Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Night Before Christmas Eve - Repost

And here we are at my final article for the Avalon Authors Blog. I hope these have been of some use to you in your writing journey. I've reposted them here because, even though Classic and Cozy will also include many of my Avalon Author colleagues and I will be contributing an article every month, on the 4th Tuesday, Avalon Authors will be an archive. Perhaps you can imagine how I feel about that! I also have another blog, if you're interested: Everwriting and you are welcome to join me there as well.

December 23, 2013

For the past twelve months, I have been writing a 6-part novel by installment: Nights Before. The final story, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve, was released on December 17th, the anniversary of the publication of Charles Dickens's,  A Christmas Carol.

I began this novel in 2012 with 'Twas the Night Before New Year – a romantic comedy about a young woman, Jocelyn Tavers, whose boyfriend leaves her alone on New Year's Eve to take a skiing trip. Jocelyn determines she will not face another New Year's Eve party without a date and on that first night before the New Year, she meets three eligible hopefuls, the unwise princes.

Through a process of natural selection, self-inflicted disqualification and ultimate ineligibility, Jocelyn finds the love of her life and dreams, in time to secure a date for the last party night of the year. Through the year, she learns more about love and comes to understand what she really wants. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve and its five forerunners are all available on the iBookstore, Amazon, All Romance Ebooks and other major online retailers.

On this day before Christmas Eve, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The stories in this serial novel are:
'Twas the Night Before New Year, 'Twas the Night Before Valentine's Day, 'Twas the Night Before Mother's Day, 'Twas the Night Before Labor Day, 'Twas the Night Before Veterans Day, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve. They are all available on the iBookstore, Amazon, Smashwords, All Romance eBooks, and other online booksellers.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pen, Paper, Journal - Repost

February 23, 2013

Desperately seeking a lost manuscript (remember those, handwritten in ink, possibly on lined paper?), I came across a stack of my journals from years in college, traveling, first years of courtship and marriage.

These journals – the diaries of old – have been replaced by digital explosions of shared communication in forms of blogs, tweets, posts, many of which have the same abandon that a private, locked diary once had for the diarist. I now tweet and blog and post, less frequently than some of my contemporaries, and with much less openness than I wrote in my journals.

My circumspection, even in private papers, has always been the result of my mother's stern warning: "Never put in writing anything you don't want someone else to read."

As it happens, that is also the advice of my current employer, an attorney at law. Similar advice has come to me from priests and academics. This same circumspection has afflicted women throughout history. Do you remember the saying: "A lady's name appears only thrice in publications: her birth, her marriage and her death." The same constraints kept me from even the thought of publishing my longer fiction until six years ago.

But here I am a writer, inviting people to read my words, willingly lashing myself to the mast of subjective taste. I want people to read – not my journals or random thoughts or insecurities – but my peculiar interpretation of what I see, hear and feel about this experience of living. Writers will put their best friends in their books, mothers, brothers, husbands. We can't help using the material living casts before us.

We are also dependent on the experience of others to inform our narrow view and that is why, in the last century, women's diaries, private pages, memoirs and autobiographical writing became the focus of academic study. When I edited three volumes of women's autobiographies, I was hopeful of the contribution their publication was making to the knowledge of 20th Century historians.

Where else will you find the eyewitness experience of a young Welsh nurse as she enters the gates of Belsen Concentration Camp? Who can tell you better about a little girl's journey from London on an evacuee train? Who knows better about a young mother's distress at the failure of her newborn to thrive during the Blitz? What cakes made without eggs or butter tasted like?

In this century, there is no dearth of such information. We are the most recorded, exposed and examined society of all far. But I wonder what all this information has to offer our imaginations and our creativity.

If all is known, what is left to discover?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Writing Ambitions - Repost

If you're considering giving up on writing, read this.

January 23, 2013

I think I must have been all of three when I told my first story. Those few babbled words started an addiction I've never been able to shake, no matter how often I told myself that writing was not going to happen. No matter how often someone else told me not to be ridiculous. No matter who said not to expect anything.

