Sunday, January 26, 2014

Author Spotlight - Jenny Sherwin

Recently I joined the Rave Reviews Book Club. One of the goals of the club is to give exposure to the books of member authors. I am pleased to participate in the first feature for author Jenny Sherwin. I'll let you hear from Jenny herself...
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I want to thank the Members of the Board of the Rave Reviews Book Club for this incredible opportunity to be featured as the club's first “Spotlight” Author. You've all done a great deal of work to make this club a reality. To Nonnie Jules, Founder and President, thank you for founding the club and giving authors a place to hang their hats among friends. I am also grateful to my longtime friend Kathy Treat, Membership Director, for inviting me to join. Marketing and promotion are challenges for the first-time author. Being selected as the “Spotlight” Author, who receives marketing and promotion to the social media outlets as well as to print media, is truly a gift from heaven. Last, but not least at all, I send a special thank you to all the bloggers who agreed to host me on their site. I am truly grateful.

I have always loved to read, so it was natural for me to pursue a career where I could share my love of reading with others, which I did as a teacher of English. I liked writing, too, but it took years to hone my craft. I was fortunate to have wonderful mentors. One, in particular, at Random House, the trade publishing company in New York City, literally taught me how to think about writing, always holding the reader in mind and using that focus to sharpen the clarity of my text. My experience at Random House opened the door to a career in public health consulting. Working in a busy editorial office on publications for many clients, each with specific needs, gave me the perfect opportunity to gain experience writing or editing books, papers, and articles targeting different audiences at varying reading levels. As a service to all of the writers and editors who might be reading this blog, I'd like to pass along the names of the manuals that I've used throughout my career with links to their Amazon pages. They include the Chicago Manual of StyleWords into TypeNew Hart's RulesFowler's Modern English Usage, and Scientific Style and Format.


Now to my book: In Intentional HealingI tell the story of my transformation from a Western-educated woman who worked as a writer and editor in the field of public health, to a woman who awakened  to a more Eastern-oriented way of thinking that included a de-emphasis on the individual and ego and an emphasis on collective consciousness and the soul. After bizarre symptoms upended my life, I sought help from Western medicine. No one I consulted could explain what was happening to me. No one, that is, until I met diagnostic detective, Dr. Leo Galland, who tied my symptoms to environmental illness and referred me to a pioneer in environmental medicine, Dr. William J. Rea, in Dallas, Texas, founder of the Environmental Health Center-Dallas. While at the EHC-D, I was introduced to the view held by doctors of environmental medicine that many chronic illnesses are triggered by environmental toxins. During treatment, I unmasked (or became aware of a sensitivity I had not recognized before) for sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. Dr. Rea referred me to Deborah Singleton, founder and director of “A Healing Place, and her energy healing team. Energy balancing helped me respond to the treatment program at Dr. Rea's clinic. With Deborah's guidance I began the process of expanding my consciousness and understanding the real roots of illness. My journey, which included initiation into Reiki channeling and healing from Navajo hataali, took me from dark nights of the soul to a new way of thinking about illness.

Jennie Sherwin, author and editor


Thursday, January 23, 2014

When characters won't cooperate...

This is my idea of Charles Stafford, the twin brother of Marc Stafford from A Woman's Worth. Does he look like a troublemaker to you?

Well, yesterday, during what turned out to be an unprofitable afternoon of working on Till You Come Back to Me,

Charles told me he wasn't going to move to Nigeria. That probably doesn't sound like anything major to you, but it really screwed with my plans for him and Adanna.

Without giving too much of the story away, let me explain my writing process. I'm a plotter and can't function with some kind of outline before I start writing. When I created the original outline for the story, I had a plan in mind that would take Charles on a certain path. In my mind it worked out well, but yesterday afternoon he told me he wasn't having it.

Those of you who aren't writers might think that sounds ridiculous. After all, I am the author, and it's up to me to make the characters do what I tell them, right? Well, those of you who are writers know that it doesn't always go so smoothly. Charles has another plan, and after I listened to what he had to say (sounds crazy, I know), it made much more sense to where the story needs to go. And his plan also flows better with his family history.

Adanna, the heroine will be the catalyst behind his decision, and her reasoning will take the story in a better direction. 

After nine books, I've finally learned that I am the driver on these literary journeys, but my characters are the GPS. They know where they want to go, and it's up to me to get them there. This story is taking me longer than I anticipated to finish, which should not be a big surprise to me. I'm always running behind when it comes to my envisioned release date. After the last release fiasco, I concluded that I won't announce a release date until the book has gone to my editor. Until then I'll just say, "Coming soon."

