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The Joy of Reading

The Joy of Reading

There is one statement people passing our display table make that chills us to the bone: “I don’t read.”

The response is an answer to a standard question we throw out to grab someone’s attention: are you a reader? “I don’t read” is usually followed by a) don’t I wish I had time!! b) I used to love books, but haven’t read one for years, or c) my job or my kids require all my attention.

It shakes me up to hear those things because I realize that reading is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. I love nothing more than a respite from the job or my family or any of the other everyday pressures that fill everyone’s day to immerse myself in the plots and characters that have nothing to do with my personal challenges. Yet either these poor people can’t find enough time in the day to do something so relaxing or they’ve thrown away the ability to lose themselves in the written word.

I know there’s television, cell phones, tablets and computers to distract and entertain, but it isn’t the same experience at all. When you read, your brain fills in the blanks of what you cannot see. The visualization is an internal experience. If the writer is really good, you feel the deep cold of the blizzard, the light touch of a lover’s lips, the numbing fear of a dangerous situation or the radiant freedom of the character’s epiphany. You’re doing the feeling and thinking instead of letting the images someone else created do the thinking for you.

It’s why mom and I wanted so badly to write books—because we love reading them. As authors, our greatest reward is meeting someone who has read our work who stops to exclaim how they couldn’t put one of our books down. When someone says that, we know we’ve attained our goal.

This September 15, when we gather at Applebee’s to launch Treasured Fate, the fourth Sam Osborne mystery, we are celebrating the blessing of having heard that statement multiple times. Come and share our joy.

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Join us Sept. 15 at Applebee’s, 3330 Pine Bluff Drive, Dumfries to launch Treasured Fate

–Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Come to the launch September 15

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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

OUR BOOKS

Holiday Connections Twelve stories based on celebrations we commemorate every year and how those celebrations bring together family, friends, lovers and sometimes strangers. From the little girl wh…

Source: OUR BOOKS

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

And We’re Off … Treasured Fate Goes to Press

You’d think with four books already under our belts, having the next book of the Fate Series finally done wouldn’t be much of a thrill. But it is. This book took longer than any other to finish mainly because we took a year off to put out Holiday Connections. We also published Treasured Fate ourselves, which meant hiring an editor and a designer and spending more hours going through the book carefully, searching for plot flaws and typos.Treasured_Fate_Cover

The excitement with this book is that finally someone besides us gets to read about Elmer and Maud and the hidden treasure that’s central to the theme. We know you’ll love the new characters, and we’ve brought back some of the other favorites in the Fate Series as friends to the main protagonists.

For those writer friends out there considering self publishing, we want to report that yes, it can be done. Certainly if you have the money upfront to put into perfecting your book or the money to pay someone else to do the production and administration, it’s an easy task. However, for those us living with limited budgets, putting together your own book can be grueling. As with most aspects of being an author today, you spend too much of your writing time worrying about details and making a mistake because suddenly, you have to be an expert in the software packages that make producing a book possible. You also have to deal with a large printing/distribution firm that does almost everything remotely and through technology.

But that made getting this book into print even more of an accomplishment. We made the decision to self publish based on advice from several authors who suggested that since the series is already up and running and popular, we should use the momentum to produce, instead of seeking a new publishing situation—something that can take years.

The result is Treasured Fate, and we can’t wait for you to read it. It usually takes a few weeks for the book to be in print and a week or so after that for it to appear on the main retail sites. We’re now planning an official launch in September, but the book should be available by about mid August.

Let mom and I know if you’d like a signed copy or an invitation to our launch, and we’ll arrange it.

–Genilee Swope Parente

 

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Where the Talent Lies

I have many useful ingredients in my arsenal of skills: a huge helping of creativity, a learned ability to set priorities and schedules to get things done, keen observation talents that are useful for a writer, passion for understanding how human emotions work and (dare I say it, my gamer “Friends”) a talent for Words. What I do not have or ever hope to have is a green thumb.

© Thevegetable | Dreamstime.com

© Thevegetable | Dreamstime.com

My dear husband and a landscaping friend built me a giant square wooden box in our fenced-in townhouse backyard about six years ago that has been responsible for this discovery. I was truly excited and inspired the first year I had “the box”: I bought a 4-inch-thick book on everything-you-would-ever-imagine-knowing about herbs and spent a delightful Saturday morning visiting a garden store talking at length with the proprietor about what I should grow. I brought home way too many plants and crowded them into that box, only to have them immediately begin to compete for space. Mint won out (as I understand it often does) and soon I was drinking Mojitos just to be able to use a tiny portion of what I had growing in my yard (or at least, that was my excuse).

