I’ve Been Tagged!

I’ve Been Tagged!


Slow Writer FTWA meme

I’m in the middle of promoting authors (you should be able to look back at Pauline’s and Jackie’s if you missed them), but I was just tagged by a fellow blogger, so I’d better answer the questions! I’m writing the answers on Sunday night, but Jackie’s post is due to go up by the end of the day, so I’ll schedule this post for Wednesday. By the way, thanks to Isabella Louise Anderson for tagging me. And at the end of this post, I’m supposed to tag three others. :-)

Here are the questions:

  • What are you working on? Well…since I started a part-time job last month, I’ve found it a challenge to find time to write. Typically I write in the morning, but now I’m up at 5:00 and at work by 7:00 two or three times a week. However, that doesn’t answer the question. I’ve begun writing what I hope will be a companion novella to Best Seller, tentatively titled Captured! It’s a Kitty Kelly-esque tell-all about Maryana Capture, the author featured in Best Seller. But as I’ve only written a couple thousand words so far, there’s a lot of work left.
  • What have you worked on recently? Marketing! A writer’s work doesn’t end with the publication of a new novel. I sent gift copies to book bloggers who have read some or all of my previous books, I established a “Review Crew” to get early reviews posted on Amazon, and I’ve booked five book readings/signings for the coming months. This is exciting – I’m thrilled to travel around our little state and meet new readers.
  • Why do you write what you do? I’m greatly inspired by some excellent authors – Elizabeth Strout, Wally Lamb, Anna Quindlen. Lamb especially has moved me with his books about hope and despair…and hope. When I say I write “Real True Fiction,” I mean that I hope to resonate with every reader, even if in very different ways. There is always an element of truth in my novels.
  • How does your writing process work? I’ve learned that plotting and outlining are good things! From the small kernel of truth that blossoms into a story, I do some rough plotting in a spiral notebook, usually in a quiet place. I have used spreadsheets to establish my characters’ traits. In my perfect world, three hours of non-stop writing every morning gets me where I want to be. I do write fast, but I edit slow.

And now I get to tag three people! Elizabeth Marx, Heather McCoubrey, and Laura Chapman, you’re all IT!

Meet Author Jackie Bouchard

Meet Author Jackie Bouchard


Jackie Bouchard and Rita

Jackie Bouchard and Rita

An author and her dog! Look at that face (I’m talking about Rita, of course). :-) I adored reading Rescue Me, Maybe and have Jackie’s first novel, What the Dog Ate, near the top of my to-be-read pile. You can win the book via a giveaway at the end of this post.

Jackie Bouchard was trapped in the hamster wheel of corporate America for longer than her sanity would say was good for her. She escaped and now writes Fido-friendly fiction. American Jackie, her Canadian husband, and her Mexican rescue mutt Rita form their own little United Nations. They live happily (hopefully ever after) in San Diego.

Welcome, Jackie! I have questions for you! To begin, who is your favorite author? If you have multiples, that’s fine. Tell me why you like them.

JB: I don’t tend to be the type of reader who enjoys a book by an author and then thinks, ‘Now I want to read everything else he/she wrote.’ (Although isn’t that what we hope for as authors?) I think it’s because I’m a slow reader and have amassed more books than I’ll probably ever be able to get through, so I like to jump around and read different works. I’m more inclined to have favorite books than favorite authors, but if I had to pick, it would be:

  • Jane Austen. I’ve read everything she ever wrote. She was a master of character development. She could take a small, quiet story, but make you care so much about the characters; you love this one, hate that one, and pity this other one. Love her.
  • Charles Dickens. Love that he was a great storyteller and could be quite funny. A Christmas Carol is my fave.
  • Ian McEwan. Total genius, and a master of the perfect ending. Love love love Atonement and Enduring Love. On Chesil Beach also was excellent.

How did you make the transition from working full-time outside the house to writing full-time?

JB: The transition was really easy for me. The last time I worked full-time in an office was in 2000 in Philadelphia. When we moved to San Diego, I started telecommuting to my old job in Philly. So, I worked from home for 10 years. Since I was an analyst and wrote our department’s monthly newsletter, I mainly spent my days at the computer doing research or writing. So it wasn’t that much different from researching and writing a novel.

I’m such an introvert that working from home suits me perfectly. I know extroverted writers who go stir-crazy and need to take their work out to a coffee shop, but I have no problem being home alone (with my trusty pooch) for days and days on end. I get out every morning for a long walk with the dog, but other than that, I’m a homebody!

Do you feel you must write every day? And at a certain time?

