RSS

Tag Archives: creative writing

Talking about our baby

First of all, I want to apologize for making Genilee write this blog for almost a month now.  We had agreed to take turns every other week but I was tied  up preparing for, then hosting family as well as trying to deal with this new program on my computer—Dragon Speak. The program allows me to dictate into the computer to compensate for my failing eye sight.

Understanding any new program is hard enough – but that isn’t what has been giving me fits. Remembering to turn it on and off is the hard part. Dragon Speak is set to type every word you say, and it’s a pretty accurate process. However, remembering when it’s on and when it’s off is the big problem. For example, if the phone rings while you’re sitting at your computer, your instinct is to pick it up, say “hello,” then carry on a normal conversation.  If you do that when Dragon Speak is enabled, once you hang up, you’ll see that the page you were writing now has an entire phone call conversation typed. You go to delete the unnecessary language uttering a few unseemly words, and those words will appear on the page too.  So far, it seems I spend as much time deleting as writing!

But that’s enough complaining! I wanted to report how fun and useful last week’s book event was. Genilee and I were asked to come to the Thursday Thrillers Mystery Club sponsored by the Potomac Community Library.  We were early and the large room that greeted us was empty. However, we waited in the library and by the time of the meeting, that room was filled. We sat at the end of a very long table graced on each side by over twenty members.

 Sharon and members

 

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see a table full of readers, all with our book in front of them. The idea that they all read and enjoyed our book was a thrill for these two authors. The group was enthusiastic and full of good suggestions, as well as many compliments. It’s hard for me to describe how we felt during those two hours.  The closest I can come is to imagine how a mother feels when a group of people tell her how accomplished her daughter is and how proud she should be. For you see, Twist of Fate, is like a baby to us, and getting published was like graduation day.

Thursday Thrillers discuss the plot of Twist of Fate.

Thursday Thrillers discuss the plot of Twist of Fate.

Our thanks go out to all the members of the Thursday Thriller’s club for their insights, and for sharing with us how much they enjoyed reading our baby.

And I want to leave our blog readers with a plea to watch for our second child. Wretched Fate will be out sometime this summer, and we’re equally excited about book two. In fact, we’ve worked with our publisher Spectacle Publishing Media Group very closely in many areas, including a system so that book two will not have so many typos!

Hopefully that process will begin with me and with this Dragon Speak technology. Wish me luck, and stayed tuned to this spot for updates on Wretched Fate.

F. Sharon Swope

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The excitement of being picked

Sometimes the little thrills balance out even the biggest challenges, which in writing include long hours of creation following by painful periods of waiting for your books to come out.

Mom and I recently had the pleasure of showing our book at a community fair at Potomac Woods apartments, Woodbridge, VA. We were returning to the Woods after a successful book signing, and like the first event, residents were enthusiastic about buying our book.

blog shot

Sally Okuly (middle) and the authors

But the nicest surprise came not from sales, but from two other factors: first, there were a number of residents who stopped by to comment on the book because they’d already read it. But the second surprise was even better: Mom and I donated a copy as a door prize drawing. Those fair participants whose names were drawn had a table full of goodies to choose from as prizes. When it came time for lucky Sally Okuly to pick, she walked up to the table and, ignoring the baskets of bath goodies, bags of cosmetics, warm fuzzy blankets, terrific gift certificates and other goods from the generous fair vendors, picked up Twist of Fate, a big smile on her face. She had already stopped by our display table with infectious enthusiasm about what we’d accomplished by writing a mystery/romance. But to have her select our book as her prize was an honor we won’t soon forget.

It shows us we’ve reached one of our main goals—to pass along to people who are readers the pleasure that mom and I (avid readers ourselves) get out of jumping into a good plot. Enough people have told us how much they enjoyed losing themselves for a few hours in Twist of Fate that we know we’ve attained that goal.

good smiling

Thursday Thrillers

Which brings me to this week’s event. Mom and I were featured speakers at the Potomac Community Library’s Thursday Thriller’s club. And let us just say: the thrill was all ours. There were about 20 avid mystery readers in attendance, and they provided us fresh perspective on our work. Nothing is more rewarding to the writer than to hear that your readers 1) did not figure out who the villain was, and 2) loved your characters, which made it a pleasure to read.

We’ll write more about that experience in our next blog, but to my writing friends reading this week, let me leave you with advice: get book clubs to read your material.  What they have to say around a table can be an eye-opening experience. And being invited to tell an audience how you became a writer is a heady experience.

Our thanks to Potomac Woods management, who put on a terrific event for their residents, and to Barbara and the members of Thursday Thrillers.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Spring cleaning

The long, dark cold of winter is mostly behind us, and many of us are beginning the process of cleaning out drawers and closets, un-clumping the dirt that’s packed so we can plant gardens and airing out everything that got so stale over the winter.

In Spring, we begin to see the world differently, starting with the very first moment we smell that the breezes have miraculously changed—instead of heavy and dank, the air is light and fragrant. In Spring, it feels like we are throwing off the cloak of age—that extra few years that winter added to our burden. Spring gives us the urge to step out of that

cloak and move—to take walks and get down on our knees to play in dirt. To live a different life: eat healthy and fresh and sleep with our windows open so we can let in the new breezes. It’s light already when we hop out of bed, and it stays lighter longer so that our work day doesn’t start and end in darkness. We feel like we have more hours and more energy even though nothing has really changed.

