Monday, October 16, 2023

Feisty - a memoir in little pieces

My friend, Jean Peelen, has just published her memoir, Feisty, a memoir in little pieces. The title exactly describes this small powerfully written memior. The book measures 5 x 7" and each piece is no longer than two pages. But Jean successfully captured the most important periods of her life in these short succinct chapters. The back cover reads: "Feisty is the story of a woman with attitude - told in short reflections that capture a life of awakening activism. From her exploits as a five year old New Jersey cowboy, to hosting Gloira Steinem in Alabama, to an awkward drink with a young Clarence Thomas, Jean Peelen shares her civil rights journey and the most vulnerable moments in her life. This book is funny and sad, deep and wide. Feisty shines a light on what is possible when a woman rejects roles she is expected to fulfil and finds her own path." As a memoir writer I was interested to see her unique style of telling her story. The book pulled me in and kept me reading until the end. Right now Jean is doing a number of author visits in Washington, DC, where she worked for the federal government enforcing civil rights laws. And, she does not make it a secret that she did all this at the age of 82.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Autumn and Yuri - a new book in progress

I'm pleased to announce the good progress on a book I started exactly a year ago. This book was born from hybrid Zoom meetings at two rural Upstate New York libraries in mid-October 2022. At the end of each author presentation, I asked those in attendance, both at the library and on Zoom to develop a character. One library's patrons developed a man, Yuri, the other library's patrons developed a female that they named Autumn. They dictated a full bio of each character and when they were done, I thought - I can make a book incorporating these two characters. I ran with their characters, and it has been great fun. Autumn's bio stated she started as a police officer in North Carolina, but got fed up with the politics and moved to New York State. Yuri is Ukrainian (the woman who named him said his last name began with an "R"). He was head of their national archives, and the patrons gave me many of his qualities, like he has a good sense of humor. It's been interesting and sometimes challenging to further develop the storyline around these two characters, but it is coming together as they both meet in a university town in the Finger Lakes Region. With a university setting their is much to work with: politics, passions, creative minds, turf wars. Of course there's a crime involed, actually more than one, and Yuri ends up being the prime suspect. I'll do my best to get him out of this bind. As of now, he has had to give up his passport until the investigations are finished. I'm thankful for the Sisters-in-Crime, Connecticut Chapter for having their twice weekly write-ins. That gives me dedicated writing time with other SinC members.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Let's Go! A Guide to Increasing Your Confidence - by Emily Jaenson

When I get an email with the subject line: "I Wrote a Book," it gets my attention. The note was from the daughter-in-law of one of my husband's work colleagues. The author of Let's Go! is Emily Jaenson and I suspect you will be hearing more about her. Her book, available in Spring 2024, is titled: "Let's Go! A Guide to Increasing Your Confidence." "Let’s go! A Guide to Increasing Your Confidence: How to go from too shy to order a pizza to unstoppable. By practicing the right behaviors, you can change your attitude over time and grow into a more confident, goal directed person. This book lights the way." In her TedX talk, Emily shares her journey from being very shy to being the only female general manager of a Triple-A baseball team, the Reno Aces. Emily's TedX talk - has had over 2.7M views. Her story point out that everyone, especially young women, can have the confidence to succeed. Emily also has a podcast, so if you want to learn more, check her out.

Friday, April 14, 2023

The Writing Life - Old Women Who Write

Last week I was interviewed by Jean Peelen, who has started a website and Facebook page called Old Women Who Write. Jean contacted me and asked if I would consider being interviewed. I thought about that because I don't consider myself "old." Jean explained that her idea was that women of any age can start writing, be part of a writing community, and get published. That made sense. So, if you would like to see the interview she did with me, along with the others, here is the link: In the meantime, I've been making great progress on the book featuring Autumn Whitcomb and Yuri Rachinskij. I'm working on their background information before they run into each other in Upstate New York. I'm a member of Sisters in Crime Connecticut and they have a write-in two days a week. I try to Zoom in for one of those and this week I accomplished over 1,600 words in the two hours. Now, if I could just keep that up. Here in Connecticut we've ended winter and went right into summer. Although I'm not happy with the hot weather this early in the year, it does prompt me to stay in and write.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

