Monthly Archives: December 2017

New Book: The Phone Call by Anna Belle Rose

Years and years ago, actually decades ago, I was a stay-at-home mom for a bit, with my then youngest child who would not fall asleep at nap time. Over time, I realized that while he wouldn’t sleep, he would sit in his crib for a bit each afternoon, listening to Yanni at the Acropolis, looking at story books, and I could sit and write. And write I did. I wrote and wrote and wrote over many months. By then, my youngest was talking, and he somehow understood that Mommy was writing a book, and he kept nagging me to keep going. And I did.

Fast forward many years, and I’d keep opening the word file of that first novel, print it out, edit and revise, and eventually send it out to a few agents. Rejections would come in, and I’d put it away for a while, then that same son would poke at me again, and the process would start all over again. During this same time, I also started several other novels, and kept working on them in the same way. All of them were contemporary romances, heavily linked to life in Vermont, and all have gloriously happy endings – I mean, who doesn’t love a happily ever after?

Finally, late in 2016, I decided I needed to either get serious about writing, or give it up for good. So I pulled those two complete novels out again, and hired incredible professional editors to go at them. Then I started submitting them to a few agents, and a couple publishing houses that didn’t require representation by agents. And on June 13th, a publishing contract arrived on the novel I wrote first, The Phone Call. And on July 13th, a contract arrived for my second, That One Small Omission. And joy of joys, on December 4th, a contract was offered on my third, More Than I Can Say.

On October 11, 2017, That One Small Omission was published in e-book and print versions, and on December 12th, The Phone Call was published. The joy and excitement I feel each time I look at my mantle and see my first published novel is an emotion that I think only other authors can understand!

Amazon link to That One Small Omission: https://tinyurl.com/yb5bc2ux
Amazon link to my author’s page: https://tinyurl.com/y8uzgxeh

New Book: The Lost Macaw by BL Blair

The Lost Macaw is the fourth novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

A former client hires Alex to find her lost parrot. The bright colored bird has flown away before, but this time there is evidence that Molly was kidnapped. The demand is simple—the bird for the pictures.

When her client suffers a stroke, Alex is left with a ransom note, a missing bird, and some very incriminating photos. She is in a race against time to solve the mystery of the lost Macaw.

Excerpt:

“Your little old lady is quite interesting, Alex,” Halie said.

“What do you mean?”

“She didn’t exist until about thirty years ago.”

“What?!”

“I did a preliminary background search on her. In general, she is clean. No debt. The house is paid off as is her car. The one thing that jumped out at me was the fact that she had a safe deposit box at four different banks.”

Luke raised one eyebrow. I got a sinking feeling. I had noted the bank accounts but hadn’t really given them much thought.

“Yeah,” I said, “I saw those.”

“So why does an eighty-year-old woman need four safe deposit boxes?”

“Why does she need more than one?” Luke muttered.

“Exactly,” Halie said. “So I dug a little deeper.”

“What did you find?”

“About thirty years ago, Joseph and Trudy Kearns purchased the house on Carriage. Back then, it was a new neighborhood, and the prices were cheap. They paid cash. They also opened a bank account, and Joe got a job working for the city. Those are the first records I can find for either one of them.”

“Trudy would have been fifty at that time. Her husband probably a few years older. What about birth certificates? Social security cards?”

“They had them, but conveniently, they were issued from a small county in Virginia where a massive flood destroyed all their records. The county office was in the process of moving the old paper records to electronic when the flood hit.”

“Let me guess. The Kearns’s records did not survive the flood.”

“Nope.”

“So the only records for them are the ones they had in their possession.” I paused a moment. “Do they look real?”

“Yes,” Halie replied.

“So they could be authentic.”

“Or really good forgeries. In some ways, it was easier back then.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

“Not really. Lives on a fixed income of social security and a small pension from her husband’s job. It isn’t much because he only worked for the city for twelve years before he had to retire.”

“Okay, thanks Halie.”

After ending the call, I looked at Luke. He had a perplexed look on his face that I had a feeling mirrored mine.

“Who the hell is Trudy Kearns?”

Available on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Spoiling Grandchildren

Do you ‘spoil’ your grandchildren? Some people say that this is a common phenomenon. It could be argued that children all over the world are becoming increasingly unhealthy, overweight and demanding. Could this be due to the over-attentive care of grandparents?

Too Many Cookies

We, grandparents, it is often argued, give those visiting children too many cookies (or ‘biscuits’ as they are known in the UK) and not enough exercise. This is, of course, the easy option.

Sit them down in front of the television with an extra piece of cake. Perhaps some grandparents buy the children’s affection by letting them have what they want.

Feeling guilty?

Well, I’m not. And plenty of others aren’t either.

Yes, we give the occasional treat in the form of an extra cookie. Or give them pancakes for breakfast and ice cream in the afternoon – or even ice cream for breakfast! But lots of us are also clever at getting children to eat well and establish good eating habits.

Screen Time

It could be argued that grandparents let grandchildren play with their ever-expanding forms of electronic games. This is especially an issue if such time is limited by their parents at home.

Personally, I limit those games, with children always working ‘to get to the next level.’ Most grandparents would like a little personal interaction during the brief periods we visit, and so electronic devices often get put away.

Who Spoils the Children?

