In Review: a Decade of New Direction

Wow! What a decade!

As I pondered a New Year’s post last night, it occurred to me that my entire career as a fiction writer has happened in this decade. My first novel, Unexpected Legacy, hit the market in January 2013. For me, the decade began in flux as I left a 21-year corporate position that, over the years, included a combination of writing and art direction.

It took a while, but I finally decided to try my hand at fiction and put on paper a few story ideas that had been bouncing around in my head for several years. I spent the first couple of years of the 2010s learning the craft of fiction writing, working with other aspiring authors, attending writing groups and conferences, and attempting to understand the publishing industry, which for the entire decade has been in a state of change. Have to say, it’s been a challenge to bull’s eye a moving target!

IMG_6646Happily, I’m ending the decade with seven published books, an essay in an anthology, a new romance in the queue with The Wild Rose Press publishing house, and works in progress that include a women’s fiction story, a general romance, and a Christmas romance.

Though the decade has had its challenging moments, I learned a lot about marketing and social media, and I met some fabulous people! Here’s a shout out to all the industry professionals, especially librarians and bookstore staff, who value and help promote local authors and reader events. Another shout out to the authors, both struggling and on the bestseller lists, who take time to make connections with other authors, to lend a hand (or a Facebook share) to help others succeed.

In 2020, I’m hoping to become a hybrid author – with books published both through the independent route and also the traditional track. I hope for time – time to write all the words and finish works in progress. And I hope for new opportunities and meaningful connections.

On a personal level, it was also a momentous decade. Both kids graduated from college – one also earning an advanced degree. Both are employed in their chosen fields and pretty much paying their own way in the world. They’re happy and healthy, and I feel I can take a mother’s proud bow for a job well done! 🙂

I’m imagining the next ten years will be some of the most exciting years yet – bringing perhaps weddings and grandchildren and more completed and published books! Goals, as usual, include spending quality time with family and friends, a little traveling, and reading more books.

Wishing all my friends, fans and followers peace, good health, and the happiest of new years!

Darlene

What are your hopes or goals as we head into the 2020s?

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Happy-Thanksgiving-2018Whether you call it counting your blessings or having an attitude of gratitude, it’s always good to take time out of our busy schedules to reflect on and give thanks for the good in our lives.

Whether you’re traveling, staying home, gathering with a large group or hunkering in with a good book and throw blanket, I hope this Thanksgiving gives you a cornucopia of good things to celebrate – friends, family, jobs, shelter, and anything else that enriches your life!

Best wishes for a lovely day!

Darlene

Fabulous Fall in the Finger Lakes

The good thing is we had nice weather and were able to be outside enjoying the vineyards, orchards and state parks. But the books I loaded on my Kindle? The contest entries I need to read and judge? Those works-in-progress waiting on my computer? Nah. Didn’t write or read a word!

Fall in central New York was just too pretty!

After checking the weather forecast almost every hour for a few days before we left (yes, it changed by the hour!), we expected some rain and chilly temps. Lucky for us, it… changed!

My husband and daughter and I visited a lot of great places where I could’ve spent all day on a bench with a book. What could be better than a book and a pretty perch on a sunny day with the sound of a waterfall in the background? Had I been alone, that most definitely would’ve happened. Instead, we hopped from one beautiful venue to another for four days. We walked leaf-carpeted paths, hiked alongside stunning waterfalls, and sampled the local cider and wines. And couldn’t stop taking pictures! The colors were amazing.

Hope you enjoy these select few.

 

Happy Fall to all!

Darlene

Presents from Across the Pond!

I didn’t go to London for Wimbledon last week with my husband and my son, but I got some good stuff, anyway.

Remember those souvenir T-shirts that said, “My parents went to wherever and all I got was this T-shirt?” Yeah, my souvenirs are way better than that. I got all three of the items I suggested before they left! 🙂

The English like their tea, right? Me, too! I would’ve fit right in. And I probably wouldn’t have had to carry around my own tea bags or ask if the tea was freshly brewed at all the restaurants like I do in the U.S. of A.

I was happy to learn that in London, the hotels actually cater to tea-drinkers. Instead of a coffee pot for coffee drinkers – and pretty much nothing for those of us who don’t appreciate coffee-flavored tea from water that’s been run through the coffee maker – there was tea service in the rooms!

Too bad I wasn’t there to see that, but it makes me smile, anyway. Can’t wait to try this new-to-me brand. Mango and Earl Grey – mmmmm.

And then there’s the chocolate. They did well. Or, I did well. A chocolate library?! Ha! Two of my favorite things combined. Extra brownie points to the hubs who carried these hefty chocolate bars in his bag through two airport terminals due to flight issues. This little “library” weighs a ton!

Next? A very British silk scarf from a museum there. The lightly printed architectural drawings with bold royal blue and gold border look . . . well, royal!

They had a great time being tourists and taking in the amazing tennis at Wimbledon. While I enjoy watching tennis, I’m not a big fan of lines or “queuing up” as they call it. So I declined. I’m happy they had a fabulous father/son experience. And I appreciate they took the time to think of me while they were at it!

If you’re vacationing this summer, happy travels!

What’s your all-time best souvenir?

