Novel Noshing Blog Series Part 3: Jen Gilroy

Welcome back to my Novel Noshing series! Today, for the third and final post of the event, I am featuring Jen Gilroy, author of The Sweetheart Locket, dual timeline historical women’s fiction.

Author Bio

Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home. 

A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.

A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London. 

Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.

About the Book/InspirationJen’s own words!

What if the key to your present lies in the past? 

From England and France in the Second World War to San Francisco 2019, “The Sweetheart Locket,” is a dual timeline historical women’s fiction story of love, loss & family secrets, intertwined with courage & hope. The family heirloom locket at the centre of the story is inspired by the “sweetheart jewellery” men serving in the armed forces during the war gave to loved ones at home. 

Filled with heart, heroism and humanity, reviewers have called the book “a beautiful tale…[of] friendship, love and loss…[and] how three generations of women come full circle and find happiness.” 

The Victoria Sponge or Sandwich Cake is a popular and traditional British cake. It’s also my own favourite which I have fond memories of sharing with English family and friends. As part of a book that’s my love letter to Britain, I included references to this cake in “The Sweetheart Locket,” my first primarily British-set story. 

When Willow, the American heroine of the contemporary storyline arrives in England for a work trip, she’s also determined to find out about her British grandmother, Maggie’s life, including what she did in the war. 

When Willow meets an historian at London’s National Portrait Gallery they have afternoon tea, a special British ritual. 

“Willow took a forkful of cake, white with a jam and cream filling…called a Victoria Sponge.” 

And as Willow discovers Maggie’s past, including her work as an undercover secret agent in 1940s France, Willow’s life also changes. 

As expressed via my fictional Maggie and Willow, one of the book’s core messages is this one: 

“Even if it wasn’t in a war, everyone had to fight some kind of battle what mattered is that you came out the other side.” 

Recipe

Victoria Sponge/Sandwich Cake (Traditional British recipe)* 

Ingredients:

170g (6 oz) butter or margarine

170g (6 oz) caster sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

170g (6oz) self-raising flour, sieved

Jam and sieved icing sugar to fill and decorate 

Method:

Base line and grease two 19cm (7 1/2 inch) sandwich tins

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 4

Beat together the margarine and sugar until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy in texture. 

Add the eggs to the creamed mixture a little at a time beating thoroughly after each addition. 

Add the flour and fold in carefully with a metal spoon. 

Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins. Smooth the top so that the mixture is fairly level. 

Bake for 25-35 minutes (or until well risen, golden brown and firm). 

Leave in the tins for two to three minutes to cool. 

Turn out onto a wire rack. 

When cold, sandwich the two cakes together with jam and dust the top with sieved icing sugar. 

*This recipe comes from ‘Church House Recipe Book: Love and Charity: Cake Recipes from Hughenden Parish Church, Church House Teas.’ High Wycombe, England: Fairprint, 2004, p.37 (Christine Rose). 

For those in the US & Canada, a comparable recipe, using North American measurements, can be found here:  https://www.christinascucina.com/victoria-sandwich-traditional-british-afternoon-tea-cake-recipe-for-us-kitchens/

I have got to say…this Victoria Sponge looks so elegant and delicious…seriously! If you make this recipe, or have a similar one that you love, please tell us in the comments.

Book Links

“The Sweetheart Locket” is currently available in ebook (most vendors) with a paperback following later this year. http://mybook.to/TheSweetheartLocket

Author Jen Gilroy is on Social Media! You can connect with her here:

Website: https://www.jengilroy.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenGilroyAuthor

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JenGilroy1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jen.gilroyauthor/

Thank you so much for stopping by my writer’s block! I had a blast meeting these three authors, and learning about their latest releases. I can’t wait to try all these recipes!

Next month, July, 2022, I will be featuring a series on some of my favorite summer reads, including interviews with amazing authors who wrote the books. I hope you will join me here on my Writer’s Block for that!

Please leave comments below…I love to connect!

Novel Noshing Blog Series Part 2: Kate Chambers

Welcome Readers!

