Tag Archives: writing

Julie's Pets

The Precious Pet Projects of Julie Whiteley

One of the nicest surprises about self-publishing is getting to know book reviewers. They have quite the story to tell, and each one is different. One such person is Julie Whiteley, who coincidentally is the first reviewer that I ever approached about Dawn at Last. I was quite nervous back then, feeling that I must maintain a cool distance. I thought that was required of the author. I’m glad I was wrong.

After getting to know Julie better – and a few others – it just seemed right to do let my followers have the opportunity to hear what she has to say. So here’s my interview. Enjoy it and learn . . . I know I have.

Can you give me a little about your background? How long have you been writing reviews? What made you pursue this hobby?

I started writing reviews 3 years ago when I began to notice authors becoming more vocal about the need for reviews. My family said I should write reviews because I read so much and I should share my thoughts with others, plus help an author out in the process. So, I thought why not?  So, I wrote my first review for Amazon and a professional reviewer tore it apart. I didn’t know I was being graded! I took that as a personal challenge and started writing reviews all the time, for every book I read, but stayed over on Goodreads instead of Amazon.  One day I got an email from Goodreads letting me know I was in the top 1%  of reviewers on that site.  This was another indicator that authors needed reviews.  So,  that was when I started taking things more seriously and got very involved all over social media and with authors personally, also on Netgalley and Edelweiss, and I started a book review blog.

Can you describe a typical week in the world of reviewing?

Oh that’s a good question. Instead of a typical week, though, let’s break it down into a day.   I have a blog post every day. So, I schedule the post,  then I start putting it  out there on social media.  I then answer emails for review request and other emails concerning tours, blogs, reviews etc.

After that I read, read, and read, then I start writing reviews. I like to write the review as soon as possible after reading the book so it’s still  fresh in my mind.  It can take up to two hours – sometimes more – to write a review. At that point I will either need to contact the author to let them know I have their review ready, or I will need to post it to Edelweiss or Netgally or one of the other sites I review for, then on to  GR, Amazon, and LibraryThing for starters.

I start prep work on the next blog post, interview or spotlight, check on all social media to touch base with other reviewers and bloggers, authors etc.  I may chat with Lawrence. LOL

Then I read some more!  I do this seven days a week.  I work on books in one way or another for 5 to 6 hours a day.

Is there anything you would like authors to know? Is that different for indie authors than for traditionally published ones?

What should  an author’s know?  They need a thick skin,  a positive attitude, must always be professional, even if this isn’t your day job, and above all be patient. Read a lot, research self-publishing and get advice before you even start  trying to promote. Beware of scams and paying for reviews and do not under any circumstances swap reviews with other authors.  Going a little further, I really don’t recommend having friends and family post reviews for you either. Trust me, this will come back to haunt you.  So, try to prepare yourself and arm yourself with some good solid advice before publishing your book.  Knowing what to expect and having some idea what works and what doesn’t will go a long way.  Also, you might want to know that most likely you will have to spend a little money to get your book promoted. I don’t mean buying reviews, but you may consider doing some book tours and putting your book on an indie author site like StoryFinds that will get you get some reviews and a little recognition.  Costs for joining are very reasonable and will help get the ball rolling for you.

Yes, it is different for independent authors. A lot different in fact.  Indies do not have a filter. The traditionally published author has a little help even if it’s a small publishing company.  There is  more money to spend on promoting your book, there are more contacts, more ways to reach people. The indie is out there all by themselves.  If their book gets promoted it’s because they used their own money and spent their own time building up a network of contacts and it’s a much slower process and  since you don’t have an advisor, you can make a lot of mistakes and get taken for ride if you aren’t careful.  On the plus side, you have complete creative control over your work. You are your own boss, so can write a romance then write a horror novel if you want. You don’t have to fit into any set mold and you aren’t under a contract or deadline. Writing can be something you do for pleasure away from your day job or you can turn it into a career option, it’s up to you.

You must have certain experiences that really stand out for you, both positive and not so positive – can you tell us a bit about them?

