Friday, January 13, 2017

Celebrating my Second Novel


Kate Snow is tired of running from her past. Ever since her near-death experience, she sees details in photographs other people can't. At first, she saw it as a gift, but she’s no longer sure if it’s a blessing or a curse. She wants to forget about being the Miracle Girl—the lone survivor of the explosion that killed everyone she loved. With hope for a new beginning and anonymity, Kate accepts a job as a photographer for the daily newspaper in the rural town of Bend, PA. Her first assignment thrusts her into the mysterious disappearance of three women and the discovery of a clandestine women's compound. Uneasy and uncertain who to trust, Kate turns to Seth Abrams, the paper's reporter.

Seth's one desire is to capture the big story that will catapult him to journalistic stardom. Bend's cult-like doings provide the perfect opportunity—until Kate, the new photographer, scoops him. When Kate reveals her secret to him along with her fears about the town, he must choose to help her or use her—and her gift, as his stepping stone to fame.
Will Kate and Seth team up to protect the people of Bend? Or will Kate fall victim to Bend's darker side?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ENTER- The Fear of Submitting your Book

It's one word. One push of a button. One second of my time after all I've done to prepare.

My finger wavers over the key. If I push the button, my book  gets published. Self-published. I've written the cover blurb at least a hundred times. I've revised the cover over and over, seeking advice from other writers and friends. My story has been edited by Beta readers, critique partners, my ex-agent and a professional editor.

I should be ready.

But is any writer ever ready for what comes after they submit their work to the world?

The other day, I read a few nasty comments on Amazon about one woman's book. I endured a bad one myself on my first novel. But this is different. I don't have the backing of a publishing house. I have me. Only me.

The me who did my best to present the best product I can at this point in my writing career.

My husband reminded me how he bid jobs in construction for so many years. Some of his customers loved his work, others complained. He couldn't please 100 % of the people 100% of the time.

I won't either.

Yet still...

I've set the release date. My mother's birthday and the day my father died. Perhaps I chose that date so I can remember it but perhaps to remind me it's just a button. A push of the finger.

So much more in life is important.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

When Self-Publishing Looks You in the Mirror

I can't believe I'm writing this post. Maybe I am because I want to make 2017 count. Maybe because I wasted time last year or maybe because I made major writing changes in the past six months. Who knows but as I type these words, part of me is screaming to run.

For over ten years, I've been against self-publishing. I felt it was only a last resort, not a viable option. I'd seen too many books with poor editing, misspelled words, and horrible plots. I didn't want to be one of those writers.

Was I a snob or what? Only Traditional for me. An agent. A publishing house. I wanted to be a real author. How else would I be valid?

Oh, I had it bad. 

If you read my last post, you remember I parted ways with my agent and have grown tired and frustrated and disillusioned with the writing process. My first novel was published traditionally. Since then, I've had what you call close but no cigar moments.

I realize a lot of factors come into play with the acceptance of any book, article etc. I also realize how scary it is to think your book is good enough to send out  without a team of experienced publishing people behind it.

But I also hope one or two more people might want to read what I have to say. That's all. I'm not expecting an avalanche of readers. Already did that and have found if you don't do the marketing, not much happens. So either way, it is work.

After spending so many hours, months and years in the publishing industry, starting with buying and selling books in my bookstore, noting what sells, what returns, and then finally writing myself, I'm not a newbie. I understand what it takes to sell. 

Not trying is giving up, though. 

Last night, a good writer friend and I played with a sample cover to start the process. I've written a suspense book and asked for her input as she was my beta reader. I told her I had a year to do this. I need that time to learn, ask questions, push my fears aside, and pray.

Publishing this book might be the last book I ever publish. Or not. For now I'm taking that first step. A baby one. Of course. But at least I'm doing and that's what counts. 

In the meantime, between panicking over this post and process, I'm writing a story for my granddaughter like I said I would. A romance. A modern-day find-your-prince book.

Just can't stop writing. Hope you don't either.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why I quit writing for publication and will tell stories again.

