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!


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

Sing Me a Story

CDsStories. Some writers can draw a reader in with just a short novella. Others require a saga. I’m pretty much in the full novel category. I like multiple plot lines woven through my books, and depth in my characters, so it takes me about 95,000 words to craft a novel.

But some people can draw you into a story in less than two minutes. Songwriters.

It occurred to me yesterday when I heard Harry Chapin’s song Taxi while driving in my car that some amazing stories can be told in a very short amount of time.

While I considered that, I also realized that I’ve always been drawn to songs with a story. I listen to lyrics. I love Bruce Springsteen. He’s a master story singer. Think My Home Town, Brilliant Disguise and The River. Deep, emotional and poignant tales that resonate and stick with me – and lots of other people, obviously.

The song Taxi is a classic example. That song says so much, but it’s not short on detail. Not only do we clearly understand where both Harry and Sue are in the present, we know Sue’s address, what she was wearing, and their backstory! Chapin did it again and again with songs like Cat’s in the Cradle and Sequel to Taxi. In fact, every song on his Greatest Hits CD tells a story.

One of my all-time favorite songs is Faithfully by Journey. It’s a snippet, just a quick glimpse into a couple’s lives. Somehow, in just a few lines, the music and the words combine to draw me in and evoke an emotional response. Other stories-as-songs that come to mind are The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot, Lyin’ Eyes by the Eagles, The Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams, and It’s All Coming Back to Me Now by Celine Dion. I know, I’m showing my age here. A newer one that comes to mind is Nickelback’s Photograph. It paints such a vivid picture in just a few lines. Don’t you want to know what the hell is on Joey’s head?!

Of course songs have the benefit of additional elements – musical instruments, repetition and rhyme to engage us. Books have only words to build interest and evoke emotion. Not sure whether stories as songs can offer any tips or wisdom to novel writers, but it’s something to think about, especially when it comes time to craft that back blurb or elevator pitch.

I know there are hundreds of others. Too many to list. But I’d love to know some of your favorite stories as songs. Please share!

Give me sun, not snow!

snowmanWell, it’s January, it’s freezing cold, there’s snow covering the yard, and I haven’t written about winter yet. I guess it’s time.

I hate winter. I seriously despise snow. I don’t like to be cold. The cold immobilizes me. All I want to do is curl up inside a blanket and stay warm. That’s not conducive to writing, to getting the housework or laundry done, or anything, except maybe reading. I like to read. But, somehow, it doesn’t work out for me to curl up and read all day on every cold day of the winter!

Sure, the snow can be pretty. I have indeed taken pictures of snow and ice glistening from trees, a bright red cardinal against the white wonderland, the buried patio furniture, etc. I know it’s great for sledding and skiing, fun activities for kids and adults. Yes, I have pictures to prove that I was a good mom – we built snowmen in the yard, and I took my kids to a local slope for this wintry exhilaration when they were young.

But I’ve also seen injuries occur from people shoveling snow and falling on slippery sidewalks. Last year two young adults died at two different universities (that I know of) from exposure on frigid winter nights. People die in car accidents on slick roads. Property ruined and lives ravaged. Because of snow and cold. That makes me sad. Of course there are dangers lurking everywhere, but winter adds another element of worry. Yesterday one of my kids flew through a snow storm in New York. Two days ago I drove to Ohio with the other one so that he could have his car at college — his first winter there with his car. Why did both of them end up in cold, snowy climates?! Those brochures from Florida schools and the University of Hawaii are looking awfully sweet right about now.

These days I find myself dreaming of a winter home in Palm Springs. I’m pinning and posting photos of summer on social media. Counting the weeks until spring break. Looking forward to warm temps and sunny days!

On a positive note, I had stocked the freezer/fridge this week in preparation for “Restaurant” week around here. We eat out a lot, and this week is actually a huge inconvenience. Too many people, long waits, “special” menus, etc. So, we’d planned to eat at home as much as possible. The timing is good. It’s bitterly cold, and I don’t want to leave the house! Hopefully, by the time Restaurant week is over, it will be warmer, and we can venture out again.

I’ve been typing for a while now. So my exposed fingers are chilled, and my cup of tea has turned tepid. Time for a warm-up. For the next couple of minutes my hands are going under the keyboard — thawing in the warmth of the computer!