Thank you so much for stopping by! My Novel Noshing blog series is up and running. It’s a series where a different author is invited to guest post for the week, featuring their latest work, and discussing a food and recipe associated with it. This week on my Novel Noshing blog series, I am featuring author Kate Chambers! Kate has a novel-in-progress, a RomCom, SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW.

Author Bio

Kate is a rebel librarian, glitter covered crafter, and lifelong storyteller who wrote her first full story at ten. She also writes fan fiction, but that’s another story. When she’s not writing or reading, Kate can be found watching her Atlanta Braves with her handsome husband and adorable little girl.

About the Book/Inspiration (In the author’s own words!)

SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW features tons of food, as you would expect of a novel about a baker and chef, from pastries to pasta, but this is the first dish Jane, our heroine, makes for her professional chef celebrity crush, Lincoln. Jane admits that while it’s one of her favorite meals her grandmother made in her childhood, and one of the first things she ever learned to cook on her own. she’s never made it for anyone else before. 

The inspiration for this recipe is my Nonnie’s stroganoff, which is my favorite food in the world, and she used to make it for me, even packing up leftovers for to take back to college. It’s pretty simple, but it’s so warm and cozy, it just fills up your soul.

Recipe-Kate’s own!

Stroganoff

Ingredients:

1 16 oz bag extra-wide egg noodles

8 oz stew beef

8 oz sliced white mushrooms

1 10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup

¼ cup beef broth

¾ cup sour cream

3 TBs canola oil

2 TBs butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare noodles according to package (you can do this simultaneously with the rest of your prep) and salt and pepper beef.

In a large skillet, heat oil until shimmering, then brown beef. Remove from the skillet. 

Return the skillet to heat, add mushrooms and butter. Saute until golden. 

Add mushroom soup and stir to combine. Add beef broth, stir to combine, and allow to come to a bubbling simmer. 

Return beef to skillet and add sour cream. Return to a bubbling simmer and let simmer for five minutes.

Serve over cooked egg noodles and enjoy!

Thank you so much, Kate, for sharing about your book, and for the delicious Stroganoff recipe!

Readers, you can connect with Kate! Check out her social media links below:

Social Media

Twitter: @the_librarygirl

Goodreads: the_librarygirl 

I’d love to hear from you!

If you try Kate’s Stroganoff recipe, tell me about it in the comments. I love to connect through my blog, so if you have any questions for Kate or me, reach out! If there is a novel you love, where food is featured somehow, I’d love to hear about it. Share the info in the comments!

Next week, I will be featuring author Jen Gilroy. I hope you’ll stop by again to learn about her latest novel, and food inspired by it!

Upcoming Events!

Dear Readers,

I hope you have all been well. With so much going on locally, nationally, and around the globe, it’s been a really long time since I have been able to sit down and blog. The pandemic was rough. And now, I hear we are in the “endemic” phase, and it’s still rough. But there is a bright, shiny silver lining, and that is that author events are happening more frequently!

This past November, I was fortunate to be invited to present and take pitches at the Independent Publisher’s of New England virtual conference. That was my very first time presenting virtually, and I was surprised at the wonderful interaction! The event was run so smoothly, and I am grateful to have been invited.

Here is a link to the wonderful list of events:

Now that summer is coming, I am happy to announce that I will be participating in several more events for authors. Here is a list of virtual and in-person events where I will be taking pitches….and perhaps presenting, as well!

June 11, 2022 Writer’s Day Workshop (virtual event)

July 9, 2022 Writer’s Day Workshop (virtual event)

August 6, 2022 Writer’s Day Workshop (virtual event)

August 12-14, 2022 League of Vermont Writer’s: Writer’s Meet Agents (in-person event)

If you are thinking about pitching your work to me at one of these events, please check out my most recent #MSWL, here.

I am so happy that these events are happening, and that I can be involved. Have any of you taken part in any writerly events, either virtual or in-person? I’d love to hear about it!

More details about these events will be forthcoming…I hope you’ll stay tuned!

Author Interview: Lauren Baratz Logsted- EXACTLY what I needed to read!

