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The computer ate my homework

Ironically, I am writing this for the second time. A few minutes ago, I lost my thoughts to this new computer system, which seems to be a regular occurrence with me these days. I really thought masharkybe I had conquered this computer, but it keeps letting me know who is in charge. At 85, I don’t seem to take to change too well, and I don’t really like being beaten by the computer. But I’m learning it’s part of today’s world. And it all sort of fits with the blog column I wrote because I was addressing the great changes in the world people my age have seen. Life at 85 can be a constant adventure.

For example, today my husband and I decided to venture out to find the local Dairy Queen.  If the two of us weren’t old and didn’t live in such a traffic-mess-of-a-city, I wouldn’t label this effort “adventure.” However, since my husband can no longer remember where he is going, and I am blind and can’t read road signs … you get the picture. We usually only go where I can give him instructions these days—go right at that corner, turn left here, keep on going straight.  But I’m afraid the places I am certain of in this area, which we’ve been residents of, for only half this decade, are few and far between. Also, I spent 74 years letting my husband drive while I basically daydreamed and didn’t pay attention; thus, we are now usually limited on where we can go. That’s why these outings are “adventures.”

Surprisingly, though, we had no trouble—we made only one wrong turn. However, the adventure this time occurred after we arrived. There we were standing in line to order a meal, and neither of us could read the menu on the board.  Bob insisted I tell him what he wanted to eat (something that happens a lot these days), and neither of us could understand the clerk who had a strong foreign accent.  We felt like idiots holding up the people waiting behind us.  Finally, we got that ordeal over, and I returned to our seat to wait while Bob got the order.

Suddenly, I felt like it was lunch hour for school and a lot of kids were skipping class.  The restaurant filled with a dozen young boys – all high school students, all almost six feet in height and none of them weighing more than 130 pounds! I never saw so many thin boys in my life.  They all looked like their pants were about to fall off.

Three high school girls came in next wearing short shorts on their also-slim bodies. They looked cute and quite nice but the fact they could go to school looking like that shocked me.  Now readers, I’m not so old I can remember when it was sinful for a girl to show her ankles, but I am of the generation when girls did not wear long pants in public.  Back in my youth teenage girls wore skirts (poodle skirts if you were cool) or dresses with sweaters and saddle shoes (which were, no matter what, NOT supposed to be clean).  When my daughters were teens, they wore short skirts or short dresses.  My own “modern” mother assured me those skirt lengths were all right, but to this day, I am not convinced. The short shorts those girls in the Dairy Queen were wearing were actually a lot better cover than the miniskirts of the late 1960s, early 1970s.

I know I sound old fashioned, but I don’t really think of myself that way. However, so much has changed in the last forty to fifty years.  In fact, so much has changed in the last ten!  I have enough trouble with my cell phone and have to go to my granddaughter for help with that.  And then you add the many new programs on the computer, the pop up ads I can barely see that the Internet produces, and you can understand how much I’m facing.

I do try hard, but days like today convince me that, despite the dictation program I use and the read-back program that helps, I am fighting a mighty hard battle. I am much more adept at losing copy than producing it.  Is there anyone else out there who feels the same?

Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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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

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Christmas Miracles

This Christmas, God tied my present up with a big silvery bow and presented it to me early. It was the gift of wonder.
We feel wonder frequently when we’re little ones: discovering a four leaf clover in our own front yard, feeling the fragile softness of a baby kitten in our hand, seeing the lights of the Christmas tree we just decorated go on for the first time of the season.O
Most of us experience that balance of awe and warm happiness less and less the older we get. It still comes in giant stages—I remember exactly how I felt when I realized I was in love with someone I could spend the rest of my life with and when I saw my first sonogram of my daughter. But our adult daily lives are too often busy surviving the stresses of reality.
However, this Christmas, I became an author. And as I saw my book in print on ebook and then held it in my hands for the first time, I was filled with amazement and joy. What’s more, like many Christmas presents, I was able to share this one with my family, not just the sister who got both my mother and I writing, but the rest of the group of people I love, who have given mom and I so much support as we struggled through the phases of getting a book published.
Not very many people get to experience such pure satisfaction in their lifetimes. I have wanted to be an author since I was very little and have never been more fulfilled than seeing my own words come together the right way. But like most people, I allowed my adult realities to block out even the possibility.
And that, dear readers, is the source of the wonder. To believe again, as I did when I was small, that I can do anything if I look for the right path. To believe again, that good things do happen on their own—the world is not meant to be a cruel place. I know I was lucky to have found the right publisher; to have a sister that believed in herself enough to become a children’s book author; to have been born to a woman of creativity and a man who would support me even if I’d decided gutting fish was my calling in life. I also know I am blessed with a happy marriage and a happy teenager (yes, it can happen!).
But I also know that what I feel when I see my book is a gift.
I wish I could pass it along to every person who reads these words. But that’s now how it works. Instead, I just want to say: find your own path to wonder. It can be a rocky road, but none of those rocks is big enough to prevent you from moving forward if you’re driven by passion.–Genilee Swpe Parente

Twist of Fate is now available in both print and ebook at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. The first author signing event occurs Monday, December 17 at Victoria Apartments, Woodbridge, Virginia. AND CHECK OUT THE INTERVIEW ON ALLYN STOTZ’s BLOG: http://allynstotz.blogspot.com/2012/12/author-interview-f-sharon-swope-and.html.

Thanks, Allyn!

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Miracles do Happen

Mom and I just want to announce that we became published authors today, December 1, the beginning of this wonderful month of miracles. Our thanks to every person who encouraged us and kept us going during the long process of creation and publication. And our thanks to Spectacle, our publisher, who made it happen for us.

The book is now available for ebooks on amazon. It will be available on Barnes & Noble by tomorrow and within days as a print book on both sites. You can link to Amazon HERE. Stay tuned to this site for links to Barnes & Noble and to the print versions.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on December 1, 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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