03.27.2015

Putting Glasses On My Cat

 

My poor cat. You know you have WAY too much time on your hands when you spend ten minutes putting your glasses on your cat’s face – just so – and then taking a picture.

That’s Innocent Husband in the background. We are getting old and are easily entertained.

 

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03.23.2015

Author To Author Interview: Adria J. Cimino

Bonjour, Adria!

I want to chat with you about your novels and publishing business, but I can’t resist asking about your life in Paris, France first.  You were born here in America, and yet now you’re in the City of Lights.  I think I want to be you! Tell us about that journey.

Adria 1Hi Cathy, Thanks for inviting me to your blog! Like so many American students, I took French in school and dreamed of one day living in Paris. As it turned out, I enjoyed the language so much that I continued it through college, and through this interest, ended up meeting a lot of French expats in my hometown of Sarasota, Fl.

One of these friends helped me plan a trip to France to improve my French, and introduced me to a young man who could show me around Paris. He used to be her neighbor when she lived in France, and he was a college student, too. As they say, the rest is history! We got married couple of years later, spent a few years in the U.S. and then returned to Paris—where I’d always wanted to live!

I love it. You are living a love story. We should make a movie about your life.  You write the script. 

Speaking of writing, you have three books Close To Destiny, Paris Rue Des Martyrs, and That’s Paris. Can you give us a couple of sentences about each book?

Close to Destiny is a magical realism novel about righting the wrongs of the past. A young woman facing inner demons is plagued by strange encounters at a London hotel. The experiences make her question her own notion of reality—and the power she holds over her own destiny.

Adria 2Paris, Rue des Martyrs, contemporary fiction, is about encounters that make a difference. Four strangers in Paris are at a moment of crisis in their lives. And at that moment, their stories entwine as their paths cross on this typically Parisian street—the Rue des Martyrs.

That’s Paris is a multi-author short story anthology, with a foreword by best-selling author Stephen Clarke (A Year in the Merde). From culinary treats (and catastrophes) to swoon-worthy romantic encounters (and heartbreaking mishaps), this anthology takes the reader on a journey through Paris—and what it’s really like to live here!

Did you always plan on becoming a writer? What other jobs and experiences have you had?

I always loved to read, and as a teenager started writing a bit, but the idea of creating an entire novel scared me. By the time I was in my early 20s though, the need to write was too great, overpowering any intimidation. And so I set to work. In the meantime, I became a journalist, writing for The Associated Press, a business journal in Boston, and finally for Bloomberg News in Paris.

That all sounds very exciting, especially from the perspective of my life here in suburbia, where the most exciting thing is listening to the coyotes howling.  

What do you like about writing? How many hours a day do you write?

I love the idea, that, through my characters, I can experience many adventures. Because as I write, I feel as if I’m right there with them. In Paris, Rue des Martyrs, I “became” an aging actor, an emerald broker, a young artist and a Parisian housewife. I also enjoy the fact that there aren’t the constraints of reality—I especially appreciated this as I wrote Close to Destiny. Anything can happen! I usually write in the morning for about three hours at a time.

Adria 3Tell us about your road to publishing. For me, it was not smooth at all. Rocky. Bumpy. Disappointing. And then, finally, the novels sold, before I started throwing things.

I worked as a journalist and wrote for many years in my spare time. I was rejected by some agents and then landed one. Unfortunately, he couldn’t sell Paris, Rue des Martyrs to a major publishing house and wasn’t interested in trying smaller houses. My agent started an ebook imprint so published my novel that way last year. But I wanted a different strategy. I wanted my book out in paperback, and I wanted some marketing support.

And now you own your own publishing business, Velvet Morning Press.  Tell us about this change in events, though.  What do you like about it, what’s a challenge?

I met self-published author Vicki Lesage, who was doing better on her own than I was with my agent. We realized that we could help each other—and probably a lot of other young writers too. So we formed Velvet Morning Press. I like the fact that we have control over the time frame for our projects.

