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Filling up the hole

Ever felt like a giant fissure opened up in your chest and sucked out your heart?dreamstime_xs_36668714

Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic, but I’m allowed; I’m a writer.

And I will tell you that the events of this past summer have left a hole in the center of my being that I’m now faced with filling. It’s not a permanent hole—and it came about because of some positive as well as negative developments. But it hurts like surgery right now.

As I explained in my last blog, in just a few months, my mom and my daughter both made the decision to move 1,400 miles away, my father-in-law got sick and left this earth, and I suddenly went from caregiver and worried mom to having a lot of time to do things I haven’t done in years, including spending a lot more time writing what I want. As soon as I can stop crying about all the loss, I’ll likely enjoy myself. But the Kleenex is still tucked in my shirt sleeve because the move and his passing are only days and weeks old.

Underneath that top level of sorrow is the feeling that this was all somehow meant to be. I’ve never really believed that we are predestined to live a certain life. Yet the way this summer went just fell into place. My father-in-law buried three woman he came to love during his time on this earth. He’s been in emotional pain since he lost the last one, and his body just seemed to catch up with his head last spring. He went downhill very fast, and he wanted only one thing: to be done. We buried him with a beautiful military ceremony at Quantico, and we’re all pretty sure he’s up in heaven listening to three woman yammer at him and grinning ear to ear.

My mother went through a scary summer where 27 apartments in her building were evacuated and water started creeping down the hallway towards her apartment. Many of her friends moved away and she spent a couple of days in a hotel because her bathroom was not functioning. She is now safe in a home with a mother-in-law suite in Texas with two other daughters and their husbands, three grandchildren and a great grandson to keep her happy and vibrant.

My daughter made one of the hardest decisions of her young life: that she needed a complete lifestyle change to jumpstart the future she knows she can have. Since my husband and I had already made the decision to retire in that area of the country, I’m just delighted it’s there she’s gone.

So I’m left here wondering what to do next. My hubby and I already are making plans to relax and enjoy time as a couple after quite a few years of taking care of elderly parents. I’ve started a new mystery book with input from my Fate Series co-author mom, who intends to keep me on my toes writing, writing, writing. And I plan to spend much of the next year honing my word skills, keeping in better touch with my readers and learning everything I can about publishing and being published.

But first, I’ve got a shovel to get out so I can start the process of healing. — Genilee Swope Parentedreamstime_xs_85565144

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Learning My Circus Act

juggling blog

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One of the thrills mom and I get when we talk to groups is the excitement audience members express for what we do. Written on the faces and weaved into their questions is this: “It must be so fulfilling and romantic to be an author.”
At the moment someone says this, it’s true. However, being an author in today’s hugely complicated world of publishing is not just being a writer. Authors today also have to be:
Bosses: I’ve learned to be a mean boss because someone has to get my sorry butt out of bed an hour early in the morning if I’m going to find time each day to write. That same mean boss has to wave the red flag after the hour is over, which is even harder than getting up. Once the writing begins, it’s heart-breaking to stop the flow of creativity so I can get on to my paying clients.
Traffic cops: I sometimes feel like Linda Blair in The Exorcist with my head spinning round and round as the whirl of advice to writers that’s out there goes by. I read, I attend conferences, I talk to other authors, I research my options constantly on the web; what I’ve discovered is there is no one-lane road headed to success. It’s a clover leaf of congestion out there, and the one person that can make the multiple decisions that will give it any sense is me.
Psychologists: The only way to survive the extreme ups and downs that comes with getting published is to band with other people going through this clover leaf. I have to lean heavily on other writers for the mental support that sorting through everything requires. Part of the reason is that I need to lament to someone besides my cat about the frustrations. But the other part if that I need the bond that listening to others creates.
Bean counters: To move forward in any business venture requires a way to measure what’s behind that forward movement. I have excel spreadsheets and multiple file storage locations on my computer so that I can at least stop once in a while to gather and count my beans—what events have worked; which books are selling well. I have to admit, however, that I often look at those beans and wish just one of them was a magic one.
Jugglers. Most authors can’t afford to write full time. We are trying to hold down a job, take care of families, find time for old and new friends, keep up with daily household tasks while adding a fifth ball to the mix: pursuing a passion for storytelling. It’s the same juggling act that anyone who finds a way to go after what they truly want must perfect—finding time for what we love. So I guess instead of hoping for that magic bean, what I should be doing is being grateful that life has allowed me to have that fifth ball in the mix.
—Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Dancing Among the Snowflakes

