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My baby goes to press

I woke up this morning with the feeling that I’d lost 100 pounds.

If I’d actually lost 100 pounds, I would not have sprung out of bed the way I did—I’d have called the EMS and checked to see which of my limbs suddenly fell off during the night.

But this was just a feeling. As I brushed my teeth and squinted into the bathroom mirror, I asked myself: why am I suddenly so much lighter? As soon as my brain caught up to my body and came fully awake, I realized: it’s because Architect of Fate has gone to press.

Those of you who are authors know exactly what I mean. There are stages to writing a book and this is the final one—you’ve slaved and labored and cursed and dreamed this book for month upon month, and finally got it to a place that enabled you to send it off. Once it’s gone to the printers, it’s like your baby has grown up and left the nest. (Oh wait, my human baby grew up a long time ago and still lives in the nest). Okay, then, it’s like you’ve been carrying around a baby inside you for nine months and your water finally breaks. There’s nothing you can do now except go to the hospital or call in the midwife and hope for a smooth birth.

Parenthood is an appropriate analogy either way. On the fast-paced highway of raising children, there are many conflicting road signs—tons of decisions to make, loads of advice to sift through, many scary moments in the process. With authorhood, those decisions are vast, from what characters work in your plot to how much money you can afford to pay an editor. At some point, however, you realize you’re done: you’ve written and rewritten and sent it off to that editor, then rewritten and edited and sent it off the editor again, then tried to keep your chin up when your final read reveals that you need to proof it one more time. But finally, it’s out of your hands: you’ve approved the final the printer provides and signed off on having it put on a press.

Thus, the 100-pound weight loss.

However, having already been through this process, I realize I must relish these few moments of lightness because the real work is about to begin. Authors today do not simply write a book and send it off to the printer or their agent or their publisher. They spend as much time marketing that book as writing it. If they didn’t, the wonderful story they hope others will read would never get out there. Today’s publishing world means millions of stories are floating around; To get people to grab yours requires an author to also be a public relations specialist.

Ah well, the wonderful feeling of accomplishment at having written another book will be there to help me as I tackle this harder part of the job. It will bolster me, just as looking at the beautiful face of my daughter each day lets me know that every little frustration I’ve experienced along the way cannot compare to the love I feel for the end result.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Launch and Relaunch—The Fate Series Moves Forward

Mom and I have two exciting events coming down the pike. First, the fifth book of The Fate Series—Architect of Fate―should be out in the next few weeks. Architect of Fate is a two-year labor of love. Mom created such an intricate plot that both of us have been working on smoothing it out and ensuring we were as accurate as possible. We’ve talked to police, the FBI, specialists in pharmacology, a psychologist, you name it, trying to get as close as we could to what would really happen if four people of widely varied backgrounds suddenly went missing.

For this book, we also made a major decision regarding what happens in the life of our main character, Sam Osborne, and we changed the ending and the name of the book accordingly. I won’t tell you more, but those of you who have come to love our hero have got to read this installment—we’ve been stringing you along with a mystery that involves Sam so we decided it was time readers had more details.

The second exciting development is that we’ll be relaunching our series this spring. We’re doing this for several reasons. You’ll see when Architect of Fate comes out that the cover is vastly different than what we’ve had before. We loved what the artist for this book did enough that we’re redoing all the covers to make them more appealing and easier to see. We’re also relaunching as part of an effort to make our books more accessible to people. We hope to fulfill the many requests we’ve had to put our books on tape, and we’re seeking other new channels for reaching readers we know would love the series.

Our blog’s been too quiet over the last year—even as our sales have gone up and our plans for the future have crystallized. We’ve concentrated on moving forward, and we hope you’ll be there to help us get there.

–Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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What’s coming up for Sam Osborne?

Like this author and blog writer, Sam Osborne has taken a little break. But don’t worry readers: you’re in for a very good next book in The Fate Series. I’m hoping to have Family Fate out for the fall season.

It’s just taken a lot longer to get this one out for two reasons:

First, mom’s physical limitation, especially her eyesight, are more of a challenge than ever. But I have to admire her: despite being 89 and barely able to figure a computer out (much less see the screen), she’s still trying. We are working together now to see how we can put out what will come after Family Fate. We haven’t resolved the mystery underlying our entire series. But mom’s head is working on it, and we’re still discussing whether it will happen in five or a new book! We just have to come up with a way for Mom to put her thoughts on paper. She’s learning braille from the Virginia Department for the Blind. And we’re going to have her start recording her thoughts so we can transfer them to the computer.