No problem. My first lesson was learned. Next year, I did not buy mint at all and I cut way back on the number of plants. Lo and behold, my first crop of herbs was born and I felt at last I’d become a woman of the earth. Then I was faced with what to do with the result. A few fresh leaves of thyme in my potatoes, a failed experiment of rosemary in eggs, and I realized, most of the crop was going to waste.

Again, no problem. The following year I read up on how to dry herbs and hung sprigs of rosemary, thyme, basil around the kitchen. This experiment may have been worth it just for how glorious the kitchen smelled, but I quickly discovered that crushing herbs and sifting out stems and seeds and other unwanted material was a time-consuming process that was actually quite silly in light of how easy it is to buy a supply from the store.

It was time to switch tactics. Because I love fresh flowers, I decided to use “the box” to grow cut flowers.  Back to the garden store for bulbs and discussion. I was seeking something that came back each year so the result didn’t depend on replanting. I was so excited when the leaves began to push their way through the soil, then grow upward and finally sprout buds. The excitement petered out as the buds produced tiny flowers that died before I got a chance to snip them. I kept thinking they’d continue to grow: had I somehow planted miniature daffodils? Were tulips really that washed out in color? I gave those bulbs two more years to see if they would somehow mature and produce adult-sized flowers, but by year three I realized these flowers needed something I couldn’t give: loving care and probably some plant food.

So I went back to the drawing board once again and decided to save some money and grow vegetables. Here was a truly healthy choice that would support my passion for good eats. I read up on what was easiest to grow, then bought a few experimental seed packets. I started with several kinds of peppers, zucchini and a cucumber plant, and I made sure I bought the right kind of plant food and soil. I watered them religiously and was rewarded in my efforts by lush green leaves that fanned out over the width of the box, looking for all the world like a true Mr. McGregor’s garden. The neighborhood bunnies agreed with that assessment. I came out one morning to discover that every single one of those leaves had disappeared over night. All that was left of my garden were stubby stalks, which I knew were not going to make it. At least someone had a feast!

These days “the box” has one plant: a blueberry bush I planted three years ago. It produced nothing but pellets that first year, but this year I got a half pint of full size blueberries! I’ve kept the tree going despite the paltry yield for one reason: we now have two dogs who love to jump up on “the box,” dig in the dirt and lay down for a nap. For some reason, they (and the neighborhood bunnies) leave the blueberry bush alone.

I guess I’ll stick to farming words.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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On the way up the hill again

As my sibling and fellow author Allyn M. Stotz can attest, writing books is a hilly, bumpy ride with a lot of potholes. You might be flying fast towards the top of the hill, pushed along by great success in selling your book or terrific comments from a reader, only to be jolted into reality by an equally slow event or thrust into a pothole by the everyday realities that get in the way of writing a book. It sometimes seems like you’re constantly struggling to find the energy to climb back up to that sweet crest.

© Alphaspirit | Dreamstime.com - Driving Uphill Arrow Photo

© Alphaspirit | Dreamstime.com – Driving Uphill Arrow Photo

This spring has mostly been spent at the bottom of the hill. Sales have been slow, and we’re in between publication of new books. For mom and me, that’s about to change. The fourth book of The Fate Series: Treasured Fate, will be out in July and we’re already planning an official launch for September. Allyn also will have a new book out this fall: a Halloween story called Pumpkin Squash. All of us: mom, Allyn and I, know that our busiest season of selling is about to start, and the excitement has already begun.

For the launch of Treasured Fate, Mom and I are returning to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Applebee’s, which hosted a big party last Spring for Violet Fate’s unveiling. We picked this restaurant for a reason: mom and I meet there on a regular basis because it’s close to her house, reasonably priced, changes the menu frequently enough to remain interesting, and we like the food and staff. We acknowledged that staff in our first book, Twist of Fate, thanked them in last year’s book of short stories for hosting the launch of Violet Fate, and are mentioning them again in this current book. We do this because the wait staff gets to listen to us discuss how to shoot or poison people and how to get away with all kinds of crimes. The staff and management also stop by the table frequently to encourage us and find out how the books are coming.

As far as what to expect from this latest book: Treasured Fate is about a woman kicked out of her own home who gets on a bus with no destination in mind, ends up in the Lancaster area and answers an ad a local farmer has placed for a wife. Our beloved private investigator Sam Osborne is a good friend of the farmer and becomes involved when someone tries to hurt the woman. Behind the whole plot is a treasure that everyone knows exists and no one can find. Is it the reason someone is after the woman?

You’ll have to read the book to find out. Or better yet, come to our event this fall and we’ll give you a first-hand description.

I’ll write more on our launch, the progress of Treasured Fate, and fall’s busy schedule in upcoming blogs. Now that we’ve begun climbing towards a crest of the hill again, I’ve resolved to keeping in better touch with our readers.

If you’d like an invitation to the launch, please email us at swopeparente@gmail.com.

–Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Can I tap your brain?

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© Demage | Dreamstime.com

Reading audience: I need your help.  But I’m not going to tell you for what until I finish this blog. You see, I’ve been promising Genilee I would write a blog for a year and a half.  I haven’t been able to get there, partly because I just couldn’t make myself do it during this year of significant events and partly because of writer’s block.

Today, I am determined to answer some of the questions often asked of me at book events and during discussions with readers. The single most frequently asked question is: What made you start to write at the age of 83?  The truth is that writers don’t always just write on paper. I have been writing books in my mind for over 70 years.  I wrote my first novel in the seventh grade about a boy in Paris who lived in a castle. The next year I started to carry “Danny,” the protagonist in Twist of Fate, around in my story-telling brain. Danny was based on a movie character played by Gene Reynolds.  He was a homeless young man with no parents, no home, no family, no education and no real friends. Unless you consider me, that is. I carried him around in my mind for the next 70 years. He “talked” to me all the time, and I was determined to put him down on paper.  But this particular task was daunting.  How can a person survive the world of living on the streets without giving in to crime or addiction? My Danny was strong and honest.  I couldn’t, however, find a way to take him off the streets and get him on paper.

What inspired me was that my youngest daughter, Allyn Stotz (http://allynstotz.blogspot.com/), wrote her first children’s book (she now has five and several more on the way!) and got it published.  That was a wakeup call: If I was ever going to write a book, I needed to get with it.  So five years ago, I sat down at my computer and the story began to unfold. Somehow through the act of actually making myself do this routinely, another character was born: Gus. Gus became Danny’s mentor and once he was around, the stumbling blocks began to fall and the story unfolded.

Book two, Wretched Fate, began with me looking at myself in a mirror, which is a crucial scene in which the main character begins to desire more for her life. Book three, Violet Fate, was the story of what might have happened to Danny if there had been no Gus (you’ll note the strong role the criminal plays in the plot). Book four, Treasured Fate, started as an exercise for seniors we developed for a class Genilee and I gave. The main characters: Elmer Jones and Maud Novec, were names I said aloud to the audience and asked how they saw the characters who fitted those names. We got some fascinating responses, and those of you that were in the audience will recognize some of the traits and descriptions. Treasured Fate is due to come out this summer.

It wasn’t until book five, which is likely going to be called Family Fate, that I began to have real trouble again with writer’s blocks.  This time I started with a character that is a far cry from my usual protagonists. And the plot has a lot of complications and twists. I also rewrote the first 15 chapters at least four times. I would stop for a month, and then, because it was a mystery, have to begin at the beginning again to get it to flow. I did this for well over a year—partly because, during that time, we put out our book of short stories—Holiday Connections. I finally forced myself to trudge forward to the end, and that book is now in Genilee’s domain, which means it has to wait for us to get through publication of book four, Treasured Fate.

Meanwhile, I am now working on my second short story book, and once again engrossed in a new character.  He’s a modern day Paul Bunyan–standing 7 feet tall, weighing 275 pounds. He has long black hair and a full beard covering his face.  He reminds me of a bear but inside, I intend for him to be candy cotton fluff.

But now it’s time to ask your help. I am also seriously considering writing book six in the Fate series, which would be a deeper investigation of Gus’s background and maybe even Danny’s from the original book. To those of you who have read the series and our short stories, I ask: what is your opinion on this? Should I let well enough alone with The Fate Series or try to explain some of the past?

I’ll be interested in hearing what you have to say.

–F. Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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