I have been writing for publication--the big dream most writers have--for ten years. In the spring of 2013, I sold my first book to a small publisher. Sure, I remember that feeling of excitement when it came out in the spring of 2015 and hoping it made it big. All those thoughts writers entertain. Then reality set in. I sold around 500 copies and made less than I did for a Chicken Soup story. But I told myself that's what happens with first books. You just need to write another book. A better one. It's not about the money, it's about never giving up.

I've been telling myself that same story with each novel I wrote. I studied the craft, hired editors, used critique partners, beta readers, promoted myself on social media. What more could I do? When I landed an agent with my book in the fall of 2014, I figured my hard work had paid off. Now I would land a contract with a big publisher. Wrong again. This spring, I learned  my book had been passed  by the big three. 

I parted ways with my agent in September. I felt she could use her time with better writers. Besides, I hadn't written anything new after finishing my tenth novel that spring.  A book for the general market and my agent worked in the Christian market. I wasn't sure what I was doing anymore but I knew that the big dream was not doing it for me. I was miserable.

I missed storytelling for the sake of telling a story. I no longer wanted to write a certain genre or style to satisfy a publisher or an agent or to get published. When I realized how I felt, I also realized it was time to do something else.

At first I thought I might never write again. But on the advice of a writer friend,  I sent out a few non-fiction articles here and there and received good news. I started with non-fiction and enjoyed writing stories that moved my heart or those I wrote about. 

Then I thought about the stories I told my grandchildren--how their eyes lit and how they hung on each word until the very end. Princess stories. Hero stories. Feel-good stories.

When I started my writing journey, I wrote stories because I loved the story. I wanted that again. And so with the help of a dear friend here, I may do that again. The story might never be published. But that's okay. I'll write the story for my granddaughter. Maybe someday I'll write one for my grandson. 

That's a big enough audience for me. The best audience. 

And if the Lord should have different plans for my writing, I'm listening. But I think He's happy that I've found my love again and will use my skills like this. 

The hardest part of this decision was releasing that crazy dream. Learning to be content and let go of that goal. But in the past few weeks, I have discovered the new dream is much, much better.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Spilled Out

Almost seven months later, I'm settled into my new town. Or as settled as I can be. I've found my drugstore, a cool doctor, love my hairdresser, and attend a church five minutes from our house, Last week we finished painting the last side plus painted the patio All that's left is the garage.

And we are talking of selling already.

It seems the market is escalating again. We missed it last time and don't want to do the same this time around since we moved here to make money. Oh it might not be for a few years yet but still we spoke about it. When we do that, I find my heart not digging into my new home. I look around me and think temporary.

I knew this whole Florida move was temporary from the start. I have a home in PA waiting for me to return to finish. But still the thought of temporary makes living here harder. The church we attend is made up of great people--people who have known each other for years and years. Some more than twenty. The pastor has been there twenty-six and they are a huge family. With this move I told myself we wouldn't church hop trying to find the best one for fellowship like I did in the past. We love the sermons and I have told myself that's enough. We might not ever fit in but for whatever reason, we have been spilled out here and that's where we will lay our roots.

Even if it is temporary.

Isn't that what we do as Christians? I'm beginning to understand that concept more and more. This is our temporary home yet we are supposed to be planting roots. making a difference for Christ but always looking ahead to our permanent home.

So maybe being spilled out here isn't so bad. However long we are here. As I move about the country, I believe more than ever in God's plan. If is for me to grow in one area by living here or interact with that one other person, then I'm okay with it.

I've been spilled out but I can still bloom.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Around the Corner--An update

I can't believe six months have flown by. I promised myself to update this blog occasionally and I think that time has arrived.

We have moved again! We left SW Florida behind to move to the NE coast of Florida. Another husband job change--one I can report he loves. February proved to be a rugged time for us as we lived in an extended stay hotel, applied for a loan and finally purchased a home. Finally is the word as we didn't want to pay rent any longer while we worked in Florida.

For over two months, we renovated the house. Painted, put in flooring, cleaned and updated. I loved the experience. Now I'm decorating with thrift store finds for when we sell someday. Yes, we still own our PA home that we now call our retirement place.

