Where Would You #Read, If You Could Read Anywhere?

I was a tomboy as a kid. It was the 1970s, and my neighborhood friends and I played outdoors whenever we could. My grass-stained knees and shins were usually dirty and covered in scrapes and bruises; I adored all the local cats and dogs; frogs, mice, and bugs didn’t gross me out. I’d never heard of Lyme disease, and couldn’t understand why anyone would use sunscreen. I mean, how could something as awesome as lying on a sunny beach be bad for your health?

But I was also anxious about lots of things. I was hesitant to try new activities, and shy around strangers and people I didn’t know well. At night, I’d often lie awake in bed worrying about fires, war, car accidents, and waking up in the morning and discovering my whole family dead. I may have seemed laid back to the casual observer, but deep inside I was anything but.

So on summer days when my friends weren’t available to play, reading was my escape. About once a week, I’d bike to the library and borrow a new stash of novels and mysteries. Then I’d go home and read in my favorite spot: under a big oak tree in the back yard. I’d fill my camping canteen with water, stretch my legs out on the grass, and lean back against the wide tree trunk.

All the fears in my head would evaporate as I’d lose myself in the story. And there were very few potential distractions. The phone was in the house—attached to the wall—and if I heard it ringing, I’d never run inside to grab it. Most of the calls were for my parents, and if nobody picked it up, it was no big deal. We didn’t have one of those fancy answering machines like Jim Rockford, but hey, if the call was important, the person would try again later. Right?

Fast forward to 2017. I’m an adult now—married with two teenage kids—and although life’s a lot different these days, I still worry about all kinds of things. And I still love reading. Sure, we’ve seen some of the most amazing advances ever in science, medicine, and technology during the past fifty years, but there’s still something magical about relaxing in a comfy spot with a good book.

But rarely, if ever, do I sit outside on the ground and read. For starters, my eyes, back, and legs aren’t what they once were. I’ve also learned through experience about the importance of sunscreen, and Lyme disease has become a serious threat in New England. And if I accidentally look directly into the sun or some other bright light, I often end up with an ocular migraine. Fortunately, these migraines don’t usually cause me pain, but I get weird visual disturbances that can make reading unpleasant, if not impossible. So the bottom line is that I usually read indoors.

I love reading on the couch with my feet up. It’s pretty great—especially when one of our cats snuggles with me—and I’m not complaining. But what would be ideal? Well, I guess my fantasy reading spot would include one of those comfy, curvy chaise lounges that’s wide enough to curl up on with a book, a cat or two, and maybe even the dog.

And since I prefer tea, coffee and seltzer these days to water from a canteen, it’d be good to have a table nearby for a drink and a snack. And, of course, my phone. Because whether I like it or not, it’s almost impossible—and perhaps even irresponsible—to disconnect completely these days.

As for lighting, I love natural light, and defer to it whenever possible. But at night, I use the overhead lights in our home. They’re efficient, and because they’re on the ceiling, the cats and dog can’t knock them over. However, if we’re talking fantasy here, I’d love a sturdy table lamp with a shade (like the one below), because it looks cool, and would probably prevent some of my ocular migraines as well.

How about you? Where do you like to read, and what would you include in your perfect reading nook?

Posted in books, cats, health, read, reading, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Two Oars Cutting the Water

The great Duke Miller writes about love. Wow. Reblogged from Tin Hats.

tin hats

(Dedicated to Teresa and Marshall.)

I have never loved until now.  For years the word scarcely escaped my lips.  Women would wait and still they waited until I was no more.  In my family I only used it with my father, mother, and one of my grandmothers.  As to my sisters, the word just didn’t seem right.  Was a brother meant to love his sisters? Of course, but I was an idiot back then.  I could not see, since my eyes had been poked out with burned sticks at Christmas.

I spoke love to one of my grandmothers. Nanny was a religious woman, a piano player, and born of the depression and because I had asthma and the air was clean in the tiny town where she lived, I’d visit in the autumn and spring.  I could roam freely down the limestone rock streets.  Sometimes the tornadoes came and we…

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Posted in blogs, duke miller, life, life experiences, love, marriage, memories, mother's day, truth, Uncategorized, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments


dane cobainToday, I’m pleased to welcome Dane Cobain back to my blog. Dane’s an independent UK poet, musician, and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. He also enjoys reviewing books and sharing tips to assist people in their writing and publishing endeavors. Please be sure to check out the links below if you’d like to connect with Dane through his website or on social media.

