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Finding a book you love

When you become an author, it gets a lot harder to read. You live with a constant ache of hunger for what you’re trying to create: words that can take the mind away from everyday routine. Those words become more difficult to find.dreamstime_m_37529007

Part of the reason is that once you’ve had your work edited, you start to see the errors in other people’s books. This is not limited in any way to works published by independent publishers or those that are self-published. In fact, as the world of publishing settles down from the great upheaval caused by opened channels, I read just as many books with blatant errors and bad editing published by the Great Traditionals as independents. I’ve given up on a few of my favorite authors (John Irving comes to mind) who are published by the established houses because I couldn’t take the lack of editing or copyediting. I haven’t been in book publishing long enough to know why this has happened. In some cases, including Mr. Irving’s, I think the author’s britches got so big, they decided not to let anyone push them around. In other cases, I think budgets have got in the way of traditional good editing, which means the Great Traditionals have become nothing more than the Big Guys.

The other reason my hunger for losing myself in a book is harder to abate, however, is story line. I am tired of formula writing and, believe it or not, I think readers are, too. It’s why I can get into certain well- written series, but only go three or four books before I get bored. The same story told twenty times is not what I seek. Some authors certainly are successful at multiples, and I think that’s because the writer can make you fall in love with the recurring characters while also finding a way to shock you with the crimes or mystery or story line (Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb comes to mind. I can always read one of those books because I love the strong woman hero. The crimes give me the creeps. But they keep me reading because I want my hero to defeat the villain).  The lack of fresh story also is one of the reasons I stopped reading pure romance a while ago. I just got sick of: lonely woman finds man, they fall in love, they get separated or pissed at each other and then they get back together

So when it comes to reading these days, I just look for something that makes me lose myself in the story. We all need this. For me, that means I’m not stumbling over bad editing. It also means the story moves along nicely; I care about the characters. I have tended towards mystery and some mystery/romance the last few years. But I’ve always loved sci fi or fantasy as well. So my thanks this week to C.J. Brightley. I read the first of her Erdeman series: The King’s Sword. And it delighted me. Because I was cheering for the character, understanding his weaknesses and rooting for a new king in a kingdom that doesn’t exist except in a good writer’s mind.–Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Fulfilling our dream

Mom and I have had an incredible fall of book events; We’ve come home from almost every one amazed at how many books we sold. This weekend’s event (Gar-field High School) was no exception, but it was special for a reason not based on numbers sold: It showed us The Fate Series has fans.

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One woman rushed up to our table exclaiming that she’d come to the fair only because she’d seen we were going to be there, then bought three of Treasured Fate, the latest in the series, so she could complete the sets she’d bought for friends as gifts last year. She and her friends had eaten those books up.

If you think I’m flat out bragging you’d be exactly right. There is no better feeling for an author than to find out a reader loved your books and can’t wait for the next one. This woman was the highlight of the day, but she was only one example. We had more repeat business than any other book event probably because we sold more books at the same fair in 2015 than almost any other event that year. I started to see a common expression on shoppers’ faces: recognition. The minute fair attendees realized we were the “author ladies” from the 2015 fair, they’d walk up to the table, pull out their billfolds and say, “well, I’ve got to get another of your books.”

You do not write books hoping for fortune and fame—it’s very hard to make any money as an author. You DO write books, however, hoping for that kind of enthusiasm. Our goal is to get people to read—we don’t claim to be the creators of the kinds of books that change people’s lives or make them question their existence. We write books for people who love to curl up on the couch, open the cover, and lose themselves for a few minutes in a story. When we accomplish that, we have given the world a badly needed gift: a way for people to live outside their own lives and forget their worries for a while.

When I arrived to pick Mom up that morning, I could see that she was in pain and wondering whether she could even make it through the day. She’s had some lingering problems with one of her legs and she’d had a bad night. In typical fashion, my trooper co-author took a couple of baby aspirins and dragged herself there.

She was still in pain at the end of the day, but the smile on her face was a gift God gave both of us. I am so happy we had this day together, celebrating the joy of having something we love to do rewarded by appreciation.

