Halloween Memories

Halloween in the 1984

This was done my first year at college, when I came home on break…

Reminiscing Halloweens past, and the decorating we used to do at the Homestead with all homemade materials.¬† All the pictures in this post are from the 80’s (as the clothing and hairstyles will attest, LOL)!

Ma with pumpkinCutting jack-o-lanterns with Pa and Ma. Ma is having a bit of fun with her pumpkin. ūüôā

Pa and Mary with pumpkin

Admiring the finished products with Pa

pumpkin and mary

And finally, sitting atop the little shelter Pa built for us to stand in while we waited for the school bus at the end of our long driveway…sharing the space with a giant pumpkin Pa grew, and a little orange cat he and Ma took in.

Happy Halloween!

I’ve Started Writing A New Medieval…

Well, it’s a novella and not ¬†full-length book.

But it’s in response to numerous reader requests over the years,¬†related to the main characters of¬†one of my medieval romances, originally published with HarperCollins/Avon and then released under my own imprint Teabury Books¬†with a new cover and revised contents, once rights reverted.

The Crimson Lady, originally released in 2003 and re-released in 2012

The Crimson Lady, originally released in 2003 and re-released in 2012

Here’s the book that the novella will be based around.

Anyone want to guess what the story will be about? (Hint: because of the context of this story, and in order to be honest to the characters and circumstances, this novella will probably end up being a bit more “intense” than my usual romances – and it’s certainly not a romance in and of itself). ūüėČ

It feels good to be writing again!

How Do You Act When…?

two things define youThis really resonates with me. I’ve run into people who exemplify this in a good way and other who do not.

Sadly, in the writing business, it seems to lean toward the negative. I saw it occasionally when I was traditionally published, but I realize now that my Big Five publisher served as a kind of buffer; once I took a step out on my own into self-publishing (partly by necessity, partly by choice), that little cushion of professional courtesy vanished.

Lately I have run into some who are in the camp of “having everything” figuratively¬†(whether fellow authors, publishers, reviewers, book sellers, and larger review sites etc) who often do not handle themselves well in this regard.¬†I’ve noticed it¬†in the past few months when I’ve reached out with a request or a submission of my newest book for possible review.

I’m not talking about the need for¬†time-intensive interaction, but rather just simple gestures such as a 30 second email acknowledging a query or receipt of the $14 autographed book with professional cover letter I mailed to those with open submission policies (I did my research!) – even if the answer is a “no thank you”.¬† A polite¬†reply¬†declining what I’ve queried about is far preferable than¬†resounding silence that drags on, leaving me wondering what, if anything, will happen.

I continue to remain very patient in my relative obscurity…however, I hope I will handle myself better when (not if…when)¬†I attain a level of greater notoriety.

Fortunately, I have encountered several authors, bloggers, and reviewers who have been courteous and gracious, whether or not they felt willing or able to meet any request I made. Those few will serve as my own role models in the future.

Professional courtesy seems to be going out of style. Life is indeed busy and packed full for most of us, but to me, good manners, even in a professional sense, are the lubrication that makes the grinding gears of life grind us down far less.

What do you think about this? Does anyone here have similar experiences (or a different take on the matter)?

“Writerly” Perks

signing twoedited

First Moose Tracks book signing, 2/21/15, with a few of my older titles off to the side

One of the perks of being a published author – for me at least – has always been book signings.

I know it’s kind of a dying form; large, multi-author signings are still popular at annual writing/readers¬†conferences and the like, but there are less and less bookstores to host individual signings.¬†Also, I know many authors who dislike them (and I must admit¬†I’ve had a few “interesting” experiences as well –¬† I remember one notable occasion at a Barnes & Noble many years ago,¬†where the only person to stop at the table and chat was someone who wanted directions to the rest room!) ¬†ūüôā

But I generally enjoy them because it gives me a chance to meet people and talk about books – and not always my books, either, but books in general. Sometimes people who stop by want to know about writing itself, or how to do it, or they want tips for how to get published. I try my best to address all questions and inquiries to the best of my ability – and I’ve met some really interesting people along the way.

