Posted in authors, books, characters, fiction, friend, friends, humor, mystery, novels, readers, romance, series, writers, writing

Romantic comedy in The Roche Hotel

Misty Baker image

Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series. Her other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, Christmas Lites II, The Darwin Murders, Tasteful Murders and EveryDayFiction.

Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. She finished her first historical romance this spring and has one children’s book (Quentin’s Problem) soon to be published, with one more waiting for illustrations, and many more stewing in her head.

When she’s not writing fiction, Mysti works as a freelance editor and copywriter. She also reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Mysti’s Blog:  Subscribe to my blog, Unwritten 

Visit my webpage: www.mystiparker.com (in construction)

Mysti’s Facebook: LIKE my fan page on Facebook! 

Twitter:  Follow me on Twitter @MystiParker

http://www.amazon.com/Roche-Hotel-Season-One-ebook/dp/B00NYCMIZQ

 

Mysti, for the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

You’d find The Roche Hotel in the romantic comedy section, if there is such a thing. It’s also serial fiction, made up of connecting flash-fiction length stories rather like a sitcom. Is there a serial romantic comedy shelf in the bookstore? I wonder if they would mind if I built one…

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher?

I started out being published with a small press—Melange Books. I love Nancy and the crew and I’ve seen several small presses that are doing great. I’ll definitely not be avoiding them in the future. I have tried the agent/big press thing. Had the agent—didn’t get me a deal in close to a year and a half, so I’m here to tell you that agents don’t necessarily mean you’ll get a publishing contract. Therefore, I’m taking advantage of self-publishing with The Roche Hotel and other projects. I like being in control of when it goes out, my cover art, how it’s promoted, and getting all the royalties myself.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

Pantser! Though I’m trying real hard to be a better planner. I’ll never be a stickler because it’s fun when my characters surprise me, but a little structure doesn’t hurt! Shameless plug alert—I wrote a recent article about that very thing: http://mystiparker.blogspot.com/2014/09/story-planning-for-pantsers.html

Complete this sentence….. Something/someone who helped me improve my writing is……. learning to give and get feedback from fellow writers at Critique Circle and Writers Village University.

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

The Roche Hotel Cover Misty Baker

 

Here’s the blurby goodness:

After her husband ditches her for a blonde actress wannabe, Jane Seymour needs a job that pays the rent. The struggling Roche Hotel needs a miracle. With the former owner’s wife butting her nose into the renovations and new owners who are in way over their heads, Jane may be the answer to their prayers. Sure, she can handle The Roche Hotel’s quirky staff. But, can this skittish divorcee keep it all together when handsome Henry the Donut Guy makes his first delivery? This collection of serial fiction stories is a Tudorific romantic comedy that will leave you laughing out loud and hungry for more.

Thank you Mysti. Jane Seymour?  As in the actress?  The Roche Hotel sounds very interesting. Kind of serial  romantic, comedy, mystery. A touch of everything. It should reach a large audience.  When I first starting writing ficton commercially, I had a terrific online critique group, including Leona Pence that you probably know through F2K. WVU, Writers Village University has been a wonderful source for new and experienced authors.   I highly recommend it to other authors.

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Posted in children, ethnic tolerance, family, humor, Thanksgving, traditions

What is your most unique Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgving 2

I know everyone has their horror stories of Thanksgivings where family members come to blows with each other. Not my family. We were raised to be civil at all times, to never raise your voice, to “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” However, just because we did not have any screaming matches, does not mean we were immune to the “unusual.”

So, here is mine. I’d love to hear yours.

First – a little background. To understand this story, you need to understand we are lily-white pilgrims. Well, almost anyway. My family first arrived in America in 1786 (I think that is right, but who is going to dispute it?) We settled on our family land where 5 generations of children were born in 1803, in Ohio, the same year it became a state.  You didn’t come to dinner in bare feet or T-shirts.  You wouldn’t dream of saying “I don’t like that.” You waited to be excused from the table by the hostess.  Cardinal rule: always be polite. Still, they (my grand-parents and parents) considered themselves liberal and “tolerant” – their word, not mine, of those people that were different than us.  Keep in mind, I never even met a black person until I was in high school, and my first Asian person was probably not until after I was married.  So, I was brought up slightly (okay- maybe a little more than slightly) naive.

But shortly after I was married, our family included a Mormon sister-in-law, a Italian Catholic sister-in-law, (I was told “if you don’t don’t date them, you won’t marry them) – I guess that didn’t stop by brother. Note: my sister-in-law, Pat is one of my favorite people in the whole world,  an Asian sister-in-law and my cousin married a black man.  So the family was pretty happy when I married a white Protestant boy from our home town.  (Well, almost happy – but that is another story.)

Okay, I am digressing. Back to Thanksgiving and my most unique one.