And truly, no matter how many notes, cards and letters of rejections I received.
What kind of nut puts up with that kind of abuse and keeps going back for more?

Earlier this month, I had the good fortune to attend a writers' group seminar. One of my fellow nuts was the invited speaker. She hasn't given me permission to quote her but those who were there will know. 

One part of her talk was about her writing ambitions. These were: she wanted to get published and she wanted to get published big. I don't know many writers who wouldn't wholeheartedly agree. These are great ambitions, the stuff of driving forces, the goals that get you up in the morning and set you down in front of whatever tool you use to make your ambition a reality.

She created a character. She created a story. Both with these goals in mind. The character was a salable commodity. The story was a winner. Her contract allowed her to quit her day job. She's writing stories, selling books, and giving talks. Yay! And she is a really nice person. Double yay!

Her talk encouraged me to think about my ambitions. Well, all of the above, of course! And also, to paraphase Groucho Marx, "...if you don't like those, I have others."

A three-year old probably isn't thinking about the future. I just wanted to tell my dad a story about a house I dreamed about. I still want that house but I didn't become an architect to build it. The most important parts of that event were the telling and my dad's listening.

I wasn't gathering material to write a book that would enable me to quit my day job (although that's on my wish list) when I asked questions about the plaques on the wall above my head in the hotel that became the setting for Wait a Lonely Lifetime. When I began writing my latest novel, I didn't think about what gown I would wear to the premier when Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls became a movie (not seriously anyway) although I did consider the actors I would suggest to play the hero.

The stuff of driving forces for me is the relentless appearance of characters and ideas that demand I tell their story. Now, that's nuts. If I were in any other profession, I'd be certified and sectioned. I cannot remember a time when I wasn't living with people in my head, acting out their lives while I was living mine. 

Where do they come from? I'm as much at a loss as the person who asks me. At this moment, I'm writing a serial about a young woman by the name of Jocelyn who has one broken relationship after another. How did Jocelyn appear in my writing? 

This one is simple: Avon Impulse had put out a call for novellas with several holiday themes. Too late for Halloween and Christmas, I worked on a New Year's idea, inspired by the Clement C. Moore poem, The Night Before Christmas. I simply and purposefully started writing and there she was, along with her ex-boyfriend, Jason, and three delicious possibilities for new loves in her life. 

That novella, 'Twas the Night Before New Year, has become a serial novel, Nights Before, with 'Twas the Night Before Valentine's Day, the second installment, to be published next month and four more in the initial stages. Jocelyn must have a satisfying, happy ending. 

It's the very least I can do for her.

Friday, April 11, 2014

New Release: Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, Part I - Repost

A New Release post for my first self-published novel. You might remember, in my interview with Ilsa Mayr about her work, she draws on many of her personal interests. At the time I was writing Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, I was a performing member of a dance company. Dance and song have always been part of my life and their importance as outlets for creativity have not diminished. For my protagonist, Emily Burdis, they provide a sanctuary from disappointment and the sterility of the business-world she contends with every day. 

January 18, 2013

Emily’s promotion is on hold after her Public Relations VP transfers her to Legal to research for the corporation’s takes-no-prisoners lawyer, David Gitano. Her career isn’t the only part of her life on hold. Her closest friends are married and making babies. Her baby-clock is ticking and her doctor has no good news. Dance is the one part of her life not letting her down.

Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, Part I: Dancing the lead in her ballet class recital is as close to her dream come true as Emily is likely to get.

As she digs into the liability case Gitano entrusts to her, Emily Burdis uncovers evidence she believes she has been hand-picked to overlook. Torn between her growing admiration for Gitano and her personal integrity, she buries her research and absconds with the evidence.

Gitano wastes no time in chasing her down, for more reasons than he’s ready to admit. Dealing with his own life-on-hold battles complicates his professional commitments as well as his private concerns. As Emily and David battle with each other for justice and self-preservation, the conflicts of their professional roles and personal ethics forge a bond that may answer all their needs.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Christmas Wishes - Repost

In our present society, there doesn't seem to be a time that won't call upon us to draw deeply from our strength and emotional resources. I'm reposting this in the hope that, in this season of renewal, we have a brighter future for our children. 

