Blog Archives

The Yellow Dress

Easter

If you’ve read either novel in my Knoll Cottage Series, you know I’ve included a bit of mystic. In fact, there may be a ghostie in that sun porch. I do believe there are angels and spirits all around us.
My sister, Pat, died in November.
She was a devout Catholic, and had a magnificent voice. Singing mostly classical religious works was her passion. And she sang in every Catholic Church choir she could.
Pat didn’t worry about my far flung beliefs in many religions. She never doubted me when I told her my cardinal’s message story or other spiritual events in my life. She loved me dearly and I her.
The summer Missing Emily was launched, Pat and her husband came to Cape Cod to attend the book launch party some dear friends gave for me. Pat and I had coordinated our outfits for the party, but it turned out to be a killer hot day. Instead of the lined eyelet dress I’d planned, I wore a deep pink, print sundress. My sister came up the stairs in a bright yellow sleeveless dress. “It was too hot to wear the other one,” she told me. We laughed about both of us changing our minds.
I have a wonderful close-up picture of her in that yellow dress. The expression on her face is pensive, neither happy nor sad. It has an element of listening to something important. Since she was always smiling and laughing, when I saw that intriguing picture, I printed it out and framed it.
Just yesterday, I asked my brother-in-law if I could have that yellow dress. I want to hang it in my closet so she’s with me every day.
And then, this happened.
It was Easter and I hadn’t gone to Mass for some time. Most of our family knew how much Pat loved the church, and wanted us lost souls to return. I couldn’t yet. On the best of days, hymns make me emotional, and I knew if I went to church and heard the music, I would cry. But it was Easter, so my husband and I went to church.
I enjoy watching all the children dressed up in their Easter finery; one little girl with a wide brimmed hat made everyone smile. At one quiet moment, I looked over at a beautiful domestic scene. A Dad was tying the bow on the back of his daughter’s dress. Her dress was bright yellow and sleeveless. Her mother wore a bright yellow, sleeveless dress, also, with a deep pink sweater over her shoulders.
It took me a few seconds to realize, my sister was letting me know she was there. I cried in church!
My Dad died several years ago. I often think of them together in heaven. So you see, the tying of the dress bow was doubly significant.
In case I had any doubt about my sister’s presence, she drove the message home. As we lined up for Communion, two women went before me in bright yellow sweaters. Guess what the female Eucharistic minister was wearing. A bright yellow jacket.
Pat wanted to be sure I got her message. I did dear sister…

A Writer’s Loves her Work

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The most peaceful reading I have found is The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. When I read this quote, it fit completely with my own love of writing, my spirit, so I had to share. Does it speak to you doing what you love?

“And what is it to work with love? . . . .It is to change all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit, And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”

Self-Publishing – Is it for you?

Very Early Self-Publisher!

Very Early Self-Publisher!

It has been a little over three months since I self-published my novel, Missing Emily. Some musings on how I feel now.

Every resume I put in for my many nursing positions–as my husband’s career involved frequent moves–contained the words “detailed oriented”. I also listed problem-solving and organizational skills. Those attributes were not my natural talents; they were learned, beginning with my nursing education. You must be sure you are administering the correct medication. You must hand the correct instrument to the surgeon. In order to care for multiple patients on a hospital shift, you must be organized.

When I began to write, I utilized those same skills. It was a huge learning curve. Writing is not instinctive. Over centuries, published writing styles have changed right along with the changing societal mores. Charles Dickens’ writing style gives me a blood sugar spike. Hemingway’s less-is-better started a whole new diet of written words. But few writers make such tsunamis when they publish a book. Most of us write because we must. Because we have stories to share, or a memoir of all or a bit of our lives we want our family to read.

I learned about writing novels. Current trends in reader popularity. I had great helpers along the way, coaches and teachers and conference speakers. When my first manuscript was ready, I began the agent search. More to learn. Query letters, synopses, credentials. I was moving forward, made it to semi-finals and finalist in some contests. Had some exciting manuscript requests, and some bummer rejections. A lot of bummer rejections. I was still climbing the hill when a dear friend, who has 11 million books of her own in print, offered me a hand up to self-publish. Her peeps became my peeps. I formed my own tiny publishing company (another learning curve), worked with a book designer, David Seager, who is fabulous; an eBook converter, Diana Birdsell, who is also fabulous. My friend, Donna Green, the artist with all the published books, who runs a foundation for children with cancer, took time to do an extraordinary illustration for my cover.

My Amazon reviews are all good, even the ones from people I don’t know. No Hemingway or Dickens, just a writer who learned her skills and lucked out with a story people like.