I believe it was 1995. We had recently moved to back Ohio from Virginia. For a change, most of my children (if not all) were in the same town. I have always been proud that Thanksgiving at my house  meant, “Bring anyone that is alone to share the day.” So I never knew who my children (or I) might bring to Thanksgiving dinner.

My son, Dru (in his 20’s) said he was bringing some guests. Great. The table was all set. Everything was beautiful, good china, lace tablecloth from the early 1900’s, candles lit, my family all around me, turkey on the table.  Dru was late (wasn’t he always?)  With him was a Lesbian Asian couple that did not speak English.  They had never seen a Thanksgiving turkey. They had no idea what to do with mashed potatoes and gravy. Dru had to do a pantomime Charades type demonstration to show them how to put gravy on top of the mashed potatoes. That in itself was hysterical.

After dinner, everyone settled in the living room to watch football.  What else would anyone do on Thanksgiving?  Our guests snuggled together on the couch, much to the chagrin of my 80 year old father, who tried not to stare, but whose eyes were glued like flies on a fly-strip.  They managed to indicate to Dru somehow that they wanted us to change to channel. When he reached for the remote (the only family member NOT a football freak), his sister, Amy said, “What are you doing?”

Dru said, “Changing the channel. The girls don’t want to watch football.”

Jumping to her feet, hand on her hip, Amy glared, voice raised (yes-raised), said, “In THIS house, we watch FOOTBALL on Thanksgiving!”

So much for “tolerance.”

What is your story?

 

Posted in authors, characters, children, coming of age, conflict, cozy mystery, fiction, forgiveness, humor, innocence, love, mystery, novels, publishing, readers, small towns, writers

“Close to the Broken Hearted” equals heartache, innocence and forgiveness.

Close_Broken  by Michael Hebert

Welcome everyone to Author Interview Friday.  It is my pleasure to have Michael Hiebert with us today. I’d like to change up the order of how my interviews usually begin and go straight to the short synopsis of Michael’s book, Close to the Broken Hearted.

 

At twenty-two, Sylvie Carson has known a lifetime’s worth of trouble. When she was a child, her baby brother was shot to death by a man named Preacher Eli. Orphaned by her teens, Sylvie is now raising her own baby with no partner in sight. For all these reasons, Leah Teal, Alvin, Alabama’s only detective, tries to stay patient when Sylvie calls the station day and night, always with some new false alarm. But now, Preacher Eli is out of prison amd moving back to town.

As far as he law is concerned, the old man has paid his dues; though Leash’s twelve-year-old son, Abe, vehemently disagrees. Between that and his relentless curiosity about the daddy he hardly knew, Abe’s imagination is running in all directions lately. While Leah struggles with how much of the past to reveal to Abe, she/s also concerned about Sylvie’s mounting panic. Something in her gut tells her the girl might be a target after all. For as Leah knows well, there’s danger not just in the secrets others keep from us, but in the lies that corrupt from within. It’s a hunch that will be tested soon enough as tensions mount on both sides.

Evoking the South with depth and grace, Michael Hiebert’s poignant, gripping novel captures the strength wrought by heartache and lost innocence; and the transformative power of forgiveness. Wherever it comes. . .

See folks, I knew that would be an attention grabber. Now, may I introduce Michael Heibert.  Michael comes to us from the wintry land of British Columbia, Canada. He  won the  Surrey International Writer’s Conference Storyteller’s Award twice in a row. He teaches  classes online at Writers’ Village University.  (Did not notice that last week, author was also my friend I met at Writer’s village University. A great place to learn online and chat with terrific author friends you just haven’t met yet.

Michael Hebert photo

Michael, do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I was very lucky to meet Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch about ten years ago. They taught me a lot of what I know today. I went to writing workshops down in their house in Oregon where ten writers were sequestered into one space (we all had our own bedroom) and we’d be given eight hours of lecturing a day and expected to write 25,000 words a week. I write a lot. I write fast. I think these two things impacted my writing career more than anything else. Two years in a row I wrote over one million words (I used to keep track). I don’t write so much these days, but I can still do three books a year without breaking a sweat.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

Well, I quit my day job and decided to become a real writer twelve years before actually publishing anything. During that time I wrote a LOT. I wrote sixteen novels and probably fifty or so short stories.

Twelve years. And you stuck with it. That is determination. 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?

It IS in bricks and mortar bookstores and usually found on the mystery shelves, although sometimes it’s just placed under fiction.

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

Kensington Books in NYC publish my adult novels. I self-publish my YA books and my short story collections. My agent found my publisher for me (that’s her job), but finding an agent wasn’t easy. It took me ten years. When I finally did find her, I literally ran into her on the sidewalk in New York. See the About Me section of my website for a more thorough description of how this happened. It’s pretty funny.

