Posted in help, illness, writers

Me versus Pac-Man

“I’m Pac-Man. I’m a hungry, empty ghost.” — Mae

If you are old enough to remember the beginning of Pac-Man, you will understand the chomping sound over the music that rattled your brain. It was the 80’s and it was addicting. And it apparently has survived all these years. Not a good sign for me

In mid-May, I began to bleed and had tons of stomach pain. This continued for weeks. First a trip to my gastroenterologist, then the ER, then a referral to a GYN.

I first found out I had “C” in June 16, 2022. Perhaps it was the shock, it didn’t really register. The GYN nurse called and said I needed to come in because of the results of a biopsy.. When Tai (my hubby) and I got there, the doctor nonchalantly handed me a piece of paper with the words, “You have cancer. You need to see an oncologist.” That was that. What???

From that moment on, every time I thought about it, I could see that little Pac-Man guy chomping away at my insides. Relentless.

Chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp .

My dear friend, Pauline told me to visualize a zapper gun zapping them out of existence.

Zap , zap , zap .

The problem was the more I zapped, the more Pac-Man appeared.

Chomp, chomp. Zap, zap. Chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp.

She told me to replace the Pac-Man with something positive I love, like flowers . But I’ve never been able to zap them all. So far, Pac-Man wins.

I was referred to an oncologist, who I call Dr. Sam. The unfortunate part was I could not get to see Dr. Sam until June 23rd. Most people will think that is fast, and looking back it probably was. It didn’t feel like it when every 24 hours felt like infinity. By then, I’d been bleeding and in a lot of stomach pain for over four weeks, never letting up. It already felt like it had been going on forever. My anxiety level kept climbing.

I was in pain, and there was the constant Chomp . chomp , chomp . Advice from family and friends started to pour in: “Get a second opinion,” “Go up to Moffit,” “Go to the Sylvester center in Miami.” “Don’t let them give you chemotherapy.” “Take the chemo if it will save your life.” “Try holistic measures instead.” I have no doubt that all these people meant well. They only wanted what was best for me. But it was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do.

Still, Chomp, chomp, chomp.

In pain and at an anxiety level off the charts, I decided to go the ER at Sylvester Cancer in Miami. Tai put me in the car and we drove the 2 1/2 hours over there from here in Naples. Daughter Terri joined us there, but they would only let one person in with me. The ER did nothing except take my vitals and give me some fluids. After many hours, they told me I was being discharged because all my vitals were good. I lost it – literally. I refused to sign the discharge papers. Two supervisors became three. Arms crossed at the foot of my bed, they said if I did not leave willingly on my own they would have security physically remove me. What could I do? By then I was screaming: “Fix me. Do something.” There answer was, “That’s not the way it is done.” Of course, they may have been correct, but try explaining that to a hysterical, freaked-out woman with cancer.

All the while, Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Eventually we left, and after spending the night with Terri in Miami, we drove straight back to our ER in Naples. The pain was excruciating.

Chomp, chomp, Zap, zap, Chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp.

Finally, that ER (3rd in two weeks) gave me something to move my bowels. And wow, the pain was gone. I still had the bleeding and it didn’t cure the cancer, but at least I could breathe.

At last, it was almost time to see Dr. Sam. Let’s save Sam for the next post.

Feel free to like or leave a comment.

Posted in angels, family, Florida, grandmothers, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, love, Merry Christmas, mythology

A Holiday Story- The Marco Angel

island of angels - Copy (2)

Happy Holidays to everyone. Instead of an author interview, for my holiday gift to you, here is a short story I wrote a few years ago about the Marco Angels, hundreds of them, all over our island. They are a wonderful sight.

The Tradewinds

 

Island of Angels, a short story  December 2012

by  Joanne Simon Tailele

The young girl hunched down in the backseat of the car. Her nose almost touched the screen of the I-pad she balanced on her lap. Bright pink ear buds blocked out the other sounds in the car. As the car approached the crest of the Judge Jolley Bridge, her mother hollered to her above the music pounding in her ears. “Liza, look, an osprey.”

Liza lifted her head just as the bird spread its wings and took flight above the sparkling blue water. She watched as it flapped twice, and then glided on the wind. It headed across the island into the setting amber sun where the high-rises in the distance appeared to dance on the water’s edge. “Nice,” she said somewhat sarcastically and buried her red-capped head back in her lap.

This was not Liza’s idea for a Christmas vacation. Who ever heard of Christmas without snow, or friends or blazing fireplaces? If they had to go to Florida, couldn’t it be Disney World? No, Mom and Dad said it had to be Marco Island. Liza knew what this was really about. It was about saying good-bye. They thought she didn’t know, but she wasn’t a baby. She had looked it up on Google. Lymphoma. The chemo had only made it worse. She threw up all the time and her long blonde hair fell out in clumps until she just shaved it all off and stuck a cap on her head.

Gram’s house was cool and it had a big pool right off the back door inside a cage. Liza could push back the huge sliding doors and walk straight into the water, if she only had the strength. But even with a big artificial tree, and lots of lights on the house, things still did not feel like Christmas.

On the second night, Gram announced that she was taking Liza out to see the town. Big deal, Liza thought. This town sucks. She’d rather be back in New York with her friends.

As they rode down Collier Blvd, Liza noticed the angels. Beautiful silhouettes of praying angels lined the street in front of building after building of condominiums. They turned down Barfield, and then San Marco, then Bald Eagle. More angels graced the lawns of pretty homes and businesses. “What is this Gram? What’s with the angels?” Liza heart began to soften and a lump formed in her throat.

Her grandmother smiled at her. “This is the Island of Angels, don’t you know that?” She pulled the car up the steep drive to the Marriott Hotel and handed the keys to the valet. “Come, my dear. I want to show you something.”