Spring gives us the urge for renewal. We may never get around to painting that spare room and turning into a guest haven, but when Spring comes, we think about it. We are sick and tired of the grays of winter, especially in those years (like this one), when the gray was never broken up by the white of snow. So we look around and see our home or our office with fresh eyes, anxious to create something new in celebration of the end of sameness.

SpringCleaning1

As writers, we can take that feeling of renewal to our writing. We can shake the cobwebs out of something we’ve done and take a dust rag to the

 words. We can un-clump our writer’s block and plant the seeds of a new project. We can open the windows of our brain and let the creativity waft into our souls.

Spring is rebirth—wet earthiness and warm happiness. Let’s plant an idea and see it grow.

–Genilee Swope Parente

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Getting a Jump Start

How did you ever get started writing a book?

That’s the single most often-asked question mom and I get at book club meetings and signings and other events where we’re gathered around a table gabbing with readers and potential book buyers.

I usually turn that question over to mom since she was 82 when she started writing. [Okay, okay, I admit it’s also because I’m slightly ashamed that I am probably the person besides my newspaper editor father who has written the most words in our family. And yet, I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write—fiction.]

To answer the question, mom usually picks up The Pea in Peanut Butter to show people that she has a daughter who is a successful children’s author. Allyn Stotz, my sis and her daughter, also started fairly late in life pursuing her passion for story-telling. She’s about to publish a sequel to that first book, has three others in the works or at a publisher, and her stories have appeared in many children’s magazines and one compendium of short stories. None of us in the family knew Al was even pursuing writing for children until she was well into it—attending classes, hooking up with online writer’s groups. Like with everything she does, she pursued it with passion.

“I figured if she could do this, so should I,” mom always says.

Before I knew it, mom was writing, writing, writing away. I was amazed at how much she put into the art with no formal training. I knew she had always been an avid reader, and I knew that like Al, she was a good story teller. But I was as shocked by mom’s zeal as I was when I found out that Allyn was not only interested in writing, but well into it, with many stories already done and being fine-tuned.

And so we come to me … I don’t even know when mom and I had the initial discussion about the possibility of collaborating on the writing. I am an editor by trade so I volunteered to take a look at what she was doing. However, it’s a scary thing for an editor to look at a family member’s work. And so I must refer back to Allyn. I looked at her first works with the same trepidation. What if I hated what my sister or my mom were doing?

I’m an idiot.

Both Al and Mom have always been very creative and that creativity comes shining through in the stories they tell. Allyn was lucky to have worked with talented artist Valerie Bouthyette on that first book who could bring the words to life visually. But the ideas are pure Allyn, and I know she’ll go on to create many more ideas and books. And the same is true of Mom’s characters and plots. Her books (ahem, our books) are just plain fun to read. Like Allyn, mom and I love to lose ourselves in a good story, and to be able to create those stories is a pleasure.

So how did I get started writing? It was a jump-start provided by my family. But now, I’m zooming away down a fun highway, and I don’t intend to ever stop!

Mom and I send our thanks out for the inspiration provided by the Seniors Lunch Bunch from St. Francis of Assisi, Triangle, VA. Thanks to my friend Francia Salguero for introducing us to the group and to Anne Tunney for inviting us.

St. Francis

St. Francis Lunch Bunch

The group asked the question above, but they also asked many more and gave both mom and me the inspiration that makes creative writing and publishing a book so much fun.

 –Genilee Swope Parente

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s a Community Thing …

Several significant events happened since mom wrote the last blog that illustrate the rewards of being an author:

I flipped up the front page of my hometown newspaper, The Edgerton Earth, to see a bottom page spread covering our Twist of Fate book series. People who know me really well understand why that’s such a thrill. When your roots are firmly entrenched in a small town, you measure much of what happens in your life against the values you grew up with … in my life (and mom and dad’s for that matter), many of those values came from close interaction with our neighbors, classmates, friends in Edgerton. It’s true what they say about small towns: everyone knows your business. But it’s also true that when Earth logopeople need help or support, there is usually some other resident in town who comes to their aid (Yep, there’s Verna again … and the many small things Doug and Becky Mavis did for classmate Steve come to mind.). I loved growing up in Edgerton, and it will always be part of who I am and part of my writing. Since dad was the editor of The Edgerton Earth for many years and mom was a columnist as well as business manager, the town’s paper is in my blood. Current editor Cindy Thiel did a great job of capturing what it’s been like to become a writing family.CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

Mom and I also met a week ago with the Scarlett Hatter’s book club in Woodbridge. Their candid comments and generous praise for the story were inspiring and eye-opening. I was heartened to hear that no one knew for sure who the villain was. And I was glad to get some feedback that will help us craft future stories. But even more

scarlett hatters

than that, the joie de vivre of that group of ladies, who meet frequently to give each other support and make each other laugh, is encouraging. Like living in a small town, they have found a community in each other, and they are lucky to have that shared bond.

Finally, Twist of Fate has become Spectacle Publishing Media Group’s number one seller! Thanks to our readers for making our dreams come true.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
Seeking and Speaking

Searching for truth and our own true voices

Today's eReader Buzz

Helping You Find New Books

Allyn's blog

The Fate Series and other good reads

Woman Working with Words

Writing and Crafting (with a dash of wine when necessary).

Rebecca's Ramblings

Writing, Reading, and Other Things

nancynaigle

Love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.

Book of words

Books, reviews and all things worth reading

Eleventh Stack

A books, movies, and more blog from the staff at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Main.

BookPeople

Howdy! We're the largest independent bookstore in Texas. This is our blog.