Welcome readers!

I hope everyone is well, and staying safe in this unprecedented time.  As a blogger, writer, and literary agent, I have the thrill of finding great books…and I love to talk about them!  Seven years ago, I discovered Lauren’s book, THE BRO MAGNET, which is an absolute gem.  As I recall, I had just received my very first e-reader, a Barnes and Noble Nook, and one of the first books I read on that device was The Bro Magnet.  My post about that can be found here: https://smnystoriak.com/2013/03/09/the-bromantic-comedy-of-lauren-baratz-logsted/ The Bro-Magnet (The Johnny Smith Novels Book 1)

And recently, upon recommendation, I read her book, THE OTHER BROTHER, which I review here:  https://wordpress.com/post/smnystoriak.com/3575

Once I finished reading it, I reached out to Lauren, and she was kind enough to do an interview with me here on this blog.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy this little chat with one of my favorite authors!

S.M. Nystoriak:  It’s been 7 years since I last interviewed you on this blog.  Welcome back, Lauren!  Tell us:  What was your inspiration for THE OTHER BROTHER? The Other Brother

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  Several years ago, I was on an online forum for readers – remember forums? – and someone mentioned Chris Jagger. Now, I’d always known Mick Jagger had a younger brother, who was also a singer/musician, but I’d forgotten about it. Suddenly, my mind began wondering: ‘What would that be like?’ Those of us with siblings, I’m sure are familiar with the competition of family holiday dinners. No matter how much you love each other, there’s always a bit of measuring against each other, isn’t there? Now, imagine you’re a singer/songwriter, and you’re even making a living at it, but your brother happens to be the frontman for “The Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band in the World”? And then, being me, I began wondering what it would be like to be married to the less-famous brother…and then I began to write. To be clear, the characters aren’t the Jaggers – none of the characters in the book are real people – but that was the inspiration.  

S.M. Nystoriak:  This was a really fun, yet surprisingly deep story.  I found myself connecting with Mona, big time. As a teen, I can remember feeling the same excitement she did with rock stars, and as an adult, and a mom, I found her to be incredibly real.  Is there a character in THE OTHER BROTHER which you most identify with?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  Mona. I feel like she’s trying to do the right things, trying to make things right for other people. Yet she doesn’t always understand what her own motives are for doing certain things, and I think that’s true of a lot of us. One of the big themes in the history of literature involves the tragedy of the human condition: the inability to ever truly know another human being. But Mona ultimately raises the question, and I raise the question: Can we ever truly know ourselves? 

S.M. Nystoriak:  It is often said that writers should write what they know.  How closely tied are you to the happenings in THE OTHER BROTHER?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  I am not one of those people who say “write what you know.” If I tried to put that into practice for myself, all my books would be about a woman alone in a basement, writing books. That’d hardly be gripping on the page for 50K-100K words, would it? OK, that’s an exaggeration of “write what you know,” but I still find that classic bit of advice to be too facile and too easily open to misinterpretation. So the advice I would give people is: Write what you *want* to know. Write about the things you’re dying to explore. 

S.M. Nystoriak:  That’s an excellent perspective!  Well said!  When I was growing up, my family listened to a lot of classic rock.  The Stones, The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John.  I also admired and followed the music of several 80’s pop stars, mostly British.  Duran Duran was an absolute fave when I was in my teens, but there were many others.  Have you always been a fan of rock and roll music?  Did you have any music idols growing up?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  My brother is two years older and when I was fairly young, he got a monthly subscription to some record club. So the first albums I was exposed to were all rock bands, like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. I definitely enjoyed getting my pop fixes from the radio, but my brother’s taste set the template for my taste. Then, when I was 12, a close friend turned me on to the breadth of Rolling Stones music. In terms of idols, the usual ones for my era: Mick, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey – British men with great hair and distinctive voices. 

S.M. Nystoriak:  How about now?  What kind of music are you streaming these days?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  HA! You’re confusing me with someone who streams music – I still have a flip phone! I listen to CDs at home and in the car: lots of classic rock; music from earlier eras than that, lots of Sinatra and some Billie Holiday; and – don’t judge! – “The Music of Nashville,” i.e., the TV show.

