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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

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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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May 14 is our Book Party!

Mom and I got some exciting news this week, and we’d like your help with the planning.

We are launching book three, Violet Fate and re-launching books one and two, Twist of Fate and VioletFate1st edition_coverfront, at a special open house May 14 hosted by our local Applebee’s.

Why Applebee’s? Mom and I have been meeting there from almost the beginning of our collaboration. We needed a nearby restaurant that was comfortable, had good food (since we go there so much), and was reasonably priced. Applebee’s changes their menu enough that we are still going there almost four years later. But the real reason is because we acknowledge the wait staff in our first book. They’ve listened to mom and I discuss how to poison someone and get away with it, how to murder a person in the middle of a blizzard, how to steal valuables from an entirely locked up house and many other juicy tidbits. They’ve also listened to us lament about how hard it is to market a book, how rewarding it is to talk about what we’re doing and how in the heck we became authors in the first place.

It seemed logical that we would hold a special event in our neighborhood grill and bar, and when I contacted corporate Applebee’s, I was met with much enthusiasm. The local franchise owner, Potomac Family Dining Group, also jumped on board, and we’re now all planning this event together.

What we need from our blog readers is suggestions for what to do at the event, how to attract attendees and what giveaways might be appropriate for an author. We want to make this occasion fun for our readers.

We also want to attract the attention of local media so let us know what newspapers you read, radio stations you listen to and television stations you watch.

And please come anytime between 4 and 7 p.m. and join the fun:

May 14, Applebee’s Grill & Bar, 3330 Pine Bluff Drive (on Jefferson Davis Highway), Dumfries, VA 22026

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Almost through the darkness of winter

It’s spring … oh, okay, maybe not yet. But it’s definitely time for spring, if you measure the length and severity of this winter. Just talk to anyone from Boston or Montreal, and you’ll see in their shell-shocked, still frozen eyeballs how badly we all need the season to get here. In fact, if you listen closely, you’ll probably hear the whispered chant: “6:45 P.M. March 20–if I can just make it to 6:45 P.M. March 20 …”???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

That’s the official time that spring begins in Eastern Daylight Time.

It’s been a hard and long winter and we all deserve the rebirth and rejuvenation we associate with this season. The English definition of “spring” is to pounce, to leap, to jump into activity. Water bubbling up from the ground is called: a spring.

So let’s pounce. Let’s bounce off the bleakness and cold of a severe winter and get into action.

For me and for mom that will mean looking forward to marketing and talking about our latest book: Violet Fate. It’s our favorite so far, but it came out during the worst winter of our life. We experienced the kind of loss that stops all action and all desire to plan the future—we lost my father, her husband.

As we were driving this week to pick up his last effects, we talked about what we are feeling now. We are still reeling, but we want to move forward again. And one of the feelings we recognize, when it comes to getting published is astonishment: who could have imagined just a few years ago that mom and I would have three books out and three more in action. Who would have thought that my sister Allyn would be a successful children’s book author with even more books in action than us or that she would inspire us to pursue this dream? Who could have imagined that mom and I would ever be called a “mother/daughter writing duo,” would appear on television, would give talks all over Northern Virginia? Who could have predicted Mom and I and Allyn would sweat together through the ups and downs of getting published.

We had to put our talks with Applebee’s about an official launch on hold to get through the loss of this winter. But we’re talking to them again, and we’re going to make it happen with one change: it will be a book party—a celebration of the surprises life has in store. Some of those surprises may include sub-zero weather and mounds of snow … and soul-wrenching grief. But others will start with what inevitably happens in spring: a seed germinates, spreads its tiny sprout through the nourishment of the soil where it’s placed, sticks its little head through to the sunshine, and if give enough food: grows into plants and finally flowers.

 

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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When life gives you plots … and stitches

Sometimes you don’t have to look far to find the mysteries, the wonder, the tragedy or the ironies in life that make a good plot. My readers haven’t heard from me because of a recent tragedy. They are hearing from me now because of an irony.

