The 85K90 Challenge


January usually brings a feeling of renewal. The days are getting longer (they are!). It’s a new year. We have a chance to start fresh, whether that involves your eating habits, exercise routines, spending and saving and investing, or, for me, starting a new novel, January is an opportunity.

As some of you know, I try to complete a novel every year, and because the Association of Rhode Island Authors, a 300+-member group to which I belong, holds its annual RI Author Expo each December, I like to debut the new novel at that time. So January is a chance for me to get started.

This year, I’ve decided to participate in the 85k90 Challenge. Haven’t heard of it? If you’re a writer, or aspiring to be one, this is a terrific place to start. Started as a small Facebook group in 2016, the idea is simple – write 85,000 words in 90 days (January, February, March). I like the year-long plan, because it helps me to plot out the months. Unlike NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which asks you to write 1,000 words a day for a month (usually November, although there’s one in the summer, too), this 85k90 project is more realistic.

First of all, 30,000 words is not a novel, it’s a novella. I participated in NaNoWriMo twice, and I finished, but I was nowhere near done with writing. This year, if I can write (at least) 85,000 words by the end of March, I’ll be ready to step right into first edits. That’s the plan. Second, thirty days goes by quickly. If life interrupts your writing schedule, it’s difficult to catch up. With 85k90, you have more time. You’re still writing about 1,000 words a day, but there are many days when you’ll write more than that, and it gives you a little cushion for the days that maybe you can’t get to it.

The founder of 85k90 is Julie Valerie, a friend and fabulous writer. I’m so grateful to her for her vision and dedication to this project, and I’m right on track to get the new novel written.

And here’s a tiny bit about that new book – It’s going to be a sequel of two different novels. Yep, I’m writing a sequel to April in Galway and combining it into a sequel to A Jingle Valley Wedding – and it’s working!

jingle april

Forty Years Back


Nice, France

Forty years ago today, I boarded my first airplane and began a year abroad that would forever mark my life. The thirty or so students who went with me might well have the same thought – we all were impacted by a year in Switzerland, with no internet or cell phones.

My first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, was (very) loosely based on that year. Like Bernadette Maguire, I was 20, naive (yes), and hopeful. Unlike Bernadette, I did not have an affair with a married man, nor did I get pregnant with his child. 😉 I recall explaining that to friends, who took my storytelling literally.

I’ve returned to my beloved Switzerland often – in 1981 to work as an au pair (there’s a book I should write), again a few years later, multiple times in the 1990s, and most recently in January 2017, where I was inspired to write Villa del Sol.

But the year that began on 28 September 1978 was my year. I don’t have any Cardinal beer to drink, no Giandor chocolate bar, and the Café Chemin de Fer is now, I believe, an Indian restaurant. Things change, even in Fribourg, Switzerland.

“Mesdames et messieurs, it is time to go sleep!” 🇨🇭🇨🇭🇨🇭

It is the heat. And it is the humidity.


Nearly September. 95 degrees today. Heat index 104. Just like yesterday.

So who else is cranky? I know (at least) three people who live without air conditioning. I don’t know how they live, though. Our thermostat is set at 74 and I’m hot. But I’m grateful for A/C, especially at night.

I’ve never liked summer best. Fall is my favorite. How about you? Depending on where you live, you might not experience four distinct seasons. But by September, the sun rises later and it’s dark by 8:00 now, so I want that cool air to follow.

Meanwhile, I’ve finished the second round of edits for my new novel, so now it’s off to my trusted readers, who give me honest feedback. I sometimes can’t see a plot hole or a character who uses repetitive language, but they can! I’m still on track to have this book ready by December 1 – the day I’ll be at the Rhode Island Authors Expo!

Until then, I’m reading a lot (what are you reading?). I loved How to Walk Away by Katherine Center and Crossing the Bamboo Bridge by Mai Donohue (her memoir of growing up in Vietnam – you won’t be the same after reading it). I’m almost done with How Hard Can It Be? by the hilarious Allison Pearson, just started Alternate Side by the wonderful Anna Quindlen, and The Pendulum’s Truth by the very talented writing team of Leigh Brown and Vikki Corliss. Vacation next week means lots of reading!

Autumn will get here, eventually. You won’t hear me complain about the cold. Not me.

#AtoZChallenge – Reflections


It was my sixth year participating, and I was very happy with my theme (1968). As in past years, I’ve tried to ensure I can cover the tougher letters (Q, X, Z) before I settle on my theme.

But 1968 wasn’t my first choice. I had a few other ideas, and maybe I’ll use them for future challenges. Or, I might choose 1969 as next year’s theme!

Typically, I start planning right after the holidays. I set up an Excel spreadsheet and fill in the blanks under each letter with as many ideas as I can come up with. This way, I try to have some variation each day. 1968 was dominated by troubling news, it seemed, so I decided to add a song at the end of the post, for balance. I used the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Singles and worked my way up to #1, making sure I had a decent video for each song.

I gained a few new followers through the challenge, and discovered a dozen or more blogs, which I added to my own follow list. While I was disappointed that more folks didn’t ‘like’ or leave a comment on my daily posts, that part was out of my control. I tried to keep my posts short (under 300 words), knowing that people wanted to visit multiple blogs during April.