The second reason for Sam’s break is a good one: the wonderful plot Mom came up with for Family is quite complicated. That requires a lot more research to make it happen. Before her eyesight got so bad, she had gone through this book three times trying to tie together the details. She actually wrote this story before Treasured Fate, our fourth book. We decided together to put out Treasured first because it was a simpler mystery and was further along.

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Dreamstime

Now that Family Fate is in my hands, I’m doing the same as Mom had to do: spending a lot of time on research and on making the plot smooth, exciting and flowing. I promise you a very good story, readers.

So what is that plot?

It’s about multiple people disappearing. The missing people don’t seem to be related in any way—they are different ages, sexes, geographic locations. Sam comes into the case via an old friend and works with another detective on the first case. Then they both start to see a pattern. Like with Violet Fate, we get a glimpse into the mind of the “villain” behind it all. And like with most of the other books, a romance develops—this time between the detective Sam works with and one of the victims’ good friends.

Wondering why I chose the picture here for this column? Guess you’re going to have to read the book to find that out!

I was inspired by my little sister Allyn M. Stotz to get back into the grind of keeping in touch with my readers so expect more blogs! As always, I’d love to get your thoughts.

Those of you that are local: Join mom and I, June 11 2-6 at the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department, 13511 Hillendale Dr., Woodbridge, VA.

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Fulfilling our dream

Mom and I have had an incredible fall of book events; We’ve come home from almost every one amazed at how many books we sold. This weekend’s event (Gar-field High School) was no exception, but it was special for a reason not based on numbers sold: It showed us The Fate Series has fans.

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Dreamstime

One woman rushed up to our table exclaiming that she’d come to the fair only because she’d seen we were going to be there, then bought three of Treasured Fate, the latest in the series, so she could complete the sets she’d bought for friends as gifts last year. She and her friends had eaten those books up.

If you think I’m flat out bragging you’d be exactly right. There is no better feeling for an author than to find out a reader loved your books and can’t wait for the next one. This woman was the highlight of the day, but she was only one example. We had more repeat business than any other book event probably because we sold more books at the same fair in 2015 than almost any other event that year. I started to see a common expression on shoppers’ faces: recognition. The minute fair attendees realized we were the “author ladies” from the 2015 fair, they’d walk up to the table, pull out their billfolds and say, “well, I’ve got to get another of your books.”

You do not write books hoping for fortune and fame—it’s very hard to make any money as an author. You DO write books, however, hoping for that kind of enthusiasm. Our goal is to get people to read—we don’t claim to be the creators of the kinds of books that change people’s lives or make them question their existence. We write books for people who love to curl up on the couch, open the cover, and lose themselves for a few minutes in a story. When we accomplish that, we have given the world a badly needed gift: a way for people to live outside their own lives and forget their worries for a while.

When I arrived to pick Mom up that morning, I could see that she was in pain and wondering whether she could even make it through the day. She’s had some lingering problems with one of her legs and she’d had a bad night. In typical fashion, my trooper co-author took a couple of baby aspirins and dragged herself there.

She was still in pain at the end of the day, but the smile on her face was a gift God gave both of us. I am so happy we had this day together, celebrating the joy of having something we love to do rewarded by appreciation.

To everyone who has bought one of our books this season and to the many people who have stopped by to let us know they like what we do: thank you. You helped us fulfill our dream.– Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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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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Can I tap your brain?

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© Demage | Dreamstime.com

Reading audience: I need your help.  But I’m not going to tell you for what until I finish this blog. You see, I’ve been promising Genilee I would write a blog for a year and a half.  I haven’t been able to get there, partly because I just couldn’t make myself do it during this year of significant events and partly because of writer’s block.

Today, I am determined to answer some of the questions often asked of me at book events and during discussions with readers. The single most frequently asked question is: What made you start to write at the age of 83?  The truth is that writers don’t always just write on paper. I have been writing books in my mind for over 70 years.  I wrote my first novel in the seventh grade about a boy in Paris who lived in a castle. The next year I started to carry “Danny,” the protagonist in Twist of Fate, around in my story-telling brain. Danny was based on a movie character played by Gene Reynolds.  He was a homeless young man with no parents, no home, no family, no education and no real friends. Unless you consider me, that is. I carried him around in my mind for the next 70 years. He “talked” to me all the time, and I was determined to put him down on paper.  But this particular task was daunting.  How can a person survive the world of living on the streets without giving in to crime or addiction? My Danny was strong and honest.  I couldn’t, however, find a way to take him off the streets and get him on paper.