Once a manuscript is polished, we can publish the book in four months. The biggest challenge is visibility. Since we’re small, we have to work really hard to get our name out there and show that we can produce quality books. We are grateful for the help of authors who are well-known and who have followed us on social media and promote our work.

What’s the difference between publishing with a major publishing house, self publishing, and what you offer at Velvet Morning Press?

Blank bookcover with clipping pathLike major publishing houses, we edit, do cover design and formatting, and publish our clients’ books in paperback and ebook form. And like the majors, we are selective and don’t charge authors fees. Like them, we use a royalty model. Other than our size, the main differences between the majors and us:

*We bring our books to market in about four months.

*We only accept very polished work. We will edit, but if a book really needs major rewriting, we will pass on the project.

*We don’t have a big budget like the majors, and we know that we can’t compete on that level. So we don’t. We can’t pay for advertisements in a major newspaper, but we use our creativity to market in different ways. And so far, so good.

We only work with self-published authors through our separate “author services” branch. Through that service, we offer editing, formatting etc. for a fee to authors who are not clients of our publishing house.

So far, submissions to our publishing house mainly have come from authors who are seeking to be traditionally published. I think many writers who love self-publishing continue to go down that road.

As a publisher, what are you looking for in a novel?

We look for novels that have us hooked within the first few pages. We look for engaging, interesting characters. And we look for carefully edited work. If I see that the author has made a bunch of spelling errors that are even highlighted by the computer’s spell check, to me, this seems sloppy. As a writer myself, I wouldn’t submit a manuscript like that.

And when you’re not writing, not working on your publishing business, if there is time left over, what do you just love to do?

Reading, modern dance, strolling around Paris with my husband, having a “girl’s afternoon out” with my 4-year-old daughter.

Five things we must do if we visit Paris that are not your typical tourist attractions…

*The Rue des Martyrs in Montmartre (the setting of Paris, Rue des Martyrs) is now more and more on the radar screens of tourists, but it is still is a great example of a traditional Parisian neighborhood. Stop at a café and watch the world go by.

*The Promenade Plantee, in the 12th arrondissement is an elevated walkway along an old railway. Today, it’s lined with flowers, plants and trees above the hustle and bustle below. A great place for a walk!

*For fans of Hemingway, take a stroll by his old apartment at 74, Rue du Cardinal-Lemoine. And walk around the neighborhood, imaging how Hemingway must have saw it. (Things looked about the same back then as Paris doesn’t change much!)

*Take a side street, explore a neighborhood. This is where you’ll also have a chance of finding the best food—at a modest, neighborhood café that is filled with locals.

*Walk along any of the bridges at sunset and watch how the light illuminates the beautiful historic buildings, turning them golden!

Let’s let everyone take a peek as your newest book, Close to Destiny. 

July 1

It was my third time. Don’t they always say things happen in

threes? Knife slitting through fragile skin, still damp.

 

Water pounding like giant teardrops. Sitting at the edge of the

bathtub, knees shaking, watching scarlet water flow.

 

Darkness. Silence.

 

What seemed like a second turned into eternity. Blinding light.

Voices. Madness. Silence.

 

That’s all I could write, all I could remember.

 

I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to analyze the situation or understand

 

Another snippet…

 

There have been too many coincidences, too many dreams, too many feelings

leading me down the same road. I still don’t understand how Destiny knew all

that she did—about me, then and now.

 

About you. About everyone, it seems.

 

OK, she was a medium, but what does that really mean? That she had access to

the deepest secrets of everyone on the planet? Maybe it doesn’t matter, anyway. If

I’m willing to accept such an outlandish story, I guess I should be willing to

accept the mysterious nature of Destiny.

 

That said, I can’t continue this way.

 

Thanks for chatting with us, Adria!