To everyone who has bought one of our books this season and to the many people who have stopped by to let us know they like what we do: thank you. You helped us fulfill our dream.– Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s the littler things …

The tradition of going around the table listing the things we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving is a lovely one and a great way to find out what’s happening with those at our table. But when it comes your turn and you’re being stared down by close friends and family anxious to hear what you’ll come up with, we give into the pressure of the moment and talk about “big, important things.”

© Goody460 | Dreamstime.com

© Goody460 | Dreamstime.com

You’re thankful Aunt Bessie’s gout is better, your son somehow passed his finals and graduated, Cousin Heath got his promotion, your brother finally found a woman who would marry him. But what if we threw all the larger blessings into a big basket marked, “Of course,” and required everyone to look at the more mundane, littler reasons we have to be grateful. What would you come up with?

I dug down under the carpet of everyday life and uncovered my own little blossoms. Here’s my thoughts:

The 2016 presidential election is finally over. Doesn’t matter which side you were on or how frightened you are at what is to come, you no longer have to read daily headlines about email servers and racial slurs. You can sit back and peruse everyone’s thoughts on what a crappy system the electoral college is and what radical change is to come.

Gloria Jean’s butter toffee coffee. No need for further explanation. I love the stuff.

Kitty purrs and puppy tail swirls. For those of you who are pet lovers, you know you depend on your daily supplement of cute animal gestures. You know who you are and you know that whenever your beasty does anything remotely interesting, you make up whole conversations about what they’re telling you.

Cold weather. I never thought I’d say those two words in the same light as “thankful.” But after this horribly long hot summer and a fall of amazing spring-like weather, I’m starting to wonder if I should take the money I spend buying Gloria Jean’s coffee and contribute to an anti-global-warming cause.

Time and quiet to write. If I schedule it just right and my husband is at the office (two days of the week) and my twenty-year-old darling child is at school or at work and my mother doesn’t have a doctor’s appointment and I’m not under the pressure of a zillion work deadlines and I’m not feeling guilty that I haven’t touched a broom or dust cloth in several weeks and the new season of Modern or Middle isn’t calling from the DVR—I find the silence and peace to put words to paper. Uh…perhaps I’m a little off balance here.

Carnation sugar-free Italian Crème creamer. It goes very well with a large splash of milk to lighten the color and slightly sweeten Gloria Jean’s Butter Toffee Coffee.

Middle of the day friend calls. As women, we never feel quite as validated as when our best friend calls with a crisis regarding 1) how unresponsive her own husband is 2) how horribly someone is raising her grandchildren 3) her lousy, unappreciative boss or 4) how invasive and unreasonable her neighbor has become. Women will set everything aside for a good friend in need. We simply sit back in our chair, pick up our Gloria Jean’s and stop the world to listen. Of course, it also gives us an excuse not to work/clean/run errands …

Christmas is almost here. We can swing our focus to singing along with carols, decorating our homes, baking cookies, watching Hallmark, praying it will snow, remembering past holidays. And then there’s finding the perfect gifts, fitting the additional events and parties into already hectic schedules, putting up with rude shoppers and pop up ads, praying our snow doesn’t get in the way of travel plans …

Hmmm. I think I’ll go fix a cup of Gloria Jeans Butter Toffee Coffee.

–Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Boo Boy Returns

Boo Boy Returns

Why do people fall in love with animals? It’s not a relationship of equals: you pick up or scoop your pets’ poop, fix your schedule around their hunger clocks, turn off your work brain in time to take them for evening walks, listen to their howls and meowls, fret over what to do when you leave for vacation then worry about them while you’re gone. Their only concern in getting you fed is whether you’ll miss your mouth and leave a morsel behind on the floor.

tara-cats-visit-3-09-030Why do we let ourselves be seduced? That soft slim tail that curls around our neck and pets our head, shaking when we reach out to stroke fur. The soulful pair of honey brown orbs that fixate on our every movement, not breaking their stare until we get up from where we sit, which translates in their minds to either: treat or walk. We tell ourselves that the slow steady motor sound that comes from cats or the sloppy washing from our dogs’ tongues is affection. We are pleased and honored when our dogs throw themselves at us the minute we walk through the door or our cats look insulted and huffy when we return from an absence. tara-cats-visit-3-09-044

When we’re crying, dogs cross their paws and lay their heads down, then look up at us as if they understand our pain. But are they thinking anything other than, “well that’s weird!” Cats appear to select our laps and make us feel special by jumping up, clawing our skin until they get it just right, then gracing us with circular motions that finally result in them settling into the warmth and sighing in contentment. Would anyone’s lap do?