S.M. Nystoriak:  You crack me up!  As a musician myself, I can attest that those are some fabulous artists and genre’s!  OK…I have noticed a recurring setting in your books:  Connecticut.  What is the significance of Connecticut?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  I’ve lived my whole life in Connecticut, even went to college instate, so I guess that part of my writing really is, at least in part,  “write what you know.” But plenty of my books do take place in other states or countries, reflecting my own travels and interests.

S.M. Nystoriak:  Another connection:  In THE OTHER BROTHER, Mona and her family are from England, and they travel to Connecticut for a holiday.  I noticed you have another book which takes place in England, about a commoner marrying a British royal.  Have you ever lived in Britain, or traveled there?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  And I’ve written several other books that take place in England! In addition to the two you’ve mentioned, if my math is right, there are six others that take place in England. I’ve only been there once, for eight days in 1993, but after a lifetime of reading a ton of British books and watching an insane amount of Masterpiece Theatre”… What can I say? I’ve never stuck to any single genre or time period for my writing – I just write the stories I want to write and then set them in the time and place that the story dictates.

S.M. Nystoriak:  Nice!  Obviously, I have some more reading to do!  And, I also follow the mantra,”Write the book you want to read”.  I began writing seriously about ten years ago, after the stress caused by local and world events got the better of me.  My writing output increased dramatically during that time.  Do current events have an effect on your writing output?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  Short answer: yes. Longer answer: I’ve been writing for over a quarter of a century and for the overwhelming majority of that time, I could write through anything, good or bad, that was going on in my life or in the world. These past few months, though, with this tsunami of things going on, I’ve had to set my expectations for myself a bit lower. I just can’t work straight through like I used to. I mean, Twitter alone – when I first started writing, there was no Twitter. But now? It’s too easy to leave that open and before you know it, you’re taking a quick break from writing that turns into: ‘Wait – what did he say now?’ – or “What did they do?’ and that quickly turns into ‘Well, I’ve got to say something about this, I can’t just keep silent.’ Before you know it, well, there’s another hour gone. 

S.M. Nystoriak:  So true.  Alright…Last item!  Tell us about any other projects you might be working on.  What can we expect to see?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  Ooh, thank you for asking! This coming February 9, 2021, my 20-year-old daughter Jackie Logsted and I have a book coming out from Penguin Random House that we wrote together. It’s an adult comedic romance called JOINT CUSTODY. It does *not* take place in Connecticut but it is about – and written from the point of view of! – a border collie named Gatz. When Gatz’s beloved owners, The Man and The Woman, split up, Gatz resolves to do everything in his power to get them back together. But when New Man appears on the scene, well, complications to Gatz’s plans ensue. It’s a lighthearted book about happiness and what it really means to love. Here’s hoping readers have as much fun reading it as we had writing it. Thanks for having me!   

S.M. Nystoriak:  That sounds amazing!  It would be so wonderful to collaborate like that on a book!  You are fortunate, for sure!  Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Lauren!  As always, it’s a pleasure to dive into your books!

For more information, Lauren can be found:

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

I cannot recommend Lauren Baratz Logsted’s books enough.  They are always, exactly what I need!

Let’s Connect!  Have you read any of Lauren’s books?  What authors do you read that always write “exactly what you need”?  I’d love to hear about it…Chime in below!

 

Audiobook Review: THE OTHER BROTHER, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Other Brother

Welcome readers!

It’s been a while since I have put any reviews on this blog.  Heck, I can honestly say that I have never done a review of an audiobook…EVER…so, it’s time!

Faced with the possibility of a very long car trip last month, New York to Virginia, I wanted to snag an enjoyable audiobook to help pass the time.  I have been a fan of Lauren Baratz-Logsted since I read THE BRO MAGNET, several years ago.  So I decided to download her book, THE OTHER BROTHER, for the ride.  It turns out that I did not have to take that car ride after all, but still dealing with home-time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the time was still perfect for a good listening experience.