Because Moose Tracks isn’t put out by a traditional publisher, the opportunities for book signings this time around will likely be limited.¬†Chain bookstores won’t carry print copies of it, and only independent book stores who have a reason to¬†carry it would likely go through the process to order (if they have an account with Baker¬†and Taylor, I understand they can get copies through the print publisher, Create Space).

mysteries on main streetI was happy to have a signing last weekend, therefore, in nearby bookstore: a great little shop called Mysteries on Main Street.  It was a lot of fun and I met some new readers, in addition to getting to chat and visit with some I already knew. A photographer from the local paper even stopped by and snapped a few pics.

booksigning oneedited

Signing a book for a friend who stopped by while the news photographer sets up shot

I think if I hadn’t been an English teacher and writer, I would have/should have been a bookstore owner, employee, or a librarian. I love books! I love being around them. And the two hours I spent at this signing flew by, not only because of the activity of people coming in to buy and have me sign a book, but also because the atmosphere of the bookstore just soothes and delights me.

If you’re an author, how do you feel about book signings?¬† If you’re a reader, have you ever been to one – or would you ever attend one?¬† Why or why not?

Moose Tracks Makes a List!

Although my re-published historical romance¬†novels¬†Secret Vows and The Templar’s Seduction have made sales lists recently at amazon.com US¬†(in the “Medieval” or “Scottish” categories), my newest release, the Women’s Fiction novel¬†Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, has not done so¬†in the US as of yet. But as of this morning, the same can’t be said of amazon.com Australia, LOL!

Moose Tracks listing in Australia

Moose Tracks listing in Australia!

 

 

 

Take a look at this screen shot from this morning.

 

Pretty cool.

imageWho would have thought?¬† I’ve been international with many of my historical romances for quite a few years (they’ve been published – with really neat and very different covers –¬†in Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, French, Slovakian, Dutch, etc.), as you can see here.

But¬†making an international sales list is a first for Moose Tracks. ¬†Many thanks to readers in Australia for this happy little perk to my day! ūüôā

The Pang – and Danger – of Nostalgia

nostalgia-wallpapers_37124_2560x1920Although I have rarely been dissatisfied by the world at any age, I get this kind of pang a lot and perhaps more intensely because of it. In fact I¬†tend to glorify the world of times gone by. Different things can trigger it: sometimes it’s an item I haven’t seen in a long time, or an old photo. It can be from my own childhood, or even from when my kids were little.

It can be triggered by¬†something as simple and silly as seeing Christmas decorations or pictures well after the holiday is done and all the accoutrements are packed away (confession: this just happened to me again today – for like the 10th time since Christmas – when I saw a friend’s old posting on FB from Christmas-time).

For me, who has a tendency to relish the past, I have to exercise balance when and how I can.

For many years, I could indulge my love of the past in a purely historical sense, writing my heavily-researched but still highly-fictionalized medieval romances.

Then, when I started writing Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, I got to spend some significant time in MY past – a practice that was actually both painful but ultimately cathartic after my father died (I’d only written about 70 pages of the 420 page manuscript when he died).

Here’s a snippet from an actual letter Pa wrote to me years ago, that I ended up using in the later part of¬†Moose Tracks. I like his philosophy and try to remember it as often as I can:

“What was it that Scarlett O‚ÄôHara said? Tomorrow is another day!? Here are some thoughts about that: You can re-live the past but you cannot re-live the future. We dumb humans (there is no other kind) get ourselves all screwed up with more than one time base. We are forced to live in the present with minutes and hours and days and years. Everything is pretty linear, and if we stayed in the present our lives would pass linearly.

When you are young, you have a little past, the present, and a lot of future. When you are middle-aged, you have a lot of past, the present, and a lot of future. When you get old, you have a real lot of past, the present, and a little future. Notice that the only thing that doesn’t change is the present.

When you are young, you waste time looking forward to the future. When you are middle-aged, you waste time looking both to the past and to the future. When you get old, you waste time looking to the past. The problem is you can look back more than once. There are some moments in my life from many years ago that I probably have spent hours re-living. But those hours were lost to my present, never to be given back to me. It’s up to me that any re-living of my past is worth the price of time in the present..

I’ve come to realize that you can only live now. Don’t get hung up on the past or wait for the future.

Living is only for now!

The more that can be true, then the longer you live. Think about it awhile.”

So when that pang of nostalgia hits, I try to follow this idea: to¬†allow the pang its moment, and then remember that¬†this moment, too, will someday be part of the past. I try to live it now and to its fullest and¬† not be too sad in missing¬†what’s gone before.

How about you – do you struggle with nostalgia, or are you someone who loves to throw out the old to make way for the new?