Monthly Archives: August 2013
We just returned from our summer vacation at the Russian River. High school started on Monday. Another summer has zoomed by at warp speed. My son began his second year at junior college and my daughter is now a sophomore in high school.
I was talking with my sister the other day about how time goes by faster as we age. I don’t understand why and am on a mission to research the logic behind this. I can hardly recall what happened when my kids were toddlers and I’m not so old that I have early onset dementia. I think the only way to jog my memory would be to break out my photo albums (yes, I diligently made up photo albums from their birth to the present and have about 20 of them). Without a picture it’s impossible for me to recall what they looked like at two and three years old and/or how they acted.
I wish I could have a mental video of their youth but I guess I’ll have to watch the dvd’s for that as well.
What did you do for summer vacation? Do you take pictures and/or videos?
I’ve just released my new contemporary romance, Always Remember, and this is what one reader posted on my Facebook page: “Just reading Always Remember. It is GREAT! Read 21 chapters before I had to put it down. Love those kinds of stories. Great job! Looking forward to the next one.”
And a few hours later, the same reader posted this: “Done! Haven’t read a book that fast in forever. What a terrific book!”
To say I’m a little overjoyed at the response would be putting it mildly. 🙂
Always Remember is a story near and dear to my heart. If you’ve visited my website or received the latest copy of my newsletter, then you’re probably aware that this tale was inspired by a true life story.
You see, before my parents were married, they had a baby and gave her up for adoption. Years later, after her adoptive parents passed on, she made an attempt to contact her birth parents. She hoped to track down her mom or her dad, but never in a million-zillion years did she expect to find them married to each other, with four other children who quickly enveloped her into the family.
While this isn’t my parents’ or sister’s story, Always Remember captures the pain and heartbreak I saw that summer, as well as the joy and happiness of a family reunited.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Always Remember, and laugh and cry along with my characters. If you enjoy it, please recommend it to your family and friends.
A midnight summons from rancher Nate Coltrane brings singer Jessie Adams back to the heart of the Rocky Mountains — not to see him again, but to say goodbye to her dying mother. Seventeen years ago, Jessie gave up Nate’s child for adoption and she hasn’t been home since. How can she sit by her mother’s side, surrounded by constant reminders of all she loved and lost? How can she face Nate without telling him the truth about the child he never knew existed?
Nate doesn’t think Jessie has the guts to return home and face him, but when she does, he’s afraid of losing everything he loves…for the second time in his life. But he’s made a promise to her mother. Bring Jessie home. Give the dying woman one last opportunity to heal the rift with her daughter. Nate will do anything for Jessie’s mother because if not for her, he might never have known the love of his child.
But sometimes the truth turns out to be a lie…
What do you do when a friend invites you to her beach house for the weekend with a group of women you know and like? You rearrange your schedule and go! I just returned from a weekend away from the family with lots of great memories and best of all an appreciation for friends.
There were eight of us in one house and on the first night we were all together, someone suggested we play a game.
“Anyone have a deck of cards?” someone asked.
Sadly, we didn’t, but that never stops a group of determined moms. After much discussion about the benefits of watching the Ellen Degeneres show, someone suggested we download the ap Ellen featured on her show called “Heads Up.”
Within minutes we divided into two groups and began playing this very fun game. If you’re not familiar with Heads Up, this link provides all the information you need to get started: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/heads-up!/id623592465?mt=8.
Let me tell you, there is no better way to get to know a group of people than to watch them act out with charades or call out clues under the categories “Superstars,” “Accents & Impressions,” and our personal favorite upgrade “Totally 80’s.” The quiet became loud, the serious shed their inhibitions and shook their booties, and the meek hummed out the tune to “Baby Got Back.” Soon we were laughing so hard, we could barely pay attention–forget about keeping score. We all won in this hilarious guessing game.
Needless to say, we played again the next night. I highly recommend Heads Up. Anyone have other suggestions for ice breakers?
My house is quiet. Too quiet. Yeah, I know, the kids are back in school, I should be embracing the calm after the summer storm. But I’m not talking about the peaceful bliss the return of the school bus brings. I’m talking about a hollow, empty feeling that’s brought on by loss.
