Moving on

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I'm glad you stopped by so I can tell you that

and I am waiting to greet you at my new home

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Maybe you can relate to this.  You keep thinking you should do something about that drip in the upstairs bathroom faucet, but inevitably the thought occurs to you when you are flying out the door late for an appointment.  So you forget about it, until one day you come home to a flooded bathroom or leaking ceiling because somebody left that particular sink plugged and well, you know the rest.

I've been thinking for quite a while now that I would like to expand this blog into a full-blown website with a few more bells and whistles.  So yesterday I decided to try linking my blog with Google+ because Google made it sound so advantageous and easy, and then I went out the door without checking the results.  When I came home I found that all the pictures on my blog had disappeared. I took it as a sign that it was finally time to REMODEL.  (If anyone out there has had a similar experience, I would love to hear about it.)

So, pardon the mess while I move on down the road to a new location with expanded features and lots of exciting news about my debut book, CRAZY (tentative title) and WIP, THE SCIENCE PROJECT (working title), as well as a Mind-Full of musings about anything to do with reading,writing, and mental health.

Please check back soon for my forwarding address, and thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Well, that's a bit of a stretch......I'm not really on the road yet, but I have to admit I do spend some time daydreaming about when I will hit the trail to promote my debut book, tentatively titled CRAZY,  around August, 2014.  In the meantime, I'm keeping busy pushing ahead with the second book.  I'll be talking more about that in future blogs.  

More than one snowflake, Charlotte, 2010

But today why don't you follow me over to my good friend Carol Baldwin's place and listen in while she asks me a few questions.  I'm honored to be her guest this week.  She's been my best sounding board and writing buddy since 1998, and I'm sure you'll see from her blog how well-versed and talented she is in all things to do with the written word.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


In a continuation of my last blog, I want to say "hats off" to another great organization that is helping me along on my writing journey.  At first glance you might not guess from its name, Womens National Book Association, that there is much in it for writers, but after all, where would a book association be without its supply line?

In my brief association with this organization I have witnessed a wonderful synergy within all the entities in a community that pertain to anything BOOK.  On Feb. 19, I attended a perfect "bookstorm." The Charlotte Writers Club and the WNBA combined meetings to present a panel discussion,  From Book Idea to Bookshelf:  The Process and Business of Publishing.  It was open to the public and full of useful information for writers, readers, lurkers, visitors, and more.

Joyce Hostetter and Chris Woodworth (authors) meeting Lynn Bonner and Trisha Miller (guests)

Here are a few gems I picked up from some of the following panel members:

  • Agent Josh Adams, Adams Literary
    • We look for a story we love.  Then we will google you and look at your site. For us the site isn't critical but it tells us how serious you are about your work. The author needs to be comfortable with the media process. Do great writing first then support it with your website.  We look for a good personality fit.
    • The time frame from acquisition to publication can be as short as a year, but is usually one and a half to two years.  With picture books, it can be two to four years
    • Adams Literary always asks the author "what is next"  
  • Independent Editor Betsy Thorpe, Betsy Thorpe Literary Services
    • Some typical turn down phrases editors might use are:
      • not right for my list=we publish "this" but you sent us "that"
      • the shelf is too crowded=too many books of this nature are already printed
      • we already have a book like this on our list
      • too small=not likely too sell over 2000 copies 
  • Kelly Bowen, Publicity Director, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
    • We meet with the author to brainstorm promotion ideas
    • Promotion might include book tours, local and national advertising, social media, and platform building (best thing author can do)
    • (Kelly shared some unique out-of-the-box marketing schemes here)
  • Amanda Phillips, MarComm Manager at distributor/wholesaler Baker & Taylor
    • We do corporate marketing
    • When an author is on TV or radio and their publisher lets us know, we usually see an order spike
  • Independent Bookseller Sally Brewster, owner of Park Road Books in Charlotte
    • The sad fact is that there are more books than readers.  Read more books!
    • We do sell consignment books (self-published) and we take 40% 

Sally Brewster helps Kelly Brown demonstrate some unique marketing strategies. 

  • Lisa Williams Kline, Author the middle-grade novels Eleanor Hill (winner of the North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award), The Princesses of AtlantisWrite Before Your Eyes, and the Sisters in All Seasons series
    • Most of my books deal with contemporary stories
    • I've had experience with lots of publishers, and my first two books were not agented
    • I am shy on Face Book, but I do guest blogs and always accept appearances
    • Volunteering at writers organizations (like Charlotte Writers Club and WNBA) helps make contacts
    • I have a web site but I don't blog.  I do what fits my personality
  • Independent Book Marketing, Sales and Promotion Consultant Susan Walker
    • Kudos to Susan for a great job moderating this great panel
If you love to read, write, think about, order, caress or even sniff books, you probably should drop in on WNBA sometime.  

Friday, February 1, 2013


I'm working on the second book.  Yikes!  I never thought I'd hear myself say that. It's exhilarating and daunting and full of completely new territory all at once.  In its young life, this WIP already has a history.  It's not the manuscript I took to work on at Lorin Oberweger's Free Expressions Workshop last October.  I trashed that one after the first round of critiques when it became clear that I would waste my time, money, and grand opportunity for professional input by continuing with this book that I knew in my heart wasn't working.

So, in the kind of crazy, frenzied blitz that can only be fueled by the electric atmosphere of a writers' gathering, I wrote two chapters off the top of my swirling brain.  I salvaged the setting of a castle in Switzerland, but I boldly transformed my YA girl into a middle grade boy protagonist, switched the mood from haunting to humorous, and ventured out of my novel-in-verse comfort zone into prose.

I'm currently on chapter 7 and cruising right a cat picking its way around mud puddles.  I suppose it's typical to have doubts about the second book, but MEOWZERS,  these are some pretty deep water holes I'm tiptoeing around.  Will I be able to pull off prose when I've spent my whole writing life buried in poetry?  Will my experience as a mother of twin boys and former middle grade teacher be enough to generate one viable middle grade boy's voice?  Will I be able to sustain a humorous tone after having lived with such a somber first book for so long?

I really don't know if I can pull any of this off.  But the great thing about being a writer is that we are a needy bunch (lol) which makes us extra good at giving and receiving help and support one to another.  I am forever indebted to organizations like The Institute of Children's Literature, SCBWI, the Highlights Foundation, and Free Expressions Workshops for the excellent instructional input as well as the wonderful network of like-minded spirits I have gained.

As the Beatles told us long ago, "I get by with a little help from my friends."  In the writing world, that means opening yourself up to the best support group available and staying open to the possibilities, even if it means trashing a finished manuscript.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The recent movie, Silver Linings Playbook, based on the book by Matthew Quick, struck a chord in me.  Why?  Because my book CRAZY, coming out in 2014, happens to deal with the same subject--bipolar disease--and I was sufficiently entertained and duly impressed with how the movie handled this often delicate subject.

Patrick Solatano, admirably portrayed by Bradley Cooper, is released from an eight-month stay in the hospital with a determined, if not unwieldy, desire to get back on his feet.  He faces a restraining order from his wife because he severely beat up the man he caught her in the shower with when he returned home unexpectedly. He now reluctantly must see a court-mandated therapist and take regular medication.  If this isn't enough, he is ordered to live in his parents' house where his comically OCD father is running an illegal bookmaking business.

While the movie is billed as a romantic comedy, the humor depicts the often painful and embarrassing events surrounding mental disorders discreetly and realistically.  In fact, many realities of mental illness pervade this movie: Pat's reluctance to take the medication he needs, the existence of similar traits in both father and son, the gravitational pull that often exists between two neurotic/psychotic people (Pat and Tiffany, beautifully portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence), the benefits of physical outlets (Pat and Tiffany develop a dance routine and enter a contest), and the inevitability of numerous setbacks and regressions along the road to recovery, or at least stability.  

While the happy Hollywood ending is both predictable and oversimplified, I applaud this movie for its depiction of two resourceful people with mental baggage who have the guts to keep working towards better mental health.

I hope when my book hits the stands in 2014 readers will be reminded that better mental health can be a real possibility for those who keep striving towards that goal.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Now that I have come down from the ceiling (directly related to having landed a book deal) and settled onto firm ground once again, I have had a chance to reflect on the journey thus far.  The Beatles would affirm that it was "a long and winding road."  

Perhaps my trek could be useful to some out there who have set out on a similar journey.  For those who have already traveled this road, it might be interesting to compare notes.  Here are just the facts, ma'am (relying on memory in many cases because, as you will see, the journey was long and arduous):

  • 1994 - Sitting under a palm tree on Myrtle Beach, while my husband watched our twin boys, I wrote a poem called "Oceanography," a cathartic exercise in dealing with my mother's mental illness
  • 1996 - "Oceanography" published in The Texas Review
  • 1994-2004 - Numerous poems dealing with the same topic were written and published in various literary magazines.  
  • 2004-2006 - A collection of twenty poems materializes, and writing buddy Carol Baldwin suggests that they need to be a book.
  • 2007 - Work begins on the first draft, called Breakdown
  • 2009 - Attend the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua, NY and work directly with Patti Gauch, retiring senior editor of Philomel Books
  • 2010 - Sign with Julia Kenny, agent at MarksonThoma Agency in New York
  • 2011 - Revision requested by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company on YA novel written in verse titled CRAZY 
  • 2012 - Receive 3 offers within 2 weeks, sign with Eerdmans for a 2014 publication date
If you are good at math, you already know this process spanned eighteen years. Eighteen years!  I feel like this has to be some kind of record.  Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.  But hopeful writers listen up.  Life went on as usual for most of those years, with full-time teaching, full-time kid raising, and full-time being a minister's wife.  I would have to say that the last year of waiting was probably the nearest I got to pulling my hair out, sitting on pins and needles, chewing my nails to the quick, being totally driven to distraction.  Perhaps if it had been fewer than eighteen years, I may have been able to eliminate a few of those cliches!  

But I write this to ENCOURAGE all writers out there.  If I can wait eighteen years you can stay the course, whatever your course may be, and all the while keep believing in your work.