Positive far outweighs the negative.  I have built some wonderful relationships with publishers and authors since becoming a reviewer. I have had my reviews published in books, in publications, and I have had people send me personal notes, become friends with me through social media and we work together to help spread the word about great talent and good books.  I love this part of being a reviewer.  Most authors are very professional and nice.  In fact, just yesterday I got a card  in the mail from an author thanking me for the review and interview I did for him. I get personal notes, swag and some authors are kind enough to follow my blog and help me gain more followers.  Most authors are aware that reviewers are not being paid for their time and so they will do some little something to pay if forward. One of the best rewards though is seeing an author blossom and knowing that in some small way I helped them out.

Negatives: Spending hours on a book, the review, the blog post, and promoting on social media and never even getting a response from the author. No thank you, no kiss by *** or anything.

While many worship athletes, musicians, and actors, it was always authors that did it for me.  Becoming a reviewer has shown me another side of the author that I wish I didn’t have to know.  A little familiarity breeding contempt I think, which can lead to disillusionment and so it’s easy to get burned out.  Some authors have written one book and suddenly they think they are Ernest Hemingway.  They don’t ask if you will do something for them, they demand it and some can be really rude.  So, I’m going to lecture authors:

The statistics for reviews is dismal. People will rate a book but will not leave comments. I have to wonder why that is. Informal polls suggest reviewers don’t want to be hassled by authors to revise, edit or even take down the review. One reviewer expressed real concern when an author began stalking him online.  Seeing reviewers being trashed on social media sites is also a real turn off.  It’s no wonder authors have a hard time getting people to review books for them.  Again, be professional, even if this is just a hobby for you.  Always thank a reviewer for their time, even if the review was disappointing.

I’ve had my moments too, when  I wanted to know “What’s in it for me?”  LOL [Note – Julie sent me this clip from one of her favorite movies – Field of Dreams – and the author gets to walk I can so relate to this :-)]

Aside from reading, what are your other passions in life . . . chocolate goes without saying!

My pets are a HUGE part of my life.  I have two cocker spaniels and three cats.  They are all spoiled and so I have to spend a lot of time with them. Somebody has to do it  LOL  I also spend a lot of time spreading the word against animal cruelty and violence against women.

Where would you to go from here regarding your book reviews, personally and professionally?

First a personal comment. I hope to continue to increase my blog followers in order to reach more readers. I want to improve my writing skills and in the process write cleaner and more interesting reviews.  I am also working on calling attention to reviewers so that authors can appreciate the hard work that goes into writing a thoughtful review and to  work on a system that will compensate reviewers in some way and perhaps come up with a way for authors and reviewers to rate their experiences with  one another after a review has been completed.  Feedback from both parties could help us learn what we need to do to improve a system that is in terrible shape at the moment.  Do you think this is a good idea or do you think it will only increase the gap between author and reader? [I think these are fantastic ideas – it’s about time.]

Professionally, the future is wide open for some really great changes in the world of books and reading.  The short story will become a favorite of fans and e-series will grow in popularity.  I really do believe that books will become more interactive in the near future, giving the reader a say in what takes place within the story and the way the story ends. Alternative endings are already cropping up as well as books that offer the reader choices within the book on which path they would like the character to take.  It’s like reading a book three different ways.   I think video reviews will also crop up more often.  There are still a lot of changes to come and growing pains yet to work through, but overall it’s an exciting time for authors, books and readers.  I hope to be part of it in some way. 

 A huge thank Julie. If you would like to follow her, here are a few links, one to Facebook and one to her blog:

Julie Whiteley on Facebook          Julie’s Blog – Cluereview on Blogspot

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A magic cure for head colds & writer’s block!

If writer’s block is a form of real estate, move over Donald Trump . . . and hello Nirvana!

I’ve read about this block before but have never really experienced it, until recently. Being such a fan of Einstein, I’ll take his advice and think for myself . . . so far I’ve only come up with a 7 step program, take it for what it’s worth!

1. Take drugs, lots of drugs. It seemed to work for Hunter S. Thompson and others more discreet in the golden age of opium . . . hello Confucius, you silly man!

2. I’ve been taking drugs for weeks now, the stuff for stuffy noses . . . no, not cocaine but Neo Citran, the kind that makes you sleepy. I used to write in my dreams but with this stuff my dreams seem to be leading to a blank sheet, except for a little white-off in spots. In other words, take a nap.