As my Facebook and local friends know, my family lost my father in February. He has suffered from Advanced Alzheimer’s for several years, went into the hospital with pneumonia, then came out with a diagnosis of lung cancer. After a short, heart-rending struggle to find him a stable environment, we had him in a place that could care for him—he lasted one week before passing away, shocking all of us and providing me one of the greatest sadnesses of my life.

The pain of that loss is too fresh and deep to put into words. And while I’ve lost myself in working on book four to keep my mind off the negative, I’ve been unable to be write down anything personal. A good conk on the head is just the cure.

Last Friday, I kissed my daughter goodnight, climbed the stairs (she has a room in the basement), went to the kitchen for my usual big cup of water and woke up on the kitchen floor. My daughter, her friend and my husband were hovering over me with horrified faces. I just lay there not understanding what was going on until I moved my hand to my head and came back with a very bloody hand. I don’t remember how I tripped; I only knew I was faint when I tried to get up. I spent the next few minutes trying not to pass out with the help of my daughter, my husband, then the EMS personnel. I feel sorry for the poor EMS driver who listened to me babble all the way to the hospital as we worked together to keep me awake.

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My husband and I were in the emergency room for about four and a half hours. I knew I was going to be fine pretty soon after we arrived. The dizziness passed quickly; a cat scan showed no damage; I just had a deep cut to the scalp, which caused the severe bleeding and probably the faintness. But as I lay there so long, chatting with my dear husband, who was trying to get comfortable in a little plastic chair, I couldn’t help being overwhelmed by the reality that after the last few years of being the one in that little plastic chair while mom, then dad lay on the gurney, it was me staring at the ceiling. I have only been to the emergency room once as a patient and that was when I was sixteen. It had been just five weeks since the trip with my dad to the hospital for pneumonia. Mom and I had sat that terrible night for 12 hours trying to keep ourselves positive and awake by doing crossword puzzles and waiting for dad to get a hospital room.

However, that’s not the irony. After everything was stable, I had my stitches and was waiting for release forms, I finally got up from the gurney to visit the ladies room. I realized then as I was shuffling out towards the restroom that not only was I taken to the same emergency facility as dad, I was in the very same room.

Guess I’ll do ANYthing to come with a subject for a blog!!!!

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A Spoonful of Sugar as Momentum

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One of the most common questions I get from would-be authors or young people is: what makes you write?

In answering, I usually talk about the love of words and the joy of crafting good stories and creating images in people’s minds. All of that is my basis for writing. But for those of us who have been doing this for a while there’s often another answer: we need to go somewhere besides our daily lives, and writing is the ticket.

I’ve never had a time when that reason was a stronger motivation. Mom and I are going through a really tough time dealing with my father who is currently in a rehab center after going into the hospital and coming out with a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. Before this hospital visit and the diagnosis, we were at the doctors constantly, waiting for tests to get done and hoping (mostly foolishly) that someone can make my father feel better. We’re having to make some very hard decisions that affect a person we both love dearly. The heartbreak of it all threatens to overwhelm us both. It’s one of the few times in my life where I’m taking it all day by day, hard-pressed to make long-term plans.

As a result, neither one of us is sleeping well. The boogeyman of worry is too often present. But those days when I can, I still get up an hour early in the morning or take a few stolen hours on the weekend or at the end of a long day to write. It’s a vacation from pressures, the stress raining down on every day and the sadness that comes when a loved one is in pain. I’m spending that vacation time helping mom’s characters come to life—giving them the faces mom intended, creating the action that will get them from point A to point B of the plot, and polishing their dialogue and what readers “see” when they read our books.

It doesn’t make what’s happening any less awful. But the fact I choose to write at this point in my life shows me how vital creating these books has become to my psyche.

Our thanks to all the people that have wished us well. Book three (Violet Fate) will be coming out in the next few weeks along with the revamped and improved books one (Twist of Fate) and two (Wretched Fate).

