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I’m a scaredy cat, for sure….

I’m not quite sure my fear is irrational, because there’s a valid reason I have it.

A little backstory first…

I was a latchkey kid during the school year. My mother didn’t want me left all alone every day for more than 13 hours during the summer though, so from the time I was 5 until I was 14 ( and got my first job!) I was sent away with my grandmother every summer so she could “watch me.” It was more me watching her, but that’s for another blog.

Any hoo.

I was used as free labor from the time I could lift laundry bags and learned how to make beds. One day I was hanging laundry on the clothesline – yes, we still did it back then even though it was the 1970’s and dryers had been around for eons! I was just clipping a blouse on the line when I felt this horrible pinch on the palm of my hand. I screamed, dropped the clothespin and the blouse to the ground, and looked at my hand to find the biggest wasp I’d ever seen sticking out of my flesh, still moving.

I screamed again. This time louder, shriller, and more hysterical and then ran inside seeking help.

My grandmother was at the kitchen table, shelling peas. She threw me an annoyed glance, barked, “Why are you hollering like a banshee?” and never stopped shelling.

Through sobs and hiccoughs, I showed her my hand and explained myself.

She glanced at my hand, tsked, and said, “Go to the sink then and pull the stinger out. Then wash your hand in hot water and soap.”

No “here, let me help you.”

No, “oh you poor thing.”

No “Oh my goodness, let’s get you tended to.”

I was given orders and expected to carry them out by myself.

I was eight years old.

Eight.

Think about yourself at that age. Would you have been able to deal with this alone?
Unfortunately, I had to.

Sobbing, and with the damn wasp still flapping its wings, I ran to the sink and did what I was told to.

I was terrified to pull the wasp and stinger out, esp. since the bug was still alive. I took the dish cloth used to wash the dishes in my right hand and squeezed the bug until it was dead.

A strange feeling that, for sure.

Then I tugged on the stinger. I can assure you it hurt as much coming out as it had going in.

Blood shot everywhere in the sink, more so when I ran it under the flaming hot water.

“Make sure you clean the sink when you’re done,” My grandmother said, still at her shelling station. “And get a bandaid from the first aid kit.”

Never a hug, never a kiss, never a word of “Oh, poor you.”

I’ll repeat: I was 8.

When I was bandaged she made me retrieve the blouse from where it had fallen to the dirt below and hand wash it since it had gotten dirty again when I dropped it.

8.

To this day I run when I see wasps, bees, mosquitos, simple houseflies, anywhere in my vicinity.

Irrational fear or well-deserved one? You choose.

Let’s see what the other authors in this blog challenge are afraid of  – rational or irrational though they be!

MFRWauthorblogchallenge

 

 

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Do I have a backlist?

At RWA 2018 I attended a workshop about making the most of your backlist, and by making the most the presenter meant sales. So, this is good question for a writer to be asking him or herself.

So, what is a backlist? Well, it’s a publisher’s list of older books still in print. The definitive word in that sentence is older. But what constitutes older? How many years or even decades is considered enough for a book to be truly defined as backlisted? 

I’m asking this because I had my very first book published in 2015. That’s only 3 years ago. (Sometimes, it seems like 300, but that’s just me!) Now, in no one’s mind would 3 years past be considered old. But, believe it or not, in the publishing industry, it is. The reasons vary, but if you’ve ever heard this phrase: You’re only as good as your last book – you’ll know it’s true, because each time a writer releases a new book, that becomes the yardstick readers measure you by because it’s the most current, and available in the here and now.

I realize what I just wrote may be a little convoluted, so let me ‘esplain.

Most well-known writers put out a book a year, maybe 2, or if you’re Jill Shalvis or Nora Roberts, 4 or more! I’m not either, but since 2015 I’ve averaged 3 a year. This year it’ll be four, which is giving me agita even as I write this.

But I digress…

Since most authors have a lag period of about 6-12 months between releases, they don’t have much to promote while they are writing/editing/editing some more/ their coming soon book. Here’s where the back list comes in. I’m going  use myself here s an example because it’s easier. My first book, Skater’s Waltz, released in March 2015.

It was promoted heavily for a few months until my second book came out. Same scenario until my third book released. By the time the 4th and 5th books went out into the world, no one was  hearing about Book 1 which started the entire 5 book series.

So. With each new addition to the series, I tweeted/facebooked/instagrammed – you get the picture: I used my social media sites – to REMIND people about the first book, the one that started the series ( and my new life!) and put all the buy links up with each promo. I was lucky enough that each time I had a new book come out, I also had people buying the previous books because of that promo. I’ve written my series as stand alone books, which means you don’t need to read the one before the newest one to know what’s going on, but readers still went ahead and purchased those previous books.

In essence, this was me promoting my backlist.