Let's see how things go today...

Writers, has this ever happened to you? How do you handle it?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Writer Wednesday - New Release by Bettye Griffin

Today my very special guest is author Bettye Griffin. I've had the privilege of learning a lot from Bettye, and our online friendship has been a blessing to me. She has a new novel entitled Secrets & Sins, and she's introducing the characters in blog tour. If you’d like to get the full schedule of where Bettye’s characters are visiting this week, please check her blog.

In this sweeping, 115K-word novel, Bettye Griffin introduces readers to the Cheeks family of Zion, Illinois: Eldest daughter Faye, whose placid, orderly life is about to be disrupted in a way she never could have imagined...middle child and only son Scott, who brings new meaning to the phrase 'midlife crisis'...and youngest daughter Robin, who is divorced from but not exactly rid of her former spouse.

At the center of the story is their mother, Julia Scott Cheeks, who along with her devoted husband Melvin, has tried to keep two scandalous family secrets hidden and has been successful for 55 years...but when Robin mentions the name of the former classmate she has a romantic interest in, Julia fears that the events she has tried so hard and for so long to keep her children from knowing are in danger of being exposed...

Bettye would love to give a complimentary download of Secrets & Sins to a reader. To be eligible, all you have to do is leave a comment before midnight Central Time today.There must be at least two comments left for an eBook to be given away, if there is only one there will be no prize. Bettye will post the name of the winner tomorrow morning, so please check back, for she will need to hear from the winner.

And now, today’s character sketch:


Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, January 2010

Hi! My name is Robin Cheeks Barkley. I was born in Waukegan, Illinois, on March 12, 1962, the youngest of three children. I grew up in Zion, which is about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. My parents both worked as teachers, and my sister and brother and I were cared for at home by our maternal grandmother, who lived with us. She was deaf, and that had a lot to do with my decision to become an audiologist. Grandma was a very dour woman, and I can count my telling her my career ambitions as one of the few times I ever saw her smile.
In 1989, when I was 27, I married Avaughn Barkley. Avaughn is also from Zion, and while we knew each other casually from school, ours wasn’t one of those high school romances. We didn’t start dating until I was 26. At the time we were both living in Chicago. I had graduated with my doctorate in audiology and was doing clinical practice at the Loyola University Medical Center. Avaughn, two years older with a degree in finance, was already working at an investment house in The Loop. It was a whirlwind romance, and I moved into his apartment in Rogers Park. He proposed after six months of living together, and neither of us wanted to wait, so with help from my mother and sister, we put together a simple but elegant ceremony and reception at the Kenosha Public Museum. The ceremony was held in front of a twenty-foot windowed wall that looked out on Lake Michigan. It was lovely.

Avaughn and I lived in Rogers Park for seven more years, until we bought our house in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, a village of 20,000 with Lake Michigan as its eastern border. It’s a beautiful house, and we made it that way. Originally built in the 1970s, it was a relic to the era, with yellow kitchen appliances, shag carpet, and bathrooms done in pastel pink and blue. But the façade was attractive, and it was on the same side of the street as the lake and had a beach behind it. We saw its potential through the dated décor and did a complete remodel of the kitchen and updated the baths. We tore up the carpeting and had it replaced with hardwood. Everyone said that five bedrooms was way too many for two people, but no one said it wasn’t gorgeous. Besides, at the time I still held out hope that…

Avaughn and I started trying to start a family after we’d been married for three years. By then, our careers were on track, and we knew we could provide our children with tons of love and, because we had a good income, all the extras.

I started to worry when six months passed and nothing happened. We both went for workups, and we learned I was the one preventing us from becoming parents. I’d always had female problems, suffering from heavy flows and severe cramps, plus I had recurrent yeast infections. But what did me in was tubal scarring, probably as a result of a ruptured appendix I’d had in college. I began a workup that included having fibroid tumors removed, getting dye injected into my tubes, and a procedure called ZIFT that cost a fortune and wasn’t covered by insurance. Avaughn used to joke that he was going to nickname our child the $100,000 baby.

When it was suggested that we try alternate means of parenthood (i.e. adoption), all the jokes stopped. I sank into a deep depression, one that even our beautiful new house wasn’t enough to pull me out of. Avaughn was honest when he said he couldn’t look upon a child not of his blood as his own. He probably thought he was being equally honest when he reassured me it didn’t matter if it was always just the two of us, but you can never lie to yourself. 
At the time I thought we’d settled into a just-the-two-of-us lifestyle. It’s true that infertility has cast a shadow over my life, but once I turned 40 I pretty much put it behind me, acknowledging that my time had passed. I had a good life, and I knew it.

