This and That

Musings on Being a Writer and My Life
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Tell the World You Liked It

  • October 27, 2015 2:33 am

Elvis Saves a Marriage Book


One of the most powerful boosts for many writers is It provides a platform for unknown authors to bypass the stranglehold traditional publishing houses have on the industry. Services like Book Baby, Create Space and others support the independent writer by providing an accessible and affordable platform to bring their work to life.

There are many reasons why an author may resort to self-publishing. In my case, I made this decision after pitching my book for several years at writer’s conferences (where I paid a fee for the privilege) and sending numerous query letters to agencies. I sent the required three or whatever chapters, synopses of the book, author bio, and cover letters to agents I had investigated.

It was time consuming and ultimately fruitless—although I had at least two agents who would “have loved to promote my book if only…”

So, I turned to a small press publisher who did bring my lifelong dream of being a published author to life.

Then the hardest work began—promoting the book. I am not naturally good at self promotion.

I rely on word of mouth and whatever opportunities come my way to talk about my book and my writing.

But the one thing that all authors—including me—must have to survive is book reviews. And that’s where you, dear reader, come into the picture.

The five or ten minutes it takes you to write a few simple sentences telling other folks that, yes, you enjoyed the book you just finished are the greatest boost you can give to any writer. Just log onto, find the title and author of the book, and choose the option to review the book.

You don’t have to do an in-depth analysis of the plot, the nuances of character development, or compare the book to others in its genre. Just say that you liked it (or not) and why.


And speaking for all struggling authors like me, your review will be deeply appreciated.



Chasing a Dream

  • October 9, 2015 2:48 am


It’s hard to chase a dream. Dreams are ephemeral and unpredictable. They’re illogical. They don’t follow the rules of physics.

Dreams can make you feel elated or leave you empty and confused.

When you wake from a dream, it can be a hard landing back to reality.

I feel like I am chasing a dream right now as I face the most difficult part of having my latest book, Elvis Saves a Marriage…published: trying to foster interest in it.

It’s an intricate ballet of pushing the book a little here and there and exhausting people. You don’t want your efforts at promoting the book to feel like forcing people to watch a never-ending telethon.

But it is a necessary step in being an author. Even mid-list authors have to promote their books—through personal appearances, radio interviews, and book signings. The only ones who are somewhat exempt are A-listers who are a sure sell. And they have staffs to plan their promotion campaigns—and get to travel to exciting places and be on TV interview shows.

Writers like me are the author and promoter all wrapped up into one person. It can feel daunting.

From the time I was old enough to envision a future, I knew deep in my heart that I wanted to spend my life writing. I describe myself now as a writer who was disguised as a teacher for many years.

But I am a dream chaser. And no matter how upside down, how illogical, or how difficult it is, I will continue to follow this dream.


Graphic courtesy of Pixabay


I Am A Bookaholic!

  • August 20, 2014 2:39 am

booksIt’s true.

I looked it up on the internet, and I present these typical symptoms:

  • I will sit and read for hours at a time, sometimes until my eyes are so tired I can hardly focus on the words on the page.
  • There are stacks of books everywhere in my house—on tables, on chairs and footstools and, of course, in bookcases.
  • I have been known to not answer the phone if I am in the middle of a chapter that I find fascinating.
  • When I finish a book, I am anxious and at loose ends until I start the next one.
  • I think about the characters even when I’m not reading the book.
  • I have a Kindle and an I Pad with books loaded on them.
  • When I read a book for my book club, I can’t wait to discuss it.
  • I find it hard to give books away—even ones that I know I will never read again.
  • I love libraries and bookstores.

I’ve been like this since I was a child, so I think that my case may be hopeless.

When I was a kid, my sister complained that I read too much and wouldn’t put my book down to play. And one of my teachers thought that I might have read every book in our local library.

Friends have suggested a support group to help me deal with this addiction… but I can’t go anywhere until I’ve finished reading this chapter.


Picture Credit: Kathy Joyce Glascott






Hopes and Dreams

  • September 27, 2013 4:52 am


It’s been almost a year since my novel, Loving Christy was published. I worked night and day to make it a wonderfully readable novel—one that I hoped would fly off the shelves, and would be downloaded onto hundreds of Kindles and Nooks.