Thanks so much, Dane, for this helpful and interesting post!


You’ve probably performed a vanity search before – even if you’re not aware of it. In fact, if you’ve ever gone to Google (or any other search engine) and run a search for your own name, you’ve performed a vanity search.

In the early days of the internet, vanity searching was considered to be taboo, an act carried out only by the egotistical. But nowadays, with so much of our lives revolving around the web, vanity searches have become a tool for good.

Think about it: Odds are that at some point, someone is going to Google your name. For ‘normal people’, this might only happen when they apply for a job or if they try to get a loan, but for authors it tends to happen on a daily or weekly basis.

Do you want to be left in the dark about what results people see? Or do you want to check what people are looking at so you can make sure that it accurately reflects you?

Introducing Google Alerts

Carrying out a vanity search is a good start, because it’ll give you a rough idea of what results are surfacing, but it can be time consuming to check as often as you should do. That’s where Google Alerts come in – you can receive automatic emails whenever a new webpage is discovered that matches your search term.

As an author, it’s a good idea to set up alerts for your pen name, your series titles and the individual names of your releases. This can help you to pick up on coverage that you might not otherwise have been aware of, from reviews and giveaways to promo pieces and more. Reviews are particularly important to discover, because you can take the time to thank your readers – and even to ask them to share their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

If there’s a problem

Of course, there’s always the risk that you could carry out a vanity search and see results that are either irrelevant or – worse still – that cast your writing career in a negative light.

Perhaps it’s a scathing review or a blog post that accuses you of being a talentless hack. Perhaps it’s a bunch of photos of you as a kid, or an old account that you used half a lifetime ago. Either way, you have options available.

If the search reveals results that are defamatory, you can file a right to be forgotten request to ask the search engine to remove it. But usually, removing a result is almost impossible, and so a better option is to contact the webmaster directly and to ask them to either remove the page or to update it with more accurate information.

If the search reveals old photos or blog posts that are no longer relevant, you can remove them yourself if you have the relevant access. Otherwise, your best bet is to focus on creating new, high quality content that will push the older results off the front page, where people are less likely to see them.

Reputation management

One of the most obvious reasons for doing all of this is for the purpose of reputation management. Even the average person on the street should take the time to audit what comes up when you search for them, and for creative types – from authors and bloggers to artists, filmmakers and more – it’s more important than ever.

That’s because, as an author, you make a living from your reputation. When people read your books, they’ll typically do a little research beforehand, by checking out reviews, by seeing what people are saying about you on forums and discussion sites, and by simply tapping your name into a search engine to see what comes up.

And that’s exactly why vanity searches are so important. You’re not doing it to boost your ego – you’re doing it as part of a practical, concentrated effort to secure your reputation. As an author, you need to know what people are saying about you, regardless of where and when they’re saying it. Vanity searches are a key way for you to do just that.

 Your Turn

Have you ever carried out a vanity search? If so, did the results surprise you? And if not, will you be carrying them out in the future? Let me know what you think with a comment!


More about the author:
This post is written by Dane Cobain and sponsored by Publishing Addict, an organisation that specialises in building websites for authors to help them to establish a brand, connect with their readers and to sell more books.

Find Dane on his website: www.DaneCobain.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/danecobainmusic

YouTube: http://youtube.com/danecobain

Twitter: http://twitter.com/danecobain

Instagram: http://instagram.com/danecobain

Posted in #MondayBlogs, books, dane cobain, guest blog, guest post, promotion, publishing, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why the Women’s Marches Were So Important


My daughter and I decided to go to the Women’s March in D.C. almost as soon as we learned of its existence. But just a day or two later, I found out that plans for the event weren’t going smoothly. The bottom line was that the white women organizing it had been unintentionally insensitive to some issues concerning race. And even when changes were made—and more diverse organizers were hired—the bad taste lingered in many mouths. In the days leading up to the March, the press seemed to be giving the conflict almost as much coverage as the actual event, and that disturbed me. I couldn’t help wondering if I was pulling my teenage daughter out of school and bringing her on a four-day journey, only to attend a poorly attended, primarily white event.