3. When you wake up read something erotic, then take some more drugs, then dream, etc.

4. The next time you wake up take a shower. Have something to eat. Then read something erotic, take some more drugs, then dream, etc.

5. If you have properly followed the first 4 steps, eventually you should be able to write anything. In that case just sit down and write anything, review it, print it and chuck it. Then read something erotic, take some drugs, dream, etc.

6. Throw the drugs in the garbage.

7. Write about your childhood, when you were six years old, but make it more erotic than anything you’ve recently read. Go online and find a new editor who takes samples, in order to show you her skills and style. Send her your childhood masterpiece. While waiting for her response, retrieve the garbage from step #6 and repeat steps #1 through 5.

There you have it. This may not work for everyone. It really hasn’t worked for me, but they say practice makes perfect. Then again, I was called perfect years ago. That really threw me off. I quickly realized there was nowhere to go but down, and that makes me drift back to step #4 . . . oye, the life of a struggling writer!

So for now I’ll rest on my laurels. They are currently resting on StoryCartel. It’s a great site for readers, ones looking for fresh material and free books to read. StoryCartel asks you to help the authors by writing book reviews, featuring what you like on blogs, etc.

FYI – that’s a different “etc.” than mentioned in the 7-step program – hopefully!

 

Leaves that look like rocks

The Good Men Project . . . and all that Jazz

Since my last post I’ve submitted my first article to The Good Men Project. I stuck to my guns and stayed on this topic of musing. That’s not so easy, given that the only gun I own is the one under my cap!

The Unexpected . . . 

It was a hard article to write, but with some fine editorial advice I think it came out pretty good. How do I know it’s good? Some might call it by “gut check” or intuition, but for me it has become more than that . . . it’s what I sometimes refer to as, “unexpected pleasant surprises”. They happen often enough in normal life, but when they show up in the creative process, it’s different.

Each surprise is a unique, though what’s common is this “just knowing” feeling . . . it’s a selfless kind of self-confidence. There is a personal trust in the musing that happens . . . like a little jazz? Sometimes there is this kind of a “wow” reaction, sometimes it’s more of, “Geez, that’s really nice!”

I’ve come to the point where I’ll seldom publish anything without doing that kind of check. Sometimes though, with complex or abstract issues, I’m guilty of being less focused than I need to be, for the benefit of others. One issue ties into many others, becoming complex, hence the need for more focus.

The Excruciating . . .

Strangely, the most difficult kind of writing for me is what I’ll call the promotional kind, and yet I spent the majority of my corporate life in that very activity.

There really are no “ah ha” moments in that kind of writing, except maybe with one recent exception. Like most writers, describing one’s work in a book description – the blurb – can be excruciating. It never seems to come out right. However, about a week ago a book reviewer offered to take a look at Dawn at Last. First she wanted me to answer one simple question, “What makes your book different than the rest?”

The answer flowed out with almost no effort. It took me longer to type it than to think it, which is always a good sign. Here’s how I answered her:

  1. It’s the way the lives (and stories) of six quirky characters interweave.
  2. It’s about love more than a love story – by the end you may wonder whether Love herself is the unsung hero.
  3. It’s excruciatingly difficult to peg the book into one or even two genres – it’s erotic but not erotica; it’s a mystery, though the crime is perhaps debatable; the underlying issues are really quite serious, yet dealt with in a playful & humorous way.
  4. When you read it for the second or third time, after waiting awhile, most likely you will read it slightly differently, and discover something new.
  5. Other than that, to finish the question, it has a great cover!
This is really what I’d like those curious about the book to know. I’m seriously thinking of changing my book description on Amazon and elsewhere to include these five points. You many not realize it, but my answer above says a great deal about the muses, about musing.
 
 
Now I’d like to just sit back and listen. In this context “listening” means reading, as in your comments. Since most of my readers are Americans, and given that’s basically thanksgiving now, I’d love to hear what you have to say . . . an anecdote here or there . . . one of your own little unexpected surprises . . . the ones that make for great big memories!
 