I did read your About Me section in your website. I LOVED the line “Fiction will always just be more entertaining than real life, so why not stretch things a teensy bit when you’re retelling them.” I’m going to keep that mantra in the back of my end while I am writing from now on.  You’re casual style of writing in that section makes me feel like I know you already, that we’ve just shared a beer in a musky tavern.  (No, readers, I am not sitting face-to-face with my authors at these interviews, but I hope it feels that way to you as you read them.) Readers, do yourself a favor and go to his website. You won’t be disappointed.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

My Alvin books (Dream with Little Angels, Close to the Broken Hearted, and the third, which will be released next spring and will be called A Thorn among the Lilies) have mixed POVs. My main character, Abe, always speaks in first person. Everyone else is a close third person. When I write other things I like to play with POV. Even in the Alvin books, each has a prologue written in what I call a “floating third” POV. It’s not quite omniscient, but it doesn’t stay with one character.

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

Write a lot. Your voice will come. Listen to authors who have authorial voices you like being read by good readers. This is the quickest way to developing a good voice, as far as I’m concerned.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

If you want any kind of long term career and actually make money, you have to be a planner. Would you want your house built or your kidneys worked on by a pantser?

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Finish it before starting anything else. Even if it sucks donkey balls, finish it. It is unmarketable until it is finished, and it is probably not as bad as you think. Besides, that’s what first drafts are for. I call them SFDs. Shitty First Drafts. Get them done. Then put it away for two to four weeks before pulling it out and rereading it again. Then fix it.

Links:

Website:              www.michaelhiebert.com

Blog:                      www.michaelhiebert.com/blog

Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/michael.hiebert67

Twitter:                                @Hiebert_M

Posted in authors, books, family, funny, humor, old, old fart, readers, writing

CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART

Marsha Gordon

 Marsha Gordon;  “Let me tell you at the outset: It is exceedingly difficult to be a female old fart. Men old farts are thought of as funny. They are respected for their skewed humor, although sarcastic and uncomplimentary. Women old farts have a similar message, but are considered un-ladylike. I love being an old fart, even though sometimes it embarrasses my children”.

 

Marsha, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get you started?

It was a couple of years after World War II. Patriotism was at a high in the United States and there was great pride in being an American.

I was in junior high school when I discovered I wanted to write. The last question on an English exam was to write 250 words about how it felt to be an American. I wrote a paper about flag-waving, and marching bands in small town parades. Then I added baseball and Girl Scouts.

I wrote 300 words!

The teacher sent my work to the local newspaper. They printed it on the front page. I was asked to read it at a high school assembly, some churches and the synagogue. The attention was head spinning.

I knew then that I wanted to be a writer, forever.

I knew I didn’t want to write “stories”. Remember, this was just after the “War to end all Wars”. There were women in the military, the Civil Rights movement was stirring, and the airplane was replacing the train for just plain folk. I wanted to write about real life – and I still do.

Changing Times front Marsha Gordon

 

What is the theme of CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART?  Does it fit your criteria of writing about ‘real life’?

CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART is about change, yesterday and today. And how people react to change personal, local, national and international. There are many laughs in the book, some surprises, and maybe a tear or two. One reviewer said, “It is like eating bon bons. I never know where the next story will take me.”  Though I call them ‘stories’, they actually happened, in the past or now. CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART is definitely non-fiction. The book appeals to all ages. It makes a great gift.

Do you always write from the same POV or do you switch it in different stories?

As a non-fiction author, I usually attempt NOT to show my POV. My goal is to impart information, not to cajole the reader into agreeing with me. I have recently written two articles: one was about legalizing medical marijuana, the other about powdered alcohol. In these, I did not show my bias.

However, the essays in CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART are not informational. I put them together for entertainment. They are fun to write and fun to read. “The short essays and large print make this an easy take-along read,” says another reviewer.

What advice would you give to new writers?

I think the advice is the same for fiction and non-fiction writers.

1. Keep writing. If you are having a severe case of writer’s block, stay right in that chair and write gibberish, or nursery rhymes OR, the best, is to free-write. You will soon find you are back where you want to be, in your story.

2. Stop writing for lunch or for the day when you are at a GOOD spot, not BAD. When you come back to work, it will be so much easier for you to find your groove.

3. Having trouble getting started on a new novel?  Start your story with an action point from the middle of your story. The exposition will occur as you are writing. This will make your reader more interested and curious.

4. Believe in your talent, keep writing and Good Luck.

 

WRITING SAMPLE

BUILT-IN OBSOLESCENCE

Warning: Products manufactured today  may have a predetermined life span

My computer stopped working last week. Not a warning, not a gasp, not a sigh; it just died. I punched all the keys. Not even a flutter. I called my son-in-law, who knows about these things.  Rick tried everything he knew but could not bring it back.

“What about my files, Rick?”

“I don’t know, Mom. We’ll have to wait and see.”

My files may be gone?

Rick saw the horror on my face and tried to cheer me up. “You’ve had this computer at least five          years! That’s a long time.”

Five years? A long time? Rick is telling me, born smack in the middle of the Great Depression, how long things  should last? That five years is a good life for a computer?