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A New Look along with the New Book

A new year is the perfect time to announce an exciting new development initiated by Spectacle Publishing Media Group for these two authors: we’re getting a new face for the entire Fate Series at the same time our latest book is launched.VioletFate1st edition_coverfront

As Violet Fate, the third in the Sam Osborne series comes out later this month, our publisher is re-launching Twist of Fate and Wretched Fate. The first two books received additional copy edits and have been redesigned so that the three books can be marketed together.

Mom and I love our new look for its vibrancy. Spectacle’s design team maintained the important elements of the stories: for Twist of Fate that was Casey’s wheelchair and the rose that hints at romance; for Wretched Fate it’s Jacob’s beloved Quan Yin (goddess of mercy and compassion) statue and the nail that brings our surprise character into the picture. However, the design team added a rich red that pulses with danger and passion. The look works wonderfully to tease readers into opening the new book―Violet Fate―where a set of eyes is a focal point of the plot and where our characters are drawn into the Amish country. Since that’s the goal of any book’s cover—to create a yearning to see what’s inside—we think The Fate Series redesign is a huge success.

Twist of Fate2nd edition_frontcoverThe new books will be available online later this month along with Violet Fate, and we will be launching the new book locally in February.

Mom and I are in awe that we now have three books in print and are working hard on getting the next two into place. It’s only been four years since we began this process inspired by the success of my sibling, children’s book author Allyn Stotz (www.allynstotz.blogspot.com), who is also about to have a banner year. It hasn’t been an easy ride, but it’s been an exciting one, and none of us could have predicted things would go so well. Like I told a young woman who called me for advice on publishing her children’s book early this week: the key to becoming an author is to want it bad enough to pursue all angles, be patient, and not give up the quest.WretchedFate2nd edition_coverfront

We hope that 2015 will be the best year ever for all our readers and supporters.

—Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Look for a Launch at our Neighborhood Grill

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Mom and I at Applebee’s working out the details of one of our mysteries.

In our first book, Twist of Fate, mom and I acknowledged the wait staff of our local Applebee’s restaurant. We did so because of the many times we met for lunch there and worked out the details of the plot. We received more than a few odd looks as we talked about the best poison for not leaving a trace, the proper police procedures following a murder attempt, what expired drugs might be sought on the black market, how to let our villain escape discovery. But after we explained what we were doing, we also got enthusiasm and encouragement and have continued to collect praise for having received our dream of being published authors. Many of the people that work there recognize us now when we walk in. They know mom likes to get the closest booth possible because of her physical limitations; they know that she needs the blinds pulled half-way shut for her vision impairment; some even know to bring an extra plate because we love to split an entrée and a house salad.

So what more appropriate place to launch book three, Violet Fate, than our local neighborhood restaurant? I got in touch with the corporate offices of the restaurant and proceeded to get the same kind of enthusiastic response as the local restaurant. The young man I talked to congratulated us immediately on our success, then talked to his boss in communications as well as the local franchise owner, and they’ve all been supportive.

The event is still very much in the planning stages, but I have found this whole exercise invigorating and rewarding. Mom and I now know after three years that publishing a book is very hard work that pays pretty terrible wages in terms of monetary value, but a pretty fantastic salary if you like being paid by gratification. As my little sister Allyn Stotz, a children’s book in Baton Rouge, LA, (who is our No. 1 cheerleader) has said many times: it’s those voices that praise you for having the courage to pursue your dream that make this a worthwhile pursuit.

As mom and I found at this past weekend’s art and craft’s fair, one person’s comment or action can make an entire day’s efforts worthwhile. We sold just enough books to deem the fair a success. But about half an hour before the fair’s end, mom turned to me and kiddingly said: we need to sell one more set of Twist of Fate/Wretched Fate to make it a true accomplishment. Fifteen minutes later, a quarter hour before the fair closed its doors, a young man wandered by, found out we were local authors, then proceeded to pump us for information on what we’d been through. He was fascinated. Then, even though he readily admitted he didn’t read many books these days, he bought a set. I patted myself on the back for having convinced him they make great Christmas gifts. But when we went to address the signed copies to a gift recipient, he grinned sheepishly and gave his own name.

Thanks to Applebee’s and to Daniel for this week’s needed “salary”.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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