worst marketing experiences – regardless if your product. Art, music, books … We can all learn from each other.

Posted in authors, children, friends, love, parents, writers

Happy 4th of July

american-flag-banner

On this day of family picnics, and fireworks and joy, take just a few minutes to say thanks for the privilage of being an American. Most of us have never lived anywhere else, and especially not in a third world country where our freedom and liberties are unheard of. Life is not perfect  in America, but it the only place I would ever want to be. With the majestic landscapes, from ocean shores to rocky mountains, to wind swept prairies to rolling hills – there is no place like home.

Unless you are a native American, your family once came from somewhere else. Perhaps it was just a generation ago . . .  or perhaps like my family, you have been hear since this all began in 1776.  My father’s family first arrived in America  on Nov. 9, 1738. They sailed on a ship called the “Charming Nancy” and they only spoke German. It took over a hundred years for my mother’s family to make it to the “new world” from Sweden in mid 1850’s. Eventually both families ended up in Ohio and two families merged into one, the first mix of nationalities when my parents married in 1940.

House-Koczwara Painting 2
The homestead house, painted by Koczwara, still owned by my cousin

I was fortunate to grow up on the same land that my father, and grandfather and great-grandfather lived on. My neighbors were my cousins  and life was a simpler time. Now only one family member lives on the family homestead, that is soon to fall out of the family forever. It saddens me to know that part of our history will be gone. But we are more than “Boardmanites” or Ohioians, we are Americans.

I am one of those people who can’t sing the Star Spangled Banner because of the lump in my throat.  I stand when our flag passes me in a parade , and I put my hand over my heart. I understand the sacrifice that hundred of thousands of men and women have paid since 1776 to give us the country we have today. No, it’s not perfect and as long as we have humans in all our frailties, it will never be perfect  . . . but This is MY Country, Land that I Love.

Remember those that gave their lives for our freedom today. And take a minute to pause for the other types of heroes as well . .  . the first responders, the police, the paramedics, the fireman —- ah, the fireman. While you re splashing on the beach, or clapping to the high school marching band, say a little prayer for the families of the 19 fireman that lost their life in the Arizona fires.

Then laugh from your belly, sing a little more in key, clap your hands a little louder and ooh and ahh at every firework, and say “Thanks for letting me be an American.”

Have fun and stay safe.

statue-liberty-flag

Posted in authors, friends, love, support, writers

Networking with other writers

IMG_2047
Happy 2nd Anniversary Marco Island Writers

I  started this writing journey thinking I was all alone in the world. It can be a solitary occupation, with my nose buried in my PC as I type or dig through libraries for research material.  Then I discovered that there are many ways to connect to fellow writers. I joined a local writers group shortly after its inception in 2011. This past week, we celebrated our 2nd anniversary as a group. It all started with two people, then it doubled to four, then to eight and so on and so on.

Today the group has forty paid members and over 100 that still receive the email newsletter. This is pretty amazing since we are a very seasonal town, with the population dropping to about a third off-season. (Off-season for us is summer, when all the snow-birds have flown back home to Ohio, Michigan, New York and the Jersey shore.)  This group of people are nothing short of amazing. The skill levels range from “only dreaming about writing” to well-known authors like Sue Monk Kidd. Our genres are just as diverse. We have journalists, poets, editors,  non-fiction and memoir writers and every type of fiction novelists you could mention.  We have learned together with wonderful speakers and workshops. We have celebrated the victories of publication of our authors. If I am counting correctly, 21 of the 40 members are now published. That is a huge accomplishment.  I think most of us would agree we could not have done it alone.

Besides my wonderful friends at Marco Island Writers, I also belong to a wonderful online group, WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers Assoc. which is a God-send for me to learn from the writers of my own genre. We’ve talked about character, and point of view, of  Indie publishing and how to find an agent for traditional publishing. Our last loop was discussing the pros and cons of profanity in our books. Talk about diverse. Whew!

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My writing started like this.

 

Early on in my writing endeavor, I was part of a wonderful online group through Writers Village University. Five women from different parts of the world; England, Mexico, Ohio, Colorado, and Illinois, started on a journey to critique each others work, chapter by chapter, line by line until we reached “The End”  It took a full year. Of those five, I believe every one has either already published or is currently working with a publisher for publication.

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Eventually it became this.

 

Without the support of the writing community. I know I never would have finished my first novel, Accident, or be working on my 3rd WIP (the 2nd only made it to the “Save for Later” file.    I want to thank Marco Island Writers, WFWA and special core group at Writers University (you know who you are). Without all of you, I would have given up.

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My finished debut novel on Amazon.

 

Who has been your support team pushing to go forward when the words get stuck, when the rejection letters pour in, when you are just sick of the nine hundredth revision?  I would love to hear. Please leave a comment and give your support team the recognition they deserve.

Posted in authors, children, friends, love, parents, writers

Rules of Friendship

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I just finished Amy Sue Nathan’s debut novel, the Glass Wives. What a great story about two women that are thrown together under the most unusual circumstances. They were both married to the same man. Evie Glass is the ex-wife, but when Richard suddenly passes away, the widow, young Nicole  Glass, wants to be a part of Evie and her children’s lives.

The other theme that resonated with me was the friendship between Evie and her two good friends, Laney and Beth. They didn’t always get along, and a secret threatens to end their friendship. It made me think about how we define the rules of friendship. Does friendship mean that there are no secrets? Does it mean that your love should forgive anything? Most people say you can tell your friends by the ones that stick around during the hard times. I am not so sure that is the true test. People like to reach out and lend a hand to someone less fortunate or hurting. It makes them feel better about themselves. I think true friendship has more to do with sticking around when things are good, or boring, or uneventful.

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When was the last time one of your friends burst through your front (or back) door without knocking? When did you last call a friend with no agenda? I think of the sitcom, Two and a Half Men, (which is usually hysterical even if it is not appropriate for all audiences.) Remember the time Charlie stood outside his mother’s door talking into the security camera? “What do you want Charlie?” His reply: “Do I have a reason to see my own mother?” Do you need a reason to see your mother, or child, or best friend?

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Perhaps it is because our lives are so busy. Maybe it is a generational thing. Perhaps we have spouses to fill that spot as BFF. Personally, I miss the bond I had when my friend could stop over without calling first. I miss being able to pick up the phone for no reason other than I wanted to talk; about everything . . . or about nothing. Looking back, I think I have only had two friends in my entire life with that kind of relationship. You know who you are. Who are your Laney and Beth?

What is your definition of friendship? What are your rules?

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