What inspired me was that my youngest daughter, Allyn Stotz (http://allynstotz.blogspot.com/), wrote her first children’s book (she now has five and several more on the way!) and got it published.  That was a wakeup call: If I was ever going to write a book, I needed to get with it.  So five years ago, I sat down at my computer and the story began to unfold. Somehow through the act of actually making myself do this routinely, another character was born: Gus. Gus became Danny’s mentor and once he was around, the stumbling blocks began to fall and the story unfolded.

Book two, Wretched Fate, began with me looking at myself in a mirror, which is a crucial scene in which the main character begins to desire more for her life. Book three, Violet Fate, was the story of what might have happened to Danny if there had been no Gus (you’ll note the strong role the criminal plays in the plot). Book four, Treasured Fate, started as an exercise for seniors we developed for a class Genilee and I gave. The main characters: Elmer Jones and Maud Novec, were names I said aloud to the audience and asked how they saw the characters who fitted those names. We got some fascinating responses, and those of you that were in the audience will recognize some of the traits and descriptions. Treasured Fate is due to come out this summer.

It wasn’t until book five, which is likely going to be called Family Fate, that I began to have real trouble again with writer’s blocks.  This time I started with a character that is a far cry from my usual protagonists. And the plot has a lot of complications and twists. I also rewrote the first 15 chapters at least four times. I would stop for a month, and then, because it was a mystery, have to begin at the beginning again to get it to flow. I did this for well over a year—partly because, during that time, we put out our book of short stories—Holiday Connections. I finally forced myself to trudge forward to the end, and that book is now in Genilee’s domain, which means it has to wait for us to get through publication of book four, Treasured Fate.

Meanwhile, I am now working on my second short story book, and once again engrossed in a new character.  He’s a modern day Paul Bunyan–standing 7 feet tall, weighing 275 pounds. He has long black hair and a full beard covering his face.  He reminds me of a bear but inside, I intend for him to be candy cotton fluff.

But now it’s time to ask your help. I am also seriously considering writing book six in the Fate series, which would be a deeper investigation of Gus’s background and maybe even Danny’s from the original book. To those of you who have read the series and our short stories, I ask: what is your opinion on this? Should I let well enough alone with The Fate Series or try to explain some of the past?

I’ll be interested in hearing what you have to say.

–F. Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Stand Up for Sentimentality

When Mom and I were trying to push Holiday Connections at publishers, the only consistent reply we received back was that the stories weren’t hard-edged enough for commercial appeal. I’m afraid it’s true, folks; F. Sharon and Genilee created feel-good stories so I’m afraid you’ll need to go elsewhere for your blood and guts this holiday season.final cover

But that’s okay with us. We intend for these books to be sentimental. When mom created her first drafts, she had in mind the stories you used to get out of Good Housekeeping and Redbook. It’s  not that those stories didn’t address issues. They were often poignant tales of a simple person addressing a hard reality such as a kid growing up, a relationship falling apart or a major life challenge. They made you stop and lose yourself in someone else’s problems for a while. And yes, some of them ended happily ever after, but part of the beauty was that it wasn’t always. Kind of  like life is: some happy endings and many slaps in the face.

Mom and I have readily admitted we have no hopes of being branded literary geniuses—we entered the game too late. We are creators of tales we think people will want to read. That is their sole purpose: to get people to READ. The Fate Series was an evolution, and we think each book is better than the last for different reasons—we think the characters in Wretched Fate are more rounded than those in Twisted Fate. We were already falling in love with our protagonist Sam Osborne by Violet Fate, which is why it’s appropriate he fell in love in the third book. With Holiday Connections, we just let go and allowed ourselves to be saps about a lot of things.

We offer no apologies because we think reading should be a pleasure, and if you get pleasure out of short stories that end on a good note, you’ll like our newest book. We also understand that books can be an escape and for some people, escape works best as darkness, despair and deeper dilemmas than the characters in Holiday Connections face. We’ll leave the zombies, serial killers and graphic details up to television and movies, which do an excellent job.

Come to our books for a different reason: to get a brief respite from hum drum, but one that leaves you feeling positive and ready to read what happens next.

November is going by quickly folks. We’re offering the book at discount from what you’ll get on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com so that we can afford to send them out at a better price for gifts. Write swopeparente@gmail.com for details on how to get a signed copy. And don’t forget yourself when you’re making out that gift list!

For kindle lovers, the book is now available in ebook form on amazon.com.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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