Tuesday, October 17

About Promotion and Helping Each Other

Most writers I know are not necessarily great at promotion. And it's not that we aren't proud of our work and excited to share it with anyone who seems interested, but it's simply not the nature of most writers to toot their own horns. We pretty much do this stuff all alone, spending long hours in our own little worlds. Being a storyteller means we like being someone else or at least being somewhere else, so saying "Look at me!" comes hard.

However the facts are we do have to work at promotion if we're going to see anyone else read our stories. One of the great things about being a part of a community of writers is that we are all willing to help each other with the arduous task of promotion. To that end, today, I'm sending you elsewhere. Please head on over to my personal website where I'm celebrating the release of Heartwarming Holiday Wishes. starring our own Liz Flaherty!  Her story Miracle on Joyful Street is more than worth the one-click. I'm reading the others right now. But over at nanreinhardt.com, one of Liz's co-authors Leigh Riker has shared some fun stuff about Christmases that didn't quite come off as planned.

Monday, October 16

When the frost is on the punkin...revisited

This is, you will notice, a repeat post. It was first here in September of 2015. I'm posting it again not because it was so memorable or so great but because at the end of launch week for Heartwarming Holiday Wishes, I am so tired that getting out of bed requires a real effort. Thinking up new things to say when I'm there is just beyond me. So, thanks for your patience.


"They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock." - James Whitcomb Riley

Every season is my favorite when it first gets here, even winter, but there's something special about fall. My list of reasons for that specialness is mostly about the senses: colors, sounds, smells, tastes. Walking the Nickel Plate Trail near my house brings me to sharp attention to all of those. (You can, if you're receptive enough, even taste the crisp air--I swear!)

My fourth grade teacher read the excerpted poem above aloud in its entirety to the class. I was a farm kid who took all those sensory things for granted. I liked jumping in leaves, but I never noticed their crunch or how they smelled. I liked apples, but never heard the snap or gave thought to the cold burst of sweetness when I bit into one. 

It was one of those aha! moments, when life changes irrevocably whether you know it or not. Because after Mrs. Kotterman read the poem, I experienced fall instead of just being there. I still do. Some of the trees are topping out in gold and orange right now. The fields are being harvested and when you step outside, you are met with the sweet, sharp smell of grain.

My husband plays guitar, which I think I've mentioned, and he loves chords. Far from ever
leaving one out of a song, he's more likely to add some. I love to hear him play, not only because he's my husband, but because the music is always full and rich. Far from just playing a song, he feels every note--he experiences it. When I listen and watch his fingers on the keyboard and see how engaged his so-blue eyes are, I get to experience it, too.

Last night, we went to see a local theatre's production of Mary Poppins.
My daughter and I saw it on Broadway several years ago, and I love the play. But it was the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, that let me see it in a whole new way. In the scene where the Sherman brothers and Don DaGradi show P. L. Travers "Let's Go Fly A Kite" Emma Thompson ended up dancing with Bradley Whitford and I ended up sniffling and mopping my eyes on my sleeve. Now, I cry every time I experience the song, and I love it. (I've read that the scene was fictionalized. Maybe it was. I don't care. It was a great story.)

Back I go to writing--we can always connect that; have you noticed? When I write a story, I want to experience it, not just tap the keys and watch the word count at the bottom of the screen. I want to hear it and feel it and know it. When I read one, I want to be involved to the point that it's not a question of whether I'll laugh and cry, it's just a question of when.

Have a great week. I wish you great experiences, and if you'd like to share some, we'd love to hear them.

Saturday, October 14

Moments that Define Us

When Liz mentioned having a theme for this week’s blogs – defining moments – I didn’t have a clue what to write about. I think of a defining moment as a fork in the road. Take one fork, and you end up in location A; take the other fork and your life goes in a completely different direction. A defining moment can also be an epiphany, a time when you come to a realization, perhaps a life-changing realization.

Then I thought about moments in my own life that have defined me. Like realizing my husband was the person I wanted to spend my life with. In my writing career, it was getting the email telling me I’d sold my first book. At that point I decided writing was more than a hobby for me. I finally had the confidence to call myself a “real” writer. When I realized that, I changed my working life and I changed things at home, too, making writing more of a priority.

Just as I have had defining moments, so have my characters. Since I’m currently knee-deep in edits for Secrets and Solace, the second book in my three-book series, that’s where my brain goes. My heroine Scarlet is in love with Cameron, but he pushes her away. He believes he’s no good for her because he’s a recovering alcoholic. She doesn’t care about that, but she cares about stability. She now knows what she wants and needs:

She had a sudden epiphany. She needed someone who was in it for the long haul. Someone who would stand beside her in good times and in bad. She’d finally figured out  she didn’t want to run anymore, and she needed someone who felt the same way. She needed someone who needed her.
 She turned to face him. “When we thought Tessa was gone, I wanted to stand beside you, but you wouldn’t let me. When things go bad in the future, will you cut me loose again? I can’t play that game, Cameron.”