As for writing, I'll finish my edits this week on The Bend and send it to my editor before handing it back to my agent. Publication takes time starting with a good story. Hoping my current story will find a home soon.

But God has given me so many fun activities to do along with writing. I'm redoing furniture, learning photography and playing my guitar. Sunday we visited a new church. Hopefully, we won't need to visit any others.

I never thought I'd be living in this part of Florida. Never thought I'd ever own two homes after our loss in 2007. I never thought I'd be enjoying so many new hobbies.

But as I always say: God knew.

Keep your eyes open. You never know what is around the next corner.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy New Year with Changes

It's a new year. 2016 is a special year for me with blogging. It marks my TEN year point. I began way back in 2006 with a short post to reach out to other writers. A lot has happened over the past decade. I've joined Good Reads, Twitter and started my own author page at Amazon and Facebook. I've also begun dabbling in photography as well as completing my 10th novel.

And yes, my first book was published last year.

Changes every day.

Another change today. I've watch blogging transition from when I first started. I don't post as often because I believe people prefer quicker interactions like from Twitter or Facebook. I'm finding since I'm writing novels, my time is more limited to getting around to my favorite blogs.

What that means for me is less blogging and more interactions other places. My plan for the new year is to post here when major events happen with my life, my writing or anything else  I can't share in fifty words or less.

Consider this page like a website. It will carry information but still be me. After all, I don't think any real blogger can give up blogging forever.

Please pray for me as I move into edits on my current suspense novel. It's a stretch for me. A book written unlike any other I have written. I've moved out of Women's Fiction into Suspense as I prefer the fast pace but am able to still delve into the characters. I appreciate your support as I ready it for my agent later in the year. Hopefully as well, the book she is shopping will land into a home this year.

That would be my dream!

But God is in control of all things, isn't He? So I'm waiting on his direction.

Praying your year reveals wonders you can't imagine. Blessings!

Monday, November 16, 2015

When Friends Pray

Because we never know where our paths lead, I wanted to share about a friend  today. I'll call her Pam. She and I met over thirteen years ago on the first day of class to become real estate agents.

Since then through many moves, we remained close, encouraging each other with life's ups and downs. She's the person I can call and not feel dumb because of my fears. She does the same with me. When Curt lost his job, she stood by my side as we pulled ourselves together and moved forward. When a serious relationship of hers turned sour, I did the same for her.

We joke about whose turn it is to support the other. One of us always needs to be together enough to help the other as life strikes.

Last winter, right before the end of the year, she called me. "I'm depressed. It's not just the holidays. I think I will never feel Joy again or love someone and always be alone. My life is the same day after day."

I remember trying to encourage her. Promising her that life can improve. Pointing her toward past events. Past moments of triumph. Nothing I said worked this time. She cut her calls back, Went to a doctor, Tried everything.

Each morning, I pick up a notebook where I keep names. Names of people I've met online or in person who need prayer. I'd prayed for Pam in the past but this situation warranted more,  I added her name and beside it wrote JOY.

Nine months passed.

During that time, I finally convinced her to join Facebook. "You might meet old friends. Find new relationships. Feel connected." She hesitated. Complained she didn't have time. Didn't know how to do it. Finally she wrote her first post. Maybe one line, I can't remember but I do remember how soon she connected with friends from her childhood home.

Before I knew it, she talked about going home to her class reunion. I said, "Do it!" She found someone to care for her 93 year old mom, her dog, and booked her tickets.

We always love a good ending, don't we?

Hang on, I'm going to give you that.

She called to say she wept when she drove toward the town she grew up in. The weather was cool, unlike her hot years spent stuck in Florida. She met up with more friends than I can count and she felt JOY.

Answered prayer.

But that's not the best part.

My friend was approached by an old boyfriend. A long lost love. A guy she broke up with because she went to college and felt it was the right thing to do considering the circumstances.

Let me end here because I don't want to share too many details. What amazes me is how God answered not only my prayers for my friend but turned her life upside down in a way we never imagined.

Friends praying for friends. Changing the course of lives.