Lately, reality has set in. Loving Christy sits on, gathering dust, waiting for someone to take a chance on it. I have been able to promote the book, one at a time to people I know, and I have placed it in a few bookstores.

I’ve even received royalty checks—and was able to pay CASH for a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast!

Promoting a novel is hard work and it takes hundreds of hours, a lot of energy—and it helps to have connections.  I’ve had some success with my novel in my community and have received great feedback from people who have read it. Several book clubs have invited me to attend as a guest author. What a fantastic experience it is to meet with readers of my work.

All of that is rewarding.

Knowing that my target audience is enthused by Loving Christy is (to me) success.  Now I am at a crossroads. I need to get people excited about my book again.

So here’s the deal. If you’ve read Loving Christy, I am asking you to write a review—it can be just a few sentences—and post it on Amazon. I know that many of you have already—my humble and grateful thanks.

My hopes and dreams are centered on my writing. Writing is what makes me feel most alive. It is my gift, and I’ve spent years nurturing it.

And now, I hope that you, too, will appreciate my gift.




I’m on the Radio!

  • July 24, 2013 5:18 am

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed for an on-line radio show, the Authors Show by  host, Don McCauley. It was an interesting experience, to say the least.

In the interview I answered questions about my novel, Loving Christy. If you’d like to listen in, the interview is accessible by clicking on the link below:

Discussing My Novel

  • February 1, 2013 7:22 am


“…fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.”   Virginia Woolf



I had a unique experience recently. My book club, the Pageturners, chose my novel, Loving Christy to discuss.

I pondered how to handle this discussion. Being a former teacher, my first inclination was to ask pointed, challenging questions that honed in on setting, theme and character development, much like I would have done with my students. Thankfully, common sense prevailed. Thinking back on the many wonderful discussions our club has had over the last nine years, I knew that I should trust this intelligent, insightful group of women.

My book club is almost ideal—everyone reads the selection, everyone comes prepared to discuss the book, and everyone participates. In fact, we rather pride ourselves on our in-depth discussions. We are not one of those groups who agree they liked the book and then order lunch. We meet in one another’s homes, carefully select books, and research the author before we gather to discuss the book.

So, the stage was set.

But I must admit that I was a little nervous—what if they didn’t like the book? What if the smattering of bad language (in context) was offensive? What if they thought I had completely missed the mark with this novel?

I decided to share the interview that I wrote as part of my publicity packet to start the meeting.  Those questions set the groundwork—where did I get the idea for the story, where did the characters come from, why did I write the story?

What ensued was an in-depth discussion of the characters, the setting and the theme. It was a revelation and a joy. My book club sisters had insights into the story that surprised even me. They saw the characters as well drawn and believable.  They had empathy for Peggy, the down-on-her luck antagonist. They related to Christy’s struggles—most of them came of age at the same time. One woman pointed out descriptive language that appealed to her.

It was a wonderful experience for me as an author. I write to communicate—and this discussion authenticated me as a writer in a way I have never experienced before.

When my book club sisters left my home that day, I felt joy and excitement.

Yes, it would be exciting to hit it big—to be a household name and make oodles of money. But, in truth, this discussion was the payback I really wanted—to know that my little novel, a story that insisted on being written, resonated with other people, brought them hours of pleasure, and forged connections among women of differing backgrounds.


My Novel Has Arrived!

  • January 14, 2013 9:11 am

My novel, Loving Christy is now a reality!

I know that because there are three boxes of books stacked up in my living room waiting to meet  their new owners. I am slowly, but surely, distributing the books to those who pre-ordered them. (You can go to and download it to your Kindle, or buy it at either or Barnes and

Evidence of the positive feedback I’ve received from people who have read Loving Christy on already can be found at the Amazon web page that features my book. (Just type in Loving Christy.)

How does it feel to be a “real author,” one with a tangible book to my name?  Truthfully,I have mixed feelings about it.

