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Finding Our Way

lostIt seems like I have spent most of my time in the last two weeks getting lost, which I guess at 85 isn’t that unusual. The reason for this recent misadventure, however, is a good one: I have been busy trying to find places to hold book signings. I have had phenomenal luck in securing places and have come away from this experience with affirmation, once again, that the world is full of very nice people. What I’ve discovered also, however, is that, above and beyond the difficulty of “selling” yourself at my age is the challenge of actually finding your way to new places you’ve never been. I am now completely blind when it comes to reading highway signs (and for the most part, any printed words). It used to be my job to hold the map and point out the way to whereever my husband Bob and I were headed. I can’t do that anymore so I am pretty useless in helping us to get there. Meanwhile, Bob, who is now 87, used to always know what direction he was driving, but that doesn’t happen so much anymore. I suppose this is just part of growing older—trying to find your way from here to there, but it is frustrating to say the least.

Somehow, though, we managed to finally arrive at our destinations through a series of back and forth and turning around. At one point, I told Bob: “Just follow the ambulance.” Since we were looking for apartment complexes for people over the age of 55, I figured it was worth a shot! Sadly, I was right—we came right to the door we were looking for!

This is all a big change from the days when I was growing up in Michigan and always knew about where I was. North was always Lake Michigan – and from that I could always find my way. Even in the very early days of our marriage, when we lived in giant Los Angeles, I knew my way because I knew the ocean was always to our west. I managed to maintain that sense of direction right up until the years when we moved to Ohio, and it all went out the window—lost to a world of flat fields of corn. Unfortunately, the sense of direction never developed on the east coast, despite the fact the Atlantic is not so far away.
Anyway, for the past few weeks, I’ve also been lost in another way: I’ve been trying to find my way around my own computer. Instead of writing new material, I have been rewriting and trying to update my story timeline for book three. That means inserting chapters and keeping everything in correct position, which is not easy when you are almost blind. Oh, I can do almost everything except read what I’ve written. And thankfully, my son Mark installed a program on my computer that reads back to me. Thank goodness for my little man with the British accent who tells me everything I have written. He can be annoying at times, but he’s needed. And I have a new computer coming soon that will even “write” as I dictate. Isn’t modern science wonderful? It used to be that when you reached my age and had my problem, there wasn’t much you could do. Not so today—you can dictate to a machine, which puts your words on paper. Then you can make corrections and even have your machine read it all back!
I guess when I look back at the last few weeks of getting lost and frustrations with my eyesight and computer, the lesson that has been reaffirmed is simply: “Never give up.” Somehow, in spite of the obstacles, there is a way if you just keep trying. Don’t let age keep you from your dreams.

F. Sharon Swope
p.s. from Genilee: My mom is one amazing woman! This is what she and dad have been doing:
Book signings:
Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. River Run apartments, Minnieville and Prince William Parkway, Dale City, VA
Wednesday, March 6, 11 a.m. Potomac Woods apartments, 2001 Southampton St., Woodbridge, VA.
Thursday, March 14, 1:30 to 3:30 Stafford Gardens, Mountain View Rd., Stafford, VA
We’ve also applied to participate in the Second Annual Local Author’s Fair, Bull Run Regional Library, May 4 and are participating in the Third Thursday Thrillers book group meeting, Potomac Community Library May 16.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Round and Round We Go

Lately I’ve realized that writing a book is actually the easiest part of producing one. Making additions, improvements and corrections goes fairly quickly also. Even finding a publisher was not the most difficult part for us … though I think we were lucky.

The hard part is waiting. I know I’ve complained about this waiting to family and friends and in this blog spot. And I attribute a bit of the impatience to age. When you get to be 85, you are inclined to think differently about time passing. It hits you that your time on earth is getting short, and you may not live long enough to accomplish what you want. My children hate for me to talk this way, but it’s a reality most people my age live with daily.

But if you’re lucky enough to get published, the wait is over suddenly. This can be a glorious feeling, especially as you hit milestones such as seeing your book’s print version posted on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Here is it before you – your dreams turning into reality. Soon, you’ll be able to hold your own book in your hands, and you know that makes everything and all the waiting worthwhile. You have become an “author,” and your book is no longer a secret place within you where your stories reside, but rather a place for those stories to live and grow. The book is published, and you find yourself in a whirlwind of things to do to promote your endeavor. Your thoughts go round and round, trying to come up with creative new ways to get the word out, and suddenly it seems there isn’t enough time to get everything done.