That fear was quickly quelled on the morning of January 21st. The Metro train from our hotel in Alexandria into D.C. was jammed with people of various genders, ages, and ethnicities, most wearing pink pussyhats and carrying some of the most creative protest signs imaginable. But when we reached the L’Enfant subway stop, a very different type of fear arose in me. There were so many people trying to exit the station, that police had to regulate flow of people, and that particular Metro stop was temporarily shut down. Had I brought my kid to something too big? Would we be safe? The riots of the previous day came to mind, and I tried to figure out what we’d do if violence erupted.

Fortunately, there was no violence at the D.C. March, nor at most of the sister marches around the country and world, and my daughter and I were safely back in our hotel by early evening.


Was everything amazing? Well, that depends on how you define amazing, and also on your health and physical condition. As everyone knows by now, the marchers in D.C. numbered somewhere around half a million. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a large, packed crowd. Meeting up with friends was complicated, and, in several cases, impossible. Also, moving through such a dense crowd was only possible around the edges. The sound system was fairly good, and organizers did a great job setting up Jumbotrons, but even so, we only saw about a quarter of the program, if that. We stood in one spot for four or five hours, and if we’d had to use the bathroom, getting there would’ve been a challenge. Also, because of the size of the crowd, marching was extremely difficult, as much of the designated “march” area was filled with people.

On the other hand, we contributed to history (or HERstory). As we watched the TV news in the hotel that night and saw the magnitude of the crowd, we were thankful that we’d had the opportunity to be part of such a thing.

Also, the current administration may not be doing much for feminists or liberal causes these days, but Mr. Trump has made it clear that he pays attention to crowd size, so seeing images of the crowds at the various marches around the world must’ve made some sort of impression on him.

Furthermore, it’s also almost impossible to attend such an event without wanting to stay involved in causes you care about, and obviously, there will be plenty of opportunities for involvement in the immediate future. I admit that my participation in politics has waxed and waned quite a bit during my lifetime, but since the Women’s March, I’ve been doing what I can to contact legislators, share factual information in the face-to-face world and on social media, and stay up to date on what our government’s doing. And based on conversations with many people, almost everyone’s doing the same thing. The Women’s Marches awakened the activists in many Americans—both those who attended and those who saw them in the media—and I doubt there’s been a time in the last thirty years when more people have been involved in the political process.

Finally, on a personal note, the experience of going to D.C. and staying there for a few days allowed us to spend time in close quarters with people whose political viewpoints differed from ours. If you live in a swing state or an area where lots of left-wing/right-wing conflict exists, this may seem silly, but we live in a very liberal town, where very few people support Trump. (And those who do don’t normally admit it publicly.) For that reason, not only was Trump’s victory extra shocking for my family and me, but almost everyone I’ve spoken with since election day has been upset. But staying at a hotel in the area—especially on Inauguration Day—made it clear to us that we weren’t in the Boston area anymore. Guests in the hotel were a mix of Trump supporters (wearing pins and red hats), people there for the March (the pussyhats were a dead giveaway), and others there for business or tourism. And both nights that we were there, we attended the hotel’s evening reception. At first, we were a little nervous about how people might act, but what we experienced gave us some hope. Everyone acted respectfully, despite the fact that most guests were literally wearing their political sentiments on their heads. We held doors for each other, exchanged pleasantries, and made small talk in the elevator.

And so, my hope in America was renewed last weekend. Yes, at the Women’s March, but also at the hotel, where people were just people, taking time out of their regular lives to celebrate and work for what they believe in. It’s easy to get caught up in the actions of the current administration. And make no mistake: I’m strongly opposed to Trump and Bannon, and believe that if they’re not curtailed, America as we know it will be in grave danger. But I also have faith in the people who live here and love their country. I believe we have the ability to come together and preserve what’s truly important to us: a democracy that works. It won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

March If You Want To. Wear What You Like.


C’mon, people. Haven’t we had enough division already? So please, if you’re concerned about Trump and his attitudes toward women and women’s rights, stop saying divisive, disparaging things about the Women’s March on Washington.

I understand that the March got off to a bumpy start, but the intent was always good, and isn’t that the most important thing? As a writer and lover of words, I realize that names are important. I also know that the issue of race in America is a complicated one, and we’ve got a long way to go. But the organizers of this March have continually emphasized that all are welcome to participate, and I think all interested people should be encouraged to do so. The organizers have also just released a terrific, four-page document outlining the inclusive, intersectional goals and principles of the March.