Now I would need to purchase a “bigger, better, newer” one at a higher cost. And it would have a different program I’d have to learn. Would people buy new cars if they had to learn to drive all over again? The “old” computer was headed for the dump. Oops… I mean the politically correct “landfill.”

In the years after the Depression, people were cautious with what they threw in the trash.  Nothing was ever discarded. If something broke, there was always someone who could fix it. Remember Mr. Bob? His shop was just down the hill. He fixed irons and toasters and radios, usually for fifty cents.  He wouldn’t be able to stay in business today. We throw everything away.

There were no single-service items such as paper towels, paper napkins, paper cups, and on and on. Only when people had a little more discretionary income did disposable products hit the shelves. People began buying, rolled paper towels, tissues… Our landfills are full and our air and water are foul.

Now I have the use of a brand new laptop. The piece I was writing is gone! It disappeared. We looked everywhere and finally found a bit of it in the recycle bin. How did it get there? I didn’t put it there. Or did I? Did I hit the wrong key? Which one?

I don’t like all these new machines that are supposed to help us: the washer, the dryer, the microwave, the copier, the scanner. They are not loyal. Each time one of them breaks down I feel somewhat responsible and ungrateful. I also get unreasonably angry.

Just give me an old typewriter and a clothesline.

website:  msfart.com

 

Posted in authors, books, characters, fiction, friends, humor, Indie, mystery, novels, womens fiction, writers, writing

Shannon Danford writes “Mystery Blues”

Shannon Danford

Welcome Shannon Danford to Author Interview Friday. I have met Shannon twice now in author events such as Marco Island’s AuthorFest. It is a pleasure to have her on my blog today.

Shannon, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading to me, reading whatever they happened to be reading.  Not surprisingly, I became intrigued with the magic of the written word.  Then, in the fourth grade, my teacher published some of her students’ stories and after seeing my story in ink, I knew writing was in my future.   That future turned into a circuitous journey that ultimately provided the stories that needed a voice.   I saw my first book in print at age 49.  It’s been a long road.

I know the feeling.  Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?

I have an undergraduate degree in marketing, so I have a basic understanding of the pipeline from creator to end user.   And since I’m not a fan of traditional marketing, I’m employing a strategy that makes more sense to me – place a high value on creativity throughout the product cycle; it keeps things fresh and authentic.  To that end, I think the wordsmith/creator has to reinvent herself to adapt to a new literary world where she has to escort the book from concept all the way to the end reader and employ her creativity in ways that defy traditional marketing.  At this point, if a major press became interested in my books, I don’t think I’d sell out the flow and process I’ve forged.  I like being a rebel.

What does finding your “Voice” mean to you?

I think part of the human experience is coming to understand your authentic self which naturally includes the discovery of your own voice.  Whether you play an instrument, dance, cook, paint or write, that spark that animates us wants to be known.  For me it happened while working in a nursing facility.  Watching people die (often without any family around) and handling things like adult briefs that no one wants to touch, takes a toll on you.  To get through the day, I started imagining I was on the set of a sitcom.  If I didn’t figure out how to laugh about my situation, I would be too depressed to function.   That humorous perspective allowed me to survive and ultimately flourish.   Back then, finding my voice was liberating.  Today, writing in that voice keeps me grounded.

What was  your biggest challenge in learning to write or in the industry?

For me, the hardest part of writing is changing hats from writer to editor, to publicist, to publisher, to marketer.  But the literary world is in flux and I believe to survive it, one must adapt.  On a positive note, I have to think that with every book the obstacle course gets more familiar and easier.  I look forward to the day when I can take off my training wheels.

Do you have any advice for new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Believe that you can’t fail.  You are the only person who can speak in this voice; you have a story to tell.  The only way you can lose is to stop writing!  When you have a finished manuscript, get as many people to read it as possible and listen to their feedback with an open mind.  Then buy the best editing you can afford.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is …..

My favorite place to write is at my desk with a cup of coffee on my right and a lighted fragrant candle on my left.  Celtic music plays in the background and it is raining outside.  Ahhhh

What’s your next big writing challenge?

Everything I’ve written to date has been humorous and I plan to continue in that genre for at least two more books; however, my sister writes screenplays and encouraged me to give that a try.  So I’m working on a story that is told largely through pictures.  It is a challenge that I think will help sharpen my dialogue skills and allow me to explore another writing medium.  Beyond that, I’ll go where the muse leads.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

This excerpt is from my third book in the blues series – Chinese Takeout Blues.

“What the hell is this?” Bucky knelt down and picked up the script. He began to read the questions out loud. When he looked up, Bucky’s mouth hung open, unhinged; his eyes were black pinpoints of malice.

Mo collected the rest of the pages and tucked them away. Then he stood and faced his colleague. “I would like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not, Bucky. You don’t deserve to serve the people of this county.”