The Writing Life

A recap: I’m working on two books. One, Imminent Danger, that I started at the end of 2019 that dealt with a super virus developed in a Chinese biotech lab. When Covid-19 became a reality, I couldn’t believe China had copied my plot line!! At over 30,000 words, I put the manuscript aside. That’s when I wrote the fourth book, Deadly Secrets, in the Caitlyn Jamison mystery series. Last summer I was encouraged to finish Imminent Danger, so I reworked the plot line, and added new characters. In an exercise at the end of two rural library Zoom author talks last October, I asked the library patrons to develop a character. Two interesting characters were developed that I thought would make a great story. That book carries the working title of Autumn after one of the characters. I’d been making great progress on Autumn, working on the backstory of the two main characters until Kara, the new protagonist from Imminent Danger appeared on my shoulder wanting equal time. New scenes for Imminent Danger have been scrolling through my head. Thank you, Kara! Okay. I can manage this. Both books are well enough developed that I can switch back and forth as the dueling protagonists fight for my attention. But, on my early morning walk today, Sage, a secondary character from Deadly Secrets tapped me on the shoulder saying, “Remember me?” During the writing of Deadly Secrets, I developed a character, Sage, and her partner, Holly, that I thought would make a great spin-off book or series from the Caitlyn Jamison books. I had not thought about them since . . . until this morning when Sage, the owner of the art shop in the town of Pont-Aven made her presence known. Can I handle three books at the same time? I think not. I will pull out my notebook and jot down thoughts on the “future” adventures of Sage and Holly.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The characters are in charge

My next book features Autumn Whitcomb and Yuri Rachinskij, two characters developed by participants after two author presentations at two Upstate New York rural libraries. One library's patrons developed a female, the other a male. When their bios were developed by the patrons I realized these two characters could work well in a story. I've been working on this in fits and starts until recently when Autumn tapped me on the shoulder (kind of like that editor on your shoulder) and told me I needed to spend more time developing her back story. I was rushing the story too much without letting the reader know about her personality. The same was true of Yuri. At the start of the story he's the head archivist of the Ukrainian Archives. The country is under attack and the archives have undertaken a major digitization project to save the country's history and culture before it is destroyed. Listening to Autumn, I'm now back at the beginning of the story making tweaks to the text to follow her advice. That's the life of a writer - the characters are in charge.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Incorporating Tension

Think of tension as a cord woven through every chapter, slowly pulling the reader towards the last scenes. Tension doesn’t need to be dramatic, like a serial killer who has broken into a house. For romance writers, it could be the question of whether the protagonist will choose his/her dream job, or stay with their new love? Tension can be emotional turmoil. Whatever genre you are writing, pack your scenes with some sort of tension with conflict within the character’s mind or with other characters. Put complications and conflicts into the character’s life and this can be accomplished through action, dialogue, description, and narrative. Draw out the scene with words that evoke emotion and keep raising the stakes. Remember the slowly woven cord. Alternate between action, thoughts, dialogue and description. Take your time. Make sure the scene is set up in earlier scenes so the reader knows what’s at stake, to keep their heart pounding and keep them turning the pages. Torture your protagonist with road blocks. It could be as simple as a weather event – like a blizzard when your protagonist has to be somewhere. A search engine is your friend in finding tension words. In the book Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, he suggests using a scale to rate the intensity of your scenes. The intensity scale is a good way for you to balance the scenes in your book. Determine which scenes are the big ones and rate their intensity, which should be in the 8-10 zone. Then balance those scenes with ones that are slower and more reflective in the 2 to 6 zone.