Check back for the rest of the story...

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

When Your Inspiration Goes into Hiding

When I left for vacation over a week ago, I'd written 50,000 words on my new book. I was excited to see it finished. Then I spent a week with family: dance classes, soccer and watching my daughter juggle a busy schedule.

As usual, when I returned, I took a hard look at my own life. What are my goals? What purpose do I have? Why am I writing? Will I ever be good enough? Will I be a one-book-wonder author? Does what I do really mean anything at all? Do I still like it enough to finish this book and then maybe have it rejected like my last one?

As you can tell, I tend to get a little melodramatic.

Most writers do at one time or another. We envision ourselves on a wave of writing success and crashing down periodically. Waiting on the next wave.

I guess that's where I'm at right now. Rowing my boat trying to catch the next wave so I can finish my book and let God take it where it should go--on my shelf or on a bookshelf in a store.

I've always read that you don't wait for inspiration to appear to write. Just write. That's why this blog post.

Already I feel the water rising, lifting me back onto a wave.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The paths we follow

When my husband and I first married, we moved to Virginia. The DC area. It was part of the deal when he proposed. I refused to move to his hometown--a town with one tiny grocery store and a population of maybe 400. Okay, maybe 500. Or less.

He re enlisted into the Marines. A career he just left. And didn't really like. That's how much he loved me.

Two years later, he got out. We moved back to PA to Scranton so he could go to school. Nothing against that place but the first thing I noticed was the trash along the roads. Our house was a duplex in an alley with our landlords right next to us. Polish. They screamed at people when they blocked the parking with garbage cans. Today my rental home is a condemned property.

Another two years passed and we moved an hour north to Tunkhannock as I was driving too far to my job. We rented another house that touted peeling wallpaper and woodburners. Our water froze in the toilet that first winter. We installed another woodburner. Built a back porch and hung fresh paper. Even adopted our first dog. Panda. A cat wandered by and I adopted him too.

Our life was forming. We were becoming adults.

And then I got pregnant. The dog went outside. We longed for our own place. We finally found land and after begging three banks to give us a chance, we secured our construction loan. After months of grueling work, we moved into our house on the hill that promised me a kitchen and cupboards someday. Plus carpeting and doors. But we loved it.

Now we felt grown up. We had a mortgage. Jobs. A child. A church.

What more could we want?

Evidently not what we had. I still remember the day. Fifteen years later, my husband stood at our bedroom window. "I can't take this cold weather."

And so it began. The search. The packing. The crying. The move to Florida. New beginnings. New friends. New schools. New jobs. New churches. Everything new again.

We adjusted. Were warm. Bought a beautiful home. Watched our only child move across the country away from us. Watched the recession choke Florida in its grip. Lost our careers. Lost friends. Grieved.

But grown ups don't give up. Even though we felt like children again.

We tried everything. Part time jobs we hated. School. New business. Cashed in our savings. Finally moved to Texas. Sold our home. Hated both choices--the job and the state.

 "I have to go home, " I told my husband. He loved me enough to agree.

So we made the long trip across the country back to PA. Now everything would be fine, or so we thought. It wasn't. I cried when I walked into our new rental. Was I twenty-one again? We stacked our boxes in the spare rooms. Prayed for strength. Prayed that God would once again see us through. Started building a house in that town I first refused to live in. Started a business. Hope sprang.

A year and a half later we worried we were going to starve. No work. Bills. Cold.

Then another opportunity. Florida. Again. The job my husband left years ago. Really God? Move again?

We left our half-finished home, packed the small UHAUL and made the trek to a rental we found online.

We couldn't give up. There was no other choice.

No one ever promised our path would be straight. What made us think that so long ago? Today I find myself dreaming about another return to PA, to my house, to another pet, to a slower lifestyle. To friends and family.

But I can't hack out my own path. I must just go with it as it opens before me. Climb when we need to climb. Swim, run and drag each other when we get weary.

And thank God we can do all of it.

What's your path look like today? Are you preparing for the twists that will come? Are you thanking God for the cleared path in front of you?