Anyone who has the will and ability to show up on the National Mall on January 21st (or at one of the Sister Marches in another city) has a reason. That reason may be broad and altruistic, or it may be extremely personal. But it’s a valid reason. One of our most cherished American freedoms is the right to organize and demonstrate, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else. So please don’t make people feel uncomfortable about exercising their rights.

cat_hatIt’s also an American right to dress as we choose. So if you think a pink “pussyhat” will make a statement to the incoming administration, then wear one. If you don’t like the hats or consider them too “cute,” then don’t. Because let’s face it: if you’re not a fan of Donald Trump, chances are you think American women need more—not fewer—choices. So why attempt to influence anyone’s choice of headwear?

I’d also like to note that the Pussyhat Project has provided many people unable to attend the events a wonderful way to get actively involved. Supporters have been knitting, crocheting, and sewing the hats for weeks because they want to be represented at the marches. Let’s allow that to happen, then, and let’s applaud their amazing handiwork. Not to mention that since it’s January, warm hats will be appreciated by most participants. Women supporting women: who can argue with that?

See you at the March?


Posted in events, getting involved, politics, Uncategorized, women, Women's March on Washington | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Music Tuesday! Guest Post by Julie M. Casey–Vintage Jazz and Blues: A New Orleans Treasure

Dear readers,

Music Tuesday has been on vacation for a while, but it’s back this week with a terrific piece by American writer and poet Julie M. Casey. You can learn more about Julie in her bio below, but first, I hope you enjoy her post. Thank you, Julie, for sharing!

julie_caseyI am a great lover of all genres of music, but I am thoroughly convinced I was born in the wrong era because of my obsession with vintage jazz and blues. Billie Holiday, Big Joe Turner, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Big Mama Thornton, B.B. King, Otis Rush… The list goes on and on.

You might wonder how a girl from the Midwest, born in the late sixties, became so captivated by these musicians. Oddly enough, I have to thank the United States Navy for this amazing blessing in my life! Back in 1985, at the mere age of seventeen, I was stationed in the birthplace of jazz itself, New Orleans, Louisiana.

At first I was in somewhat of a culture shock, but soon realized that the Crescent City was indeed my very own Utopia. Jazz and blues are the roots of this iconic city! My first trip to the French Quarter was mind blowing. Street musicians playing this rich, soulful music I had never heard before. They were on every corner–amazing musicians I might add–and the people listening to them were dancing in the streets!

Before I knew it, my hips were swayin’ from side to side, my head was bobbin’, and my hands were clappin’ to the beat. My heart instantly fell head over heels in love with this music, these people, and this city!

I made my way up to Jackson Square where I found a plethora of street artists. Musicians, street performers, fortune tellers: you name, it they had it! And the smell of Cajun cuisine permeating from the countless restaurants. All I can say is “Oh my God!”.

Let me get back to the music though, because it is indeed the heartbeat of this city. It is what pulls in millions of tourists every year. It is what New Orleans is known for.

I want to take you back to June 12th, 1986. This was my 18th birthday, and I of course wanted to celebrate it down in the Quarter. I saw an older couple on the corner of Bourbon and Conti. He was playing a trumpet and she was singing. I stood there frozen. Their music had put me under some kind of spell.

At the end of their song, I decided I needed to meet these two incredibly talented human beings. I introduced myself and asked them what the name of the song was that they had just performed. Her reply, in her thick, southern, distinctly N’Awlins accent was “Oooh child, you’s probably too young to even know!” I nodded yes. She told me it was Careless Love Blues by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. It was a beautiful song they had both done justice covering.

She then went on to tell me that this was the very first song she had ever danced to with her husband when he was still courting her. My mind began to wander off, imagining that very moment. Their names were Nellie and Ray, and I will never forget them.

After that encounter I began going into vintage record shops searching for these old albums. It became my addiction. And to truly appreciate this classic music, you have to listen to it on those old vinyl albums with all their imperfections. There’s just something about those hints of scratches and slightly warped vinyl that can literally give you goosebumps when you listen to it melodically and perfectly blended into these magical tunes.