My faithful writing companion—my dog, Jetta—is gone.
Not that she made all that much noise during the day. Outside of the scratch of her nails on the hardwood floors, the harrumph of her laying her big body down somewhere, or the whimper or bark uttered during a bad dream, Jetta was the strong, silent type, letting her eyes and her tail do the talking. But I always knew she was there.
She’d follow me from room to room, listening to my mumblings and musing, panting at my jokes. Somehow, she could sense when I was struggling and frustrated, offering her head for a pat and a nudge when I most needed it. Best of all, she was a fabulous alarm clock, reminding me with a head butt to the thigh when it was time to meet the bus or have dinner. Seriously, she must have had a switch inside alerting her to dinner time because, like an alcoholic barfly, she NEVER missed five o’clock.
Now, it’s just me rattling around the house all day.
My heart still breaks each morning when I get up and don’t trip over her lying in wait in front of my bedroom door—and she’s been gone nearly two months. When I sit down to write, I nearly suffocate under the heavy silence of my own company. And, don’t tell my family this, but I’m not really great company. I’ve tried turning on music or the television, but both are too distracting.
I’m not putting this out there as an excuse for not meeting deadlines, because I will meet them. I’m just surprised at how deep the ache is still. When my daughter arrives home from school each day, we’re both a little flummoxed. Her homecoming was always greeted with a big, furry hug–mostly because Jetta knew she was an hour away from dinner! And now, without the fanfare, it’s anticlimactic. Just crazy Mom waiting beside the door.
I don’t regret the decision we made regarding Jetta. It was time. The cancer had spread so that she was gargling her food and walking into walls. The hard part was, she was still wagging her tail whenever anyone came near, happy to nuzzle her head under any hand willing to pet her. That’s the way I wanted to remember her. But now I’m left with silence.
Everyone says we should get another dog—if not a puppy, maybe a rescue. But I don’t want another dog. I want Jetta. And she’s not coming back. Yes, I know, she was only a dog. It would be a lot harder to lose a child, a spouse or a parent. But with the loss of a loved one, you expect a depth of pain. I didn’t expect to feel the same staggering emotions about losing my pet.
For now, I’ll just have to content to myself with a photo or two. And, maybe a few tumbleweeds of dog fur hiding behind the sofa amongst the pine needles of Christmas trees past. If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll get a fish.
In his 2009 TED talk, Seth Godin discusses how leadership in the Internet age is about building tribes. Always has been, in fact, but the Internet makes it easier to find like-minded individuals and bring them together.
Writers don’t always think of themselves as leaders, but they are. To be successful, they have to build followers—a fan base. If you’ve got followers, then you’re a leader.
Writers are great at connecting with other writers online. We enjoy sharing our travails and triumphs with others who’ve been through similar experiences. But other writers are our colleagues, not our customers. Our readership base is not drawn from others in the same profession but from people who connect with our stories.
So how do we find these people?
It isn’t easy. People don’t put in their LinkedIn profile, “I like to read stories about quirky heroines who give up the urban life for the slower pace of a small town.” And even if they did, that story situation is just a framework. It doesn’t communicate the themes and values of the novel.
Godin says that to build a tribe online, find a disconnected group that has a yearning, and lead them. Connect them to one another.
That got me asking, what yearning do my stories fulfill? In many ways, authors are the worst people to answer that question about their books. We’re often too busy planting the flowers and pulling the weeds to see the whole garden. Friends and critique partners can often recognize the common themes of our stories more easily than we do.
As Dianne pointed out in her post on branding, authors have lots of stories to tell, often diverse in genre and subject matter. But the heart of those novels is the same, because it’s the author’s heart. It’s the author’s yearning.
So what do you yearn for? Who is your tribe? How can you connect with them, and how can you lead them?
These aren’t questions just for authors, but for everyone who wants to make a difference in the world, as Godin points out in the video. Those who want to transform the SPCA to a no-kill shelter. Those who want to give shoes to people who have none. You start a movement by connecting to people who have the same values, the same yearning. Then they become evangelists and help you spread the word. You can’t do it on your own.
What’s your passion? How do you want your work to change the world? If you build your brand on these things, it will carry over into all you do.