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A session on the bare bones of mystery

As happy and fulfilled as I am finally discovering a channel that has me pursuing my lifelong dream—writing fiction—this dream gave me an additional benefit I never could have foreseen: it’s allowed me quality time with my mom and given us both a sense of community.

Neither Mom nor I could have imagined even five years ago that we’d be pursuing the same dream, and we don’t actually do the writing at the same time, though we talk out plot points. Mom is legally blind and cannot read her own words so she creates the first draft and I take it from there. But what we are doing together is being authors, and believe me, that’s a lot harder work than the actual writing. Still, we feel blessed to go through this journey together. This weekend, that journey took us several hours south for the Suffolk Mystery Writer’s Conference at the beautiful Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. Here’s what we discovered:

Authors share their successes

Authors share their successes

Writers are like snowflakes—no two reach the ground looking the same. Even though you feel like you’ve somehow joined this prestigious society when you succeed in getting a book published, no author gets from point A—finally sitting down at the computer to put down thoughts, to point B—holding the printed baby in her or his hands, the same way. This is especially true today as publishing is facing a blizzard and there are no longer any lines that are visible to help those lost in the middle of it.

Once a writer gets to Point B in this blizzard, they’ve only begun the journey. It doesn’t matter whether you publish through a traditional publisher, land a book agent or self publish: getting the book into the hands of readers is increasingly the job of the author. That’s not because publishers or agents have slacked off: it’s because there are so many books out there. One of the most astounding facts we learned came from a speaker who had researched Amazon to help with her session: she reported that the site now lists 12,000 cozy mysteries—up from 5,000 just a few years ago. And that’s only one type of what are dozens of mystery genres and hundreds of fiction genres.

Some of the snowflakes

Some of the snowflakes

Writers are like snowflakes—no two have the same career. In the same session, we had a speaker who had a 50-60-hour workweek at another job then used lunch hours, sleep hours and weekend hours to write, to a speaker who was retired and using that retirement to travel and write, to a woman who began writing fiction during her children’s nap time.

Mom and I had a good time learning just how diverse this author business can be, and on the way home, we discussed whether we should be discouraged by this blizzard. But we also came to the conclusion there was one thing we saw in the eyes of every snowflake that we also possess: a passion for what we’re all doing.—Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Mixing it up

Two weeks to go until our book launch and I’m wondering how authors who are widely recognized and have a zillion books out ever do it! Somehow I cannot see James Patterson or Mary Higgins Clark keeping an excel spreadsheet in an attempt to keep organized.

Granted this is a first-ever event for both Applebee’s and these authors but I know the same ingredients must go into the mix of many significant book events: much nail biting, hours of planning, scratching at the doors of local media, multiple trips to the post office to drop off invites, many encouraging hurrahs from good friends who remember (when they get those invites) that you write books, quick trips around town to drop off fliers and beg for publicity, hours awake at night as ideas keep popping into your head and … most importantly … pure terror that when you arrive at your own event, the wind will be whistling a lonely tune through the mostly empty room.

I know the terror is unfounded―my husband and child love me enough to show up. My mom and I both have good friends. But this is a party and even though I haven’t planned one in several years, I used a magic formula one of my best friends gave me many years ago: Invite as diverse a mix of people as you can find so that when they show up, they’ll have some interesting conversations. For this party, I reached into every pocket of civilization I could think of to alert people in the community that we were celebrating, and they were invited.

It’s never failed me in the past … and hopefully it will make for a fascinating evening of mingling and fun.

I hope you’ll join mom and me May 14 between 4 and 7 for an evening that promises to be … exciting.–Genilee Swope Parente

FINAL INVITATION Swope Parenfate seriesVF lower res 2 mgte

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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