Liza and her grandmother entered the lobby of the hotel. The most beautiful tree Liza had ever seen filled the room, surrounded by dozens of red poinsettias.  They descended the stairs and exited the double doors into the courtyard. A wedding reception was taking place and Liza smiled at the bride and groom surrounded by their friends and families seated at white linen tables in the soft moonlight. Passed the party, passed the pool, passed the restaurant on the beach, Liza walked arm-in-arm with her grandmother toward the shoreline. Those who observed them would not have known who was supporting whom. They kicked their shoes off as they reached the soft sand. The salt air tickled Liza’s nose. When the only sound they heard was the surf lapping on the beach in its own rhythmic beat, Gram spread a blanket and they sat down, shoulder to shoulder. The breeze from the Gulf was cool and Gram lifted the edge of the blanket to wrap them together in a cocoon.

Thousands of stars lit the sky and the moon’s reflection pirouetted over the water. Liza leaned her head on to her grandmother’s shoulder. “This is beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here. Tell me, Gram, why do they call this the Island of Angels?”

“Because it is.” Her grandmother stated rather matter-of-factly.  “Hundreds of years ago, the Calusa Indians knew this, and that is why they settled here. Angels look over this island and keep it safe. When big hurricanes like Wilma and Charlie, or Katrina blow toward this island, the angels all get together and flap their wings at the same time and blow the worst of the storms away.”

Liza snuggled a little closer. “Do you think angels are people that have died?”

Her grandmother thought for a moment. “No, I believe they were created to always be angels, that they are immortal, with no beginning and no end. They just are. But there is something else they do, Liza. They also blow away fear.”

Liza lifted her head from her grandmother’s shoulder and looked into her eyes in the moonlight. “How do they do that, Gram?”

“If you are afraid, just sit very still and quiet. Listen for them and they will come. When you hear the flapping of their wings, you will know that they are lifting your fear and taking it away.”

Christmas morning, Liza was too weak to open her gifts, but a special gift hung by a silver chain on the tree; a Marco Angel bowing with a candle in hand. Her grandmother hooked the clasp of the chain around her granddaughter’s neck. Liza looked up at her and pressed the angel to her chest. “I can hear them, Gram. I hear their wings. I am not afraid.”

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year to all of you.

2011-12-28 18.24.39

Tai and Joanne

Posted in authors, characters, children, coming of age, conflict, cozy mystery, fiction, forgiveness, humor, innocence, love, mystery, novels, publishing, readers, small towns, writers

“Close to the Broken Hearted” equals heartache, innocence and forgiveness.

Close_Broken  by Michael Hebert

Welcome everyone to Author Interview Friday.  It is my pleasure to have Michael Hiebert with us today. I’d like to change up the order of how my interviews usually begin and go straight to the short synopsis of Michael’s book, Close to the Broken Hearted.

 

At twenty-two, Sylvie Carson has known a lifetime’s worth of trouble. When she was a child, her baby brother was shot to death by a man named Preacher Eli. Orphaned by her teens, Sylvie is now raising her own baby with no partner in sight. For all these reasons, Leah Teal, Alvin, Alabama’s only detective, tries to stay patient when Sylvie calls the station day and night, always with some new false alarm. But now, Preacher Eli is out of prison amd moving back to town.

As far as he law is concerned, the old man has paid his dues; though Leash’s twelve-year-old son, Abe, vehemently disagrees. Between that and his relentless curiosity about the daddy he hardly knew, Abe’s imagination is running in all directions lately. While Leah struggles with how much of the past to reveal to Abe, she/s also concerned about Sylvie’s mounting panic. Something in her gut tells her the girl might be a target after all. For as Leah knows well, there’s danger not just in the secrets others keep from us, but in the lies that corrupt from within. It’s a hunch that will be tested soon enough as tensions mount on both sides.

Evoking the South with depth and grace, Michael Hiebert’s poignant, gripping novel captures the strength wrought by heartache and lost innocence; and the transformative power of forgiveness. Wherever it comes. . .

See folks, I knew that would be an attention grabber. Now, may I introduce Michael Heibert.  Michael comes to us from the wintry land of British Columbia, Canada. He  won the  Surrey International Writer’s Conference Storyteller’s Award twice in a row. He teaches  classes online at Writers’ Village University.  (Did not notice that last week, author was also my friend I met at Writer’s village University. A great place to learn online and chat with terrific author friends you just haven’t met yet.

Michael Hebert photo

Michael, do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I was very lucky to meet Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch about ten years ago. They taught me a lot of what I know today. I went to writing workshops down in their house in Oregon where ten writers were sequestered into one space (we all had our own bedroom) and we’d be given eight hours of lecturing a day and expected to write 25,000 words a week. I write a lot. I write fast. I think these two things impacted my writing career more than anything else. Two years in a row I wrote over one million words (I used to keep track). I don’t write so much these days, but I can still do three books a year without breaking a sweat.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

Well, I quit my day job and decided to become a real writer twelve years before actually publishing anything. During that time I wrote a LOT. I wrote sixteen novels and probably fifty or so short stories.

Twelve years. And you stuck with it. That is determination. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

It IS in bricks and mortar bookstores and usually found on the mystery shelves, although sometimes it’s just placed under fiction.

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Kensington Books in NYC publish my adult novels. I self-publish my YA books and my short story collections. My agent found my publisher for me (that’s her job), but finding an agent wasn’t easy. It took me ten years. When I finally did find her, I literally ran into her on the sidewalk in New York. See the About Me section of my website for a more thorough description of how this happened. It’s pretty funny.