Another way to get readers to read the books that came before your soon to be released one and utilize your back list effectively is to have a sale. Each time my newest book was a month or so from release date, I asked my publisher(s) to put the previous book I released on sale and then promoted the sale to try and garner new readers. It worked.

This holiday season I have a new San Valentino Christmas story coming out called CHRISTMAS and CANOLLIS. I don’t have the exact release date yet, but when I do I’ll be having a sale of my previous San Valentino Christmas Story A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS to try and get people interested in the new book.

The theory if you like this one, you’re sure to like that one, is the prompt for this. BTW – just a little side note: I’m having a cover reveal of Christmas and Canollis soon, so stay tuned!!!

Get the idea now of why a backlist is important to promote if you’re an author? And it doesn’t matter if your backlist is from 1 year ago and has 2 books on it, or 10 years ago with 30. ALL your books should be promoted as frequently as you’re comfortable doing.

Backlists. They’re a good thing for a writer.

When I’m not pushing, er promoting my backlist, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

 

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Saying goodbye…

So.

I’m not going to go into too many specifics here because I want to protect someone’s privacy as much as I can.

But…

My husband and I had a conversation the other night at the dinner table – where all the great conversations in the world should occur, I believe – about dying. Specifically, the things that get said to the person dying and the things the dying person needs to say to the survivors.

My husband is the smartest person I have ever had the privilege to meet and know. Truly. He is bat-shit brilliant when it comes to most things. If I didn’t love him to the moon and back I’d be wicked jealous of all those brains.

Any hoo.

He told me that he was at a lecture once on death and dying ( for those of you not in the know – hubman is a physician//surgeon) and something the lecturer said has stuck with him since then. It was about what a dying person needs and wants to say to the people he/she is leaving behind but doesn’t know how to articulate exactly what needs to be said.

The lecturer said there are only 11 words that need to be said  – by either party – before someone’s death. These are:

I am sorry; You are forgiven; Thank you, and I love you.

That’s all.

Those 11 words cover everything – every single thing – that ever occurred in a life or during a relationship. Think about it. Think about someone you love who is dying. Wouldn’t saying those words do justice to every thing that has ever happened in your relationship?

You don’t need to state what you are sorry for – the person already knows. Saying you are sorry  is enough.

You do need to tell them they are forgiven because they need to hear it, but they already know why you’re forgiving them without stating the reason you are.

You thank the person for being in your life, for being there during the good and bad times and everything in between, and again – you don’t need to state specifics about why you are thanking them.

Saying I love you is the most important thing you can ever say to another human being. 3 simple words, without any further exposition, is enough.

I love you.

‘Nuff said, no?

So. From me:  “I am sorry. You are forgiven. Thank you. I love you.”

 

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So, I took a little break….

I’m back.

Did you hear Arnold’s voice when you read that last line? Hee hee

My self imposed break from all social media that I told you about a bit ago (A different track) has officially ended. I was so stressed with everything that had been going on in my life of late – personally, professionally, medically, and spiritually – that I needed a little time to decompress and re-evaluate. Some sleep wouldn’t have hurt, either, but alas, I never sleep.

So. How did my little social media exile go?
Well, the first few days were hard. And by hard, I mean EXCRUCIATING! I had a real issue with FOMO ( Fear of Missing out!)


I seriously was concerned I was missing out on EVERYTHING and that I’d miss something crucial to my career or LIFE that I’d need to know. That lasted about four days. Seriously. I had hives.

Day five something happened. I woke up and the first thing I did wasn’t reach for my phone like I typically do. The first thing I did was kiss my husband good morning. The fact that it was three o’clock in the morning didn’t faze him a whit. He’s used to my insomnia.

And, no. My hubby isn’t Ryan Gossling. Just clarifyin’

Any hoo.

Days 6-10, no social media checks at all. Nada. In fact, I was cut off completely from news of the world on all counts: cyberspace, social media, and world, because I was in  the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a cruise and no wifi. Oh, I could have had it if I wanted to pay $20.00 a day to hook it up, but seriously! Have you met me? Calling me cheap is the best compliment you can give me!

Day 11 was a travel home day. When we pulled in NYC port, I turned my phone on for the first time in 5 days. It didn’t stop pinging for almost an hour. When all was quiet again I had 1596 emails, 620 spam mails, 42 texts, 122 facebook updates, 501 twitter notifications, over 200 updates on Instagram and those were just the ones I checked. The good Lord above knows how many Pinterest, Book Bub, Goodreads and TRiberr notifications I had!

It took me almost 2 entire days to go through all the emails because a great deal of them required responses.  I found out – via FB and Twitter that  two people I knew had babies, one was admitted to the hospital, had emergency surgery and was now, once again,  home.  The world was still spinning, the day was still breaking every 24 hours, and my life as I’d known it before my imposed exile was still the same.

Was I, though?
Was I any less stressed after unplugging for 14 days?