I welcome this round and round whirlwind feeling, so I thought I’d celebrate it by giving out one of my favorite holiday recipes: Rye Rounds. I said I wouldn’t be using this blog as a place to post recipes, but readers, you’ve responded that you like them! And recipes like this one become part of your life when your family so adores them. On Christmas Eve, my family spends the holiday by having hors d’euvres for our meal.  I love this recipe because you can make it two or three weeks in advance and keep it in the freezer until you are ready to pop it in the oven. Men are especially fond of these tidbits.

Rye Rounds

1 loaf rye rounds

1 lb. hamburger

1 lb. sage-seasoned sausage

1 lb. Velvetta cheese, cut into small squares

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

l/2 teaspoon oregano

Brown meats in skillet until no longer pink; drain excess fat, add cheese and cover.  Lower heat on burner.  Stir often until cheese is completely melted; add spices and stir again.

Put rye rounds on two cookie sheets lined with wax paper. Spoon meat mixture onto the rounds.  Put in freezer.  When frozen, take out and put in a bag until ready to use.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The chick is at the gate

The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.

Arnold H. Glasow

I sent this around by twitter and facebook to followers to let them know that the e-book for Twist of Fate is ready for posting and scheduled to come out this weekend. What I’ve found while not smashing my egg, however, is that “scheduled” and reality are too very different birds – I’ll post a link once reality arrives!

Still, I’ve also learned how appropriate this saying is … mom and I are older women and our patience wears thin at times. But we have hatched this egg in stages – dreaming up ideas and finalizing plot pieces, then polishing our egg using our own sweat and skills.

There have been many moments of joy — from the simple pleasure of working together as mother and daughter over many lunches and telephone conversations to the excitement of finding a publisher to seeing the book in its layout stages. But there have been just as many times when it would feel great to smash that egg in frustration as life got in the way and deadlines came and passed, leaving promises in the dust.

One of the most important milestones for me personally is that I have learned and accepted that this IS going to happen. That people at my publishing firm are hard at work behind the scenes making it happen, and that when it does, this chickadee will be their pride and joy as well as ours. I have also learned that there are many friends and fellow writers and new acquaintances waiting to see mom and I succeed.

To all of you, thanks for your patience and support. Stayed tuned for the chicken.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Thanks from the finely aged writer

The things we give thanks for, at ages 50 and 80 plus, are different than what we were grateful for in our early years. Especially when we’ve been given, as mom and I have, a chance to rediscover and fine-tune a dream that may have existed when we were younger, but only late at night, when exhaustion battled with longing for the energy to do something creative.

The first item on our lists of reasons to give thanks will remain the same regardless of age: love from family and friends. But beyond that, we are grateful for the reality that:

• The hated alarm clock that used to rouse us from our beds in the morning has been replaced by the 5 a.m. “wake-up” brainstorm: “aha … I could have the villain be a tiny person who is accessing the crime scene through a doggie door!”

• High-heeled, pointy-toed shoes that rested beneath our office desks have been replaced by fuzzy pink bedroom slippers.

• Our husbands, who used to listen to our complaints about coworkers and tight deadlines and not getting paid enough, have adjusted to put up with distracted, dreamy gazing. Not getting paid enough remains in the bitching bag, but gets brought up a little less frequently.

• The sometimes unreasonable, but completely fulfilling pride we used to feel when one of our children handed us a new painting for refrigerator posting has transformed into the excitement we feel when we finish a chapter or milestone and are one step closer to publication.

• The conversations with friends we used to savor over steaming cups of coffee still begin with what’s happening with family, but end up seeking advice about plot direction instead of potty training, teenage dating or the psychological makeup of males.

• The aches and pains of young age, which centered around chasing kids and spring cleaning, now derive from forgetting to get up from the computer to take a break from our writing frenzy.

On this 2013 Thanksgiving Day, we feel blessed that our first book, Twist of Fate, is about to be released both as an ebook and a printed book. We live in an age where the process of getting published has completely evolved, and we know we were fortunate to have found Spectacle Publishing Media Group, who is helping our dream happen.

But we are especially thankful that we have our family members and so many friends that are celebrating at our side. — Genilee Swope Parente

Mom and I

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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