Fern made no move to turn off the camera when she left the sound booth. Hiram followed behind and they entered the chamber where the two commissioners were still facing off.

“You did this!” Bucky shook the paper at Fern, spittle flying from his mouth.

Fern nodded. “Yes. I had to do something before you hurt anyone else.”

Bucky stormed toward her full of enmity and rage. “Are you trying to shake me down?” He drew up to within a foot of Fern and stood, nostrils flaring with each breath, oblivious to the fact that his entire comb-over hung free, dangling from his barren pate down to his shoulder like a threadbare beret. Buell closed the gap between them to inches. “This is setup!” He held the script under her chin and then released it. It floated harmlessly to the ground.

“No, sir, this is justice.” Fern said the first words that came to her. She stood toe-to-toe with the man, daring him to push her further. Buell flinched first, turning to the sound of the chamber doors opening. After several very tense seconds, all of which were being recorded, Fern knelt and picked up the paper, turned on her heel, and left him seething in his Kenneth Cole loafers.

Thank you Shannon.  Where can readers buy Chinese Takeout Blues or your other “Blues” mysteries?

To purchase my books at the best price, go to my website:  www.mamasluckymojo.com

There are also available on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Shannon%20Danford&search-alias=books

 

Posted in children, coming of age, family, humor, love, writers

In Honor of my Mom, Bernice Hammar Simon

Her Wedding Day Sept. 14, 1940
Her Wedding Day
Sept. 14, 1940

Because I can’t wrap my arms around her and tell her that I love her, I dedicate this day to my Mom, Bernice Hammar Simon.

August 28, 1918 – January 17. 1997.  Rest in peace Mom.

15  Things I remember about Mom  (I could do a hundred more)

1. Seeing my Dad’s face when he came home from work and found my brothers, me and MOM, all lined up in the hall doing a head stand.

2. Mom riding my brother’s mini-bike right up a pine tree – and being madder than a hornet that nobody told her the gas was on the grips of the handlebars.

3. Mom sticking her head, full or rollers  in the oven to dry her hair.

4. Me, sitting on the red stool,at the red Formica counter-top, in the red plaid kitchen, watching my mother cook, dressed in her favorite red sweatshirt, shorts and saddle shoes.

5. Hearing my Dad tell me stories about Mom riding in open cockpit planes when she was a teenager.

6. Her love  for her 1966 Mustang, red, of course.  And how she liked to drive fast.

7. Mom dressing up like a beatnik , all in black with me and my girlfriends when I was a teenager and  driving us around looking for boys. (because I was too young to drive)

8. Her laughing until she cried or peed her pants (or both.)

9. Going to Mother-Daughter luncheons at the Swedish church with Mom and Grandma Hammar the week of Mother’s Day.

10. Her meatloaf – the best ever… and her baked macaroni and cheese  OR  letting me have spaghetti and pumpkin pie for my birthday.

11. Hearing her tell the story of when she sewed my sister-in-law’s bridal nightgowns together and let Pat’s sister take the blame for many years.

12. Her face when she was with the grand-kids – she loved them so much.

13. Her sitting on the floor playing with the grand-kids – or doing board games on the card table.

14. Her love for family genealogy, and her bumper sticker that read “I collect dead relatives.”

15. Her holding me when I had a broken heart /  Me holding her when she struggled to breath.

Okay, so I squeezed a couple favorites together because I could not choose. So shoot me. Mom was a 5 ft. 2 ” fireball most of her life. But she was a smoker, and spent the last decade of her life gasping for air with only one quarter of one lung.  She coughed until she turned blue, and each time we wondered if it would be her last breath. But it wasn’t  until she fell and broke her hip, that she never recovered. Her last words , spoken before going into surgery, after the doctor asked her if she  had dentures out, panties off, etc.  “Yep, I’m as free as a bird.”  Fly free Mom, we miss you.

The earliest photo I have with Mom
The earliest photo I have with Mom
Our family, seated MOm & I standing Dick, Gene, Dad, Don
Our family, seated Mom & I
standing Dick, Gene, Dad, Don
Mom and Dad with their 1st grandchild, my Candy
Mom and Dad with their 1st grandchild, my Candy
Out little family kept growing with baby Dru.
Out little family kept growing with baby Andrew.
Mom in her favorite color
Mom in her favorite color
Mom and brother Don
Mom and brother Don
Mom's "Famous Cake" Every candle with a name "Worlds Best ...."
Mom’s “Famous Cake”

This was just a few of the candles. She had a candle for every member of the family.  The cake was blazing with candles.  Each candle had a different tag. “World’s Greatest ….. ” My son Dru’s , who was 15 said “Andy – World’s Great Break Dancer”.  She had something special for everyone. That is just the kind of person she was.

her happiest time with all her children and grandchildren
her happiest time with all her children and grandchildren
Mom and the grandkids
Mom and the grandkids
Mom. me Candy and first Great Grandchild Chelsea
Mom. me Candy and first Great Grandchild Chelsea
last professional photo
last professional photo
Last photo I have of Mom
Last photo I have of Mom.

