What’s The Hold Up? New Book Cover Revealed!

•September 20, 2014 • 12 Comments
Um. I was looking for the mouse and this pad was so comfortable....

Um. I was looking for the mouse and this pad was so comfortable….

Most of you know I’ve been working on a novel called Never Turn Back.

It’s based on my grandmother’s life, which, on the surface may sound really dull, but it’s not.

I guess you’ll have to trust me that it’s not about baking cookies, bingo, and early-bird dinner reservations at Denny’s.

Maybe your grandmother, Honey, but not mine!

Maybe your grandmother, Honey, but not mine!

My grandmother was an international woman of misery mystery.

Well, she was a woman. She came to America from Finland. And there was a lot of mystery (and, yes, misery) in her past.

If you read my memoir, How was I Supposed to Know?, the book is nothing like that. It’s fictional and it’s serious. There’s even some historically accurate facts in there. As I said, totally different from my memoir, which you should read if you haven’t and you like funny, poignant books about how to live with courage in the face of more challenges than you could wave a fly swatter at.

But this post is about my novel and what’s holding it up from you holding it up in front of you.

The answer is me.

Yup. I'm the Culprit Princess.

Yup. I’m the Culprit Princess.

I’m reading it through one last time to get it as clean and sleek as possible, given my dizzy blonde head. It’s been through 4 beta readers, a writing coach read-through, and a line editor. Plus I’ve spent more time reading it than I did writing it.

The going is slow, but that’s how the going is when you read for accuracy and perfection. Just ask any obsessive-compulsive.

I do have one little major thing to share, though. The cover!

It's like Peter knew the vision for the cover inside my head, only better, and made it real.

It’s like Peter knew the vision for the cover inside my head, only better, and made it real.

It was designed by Peter O’Conner of BespokeBookCovers. He’s a gem to work with and a genius. If I ever write another book, he’s the guy who will do my cover.

Anyway, my edits should be done in a week or so (except now I’m distracted by this Writing 101 Daily prompt Challenge, which is only 20 days of annoying daily posts from me). Then I just have to get the manuscript copyrighted and uploaded to Amazon for both Kindle and CreateSpace.

I’m thinking October sometime.

Easy-peasey with Phil helping me. Now that he’s my non-husband, he’ll do anything for me. Of course, he did anything for me before….

So, I’ll keep you posted on my progress and let you know firm dates of release when I have them. There will be Kindle free give-away days, too, so stay-tuned, okay?

What do you think of the cover? Would you pick this book up if you saw it in a book store?
Are there still book stores?

Writing 101: Dear Dad

•September 19, 2014 • 15 Comments

path

Today’s Writing 101 challenge is: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. We are supposed to be as brief as possible in this post.

Oh dear, me? Brief? I guess that’s why these are challenges.

Here goes…

“What’s this?” I say aloud to Scrappy, my dog, as if I expect him to answer. He doesn’t. He trots right by the crumpled, damp envelop simply addressed, Dad.

I pick it up and the once-sealed envelop opens easily revealing a single sheet of lined paper with rather sloppy printing peeking through the moist parchment.

“Scrappy, wait!” I call to him. He stops. “Come here, boy.” He comes. I give him a treat so that he stays near me while I carefully unfold the damp letter and read it.

Any letter that starts with “I’m sorry” spells trouble. I read on, not knowing if a son or daughter is apologizing–or even how old the child is. Then I get to the part that says, “I’ve known for a long time that I’m gay. I’m still the same boy you’ve always loved, don’t ever forget that.” I stop reading and start wondering.

Is the letter on this path because the son lost his courage to give it to his dad or because he gave it to his dad and things went horribly wrong.

Either way, the soggy letter is testimony to unimaginable suffering.

I carefully put the letter back in the envelop and gently rest it on the dewy grass. I’ll let the wise earth decide what to do with it because this pain is more than I can bear.