My book Celebrating Grandmothers is based on interviews I took with women talking about what it is like to be a grandmother. In the course of writing it I found the shoe to be on the other foot.

Although many were impressed with the childcare given by their own children, many others were deeply concerned about what they saw as regular spoiling.

The grandchildren had too much stuff, they said. One said her granddaughter had so many Christmas presents, they were found unopened months later. Too much screen time was a common cry – and not enough running around.

Indeed, such issues were the source of considerable family tensions, although the grandmothers agreed that they were wise to be quiet. Every grandmother should be ‘issued with a zip,’ one suggested.

Childcare

Finally, it is well known that we, grandparents, give a lot of help to our children in the form of free childcare. Most of us are not complaining because we find it fun or, indeed, fulfilling.

But it is nonetheless work, and, like any work, we don’t always get it right. Indeed, sometimes we do take the easy route.

If we do offer the occasional extra ‘treat,’ maybe that is the price our children must pay for our help. Or, as one grandmother put it, giving little treats to grandchildren is the grandmother’s ‘privilege.’

What Does ‘Spoiling’ Mean Anyway?

The term ‘spoiling’ is an awful one ­– as if grandchildren could be forever ruined like a spoiled pudding we were preparing. It tends to be used as a term for doing too much, but the grandmothers I interviewed tended to reject the term.

One spoke for many when she said that what she did was not spoiling but ‘showering them with love.’ And for me, that is one of the joys of being a grandparent.

 

This post was first published by sixtyandme (http://sixtyandme.com/are-you-spoiling-your-grandchildren-or-just-showing-them-extra-love/) and should not be re-blogged.

 

It’s simply wonderful when a reviewer really ‘gets’ it

 

Today, Celebrating Grandmothers got a 5 star review on Amazon.com from a reader who really understood what I was trying to communicate. I want to reach out to her and say, yes, thank-you, you understand.  Here is what she said:

Grandmothering is a complex, diverse, magical, and nuanced life stage

 

New Book: Silent Song by Jaci Wheeler

      

Many authors I know pull from events or people from their own lives for inspiration or storyline. I’ve never been that way personally. I’m an extremely private person by nature, so its very unusual for me to use any of myself in my books. That is actually my favorite thing about writing, I’m able to fully create worlds and people out of thin air. It allows you to become whoever you want for the moment. I usually create a main character who is nothing like me because it allows me to be and do all the things I’ve always wanted to.

I’ve had a very eventful life. Those who know me well always ask why I’ve never drawn from my real life for a novel, since my life is pretty much a lifetime movie. The idea of writing anything close to home has always been completely horrifying for me. (Super private remember?)

I have a pretty unique situation where I lost my hearing at eighteen years old. (You can read more about it in my letter to the reader in Silent Song.) Deafness is one of those subjects that most people think they understand…but actually don’t. There is so much more to deafness than not being able to hear. There are levels (decibels) of sound that is so intricate that it is much more than just you can hear or not.

A few years ago I read a book that had a deaf main character. The book was amazing, but there were so many things that weren’t accurate. It wasn’t glaringly obvious unless you were deaf, but it really bothered me. I had brought up the issue to a good author friend of mine and I’ll never forget what she said to me.

“The only way to fix this problem Jaci, is to set it straight. That means you are going to have to write the story of a deaf person from their perspective. Show people not only your world, but help them understand the deaf world. Who else will?”

I instantly shut her down. Theres no way I’m writing anything close my life. A few months went by and then I had to explain a few things about deafness to people that they just never knew. Like just because you speak English doesn’t mean deaf people can write in English without struggle. Almost every hearing person I talked to didn’t know that American Sign Language is NOT english. It has its own structure and rules like any other language. ASL is my second language, but it’s the main one I use at home with my husband. It’s hard for my brain to switch back and forth between ASL and English. Because of this I tend to change tenses when I write, which is very frowned upon in writing. I’m pretty sure I’ve driven every editor I’ve ever had to drink over this little fact.

After having to explain this to several people over a very short amount of time I finally came to terms with the fact that I was going to have to write a story with a deaf character.

I decided to go home and just see if I even had a story in me. I don’t outline, ever. I just start writing. I usually write the end first, then the beginning and fill in the middle. (Yeah I’m weird.) So I went home and just started writing to see if I even had a story in me…and I couldn’t stop. I wrote through he night, and all weekend long. By the time I took a break I had almost written half of the book. This is the only book I didn’t have to re-write or revise. It was trapped deep down and apparently ready to be freed. I cried more while writing this story than I have probably ever cried in my life. But it was also the most cathartic thing I‘ve ever done.

This story isn’t my own, but the feelings are completely mine. The pain, fears and passion is all mine even though the story belongs to Barrett alone.

Silent Song by Jaci Wheeler is available on Amazon today.

World Aids Day today

Today is World AIDS Day, which only a few people these days will recognise.  It used to be a time of calling attention to the needs of people with this terrible disease – well, it still is, but fewer people are listening.

In my book, you will read about how it used to feel to be living with HIV or AIDS.  You may say that is no longer relevant or not of particular interest, but it is incredibly moving. Reviewers talk about ‘a very important read’ and ‘read it to understand the beauty of life’ – and that gives you a feeling for the kind of read it is.