Darlene

 

Just a Little Flower Power

Last week, I took a road trip that wound through nine states plus a chunk of Canada, passed by four of the Great Lakes, and included a visit to Holland, Michigan — apparently the tulip capital of the U.S. I’d never been there before, and wasn’t sure what to expect from the little town that boasted of its tulips and quaint features.

Turns out, it was a charming town and the tulips were fantastic. So was our timing. My sister and I arrived just a few days after the annual tulip festival. The crowds were gone, but the tulips still put on a stunning show and offered plenty of photo opportunities.

We had a fun day (our only sunny one of the entire trip) walking through the town square shops, visiting the farmer’s market and strolling through rows and rows of gorgeous, colorful tulips. I must’ve taken hundreds of pictures. Couldn’t help myself. So many bright, cheery blooms! They still make me smile!

Enjoy!

Darlene

What’s blooming in your world?

Couples that Capture your Heart

When my kids were in elementary school one of the popular Valentine party games was a matching game. Room moms cut large paper hearts, then cut them in half and wrote the names of popular “couples” on each half . . . Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast, Hans Solo and Princess Leia, etc. The idea was for the kids to find their match.

It was just a fun way to pass some time during the classroom Valentine party. But it reminds me how fictional couples capture our hearts. So much so, that some book and movie couples become legend.

c0e3b31cedf0ae427b4600e905234257One of my favorite couples goes way back to childhood reading – Loved reading about the budding romance between Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder and their eventual marriage. A couple of other favorites: Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy (of course), and Matt and Meredith from Judith McNaught’s novel “Paradise.” Movies also are a source of some of the greatest romances. A few that come to mind: Rose and Jack from Titanic, Sally and Harry, When Harry Met Sally, Ian and Toulah in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s have some fun. Everyone share your favorite couples!

Authors, take a few lines to introduce us to your “couple” characters. I’ll go first:

Darlene

From my novel “Unexpected Legacy,” fiction with romantic elements: Matt Dalton is about to meet his 16-year-old son for the first time. Kate Austen is an interim high school principal fighting to make her mark in a man’s world. Sparks fly when the two clash over the best approach to Matt’s son’s recovery given the recent tragedy in his life. Unexpected Legacy

Theresa Hupp’s latest novel, Forever Mine: Love Along the Oregon Trail, is the story of Esther and Daniel, who are emigrating with their families in a wagon train to Oregon in 1847. Esther and Daniel fall in love, but what chance does their romance have, when their fathers argue at every turn of the trail and their travels bring only danger, disease, and death? https://www.amazon.com/Forever-Mine-Along-Oregon-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0797F39SL

In Joyce Ann Brown‘s cozy mystery series, Beth and husband Arnie don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to Beth’s sleuthing, even when their “Psycho Cat” noses out clues. Arnie wants to stay clear of detecting. But he’s there for Beth when it counts.

When I was young I watched Roy Rogers and Dale Evans on a black and white tube TV and fell in love with the “singing cowboys/girls.” Today, as a writer of suspense and time travel, I’ve logged a number of characters. My first novel, Return of the French Blue, features Catalina Syrah and Nicholas Bonhomme. The story takes place in the California Wine Country, and the beautiful coast of southern France. Pit two strong spies against each other who desperately want to retrieve the legendary French Blue diamond—and you have the makings of a suspense-packed novel. The settings couldn’t be more beautiful, and the characters—oh my! I still see them in my dreams.  Please indulge at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008BDBKTS     Pamela B. Eglinski

Scroll through the comments below to discover other fave couples!

Surviving restaurant week . . .

It’s restaurant week in Kansas City. Or, as my husband and I refer to it, “Amateur Week.” Neither of us is much of a cook. We don’t enjoy the process, and just don’t have a flair for it. So we eat out a lot. And when restaurant week comes around, it messes up our rhythm. Our usual places are busier than normal and some dispense with their regular menus, instead offering only a pre-set, fixed price three- or four-course meal. For me and my husband, who often split an entree and add sides, the price increase is pretty significant.

But worse, restaurant week means forced cooking — a stock-up trip to the grocery store and an attempt to feed ourselves at home. For seven days!! I’ve used my crock pot twice this week – pretty sure that’s a record. So far, I’ve made pulled pork, chicken and noodles, chili, and lemon-pepper baked chicken. Spaghetti is in the line-up for the weekend, and maybe a breakfast-for-dinner option or baked potatoes. Nothing fancy, that’s for sure!

This year, there’s actually a silver lining. Restaurant week just happened to coincide with a big snowstorm. This is a happy thing! I can escape the winter weather during a time when I was going to stay home and cook anyway! Hooray! Spaghetti is in the line-up and maybe a breakfast-for-dinner option or baked potatoes. Nothing fancy, that’s for sure!

Okay, I’ll mention that I did one time get what I consider amazing praise for my cooking. I had my daughter’s group of friends over for a baked-potato bar during senior year when they were allowed to go off-site for lunch. I was completely shocked to read that one of the girls had written in my daughter’s yearbook, “Your mom’s baked potatoes are da bomb!” I am not making this up! Haha! Who writes something like that in a yearbook? Must’ve made an impression, right?!

Anyway, I think we’ll survive, but I’m really glad it’s only one week!

Do you enjoy cooking? What are your easy go-to meals?

Darlene