 

Adria 6Adria J. Cimino’s links:

Close to Destiny on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Close-Destiny-Adria-J-Cimino/dp/0692346945

Paris, Rue des Martyrs on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Rue-Martyrs-Adria-Cimino/dp/0692335072

That’s Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in the City of Light on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Thats-Paris-Anthology-Sarcasm-Light/dp/0692340114

Adria’s blog: http://adriainparis.blogspot.fr/

Adria’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AdriaJ.inParis

Adria’s Twitter handle: @Adria_in_Paris

Sign-up for Adria’s New Release Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/8y0K1

 

 

 

 

03.17.2015

Author To Author Interview: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Tough childhood, ex pastry chef, nature lover, owns a horse.  

Today I’m chatting with Catherine Ryan Hyde, the author of 27 best selling novels, including  the book I’m reading now, When I Found You, which I love, Pay It Forward (Have you seen the movie? It made me cry.) and Becoming Chloe.

Catherine, we want to peer into your life and your writing. Would you please tell everyone about yourself? 

Catherine 1I live in this tiny town, Cambria, California. It’s on the Central Coast, right on the ocean, pretty much equidistant from L.A. and San Francisco, but very far from both. Which is fine with me.

I have a dog and a cat who are more or less the same size and get along beautifully, despite the fact that the dog was an only pet for seven years. I also have a new horse. I’ve only had him for a few weeks. He’s not my first horse, but he’s my first after decades away from riding. But he has a lovely temperament and we’re doing fine.

A typical day may or may not include writing. It’s very feast or famine. It may include writing, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, interviews or other content like this, social networking, communication with readers, or some lovely combination of the above.

What were you like as a child? How was your childhood?

I think I was a dreamer, and very much a loner. I wasn’t popular at all, so I don’t think I was a loner by choice. (These days I could do either, but I’m still a loner.) I didn’t have a happy childhood. My family was dysfunctional and chaotic, and I always felt a little lost in it. I became the child who blended in with the wallpaper. I guess I figured everybody was busy enough and had problems enough without me adding to their burden. I wrote when I was young, and I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was fourteen. But it took many years—a couple of decades, actually—before I was brave enough to pursue that dream for real.

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I am sorry about your childhood. It seems that many writers have struggled with difficult childhoods. Perhaps that’s what put them on the road to writing.  

I feel compelled to write. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a writer. Do you feel the same? Is writing a calling? If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? What did you do before you became a full time writer?

I really don’t want to be anything but a writer. It’s definitely a calling. I feel we all have something we’re supposed to contribute to the world while we’re here, and I know writing is my something.

At one point I figured if my ability to make a living as a writer fell out from under me, which is always a possibility, I would teach writing.

Now I’m close enough to retirement and have managed to squirrel enough away that I figure I’ll just always write, even if I’m not making much money at it. The only other thing I could potentially imagine for myself is being one of those park rangers who spend whole seasons up in fire lookout towers, alone with nature.

But of course that might be something that works better in my head than it would in the real world.

Before I wrote full time I was a dog trainer, a pastry chef, a shade-tree mechanic, a Hearst Castle tour guide and some other comically varied jobs.

You have many skills! Please send me your favorite pastry…

Do you have one or two favorite books, out of your 27 total? Which ones and why?

At first I didn’t. Then I wrote Becoming Chloe, and it was my favorite for many years. Now I have newer books—like When I Found You, Don’t Let Me Go, and Take Me With You, to name just a few—that I think are probably better books. At least, I certainly hope my writing is getting better as I go along. But I still have a heart connection with Becoming Chloe that can’t be left out when answering this question.

The why is harder. How can you really quantify a heart connection? But it seems to have to do with Jordy, the main character—the way he protects Chloe even when he needs so much protection, and the way he tries to prove to her that the world is a beautiful place, when he’s not at all convinced he believes it himself.

Catherine 2What is the legacy that you want your books to leave?

I think what I’m going for (and I really only see this in retrospect—I don’t set out with this kind of theme consciously in mind) is a more open and loving look at what it means to be human.

I feel that a book can be a look into the mind and heart of someone you might not want to know in real life. But, knowing them on the page, there’s that recognition of a common humanity.

I like to be vulnerable and open in my own life when it comes to letting people see that I’m a highly fallible human being. I think when we do that for each other, we all feel a little more human, and it becomes a more positive thing to be.