I did read your About Me section in your website. I LOVED the line “Fiction will always just be more entertaining than real life, so why not stretch things a teensy bit when you’re retelling them.” I’m going to keep that mantra in the back of my end while I am writing from now on.  You’re casual style of writing in that section makes me feel like I know you already, that we’ve just shared a beer in a musky tavern.  (No, readers, I am not sitting face-to-face with my authors at these interviews, but I hope it feels that way to you as you read them.) Readers, do yourself a favor and go to his website. You won’t be disappointed.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

My Alvin books (Dream with Little Angels, Close to the Broken Hearted, and the third, which will be released next spring and will be called A Thorn among the Lilies) have mixed POVs. My main character, Abe, always speaks in first person. Everyone else is a close third person. When I write other things I like to play with POV. Even in the Alvin books, each has a prologue written in what I call a “floating third” POV. It’s not quite omniscient, but it doesn’t stay with one character.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Write a lot. Your voice will come. Listen to authors who have authorial voices you like being read by good readers. This is the quickest way to developing a good voice, as far as I’m concerned.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

If you want any kind of long term career and actually make money, you have to be a planner. Would you want your house built or your kidneys worked on by a pantser?

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Finish it before starting anything else. Even if it sucks donkey balls, finish it. It is unmarketable until it is finished, and it is probably not as bad as you think. Besides, that’s what first drafts are for. I call them SFDs. Shitty First Drafts. Get them done. Then put it away for two to four weeks before pulling it out and rereading it again. Then fix it.

Links:

Website:              www.michaelhiebert.com

Blog:                      www.michaelhiebert.com/blog

Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/michael.hiebert67

Twitter:                                @Hiebert_M

Posted in authors, books, editing, education, favorite books, fiction, history, literary fiction, memoir, non-fiction, novels, political injustice, readers, spiritual, spiritual, womens fiction, writers, writing

Janet Levine bring us Leela’s Gift

Janet Levine
Janet Levine

Today’s author, Janet Levine was born and raised in South Africa.  Multi-published, from her political memoir, Inside Apartheid to her women’s fiction novel, Leela’s Gift, she is a superb writer with a superb grasp of the art of story-telling.  Welcome Janet. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

There was never a time I did not want to be a writer. I still have my five-year old scribbles. Vividly I remember the first book I read on my own. It was about a visit to the circus and described the dawn colors and the day’s events. I was enchanted, exhilarated at the world evoked on the pages and I told my mother I was going to do that, write a story. So I did, and I’ve never stopped.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

At fourteen, a short story I wrote was read on the national radio in South Africa, and was a finalist for the best teenage writer prize that year. What a thrill. Since the age of eighteen I became a published freelance journalist in the national press in South Africa in those “liberal” newspapers that were against the apartheid regime. I have continued to write articles all my life. I now blog and write book reviews. I also wrote novels from about the age of twelve but none of them were publishable. Because of my involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle I did not have time to polish and revise. My political memoir Inside Apartheid was my first book length manuscript to be published. I started it in 1985 shortly after we immigrated to the USA. My then husband is American and we arrived to live in the Boston area with our two sons. I craved peaceful time to write after the drama of South African politics and wrote the book to establish that a number of white activists were part of the human rights struggle, too. Americans seemed to think that all whites supported apartheid. Because of my reputation in political activities and journalism, I was invited to be on the MacNeill/Lehrer News Hour commenting on the situation in South Africa, and interviewed by Judy Woodruff. A few days later PBS forwarded me a letter from a New York agent who asked if I was thinking of writing a book. I told him I was already working on one. Several months later we had a contract with a large Chicago publishing house.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. What shelves would we find your books in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I’m a cross over writer; I’ve published a political memoir, two psychology books, and a novel. The book we are promoting today is a novel and we would find it under fiction, women writers, and spirituality.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

POV is one of the most challenging decisions for a fiction writer. My voice is decidedly first person. In the novel I am working on now I have two first person narrators; I enjoy making readers “work” a little at figuring out what is the structure. This is highly experimental and unconventional and I still need to work on smoothing the transitions between the voices. In a recently published, magnificent novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature 2014) the author mastered the first person POV to perfection. A pre-pub novel (by a well-known author) I am reading now for review has two, third person (omniscient) narrators, and he works the transitions between their POVs superbly.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Currently the hardest part of the writing process (for me) is deciding to go the traditional route of seeking an agent, or trying to find an indie publisher, or to self-publish. What I have learned is that however long your work takes to write and revise, it is pristinely your baby, until you hire an editor to bring that professional polish. But the aggravation of the editing process and all those revisions is nothing compared to the resilience and patience (and time and/or money) you need to publish your book. You have to absolutely believe you have something to say that other people want to read or don’t even begin the publishing journey. It is a tough world out there.

Tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences

In Leela’s Gift the protagonist, a New Yorker, undertakes an enriching spiritual journey in the mountains near Darjeeling, India. The novel uncovers highly relevant spiritual teachings for our modern world. In captivating prose the novel intertwines modern philosophy and ancient wisdom in telling a story as old as the human heart.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is in almost total silence in a room surrounded by my favorite books and pictures and with a window that looks out on a garden or some greenery.

How about this one. …. A book about writing I love is Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings.

Where can readers buy your books?

My website is  www.janetlevine.com. All four books are linked to Amazon from my website and readers can follow me on twitter @jlevinegrp

Thank you Janet.  I know we will have you back to tell us more about Inside Apartheid.  Can you share a few paragraphs from the book we are promoting today, Leela’s Gift?  

“There was no mistaking Maharishi, standing amidst a group of solemn looking men all dressed in white. Pausing with one hand on the gate, Maharishi looked searchingly at me, drawing my attention back to him. He wore a long, immaculate white kurta, a collarless Indian shirt, over wide white trousers. Open sandals adorned his thin feet. In his other hand the beads of his mala slid effortlessly and deliberately through his slender, elegant fingers. His gaze seemed to penetrate my being and warmed to life many layers of my inner self that until that moment lay dormant; quickly I lowered my eyes, the force of his energy overwhelming. In his presence I struggled for breath.