Happy Thanksgiving . . . and all that jazz!
 

Who’s Musing Who?

Art, writing, and other musings . . . that’s my bi-line.

When this blog began there was the art, though the writing was always there, hidden from public view. Then came the novel, my biggest and most cherished writing project so far . . . in many ways as satisfying as the art, a pleasure that at one time thought not possible.

For months now, this blog has been skewed towards the promotion on the novel, interspersed with a little about art, and woefully lacking in the musing.

Fascinating and Elusive . . .

What is musing? What is a muse, and is what the right term, given that the muse may be something completely non-physical? It’s a fascinating subject, though it’s one that I’m only now more formally investigating, but not in the sense of a yearning for new knowledge. You see I’ve been close to my muse for a long time, so my knowing is already there, in very personal way. It’s such an intimate experience – a presence at times – and one that is cherished beyond words, but still one tries.

Beyond words . . . perhaps this is why for so long it seemed impossible to use words to find that same satisfaction as in creating art. This I now understand. Someone wrote a really nice blog today about the writer finding that inner voice, and what happens when one writes without it . . . when it becomes superficial. Quite simply, without that muse my inner voice seems weaker, with a sense of loss, and to the point where creating not from the heart becomes a risk.

Searching The Invisible For Common Grounds

It didn’t take long at all – only a few days of research on how history views the muse – to discover how so many others have had similar musing experiences in their creativity. That’s somehow reassuring . . . so many legendary artists and writers, their influences, their loves and relationships, their passions, eccentricities, lusts, questions, controversies, triumphs and heart breaks, and through it all, this mystery of the musing.

Much of the material is about one individual impacting the other – the inspiring returned by the affection – the dynamics between the two. Sometimes the issue goes well beyond the individual, into the realm of the spiritual, perhaps the divine? Questions arise as to where do original ideas come from? Are they really from the muse, or the writer or the artist, or from somewhere unknown? Perhaps unknown, yet truly felt . . . the fuel of genius . . . the gift received, and then the gift created, followed by the need for more. It seems this is the way of musing, always mysterious.

Same Journey, New Curves Along the Path

In the next part of my journey I’m about to write in a different way. I have begun a relationship with a large web site devoted to the issue of what it means to be a good man in today’s world. It features an incredible amount of amazing contributors, and so I am honored, humbled and excited. This kind of writing presents an entirely different challenge than writing a novel or writing here on my blog. Both of those are more personal, kind of like writing for an audience of one, which helps immensely in trying to write from the heart.

In this next project that kind of writing must continue, but differently. If you haven’t noticed, my blog is often kind of like thinking out loud, which helps me to focus on one thing or another. Every now and then it seems to resonate with others, which is really nice. Lately I haven’t done enough of that, not enough writing that will somehow help others . . . you.

That kind of helping seems imperative in writing for this men’s project, and I’ll start by gleaming through this musing material. I’m sure this can help cut through some of the confusion and anguish that seems to be there for so many men. Of course, it’s not just there for the men, but for everyone . . . the same but different. Contributors are encouraged to write in the first person, to tell personal accounts of this and that. I will do so, gently though, and as much as possible with a touch of humour, the non-offensive kind. I don’t always succeed at the ‘non’ part,  so I’m asking this of you, “Wish me luck – the good kind!”

I’ve actually written a first draft of an article. I wrote it awhile ago, but have decided to sit on it. It’s actually pretty funny – yes and no – it has to do with the use of certain toys in long distance relationships. It’s a good article, but not the one I want to lead in with, so perhaps closer to Valentine’s? It certainly doesn’t fit in well with the subject of muses . . . no pun intended. Also, I’d like to write articles that are in a way congruent with Dawn at Last, which is oozing with secrets and mystery and well, you know . . . muses!

The Challenge

So much that is written on this topic is related to gifted artists and creative people. I believe that is unfairly so, that anyone can have a kind of muse-gift in any close relationship. I need to believe this as much as I need to believe that love is the most important aspect of the universe. Illustrating this through my new writing project will be a challenge, which is perhaps just the motivation I need. You will see what I mean when these articles are published, and I’ll be sure to mention them here, on my blog, as soon as that happens.