It’s a conundrum. I was happy while I wasn’t checking my phone every two minutes and living in the moment of the exile, but all the work I had to catch up on when I got back home was a little overwhelming. But, I’ll admit, since I was so relaxed, it didn’t feel insurmountable like it had before I decided to go social media-less.

So. What’s the takeaway with all this? What did I learn about myself from unplugging and stepping away from all my technology and social media platforms?

First, that’s it’s possible and I can do it again if I need to.

Second, the world still spins without you knowing what’s going on 24/7.

Third, immediate knowledge and hearing about realtime events, while a good thing, can make you blind, deaf and dumb to your own life and the events and people surrounding you.

Fourth, while unplugging totally can be a good thing, you still need to be locked in to certain things – like emails from editors who request FULL MANUSCRIPTS of your latest work! Yeah. Happened to me while I was unplugged. Le sigh. That was the first email I answered when I was on-line again, with an apology for the time delay in responding because I was out at sea.

Fingers crossed, peeps!
And last, while social media may rule the world, you can rule your own little part of it by limiting what you allow into you life everyday. I don’t need to check on all my SM accounts daily ( or even hourly, like I was doing!). I don’t need to respond to every single tweet or FB comment I receive. And I don’t need to check my phone the moment I wake up and the last thing I do before going to bed.

So, overall, I have to say, unplugging and going in a different track for a few weeks proved to be a good thing. For me, anyway.

These are the places you can find me if you’re looking. I may or may not be checking them hourly anymore, though! hee hee

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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The voices in my head!

I’ve been away from my computer for a week and forgot to write this post before I left, so it’s gonna be a short one!

As far as writing goes, I basically wait until I “hear” a voice in my head to determine if I’m going to pen the book in first person ( my main character talking) or third ( multiple viewpoints). I’ve done it both ways.

When I write in third person POV my books tend to be longer because there are more heads to get into. The major pitfall, though, I find with 3rd POV is that I sometimes forget whose head I’m in!!! I’ve been known to start a scene in one character’s head and without a page break, creep into someone else’s. This is problematic to be sure! Editing is key here.

In first POV I tend to write my funnier books. I never used to like first POV until I realized how much better the snarkiness, the comedy, and the plain funny sounded coming directly from a character’s mouth.

I have two new books coming out in a few months and both are in first person AND both have humorous elements, so…

Let’s see what some other writers in this hop use for viewpoint and why! MFRWauthorblogchallenge

and please follow me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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The End…for now

The logo/motto for the 2018 RWA conference was RETHINK REVITALIZE RENEW. I think I did all 3.

It’s been a week since I’ve been home and I’ve been super busy trying to finish edits on an upcoming title, due today. Yesterday I completed them and sent them on their way, so now I can start to listen to the RWA flash drive of the classes and workshops I missed, plus put into effect some of the marketing strategies I learned.

Here are a few random pictures I still haven’t posted from the event. Next year, NYC. Can’t wait…truly!

When I had to choose which shoes to wear to which event: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the menu had yet another thing I was allergic to: (PS I  never ate the food at any of the  luncheons or dinners because I was allergic to almost everything they served!

My favorite event: The ProLiteracy book Singing!

Next year I’m going to be more diligent in how I take pictures. This year I didn’t take enough!

If you’re looking for me before RWA2019 in NYC, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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Leaving on a jet plane….

If you get the John Denver reference, you know where I’m heading today. A week of workshops, friendship renewals, motivation, and hopefully some book sales and new readers. Hee hee – I had to put that one in!

Any hoo….

I’m sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight to leave and thought I’d check in and let you know that the rest of my posts this week will be coming to you livelivelive from Denver, CO and the #RWA2018 conference. Stay tuned for daily updates – sometimes more than 1! and for tidbits from the conference.

This year, the event is even more special because my dear writing friend and NHRWA sistah, LISA OLECH, is a Rita Award nominee. I can’t wait to cheer her on and scream with glee when she wins!!!

SO, wish me safe travels and I’ll check in soon! Be well and look for me here:  Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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Why I love a list….

I’m a list-maker. You know: one of those annoying people who write everything they have to do, everyplace they have to go, and every item they need to buy, down on a piece of paper before they ever leave the house or attempt a task.

This is the list of things I needed to do for Saturday, July 7.  You will notice the list is even dated. That’s so I don’t confuse it with another day’s list. You will also note at the bottom of the list is a reminder to write a blog on…lists.

I make lists for the grocery store; the chores I need to do; the stops I have to make while I am out of the house doing normal life stuff. I make sublists, too, when I have to go more than 2 or three places during one trip. I’ll list my destination, then – in bullet form – all the things I need to purchase or do at each place.

I have lists for birthday presents. I have a list of people I need to buy or make Christmas gifts for every year. I have a list of the days I need to send bills out to be paid.