THE OTHER BROTHER revolves around the life of a woman, Mona Springer, who is married to an amateur musician, Jack Springer, who is the brother of Denny Springer, who just so happens to be the biggest, most famous rock star in the world.  What must it be like to be the brother or sister-in-law of someone of that caliber?

Throughout the story, Mona narrates, telling the reader about how she had always been a fan of Denny, following the mags and gossip about the live-it-up lifestyle of the rock star.  As she grows older, and meets her future husband, she never realizes that Denny is his brother until her wedding day, when Denny can’t show up to be the best man.  The life of a rock star is demanding, and unyielding, it seems.

There had always been tension between the brothers, with Jack rarely even acknowledging his existence, and skipping out on the wedding cements those feelings. Mona and Jack go on to have two boys and a travel agency business, only seeing Denny on the rarest of holidays.  When Mona and her family take a trip across the Atlantic from their home in London, to Connecticut for the Summer, Denny shows up, unannounced, with his entourage in the dead of night with no explanation.

Overnight, Mona’s Summer family vacation instantly takes a sharp turn with Denny’s visit, forcing the brothers to spend some time together.  Denny’s existence with them runs hot and cold.  The relationship between them all remains awkward and uncomfortable for much of the visit, especially considering how the two boys, William and Harry (no royal relation…) don’t know how to even talk to their uncle.  Is their family summer vacation a wash?  Or will it end up being exactly what this family needs?

This audiobook was a real find for me.  As a musician, and child of the 80’s, I ogled over pop and rock stars of my time, fan-girling with the best of them.  Duran Duran, A-ha, Richard Marx, Bryan Adams, just to mention a few, were on the top of my list…  This story brought me back to my younger days!   I will have to save those specific tales for another post…or another book!

Also of note, the narrator of this audiobook had a truly expressive voice, and did a wonderful job capturing the witty style of Ms. Baratz-Logsted’s writing, which I have grown to adore.  As a fan of Ms. Baratz-Logsted, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that.

This audiobook was a real treat to listen to.  I can’t wait for my next book by Lauren Baratz-Logsted…she never disappoints.  Highly recommended!

Here is a link to the audiobook here, but it is also available on Kindle and paperback! The Other Brother

Lauren Baratz-Logsted can be found:

Twitter @LaurenBaratzL

Facebook Lauren Baratz-Logsted Facebook

As always, I would love to connect!  Share your comments below!

Winter Meet-Ups with Bookish Friends, Old and New

Welcome, Writerly Friends!

If you could meet any character in the world, who would it be?  Have they been written yet?  Are you the one to write that character and introduce them to the world?  This post is about meeting up with characters, old friends, and new amazing acquaintances.

As a teacher in the northeast, we are fortunate to have a week-long winter break.  We are nearing the end of that break.  There have been many years when we have taken family vacations to warm destinations with friends, but this is not one of those years.  Even though we stayed home in the freezing cold temperatures, this was a wonderful week!  A week to recharge, a week to relax, and a week to connect with old friends and new ones!

As an agent, this week, I was introduced to some amazing new characters written by some amazing new authors.  New character friends, who I look forward to getting close to in the coming months.  Strong characters, funny characters, troubled characters…they are all new and in my life for the long haul.  These are new friends that I can’t wait to visit again and again.

Additionally, as an author, this week afforded me time to spend with old character friends as well.  I went back and edited through some drafts of my own work.  It was delightful!  I missed Hans, Abigail, Tessa and Will.  They are the very best type of bookish friends…the type of friends that you can pick up with, right where you left off last time.  Fun trips down memory lane abound, which can be relived again and again.

It’s my absolute favorite part of being a writer.  I get to spend time with amazing people and places, over and over again.  Vacations are the very best times for that, and I am grateful for every one.

Question for you:  Do you have any character friends that you can’t wait to spend time with during vacations?  Are they your characters, or other author’s?

Chime in with your response below!  I love to connect with my readers!

First Draft Writer’s Block? Here’s Some Writerly Inspiration!

Welcome Readers!