Ninety-nine percent of my writing is done while listening to these mesmerizing songs. They help me relax, and they definitely get the creative juices flowing within me. At this very moment, as I write this blog, I’m listening to Billie Holiday’s album Songs For Distingue Lovers. Undeniably in the top ten best blues albums of all-time, and my favorite by far.

If you’re not familiar with this genre of music I implore you to give it a listen. Surf YouTube for Vintage Jazz and Blues, and I know you will get lost in it for hours on end. Pandora has a wonderful station called Delta Blues that I adore. I guarantee you will be googling vintage record stores before you know it to start your own obsessive collection.

This music and these artists are timeless. Every generation needs to be, at the very least, introduced to it. It has been my passion, and my own personal therapy for thirty plus years, and will continue to be until my ashes are sprinkled from the Canal Street Wharf into the Mighty Mississippi for one last serenade, and hopefully it will be Louis Armstrong’s It’s A Wonderful World!

Julie Casey is an American writer hailing from the Midwestern city of Bloomington Illinois. Born June 12, 1968, she is the youngest of eight children. Julie is also a devoted mother and grandmother herself. She has been writing poetry for nearly four decades. Recently she has decided to delve into the erotica genre of her creative outlet, and with that, has found an immense degree of satisfaction and success with the transition into the more deviant aspects of her art. She has had her work featured in Little Raven Publishing*, Rebelle Society*, and Horror Sleaze Trash. She also has impending work to be featured in The Pleasure Loft Fall Edition*. Her writing is definitely her passion, and with the support of fellow writers, along with family and friends, she has finally made the courageous leap to share her work with the rest of the world.

*https://littleravenpublishing.com/2016/09/05/featured-writer- julie-casey/




*http://www.rebellesociety.com/2016/09/13/juliecasey-self- love/

Posted in #musictuesday, guest blog, guest post, Julie M. Casey, live music, music, music tuesday, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why I’m Going to the Women’s March on Washington


As a lifetime Democrat and person with strong liberal beliefs, I felt deep despair when Trump won the 2016 election. It was shocking for all the obvious reasons, but also because under the Obama administration, I’d gotten quite complacent. I wasn’t nearly as politically involved as I have been at other times in my life.

When Obama was elected in 2008, my kids were nine and seven, and I was working hard to become a published novelist. So it was such a relief to have him at our country’s helm. I had the luxury of spending a good deal of time with my family and my writing, and I trusted that our President and his team—as well as the leaders of my state of Massachusetts—would keep Americans safe, and look out for the rights of the marginalized. I applauded Obama’s work on immigration reform and climate change, cheered when the Freedom of Marriage Act passed, and wept with pride whenever I listened to him talk about his hopes and dreams for an America where people of all colors, faiths, genders, and lifestyles could be happy. Yes, I believed it was possible, and I believed we had the right people in power to make it happen. How much help did they need from a busy, middle-class, suburban mom? I voted, signed petitions every now and then, and shared things on Facebook and Twitter. But that was about it.

This election, though, has both saddened and awakened me. And as many have already said, there’s so much to do now. Because Trump isn’t the joke that our media painted him to be during the exhausting election season. Maybe we felt hope for a brief moment after his meeting with Obama, but now that he’s heavily into appointing people to his transition team, it’s clear that the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic agenda he preached on the campaign trail wasn’t just a corrupt trick to get votes. No, this guy is the real deal.

The best word I have to describe my feelings is sick. Ironically, in the weeks leading up to the election, I was ill with perhaps the worst cold I’ve ever had, but that was a slight discomfort compared to the nausea I now feel in my guts every day. It hits me the moment I awaken, and stays with me until I manage to fall asleep at night.

The only comfort comes from my brothers and sisters in this country who feel the same pain, and are also gearing up to work. Certainly, there are plenty of options. There are the obvious petitions to sign, and the calls to our elected representatives to stop Trump from turning America into the kind of fascist state he apparently fancies. But I want to get involved on a more personal level too. Perhaps I’ll volunteer at Planned Parenthood, a women’s shelter, or on a suicide hotline.

But I’m also a mom to two teenagers now, and a wife, and a daughter. Oh, and I’m still extremely devoted to my writing, so I want to make sure to pace myself. Having once spent a year working full time at MassPIRG, I’m well aware of the burnout factor, and this Trump situation will probably last four years.

