Monday, June 26, 2017

Need validation...or not? @Liz Flaherty

The woman who doesn’t need validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet. – Mohadesa Najumi

I read the above in a list of quotes in a random email from Pinterest. At first, I thought—in typical hear me roar fashion―“Yes, exactly!”

But then I thought again.

When I tell anyone in my family I love them, it’s true they don’t have to respond in kind or in almost-kind—“Me, too”—but I wait the extra beat it sometimes takes to hear the response. I admit that if they don’t say it, I wish they had. Just because I wonder, for only a hiccup of a moment, why they don’t.

When I worked full time with the public in the post office, I heard a lot of complaints. There was a poster in the office that said something like “you ARE the post office,” and it was true. Whatever postal employee many people saw was fair game for every complaint they’d had from birth on. It got old—the three-cent stamp was not my fault! 😊 But occasionally—no, often—a customer would give me an “atta girl.” They’d thank me and go on to tell others I’d done a good job. A few gave me gifts at Christmas—unnecessary but really nice—and  a few showed up at my retirement party.

The angry consumers? Yeah, that was part of the job. Just keep smiling and fix whatever you can. The ones who made my days with smiles and thanks of their own? The validators? I needed them.

Which brings us to the writing portion of this regularly scheduled program. Not all reviews are good. There is the occasional snarky letter or email from a disgruntled reader. But then, here will be an email that says someone enjoyed your book and was going to order the rest of your backlist. Someone leaves a great review on Amazon. Life is good.

Sometimes edits—which I’m working on now—will make you wonder why the publisher bought the book in the first place if they just want 😊 to change everything. But then at the end of the chapter will be an editorial comment: “Nice!”

So, do I need validation? I absolutely do. Although this will never make me “the most feared individual on the planet” or even in the room, I’m okay with that. I'd rather be respected than feared.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"the wheel's still in spin" - @Liz Flaherty

If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'. - Bob Dylan

I blame it on my age that I don't like change. I say I am set in my ways, that I don't have enough brain cells left to learn new things. That...well, I say lots of things, I guess, with the comment at the top of the heap being, "I just don't like it, okay?"

Much of the time, I do like change. As someone who grew up without plumbing, central heating, air conditioning, or store-bought milk, believe me when I say I sometimes downright love change. I don't want to go back to manual typewriters, car window cranks, or black-and-white television. I never want to defrost a refrigerator, clean an oven, or wax a floor ever again.

However, I remember how many changes took place in the workplace because of greed, to get rid of employees, or because the change was going to cause a boon for someone high up in the good-old-boy network. The changes didn't improve the product, lower prices, or enrich life for anyone. They were just changes for the sake of change.

I remember when all the trees were removed from one side of the tree-lined road where my parents' house was--they'd already been removed from the other side--for the sake of widening the road. The road was never widened, but its sides certainly are naked.

Twenty-some years ago the corporation where my husband worked "enhanced" the retirement program. It was the first time I ever knew enhance and rape were synonymous.

Then there are self-checkouts. I avoid them when I can, but sometimes I really don't have the time to wait in line at one of the three registers out of 27 that Walmart opens on Sunday afternoon. When I say, Hey, those ones you do for yourself are a good thing, I also remind myself that, No, they're not. They took away jobs and human contact and--here's a word fast becoming obsolete--service.

Indie-publishing, electronic and digital publishing, and Amazon have made the business of writing books unrecognizable as the same one where Hilary Sares called and said, "I'm going to buy your book." Brick-and-mortar bookstores have become rare things.

Some of the things that haven't changed, i.e. the us vs. them finger-pointing between separate factions, where the money goes in traditional publishing, and appalling covers are ones many of us wish would go away.

But they won't.

I know I sound curmudgeonly here--remember that age I mentioned?--and maybe I am. Indie-publishing has been great for a lot of writers. Many readers (myself included) read almost exclusively on electronic devices. I buy a ton of stuff from Walmart and Amazon. Because it's easy.

I'm looking out the office window this morning. It's a view that hasn't changed, other than seasonally, for at least 30 years, and it gives me unimaginable peace. I'm so glad, even with all the changes in publishing, that I still have the best job in the world.

But I miss bookstores. And cashiers who call you by name and say thank you. And that tree-lined road.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Levity with @lcrandallwriter

Taking just a bit of your time today to bring the "happy" only cats can bring. This is Willow, my shadow and companion. I hope your Wednesday is going well! I'm getting started on a short story for an anthology with fellow authors Rena Koontz and Lainee Cole. This should be fun!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Grief and the Writer - @BonnieEdwards

My aunt passed away last month. My last remaining auntie on my mom’s side. The last of her siblings.

She had a long and fruitful life. She lived into her early nineties and left behind children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who will remember her well.

These are the things that I told myself for the first two weeks after she passed. But as her Celebration of Life grew closer, I grew more despondent without even realizing why. Then the other day, I realized I had all the symptoms of grief.

I felt blue, I was losing sleep, and lately, I’d been unable to make decisions. That was the final realization that I’d succumbed to grief. I even had a brief angry stage and found myself not wanting to return phone calls or be around other people.