Writing a book is not for sissies—it’s really hard work and you have to be willing to accept criticism—lots of it. Before you begin writing a book, you must commit to it, because you’ll live that book every waking hour of your day. The book will literally occupy most of your thoughts. You’ll spend hours putting words on paper, rereading them, rewriting them and then agonizing over them. You’ll spend days and weeks and months making your characters come to life.

Then there’s the research. Writing about a place or time that you have never experienced requires extensive research to capture the flavor of your setting.

The plot must make sense—it must be plausible and have enough action and believable events to move the story along. In modern writing there is no greater sin than breaking the commandment to “show, not tell.” That means using dialogue and action to let the story unfold, instead of making statements.

Did I mention that you have to do all of this using fresh language and not relying on cliches?

And you must write at least 70,000 (yes—thousand) words to even try to market the book.

After you have labored on the book, then the real fun begins—trying to get an agent. Writing query letters are a skill, and to make it even more interesting, every agent has different criteria. If you don’t follow his or her criteria to the letter, you can expect that the agent won’t spend even 60 seconds reading your cover letter. All of your hard work is destined for the “circular file.”

Finally,  you have an agent or a publisher!

The real work begins now…

An editor is assigned who will comb your book for flaws and faults—that you must correct.

Eventually, you’ll receive a draft that you must read to find any flaws that slipped though. After that, another draft arrives and  you read the novel again, to make sure as many corrections were made as possible.

Somewhere along the way, a cover is designed which (hopefully) you will like.

Finally the day comes when several boxes of books (which you have paid for in advance) arrive on your doorstep . You look at them and realize that now you must sell them…you must create buzz about your novel!

All by yourself.

Then a magical thing happens, someone reads your book and sends an email, writes a review on, or tells you how much they liked the book.

And like an addict looking for a fix, you find the half-finished manuscript you started. And you begin writing the next novel.


Thanks to Ginger Allain for the wonderful author page she designed for me.

You can visit my author page at:

You can order copies of Loving Christy from me at


It’s Trash Night Again?

  • December 6, 2012 7:12 am

“Take out the papers and the trash!”

If you are of a certain age, you’ll remember these words from a popular song in the 50’s.

This has become my new anthem.  Our trash  goes out every week on Monday night, and I consistently forget to do this annoying, but necessary task.

This is what happens: I clean up the kitchen, maybe do some laundry, walk the dog, read a little, play a few word games on the I Pad, check emails,  and then work on my writing.

Finally, when the clock reads way too late, I realize that I better go to bed or I won’t be able to function in the morning. So, I close up the house and tell Sparkle ( my dog) that it’s time to go “night –night” ( yes, I talk baby talk to her).

And then, like a thunderbolt in a cartoon, I remember that ( oh God!) I forgot to take out the trash. The next twenty minutes are spent scurrying around the house collecting trash, making sure the refrigerator is cleaned out, wrestling the trash  can and  the recycling box out to the curb. All the while I am doing this, I sing the refrain from that 50’s hit song  to myself.

Then the next morning, I drag the huge trash can ( which is almost as tall as I am)  and the recycling box back into the garage.

Every week I resolve to do this onerous task earlier in the evening. When my husband was still alive, he would sometimes not take the recycling out or not empty the waste basket in the den which contains only paper. I would accuse him of being selective in removing the trash. When I was a kid, I thought that taking the trash out was gender identified—it was a boy’s job, not a girl’s job. If I was called upon to it, I would resent having to do something that  my childish mind-set dictated  that girls’ shouldn’t have to do.

So, now I’m on my own. Obviously I don’t want to live in a house with trash—no matter how late it is when I remember it. So, I do it—like everyone else.

Maybe I’ll remember this task at an earlier time some week.  Maybe it will become  a routine. And  then I can adopt a new anthem.


News Flash!!

My novel, Loving Christy is available right now on, Barnes and Noble, and  available for Kindle. If you would like a signed copy, you can email me at



Musings on a Writer’s Workshop

  • July 30, 2012 4:50 am


People surround me. Perched on uncomfortable folding chairs, we are jammed into a small space squeezed between the shelves in a book store.

Voices make a hub-bub, and I look around to see the other fledgling writers. Some are young. But most are older, like me. A lifetime of experience lines our faces.

