The Writer's Life

Painting Lessons
Painting Lessons

I’ve spent a lot of time these past couple of weeks getting ready for my book signing at The Frugal Muse and Music bookstore, which is a week from today! In case you haven’t already marked it on your calendars, it’s: Wednesday, Jan. 29th, 7 to 9 pm, at the Frugal Muse, 75th & Lemont Rd., Darien, southeast corner, in a small shopping center. There are 5 authors: Kate Gingold, Dennis Baritzal, myself, Angela Holtz, and Karen Sjoblom, who between us have published books in a variety of genres. We’ll each be speaking briefly about our writing, and Joe Eddy Brown will entertain us with his music. There’ll be plenty of opportunity to speak with each of us individually, and don’t forget–refreshments! So do plan on coming for a fun evening.

When I first began publishing, I had no idea how much work it would be to get out in front and let people know about it. Except for a fortunate few, the days of turning over a manuscript to a publisher and letting them take it from there while you brush off your hands and get to work on your next opus are over. But on the plus side, it’s a lot of fun participating in these events, finding new author friends as well as new readers. A whole new career emerges! Who knew?

Balancing Act

I like to read Heidi Stevens’ column in the Chicago Tribune she titles “Balancing Act.” She writes about the difficulty of managing to make good parenting decisions, pursue a career as a journalist, and balance both of those major areas with the rest of her life. I totally sympathize with her problem, as I’m sure most of us can.

No matter what I’m doing, I always feel like I should really be doing something else. If I’m writing, I should be painting. If I’m painting, I should be practicing the piano. If I’m practicing the piano, I should be working on my book. Of course, this doesn’t even begin to touch on the rest of my life as a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, citizen, etc. I suppose this is a good thing. Still, maybe it would be nice to just sit back and relax in front of the TV once in a while?

Or–maybe not. There’s nothing much on TV, and anyway, at least life lived as an endless teeter-totter isn’t boring!

Turning the Page

I’ve just been working on a sketch of one of my granddaughters from a photo that’s about 18 years old. She was a baby then, bright and smiling and totally gorgeous. She’s still bright and smiling and totally gorgeous, but now she’s a college freshman, looking to the future with confidence, ready to make a difference in her world.

All five of my grandchildren were born at the turn of the century, this new century now entering its third decade. Yet when I think of that term, it conveys an image to me of the turn of the prior century, the period that began more than 100 years ago. For my grandparents, the turn of that century began in Europe and their journeys took them to a world unrecognizable from the one in which they’d started.

I remember my grandmother, Riva. I think of how she came to America in 1921, with two little boys and a teen-age niece, to meet her husband who’d arrived seven years earlier, just as the First World War broke out in Europe. I imagine how terrified and lonely she must have been on that journey, leaving the only home she’d ever known, understanding she could never go back and would never see her loved ones again. Yet she must also have been full of courage in the hope that she could make a new and better life for herself and for her children. She never tired of marveling at her new country. I often heard her exclaim in wonder, “Oy, America!”

I don’t know much of her story. She dropped a few hints here and there, yet basically, the past remained in the past. But I’m the grandmother now, and I remember her with love and I wish I knew more about her life. So I’ve been reading and researching and I’ve decided to fill in the gaps for myself as best I can. In this new year of 2020, I plan to write “Riva’s Journey,” a memoir for someone who’s no longer around to write it for herself.

So as we turn the page into this new decade, may we all be blessed with health and joy, and look forward to the future, while remembering where we came from. Happy New Year!

So How's NaNoWriMo Going?

Well, the goal was to write a 50,000 word draft by today. Am I going to make it? Not unless I can come up with 14,040 words by midnight! Highly unlikely.

But the good news is I’ve written 35,960 words towards “Time Warp: a Love Story,” which is a Mystery/Romance with Paranormal Elements. (That may be a new genre I just made up. ) I’m having a great time with this complicated story, which follows three main characters, Tim, Natalie, and Abby, each operating along separate timelines that coincide at several critical points. It’s quite different from my Bella Sarver Mystery series but at least as equally challenging to write as those four novels were.

So–back to work. Wish me luck!

Whimsy

A definition of “whimsy” is “playfully quaint or fanciful.” I think that aptly describes this collection of small paintings, on display at the Lisle Library now through the end of January. I’ve been having a great time creating them, using the simplest objects around the house or just my imagination as the starting point for designing the various bright and colorful compositions.

The Lisle Library, 777 Front Street, Lisle, will be hosting a reception on Saturday, December 7th, from 2 to 3:30 pm. Refreshments will be offered. So mark your calendars and hope to see many of you there.

So What is NANOWRIMO?

Well, I’ll tell you. NANOWRIMO is National Novel Writing Month, which is November of each year. It’s a national challenge for people who write to draft a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. The first time I participated was about 5 years ago, and the effort resulted in my first published mystery novel, Painting Lessons: a Bella Sarver Mystery (available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions). I had a great time, and the experience reminded me just how much I love to write. Although I didn’t participate in subsequent years, I did keep on writing, and produced 3 additional books in the Bella Sarver Mystery series: Brush With Death, Paint a Murder, and Death on the Danube (all of which are also available on Amazon).

My good friend Elaine convinced me to give NANOWRIMO another try, so I rejoined the local group this year and have very much enjoyed the preparatory workshops, speakers, and exercises that I’ve attended. I even presented one myself, on How to Write a Mystery Novel. But now November is here, and it’s time to try to meet the challenge again.

So–the working title is Time Warp: a Love Story. It’s an outgrowth of a short story I wrote that will soon be published in an anthology. (More about that in another post.) Like Death on the Danube, the story takes place on a river cruise, this time on the Rhine. I’m not exactly sure what genre it’s going to be, but so far it’s a sort of a combination of paranormal/romance/mystery. (Is that an entirely new genre?) I’ve spent the past 10 days coming up with an outline, doing some research, doing time-line maps and –oh, yes. Writing. Will I make the 50K? Watch this space to find out. About 12000 words so far!

Two Events This Week

Friday, Nov. 1st, 7 to 9:30 – Villa Park Library, 305 S. Ardmore, Villa Park

Saturday, Nov. 2nd, 1 to 4:30 pm. 95th Street Library, 95th & Cedar Glade, Naperville.

I’m really looking forward to participating in the two Local Author Events this week. It will be a wonderful opportunity for me to meet some of my fellow authors and for all of us to meet current and future readers. I’ll be signing copies of my newest novel, Death on the Danube, for purchasers ($12 each), as well as copies of the previous three novels in my Bella Sarver Mystery Series: Painting Lessons, Brush With Death, and Paint a Murder ($10 each). It’s going to be fun, so spread the word!

Oops!

Sorry for the confusion. The artist reception at NUHS is this coming Sunday, Oct. 27th, from 3 to 5 pm. National University for Health Sciences is located at Roosevelt and Highland, in Lombard.

Studios 630 Reception 10/17

Join us on Sunday, October 27 for the Studios 630 Fine Art Show Artist Reception, 3 – 5 p.m. at National University of Health Sciences, Roosevelt at Highland, Lombard (Clinic Building B). Refreshments will be served. Come meet the artists and enjoy the exhibit of fine art in the gallery.

Local Author Day Nov. 2nd

What a terrific opportunity for authors and readers to connect with each other! Come check it out!

I’ll be signing copies of my latest book – Death on the Danube: a Bella Sarver Mystery, at $12 (a 20% discount.)