Of course,  she was in a red bathrobe.

 

 

Posted in authors, children, counselors, humor, Indie, non-fiction, parents, peaceful, purpose, relax, writers, writing

Laughter Salad by Kimberly Borin

 Kimberly Borin pic

Joanne:  Welcome Kimberly.  Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad is such a fun title.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Kimberly:  At a young age, I wanted to be a writer.  I loved reading and would spend hours reading Nancy Drew books and more.  I distinctly remember reading one quote by Eudora Welty, that granted me permission to be a writer.  In her book, One Writer’s Beginnings, on the last page she writes, “As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life.  A sheltered life can be a daring life as well.  For all serious daring starts from within.”  Her last words seemed to free me up to know that I too could become a writer.  I am still writing, and for some writing, I still feel like someone trying to be a writer.  I am grateful for her simple words of encouragement and freedom to pursue my heart’s calling.

Joanne:   Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Kimberly:  I belong to a writing group called, The Sunrise Circle Writer’s Group.  This group of women encouraged me to write, find my voice and tell my story.  I have had plenty of writing courses and have had to learn how to write for public relations, education, dissertation research and more.  I am always learning to write in a new style and my first book Laughter Salad helped me learn to write in the first person, as a personal narrative.  Of course, there is still so much to learn and so much to hone too!  The skill I did not know I needed was the courage to put my voice out there and promote my book. This skill seems to be a little tougher to develop!

Joanne:   Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Kimberly:  I chose the self-publishing route because I was in a hurry to publish my book – I had to have it done within a year – and my friends had already used a self-publisher.  My first book was through iUniverse – I would never recommend them to anyone.  I have since published two books through CreateSpace, which I adore!  I work with a wonderful formatter, who is a lifesaver and allows the CreateSpace process to be easy for me.  I would highly recommend Judy Loose and her formatting services.

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

Kimberly:  I am continually finding my voice.  In my first book, Laughter Salad I tried to just be myself and speak from a very honest place.  Of course, as soon as it was published, I said to my family, “I hope NO ONE buys the book!”  I felt so very vulnerable and afraid that people might see my inner feelings.  In my second book, Laughter Salad for Little Ones, I was writing letters to children.  My school counselor and friend voice came through in my writing and it was fun to see that on paper.  For my third book, Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad, I was writing stories and lessons for my colleagues who are counselors, teachers, and parents too.  I kept moving from a personal voice to a professional voice – it felt a little unnerving but seemed like what I was called to do.  I see that finding my voice also requires much silence, waiting and listening within.  The silence allows me to hear the small whispering voice, that I eventually bring to life on the page.

Joanne:   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?

Kimberly:  This is a great question, one I wrestle with weekly!  I am starting in small ways.  I work with local book shops to have book signings.  I enjoy being local and seeing friends that I know.  I have also given talks at our local libraries and in schools.  I often incorporate my work into my yoga classes too.  I am slowly and surely finding my voice in the marketing world.  At the moment, I am also relying on serendipity, synchronicity, some prayers and a miracle or two! (Doing more marketing is also my New Year’s resolution!  J)

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

Kimberly:  Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad offers over 60 activities that bring simple moments of peace, relaxation, and nourishment to the lives of children, and the adults who work with them. This is the perfect book for teachers, counselors, parents, and anyone who works with children. The book is divided into three chapters, each one highlighting activities using Nature, Relaxation, and Stories.

These simple lessons are perfect for the classroom, counseling office, or the outdoors. They are easy to use and can be adapted to meet the needs of students of any age. In a matter of minutes students can feel centered, calm, and connected to all that is around them. These mindful activities also help children develop deeper compassion and caring for themselves. If you take a moment to flip through the playful activities within Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad, I promise, you’ll feel nourished, relaxed, and peaceful too!

Joanne:  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?

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Here is a sample activity from the chapter on Relaxation:

Activity #1: Beginning Relaxation Strategies

In school, we want students to be able to handle stress by practicing simple relaxation strategies. We know that with practice, students can learn to calm down, ease anxiety, and easily feel at peace when they need to. These are skills we want our students to have as they take a test, prepare for a big game, make a speech, interview for a job or college, or ease their worries.