JB: My writing day in general is not super-structured. When I really get going on a project, I barely stop to get up for a drink of water. I become obsessed and get back and arm pain because I’m practically glued to my desk! (**Remembers she’s been sitting at desk for hours. Stops and stretches, as advised by acupuncturist.**) Because of that, I don’t write every day. I take the weekends off, and on weekdays, I do my chores and errands first, because once I start writing, it’s likely nothing else will get done. Also, I’m one of the odd writers who loves to revise! I find it hard to sit down and write new stuff, but give me something to revise and I’m happy to spend hours obsessing over it.

 

Jackie has offered to gift a digital copy of What the Dog Ate to one lucky winner. Just click on the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this page.

Connect with Jackie:

Website: http://www.jackiebouchard.com (There’s a sign-up on the home page for her newsletter)

Blog: http://poochsmooches.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/JackieBouchardWriter

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/jackiebouchard

 

What the Dog Ate

What the Dog Ate

When Maggie Baxter, a practical, rule-following accountant, finds out what her chocolate Lab ate, her world turns upside down. Maggie thought she had the rest of her life meticulously planned out, but now she needs to figure out Plan B. With her dog Kona as her guru, Maggie embarks on a funny, heartwarming quest to find tail-wagging joy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet Author Pauline Wiles

Meet Author Pauline Wiles


Author Pauline Wiles

Author Pauline Wiles

From now until the end of August, I’ll be featuring one of my favorite authors weekly on this blog. I’m hoping you might meet a new writer, and each week you’ll have the opportunity to win one of that author’s books (digital version). At the end of the seven weeks, everyone who has entered any or all of the giveaways will be entered to win the grand prize. But for now, let me introduce you to my friend Pauline. I read her book, Saving Saffron Sweeting, last year and fell in love with the story, the characters, and especially with the writing. Welcome, Pauline!

savingsaffronsweeting_paulinewiles

What inspired you to write this book?

PW:I’ve been fascinated for a while about how people’s actions after infidelity don’t always match what they assumed they would do. Most people (men and women) claim that if their partner cheats, the relationship is immediately over. But that’s not always the choice they make, when actually faced with an affair. I felt that was a theme worth exploring.

Secondly, I love living in California but miss England too. I wanted to set my novel there so I could write about all those fun British quirks (and baking) which make the country distinctive.

Do you have a specific writing style?

PW:  My readers would probably mention my on-paper British accent and the characters’ tendencies to reduce the pain of their problems with comfort food. I write in the first person and definitely emphasize England’s strong points. And I’m learning to trust that my readers will appreciate my sense of humor, and recognize irony when they see it.

What books have most influenced your life most?

PW: As a child, I read almost everything written by Enid Blyton. Looking back, much of it was cheesy and predictable but at the very least, she instilled passable grammar in me. My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, although I hesitate to claim an influence as Austen is so far out of my league, she might as well be writing in a different language. And Saving Saffron Sweeting owes at least a nod to Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice: the ability of one person to be the catalyst which transforms a community made a big impression on me.

What book are you reading now?

PW: I’m listening to the audio book of Emily Giffin’s The One & Only. Considering I know absolutely nothing about the world of (American) football, I’m impressed at how she’s managing to keep my attention. I’m pretty sure I spotted early on the chaos the main character was going to bring on herself, but I think that guessing where a story is heading isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

***************
About Pauline: British by birth, Pauline Wiles moved to the San Francisco Bay Area nine years ago and, apart from a yearning for afternoon tea and historic homes, has never looked back. Her writing has been published by House of Fifty, Open Exchange and Alfie Dog Fiction. Her début novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, reached the quarter-final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and was a number one Kindle Best Seller.

When not writing, she can be found getting the steps wrong in a Zumba class or calculating how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake. Her ambition is to sell enough books to cover the cost of flying herself and a reader to London for tea.

About Saving Saffron Sweeting: Grace Palmer’s British friends all think she’s living the American Dream. But her design business is floundering and when she discovers her husband is cheating with her best client, she panics and flees home to England.
The tranquil village of Saffron Sweeting appears to be a good place for Grace to lick her wounds, but the community is battling its own changes. Reluctantly, Grace finds herself helping her new neighbours as they struggle to adjust and save their businesses. However, not everyone has the same opinion on what’s good for the village. The charismatic new man in her life may have one speculative eye on Grace, but the other is firmly on profit. How will she navigate the tricky path between her home and her happiness?

Website: http://www.paulinewiles.com
Media kit: http://www.paulinewiles.com/contact/media-kit/
Book purchase link: http://mybook.to/sweeting
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/scribinglimey
Twitter: twitter.com/paulinewiles

 

So……to enter this giveaway, just click on the link below (“a Rafflecopter giveaway”). Three easy steps and you’re entered. And be sure to check back next week!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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8 x 7 = ……. 28 x 2 = …….