That would be a great legacy for me: to help my readers feel more human, but in a good way.

I am all for feeling more human.

Speaking of being human, I noticed that you love to hike, take photos, travel, and kayak. Obviously, you love the outdoors. When did this love of the outdoors come about? Do you feel that your love of the outdoors and your love of writing are intertwined?

I can’t honestly say when it came about, but I have an eye for natural beauty. I’m not so crazy about man-made things. Cities will always be ugly and stressful to me.

Nature is more like church. I find a connection there. I get calm, and I feel as though I’m part of everything and vice versa. And once you find that feeling, you will seek it out as often as possible.

At first I think my love of writing was less intertwined. It was more that I went out into nature and recharged, and then came back inside and used that juice in my writing. But the two are becoming more and more intertwined with books like Take Me With You, which is set in great part in the national park system, and The Long Steep Path, which is a collection of nonfiction essays really about life in general, but often about hiking.

Also the one I’m working on now, but I’m not even halfway through the draft, so it’s too soon to talk about it. But the two elements are finding ways to converge, there’s no doubt about that.

I love walking. Nature helps center me, re – charges creativity, and calms me down, so I understand exactly what you’re saying. 

Catherine 4Your five pieces of advice for writers, published and yet – to – be published, would be…

1. Don’t write in a vacuum. Allow reader feedback right from the start. It stings, but it’s unavoidable. Better to thicken your skin early on.

2. Don’t subscribe too tightly to anyone else’s process. Most writers will tell you that it’s a must to write every day. Probably good advice, but I don’t write every day, and I make it work. If you’re getting words down, you’re doing it right.

3. Make up your mind you won’t let rejection stop you. You will get rejected. It doesn’t mean your work is bad, it just means it’s not what that editor is looking for on that day. It’s impossible not to feel bad, so go ahead and feel bad. Just don’t let it stop you.

4. Never, ever argue with a reviewer. Never make anyone feel that their opinion is wrong, or that they have no right not to like your work. Even if they are overly snide or hurtful. How can you stop others from being snide or hurtful? You can’t. You will only end up looking like a sore loser. Walk away. Complain to your best friend. Offline.

5. People are more likely to buy a book by an author they like, so be careful what you put out online. Be human, be honest, be interesting. Don’t act like you’re any better or worse than those with whom you’re connecting.

And don’t say, “Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book.” Just be yourself, and occasionally share book news, such as an award or good review. If the readers like you, and get to know you, they’ll probably buy your book.

Catherine 6I see that you have been traditionally published and now publish with Lake Union, the publishing branch of Amazon. Can you talk a little bit about your publishing history and why you chose to go with Amazon?

I also have indie editions and indie books. So I’m pretty much the consummate hybrid.

I chose to go with Amazon because the traditional adult US publishers were no longer an option. They were not taking a chance on me anymore. So indie seemed like my only option.

Then one of my indies took off, and Amazon Publishing came to me, and they were the best thing that could have happened to my career. I feel very lucky to have them. Before they came along I was struggling to make the mortgage payment. Now there isn’t one.

What are three things you are most proud of, and yes, you can include your Pay It Forward Foundation!

My biography as a whole. I love that I’ve climbed Mt Katahdin and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and then shared a dais will Bill Clinton as a public speaker. And that I’m adding being a horse owner back in, right around the time I turn sixty. I read it and I’m reminded that I’ve led an interesting life so far. I think you can’t ask for much more than that.

The fact that I have a great relationship with so many of my readers. They email me and I answer, and we correspond. They join me on Facebook and we get to know each other, and support each other day to day. It’s a wonderful community.

And yes, my Pay It Forward Foundation, and the way that phrase and idea has spread.

What will you be doing in ten years?

This. If I’m lucky, this.

Thank you so much for your time and honesty, Catherine.  I’m looking forward to reading another one of your books. 

Visit with Catherine here….