100_3033Why do we fall in love with animals? When I started this blog, my beloved cat Boo was missing: escaped out a door to a grand adventure but too dumb to find his way back home. He’s beside me again—thanks to the Prince William Animal Shelter and some good neighbors I’ll never meet. But I went through three days of hell not knowing what had happened to him. The minute I saw him, my question was answered. We fall in love because they make us fuller, richer, happy.

Boomer lives.

 

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Strolling outside ourselves

What is it about a walk in the woods that fuels our passion and yet brings us peace?

Is it what we see? We gaze out into the forest and spot a spectacularly bright green moss-laden tree that cuts through the brown like a flashlight through blackness. We look to our right and spot a ballooning mushroom invading the trunk of a tree and highlighted by a sun beam that has broken through the canape just to shine on that particular mushroom. The log to our left has holes drilled by nature and made for animal eyes to peer out at us from safety. The leaves at our feet are speckled and pockmarked and remind us of fine lace.

kim-greg

Thanks for helping us find that place, Kim and Greg!

Is it what we don’t hear? A walk among trees shows us how often in our daily lives we live with the sounds of a car, a neighbor, an electrical device emitting a chirp. The vacuum of silence that surrounds us in nature is broken only by our own footsteps, the occasional angry chipmunk, the short musical notes of chirping birds, the mysterious crashes in the distance that could be the heavier step of an animal. Would that animal eat us if it were closer?

Maybe it’s what we smell, an earthy mixture of overturned dirt, aged bark, crushed leaves, fungus—carried on air that is untouched by a daily battle with human machines. Somehow these scents make us ravenously hungry.

When we’re in the woods, the everyday checklists of things we must do are replaced by daydreams of fairies living in those majestic trees, magical winged creatures alighting on its leaves, battles that take place hidden behind foliage, great treasures hidden under rocks. We are no longer individuals with a job, families to support, a commute, schedules to keep. We’ve left those behind to roast on the cement sidewalks and tar roads of home.  In the woods, we enter a state of mind that is both slower in pace and sharper in focus. We’re lost in a world that doesn’t belong to us even when we own a piece of paper that says it does.  We’ve left the collective of man behind to visit the wonder of nature.

 

–Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The golden month of October

Spring’s bold greens slowly dim over the summer, succumbing to the heat and misery of summer days until by August, everything feels faded, and we’re all sick of it. Summer’s long sunny days are gone, vacations are over, the pool is closed.  September arrives as a transition, and the slate is wiped clean by changes in routine and schedule. By October, we’re used to those changes and our world returns to color as rust, red and orange pop out everywhere there’s a tree. Leaves are making one last glorious statement before succumbing to their fate, letting loose of their branches and joining the carpet on the ground.fall-leaf

October also is our gliding month: we’re reveling in the feel of cool breezes while we start to think about holidays. Yet the stress of the holiday season and true cold are a month or so away. October is an early Christmas present, and in 2016 my present contains:

October 12. Sixty years ago on that date “Honey” Palarino Parente gave birth to a long crying bundle of manhood she and her husband Tom named Raymond. The baby grew up to become a stubborn young teen with a heart of gold and a streak of restlessness that could have landed him on the wrong side of the law. He joined the Navy instead, straightened himself out and put his brilliant sharp mind to work. He ran into me at a party 25 years ago, moved in with me after four months and was my husband by the next year.

Saturdays with readers at arts & crafts fairs. Mom and I have a busy month with four days of book events. Those fairs can be hard on both of us: I spend all Friday afternoon lugging books in and out of the house, running off a supply of promotional materials, checking off items on my list to make sure we don’t forget anything. The events themselves are really hard on a 88­-year-old woman who depends on a walker to get her in and out of the venue and who has to sit in a stiff chair all day long and try to keep a smile plastered on her face. Yet neither of us would trade a single ache in our bones to be released from these “duties,” because the high that comes from talking to people about what we do is worth it.

Time with old friends. I’ve reconnected with a few people from my past this year and have several events coming this month as a result. One weekend, I’m headed to Pennsylvania with my husband, my brother Mark and his husband George to meet up with a couple I had not seen for 20-plus years until they showed up at my father’s funeral. They saw the announcement on facebook and knew what losing Dad meant to us. I doubt we can keep up with the beer drinking we did back in the early days when Mark and I originally sought out this couple. But I have a feeling the laughter and shared love of the bizarre tendencies of human beings is still there. I also have a second lunch planned with a former co­worker who moved away for many years then “found” me in the media dust of our book launch last month. I was so glad to see her at our first lunch I just walked up and hugged her and thanked my lucky stars some precious things in life stay the same.

And then there’s Halloween. It’s the only holiday besides Christmas for which I decorate, beginning with setting out a witch figure my mother painted. I don’t know why I love her scary stare and wrinkled hands so much, but it’s one of my favorite hand­­-made gifts from the talented woman who is my co author. The only Halloween trimming I love as much are the two skeletons my husband and I found on one of our shopping excursions. Despite the fact these figures have no flesh at all, they sit comfortably together, the “male” with his arm around the “female.” I don’t even know why you know they are a couple and that they’re happy—they are, after all, just BONES.halloween16

I guess it has to do with the rest of why this month is so golden to me: I’ve filled in the outline of what’s there with my own idea of what makes life special.

 

–Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Has reading lost its luster? Thankfully NO

A new Pew research study found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of the American public read books today, and this number hasn’t changed significantly in the last five years, though how they read is evolving. (E-device usage has climbed from 17% to 28% from 2011 to 2016.) All of that reading makes an author very happy—until she compares those figures to the 1970s, when only 8% of the American public answering a Gallup poll indicated they’d not read at least one book in the last year. That means up to 92% of us were reading.

Ah well, with so much information and distraction thrown at the public every day from multiple sources, the numbers shouldn’t surprise me. Those of us who put words on a page and hope someone sees and understands them will take what we can get. And some of the other stats from the 2016 Pew study are promising.

For example, the percentage of us who read simply for pleasure (as opposed to work, study or to keep up with current events) has remained steady over the last five years at about 80% of readers. Since mom and I write to entertain others, I’m pleased with that statistic. And nearly 35% of the Pew study respondents said they pursue this passion nearly every day.

I also found the figures on print vs. electronics heartening: people still like to hold a printed book in their hands and that number seems to be holding its own: The same number of people who read a print book in 2012 (65%) read in this format in 2016. What’s more, nearly four in ten (38%) said they read print books exclusively while just 6% read only through digital device.

E-book reading appears to have stabilized at 28% of readers where it’s been since 2014, though how that reading is getting done is changing: many more people are reading on computer tablets and cell phones while e-readers have stayed about the same. Interestingly, young people today are no more likely to read by digital device than their counterparts: 6% of 18- to 29-year-olds read books electronically only compared to 7% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 5% of those over 50.

Americans today read an average of about a book a month, and that number also hasn’t changed in the last five years. College graduates read more books (a median of about 7 per month); those who have not graduated from college are much more likely to use cell phones. The share of people who read to do research on a specific topic appears to be growing: 84% of Americans said they read a book for that reason, and 29% said they do so every day.

But all of these numbers are just numbers. Mom and I are much more heartened by what we discover at every event we attend and that is: readers are passionate about their past-time. Although we occasionally get the person who has no time or desire to look at a book, we get many more that are in awe that we’ve managed to produce five books in a few years. By far the most common comments are: “Of course I’m a reader” and “I always wanted to write a book.”

Join us next week (Sept. 15; 4 to 7, Dumfries Applebee’s) as we celebrate that fifth book: Treasured Fate. We know you’ll find others that share your love of reading.

Genilee Swope ParenteTreasured_Fate_Cover

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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