His dark, deep-set eyes were softly luminous, and they smiled as he opened the gate. At the abrupt loss of his presence I felt cold, as I were in the Atlantic Ocean in winter. His presence radiated such heat and desire than when he left I was bereft. Considering this state along with my urge moments earlier to sink to my knees and prostrate myself at his feet, there was every reason to ask with rising hysteria; what was happening to me? After five minutes at the ashram my inner being swirled in choppy eddies. Maybe I should return to the taxi and drive back to Bagdora airport. The familiar known world tugged at me—standing at the threshold to this world seemed perilous, too risky.”

 

Posted in art, Florida, literture, love, novels, romance, science, writers

Can true love happen twice?

Joh fishwick

Welcome John Fishwick to Author Interview Friday. I love our tag line, “Can true love happen twice?” That is obviously the crux of the story in A Flight to Romance. I must admit that your background does not lend itself to imagine a romantic a heart.    

Well, beneath my background of cold, logical science lies a hot, beating romantic heart.

Okay, LOL, please share your background that led you to writing novels?

I graduated from Liverpool University in England in 1955 with a degree in Geology and Chemistry.  After studying Russian with British Intelligence, I emigrated to Canada , where I worked as a field Geologist looking for nickel deposits and as a Research Chemist for the Uranium industry.

In 1959, I  left Canada for the US , where, after working on a secret project for the US Government, I became a citizen. I published a book and over fifty technical papers and holds several patents.  I started a hi-tech materials company about 35 years ago, which I continue to operate.

I am  a member of the American Ceramic Society and of American Mensa and past president of the Everglades Astronomical Society. I lecture on Astronomy, various Science subjects, and on several items of Topical interest, including Global Warming and Critical Thinking. I lecture at colleges in Florida , North Carolina , and worldwide on various cruise ships.

I live in Naples , Florida during the winter months and in Western North Carolina in the summer with my wife, Nancy.

What Inspired You to Write this Novel?

I am fascinated by everything, except perhaps fashion. And basketball. I would regard it as a distinct honor to be thought of as a polymath. Even a scientist-philosopher.

Following my lectures at Universities, Colleges, and on cruise ships, I am frequently asked if I have a book containing details of the subjects covered in my lectures. So, I began a technical book several years ago based on a visit to various sites in England concerned with Astronomy, Geology, and Evolution. Then my first wife, Barbara, died from cancer and my enthusiasm for writing died with her.

But my fascination with all things scientific remained and I decided, with the encouragement of my second wife, Nancy, to resurrect the book as a novel in which many intriguing aspects of science are interwoven into a conversation between my two protagonists. The lady protagonist-Stephanie-, being a retired teacher of English and a lover of art, brings her knowledge to the discussions and, I believe, gives the reader a break from science and a welcome entrée into the world of literature and art.

An old friend, now deceased, told me that everyone should, in his or her lifetime, plant a tree, have a child, and write a book. I have now accomplished all three.

Do you have any advise for new first-time authors?

I would recommend getting help from someone who   has already been through the writing and publishing process before.   Also, don’t approach another writer until you have done your own homework  and have most of the book already planned and written.

Flight to Romance Fishwick

Would you give me a synopsis of the novel:  A FLIGHT TO ROMANCE?

It was true, she had thought his science trips would be a little tedious, but they were actually quite fascinating, and she was intrigued by his big quest.

Can true love happen twice in a lifetime? Find out in John Fishwick’s debut novel, A Flight to Romance. A thoughtful reflection on everything from art and science to romance and relationships, its raw emotion will captivate even the most casual reader.

Jeremy Rowlands lives a quiet life as an astronomy professor at the University of Florida. When he loses his wife in a car accident, Jeremy leaps at the opportunity to spend three weeks abroad to reevaluate his new role in life.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Marks embarks on a trip to visit the historic homes of famous British authors. As a retired English teacher who lost her husband to cancer, she has finally settled into a resigned solitude.

When Jeremy and Stephanie meet on the same flight, their lively and meaningful conversation sparks something in them both. Their decision to become traveling companions for the remainder of the trip allows their tenuous bond to grow, forcing them both to face a painful question: Is it really possible to fall in love again?

How About a Short Paragraph or Two From the Novel?

Waking surprisingly early in the morning after the previous long day, Stephanie was rewarded with the fine view she had been unable to fully enjoy the night before. Throwing back the covers, she headed to the window and pulled the curtains farther apart. Opening the window, she inhaled the clean morning air. This was not a typical day of rain and cool weather in the Lake District, but a brilliant, clear morning with the lake shimmering in the distance. A number of small boats bobbed next the pontoons to which they were tied. A sprinkling of sailing boats were moored farther out in the lake, and she saw steep peaks in the distance on the far side of the water. “O to be in England / Now that April’s there / And whoever wakes in England / Sees, some morning, unaware,” Stephanie recited. She closed the window, thinking that Robert Browning had it right. She sighed happily, savoring the early morning and imagining the next few hours with Jeremy as they explored the countryside and the homes of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

As she headed to the shower, her thoughts went back to the wonderfully happy days when she taught high school Shakespeare and to the plots of his magnificent plays. She remembered that the starcrossed lovers always encountered a block to romance built by a stubborn father or a family feud. If the block remained, the play ended in death and tragedy; if not, the play was a romance. The third act, she told her students, was a critical point in each play. It foretold the outcome, romance or tragedy.