Hope you all are staying warm and cozy. But if snow is your thing – enjoy! And stay safe!

So . . . snow. Love it or hate it?





What’s the ‘right’ way?

P1050861So here’s my pet peeve – I mean public service offering – for the day. As a writer with a degree in journalism, I do some kind of auto-cringe thing when I see misspelled words and incorrect word usage (as in your when it should be you’re or it’s when it should be its) in a written piece that’s being distributed in public. I can’t help it. When I was in J-school, the Associated Press Stylebook was The Bible. We studied it, memorized it, lived by it.
As an author, I still use it today. Of course I still have my trusty Webster’s dictionary, and Strunk & White’s Elements of Style, along with a smattering of other editing books and style guides.
Mistakes happen. We all know that. And they are a hundred percent easier to spot once they’re distributed, or in print. That’s a given.

My issue today is the fierceness with which some people cling to an incorrect usage. It’s as if they’ve seen something spelled incorrectly (think alot) for so long, that they bought into it, and now insist that it become a legitimate “form” of the word!
I recently offered a polite correction on a Facebook feed because I genuinely do want to help other writers when I can. Well, let’s just say my efforts weren’t appreciated.

But for the record, here’s how you spell that word that starts with an A when you want to thank or acknowledge the people who helped you with your book:
There’s no E after the G. I double-checked the AP Stylebook. Now some dictionaries may have acquiesced to the “other acceptable forms” concept, but I also went and looked inside several books on my shelves published by famous authors. Guess what? Anthony Doerr, Nora Roberts, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Jodi Picoult, Jan Karon, Rebecca Wells, Nora Ephron, and more all spell acknowledgments the same way – without the extra E.
Perhaps acknowledgments is the preferred way of spelling the word.
Just a friendly FYI! 🙂

Happy reading and writing!

Survive and Thrive . . . novels for women

Hello, friends!
As I mentioned last week, I’ve met so many interesting people in the world of writing and publishing. To me, it’s always fun to meet new authors, and learn about their journey. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Charmaine Gordon, author of women’s fiction and romance, and her newest work, When Double Becomes Single Again. Welcome, Charmaine!

Charmaine -10 sATURATED_pp8x10g-72y
Thanks for inviting me to your blog today. As strangers we are starting from scratch and that’s often a good thing. If we were in a bar, we might say “Come here often?” but no we’re in outer space, both authors who write about women who survive and thrive. If you don’t survive, you’re in big trouble and yet many women are too weak to stand up and make a life for themselves after a drastic situation has happened. I’ve been there and it’s a scramble to put on make-up, dress well, go to work and keep your head up. I recall when my first husband died suddenly, the psychologists on the radio talked about men liking younger women. I looked in the rear view mirror to see an attractive woman-ME-and decided I was okay and not to worry. A year later, I married a sweet guy and we’re happy together. At 84 that’s a stretch.

I often wonder where a story comes from. For me. I sleep write and stories blossom but in the case of When Double becomes Single, this story is part of my real life-at least the beginning. I cried a lot and eased up as the heroine learned to become single after being married about thirty five years. She talks to him at night the way many widows do, her dogs keep her company and she works the business they started when they were young. Eventually she blossoms. That’s where my heart sings. And not to worry, there is an HEA.

Excerpt: When Double Becomes Single Again

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The touch of her husband’s lips on hers warmed Sharon Michaels all the way home from the hospital. Remembering his whispered I love you before she left released a cascade of tears. She groped in her bag for a tissue, found none and used the sleeve of her good winter coat as a blotter. Mac would fix Barry. Their favorite doctor always knew the magical potion to apply. Even when Fred, their difficult teenager now in his thirties, started using marijuana and refused to stop, Mac knew what to do. Tough Love was the prescription. No driver’s license and other privileges allowed until he straightened out. So Barry’s bad cough should be easy like the croup. Hmm. Fred still held a grudge against us. Get home and go to sleep.

Exhausted after hours visiting with her husband at Community Hospital in Suffern, New York, Sharon stripped and pulled on flannel pajamas. Too tired to shower, she brushed her teeth, washed her face and slipped under the comforter on this chilly night. The phone rang. She picked it up. Mac Bloom, the family doctor said something she couldn’t quite hear.