Cameron eventually has an epiphany of his own. It takes him a while, though:

He didn’t want to repeat his father’s mistakes.
For reasons known only to him, his father had been incapable of accepting the disappointments life had thrown at him. His resentment had had profound effects on his own life and the lives of his children and wife. But it was over now. Cam could choose to live his life on his own terms. 
I forgive you, Dad. I’m sorry you were so unhappy. 
It’s been fun reading about the defining moments of the other Word Wranglers this week. So, dear readers, what moment in your life has defined you?

Friday, October 13

Defining Moments... or just Moments...

Happy Friday! Not to make anyone jealous, but today I’m headed down to Florida for a week at the
Universal Theme Park and Harry Potter world. Just kidding… I’m totally trying to make you jealous!

While you contemplate my travel plans with envy, I’ll admit to being envious of the other Wranglers’ defining moments. How cool are they?!? My own seem a little… meh…in comparison. And to be honest, I’m not even sure what I have are truly “defining moments.” I imagine a defining moment as involving a holy light from an unknown source, an angelic choir hitting a high note, and maybe even harps playing in the background. None of mine have had this.

Regarding my writing career, the first defining moment would be when I decided to become a writer. Celebrating my 40th birthday in Vegas with a girlfriend, I’d finished a particularly unsatisfying romance novel and declared “I can write this bad!” To which, my friend raised her margarita and clinked mine and declared, “Yes! You CAN write that bad!”

The next defining moment was when, upon the suggestion of a writer-cousin, I looked up a local writing group… only to see that their writing contest entry deadline was that day! An angelic choir might have struck a chord at that moment because I remember thinking it must be a sign for me to enter. So I did, knowing that I would hands-down win, even the categories I didn’t enter, because my manuscript was just. that. awesome. Well, I did final. In my chosen category. Because I was one of five entries so my odds were pretty good. The education and comments I received from that small monetary investment is immeasurable, and redirected me onto a serious path toward being a writer.

Then there was my first IRWA meeting I attended. Again taking the advice of my cousin and the invitation of the contest chairperson, I showed up at one meeting, nervous as all get-out. Within minutes, the gal sitting next to me was talking about all the torture she was putting her characters through, and I knew I’d found a home.

Perhaps the most defining moment was when I came out as a Romance Author to my boss and co-workers. I don’t use the phrase “come out” lightly… and it wasn’t an easy declaration to make even in the supportive environment of my employer. There was a lot of potential for contempt, disregard, and mocking. My heart was pounding, my knees weak and my words bursting forth in a gush as if their speed would make the truth easier to speak and be heard. Amazingly (thankfully), it was well-received. And while I don’t think anyone has become a rabid fan, no one turned their backs on me. It was the first—enormous and gut-wrenching—step toward being comfortable with myself as a romance writer. Each successive introduction of my passion to a stranger has gotten easier, and I no longer worry that they won’t like me when they learn what I do. Because I love myself and my writing, and if they don’t, that’s their problem.

Still no holy light or angelic choirs, but I don’t think I need them. J

Thursday, October 12

Defining Me

Image result for defining moment by Margie Senechal

When Liz floated the idea on Sunday of defining moments, I thought of quite a few. But, today with 30 minutes left before I have to head to work my mind is kind of a blank. 

Except for the one that happened a few months ago. I had lunch with my friends Gayle and Ivar wherein I mentioned writing this blog. I told them how I was the only unpublished writer in the group. And Gayle--who has read many a work-in-progress over the years--asked why I wasn't published.

I didn't have an answer. I had a bunch of excuses. Like how I'd spent years and many rewrites on Bix. How nothing I wrote seemed to click with an editor or agent...Excuses are a dime a dozen and we can all come up with them.

But, why aren't I published? That question has nagged me over the months. Almost becoming a personal mantra.

At the moment, I don't have anything new to submit because, besides eight versions of Bix, I haven't finished writing anything. And I really, really want to.

Image result for defining momentBut, in these moments of self-reflection, I realize that I produce best when I have readers. Even a single reader like I did for Bix. And I haven't been in an active writer's group for years--in real life or online. And I think my productivity has suffered. For a while, I tried to make myself believe that I didn't need those people--any people--but I do.

So, today another defining moment is arriving as I'm going to ask for help. Does anyone want to read the 20K WIP of Suitcases and help me brainstorm through?
Because this writer can't hack it on her own.

Have a great Thursday--may it propel you into a wonderful weekend.