Self-publishing is a huge job. There are years before it that are filled with learning, wins and losses, ups and downs. There are something like 8 million books on Amazon—the absolute best place to sell a book. But think of yourself as a grain of sand on a beach, not a sand sculpture. A star in the sky, not a super nova. It’s wonderful to see your book page on Amazon! The problem is there is no filter for books that are not ready to be published. The filtering that agents and editors do for publishers. So, how do you make your book stand out?

The stigma of self-publishing is way less than it used to be. But because many not-ready books are for sale, barriers exist for self-published writers. One I recently experienced is with our local weekly newspaper here on Cape Cod. They restrict all “author published” books. I get that.

Good News. The industry is still changing. A group of book bloggers are helping to sort the good from the bad. Some publishers offer self-publishing assist and may take on the writer if the book is good enough. Agents are working with self-published authors whose books stand out on Amazon.

Bottom line: Learn your skill. Work at it and don’t be impatient. Enter contests that give you reviews; query agents who may give you some advice or encouragement. Have fun! Go to conferences and yak with fellow writers. Keep learning and keep working.
I may be a wavelet and not a tsunami, but publishing my book is one of the best things I’ve ever accomplished. It’s amazing fun. I wish the same for all of the writers out there!

Writer’s Media Kit

Missing Em Books Pic

I have one more item to add on the Media Page for my website media kit. What’s a media kit, you ask?
A media kit is a combination of photos and text documents that busy journalists or book bloggers may download. They may use them verbatim or as a base. They may pick and choose which items they will use.
As always, there is a plethora of information on the internet given freely to help writers market their books. Imagine what it was like before the internet. A day at the library searching current information and taking longhand notes. Or carrying home a load of books to research. Now, a few clicks and some well-posed questions, and you have answers, many of them. I usually copy info from two or more sources and pick and choose what seems the best for me. A beginner. A newbie.
Creating the website itself was a challenge. I did mine on Godaddy, and though I read negative reviews about their customer service, they have been terrific. If you don’t have a website, start there. It’s your business card.
On my Media Page at present you will find pictures of me. Self-promotion is personally difficult—it was a bit of a challenge. I also have buttons to click, one for a press release, one for a sell sheet. Feel free to check out my website, http://www.gerrileclerc.com. The last page is the Media Page. It has its own URL, that way, I can refer to it in my press release.
Now here’s what I need your HELP with. The last item for my Media Page is FAQ. It provides several questions and answers for a busy journalist or blogger or interviewer to use. Every time-saving item you can provide raises the chances one of those people who help you market will take you on.
If you visit the website, and there is a question that comes to your mind, will you let me know? You might have read Missing Emily, and have questions about the book. Or about my writing in general.
Thanks again to all of my follows on this blog!

Publishing Day!

MISSING EMILY COVER COVER Lo-Res

I AM PUBLISHED! Finally!! After years of work and preparation, I was not ready for the onslaught of delight! To see my book listed on Amazon, after combing the site for books to read written by others, now there is a choice for others to read my book. I have heard from family and friends who celebrate the book’s launch with me. If I can figure out the system, I bet I would find purchases of Missing Emily already completed.
Thank you to every hand that was reached out to help me reach my dream!
Every single minute of my time in learning and writing has been worth the extreme feeling of joy I have today!
Missing Emily is available on Amazon. And from here . . . I will begin to polish Silent Grace, the next book in the series.

WRITERS DO IT SITTING DOWN

Sit/stand desk in stand position.

Sit/stand desk in stand position.

Writers use a lot of buts, as in: She saw him approaching, but there was nowhere to hide. Her daughter was missing, but she would come back; she would! I have so much to do to get my book published, but I don’t have enough time in a day.
But the most common ways a writer uses but, is by sitting on it. As in, just get your butt in the chair and write!
It isn’t just the writing—that’s the fun part. There is also social media, Facebook, Twitter. We email requests for research, and we research all over the internet. What about online classes or webinars? Building your website takes hours in the chair then you must maintain it. We write and follow blogs. We spend time on Goodreads. And if we’re not self-publishing, we use up hours searching agent sites and preparing queries or proposals.
That is a lot of time in the saddle! The picture you see above is my new sit/stand device. It fits on the surface of my desk. I am standing while I type this blog, but I’m also doing wash. It’s neat to go back and forth without pushing back the chair, and then pulling it up again. BUT, the best benefit is you are off your BUTT! Writing is a sedentary occupation, and we all know sedentary is not good. Some people stand on a treadmill while they use their computers. I can’t walk and chew gum—love this cliché—so I just move my feet or pop up and down on my toes.
So far, I’m very happy with the change. It will burn a few extra calories, improve digestion, prevent the danger of blood clots (my nursing background always cues in), and it saves time (chair out;chair in; get up; sit down).
There are no buts about it, the ability to sit or stand while I spend hours on the computer, is a lovely option for me!