“Crisis? Is that what you said? What do you mean crisis? I left him at the hospital about an hour ago. We kissed and said I love you the way we’ve always done for thirty six years.”

Their doctor for many a long time sighed. She heard urgency and sadness in his voice. “Sharon, is anyone at home with you?”

About Charmaine . . .
Charmaine Gordon writes books about women who Survive and Thrive. Her motto is take one step and then another to leave your past behind and begin again. Six books and several short stories in three years, she’s always at work on the next story. The books include To Be Continued, Starting Over, Now What?, Reconstructing Charlie, Sin of Omission and The Catch, and her series of Mature Romances, The Beginning…Not the End, including the stand alone novellas, She Didn’t Say No and Farewell, Hello and her most recent series, River’s Edge Stories where the town motto is Kindness to Strangers.

“I didn’t realize at the time while working as an actor in NYC, I’d become a sponge soaking up dialogue, setting, and stage directions. I learned many tools of writing during the years watching directors like Mike Nichols and actors including Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, and Billy Crystal. And would you believe, I was Geraldine Ferraro’s stand-in leg model, my first job giving me entrée into all the Unions needed to work. When the sweet time ended, I began another career and creative juices flowed.”

Where to find Charmaine…

Purchase on Amazon

A rainbow of roses

sb2015_198I don’t consciously try to put something about myself in my books, but in my upcoming contemporary romance release, Her Greatest Risk, the heroine does share my taste in roses – yellow is our fave.

Yellow happens to be my favorite color, so I suppose that I like yellow roses is no surprise. To me, they are the cheeriest of roses – and flowers in general. Summer is my favorite season. I love bright, sunny days. And yellow is the color of sunshine! (Yeah, I think there’s a pattern.)

When I decided that Jennifer should prefer yellow roses also, it got me to thinking about the official “meaning” of various rose colors, so I did a little research. Compiled from a number of online sources, the general consensus seems to be:

Red: love, romance
Yellow: friendship, delight
Light pink: grace, warmth, appreciation
Bright pink: gratitude, admiration
Peach: cheer, modesty
Lavender: enchantment, splendor, love at first sight
White: purity, honor, everlasting love, sympathy
Orange: passion, pride, enthusiasm

Peach comes in a close second in my line-up, but I have to say, I wouldn’t object to receiving roses in any of these lovely colors! 🙂

Images to Tell Your Story

pinterest-icon-logo-D4965B6748-seeklogo.comSo, I’m pinning now. You know what pinning is, yes? It’s right up there with texting and googling – new words for new phenomena of our time. I resisted Pinterest for a couple of years because I knew it would suck me in. And it has.
Can’t say I understand it all yet – why some pins have conversations and comments, why you can message some people and not others, how some boards become ‘community’ boards, etc. But I’m plodding along, discovering as I go.

So far, I’ve managed to set up 27 boards in just a week or so. The more I peruse the site, the more potential boards I think of. Have to say it feels a little narcissistic – lots of people have boards titled ‘My Style,’ ‘My Wishlist,’ ‘My Funny Bone,’ etc. – and that’s part of the fun. It’s your personal catalog, a picture book all about you and what you like! It’s a library and a shelving system and a cyber file cabinet. Kind of cool, actually. For me, it’s a little bit marketing, a little bit catalog shopping, and just plain fun.

I’m finding the site inspirational from a writing standpoint. Not just for ‘words of wisdom’ but for potential book settings and architectural features, details that I might want to weave into a setting or character description sometime. I’m also finding ways to visualize my books. I’ve found images for Dana’s lost ring, and Megan’s farmhouse, and Claire’s lemon bar recipe. I’m hoping these boards will give readers a little more insight into my books’ settings and characters – to really bring them to life, and perhaps spark more interest in them.

Too early to tell whether it will ever translate to additional book sales, but I’m connecting with people – like-minded people who love books, and bookish things, who enjoy a good cup of tea and many other things I do, including decorating sugar cookies. (Boy, has the site raised the bar on that one for me!) People who I’ve never met are liking and re-pinning my pins – people who before had probably never heard of author Darlene Deluca. And that’s a good thing.

Come join me!