So one thing I’ve already committed to is participating in the Women’s March on Washington DC on January 21, 2017, along with my daughter. I feel the March will make a magnificent, important statement to Mr. Trump, who’s clearly impressed by big things and big crowds. He has said himself that he couldn’t believe he’d lose the election because he had such large crowds at his rallies, so I want him to see a bigger crowd than he ever imagined on his first day in office. I want him to look out and see millions of people representing every group he’s caused to feel marginalized—women, Muslims, the LBGTQ community, immigrants, minorities, Jews—and maybe get some sense of what it means to be President of the United States.

I also hope and believe the March in Washington will help me figure out what I can do to be most effective as an American during this “new normal” that we’re faced with. I look to women like Elizabeth Warren who continues to fight for the marginalized every day, and take inspiration from Hillary Clinton, who spoke just the other day at the Children’s Defense Fund. That must’ve been incredibly difficult for her for so many reasons, but Hillary’s not giving up, and if she keep fighting, well, so can I. Please join me, in whatever way you can. More info about the Women’s March can be found here.


Posted in events, family, getting involved, life events, life experiences, parenting, politics, Uncategorized, women, Women's March on Washington | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Writing Without a Publisher and Biking the Rail Trail

rail trailLike lots of writers, I’m a runner too. I’m not sure why so many people who love banging out words are also drawn to the often mundane process of putting one foot in front of the other—over and over again—but we are. For me, running serves many purposes. It provides exercise and anxiety relief, allows me to exercise the dog and myself at the same time, doesn’t require much special equipment, and can be done just about anywhere. There was a time when I thought a lot about running. I prepared for and ran road races, got excited about buying new sneakers, and subscribed to running magazines. But in recent years, running morphed into something I just did. I didn’t want to stop doing it, but I didn’t pay much attention to it either. I took it for granted. It was simply part of my daily routine.

Thankfully, my husband has a job that pays the bills and puts food on the table, so in addition to my family and domestic duties, I get to spend time composing books, essays, and blog posts. And in 2014, the Seattle hybrid publisher Booktrope published two of my novels. I was thrilled. Not only was I lucky enough to have a team of people editing my words and making the books look great, but I was part of a wonderful community that helped each other with the hardest part of writing: the marketing. But maybe, as I plugged away slowly on my third novel, I was getting a little too comfy. After all, Booktrope had already agreed to publish the book when it was done, and I didn’t have a deadline. Make no mistake: I was about as far from Stephen King or Jodi Picoult success as a writer can get, but I’d also seen my work in print. I’d done readings and signings. I’d discussed my work with book groups. I still loved writing as much as ever, but some of the excitement was wearing off. Perhaps, like running, I was taking my writing life for granted.

But at the end of April, Booktrope announced—quite unexpectedly—that it was ceasing operations. Authors would get their rights back, but all books would go out of print within a month. Then, about a week after the announcement, I suffered a running injury. It wasn’t particularly serious, but I knew it wouldn’t heal unless I stopped pounding the pavement for a while.

handlebarsFirst world problems, yes. I shed no tears. But my daily routine got all shaken up. Since I couldn’t run with the dog, I’d walk him after breakfast, then go out for a bike ride to calm my anxiety demons. And as I cycled up the rail trail near my home, I’d contemplate my writing future. I felt off-kilter and low-key depressed. My feet were literally and figuratively off the ground.

And there’s very little relaxing on the rail trail, because much like the publishing industry, it’s a very crowded place, with many people jockeying to get ahead. The biker who gets too distracted out there can end up in a heap of metal and bloody flesh.

Also, much like in publishing, sometimes the people who move fastest on the trail are actually fairly young and new at the game. But youth, natural talent, and enthusiasm can be a formidable combination. Of course, the young upstarts aren’t always appreciated by more experienced and established riders. Not only do they sometimes cause problems, but their recklessness can give all bikers a bad name. Sound familiar, writers?

On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for working hard and putting in the hours. Because neither good fortune nor wild energy can last forever, and the people who eventually become the best bikers—and writers—are the ones who keep honing their craft and growing stronger.