Writing 101: Lost and Found, Part 1

•September 18, 2014 • 16 Comments
We're best friends and don't you forget it!

We’re best friends and don’t you forget it!

Today’s Writing 101 Daily assignment is: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. Make this post part of a three-part series.

Here’s Installment 1:

I was uprooted from my home in rural up, up-state New York after my father died. Mom decided to move our little family to Glenbrook, CT because my aunt and uncle lived there. They sent their sons to Saint Maurice school. Those boys seemed like good kids so Mom sent my sister and me there.

My only experience with school had been a public kindergarten. Now I was the “new kid” in a Catholic first grade, complete with an uncomfortable uniform and nuns for teachers. I was, to put it mildly, rattled.

After lunch the nuns set us loose for some kind of play period. There was no playground equipment or grass like in my former kindergarten—only pavement with some large holy statue watching over us.

The statue didn’t seem to faze the other boys and girls who were running around or talking in groups. I, on the other hand was intimidated by it. Shy by nature, I just stood there: a chubby blonde five-year-old wondering how I ended up with a divinely domineering saint-statue as my only pal.

I looked for my sister, but she, being the sociable type, probably already made friends and figured out how to run around in those unmercifully tight uniforms (at least my uniform was tourniquet-snug).

Then a miracle happened on the “playground” at Saint Maurice’s School.

Still standing all by myself (if you don’t count the statue), a tall, lithe, delicate, pretty girl seemed to glide over to me. She was too graceful to merely walk. Maybe she pirouetted lightly as if she was a first grade Catholic school ballerina. A mane of strawberry blonde hair glowed around her narrow face. Her uniform was actually loose. I think it flowed as she approached me. Was she real?

I just stared at her. She broke the silence by saying, “Hi, my name is Michele, what’s yours?”

“Lorna” was all I could say. It was as if I was under a spell. No one had ever just come up and talked to me before. Was this really happening?

Then she really surprised me. “Hey, Lorna, do you want to be best friends?”

Granted, I was only five (well, five-going-on-six), but I had never been propositioned like that before in my life. I had no idea what a best-friend commitment entailed, but it seemed like a really good deal, so I said, “Sure.”

Michele smiled. I smiled back. We had a deal.

I came to learn that Michele and I were as different as Abbott and Costello. She was tall and wispy; I was plump and klutzy. She had a whole family, including a real dad and brothers; I had a partial family that only included females. Her house had an upstairs; I lived in the bottom half of a house. She had her very own room decorated like a Disney princess’ room; I shared my plain room with Tina. Michele came up with “adventuresome” ideas for us to do; I was the voice of caution.

Regardless of our differences, we managed to stay best friends for four whole years. Then tragedy struck.

Well, it was tragic for us. My mom decided that up-state New York, our former home, was where we needed to be. Since Michele’s mom wasn’t willing to give her up for adoption to us, I had to leave her behind. I lost her.

In those days (1966), the only forms of communicating were ridiculously expensive “long-distance” telephone rates and good old-fashioned pen and paper.

How likely do you think a nine-year old is to write and mail letters to a friend, even a best friend, light years away from her?

Writing 101: Monkey Mind

•September 17, 2014 • 10 Comments
Hmmm? Three songs that mean the most to me....What's the one with the lime and the coconuts?

Hmmm? Three songs that mean the most to me….What’s the one with the lime and the coconuts?

The second assignment in the Daily post is: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

But we’re supposed to do it in a “free writing” format. Just let ourselves go for about fifteen minutes and see what happens. Knowing my monkey mind and the way it skips and hops all over the place, this should be interesting.

I don’t like picking the “three most anythings” to me or my “favorite anything.” It’s unrealistic and much too confining. On different days, hours, moments, my answer will change depending on my mood and my memory. How reliable is that? Not very.

I searched my mind thinking about songs. Do you how many songs there are out there. A lot. And that’s just a guess. The perfect three songs for me could be out there and I haven’t even discovered them yet. That would be a real bummer. But I do have two songs that popped into my mind right away as important, so I might as well mention those, right?