Writing Romance and Valentine’s Day

When Twolips Meet

When Twolips Meet

I don’t write romance novels, but my women’s fiction books usually have a romance in them. Pure romance novels have, as their main element, an emerging love within a setting of real life situations. Since I’ve been writing, I have heard demeaning comments about romantic novels, but they are by far the most popular and lucrative genre in American Publishing.
Why? If you haven’t experienced romance, you’ve missed something wonderful. But who hasn’t been struck by Cupid’s arrow? It can happen at any age, and it can happen more than once. One definition of romance is an intense and short-lived emotion, idealized love. I agree. It is that first bloom of emotion that fills your heart with joy, hope, excitement. It’s a precious commodity that only lasts for a while, and though it may grow to a deeper selfless love, the emotion of that first kiss, embrace, disappears shortly thereafter.
Some say that initial spurt is helped along by pheromones that lead to procreation, but that’s not romance, that’s evolution of the species.
In my opinion, the popularity of romance novels is due to the fact that the first inkling of love is one of the absolutely best feelings a human can experience. So we love to experience it, even vicariously, over and over.
It is unclear which of three martyrs named Valentine is the man of the holiday. But a Christian priest in Rome defied the Emperor, Claudius the Cruel. The Emperor did not want his young soldiers to marry, causing them to worry about their loved ones when they should be focused on the battles. St. Valentine secretly married young couples. When he was caught, he was sentenced to beating, stoning, and decapitation. Maybe that’s why the color of Valentine’s Day is red?
In spite of the pressures of marketing to say it with flowers, or cards, or gifts, the true essence of Valentine’s Day lives on. I hope you had a great holiday!

Publishing a Novel: Author Bio

Me at Cape Cod

Me at Cape Cod

In an inch or so of space, your few words must accomplish about ten things in the author bio. That’s the paragraph which goes right under your author photo. You spend years with all the space you need to write your book. You carefully craft your character arcs, add brilliant description passages, type out pages of dialogue for days on end. You tell the whole story, or a good bite, of someone’s life. Then, with a little more than an inch, you tell your own story.

If you’ve published other books, your bio is a snap. You fill it up with a string of titles. You earned it. Let’s face it, writing is your life! But if you are a debut author, you have to be clever.

In your allotted area, you must be relatable; give some personal history; add something quirky about yourself; mention your education, and how it relates to your story. Humor is good if you’re not writing about some disaster. Say something about who you are. Do not mention your cat. And all through this condensed bio of you, let the reader hear your voice. (That’s technical writer-talk.).
Writers are the most generous people. Many have published blogs on details like these for new publishers. I have done my homework. I reduced my bio to 70 words, a little under an inch and a quarter. And I did mention my CAT.

On Women: Girlfriends

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If you are lucky enough to have girlfriends, in this case, not the romantic kind, but good female friends, you are lucky! A true girlfriend:
• Lends you her clothes or even shoes
• Goes to lunch or a movie with you
• Plays Canasta with you for hours
• Listens to your problems, with her eyes wide open, for as long as it takes; then she helps you solve them.
• Seals the grout in your new kitchen floor
• Tells you you do look fat in those pants
• Reads your first draft manuscript, and your second, and your fortieth
• Lets you win at tennis once and a while
• Can work seamlessly in the same kitchen with you
• Forgives you
• Holds you when you cry
• Stands by you when you’re in trouble
You do the same for her. In short, you love each other in a special way that’s found in no other relationship. I am lucky enough to have had much-loved girlfriends throughout my life. Relationships don’t always stand up to long distances, but there are always fond memories of your time together. Some may go bad, and those you regret.
One way I celebrate these relationships is to include girlfriends in my novels. I can’t imagine a book without one.
I hope you are lucky in your female friendships, too!

Publishing and Tractors

Oh No Slow Go

Oh No Slow Go

Life can slow you down
When you’re rushing into town
And fast you’ll lose control
Cause a tractor full of petrol
Makes you crawl

You’re full of frustration
Hey, life’s not a vacation
Your foot is riding the brake
You’re surely going to be late
Go with the flow

Publishing is like a trip
Along the way the road might dip
Still hold the dream you have inside
The future book you see with pride
You’ll get there!