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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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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

Flyer email invite

 
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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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