The difficulty surrounding decision making is particularly challenging for writers. Every day we need to decide various things. Should I write a new scene, revise a scene, write ad copy or blurbs? Should I attempt to write a blog? (I couldn’t decide what to write for this blog until yesterday!) Should I bother doing promo when none of it seems to work? Which cover would work best? Even the dreaded: why should I bother with any of this?

Last week, I was supposed to look at 148 photos I had done with a photographer. It’s a simple publicity photo. I did not want to look like a real estate agent. I wanted something fun and flirty. I took several different tops and dresses and scarfs for the photo shoot. He took the shots.

Afterward, I felt that somehow I’d missed out on some fun…that I’d only been smiling with my lips, not my heart. That’s not me. He sent me the proofs so I could choose three favourites so he can make them look fabulous.

When I couldn’t even narrow down to ten likely photos, I realized that my decision-making had basically ground to a halt. I declined a dinner invitation because, frankly, I didn’t feel like feigning happiness when all I wanted was to lick my wounds.

My last bout of serious grief was over twenty years ago when my parents passed within three years of each other. Since then, I’ve had lots of conversations with writers about their grief, about how we need to be kind to ourselves and not push too hard when it comes to writing. 

I think it’s time to take my own advice. I’ll be kinder to myself for the next few weeks and remind myself to not stress about not making decisions. My publicity photo can wait (it’s been five years since the last one…this one can wait a while longer). I’ll read more. I’ll make some lunch dates with writer friends.

I’ll take the time I need to come back to myself.  I will choose three photos in a few days and then start using the one I think best represents the real me: the fun one who smiles with her heart. 

My latest release is exclusive to this boxed set for now. In my story Whole Lot o' Love you'll find me, writing warm characters and humour...the real me. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

@JoanReeves and the Lucky 7

This has been a crazy month for me. First, I forgot to blog on the first Friday of June. (It got here so fast!)

Then I forgot to line up an interview for the third Friday, aka today!

Wow. Maybe I should start making memos on my Smartphone. (If it's so smart, why didn't it remind me of these events? I know, I know. It's only as smart as the person who programs it.)

Last night, I remembered about my latest blog date. Out of desperation, I interviewed the closest author I could find. Me.

About Joan Reeves

The official version is at the end of this post. The unofficial version is as follows.

Joan Reeves is a small town girl who ended up in a big town world. She's had her head in the clouds ever since she can remember. "Quit day dreaming," was a frequent scolding from her mother, but that never stopped her from making up stories and watching them play like a movie in her head.

She loves reading, writing, gardening, sewing, crafts of all kinds, and driving her sports car with the top down.

Movies--comedies and suspense thrillers--are her guilty pleasure along with black walnut ice cream, Dr. Pepper, Nacho Cheese Doritos, and Whataburger French Fries.

She's lucky enough to be married to the most wonderful man in the world, and to have children who are sane, mostly normal, and happy in their lives.

Joan Reeves Tackles the Lucky 7

1. When you were 18, what did you want to do with your life?

I planned to be an English teacher.

2. When you hit 40, what did you want most in life?

To get published and be a New York Times bestselling author. It took a lot longer than I thought it would.*g*

3. What is a character name you have always wanted to use but haven't?

Sibley--for a heroine. My grandparents lived in a tiny, eyeblink of a town named Sibley. I don't know why, but I've always wanted to name a woman character Sibley.

4. What genre would you like to try but haven't?

Cozy mystery with a female sleuth. I've started a few, but they always end up as romantic comedies.

5. Let's go to fantasy land. If time, distance, and other conditions of reality were no problem, where would you go for dinner tonight and with whom?

To a little bistro on the Champs Elyses where my husband and I dined many years ago.

I'd go with my husband, and this time we'd stay at the George V which we couldn't afford when we were there the first time.

Oh, it's now the Four Seasons George V. We'd end the night with an Aviator Cocktail in the bar there.

(An Aviator Cocktail is made with gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice.)

6. Still in fantasy land, in your most recent book, who would you cast as the heroine and hero to star in the movie version of the book?

My latest release was a short story, Last Chance New Year, in January. I prefer to tell you about Heat Lightning which was Book 1 in the Outlaw Ridge, Texas, series because I'm currently writing the second book in that series.

In Heat Lightning, a romantic suspense involving attempted murder, stalking, and amnesia, hero David has brothers who will have their own stories.

In the movie version, Karl Urban would portray David, and Sarah Shahi would be Tessa.

The book I'm writing now is Dead Heat. This will feature David's older brother John who is living at the lake house at Outlaw Ridge while he recovers from a bullet wound.

When a woman from his past arrives, she does what she's always done: completely screws up his life. I keep wavering on the cast for this story. Maybe next month when I publish it, I'll tell you.

7. Last question before we leave fantasy land. When the movie based on your book wins the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, what will you wear to the Oscars?

Something dark teal blue, one of my favorite colors, and high heels. The highest I can tolerate. (I'm petite, remember?)

I'll be escorted by my husband who always looks fabulous in a tux. He'd probably have to talk for me. I'd be so awestruck I probably wouldn't be able to utter a word.

Oh, and he'd have to carry all my stuff because it won't all fit in my little jeweled handbag.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. Next month, I promise to have a fascinating author to interview.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She'd be delighted if you’d follow her on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

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