Sadly, jerks and airheads exist, both in publishing and on the rail trail. And sometimes it’s not easy to tell one from the other. Take, for example, the biker who flies past you on a narrow passage without announcing his presence. Is he unconcerned about your safety, or has he even considered that you might swerve to the left? With writers, it can be the same way. Perhaps there’s a poet or novelist you’ve helped to promote in various ways, but they, in turn, have done little or nothing to help you. Is that because they believe they’re worthy and you’re not? Or are they simply so absorbed in their art that they don’t realize you’re struggling too? See what I mean? It does seem, however, that both biking and publishing can temporarily blind people to the needs of others.

The good news is that helpful writers and bikers far outnumber the unhelpful ones. I’ve seen super-serious riders giving tips to newbies out on the rail trail. And some seasoned writers—regardless of how famous they’ve become—have never forgotten what it’s like to start out, and often take time to support and encourage new talent.

So, as you can probably tell, this combination of losing my publisher and getting injured has pulled me pretty far out of my regular routine. In fact, this is the first blog post I’ve finished in weeks. Since the shakeup, I’ve been spending more time with friends and family, reading more, and thinking about the bigger picture. I’ve also been staying up later at night and crashing on the couch in the middle of the afternoon. I won’t lie: it’s been strange.

Ultimately, though, I think this type of change is good. It’s healthy and interesting to take a step back once in a while. But I’m feeling ready to engage again. Over the past couple of days, I’ve done a bit of running. Very slow stuff, and very short distances, but the pain—for the most part—has stayed away. The novel’s calling to me again too, so maybe on Monday, I’ll open up that file and start editing. Like everyone else, I don’t know what the future holds, but it seems like time to start putting one foot in front of the other again.

Posted in #MondayBlogs, anxiety, biking, books, exercise, family, feedback, health, life experiences, novel writing, publishing, reflections, running, wisdom, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Goodbye to Booktrope and Looking Ahead

booktrope logoIt was quite shock when I learned last Friday night that my publisher, Booktrope, is shutting down. Some people are angry, some are scared, but me, well, mostly I’m just sad.

My friend Jan—fellow Troper and blogger—said it best, I think, when she compared Booktrope to a failed Utopian society. You can read Jan’s entire post here.

But while Booktrope was in business, I didn’t see it as Utopian. I saw it as a bunch of dedicated, creative people working together, sharing profits, and publishing books in a new, innovative way. The model wasn’t perfect—sure, there were issues—but the company attracted so much talent. Writers, designers, editors, marketing people, proofreaders: all focused on the goal of bringing various forms of literature to the public.

So what went wrong? Well, they ran out of money. There are many other theories out there on the web—and I’m sure some mistakes were made along the way—but I believe the main problem was that the business model simply wasn’t sustainable. Which is sad.

It’s also messy, because of the profit-sharing contracts all Booktropians signed when they began working with the company. It’s important that every writer, designer, editor, proofer, and product manager is compensated fairly for the work they’ve done. But as writers consider moving forward with other publishing options (self-publishing, traditional publishing, various hybrid models) the profit-sharing model adds many complications.

Nevertheless, I believe we’ll all land on our feet. Fortunately, we’re dealing with books and not pacemakers or artificial limbs. (Although a true book lover might argue that a good book can keep a person alive, or be the force that enables someone to get out of bed and do something positive.) And the people at Booktrope are good people. We care about each other, and I have faith that in the days to come, most of us will find ways to sort out the legal/financial issues and get our books back into the hands of readers.

Back? Yes. Because after May 31, all books bearing the Booktrope imprint (both paperbacks and e-books) will go out of print. And when (if) they come back, they’ll be different. Some in subtle ways, others more significantly.

Hence, both of my books, Leaving the Beach and Living by Ear will disappear for at least a little while on May 31st, 2016. I’m working with my wonderful literary agent, April Eberhardt, to determine the best paths of action for them. But in order to go out in style,the e-version of Living by Ear will be priced at $.99 until May 31st.. So if you’ve never read it, or are looking for a slightly edgy story about love, family, divorce, music, and parenting, check it out here. It also makes a good Mother’s Day gift.

I’m also working hard to finish up a new novel that I hope readers will enjoy. It remains untitled, but is about the unlikely friendship between a confused twenty-five-year-old woman and her much older male neighbor, who happens to be a ham radio operator. And because most people ask this question, I’ll answer it in advance: yes, there’s plenty of romance in the story, but not between the two main characters!