8 x 7 = ……. 28 x 2 = …….


Okay, you get it. I’m not going to lie about my age – I mean, why? What’s the point?

So I’m 28 times 2. And I wouldn’t want to be 28 again, not if it meant making the same mistakes I made in 1986. Staying with a job I didn’t like, spending money I didn’t have, acquiescing when I should have stood my ground.

photo property of Martha Reynolds

photo property of Martha Reynolds

Here I am at 28, with my best college pal. Making a face for the camera because I hated having my picture taken. Still do.

Third grade Brown Avenue School

Third grade Brown Avenue School

8 x 7. Here I am at age 8 (dead center). I’d have one more year in this school before we moved to another town in Rhode Island. See the cute boy sitting in the front? I cut him out because I was mad at him. Then I taped him back in because I really liked him. I can name every one of these kids, but only because I’d written their names down right after we moved. I wouldn’t want to be 8 again, either, not today. 1966 was a much easier time to be a kid.

So there’s my birthday reflection for this year. I began this blog on my birthday, three years ago. At that time I hadn’t written a book yet, but I knew I would. Now I’ve written (and published) five of them, and they’re pretty good books. So I’ll repeat what I’ve said to many people over the past three years: “It’s never too late to pursue your dream.”

I Wrote (a) Best Seller (haha)


Yes, I was deliberate in choosing my new book’s title. Call it incredible cheek or just wishful thinking, but the title does work. Although this novel is about much more than a best-selling novel. You’ll see when you read the blurb.

kindle cover

I suppose this is what’s termed a “soft” release. Actually, I’d planned on a July 1st launch, but since I’ve gone back to work part-time, I’ve made some adjustments to my life schedule. While I’m working, I can’t access the internet, which means I can’t respond to readers’ comments, etc. And I want to be engaged. So I hit the “Save and Publish” button last night (very late), and when I arose this morning, Best Seller was live in the Kindle store (the print version will be available within a week).

This is novel #5. My first book was published on August 8, 2012, so five books in two years is pretty good, I think. Working a couple of days a week out of the house will likely change my writing time, but I’m hoping it will keep me more mindful of the value of those hours when I can write.

It’s always my hope that my writing improves with each book. Certainly, with the Chocolate Series, I can see a maturation from the first to the third book. This one challenged me when I decided to write in the first person, present tense. I’ve read similar books – some that work well, some that miss. I’m hoping that it puts you, the reader, right in the middle of Robin’s life. And whatever you think of it, please feel free to let me know by posting a review. I can accept criticism, especially when it’s thoughtful and kind :-)

So, we march to the Fourth and what I consider the peak of summer (even though it’s really just the beginning). Enjoy this time – and happy reading!

What is a Bestseller, Anyway?

What is a Bestseller, Anyway?


No1-Amazon-Bestseller-Seal-300x300

As you probably know, my new book is titled Best Seller. One word (bestseller) or two words (best seller) is acceptable when you’re talking about a best-selling novel (and hyphenated is correct when it’s used as an adjective). My book is about a novel that hits The New York Times Best Seller list back in the late 1970s. And the NYT Best Seller List is considered the preeminent list in the United States. But then you have the USA Today Best Seller list. And plenty of others, including the many, many lists on Amazon.

If you list your book on Amazon and pick one of those not-so-popular niche categories, you might hit a bestseller list. You could be #98 in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense-Crime Fiction-Murder-Humorous-Lesbian Protagonists-Outer Space and call your book a best seller (yes, tongue firmly planted in cheek). Hey, I hit a bestseller list on Amazon a few months ago. My novel Bits of Broken Glass hit a category under “Gay & Lesbian” and actually reached #1 for a few days in a row, eclipsing the likes of Wally Lamb and Armistead Maupin. But I knew the deal. I had discounted the book to 99 cents. I did not place it in the ‘Gay & Lesbian’ category – Amazon did! And it was because one of my four main characters was gay, so I used ‘gay’ as one of seven allowable keywords. Amazon did all the rest. But still, I can call that book an “Amazon #1 bestseller.” I just feel as though I should put an asterisk next to it.

So does that mean if you drop the price of your e-book to a ridiculously low amount (or even give it away), you’ll hit the best seller list, too? Maybe. Is it worth it? I don’t know. The more books labeled as bestsellers, the less impact the word has. I’m aware of that. Once I returned Bits of Broken Glass to (the still ridiculously low price of) $2.99, sales dropped dramatically. Wally Lamb’s We Are Water is still at the top of the list.

 

Third Sunday in June

Third Sunday in June


I’ve been without my father far longer than I was with him. Not particularly uncommon for someone my age, but losing him when I was only 20 had an impact that, even today, I’m still figuring out.

John M. Reynolds 1918-1979

John M. Reynolds 1918-1979

He was nearly 40 when I was born. And although I’m sure my dad wouldn’t have had it any other way, my two sisters and I had male nicknames. My older sister’s stuck the most. She was Fred. I was Sam. My younger sister was Charlie. At some point, we must have asked if Dad wished he’d had sons instead of daughters. And we were always reassured.

Wedding Day, October 22, 1955

Wedding Day, October 22, 1955

At the wake of one of his contemporaries 20 years ago, I learned that some of the women who worked in the Providence-Washington Insurance Company considered Jack Reynolds “quite a catch.” Well, duh. Tall and handsome, dark blond hair and green eyes, smart and mannered, of course he was. Still, it was cute to watch these women, then in their 60s and 70s, blush at the mention of his name.

Easter Sunday, 1979

Easter Sunday, 1979

Here he is on the left, making a face for the camera as usual. He was more often the one behind the lens. My mom’s father is in the middle and her brother is on the right. They’re all gone now. Dad died the day after this photo was taken, unexpectedly, at 60. My grandfather lived to be 88, and my uncle was afflicted by dementia, as was my mother.

If I only had my father in my life for 20 short years, I can state without any doubt that he used that time wisely, to parent and teach and inspire and love. There’s a lot of him in me, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Why I Needed a Dog

Why I Needed a Dog


My essay is featured today on the IFAW blog! You can click http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/news/special-bond-why-i-needed-dog to read the post.

And while Bonnie is our dog today, I always remember our little Jessie. My first dog.

 

Jessie

Jessie

Bonnie

Bonnie

 

 

The Hard-Pressed Blogger

The Hard-Pressed Blogger


Iris downes

That April A to Z Challenge had me posting every day, but since then, I’ve been occupied with writing and editing my fifth novel. So…..not much blogging.

Best Seller will be released soon, I hope. By the end of June is my target, but edits take time. And then there’s the cover, and the formatting, and the uploading, and the distribution to my Review Crew.

Meanwhile, I have other news, something else to keep me from blogging more regularly! I’ve accepted a part-time job. It’s at a good place, and a few days a week, which works for me, but it does signify change. Change to the routine I’ve adopted over the past three years. It’ll probably force me to utilize my time better, which is a good thing.

I’ve always been in awe of my writer friends who create well-written novels while working full time. And being a mom. Really, all I do is write. And, you know, laundry and grocery shopping. So to balance a 20-something-hours-a-week job with trying to write another novel? I should be up to the task. At my prior job (the one that paid well and made me sick), I had nothing left for creativity when I came home. This time, I feel very positive about the future.

What makes you positive about the future? Is it your child’s graduation? The blossoming of those rhododendrons? Longer days and warmer temperatures? We’re surrounded by bad news and road rage and internet hostility, so where do you find your bliss? Here’s where I find mine:

VID00001P1000016market LuganoBI4 Entering Old Harborand, of course

Giandor

 

A Month of Transition

A Month of Transition


may-flowers-3

May has been termed the busiest month for social engagements, and you can understand why. Weddings, graduations, First Communions – so many events!

The focus of May is age-dependent, I suppose. My Facebook news feed has been filled with photos of graduates. My friends’ kids, all grown up and moving on.

So I thought back to my own college graduation day. Acknowledging our junior year abroad in Switzerland, my friend Peter and I hitchhiked downtown. We did! In black caps and gowns, we walked to Eaton Street and stuck our thumbs out. A car stopped. Three girls in school uniforms welcomed us into their vehicle and drove us downtown to the Providence Civic Center (long before it was the Dunkin’ Donuts Center). It only took about ten minutes, a much shorter ride than the ones we’d accepted to Besançon or Saint-Raphaël.

A week ago those same Facebook pages were filled with images of moms – moms my age, moms passed on, new moms cradling infants. This is social media, a way for some to express joy, accomplishment, grief. Sharing life’s highs and lows (more often the highs) with everyone they know (and many they don’t know).

But here we are, ushering in summer in New England after one of the longest and coldest winters I can remember. Some can’t wait, wearing shorts and flip-flops in 66-degree sunshine. Who can blame them, really? That green mist that rested lightly on the trees has morphed into thick leafiness. There’s yellow and pink and lavender so pretty it makes us forget (briefly) about what we had to endure to get to this day. New beginnings – for couples, new parents, and those graduates, who will either move back home or venture forth on their own. It’s a world of possibility, and that’s a very good thing.

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