To give you a feel for what I mean – the gift of the muse in everyday life – here is an excerpt from Dawn at Last. Based on comments from the book’s fans, it is certainly one of the favorite segments of the novel. This is about Pierre, the owner of a French restaurant called Papillons, telling Sunni (a waitress) about the inspiration and origin of the name:

“Okay Sunni . . . the house of butterflies. It’s my home, you see. How can I tell you this? When I was a youngster I had my chores to do, and they varied depending on the time of year. This one summer day it was getting close to supper time and I had to prepare a bunch of vegetables for stew. I had to go to the kitchen sink to get some water and our kitchen window overlooked the yard between the house and the crops. There were little flower beds around the yard. While I was running the water I looked outside and there they were.”

He pauses, and looks as if he’s lost in a dream, though she’s sure it’s a memory, and once again in her impatience she asks, “What did you see, papillons?”

Her words breaks his trance, and he smiles as he looks at her and says, “Yes, that and more. My mother was out there on the right side of yard, tending to some flowers. She was bent over. She was wearing those favourite blue jean shorts of hers and a colourful blouse, an old one she wore mostly for chores. Then I saw my father on the left side, about fifty meters away. He was repairing some kind of tool or something. It was a hot day, so he paused to wipe off his sweat. As he stood up he looked at my mother. At that point she hadn’t noticed him looking. He started to walk quietly toward her, as if to sneak up on her. About half way there she must have heard him, or perhaps it was les papillons floating around her, five of them. I think it was five − they were hard to count.

When my father noticed that my mother had spotted him sneaking up, he started walking a little faster. Then she stood right up and turned to face him, at the same time looking around the yard. She started walking away, slowly at first, not toward him, but toward the house, and smiling. He began to run a little and so did she, giggling now, and it was bit like a touch football game as she zigged and zagged a bit, and then my father slipped on the grass and fell down to the ground. I was startled. It really looked like he was hurt, but he it turned out he was faking an injury to get her to come and help him, and when she did, he pulled her down and they kissed, and for a long time. Then they got up and walked away, hand in hand, somewhere towards the side of the house, where there are lots of trees.”

Then he pauses, and looks closer at Sunni. “And then then these butterflies – when my mother was running they seemed to follow her – like they were playing their own game. They even seemed to follow them to the trees, until I lost sight of them as well. It was really something. In those moments it was all about love, don’t you think? Only playful love and affection. And it seems that’s all the butterflies know − and that’s what I try to do with my restaurant. It’s a safe place for people like you and Andrea and the other young ladies, at least I want it to be, and maybe sometimes love comes out of it, somehow. Is that so wrong?”

The Perfect Gift, If Only For Awhile

One of my favourite aspects about this excerpt is how the couple interact so playfully and with no need for words – in a way they inspire each other – and so this is too is the play of the muse? I hope this gives you a bit of a flavour for the direction I’ll be taking in the project. If I succeed then I will make some people happier, if only for awhile, and hopefully a long while. Maybe some in their busy lives need a reminder, need to stop and look at the love that is still there, but possibly dormant in all the stress and confusion? I plan to provide many reminders – a series on this issue of the muse and musing – of awareness, the selfless kind.

It would be nice to help like that, in some small way . . . it does feel good when it happens, and shouldn’t it? There are those who says that such kindness is somehow self-indulgent and that giving gifts like this is really a selfish act because one gets pleasure in the process. I disagree. If you want to see it as being selfish, go ahead. All I know is that it is perfectly acceptable . . . perhaps the only true definition of perfection. How do I know? Why do I believe this so strongly? The simple is answer – I can sense that the muse approves and I need no more than that.

Thank you for getting to the bottom of such a long post . . . you must be well-grounded by now! As such you deserve a treat, so what could be more fitting than a little music? Enjoy . . .

Who’s Musing Who?

What Happens When Players Coach?

My first love, sports-wise, was baseball. Then there were the movies . . . oddly enough, this video really touches on much of what my novel’s about . . . all those confusing signals! What’s a player to do? It seems to be a great complement to the book description below.

This is an older description, but still very relevant, though some of the names have been changed since it was first posted. One of my readers – someone who has helped immensely – convinced me that the book is very much a romance. I can’t deny that, though this was never the intent, yet it seems that way it is.

I hope I’m not “making the wrong mistake” here, using a bit of a baseball analogy . . . thinking of Cupid as the pitcher . . . I’m still wondering if she cheats . . . hiding some of that slippery stuff under the tip of her cap! By the way, yeah, there’s plenty of Yogi Berra logic in Dawn at Last, but no worries, he’s just the catcher!

So here’s the old book description . . . and if you should ever read Dawn at Last, may she throw plenty of slow, sinking sliders!

An Older Description of Dawn at Last

Robin Belcour appears to have it all. She is a specialized therapist who handpicks her clients – all men who adore her – the only way she will have it. Managing a life for contentment is very easy when one shuts the door to love, an apparent necessity given her many secrets. Yet something haunts her . . . three recurring words . . . bound and impatient.

It would be unfair to label her as the protagonist in this tale . . . after all, there are five others playing games of their own, but all on the same field.

In these individual games of love, it seems that Cupid has put away the arrows. Instead, she has taken to the mound . . . playfully dishing out a menu of tempting curve balls, changeups, forkballs, sinking sliders, and the occasional screwball. The half dozen players that step up to the plate have varied backgrounds – apparently they’re allowed to swing away as much as they want.

Fate doesn’t mind – if Cupid’s the pitcher, then it’s safe to say that Fate is the manager, keeping an eye on a scoreboard that has no numbers! Together, Cupid and Fate make it all look like an art form, something new, but old at the same time. In a way, all the art becomes part of the game, fans and all!

Fate lets Cupid toss out all kinds of pleasant surprises. The players miss the signals, trying so hard to second guess this pitcher of opportunity. They seem to be their own worse enemies: a house painter who is really a dreamer, two very smart waitresses who sometimes live the dream, an eccentric art enthusiast, a psychologist who has nightmares of her past, and a lover of gardening . . . a man who only wants to make dreams come true . . . but for others.

It doesn’t seem to matter whether one is 24 or 52 in this pack . . . they intertwine in what is mostly a humorous calamity of mistaken affections. Perhaps only love itself can straighten out their trials of error. She masterfully dances around the mayhem, even letting these mysterious tulips become part of the dance . . . in more ways than one. There is the mystery of their tangled lives, but above that, there is the mystery of a different kind . . . of pure joy, of the greatest dance of all . . . will any of them ever learn?

The younger ones seem to make the complex simple, when it comes to matters of love and affection. The older ones are trapped in the complexities of their own doing – yet they thirst for something more simple – perhaps a little less drama?

This is very much a story of love – much more than a love story – right from the first word to the last one. It’s a wonderful, heart-felt journey of discovery, the coming to terms with one’s past – for some – and one’s present and future – for all. It is not a matter of lover conquering all, it’s more like she’s watching and laughing . . . by the time it’s over, you may wonder whether the dreams know more than the dreamers . . . .

Excerpt from Dawn at Last

One can no more bury the past than control the future, though I suppose many of us try to do both, in various degrees. This is one of the central themes in Dawn at Last, a book about being wanted in three states . . . the past, the present and the future.

One of the main characters seems more consumed with the past than the others. Some see her as an ice queen, though she’s never struck me that way . . . perhaps more of a victim? Yet she doesn’t want to see herself that way –  the victim – though she knows there is plenty of truth to that. To accept it as true is to admit defeat . . . the warrior within can’t do that, and so the child within continues to suffer:

       “You two are really something else . . . such smart men! You know I’m mostly full of shit, more screwed up than I ever realized, until now . . . most of my life is one big lie. But then in my own defense, present company excepted, most of my life has been with people who, well, let’s just leave that out for now . . . Anyway, just so you know, Ben and all the others got exactly what they paid for. They got their ‘charming companionship’ every time – two hours at a time – the truth is they probably got more than their money’s worth . . . an ongoing, unattainable fantasy.”

She stops there. That lump comes back to her throat, brought on by her words, as they turn into thoughts. The epiphany is crushing . . . she is still living the life that she thought was left behind, the life of Dawn Belcourt, the expert in fantasy fulfillment. Her title had changed, but the role was much the same, though now there is no more fulfillment – not for anyone, and especially not for Donna Belauche.

Pierre and Charles are deeply disturbed. They are not bothered by anything she has said, but more by the current image of the woman they adore, in spite of all her acting. Now she is just sitting there, her glass shaking uncontrollably, as some of the wine dribbles down her top while she tries to drink it. She manages to put the wine glass down on the table without more spilling. Donna puts one hand over her mouth as she looks out, and then up, pensively, into the darkness of the night, into the rain.

She cannot speak and the two men know that. She bites her lower lip. The light coming from the pictures now reveals the water, but not the water from the dripping rain. Instead, the light watches the flow of tears that she tries to contain in the wells of her eyes. She appears to be on the verge of a complete breakdown, the weight of years of secret pain and sorrow, like a dam about to burst. However, in this moment, all that Pierre can see of her is a tender and hurting child.

He stands up and reaches out his hand to her. It’s an unspoken invitation for her to stand up, and when she does, he just holds her and hugs her. The tears flow uncontrollably now, and her body shakes in unison to the sobbing. He holds her a little tighter. There is nothing more he can do. She too is without choice, so Donna squeezes Pierre as tightly as she can . . . she just can’t stop the crying.

The mind is such a wonderful paradox, so fragile and yet so strong. It seems there are so many people ready to take advantage of both aspects. However, Dawn at Last is really about people who care about each other, each one differently, and despite each others’ peculiar secrets, longings, and deceptions.

I find it hard to choose excerpts from the book without spoiling it for any readers, though the one above is a pivotal one. I’ll just trust my extinct that it won’t be a spoiler for you, should you ever decide to read the book. In a way this excerpt is misleading – the sadness of it – the book as a whole really isn’t that way.

As usual, after posting something a little sad, I like to finish with something more upbeat, and Dawn at Last is overall full of reasons to smile . . . here’s to wishing you more ups than downs:

Pain & Glory

Find Dawn at Last at:     Amazon       Barnes & Noble        Apple

Be My Guest

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When I first released my debut novel it was kind of thrilling – the feeling, not the book – it’s exciting but not a thriller!

Back then I didn’t realize how difficult it is have one’s book “discovered”. Naive I suppose, but I’m glad I was . . . without a certain amount of child-like innocence I’m not sure the book would have ever been written. I like to think there is plenty of that naivete throughout Dawn at Last, which is odd given the rather serious and adult themes . . . undercurrents.

It felt much like preparing a fine meal, ten years in the making, and then opening the door to hall, ready to serve up a feast. I like to cook for someone special, one of life’s simple pleasures. While I wrote the novel because I just had to, it was never just for me but rather for a guest of one. Often I’d think of one person reading it, but no one in particular. I can’t imagine writing in any other way.

A Playful Reminder

Last week I came across something on YouTube that reminded me of this joy of launching my novel. It’s an old Disney clip, from that string of musical stories that came out just while my dear ones were my little ones. Watching them with my girls was very much like being a kid again, at least for awhile.

Aside from the launching of the book though, it’s quite remarkable how this short musical piece also ties in to much of the content of the book – in a condensed kind of way.

There is this issue of serving – giving with no expectations other than the pleasure of another – turning work into play? There is the curious combination of a little clock and a candle, an odd combination to say the least! For me clocks give a false perception of time, while with candles – within the flame – there is something timeless.

There is fine French dining, plenty of dancing, reasons to pop the cork, something about flowers and even tea. To top it all off, there is only one guest, and it seems an inquisitive one, delighted by the feast. She’s very much an individual, as are all six of the main characters in Dawn at Last.

Oopsy Daisy!

The funny thing is that perhaps this individuality comes out the most when they all sit down to one meal, or should I say when they all try to work together in preparing it? Now that I think of it, that Ben guy is smarter than I thought . . . he got away with simply pouring a little champagne . . . kind of like me getting out of doing the dishes!

I hope your week is full of “Oopsy daisies”, so please be my guest and take a few minutes to enjoy this fine dining experience.