Friday, March 4, 2016

Priorities and precious

       
          That was then.
          I loved what our books were called. Precious Gems. What an inspired name for stories we were inspired to write. I only had one: Always Annie. It was my first book, although nowhere close to my first manuscript, and it was all so exciting. Precious. Sparkly.
          Like others both before and after me, I thought Annie’s story was going to be “the start of something big.” Not that I aspired to be the next Nora Roberts—well, maybe I aspired—but I thought that first book would open me up to at least a book or two a year and maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to quit my day job and wear sweats and fuzzy slippers to work.
          But then...
          The closest I’ve ever come to being Nora was meeting her at RWA National in Chicago. Until 2012, my “book or two a year” were published in 2003, 2007, and 2010. Quitting my day job came when I retired from it in 2011. The sweats and fuzzy slippers have been a delayed but not disappointing delight.
          ...this is now.
          My mother-in-law’s funeral was yesterday. This week has been one of profound sadness, loss, and grief. It’s also been one of celebration of her life and reflection of things we all wished we’d said or done differently.
          I didn’t write a word during the three weeks of Mom’s final illness and subsequent passing. I couldn’t keep up with things I had committed to doing. I cancelled appointments. I cried at unexpected moments and in embarrassing places. (I am not a weeper, so I was surprised at this.) My writing voice was silenced by stress and grief. But I was where I needed to be.
          I say, occasionally, that I write fulltime. I don’t. I try to write nearly every day, but promotion takes up an unprecedented and ugly amount of time, plus I do other things like volunteer here and there and make quilts and have long  hilarious lunches with girlfriends and spend lots of time with my husband.    
          These days, I usually have a contract for a book a year or so, plus I’ve dipped reluctant toes into indie pubbing. It’s good for me, makes me happy, and supports my travel habit (as long as I don’t want to go too far.) I still love writing and publishing and working in my sweats, but priorities are kind of different. I don’t care about earning a living wage writing, or about being all that prolific. I don’t want to write with the voice a 20-something heroine, a ship that sailed 40 years ago.
          What I care about is what Kensington so brilliantly named our short-lived and under-sung imprint of all those years ago. The Precious Gems. Each of my books—and those of the other writers here—qualify, whether we write a half dozen a year or one a decade. The love I shared with my mother-in-law for 45 years, that’s one, too—a great big shiny one. Friendships, memory postcards from the past, laughing until we cry and our stomachs hurt--more precious gems.  
          I’ll try to make a little more sense next month. Until then, I hope your days are all precious ones. And sparkly.

Coming soon...

Every Time We Say Goodbye


          After the prom night accident that had stolen the innocence of his small lakeside hometown,
Jack Llewellyn had run. The guilt—especially facing his high school sweetheart, Arlie Gallagher—had been too much. Now he had no choice. He was back in town, and on Arlie's radar.

          Arlie couldn't believe that after all these years, she still had him under her skin. He was such a changed man…a responsible business owner, a single parent. Would he understand the changes she'd gone through, the secrets she lived with? She was ready to forgive him but was he ready to forgive himself? And did they have to say goodbye this time?

Liz Flaherty thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant chances you have to reinvent yourself. Her latest professional incarnation is as a Harlequin Heartwarming author, and she is enjoying every minute! 

          

20 comments:

  1. Oh, baby, what a lovely blog and congrats on the new-celebrating-the-old blog. It's wonderful! Always Annie was the first autographed book you ever gave me and I passed it around the park at the lake and said, "I know this author--she's almost a friend!" Now you are a friend--a BFF, in fact, in addition to being a great writer! Wow, I'm so proud of you!

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  2. Heartfelt sympathy for your loss, Liz. We lost my mother in February, so I know how life can abruptly stifle your creativity. Best wishes for your upcoming release!

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    1. Thanks, Becky. I'm sorry about your mother. It's such a terrible loss.

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  3. I am so sorry for your loss, Liz. When RadioMan's dad died unexpectedly a couple of years ago, the same thing happened. I would cry when it felt odd to cry and I wanted to write, but I just couldn't. You'll get through...and ((hugs)) in the mean time.

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    1. Thanks, Kristi. I appreciate those hugs!

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  4. Great post, Liz. I guess it's only right that priorities change as we get older. What seemed so important at 20 seems frivolous now, but at least we took a stab at becoming the next Nora. That's one regret we don't have.

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    1. I try to have as few regrets as possible, Cheryl, but I know we all think about that every time someone says, "I think about writing a book," because we've done more than think about it.

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  5. Liz, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know that pain. I lived it for my parents and for Larry's too. Nurture yourself and your husband and family. You'll write again when you're ready.

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    1. Thanks, Joan. She was our last parent, too, except for my husband's stepfather, and, ironically, the one I knew and loved the longest.

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  6. I'm sorry for your loss. As someone who dreams of one day being able to claim I wrote full time after quitting my day job, I have to say this post brought me to tears for more than one reason. Beautifully written, touching, and perspective shifting. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks, A.D. I used to dream of it, too, until one day I gave actual thought to how much I really liked my day job. I don't miss it, but I cherish the years I spent there.

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  7. Liz, so sorry to hear of your loss. It's been a small handful of years since the last of our parents passed. I, too, took a few breaks from writing during those times, always knowing the urge would return. Do take care of yourself!

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie. It's been some rough days, but hope my voice comes back soon.

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  8. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, Liz. It's certainly hard to focus when life gets tough sometimes.

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    1. It is, and I'm having trouble getting that focus back. I think Mom would tell me to just get over it, but I'm not there yet. :-)

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  9. So sorry for your loss, Liz. Hopefully you'll be able to regain sparkly days again. Good luck to you and your husband traveling the country...sounds like fun. Enjoy.

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  10. Was supposed to be regain sparkly days again 'soon.'

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  11. And I apologize. Got two blogs confused.

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