Thank you for reading this, and thanks for visiting my blog! I’ll always have fond memories of Booktrope, and look forward to future adventures in writing and publishing.



Posted in books, in memoriam, promo, promos, promotion, publishing, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Parenting the College Bound Teen: Guest Post by Beth Schulman

I love this guest post by fellow Gravity Imprint author Beth Schulman. It contains some great information about raising teenagers, and as my own kids get closer to college age, I can really relate! Many thanks to Beth for sharing this. There’s more info about her and her great new memoir, The Gold Mailbox, below.


college kidMy first born is eighteen years old. I somehow maintained my sanity during the early years of colic, potty training and tantrums. I got through the middle years of science projects and sleepovers, and in less than two months, I’ll be able to say I survived the rocky roads of adolescence. On June 5th, my son, the baby I had to put in the car to get to sleep, will be a high school graduate. I’d hoped the struggles of parenting would end there. He got into a good college and now my part is done, right? Wrong! I’d never imagined how stressful the transition to college would be- not for him, but for me!

There’s the anxiety of completing the FAFSA and having to wait several weeks before you know how much (if any) federal aid your son will get. The anxiety is doubled when you are divorced and are forced to communicate about finances with your non responsive ex, who is your ex due in large part to his inability to communicate (but that’s a whole other blog!) Then there are all the “hidden” costs of a college education- room, board, books, dorm accessories. All this, coupled with the fact that your son, who looks and occasionally even acts, like an adult, functions as if he’s in the secret service when it comes to sharing information. In college there are no newsletters sent home from the head of school keeping you up to date on all the important stuff. All the information is being sent directly to the student. Of course, this makes sense, since the student is the one who is registered at the University. But, the fact is, an eighteen year old brain, is not fully functioning. According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

“The parts of the brain responsible for more “top-down” control, controlling impulses, and planning ahead—the hallmarks of adult behavior—are among the last to mature… In key ways, the brain doesn’t look like that of an adult until the early 20s.”

With this in mind, here are two coping strategies I’ve adopted to help me survive this transitional time with my “almost” college kid:


I get most of my information from my friends who have kids going into college. It sometimes feels like detective work, but I’ve been able to piece together important information about the first year college experience, through my interactions with other parents. I recently learned there is a “university portal” that’s full of critical information, including deadlines for orientation and registration.


I recently saw a quote that said, “Raising a teenager is like nailing Jello to the wall.”

This really summed it up for me. My eighteen year old can watch TV for hours, but when it comes to sitting down and having a discussion with me, it’s like he’s got ants in his pants. He gives me a condescending nod and wave of his hand after two minutes and says, “I’ve got it, Mom.” I’ve learned to acknowledge that “he’s got it” and explain that my need to talk and process is my way of “getting it”. Scheduling these “chats” helps. If he knows in advance, we’ll be meeting at 1pm to talk he’s more likely to participate. Also, I’ve found it’s better to keep the conversation brief and to the point. It’s better to have lots of “little” meaningful conversations rather than having one long, drawn out discussion that could easily turn into battle.

To all my fellow parents of soon to be college students I say, “hang in there” because as we know from our parenting paths thus far, “this too shall pass.”

beth_schulmanMs. Beth Schulman is a mother, teacher and avid reader and writer. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Individual and Family Studies, and from Cabrini College with a Master of Education Degree, with a focus on Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching elementary school students for over 20 years. Beth has devoted her life’s work to creating supportive, creative and literacy rich learning environments for young children. She has also worked with professional teachers at The University of Pennsylvania through The Penn Literacy Network (PLN) as an instructor and literacy coach since 1997. Beth lives in the Philadelphia area with her two teenage sons, James and Ian. The Gold Mailbox is her first book.

the gold mailbox“This dazzling and moving memoir is a roller coaster of loss and transition, held together by the reminder that love and family run deeper than we ever imagine. Written in gorgeous prose, this ultimately uplifting tale will have you savoring every page.”

–Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance

You can visit Beth on FB at Beth Schulman Author. On Twitter, she’s @bschulmanauthor and @authorbethschul

Posted in #MondayBlogs, aging, college, family, growing older, guest blog, guest post, life, life experiences, parenting, teenagers, teens | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments