Category Archives: Speeches

One Year After

This morning, safely snuggled in my bed in the camper, I listened to the thunder (something we haven’t heard in months) roll across the sky. It was four-thirty in the morning, and I knew, with the pounding of the rain on the metal roof, more sleep was not in the picture.

I let my mind wander over the edits I needed to get done during the day, when it hit me. It was one year ago today that I was offered a contract for Riding for Love. I’m on my annual camping-by-myself week. Each year my husband hauls the camper to my favorite campground, backs it in (I believe men are born with a backing-up equipment gene that women are not), helps me set things up and leaves

Squirrel outside my camper.

Squirrel outside my camper.

me for a week.

At this time of the year the campground is nearly devoid of campers. The first night there were thirteen campers out of 120 sites. Last night things were busier with seventeen campers. With the quiet, I can get a lot of writing done. Over the years I’ve written or worked on four history books, finished my first romance (which turned out to be my first romance published), and written or plotted out several others. I bike and hike and enjoy the solitude – except for those characters’ voices in my head all the time.

This year I’m camping during the exact same week as last year. I remember it was on the second day of my stay last year and I was eating breakfast while reading through e-mails on my husband’s i-pad. (This year I have hot spot on my phone, so I can use my laptop to connect to the internet. I love it.) Anyway, I was scrolling through the e-mails when I came to one with the message: “I have good news.” I opened it up, read the first line and started crying. Soul Mate Publishing wanted to publish Riding for Love. I believe I’ve written about this before, but what a feeling. I still get giddy thinking about it.

Riding for Love CoverLooking back over the past year and that auspicious date, I realize how much I’ve learned about edits, promotion, sales, contracts, conferences, and friends and family.

Edits take time – but time with a deadline. Edits make an author a better writer. When a manuscript is sent to a publisher, you believe you are sending the best book possible. Then you get your changes. I don’t know how many times I smacked myself in the head (literally and figuratively) over comments for changes. How could I have missed simple spellings, POV changes, and plot twists that didn’t make sense? And I’d say 99.9% of the time, my editor was right and the changes made for a better book.

I’ve come to realize promotion is a pain in the neck, but a necessary evil. It takes a lot of time promoting your book, especially when everything about promotion is new. Time that a could be spent writing the next book. Time for blogging, websites, giving speeches, contests, getting reviews, deciding what sites to promote, setting up author pages, etc. Since Riding for Love is currently only available on Amazon for Kindle, book signings are not an option.

As a rather quiet, shy person, I found it difficult talking to strangers about being an author and my book, but strangely I’m finding it the best way to promote it. I’ve talked to people at parks, swimming pools, camping, at the doctor’s office, airports, festivals, standing in line at conferences, and other places I can’t even remember. I try to keep business cards on me at all times. (I won’t mention the stack left in my shorts that went through the washing machine.)

All-in-all, this past year has been exciting yet frustrating at times. A huge learning curve. A roller-coaster ride of emotions. This coming year will be the same. With a short story, “A Year and a Day,” being included in a Christmas anthology with Soul Mate Publishing, another romance with another publisher (waiting for contract), a children’s book coming out this spring and five months for tax season stuck in there to disrupt my writing, it should be interesting. Do I regret being published? Heck, no. Would I do it again? Heck, yes. Do I think the next book will be easier? I only wish.

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Filed under Book Signings, History books, Publishing, Reflection, Romance, Speeches, Writing

Summer is Over?

A few weeks ago I heard my nine-year-old granddaughter tell her six-year-old sister that when school started, summer was over. I tried explaining to her that summer didn’t actually end until September 21st, but nothing I could say would change her mind. I figured it was a child thing – once school started, summer life as she knew it was finished.

Then I started listening to adults say basically the same thing. “School’s started, summer’s over.” “Labor Day is here, summer is over.” Add to that “Where did the summer go?” “The summer went so fast.” Even the weathermen, who should know better, are already talking about fall weather. Geez, haven’t the last hot, hot days given anyone a clue that summer is not yet over?

Beautiful sunsets from our deck.

Beautiful sunsets from our deck.

People are right about one thing though – summer did go fast. I got to thinking that we hadn’t really done anything and poof – yes, I will say it – summer was over. What the heck did I do all summer? Let’s see:

• Attended a writer’s conference.
• Gave several speeches on writing.
• Watched my grandkids two days a week and took them to T-ball, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, the city pool, my house, piano lessons, library programs, nature center.

Watching butterflies flitting around at a nature center.

Watching butterflies flitting around at a nature center.


• Went to rummage sales to find things for our apartment in the city where we have our business.
• Moved to said “cozy” apartment.
• Made many trips between where we now live and where our business is (80 miles one way).
• Attended H&R Block meetings.
• Enjoyed a visit by my son and his family (wasn’t nearly long enough).
Grandkids waiting for chickens to eat from their hands at my brother's farm.

Grandkids waiting for chickens to eat from their hands at my brother’s farm.


• Have fun for two days on my brother’s farm.
• Went to a Brew and Rib fest and danced the afternoon away.
• Attended a Brewer’s baseball game – first in one in over fifteen years.
Feeding calves at my brother's farm.

Feeding calves at my brother’s farm.


• Visited with friends in Madison and Milwaukee.
• Bought a new camper.
• Went camping with family (still have two more times this “fall”).
• Re-united with a cousin and her husband.
• Went kayaking for the first time with my cousin.
Loons I saw while kayaking.

Loons I saw while kayaking.


• Spent two weekends with my cousin.
• Took the grandkids on a train ride – rode in a car that is over 100 years old.
On 100-year-old car on train.

On 100-year-old car on train.


• Attended a fly-in with the grandchildren. IMG_8068
• Finished a children’s book.
• Met with an illustrator on my up-coming children’s book.
• Wrote a short story for a Christmas anthology for my publisher.
• Edited a book.
• Went on many bike rides.
• Met with my writers’ group.
• Spent time on a friend’s pontoon on their lake.
• Went fishing.
• Danced with my grandkids to an old-time jukebox.
Dancing with my grandkids.

Dancing with my grandkids.


• Watched many beautiful sunsets from our deck.

Fishing. Unfortunately we got skunked.

Fishing. Unfortunately we got skunked.

Helping grandson play an old player piano.

Helping grandson play an old player piano.

Hiking while camping.

Hiking while camping.

Before checking my appointment book, I would have said I hadn’t done much this summer. But looking back – no wonder I’m tired. No wonder it’s been a month since I blogged. So, here’s to another great summer and what’s to come in the remaining two weeks.

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Filed under Nature, Reflection, Speeches, Uncategorized, Writer's Conventions/Conferences

Guest Author at Creative Cafe

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being one of three guest authors at Creative Cafe, a new project by some active parents at our local middle school. Creative Cafe was designed to promote the creativity of fifth through eighth graders through poetry, skits, and stories, either original or published by other authors.

Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the school. As you walk into the building, usually the first thing you see is the commons area. That night the opening to the commons was covered with fabric draped over rope and tied back on each side to leave a gap through which to enter. Instead of long tables, the area now held about a dozen and half round tables, covered in table cloths, each holding a lit candle. Christmas lights were draped over trees and a corner stage held chairs, subdued lights and a microphone. A young man played soft music on a piano in the corner. With the normal glaring fluorescent lights turned off, one was transported to a quiet, charming Parisian café. To add to the ambiance, we did not applaud after each performance, but snapped our fingers. I loved it.001 cropped

The night was divided into three parts with the guest authors reading parts of their books at the beginning of each session. During the evening, students, dressed in long white aprons, carrying order pads, routinely came to each table and said, “Good evening. My name is _______. I will be your server tonight. Is there anything I can get for you?” Each one said it such serious demeanor, I couldn’t help but smile and visualize them saying their words over and over so they wouldn’t make a mistake. As the night went on most of these waiters were on stage performing for the audience.

Not only did the students get on stage, but so did teachers and staff, including the principal. I felt it was good for the students to see their teachers get nervous, mess up their performance, but carry on. (If I could ever find the program for the night, I could actually tell you what some of the readings were.) From Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss to poetry written by a student’s father, the show was enjoyable from beginning to end.

Amelia Kimball

Amelia Kimball

I took many, many pictures, but because of the lighting very few turned out. And unfortunately, I can’t publish the ones of the students.

One of the guest authors was Amelia Kimball, the youngest of the guest authors, who started writing Inside Out while in the sixth grade. Her book is geared toward high school students.

The other author, Charles Schoenfeld, read from his book, A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Dementia Ward, Memoir of a Male CNA. His readings, based on his experiences in a dementia ward, were humorous and heart wrenching. His book is on my “To Read” list.

Charles Schoenfeld

Charles Schoenfeld

016 croppedI was to read from my newest book, Riding for Love, but felt reading a romance was not appropriate for middle school students, so I read excerpts from A Jump Into the Past, which is a history book I wrote about our small town. I hoped the students and the audience would learn something about the beginnings of our fair burg.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening. I sincerely hope the parents have the Creative Café again next year. Maybe more of the community will come and see our talented students putting themselves on stage and performing for a crowd. I know I plan on attending next year.

Charles, Me, Amelia

Charles, Me, Amelia

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Filed under Book Signings, Reading, Reflection, Speeches, Writing