I’ll be back next year, God willing.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twenty-one


How are you holding up? ‘Tis the season for stressing out. Well, not me. I’m not going to do it.

Not this year.

Here’s our ‘tree.’ My Christmas cactus didn’t bloom this year (it’s fickle that way), but I adorned it with little fairy lights and nestled one ornament in it – a sweet ceramic dove inscribed with Jim’s dad’s name. Jim received it from the funeral home that held a lovely memorial service for all the family members who’d lost loved ones this year. It seems fitting to keep things simple this year. We’d scaled way back on our decorations before this year, but the little tree and the strands of lights will sleep in their bins for a bit longer.

I’ve minimized my shopping, too. Give experiences, time, things that can be consumed. How about taking a friend to the movies? Lunch? Coffee? If you’re a couple, decide on a getaway, or home improvement. I know some parents work with their children to donate gently used toys and games before Santa brings more – what a great idea!

Jim did mention a couple of books, and he’ll get them. Remember I donated a few boxes of books earlier this year? That was to make room for more books (haha). My sisters and brother-in-law will be able to eat and/or drink their gifts.

Honestly, we have everything we need. Do you?

For more insights about gift-giving, check out The Minimalists’ post on gift-giving

My Seventh Novel is Here!


Villa-del-Sol (1) “…an emotional tapestry of rare depth…” (Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author)

“…a thoughtful tale of love, loss, and hope reborn…” (Book Review Directory)

My seventh novel (and eighth book) is here and I’m thrilled to share it with you! Last January, I traveled back to Switzerland, alone. I finally met an online pal and reconnected with a dear friend from years ago. I ventured by train to a region I’d never seen and revisited familiar towns.

Villa del Sol is set in and around Lugano, the largest city in the Italian-speaking area of southern Switzerland. Milano is only about an hour away by train. My character, Jennifer Logan, travels to Lugano and rents a villa in the neighboring village of Gandria. Her husband, the beloved senator from Rhode Island, is dead, and Jennifer can’t wait to escape the people who never liked her anyway. By unplugging, she hopes to find peace.

If you know me, you know about my love of Switzerland. My award-winning “Swiss Chocolate” trilogy is set primarily in Switzerland. Villa del Sol takes you back to this magical place. It is available now, and I’ll be signing copies tomorrow at the RI Authors Expo. 

Martha Headshots--7

Martha Reynolds is a Rhode Island resident who loves the beach in winter, chocolate, and books. After ending an accomplished career as a fraud investigator, she started writing novels – fiction with an element of truth. “Real True Fiction.” You can read her reflections and guest author posts on her blog

GIVEAWAY!

This is a big one! I am giving away a $100 Amazon gift card on December 8. To be eligible, LIKE this post and POST A COMMENT. Please include your email address so I can contact you if you win. Additional entries are available by FOLLOWING me on  Amazon (click the yellow ‘Follow’ button under my picture), and by LIKING and SHARING the Facebook post (I’m here on Facebook). Open to everyone (except my immediate family). Good luck!

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

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It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Debbie Tillinghast


 

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            Everyone has a story. Mine began on a tiny island in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island called Prudence. My mother’s death, twelve years ago November 28, initiated my return to the island. I didn’t want to lose touch with all the childhood memories I knew were lurking in my mind. Over the next ten years, I unearthed happy and painful memories, all woven together into the tapestry of my life. Each one of us shelters memories that have made us who we are. The Ferry Home emerged from mine.

It is the story of a simpler time, encompassing the rhythm of life on Prudence Island, the ebb and flow of changing tides and seasons, and the relationships that emerge – like that of my parents. Who could imagine in the 1930s that a Baptist girl from a small New England island would go to college and marry a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, New York?  It is a timeless and remarkable love story, and you can read about it in the chapter, “Sol and Mrs. Kaiman,” in The Ferry Home.

I wrote this memoir for my children and grandchildren but the unexpected reward has been hearing from readers who have told me The Ferry Home connected them to their own memories, enriching their lives.

“I bought your book for my father. We read chapter after chapter, stopping to hear him tell me a story about a similar…experience. Thank you for sharing your life with us and opening the door to many more family stories that I will treasure.”

“Your book reminded me of the small town where I grew up. Although I have never been to Prudence Island, in my mind I returned to my hometown when I read The Ferry Home.”

“I’ve just finished your memoir, my heart has been smiling the whole while, envious of your memories.  What a gift of love this tiny blue book was; most especially the last chapter. Thank you.”

We think our stories don’t matter, but they do. When you travel on The Ferry Home I hope you enjoy the journey and find it unlocks your own memory door, because everyone has a story. What is yours?

debbie-tillinghast

Debbie  Kaiman Tillinghast has been published in Country Extra magazine, and two anthologies published by the Association of Rhode Island Authors, Shoreline and Under the 13th Star.

GIVEAWAY! The author is offering to one lucky winner a print copy of her book. All you have to do is leave a comment below to enter. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication. US residents only, please.

Meet over 100 local authors in Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

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Purchase at:

https://www.amazon.com/Ferry-Home-Debbie-Kaiman-Tillinghast/dp/0996233016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476053616&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ferry+home

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ferry-home-debbie-kaiman-tillinghast/1122766998?ean=9780996233019

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/debbiekaimantillinghast/