Please note that the activities suggested in this book require adult assistance and supervision. If you have any doubts or questions about the suitability of these exercises for a student’s social, emotional, or physical needs, please consult a healthcare practitioner. Below are some very simple and basic strategies to help with relaxation:

  • Awareness of Body Tension and Feelings – First, we have students take a moment to see how they feel, physically and emotionally. Students are asked to notice how they feel while sitting at their desks. We ask them to notice muscles that feel tired, sore, or energized. We also ask them to notice how they are feeling – happy, sad, concerned, tired, etc. We want them to know that they have the ability to change how they feel, but first they have to figure out what is happening and what they need. We also encourage them to talk with a trusted adult if they need help with any of their feelings.
  • Postural Awareness Students are asked to become aware of how they sit at their desks. We help them notice when they may be slouching and when they are sitting up tall. We point out how much more oxygen and breathing is possible when students sit up straight with good posture. Sitting with good posture can also allow them to feel more confident, alert, and energized throughout the day.
  • Simple Breathing Techniques Next, children are encouraged to take a deep breath. So often throughout the day, we don’t even think about our breathing and we forget how relaxing a long inhalation or exhalation can be. We practice taking a large inhale and then allow the breath to “travel” all the way down to our feet before exhaling. This long exhalation is the key to relaxing. When students are practicing just two or three breaths, we also ask them to be silent and notice sounds in the room, which will enhance their listening skills, concentration, and awareness.
  • Progressive Relaxation We also talk about progressive relaxation, which is used by professional and Olympic athletes, rock stars, corporate CEOs and more. Students are taught to tense muscles when inhaling and then relax them while exhaling. We start with our feet and tense and relax knees, stomachs, backs, arms, and shoulders. This simple act of tensing the muscles and relaxing them creates a more relaxed state as the body releases tension. Students notice a difference as they hold the tension in their muscles and then relax. This is also another good technique for managing emotions, preparing for a test or competition, or releasing fear or worry.
  • Imagination – When students are done relaxing, we ask them to use their imaginations to think about a peaceful place or an image of their “best self.” We encourage them to see their best self – with as many sensory details as possible. The images they share with us are always positive and encouraging. They have said, “I saw myself as smart and confident.” Or, “I saw myself as being a doctor, which is what I would like to do when I grow up.” We also talk about how professionals use visualization to see themselves making the perfect foul shot, scoring a touchdown, or auditioning for a Broadway play.
  • Staying Positive, Positive Self-Talk and Reframing We also speak with students about positive self-talk. In their visualizations of their best self, we ask them to choose three positive words to describe this image of themselves. We want them to notice the words they use when speaking about themselves. If the words are negative, we want them to know how to change those words to something positive. For example, if a student is saying, “I’ll never be good at math,” we want to help them reframe the words into something positive, like, “I am able to learn math in my own way and my own time. I am very capable of learning lots of new things.”
  • Other simple ideas that will help students stay positive include:

o   Laugh when you can, especially if you feel nervous.

o   Try to think in new, creative, and positive ways.

o   Use kind words, eye contact, and politeness to build a bridge to others and be an ambassador of peace. Your kindness will help others too.

o   Take good care of yourself by getting lots of sleep, eating well, and drinking water. The extra effort will keep you strong, smart, and happy!

o   Tell someone – a friend, a teacher, or any trusted adult – if something is bothering you. Telling someone is taking a positive step to help yourself.

o   Think positively about yourself. Everything that you do matters!  You never know how your kindness or help can have a positive, lasting effect on the people around you.

o   Try to learn something new. When we stretch ourselves, we realize that we are capable of great things, even when we make mistakes.

o   Take one moment (or two or three) to just take deep breaths!

o   Take one moment (or two or three) to know that you are an amazing person with unique likes, dislikes, talents, strengths, and needs!

o   Take a moment to celebrate your gifts, strengths, hopes, and dreams too!

 

Helpful Websites:

Laughter Salad: http://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Salad-Nourishing-Inspiring-Stories/dp/1475937539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335512&sr=8-1&keywords=Laughter+Salad

Laughter Salad for Little Ones: http://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Salad-Little-Ones-Nourishing/dp/1482371995/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335534&sr=8-1&keywords=Laughter+Salad+for+Little+Ones

Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad: http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Growing-Laughter-Salad-Celebrating/dp/1489579125/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335562&sr=8-1&keywords=Learning+and+Growing+with+Laughter+Salad

Kimberly’s Website, The Encouraging Works: www.TheEncouragingWorks.com

Kimberly’s Art: http://kimberlyannborin.zenfolio.com

 

Posted in authors, books, family, food, friends, humor, Indie, readers, real estate, traditions, writers, writing

Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen

It is my great pleasure to introduce Alice Oldsford, author of  Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen.

Alice

Who am I and what do I write?

I wear a variety of hats – wife, mother, grandmother, Realtor, author, herbalist. On reflection I note that those pursuits relate to land use, not as a result of some grand plan, but simply from a conscious connection to the earth we call home.

It is my good fortune to pursue what I love, which is mostly found outdoors, whether walking, gardening or locating the perfect home with a client.

I raised 5 kids in the most self-sustaining environment I could conjure, of home-made and home-grown. My kids remember no one would trade lunches with them because their sandwiches consisted of home-made peanut butter and jelly on home-made whole wheat bread, an adolescent’s version of yucky.

My grandkids look forward to walks in the woods or even the neighborhood seeking traveling gnomes, puzzle rocks and edible wild plants.