Fresh with her memories, she turned off the shower, grabbing a fluffy white towel and then heading into the bedroom. She pulled open the wooden wardrobe. A long mirror on the inside of the door reflected the full length of her body. “Not bad,” she muttered. The slightly dowdy, retired teacher who had mourned for the last few years, was now rested and enjoying life once again. She now felt attractive—and desirable. Selecting an outfit for the day, she smiled and scrutinized herself once again. Aloud, she said told her reflection, “Act 3 is about to begin.”

Where can readers go to get your book?

From Create Space:  http://createspace.com/4410601

On Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/A-Flight-Romance-John-Fishwick/dp/1492921092/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390671677&sr=8-1&keywords=a+flight+to+romance

On Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-flight-to-romance-john-fishwick/1118026627?ean=9781492921097

Posted in authors, books, disabilities, elder care, family, Indie, love, parents, purpose, readers, remember, schools, senior care, support, writers, writing

5 time author Pauline Hayton never intended to be a writer

Pauline Hayton

Pauline Hayton was born in 1946 in the north east of England and worked as a probation officer in her hometown of Middlesbrough before emigrating to the United States in 1991. She and her husband currently live in Naples, Florida with four abandoned cats who adopted them.

She started writing in 1996, after listening to her father’s war stories and reading his wartime diaries. She found them so interesting, she felt compelled to write her first book, A Corporal’s War.

Researching for this book, she discovered the true WWII story of a remarkable woman, Ursula Graham Bower and wrote Naga Queen. While researching Naga Queen she became friends with Ursula’s daughter through whom Hayton became involved in bettering the lives of the Naga tribes in north east India. This also led to a new book,Chasing Brenda, a lighthearted adventure in Nagaland, written after the author visited Magulong village where she and her husband support a school.

Myanmar:In my Father’s Footsteps. A Journey of Rebirth and Remembrance is a travelog of a trip taken in 2006. After recovering from two battles with cancer, Hayton wanted to do something to make her feel alive and decided to visit the places where her father fought the Japanese in Burma during WWII. It was a healing, life-changing journey for her.

Her latest book, If You Love Me, Kill Me,  is based on the author’s painful, personal experiences while caring for her elderly parents.

If you Love Me, Kill Me

You can purchase her books by going to her Amazon Author page  http://www.amazon.com/Pauline-Hayton/e/B003YGSLJY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Naga Queen by Pauline HaytonChasing BrendaA Corporal's WarIn my Fathers Footsteps

Joanne:  Pauline, it is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday.  You say you never intended to be a writer, yet you have five books published. How did that happen?

Pauline: Thanks for having me, Joanne.  It’s true. I still don’t enjoy being a writer; it’s such hard, lonely work, but the stories keep coming into my head, and I need to share them for other to enjoy them. I started writing when my dad began to tell me his WWII stories. I was 55 at the time and was living in Florida after emigrating from England.  I thought them so interesting that I wanted to write them down for my grandchildren to read. They had only ever known their grandfather as a doddery old man. By reading his stories, they would discover that in his younger days he was a dynamic leader and a brave hero. His memory was detailed and incredibly accurate when he was telling me of his experiences at Dunkirk. Then he brought out the tattered diary he wrote when he was sent to India, and I discovered there were detailed records available at the Public Records Office in London and at the Imperial War Museum in London that I used to describe the bigger picture in which my dad’s personal story was taking place. The project blossomed into a book.

Joanne:   Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Pauline:   I took a Writer’s Digest novel writing course which helped a lot and read books on writing. Before that, the only writing I had done was as a probation officer when I wrote reports about defendants for the courts.

Joanne:  How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

Pauline:  It took three years. After almost 40 rejections, I self-published. My dad was growing old and before he died, I wanted him to hold his book in his hands.  

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Pauline:  No. When I was researching for “A Corporal’s War”, I came across another amazing WWII story of a young British woman who was living with the Naga tribes of NE India, doing anthropological work. She was recruited by a clandestine unit of the British Army, V Force, to spy on the Japanese who were expected to invade India. She received a medal for her activities. I knew immediately that her story would be my second book, which I called Naga Queen.  Writing this book changed my life.

Joanne:  Naga Queen changed your life? How so?

Pauline:  I became friends with Trina, the Naga Queen’s daughter, when I researched her mother’s private papers. Trina moved to New Delhi, India and became involved in the neglected Naga tribes’ welfare. She told me how sad she was that one village school looked like it was going to close, because it was so remote and most of the villagers were so poor, they could not afford to pay teachers to teach the 100 school-age children in the village. That village was Magulong, the school was Mount Kisha English School. This village was Ursula Graham Bower’s (The Naga Queen’s) favorite Naga village, and it was where she married her British Army officer husband in a true Naga ceremony. In 2007, my husband and I took on the job of sponsoring the school. Now all the children in the village are being educated. We have been there twice. The village is like paradise, well worth the eleven hour journey from the nearest town of any size, in a four-wheel drive vehicle, over crumbling mountain roads, followed by a five hour hike up a mountain. The villagers treat us like family, and indeed to us, they are our extended family. 

Joanne:   That is a fascinating story and I can see how those people have changed you forever. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, If you Love Me, Kill Me, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore and what is the premise to the story?

Pauline: It would probably be in general fiction.  I hope If You Love Me, Kill Me will help anyone going through tough times caring for a loved one to forgive themselves for not being perfect in their care. All you can do is your best. I didn’t have a support system during the years I cared for my parents. Get one in place before you become so worn out that you don’t have the energy to do it.

Joanne:  Let’s talk a little about the writing process.  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Pauline:  No. After numerous rejections, enough to paper a wall, and being a cancer survivor who wanted to ensure my stories were available for others to enjoy, I self-published. I don’t waste time trying to deal with regular publishers.