Some people sport long shapeless tee shirts and shorts several sizes too big to define a body underneath. Others wear long skirts and tie dyed shirts. I even see someone wearing a fringed vest. Gray hair is pulled carelessly into unruly pony tails which are held in place by leather barrettes. And few people have long braids that trail down backs. A woman climbs over me to find a chair. Her hair is too long and uncombed and she is wearing a gypsy skirt.

Aging hippies, I think.

The ladies with money sit nearby, their perfectly coiffed hair a sharp contrast.

What unites this strange band of fellows is one shared belief: that the words we write should be read. No, our words must be read!


I wait for the speaker, a successful author, to begin to fill me with her wisdom. Like a school girl with a homework assignment, I begin to page through her book, a how–to for writers.

She fiddles with the projector, exasperated because it won’t do what she wants it to do.

Finally a man arrives, his baseball cap firmly placed on his head, with a bulky bundle of keys on his hip. He adjusts the projector and it throws pictures of rich and beautiful authors on the screen.

My desire is to be a member of their club.

I want to rise above the rabble around me, the young and the old, the experienced and the apprentice and write something that is compelling and uniquely mine—a real book, with a glossy cover placed prominently on a bookstore shelf.

I’ve seen web sites featuring books with covers designed to entice a reader to open the pages of the book. The authors of these books were once hopefuls like me.

I worry that no one will get to know the characters that have lived in my imagination for so long. I want someone other than me to care about them with all their human frailties and strengths.

I am humbled to realize that even if my work sees the light of day, nothing will change. Turmoil and war and discord will still reign—and people will still pray for peace.

My reverie is broken when the author starts to talk about the business of publishing, warning us of the overwhelming amount of work involved, of the sacrifices we will have to make. And of the almost non-existent chance we have. She causes me to think about my choice.

And then I go home, boot up my computer and begin to work my current novel. Because every time I write the best sentence I can, a thrill runs through me.

And so, I continue to write.

Publishing a Novel

  • March 10, 2012 5:55 am


When I first decided to publish my novel, Looking for Love, I was under the erroneous impression that writing it was the most difficult part. Now I know better—writing is the easy part. What follows the completion of the novel is the hard stuff.

First, I took every chapter to my writing group for critiquing. Then I had the novel read by several critical readers—meaning people who would be honest about the story, the believability of the characters and the quality of my writing. Next, I had the novel edited by a retired copy editor to make sure my grammar usage was acceptable.

Then, I actively searched for an agent: a search that included paying for 10 minute interviews at conferences that cost me $4 a minute. After several nerve –wracking interviews and the inevitable “Sorry, we can’t use your work right now letters,” I found a publisher.

“Hooray,” I said. “This completed work will be published in no time at all.”

That was seven months ago. Since then, I have rewritten a significant portion of the novel to change the voice from passive to active, had the novel re-edited and made all of those corrections and re-read the novel twice ( all 69,00 words) to make sure there was no left over typos from the editing process. One of the re-reads was aloud, so I could catch any mistakes I had missed.  I also had a formal portrait taken (at my own expense). In addition to that, I have started a publicity campaign which included distributing flyers I had printed (at my own expense) announcing the imminent publication for my first novel.

In addition, I have some control over the design of the cover—so I have conducted at least 5 (maybe more) searches for the right picture to depict the main character, Christy Doyle. So far, the cover designer and I have yet to find the picture—so I will be looking again…

And now, I have the really hard work to complete: writing the synopsis. You may be thinking—how could that be hard? After all, you wrote the book. Right—and I used almost 70,000 words to do it. Now I have to condense that story into about 100 words—not an easy task for someone who likes to go on and on and on.

As I get closer to an actual firm publications date, I feel both excited and apprehensive. What if this novel I’ve invested so much of my time and my energy into is—well, a dud? What if it gets bad reviews on Amazon? What if I only sell twenty copies—and just to my friends and family? What if…well, you get the idea.

But, even with all of those what-ifs, I am excited about my novel, Looking for Love. And I hope that when it is finally available, you will be excited along with me.