December 23, 2012

This year, there are special reasons we all want to hold our family and friends close. Between hurricanes, the murder of small children, threats of economic collapse or apocalyptic events, we have more than enough to shake our confidence in the future.

Yet, it is in our nature to face forward, to look relentlessly to a new day. If this was not so, we, as a species, would have fallen at the first hurdle.

We rely on one another as well as our faith in the positive reinforcement of our beliefs, our own creativity and strength of purpose. Our courageous struggle to survive against horrific events is a testament to our humanity and sense of community.

Heart-rending and heart-warming personal stories have touched and inspired us over the past months. Those who have lost and those who’ve found, express their grief and relief in one word. Love.

The most devastating events bring an outpouring of love toward our fellow humans, regardless of race or creed. At these times, we recognize our shared vulnerability and this is our strength.

And so, we encourage one another to acts of kindness, random and profound.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of the love and kindness in all our hearts.

Merry Christmas!
I write happily-ever-after novels of love and hope.
‘Twas the Night Before New Year, December 2012, Eres Books

PS: And now in April 2014, a Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Don't Blame the Pilgrims - Repost

Since writing this article, I have had the opportunity to read more about the War Between the States.  I now caution anyone setting a work of fiction during this period to research both sides of this tragic conflict. 

This post was written a few days before it was scheduled to appear. The 4th blessing mentioned below made his appearance on the day this post was published. 

November 23, 2012 

Nearly every culture has a ritual for giving thanks for life and blessings. We celebrate thanksgiving in the Fall of the year particularly because of the abundant harvest the Summer months have provided. In the United States, this celebration has taken on a mantel of national enormity but where has this holiday come from?

One Blessing
In most religions, thanksgiving is a spiritual recognition of the blessings bestowed upon the faithful, again usually around the time of the harvest. In ancient times, people made sacrifices of living creatures and this practice is still in evidence today with turkeys, lambs, goats. In religious establishments, there are formal offerings, services of appreciation, shared meals to celebrate the bounty of the earth.
Two Blessings

But Thanksgiving is something else. Most of us in the United States have grown up with the legend of the Pilgrims and their wretched struggles in the first year of their life in North America. As the story goes, after over half their number starved to death, they were helped to survive through the kindness and generosity of the established inhabitants, whose own journey to this continent was taken thousands of years before.
And a fourth!

This story may be true in its essence but it isn’t the origin of Thanksgiving as we know and celebrate it today. (Let’s assume we’re not talking about the folks who’ve formed tent-communities outside mega-stores in lieu of having a meal with their families.) The Pilgrims were most probably celebrating the religious thanksgiving, toward the middle of October with a religious service and a long sermon, rather than the more pagan celebration of life and all the bacchanalia surrounding a day of feasting, football and family feuds.

Thanksgiving began its journey to becoming National Holiday only in the 1860s, during the American Civil War. The author, Sarah Josepha Hale, promoted the idea of a national day of thanksgiving to politicians for over forty years. At the time, a day of thanksgiving varied from state to state. A few months after the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, in part as an attempt to unify the northern and southern states, Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving for the last Thursday of November in that year.

For seventy five years, subsequent Presidents kept the tradition by declaring a national day from year to year but it wasn’t until December 26, 1941 that Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law that Thanksgiving became fixed on the fourth Thursday of November by federal legislation. For nearly 400 years, people living on this continent have celebrated their good fortune and the blessings bestowed upon them through the observance, religious and secular, of a day of feasting.

This is one of my favorite holidays and it seemed only natural to include it as a pivotal point in my Avalon Romance, Wait a Lonely LifetimeI sincerely hope your day of thanksgiving was exactly that and may we continue to celebrate in the way that most fittingly shows our gratitude for our many blessings.