Joanne:  What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Pauline:  I published through Create Space, a part of Amazon.com. I am delighted with their service and would highly recommend them.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Pauline:  I wrote If You Love Me, Kill Me in first person. It is a very personal story interwoven with some fiction, based on my 7 years of caring for my elderly parents.

Joanne:  Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s.

Pauline:   I generally write in third person and usually stay in chronological order. However, I wrote my dad’s story, A Corporal’s War first of all in third person then rewrote it as a memoir because, in first person, it felt more personal and poignant. If You Love Me, Kill Me I also wrote in first person for the same reason. As in If You Love Me, Kill Me, the book I am currently writing will have some flashbacks.

Joanne:  What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Pauline:  Building the story itself is the easiest part, especially since a psychic told me I had to write about my own life in order to have success in my writing. I’m afraid I laughed at her and dismissed such an idea. I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in my life. Nevertheless, I wrote Chasing Brenda and If You Love Me, Kill Me, two stories based on personal experiences, as is the book I am currently working on. Once I decide to write a particular story, I let the idea ruminate in my subconscious and after several weeks, the storyline and title suddenly appear. Then I start pounding my keyboard. I find writing the synopsis and outline difficult and ask my writing friends to advise me about how to improve and tighten them up.  

Joanne: What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Pauline: Marketing is my weakness. (Laughs) In my twenties, I once took a vocational guidance course as I had no idea, and therefore no direction, on what to do in my life. I scored the lowest marks possible for sales and marketing. The only things I do are to tell my Facebook friends when I have published a new book, hand out bookmarks I have designed when I meet people who are interested in my writing and ask Tom Witt of the Naples Daily News to review my books. I must say I have noticed my Amazon.com sales are slowly increasing in a few countries, which I assume is from word of mouth advertising.  

Joanne:  What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Pauline:  Don’t let the big picture of writing a novel make you freeze. Start with a vignette or a scene and build from there.

Joanne: I too was the primary care giver of my father, so I can relate to this story. I know many others will find your book encouraging and helpful when they take on this task so foreign to most of us.  Can you share a few paragraphs from If You Love Me, Kill Me, to wet out appetite?

I half carried and half dragged her into her bedroom and laid her on the bed. Her left side seemed paralyzed.

“I won’t be a minute. I’m going to call 911.”

Waiting for the ambulance, I held her hand, stroked her hair—and silently cursed God.

   How cruel can you be, you sick bastard? She’s blind, deaf, can’t walk, and now you’ve given her a stroke! Couldn’t let her die peacefully in her sleep, could you? No, you just have to keep heaping on the shit. I despise you!

The paramedics arrived, and I took them to Mum’s room.

“I think she’s had a stroke.”

They took in her distorted face, asked questions, and generally agreed it looked like a stroke.

“Which hospital do you want us to take her to?”

I was flummoxed. I hadn’t been expecting the question, thinking the paramedics would make that decision. I was too distraught to think straight.

“I don’t know.”

“The Community Hospital has the best reputation for treating heart and stroke patients,” said one paramedic.

“Oh no, I don’t want her to go there!” I blurted out. “They killed my father.”

He looked at me questioningly.

“They infected him, and he died,” I said.

“It’s where I’d take my mother,” the paramedic persisted. “It will give her the best chance.”

Overwrought, I kept looking at my mother and back to the paramedic not knowing the best thing to do. Close to tears, I surrendered my power and acquiesced to his suggestion. They quickly gathered her up and carried her from the house.

Posted in authors, books, characters, conflict, editing, fiction, friends, novels, romance, suspense, womens fiction, writers, writing

Hemphill Towers makes a debut appearance

I am so excited to have Leona Pence on Author Interview Friday. Leona and I both started our novels about the same time and worked on them together with line-by line feedback through Writers Village University in 2011. Wow, Leo, has it really been that long ago? For both of us, this has been a long haul and I am tickled pink that her novel, Hemphill Towers is now out with MuseItUp Publishing.

Leona Pence
Leona Pence

Leona started reading romance novels as a teen. She graduated from Nancy Drew stories to Harlequin Romance, and then to her favorite author, Barbara Cartland and her vast Regency romance collection. Happy endings were a must. Leona began writing late in life after the death of her husband of forty-four years. They married on her 19th birthday after a three month courtship – and yes – love at first sight really did happen. She enjoys reading, writing, online pool, and especially being a Mentor in F2K, a free online writing course.

Leona:  Thank you for having me on your blog today, Joanne. It’s been awhile since we critiqued each other’s work in the WVU novel group. I know at least five of us from the group are now published. We must have done something right, I’d say.

Joanne:  It was a great experience. I know I never would have made it without all the help from that wonderful group.  Tell the readers when you first knew you wanted to be a writer and the inspiration to get you started.

Leona:  My novel started as a joke between me and two online friends. I was only planning to write a short spoof with no idea that I had any writing talent. I’d say I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I’d sent out ten of my fifteen installments to family and friends. My inspiration was the camaraderie from many online friends.

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Leona:  Not until after I’d written my manuscript. Then I discovered F2K (fiction for 2000) and WVU (Writers Village University)  They provided critique groups and writers from all over the world to lend support. We had fun in the Novel Group, didn’t we, Joanne?

Joanne:  Yes we did, Leo. What a great bunch of girls, and from all over the world. How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

Leona:  It took three months to write a first, very rough, draft. It sat on the shelf for a long time, so approximately five years before publication became a reality.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Leona: Most things I write involves romance. It’s the easiest to write a happily-ever-after ending

Joanne:  Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Leona:  I’d say Contemporary Romance, but maybe Romantic Suspense.

Joanne:  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Leona: I’m published through MuseItUp Publishing, a Canadian house. A mutual friend introduced me to the publisher, Lea Shizas. I sent her my manuscript and she offered me a contract.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Leona:  I’m more comfortable using third person POV. I haven’t switched yet.