Find me on Pinterest

At the Scene of the Crime

money bagThe other day there was a thread going around on Facebook that asked authors to share a unique event in their life, some little tidbit that had happened to them that was noteworthy and out of the ordinary. Well, I lead a rather ordinary life that goes along in a pretty normal trajectory. I couldn’t think of anything to add offhand, so I moved on.
But yesterday I was in the bank conducting several transactions, and recalled that a couple of years ago in that same bank, I was part of a real live robbery! Ha! Surely that’s pretty unusual. Have you ever been in a bank robbery?

It was an interesting experience. I was sitting at a desk getting some papers notarized so that my son could participate in some trip or activity. I saw the guy enter the bank, and I remember noticing him and thinking, “why is he wearing that heavy coat?” It was a mild day that only called for a light jacket – not a bulky winter coat. Well, I didn’t jump to the conclusion that he must be a robber hiding a gun under that coat. I mean, really, who does that? Here I was in the small branch location of my local bank in my safe little suburb.
So the guy walks up to the teller, and at this point his back is to me, but I swing around and look when he starts barking at the teller. Clearly he has an issue. Did I think, uh-oh, this guy is a robber, this guy is pointing a gun at the teller? No, indeed. I’m sitting there thinking, “what is this guy’s problem?”!!

I exchange a what-the-heck glance with the gal helping me, but we continue with our business transaction. A couple of minutes later, the guy looks around. Yes, makes eye contact with us, then moseys on out the door. At this point, the bank employee in the next office leaps from her chair, dashes across the lobby and locks the doors, then breathlessly exclaims, “we’ve been robbed!”
Um, yeah, a little light bulb suddenly flashes in my head. Yikes! I’d just witnessed a bank robbery – could potentially have been in danger had things gone badly. I’d seen the clues, but failed to make the connection. As it happens, I was the only customer in the bank at the time.
Here’s a little fact I didn’t know about a robbery: No one can leave the scene until the FBI arrive. Yep, I was trapped in the bank. Why? Because I could have been an accomplice in there as a ploy to distract the bank personnel during the heist. Really.

So, they close everything down, call the police, and the FBI, and the main branch, and in only a few minutes, the place is swarming with people. Have to say it was a little spooky to be questioned by the police and FBI agents. And what was really interesting was trying to recall all the details about the guy and what had happened. It’s amazing what can escape you when you aren’t consciously paying attention. I gave my statement, and after about forty minutes was allowed to leave, luckily still in time to pick the kid up from school. Of course I repeated the story multiple times that day, as others were in awe. My son’s friends were particularly keen to hear the details. For a bit, I was practically a celebrity! 🙂 And I think I’ll be forever known at the bank – the customer who witnessed the robbery!

Oh, for a crystal ball!

crystal ballI’m about ready to finish up a new contemporary romance. It’s always fun to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s also a challenging part of the writing process – figuring out if the story is really “done,” and then moving on to the agony of writing an intriguing cover blurb, choosing an eye-catching title, and creating an appealing cover.
But while that story is being scrutinized by critique partners and beta readers, I’m looking ahead to what’s next. I probably have ten stories in various stages of development – everything from a basic concept to a solid 75,000 words. Some are romance, some are general fiction, some women’s fiction, and one or two are actually non-fiction. The dilemma is, I want to write them all! Unfortunately, time demands that I choose.
Oh, for a crystal ball. Which concept is strongest? Which is most likely to strike a chord with readers or find its way to an influencer? And significantly, which one will come together most organically with words and ideas flowing as I sit at my computer?
My most recent published work is a women’s fiction, and I’m committed to a third book in that series. Charge ahead with that or take a break? The novel that’s attracting the most attention right now is my contemporary romance Something Good that was published last year. Keep the momentum going, and follow up with something similar to appeal to that same audience?
Last night, I sat down and read through several of the manuscripts I’ve started, and have to say, I feel pretty good about all of them. I can see potential in the stories and characters. I can see tension and conflict, and developing relationships. On one hand, that’s exciting because I know I can keep at this. On the other hand, it’s frightening and immobilizing because I can see about ten years’ worth of work waiting to be done!
My solution? Take a break. Go do something else, and hope that inspiration will strike, as usual, when I’m working in the yard or cleaning the house. Hoping that some of those characters will whisper in my ear and nudge me in the right direction! 🙂