The first is “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce. When I was graduating from high school (Valedictorian, thank you very much), our class–or rather the popular kids in our class–picked that song as our song to sing for “Class Day,” which is a shindig the seniors put on before the formal graduation to show off, or something equally petty. But that’s not why the song is important to me. I just danced to it with the love of my life at our non-wedding (commitment ceremony). The words really speak to the depth of my love for this man and that we need to make the most of the time we have left, having wasted so much time being married to people who didn’t love us like we love each other. And that’s a fact.

The second song is “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles, only I know Paul McCartney wrote it. I once had a dog who seemed more like a human dressed as and Old English sheepdog. His name was Humphrey and we were inseparable, unless I wasn’t with him. When he died, that song became “our” song. I envisioned Humphrey meeting me at the end my long and winding road. My road has been long and winding. Whoo boy, has it ever been! When I learned I had a brain tumor and the doctors in charge of changing their minds about whether to leave tumors alone or take them out decided mine should come out, my younger sister bought tickets to a Paul McCartney concert near where she lives. She wanted to give me the best birthday gift EVER because I always loved Paul and never thought I’d ever get to see him. I think she thought I was a gonner and she’d never have to give me another present, because she spent big bucks on these tickets. We were like 20 rows backs, center, on the floor. They were primo tickets. Paul sang for three hours straight. It was during his first encore that he sat the smaller upright piano facing the crowd (and not the grand piano turned so you could only see his profile), and sang “The Long and Winding Road.” He was looking right at me when he sang it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I had brain surgery and didn’t die. Obviously.

Time’s up.

 

Writing 101: Room With a View

•September 16, 2014 • 16 Comments
I wonder how much the ticket is?

I could use the money….

I’ve decided to join the Daily Post exercise on writing. Each day, they provide you with a writing prompt and, well, you write.

I’m going to keep my submissions under 500 words. My regular posts are too long. This is my effort to write more concisely.

We’ll see how this goes.

Here’s the assignment: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

*****

Hot and Cold

Time and mysterious space travel are not high on my priority list. So many things could go wrong. I like air, but I don’t want my disparate cells to become part of it…at least not right now. But there is a place I would like to go that requires taking the risk.

I only have a few memories of my father. One time I crawled into the bathroom of our late 1950s model mobile home (in which privacy was not an optional amenity like upgraded kitchen cabinetry, even if we could have afforded it) while he was sitting on the toilet. He told me to go away. I turned my cloth-diapered butt around and did as I was told. That’s the kind of girl I’ve always been—obedient, not diapered.

Another memory involved a rousing game of “hot and cold.” I sat on my daddy’s big lap (he was 6’4”) and searched all over his torso, neck and head for the piece of plastic fence from a farm set he said he hid somewhere on his body. We both laughed as he guided me with “getting hotter” or “getting colder” hints. If I found the plastic treasure, he must have cheated and showed me because I was either three years old or had just turned four and my sense of direction hadn’t blossomed yet. It’s still rather iffy.

If I could be hurled in time to a specific place, it would be to that trailer when my daddy was alive and in a really good mood—not drunk, surly and planning to kill himself. I would take pictures in my mind of each room in that small trailer with its hollow doors and tin walls, the yard I played in, and the clothes I wore. I would gather all the happy memories I could of my father, a man I only know through mostly unsavory stories other people have told me about him. I might even tell my daddy that I love him, even if I might not understand exactly what love is. He died when I was four. Four year olds, at least this one, hang on to deep-seated, often confusing, feelings much better than they hang on to crisp visual memories.

Going back to that trailer, to that time, might settle some business that’s remained unresolved for over fifty years. The trip would be worth scrambling my cells to transport me through time and space.

*****

I’m already behind because of out of town guests just getting out of my town. Oh well….

How did I do?

 
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