Joanne:  Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s

Leona:  In Hemphill Towers, I alternated between my three heroines. Birdie Orrwell’s story took place in Italy, and it was a little difficult to keep the three stories intertwined without messing up the timeline.

Joanne:  What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Leona: The dreaded synopsis and query letter are part of the reason it took me so long to submit. Yeah, writing the manuscript was easier.

Joanne:   It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Leona:  My daughters raised a media blitz for me. I had television and newspaper coverage with more to come. I blog, and guest on as many as I can. I use Facebook and Twitter. I’m limited on marketing outside my computer. Being deaf and in a wheelchair puts a damper on live appearances. However, have you noticed via Facebook, that my overzealous supporters are trying to get me on the Ellen show. It would be funny if they weren’t so dead serious.

I am having a-Celebrate With Me- Facebook event November third. I have some cool prizes including my ebook.

Joanne:  That sounds like an exciting event. And we will watch for you on Ellen’s show. It could happen. We will all watch for the Facebook Event on November 3rd. Here that readers? — cool prizes including her e-book.

Do you consider yourself a pantser or a planner?

Leona:  I’m a pantser. I sit at my desk and write what pops into my head.

Joanne:   What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Leona: I’d tell them Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a good book. Patience is definitely a virtue. Never give up. Cut unnecessary words like ‘that, just, really, suddenly, seemingly, to name a few, and remember, a person cannot laugh, snort, or yawn words. Watch those he said/she said tags.

Joanne:  How do you feel, now that your novel has been published?

Leona:  I feel such a sense of relief that it’s finally happened. All the hard work, along with the agonizing wait, has faded, just like birthing pains do. Ooops, is that comparing apples and oranges?

Joanne:  I don’t think so at all. The waiting is really painful (and rejections along the way) What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Hemphill Towers
Hemphill Towers

LeonaHemphill Towers is about romance, art, stalking, wine forgery, the Russian Mafia, and friendship.

Joanne:  Where can readers get a copy of your book and other works of yours?

Hemphill Towers 2013 MuseItUp Publishing:    http://tinyurl.com/lrqon56

Amazon:    http://tinyurl.com/krom6yw

B & N :   http://tinyurl.com/k597f84

Blog:    http://leonaschatter.blogspot.com/

Anthology:   http://goo.gl/T97WNW

The Darwin Murders:   http://goo.gl/YX3Xre

Joanne:  Thanks Leona.  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Hemphill Towers

A little later, Stella put down her fork unable to eat another bite. She was listening to JB tell Federico a story about his latest fishing trip. JB raised his arm in a mock casting of a line, and in doing so, hit the wine bottle with his arm causing it to strike Stella’s full glass. The contents of both poured all over the front of her clothes.

Stella gasped when the chilled liquid came in contact with her body, soaking through her white blouse and bra. JB jumped up, grabbed a cloth napkin and began dabbing at the rapidly spreading red stain. Then the inevitable happened. First one button then another popped from her blouse and landed in the middle of the table.

JB stood dumbfounded, staring at the lacy exposed bra. Stella snatched the napkin from his hand and covered herself. Her face was much redder than the spilled wine. Riley could no longer contain her laughter and was soon joined by Birdie. Stella looked at them and then at the stricken face of JB Edwards; she began to laugh herself. Tears ran down their cheeks. JB sat back down, relieved there would be no repercussions from his gaffe.

Posted in authors, characters, children, conflict, disabilities, family, fiction, writers

Barbara Claypole White talks about the trials of marketing your book.

Barbara-3 (2)

It is my pleasure to have Barbara Claypole White with me today on Author Interview Friday.  Barbara writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina. English born and educated, she’s married to an internationally-acclaimed academic. Their son, an award-winning poet / musician, attends college in the Midwest. His battles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have inspired her to write love stories about damaged people. The Unfinished Garden, Barbara’s debut novel, won the 2013 Golden Quill for Best First Book. Her second novel, The In-Between Hour, will be released on December 31.

The Unfinished Garden

You can connect with Barbara on her website www.barbaraclaypolewhite,

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/bclaypolewhite.

Signed copies of The Unfinished Garden are available from: http://www.flyleafbooks.com/book/9780778314127

Amazon for TUG: http://www.amazon.com/Unfinished-Garden-Barbara-Claypole-White/dp/077831412X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379250026&sr=8-1&keywords=the+unfinished+garden

Pre-order link for The In-Between Hour: http://www.amazon.com/In-Between-Hour-Barbara-Claypole-White/dp/0778314758/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379604945&sr=8-1&keywords=the+inbetween+hour

Barbara has offered a giveaway for a signed copy of The In-Between Hour and will ship it anywhere in the United States. All you have to do is leave a comment so we can draw a winner.

Joanne:  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Barbara:  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I penned stories and poems as a child, scribbled in diaries as a teenager, then churned out press releases and trade articles when I worked in P.R. (Writing’s still writing!) However, I didn’t realize my childhood dream of becoming a published author until I turned fifty. My motto is never give up.

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or did you take any courses along the way?

Barbara:  I was a history major who worked in the London fashion industry. (I know, I never take the direct path.) I started messing around with my first—unpublished—novel twenty-five years ago, but I wasn’t terribly focused. After I became a stay-at-home mom and my son entered the school system, I began writing in the mornings and took an evening class at my local arts center. Gradually I developed a writing routine, became more serious about honing my skills, joined writing organizations, went to conferences, found critique partners, and entered competitions for unpublished manuscripts. And I read and read. All those steps helped prepare me to become an author.

Joanne:  Are you published through a traditional publisher? How did you find your agent and editor?