And, as for my role as a wife, part of what attracted me to my husband was his love of vegetable gardening.

As a Realtor, I get to help people realize the American dream. Mark Twain said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

My NJ Trails books:

You Can Get There from Here: Hiking Hunterdon County Trails and the sequel  Hiking NJ Trails – Hunterdon County and Beyond: You Can Get There from Here Too, have been my most fun land use activities yet, sharing my love for the outdoors with folks who want to give it a try.

The NJ trails books are meant to inspire people to enjoy the trails and prepare them for what to expect. It is my contention that knowing what you are likely to encounter enhances the enjoyment. More than maps provide, this book comes from my own perspective and love of the trails.  I have walked each and every trail in all seasons.

When I started to write Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen, I thought “Whoops, how does this book fit in with my love of  nature and the outdoors.” Then I realized it absolutely reflects my passion for home-made and home-grown as well as embracing what Mother Nature has to offer.  In addition, it reflects my desire to get out of the kitchen and embrace the outdoors.

This is my collection of inspirations sprinkled with favorite recipes. My intention is to spark the reader’s imagination and offer practical tips gleaned from a chef and friends/foodies who have shared their recipes and insights. These thoughts confirm for the reader that nutritious and delicious food patterns can be established without dedicating countless hours in the kitchen and outside the fast food forum.  It is a jumping off place for adventures in the kitchen.

Writing Challenges and Finding your Voice

When I was writing my first trail book, which was published in 2009, I found staying on track a bit of a challenge. There are lots of distractions in life, which we all experience.  I remember moaning about “not having time” and one of my sons reminded me we have time to do the things that are priorities for us. I had offered this advice to my children, and now it came back to me. I got back to work and finished the book. If a writer will do something each day, progress is inevitable.

Recipes and Life was about 3 years in the making.  My original vision kept evolving, and I was having trouble finding my voice. Then I moved from NJ to Florida.  Oh my, that literally created some technical difficulties as to gardening in Florida and food mores.  In the end, I decided I needed to tell my readers who I was, where I had come from and how I got into writing this book.  That allowed my voice to come through.

Alice's book

My favorite anecdote/excerpt from Recipes, which actually reveals a lot about me:

Thanksgiving

In the late 60’s when I was a young married woman, we lived in a duplex with a nice backyard and the smallest kitchen I have ever seen – no more than two steps to any appliance or work space. We had a purebred German shepherd named Mingo. I thought it was a good idea to invite the family for Thanksgiving dinner. I think it’s called “Ignorance is bliss.” I was organized and excited to host my first big dinner party.

The day arrived, and the turkey was awaiting the stuffing and roasting. The turkey proved too much of a temptation for Mingo. While I was in a different part of the house, there was quite a commotion in the kitchen. When I arrived, I found Mingo had wrestled the turkey to the floor with the intention of devouring it. I was able to rescue the turkey and banish Mingo to the yard. Now what? With no experience and only my creativity to rely upon, I washed the turkey then took needle and gold thread and sewed up the torn skin. Why gold thread? I reasoned it would blend with the roasted turkey.

The family came and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner. No one noticed the stitched up skin, and I did not tell the story until sometime later.

Why Self Publishing and Promotion

When I was writing my first trail book, I realized the market was very regional, so publishing options would be limited.  I contacted a couple of small publishers, which were not as prolific in 2009 as they are today.  They were not taking on new titles. I did not feel discouraged, and self-publishing seemed a natural solution. The trail books were never stigmatized as a result of being self-published, and they have done very well in their target market. It helped that I lived in an area where Indie bookstores are embraced.

With “Recipes and Life”, it was just natural to do it my way, so to say. The publishing industry has evolved  since my first book in 2009. Established authors are self-publishing and using small publishers, and that gives credibility to those of us who are newbies, who follow their lead.  Although there are fewer Indie bookstores in this area, Florida does seem to encourage local authors.

When I published my first trail book, a long-time journalist/family newspaper owner in NJ advised me that I would need to rely on myself to get the word out and market my book. His newspaper had done some local publishing, and he disclosed that sales and distribution had less to do with the quality of the book and more to do with the author’s efforts to promote it.  He told me they had boxes of excellent books in the office basement that the author just did not push.

I start with my network, arrange signings and presentations, and ask anyone who might be remotely interested in putting my book on their shelf.  Press releases are often helpful in garnering attention and invitations to present.  I have a website and blog for the trail books.  I am about to create a blog for “Recipes” which will allow followers to share recipes.  I always have books in my car. I ask other authors what they do.  Check out local authors shelves in your favorite book store.

My advice to new writers:  Keep on keeping on!

 “Energy and persistence conquer all things” Benjamin Franklin

My website with links to blogs: http://www.aliceoldford.com/

Thank you Alice. Your humor and zest for life is contagious. This has been fun. Come back to Writing Under Fire sometime soon.