Writer’s Block.  Here is the definition, according to my online dictionary:

writer’s block
phrase of writer
  1. the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

Writing a first draft is super difficult.  That gem of an idea, that flicker of a character you only saw once in a dream but couldn’t forget, that feeling that shook you awake during yesterday’s meeting that you were sure would provide the fodder for a novel so amazing that it would practically write itself…what happened to all of that?

None of us can escape it.  Writers slip into slumps.  It happens.  And when the slump is over, (it WILL end sometime!) jump back into that saddle and write on.  Write on because you can, and write on because you need to.  Rest assured, we all know that a slump will probably happen again.

And that’s okay, because as sure as the slumps come, they also go. It’s important to remember that.

For those of you who may find themselves in the throes of a first-draft writer’s block, this post is for you!  Below, I have compiled some motivational quotes which I like a lot.  Read on, and maybe some of these quotes will inspire you to write on, as well!

Do any of these quotes speak to you at this part of your writing journey?

What other quotes or notions have helped you get through writing a first draft?  Please share in the comments!

My Writerly Welcome for 2018!

happy-new-year-wallpaper (1)

Hello, Readers!

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is almost over, but it is.  The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years always pass with a fury around here, reminding me of a certain holiday fave:

5 Holiday Gatherings

4 Family Birthdays

3 Winter Concerts

2 Events at Daughter’s School

Then, One Day til it’s Back To School

 

The fact that I am a music educator by day has a lot to do with the feverish pace of this season.  Report cards, concerts at school, rehearsals after school, etc, mean that the already hectic, but festive, season is all the more so.  I admit to the neglecting of this blog during this time of year, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

However, it also affords me time for reflection on 2017, and goal-setting for the year to come.  Thoughts of my hopes and dreams, and realities which are just on the horizon.  I can finally see from where I stand today, and that is a glorious feeling!

It’s going to be a big year, I think, for me as a writer.  My Contemporary Time Travel, WORDS IN THE WINDOWSILL is due to be released sometime this year.  My agent is working with me on #PrisonBreakADK to get it ready for submission, I am “this close” to finishing up Book One of my Harbor Bells Trilogy, and I have yet another novel idea just begging to be plotted out (When the idea for it came to me, it woke me from a dead sleep, insisting I write it down).

I literally cannot wait to see where this year takes me.

Happy New Year, everyone!  Do you have anything coming along in 2018 that you are excited about?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

How I’m Keeping My Balance…NaNoWriMo Style

 

NaNo 2

Welcome, Readers!

First, the good stuff!  It’s NaNoWriMo!  Congratulations to all who have started this journey for the first time,  and a loud “Hazzah!” to everyone who finds themselves back in the throes of NaNoWriMo for a repeat adventure. It’s daunting.  It’s difficult.  And completing it is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever accomplished in my life.

Now for some tougher stuff:  It’s mid-November.  Mid-NaNoWriMo, and I haven’t added to any word count of anything in two weeks.  (You read that right…Not a new word in November…)  I meant to jump right in on November 1, but I just couldn’t.  Sometimes things happen beyond your control, though, and that’s just life.  I am thinking about balance today, because I refuse to let the entire month go by without a word for my characters, or a plot point being reconciled. This post is meant to be as much of a NaNoWriMo pep talk for you as it is for me.

balance

How can I make it all happen?  And if you are at a point of this crazy writing month where you haven’t met your writing goals, how can you?  Well, for one thing, realize that the month isn’t over.  Any writing you do toward your goal is a step in the right direction.  Personally, I have to stop looking at the calendar thinking that there is no way to succeed at this, when the reality of it is, that even attempting NaNoWriMo is an incredible accomplishment.

But there is always hope, and hope may appear differently than you expect.  A few years ago, our local arts center held a series of NaNoWriMo workshops.  We were all different people, some with day jobs, some retirees, others who were just there to see what NaNo was all about. That was my second NaNoWriMo, and the year I began to work on my novel, WORDS IN THE WINDOWSILL.  During those workshops, our instructor gave us lots of exercises to help us along.