I have a list of all the blogs I want to write, a list for the titles of the books I need to finish ( or start!) and then sublists added to that.

I have a bucket list with 1000 items on it. I have a to-do list for every day next week already.

I make a lot of lists. A lot of lists.

Maybe if I stopped making lists, I’d get more stuff on the lists done. Just a thought…..

 

 

 

 

When I’m not making lists, you can usually find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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So…Iceland

Last week I promised I’d share some memories of my recent Iceland trip and I’ve finally gotten a moment to sit down and put something together. This was a trip orchestrated by my daughter and which included myself, hubby, darling daughter and one of my fabulous nieces. This is us at the start of the trip. Notice the excellent and wicked expensive hiking boots we all have on. Necessary for walking, hiking, and basically existing in Iceland.

On my last blog I shared the things I liked and didn’t like so much about the tiny island. One of the things I had trouble with is the weather. I rained everyday. Every. Single. Day. All day. So we spent a great deal of time in the car, traveling to sites. One of my favorite places was to a waterfall, about 50 miles from downtown Reykjavik. Touring a waterfall on a warm, sunny day would have been bliss. On an already 45 degree, raining and windy day it….wasn’t. But it was fun! We actually got to climb up the perimeter of the waterfall and go behind it. I filmed a few seconds of our time as we stood behind the powerful rush and took a bunch of photos.

After the waterfall we drove to a LavaRock Tunnel. Think Carlsbad Caverns, but in Iceland. We went down into the bowels of Iceland about 60 meters ( 180 feet for you Americans, like me!!). I have to tell you, I was scared. Of so many things, but the biggest thing was the fear of being trapped underground should the lava shift and fall in on us.

You can see from this picture that this is the start of the “tour.” There is a huge whole in the ground where snow routinely falls into all year long. Notice the black rock we maneuvered over – that’s lava rock. 1,000,000 year old lava rock. Okay I’m not sure that’s how old it is, but you get the idea. It didn’t form last week. Not even last century! And yes, those are hard hats with lights attached to our heads. Second biggest fear? The lights would burn out and we’d been in total and complete darkness and unable to find our way back to the beginning of the cave. Told you I was scared!

On the last day of the trip we spent the day sightseeing in Reykjavik. Since it was yet another cold, rainy, and windy day, we figured we’d museum hop. 

I was able to take one picture before my daughter silently pointed to a sign that said “photography prohibited” in eight languages. Ooops. One cool thing about the city: tucked into sidestreets and painted along the sides of buildings and random houses, are dozens of street art painting. This one was my favorite:

It covered the complete side of an office building, so to get some perspective on it, the entire mural was about ten feet wide by 30 feet tall. Impressive!

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the food and some other places we went. Here’s a hint: it was rainy and cold. (Heehee)

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Get your hands off my…..

I have simply lucked out these past few weeks with the writing prompts on this blog challenge. Today is another easy peasy piece for me to write.

The prompt is “the item I can’t live without.” As a writer, you may be thinking, “Well, it’s got to be a computer? Or a dictionary? Or a grammar book.”

Respectfully I say, you would be wrong.

Teeny bit of backstory: I am of Irish descent. I was born with jet black curly, kinky hair, hazel eyes and skin the color of pasteurized milk. In the 1960’s when I was a kid, no one believed much in sun block. In fact, the more color you had on your face and body during the summer, the better everyone thought you looked. Since I am so fair, I typically burned at least twice during an active outdoor summer. The fact my mother would slather me in baby oil and iodine didn’t help the situation any. In fact, I would venture to say all that oily manipulation added to the depth and breadth of my burns.

Flash forward to my teens, twenties, and thirties. Sun block was more popular and had numbers attached to it. Most dermatologists suggested you use it when ever in the sun and reapply often. I did. But I used an oil called Ban de Soleil that had an SPF of 2. Going without the block would have been better, probably.

In my forties I started noticing wrinkles on my face. By then, dermatologists world wide suggested – heavily – to stay out of the sun, and to never leave the house without a block on. I complied.

In my fifties I was diagnosed with skin cancer. First basal cell, then the more serious melanoma. I’ve had several surgeries to remove sections of my skin on my face, back, and legs. The scars left behind are not pretty. I venture to say they are hideous. With all of this, I became a vampire, shunning sunlight at all costs. If I do have to spend anytime outdoors, be it on a walk, or traveling, I now always wear long sleeved shirts, a hat, sunglasses, and a 100 SPF block that’s so thick it makes Desatin look watery. ( the mothers in this group will know what I mean, here.)

So, the item I simply can not, will not, and should not live without EVER is…sun block. Everyday, everyplace, no matter what.

I am an advocate for keeping skin protected whether you are 6 months old or 90 years young.

Everyday, everyplace, no matter what.

To read what the other authors in this hop can’t live without, simple click here.

And since I am never in the sun, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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