Barbara:  I’m thrilled to be a Harlequin MIRA author. MIRA is the imprint of Harlequin that handles literary commercial or book club fiction, and when they were considering The Unfinished Garden, my agent warned me the acquisitions team is tough. To be honest, I still can’t believe I’m a MIRA author, and I wouldn’t be without my agent, Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

I found Nalini on the Writer’s Digest new agent alert, researched the heck out of her, and spent two weeks creating a personalized query letter. (Yes, one letter, two weeks.) She offered representation a week after I queried her. From the beginning, Nalini made everything easy. She had a plan, I did nothing, and three months later I had a two-book deal. Did I mention that I love my agent? 🙂

Joanne:  Authors and publishers talk about finding your voice. What does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Barbara:  If you’re on Twitter, read Marian Keyes’ posts. That woman has bucketloads of voice! Your voice is the way you express yourself—your use of language, humor, etc. I think it also reveals your inner core. To find your voice, you have to dig deep; you have to expose the most personal. I guess I found my voice when I stopped trying so hard and subconsciously reverted to my letter writing style. Throughout college I wrote long, unedited letters—filled with voice.

Joanne:  What marketing techniques do you use to increase your sales?

Barbara:  My marketing approach is slow and organic—like my writing. I see connections and follow instincts. For example, I persuaded a local gardening magazine to do a small piece on The Unfinished Garden, even though the editor told me—emphatically—she didn’t review fiction. My angle? The novel has local, rural settings and numerous references to indigenous plants her readers would enjoy.

Marketing is really a giant jigsaw puzzle with some very small pieces. You don’t have to think big, but you do have to connect with others. The half hour you spend answering an email from a reader is still part of your marketing campaign.

Obviously the first step is to write the best book you can, but 90% of everything that happens next revolves around networking. It takes a village to promote a book. Authors helping authors is a huge part of the equation. Be gracious to other authors—post reviews of their books, share their blog posts, and go to their readings. There is a wonderful pay-it-forward subculture amongst authors.

I do believe in blog tours, since most reviewers are online, but the cornerstones of my marketing efforts are always local: booksellers, book clubs, media. I organized readings for The Unfinished Garden at all my local bookstores, publicized them through the local events’ listings, and contacted editors of local papers, newsletters, and magazines for ‘local girl makes good’ stories.

Reaching book clubs has been key for TUG. (Over a year out, I still have book clubs on my calendar.) I started by emailing everyone I knew, and I accosted anyone who made the mistake of mentioning, “I’m in a book club.” Also, one local bookseller became my champion and recommended me to a number of book clubs and literary organizations. That’s a perfect example of the power of connections. (I made a point of introducing myself to her months before the novel came out.)

Marketing is a slow burn, but if you build a solid foundation, it does get easier. And you find yourself happily saying to anyone who asks, “My second novel, The In-Between Hour is the story of two broken families coming together to heal, and you can pre-order it NOW! on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.”  Or, you can leave a comment below for a chance to win an advance reader copy. See? I just did a little bit of marketing….

Joanne:  What great advise.  Thank you Barbara.   Now readers,  here is a sneak peek into The In-Between Hour

 The In Between Hour

The In-Between Hour (Harlequin MIRA, December 31, 2013):

 Will imagined silence. The silence of snowfall in the forest. The silence at the top of a crag. But eighty floors below his roof garden, another siren screeched along Central Park West.

Nausea nibbled—a hungry goldfish gumming him to death. Maybe this week’s diet of Zantac and PBR beer was to blame. Or maybe grief was a degenerative disease, destroying him from the inside out. Dissolving his organs. One. By. One.

The screensaver on his MacBook Air, a rainbow of tentacles that had once reminded him to watch for shooting stars, mutated into a kraken: an ancient monster dragging his life beneath the waves. How long since he’d missed his deadline? His agent had been supportive, his editor generous, but patience—even for clients who churned out global bestsellers—expired.

Another day when he’d failed to resuscitate his crap work-in-progress; another day when Agent Dodds continued to dangle from the helicopter; another day without a strategy for his hero of ten years that wasn’t a fatal “Let go, dude. Just let go.”

Posted in children, economy, family, friends, laborers, love, nurses, plumbers, retail, service, support, thanks, writers

Cheers for our Laborers

Happy Labor Day.

For most people, this is a day off, to spend with family, to relax on a beach, or to knock out a round of golf.  But all laborers in America are not off on this day. Many still work their regular jobs, while we go about our merry way.

The grocer
The grocer

The purpose of this day is to honor them, and the lucky ones that got a day off. Everyone thinks to honor the “heroes”, the fireman, the police, the first responders. But the everyday service people don’t always get the thanks they deserve.

the plumber
the plumber

Why, I ask? Why do they labor?  Most labor to provide for their families, to put food on the table, to pay that doctor bill. Hopefully they are working a job that they enjoy. Many are not so lucky. Many do it out of need – they cringe every day they get out of bed to face another day at a job they hate. This day – let’s say “thanks” for sacrificing their life to do what they have to do. Head into work on your next workday with a smile on your face knowing someone cares – and thanks you.

the retail store clerk
the retail store clerk

Then there are those that serve out of labors of love. Maybe they are volunteers, or maybe they draw a salary – but their purpose is clear. They love to serve. Perhaps you a nurse or a nurses aide,  thank you for the love and care you give your patients. Perhaps you volunteer or run a non-profit organization that serves the needy, the challenged, the high-risk youth. Thank you for your service.

nurses and aides
nurses and aides

So today, or tomorrow, or the next day – keep this in mind. They deserve your thanks.  I customarily thank a serviceman or woman every time I see one in uniform. This week – make it your pledge to thank the laborers that keep America moving, food in your mouth, clothes on your back, your home running smooth.

the dry cleaner
the dry cleaner

How many of you will say thinks to this week?