They say a woman can always tell when something’s amiss in her marriage, but I honestly had no idea. I had long since switched to treating hearing and balance problems at a clinic in Racine, but Avaughn continued working in the city, and it wasn’t unusual for him to work late. Since service on the Union Pacific North line usually ends in Waukegan on off hours, if he missed the 6:30 train, he had to wait three hours until 9:30, which didn’t get him home until after 11PM. This usually happened at least once a week, occasionally twice. I didn’t know he was having an affair with an administrative assistant at work until one morning we were making love and he called me by her name. I’d suggest that any woman who wants to know if her husband is cheating lay some nookie on him first thing in the morning, before he’s fully awake, and see if he makes a verbal slip.

Anyway, nearly nineteen years of marriage got tossed out with the garbage that day. Avaughn’s girlfriend moved up to Kenosha to be closer to him. That wasn’t a surprise, but what damn near tore me to pieces was when I found out they were having a baby. Avaughn Barkley is going to be a daddy at 50 years old, while I’d go to my grave childless.

As for me, after the divorce I went headlong into an affair with the son of family friends. He was about a dozen years younger than me, and I’m proud to say I wore him out. It was short, wasn’t particularly sweet, but very sexy. There’s been no one since, and sometimes I wonder if there ever will be. Not because I’m carrying a torch for Avaughn—heaven forbid—but because there just aren’t a lot of available men my age, and certainly not here in Pleasant Prairie. I’m already dreading my high school reunion in May, and I’m thinking about not even going. All my former classmates know that Avaughn and I are divorced and that his girlfriend is pregnant. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what went wrong between us.

Even if I were to meet someone, it would be awfully hard to carry on a relationship. You see, Avaughn and I are legally divorced and have been for over a year now, but our house, that beautiful house I so lovingly remodeled and decorated until it was show-room perfect, the one everyone said was too large for us, is holding us captive. It’s a bad market, and…well, let me put it this way…

Anyone looking to buy a house so Avaughn and I can finally stop living under the same damn roof?

Read more about Robin in Secrets & Sins, out now! Kindle owners can get it at Amazon or at Bettye’s eStore. Readers needing EPUB or PDF formats can get theirs from Bettye’s eStore, where eBooks always cost less, usually $1.

You can always whet your appetite by getting the FREE download of the prequel, Sinner Man, which is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at Bettye’s eStore.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Goals, resolutions, decisions, oh, my!

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to my first blog entry of 2014.

Since just about every author in blogosphere is talking about their goals and plans for this New Year, I figured I’d do the same. This year I only have one goal. I know that sounds peculiar, but I’ve learned a lot about myself during 2013. I’ll share those things in a moment, but my one goal is this – to work in a way that is pleasing to me and doesn’t cause me undue stress.

If you are a borderline Type A personality like me, you tend to put more pressure on yourself than is necessary. Often I hear writers saying they have trouble getting started working. I have trouble stopping, and that's not a good thing. When I set a release date, and I’ve announced it to readers, I HATE having to change it because I couldn’t meet my own deadlines. That has only happened once, but it was totally embarrassing.
Part of this decision involves my self-imposed work schedule. In three and a half years I’ve released eight books, and between writing, revisions, editing, marketing/promotion, and necessary social networking, etc., I have usually worked seven days a week. Most of those seven days, hubby has been asleep for hours, yet I’m still sitting up in bed on the laptop until I’m so tired my eyes just close of their own accord. Don’t get me wrong, I could write (create) every day of my life, but most this isn’t even writing. So, during the Christmas holiday, when I didn’t feel like working, I didn’t. Then I caught some kind of bug from one of the grandkids on Christmas Day. Since I wasn’t feeling up to par, I slacked off my author responsibilities.  To tell you the truth, I kind of enjoyed staying in bed and reading someone else’s fiction. Any multi-published author will tell you that you CAN get sick of reading your own stuff over and over and over…
I realize that easing up on my work ethic will most likely result in my becoming less productive, but then again it might result in my becoming more productive because I’ll be in better condition mentally and physically. In September I released the first book in my Stafford brothers series. Right now I am halfway through the second book. Unrelated to this series, there are two novels and two novellas in the dusty archives of my hard drive that I wrote years ago begging to be resurrected.

We’ll see what happens….

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What a way to start the New Year!

I woke up this morning to find this! I am so honored. Thank you UBAWA's Bestsellers!

UBAWA'S Top 100 Books of 2013 #84: A Woman's Worth by Chicki Brown