But no writing time to speak of.

The activities she walked us through approached writing a novel from different angles.  For example, we did a lot of sketching, map-making, TV interviewing, role playing, and other things to get us to know our characters and our story on a deeper level.

Some of you might be thinking this is how everyone writes, but not me.  To tell you the truth, until the workshops concluded at the end of November, I hadn’t realized how those activities helped me reach and surpass my 50K goal.  Up until then, I was worried I was wasting precious time.

It’s those other activities that I am going to rely on when I can’t actually do the writing part.  I may or may not reach 50K new words this year, but for me, and this is the balancing part, NaNoWriMo is more about fleshing out a good story.  That’s how I plan to measure my success.

So from here on out, if I can’t actually write words into a chapter of my current Work In Progress, I will be planning it in creative ways.  I need to know my characters as well as I can, so that when I do have the opportunity to write, I can make the most out of it.

The good news is, my head is in the right place for success.  And that novel I was working on during our local NaNoWriMo workshops?  WORDS IN THE WINDOWSILL is due to be published this spring with REUTS Publications!  I don’t think I need any more motivation than that!

I hope I have encouraged you to keep yourself going through NaNoWriMo.  It’s really tough at times, but you can do it!  Dori Just keep writing

How do you plan to keep your balance through this month?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

Summer to Fall: 2017 Roundup

summer to fall

Hello Readers,

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s the end of August already.  As a teacher, my life is scheduled based on a calendar that has very little fluctuation each year, and my writing life fits within that calendar as well.  As the month of June ticks by, I make plans for what my writing goals will be.  I sketch out a schedule, (which I follow pretty well), which includes writing time to reach those goals as well as other goals.

This Summer, my goals were lofty and numerous, but I am happy to say that I feel as though I was successful reaching those goals and more.

Incomplete

In June, I completed my draft of Misty Dawn and Violet, which had been in a state of “partially done” for a really long time.  Long story short, when I get an idea for a story, I stop everything to get it started.  Needless to say, I had a number of partially finished at the start of this Summer.  In June, Misty Dawn and Violet made it to completion in June, and is in the hands of my agent!  It is a humorous romp of a story, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

July brought with it several new experiences for me and my family.  My daughter, who is ten, got involved with a local theater group.  For two weeks, she rehearsed for three hours a day, and at the end of that they performed Cinderella Kids.  Fantabulous!!!

Additionally, the month of July provided me the opportunity of a lifetime.  As you may know, I had been working on a novel inspired by the prison break that happened in 2015.  It was a very scary time, and even though I knew I had to write because of the event,  it actually took a while for me to get to a place within myself to get it all out.  That novel had been sitting in the “partially done” pile.  On July 22, I had the opportunity to audition for Ben Stiller’s Showtime Mini-Series, Escape From Dannemora!  So that was awesome…  Auditioning for the mini-series was a highlight of my life, and it was just the inspiration I needed to jump back into writing #PrisonBreakADK.

times square

August came, and my son was preparing to head off to his freshman year of college…away from home.  Before moving him onto his campus, we took a family vacation to NYC, which exceeded all of our expectations.  Central Park, Times Square, The Zoo, Stomp, 5th Avenue…there was inspiration around every corner.

It was during that trip that I discovered the magic of train travel.  With #PrisonBreakADK nearly complete, I was able to work comfortably on the train as we chugged down the tracks to Penn Station.  I don’t know how to explain it, but there is something romantic about train travel, and the process of writing, in itself, was such a beautiful experience.  I highly recommend it.  I am happy to report that #PrisonBreakADK has moved from the “partially done” pile and into my agent’s hands.

 

Now, Summer is nearly over.  My son is all settled into his college life, and all is well.  I will be welcoming a new crew of band students soon, and I will create a new schedule for my writing life that will fit into my teaching life.  Little by little, I’ll whittle away at the next project on my “partially done” pile, The First Harbor Bell.  If all goes well, I will be able to send it to my agent by Christmas.

completed

Let’s connect!  How was your Summer?  Did you meet any writing goals?  Please share them in the comments below!