My website: http://www.catherineryanhyde.com/

My blog: http://www.catherineryanhyde.com/blog/

My photo site: http://catherineryanhyde.photo/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cryanhyde

Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/crhyde

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Catherine-Ryan-Hyde/55974126195

 

 

 

 

 

 

03.11.2015

I’m Going To Be On The Bachelor!

I’ve made an important decision. I’m going on The Bachelor next season.

I am not interested in The Bachelor, as I have been married to Innocent Husband for almost 22 years, but I want an evening gown. I hear you get them for free if you’re on the show. I have never had an evening gown.

I also want free food I don’t have to cook, free national and international travel, and I want to be able to swim with my plastic flippers in a California pool and eat chocolates in the hot tub.

While The Bachelor is out on dates, I can read books all day long and do no housework or laundry.

This makes sense to me. Clearly I’m going on the show for the “right reasons.” I’m going to nominate myself.

This is what my facebook friends had to say about my new adventure….

02.26.2015

Gather Your Hellfire Crowns

I was invited to make a “Gather Your Hellfire Crown” with a group of women in Portland recently, including  Sandra Drake, Linda French, and Carol McClure.

The term “Gather Your Hellfire” comes from my book The First Day Of The Rest of My Life.

These ladies get together once a month and make crafts.  I love it. Crafts, women, chatting, laughing, sharing. What a wonderful bonding experience.  Girlfriends are the best. What would we do without them?

(Excerpt below from The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life, which hopefully will help to explain the “hellfire” comment.)

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Here’s the passage from The First Day Of  The Rest Of My Life

My momma made the best of her time in jail. 


This is not to say that she liked it but, as she told us, “I gathered my hellfire, don’t forget that line, Madeline and Annie, sometimes you gotta gather your hellfire, and I made the most of a difficult situation. Did you know they don’t allow high heels in prison?” She winked at us. “No pink, either! I broke my own cardinal rule: Don’t be frumpy! Let yourself shine!”


Gather Your Hellfire 2The warden of the women’s jail had a sister who was a customer of momma’s, and she raved about momma’s Marie Elise’s Excellent Cuts and Cuticles. The warden asked Momma to cut the hair of the inmates and do their nails. You had to earn the haircuts and the manicures, though.

You couldn’t get one automatically, like a standing appointment on Thursday at 4:00 after mopping or laundry duty. So, using that bribery, the ruckus at the jail went way, way down. It’s amazing what a cut and style can do!


“Those girls,” my momma told us one day when we were visiting, “At least most of them, have been led astray by the men in their lives. They had terrible childhoods and they were led into drugs or alcohol and made messes of their lives. I tell them, when you get out of jail, practice the I Am Me, Stay Out Of My Way program.

“I tell them, you go to college and get a degree, you get training, you stay away from those gutter – minded idiots. Keep your hair and nails trimmed and styled all the time, proper and pretty. If you’re broke, buy one crisp white blouse and one pink blouse. One pair of beige pants, one pair of black pants, and never be without a black skirt and black heels. Put your chin up, your shoulders back, and walk like you’re worth it. That’s the Shake Your Confidence and Strut talk I give.”


The First Day of the Rest of My LifeShe led hair-do and make-up classes at the jail, which she called, “Being A Lady,” classes. It was a, “How to look like a respectable lady and attract respectable people to you, not bad people, not slutty people, not criminals, but respectable people, because you ladies, are respectable!”


She told me later, when she was out of jail, “Honey, I had to do something in there, had to help those other ladies, or I’d lose my mind, I missed you and Annie so much, my stomach almost ate me alive. Now let me give you an up-do with those curls of yours, and we’ll play dress up with Annie, go and get your sister.”

 

02.18.2015

Where Would You Go For A Year And What Would You Do?

I recently posted this question on my facebook pages:

I’m daydreaming because I don’t want to work. If I told you that you had to leave for ONE YEAR and go live in a foreign country and learn something (anything!!) new, where would you go and what would you do? I’m thinking I’d go to Paris – and here’s a huge cliche coming up – I’d learn how to paint.

 

Here are the answers: