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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wenham Tea House Author Tea

Special Author Tea at the Wenham Tea House Wednesday, January 23 from 3:00 - 5:00 pm

I'm very excited that the Wenham Tea House has invited me to be featured at a special Author Tea. The excitement around The Charity continues to grow and I look forward to talking to folks in Jessica's hometown about Hamilton, horses, and - of course - heiresses. What better way to celebrate Jessica's tale than to enjoy a hot cup of tea and talk about a hot book!

The Charity tells the story of Hamilton native, Jessica Wyeth. Jessica was born with traits she just couldn’t hide – beauty, cunning, and innate skills in training horses. She is blocked from taking her rightful position in the lucrative family business of high stakes horse racing by her farm’s manager and top trainer, Gus Adams. When Gus is found brutally murdered, all evidence points to Jessica. Terrified, she runs and becomes a master at hiding in plain view.

The process of building a new life around an assumed identity is derailed when she is recognized by the organization that destroyed her family. This time, instead of running away, she heads back to Boston, racing against time to find answers. Her search for the truth uncovers the cold reality that the Charity will stop at nothing to succeed in its mission and that Jessica is not the only one hidden in the daylight.

Please join me at the Wenham Tea House on Wednesday, January 23 for afternoon tea from 3:00 – 5:00 pm. I will share stories behind the book and answer any questions. Copies of The Charity will be available for purchase and a personal inscription! Storm date for the tea is January 30.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Enjoying the Holidays with Jessica!

Hey folks!

Wondering what to serve your friends as a holiday libation? Try serving a Jessica Cocktail!

1 oz. Vodka
2 oz. POM pomegranate juice
Pomegranate/Lime Seltzer

Fill tall glass with ice, followed by vodka and POM. Shake well and leave in glass. Top with seltzer.

I especially like this because I can add more seltzer as I sip.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Upcoming Signing at The Book Cove in Pawling, New York

This is just a reminder that I have another signing this Sunday, December 16 at 1:00 at The Book Cove Bookstore, 22 Charles Colman Blvd, Pawling, New York. I hope to see you there! I will also be taping a public radio segment about the book for future airing.

This picture is from a recent signing at Morgan Hill Bookstore in New London, New Hampshire.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fiction Writing and A2R Marketing: The New B2B

I've worked in different industries in my career and I've found that each one has its own lingo and culture. Decoding the culture and translating the rules to make them work for you are essential stepping stones to success.

Anyone who has been in sales, marketing or business development has heard of Business to Business, or B2B, interactions which describe the relationship of one company selling a product or service to another company. I want to introduce you to the world of "A2R" Marketing - Author to Reader - by taking the best practices of B2B and applying them to writers in search of (paying) readers.

Promoting a work of fiction and launching a book is not unlike starting a business. There has been a spark of an idea that was fleshed out - maybe on the back of a napkin in a dusky bar - then many sleepless nights as the idea was sharpened and honed to a point. At some point the entrepreneur/author looks at her product and believes it's ready for investors/publishers. For the writer, the first steps in finding an audience, or market, is often the query letter to agents or publishers which is akin to the business plan presented to a Venture Capitalist. The entrepreneur looks for a VC with the same dreams as the author looks for a publisher.

The publisher and the VC share a similar role. They can bankroll a good idea and provide enough managerial muscle and experience to take an idea from napkin sketch to reality.  Both the publisher and the VC are going to be rewarded for their risk taking. The VC is rewarded with ownership, or equity, in a company. The publisher is going to be rewarded through a greater percentage of a book's sales via a royalty stream. The VC will provide guidance in areas such as additional development, manufacturing and distribution. The processes of editing and the art of promotion and marketing, and distribution falls into the hands of the publisher. Depending upon the size of the publisher and scope of their efforts, the author is remains an essential player in the marketing of their work. The author takes on the role of the entrepreneur and becomes the CEO, Chief Evangelical Officer, in pushing others to believe in his or her vision - the book.

In today's publishing environment, authors are required to remain actively engaged in the promotion process regardless of whether they have a publisher behind them or not. I find that many authors just are not comfortable in the roles demanded of them to push and sell their vision.

This is where A2R marketing comes in. I explored in a past blog about the 3F Softstart. Stay tuned for more posts on market identification and prospecting for readers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Blog Hop

Every blogger seems to do at least one "hop" - Last week Anne Macdonald (yes - small "d"), author of the Sam Monroe series of mysteries, asked me to join her in one. It's a great way to introduce bloggers and readers to one another and to get the word out on our own work. So, here it goes...

The ten questions are:

What is the working title of your book?
I've just published The Charity. I am working on its sequel, The Troubles, now.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea for The Charity began as a whisper and quickly grew too loud to ignore. It demanded to be written, so over 16 years ago (!) I quit my job at a major bank in Boston and let the story pour out of me. Life intervened and it gathered dust under my desk until this year. It was published on September 11, which I think is pretty fitting for a book that revolves around terrorism.

What genre does your book fall under?
It has legal thriller bones with strong action suspense muscles.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I've always envisioned Gwyneth Paltrow as Jessica Wyeth. Neal McDonough would make a great Owen Shea, especially since Neal was born and raised in the Boston area. Finding someone to play the enigmatic Michael Conant is more difficult. A darker, more dangerous and less uptight Jon Hamm might do it or perhaps a more approachable Daniel Craig. Magnus Connaught would definitely be played by Hal Holbrook.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
In trying to clear her name of murder and regain her family's reputation, Jessica Wyeth's actions unwittingly threaten to expose the business behind the money of a US based terrorist cell.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is published under the imprint of Charylar Press. Paperback and Kindle is available on Smashwords and Kobo also have different ebook formats available.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Ten months of full time writing.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson, The Firm by John Grisham.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Every day I observe something that I can weave a story around, so my mind is always working. For this book, I wanted to write a story with a strong woman as the main character. No gadgets, no guns. Just a strong willed woman who has to get out of sticky situations she got herself into because she was driven by a passion for identity and truth. Jessica is someone who is strong because she has to be. I know a lot of women like her.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The book is a tightly woven thriller. Not an eyelash flickers in this book that doesn't have a purpose. Also, the book has a strong love story in it, but it is not a romance novel - far from it. The background business of the book revolves around high-stakes horse training and events. It is meticulously researched and events, dates, and motivations are very accurate. If you want a good, solid, engrossing, meaty read, this book is for you!

Thank you to Anne Macdonald, author of Deadlines are Murder. Look for her new mystery, Weddings are Murder coming soon. Please read her blog at

And with this post, I ask you to hop over to read Lee Carlson's incredible story and blog.
Lee is a true life example of grit, fortitude and class. After suffering a devastating brain injury, Lee fought to regain himself and his life and he eloquently tells of his journey in Passage to Nirvana. Lee will post his own "hop" next Wednesday. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Public Radio Piece on the Heinchon Dairy Barn Fire of 1965

I will be having a book signing in my childhood home town of Pawling, New York in just a couple of weeks. In anticipation and preparation for that event I wrote a brief essay which appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal about how a brush with arson up close and personal can impact a child and will be taping a public radio segment to be aired at a future date.

Take a look at the link. I will be at The Book Cove, 22 Charles Colman Blvd on Sunday, December 16 at 1:00. I hope to see you there!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Geocaching, Jessica Wyeth and The Charity

A few of you readers may be finding this blog via the geocache site and wondering why.

The Charity's main character, Jessica Wyeth, gets around. She was brought up on the north shore of Massachusetts but some unfortunate events happen which force her to assume a new identity and run. Her flight takes her crisscrossing the country. With some respite in Utah and Kentucky, she eventually returns to the Boston area.

Hamilton, Jessica's home town, is prime horse country. It's a beautiful, wealthy, New England town with lots of hiking trails. The surrounding towns are just as spectacular and offer varied trails for people, mountain bikes and, of course, horses. A very important part of who Jessica is as a person is her love of the land and the outdoors - in fact, a bit of that led to her undoing, but no spoilers here. I feel there is no better way to really get a feel for her as a main character than to walk in her shoes - fictionally, of course.

So, "Jessica" is hiking around the north shore area and geocaching. Keep watching this blog, because she is busy plotting a puzzle geocache that is sure to intrigue the most keen of minds. While she's scheming, she's hiking about, discovering amazing vistas, feeding her soul on salt tinged air or a wooded trail, signing log books and putting travel bugs on their way.

Want to see an update of all of this bug's travels? Click here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A2R Marketing: Fiction Writing - Growing a Fan Base

There is no other way to say this. Baby steps.

When I finished the final edits of my thriller and was waiting for the interior and exterior graphics to be completed and approved, I wondered why my experienced and already published friends laughed at me. They had this funny way of looking at me with a half smile on their faces. I think they referred to it as a "knowing grin." I was basking in the glow of having my book published and "out there" and they were treating me a little funny.

It took me a while to figure out why. They were letting me have my moment of joy of thinking my work was "complete" - letting me enjoy the feeling that a huge accomplishment had been made and now I could relax. The realization began to dawn on me when I was sitting back with a glass of chardonnay in one hand and the final proof of my book in the other. Books just don't sell themselves. They need an engine behind them.

Whether you're an independent author or have had your work supported by a publisher, the reality is this: Unless you're lucky enough to be John Grisham and have a full-blown and paid for PR kit, it is up to the author to get the word out about his or her book and to find the sweet spot of the book's fan base. There is no magic here about how this happens. It is good, old fashioned, nose-to-the-grindstone work. If you have a publisher behind you or are working the angles on your own, the skills relied upon are pure business development.

I'm up for that task. Most of my professional life has been devoted to sales, marketing and business development in one field or another. I can see a lot of parallels in getting a readership base going and getting a name for myself in my chosen industry. The one key aspect that is different in getting a book off the ground is the time it takes to develop a fan base. Not everyone reads a book a week, so this growth takes time.

And that's where the baby steps come in. This is not a sprint, but a well-paced marathon - one marked with very tiny strides.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Author Nights and Signings

The author nights and book signing events have begun!

Jabberwocky Bookshop on Saturday, November 17 from 7 pm to 9 pm
The Tannery, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, Massachusetts
Reading, discussion and signing

Morgan Hill Bookstore on Friday, November 23 at 1 pm
253 Main Street, New London, New Hampshire

The Book Cove on Sunday, December 16 at 1 pm
22 Charles Coleman Blvd, Pawling, New York

Monday, November 5, 2012

Terrorism and The Charity

I tried to put a pretty face on terrorism, but I just couldn't pull it off.

My book isn't just a cobbled together flight of fancy by some know-nothing author. It is meticulously researched so that the story line, supporting events, characters and their behaviors all mesh together to create a realistic read. Because the book is written from the perspective of someone impacted by terrorist acts, it's an "Oh-my-god-I-can't-put-this-down" fictional story - not a terrorist "How To" book .

The CIA states on its website that the "Intelligence Community is guided by the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the US Code, Section 2656f(d) - The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents."

The FBI's site states that "there is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)."

I can put it in different terms: When somebody hates what you stand for or believe in, whether its political, social or religious in nature and they can't change your mind with words, then they're left to intimidate the hell out of you with whatever means they can in order to change your actions, if not your mind. When you're on the receiving end of violence, the acts are seen as pure hatred and cowardice. When you're on the giving end, (I would imagine) you view your actions as loving and brave.

My book explores what happens you a young woman who's life is forever changed as the result of terrorist activities. Remember, terrorism's influence isn't just the bomb in the grocery store. Like ripples after a stone is tossed in a pond, it's influence spreads through every set of eyes that witnessed the attack, saw the grieving families, read the news get the idea. But its influence is also felt in the supporting network around the terrorist - those people who feed, clothe, house, train and pay for those activities. This is where The Charity's life breathes.

At first I thought I could write a legal thriller that inhabited the outer ripples of terrorism without getting too enmeshed - that I could keep a pretty face on it. I realized that with my own experience of hatred in the form of arson that I respected myself and my readers too much to write a dumbed down version.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Emerging Life of an Indie Author

Never in a million years did I think I would need to know what a favicon* was.

If you've read a few of my posts or bio, you know that I was brought up on a dairy farm in New York, that I was a pretty good equestrian (still am), and that I've had a pretty interesting career - albeit a meandering one - in law, investments and biotech. I actually thought I was was pretty savvy. Up until I launched my book, I had never even heard of a favicon or felt that my life was somehow incomplete because of it. But now, in my newly acquired role of "Indie Author", I now am deciding whether I should jump on the favicon bandwagon.

When deciding publish a work outside of the big publishing houses, an author needs to make a choice. Either he or she is writing for the pure love of it and that is the reward in and of itself, or, as is the case with many others including myself, love has its place but we want to reach as many people as we can with our words. Once you decide that global reach is your goal, you have now placed yourself in the world of social marketing.

I've called this my "emerging" life because every day I'm learning more about the tools, techniques, site, blogs and people that populate this space. It's a HUGE space to fill and you have to hone a message, figure out your audience, and focus your efforts so you don't feel like you're chasing your tail all day long. I am only becoming aware of just how large an undertaking getting heard is. I'll write as I learn and will take you along for the journey, too.

There are a lot of writers with their works still in a shoebox or a hard drive and their work will never see the light of day. That's fine for them, but if you want more, then one of your first steps is the 3F Softstart: Friends. Family and Facebook.

  1. Friends: Chances are they have already read your work more than once in its various stages of undress. They've seen your poem or short story in the daylight and have gently told you that its dimply butt is not pretty. So, you went back and worked on its shape and tone.
  2. Family: After a few more reps, you further vet your work by rolling it out to mom, dad and that sister that just doesn't have a kind thing to say about anything. If you're smart, you'll listen very critically to what they have to say. Much of their comments will be good, solid advice. Much of it will be crap. This is the beginning of where you will need to find your backbone and the clear message of what you are trying to say in your work. If you take everyone's advice and change your work to suit everyone's opinion, you will end up with poo on a page. Go to your mountaintop, think about what you were trying to convey when you began your piece, close your eyes and focus in on that message. Then, thank your Aunt Sally for that insightful comment, tell her you appreciate the time she spent reading your work, then do what you damned well please.
  3. Facebook: With the click of a "Post", you will now reach a few hundred of your friends and friends of friends. If you're like most people, this stage is "on the job training". Use this stage for a few items.
  • Readership Feedback and Identification - See who your work resonates with. Who is commenting? What are they saying? Are there any points in common with the folks who like or don't like the work? This is the beginning of knowing who your audience is.
  • Additional Vetting - With Print-On-Demand being as easy as it is, if you get feedback on minor typos and grammatical errors, fix them, upload a clean version of your work, and keep moving forward. If your readers are having a "hard stop" - that they cannot finish the work because it was too long, hard to read or whatever - then stop marketing and go back to revising the manuscript.
  • Launchpad for Your Message - Facebook has a wealth of tools out there for the indie author and the small business person. Click around and learn the difference between "Likes", "Groups" and "Subscribe". This is where your social marketing voyage really begins.
One thing that really strikes me as I take on this new life is how much the lessons of my professional lives come to bear. I'll have a lot more to say about this in later blogs, but I'm not nearly as overwhelmed as I would have been if it were not for years of marketing, business development and personal branding experience. I'll share those insights as I continue my emergence.

*A favicon (short for "favorites icon"), also known as a page icon or an urlicon, is an icon associated with a particular website or webpage. I haven't decided to make one - yet - but I'll let you know when I do.**

**Two days after this post I did.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Write a Thriller: The Gift and the Curse

If you've ever considered writing a book, you know there are a lot of posts out there that can help you with the mechanics of writing. However, I find many don't address the essence of it. I write thrillers that breathe and have a heartbeat because I flesh-out my made up world on the bones of the real world. That makes it easier for my readers to accept my lies, but it makes it harder on me because my lies have to ring true.

1. Know Your Stuff

Unless you're writing a non-fiction book about a specific event in history, you're going to be able to take some literary license in your subject matter. That's truly the gift and the curse in writing a fiction book. You can do whatever you damned well please. It's your thoughts, it's your world. So create what you want. That's the gift part, but for your work to be truly believable and really give the reader a great experience, you're going to have to do a lot of research and know your subject matter inside and out. That's the curse part. In order to create a believable world with problems that hook your reader into your drama, you have to    be able to draw clear and concise pictures with only the words you put on the paper.

That's where knowing your stuff comes in. My training as a lawyer drilled into me the power of the crafted sentence and the hidden power of manipulation in the omission. If your story has a backdrop of a specific event, then know the event, the time of year it happened, news analysis of all perspectives, who the major players were, etc. This is not to say you have to memorize and quote all sorts of details, but you want to know at least as much as your least informed reader and you should know a bit more than your better informed readers. That way, you can still create your compelling tale and it will be seeded with enough details that: 1) you're educating your lesser informed readers and 2) you've earned the trust of the more informed readers so they'll be willing to stretch their "belief bubble" to keep reading your entertaining story.

2. Know When to Bluff

Knowing your stuff does not mean you have to become a big bore. Different authors and different audiences will have varying degrees of need for explicit details. If you're writing a tale about military procedures in the Arctic, then you had better be aware of the effect of extreme cold on rifles and whether it's likely your characters would use Gun Butter or not. (I'll let you google this question for yourself.) Some readers love the minute details and others simply want to know enough move on with the story. Just because you know all the answers from googling Gun Butter does not mean you have to write each and every fact down. You need to know enough about your subject to know what you don't know to avoid tripping over a fact that causes your readers to lose trust in you. However, what you choose to put on the page is as important as what you leave off of it.

The power of the omission is a huge and wonderful device. An omission is leaving out a fact or a reaction that your reader could have wanted or needed. It can be used for pure bluffing purposes - when we truly don't know the answer in spite of our research - or for pure manipulation - when we need a bit more time to weave our tale. Also, the magnificent omission is when you know your reader will assume something - like a character's innocence - and you let them believe it because that assumption helps your story grow.

3. Know enough to stretch the "Belief Bubble"

Writing a good thriller means expanding your reader's world a little bit at a time. Your reader lives in something I call the "Belief Bubble" - simply it's a little bit of space surrounding them that keeps the real world out and let's the story expand on the breath of your lies. If you've done your homework on setting, character traits, skills needed for character development or story texture and much more, you are well on your way to creating a great reading experience because you can expand the reader's bubble a little puff at a time. Readers will let you do this for as long as they are engaged in your story. If your story takes an off-the-wall turn or the facts don't line up just right or your character's motivation doesn't ring true, you run the risk of bursting their bubble and they won't read another word.

A good, heart-thumping thriller is based on what the reader knows or thinks they do. The essence of your story exists in the details - both stated and assumed. Your job is to mesh their world with your made up one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Barn Fires

Someone recently asked what the significance of barn fires was to me. My book's back cover watermark references one and certainly there was a gripping scene about a fire. The Charity's Facebook banner often features an image of the aftermath of a barn fire, too. So what gives?

A bit of back story: I mentioned in an earlier blog that writing is not an isolating experience as it brings into focus all of a writer's life events. These events are sifted through and examined to bring perspective to a fact based journalism piece or to bring to life a fictional scene or story. I believe that a hallmark of good fiction writing (especially of the legal thriller variety) is to ground the story in enough realism and fact that your reader is happily led from the threads of truth into your web of lies. For me, using a strong foundation of personal experience helps to create stories that are solid, compelling and worthy of my reader's investment of time.

And now the real back story: When I was a little girl of five, an arsonist burned down my family's dairy barn. It was the first time I was exposed to the fact that good people have bad things happen to them and that a person who may "look nice" can do unspeakable acts of evil. The images on The Charity's Facebook page and the watermark on the back cover are images from my childhood. Frankly, it was only when I was an adult I that placed the term "terrorism" over that single act of a man with a grudge and a match.

I'm sure that future blogs will develop around the threads and plot lines of my main character's travails, but the overarching theme of who she - Jessica - is and what the life events are that shaped her source back to that St. Patrick's day when my backyard was filled with flames.

Facebook page for The Charity

Friday, October 12, 2012


I've been very pleased with the positive response The Charity is getting from new readers. One question I often get is people wondering who the characters are based on. I found that it's not as easy to answer that question as I would have thought.

Some of the characters tripped off my fingers and were introduced to me through the scene. When I closed my eyes I could see and hear them and then tried my best to describe what it was they had to say. Many writers have their scenes outlined and their character profiles all mapped out before they even write their first word. I applaud their organization but certainly fail miserably in those efforts. I had a location for a scene in my head and knew the direction the story had to go. The citizens of that location became actors on a stage. I merely watched the action and took down notes.

That said, I also knew that there had to be a fly in the ointment. Other characters I created had a specific purpose in mind. The Charity has a world that holds itself in a delicate balance - a balance that is easy offset when attention is brought to it. My story needed a device or two that would upset that balance, so two characters were born. One character is a dynamic social maven and the other is an ambitious reporter. Candidly, I've been surprised by how much the reporter has resonated with readers. She (the reporter) really hits a nerve. I'm glad. My book isn't supposed to be a "feel good" romp. It's frightening and I'm glad I've created characters that add to the tension.

One of the most gratifying statements about my book came in a conversation this week with a new fan. She said lost a lot of sleep staying up to read the book (a comment I get a lot) and lost sleep worrying about Jessica Wyeth, the main character. She became really emotionally invested in Jessica and found herself rooting for Jessica. The clincher for me came when she talked about finishing the book. My reader said she really missed Jessica, that she missed the world that was created in The Charity, and that she missed the characters and wanted to spend more time with them.

Wow. I can't tell you how awesome that was to know my goal was accomplished. I created a story and a world that took people away from their own lives for a while and gave them something they could hold on to-a feeling that they had found a friend in a character I created.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Process - Part 2

The Charity and I are definitely going through a process together, although different in nature.

One aspect of this multi-pronged process is the "art" of building a reader base. Right now, The Charity is in a phase I call the "Three 'F' Soft Start." Friends. Family. Facebook. This means that my book's audience is in a tight circle around me and Charylar Press (more on that later). The email campaigns and marketing push will come later, but for now it's time for me to get a real feel for what kind of legs The Charity has.

I've been very pleased by the response of my readers. I'm about as hard on myself as a person can be - a perfectionist who sometimes loses sight of the whole picture because of a perceived flaw. This means that I listen very critically. No compliment goes into my heart until it is fully analyzed through a HEPA filter of questions and assessments. I know that folks out there may not want to say something bad about work to the person who has created that work. It's just human nature to be that way and I'm guilty of it too.

But here's the thing: People are telling me they really like The Charity. Not just the polite garden variety compliment, but the genuine "Wow! You owe me a night's sleep" variety. Part of the book's process was a thorough vetting by a lot of readers of different kinds of genres. From the start, I received positive feedback but could hear the unspoken criticism that would have made the book stronger for that reader. (I received my share of spoken criticism, too.) I stayed true to my story but sharpened the book to a razor's edge on the strap of my reader's insights.

So, now I'm in the soft start phase and am listening carefully to feedback to assess The Charity's legs. This is what I'm learning: My reader base is large. Folks that predominantly read non-fiction are getting absorbed into my story. Readers that don't usually go for thrillers are finding themselves taken by the love story. Fans of the legal thriller are completely satisfied by Jessica's dilemmas. I'm finding that The Charity has a great set of legs for a pretty broad reader base.

Like a young colt, The Charity is up on its knobby legs and giving them a stretch to test them out. I'm just trotting it around the track to see who the heavy bettors are.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I love the definition of "process". A quick online check has it as "1. A series of actions, changes, or functions bringing about a result. 2. A series of operations performed in the making or treatment of a product." You know, like the writing process.

I'm not writing this blog to bore you on the divine and difficulty of writing. I'm writing it to share my personal thoughts on what has happened, is happening and hoping to happen with The Charity. Recently my thoughts have been about its process. What I've done to this book - my series of operations and actions - and, now, what I realize this book is doing to me.

When I first wrote this book, it was like an unripened peach. Beautiful, full of promise but  rock hard and with a heart of stone. It ripened under my desk, gathering dust and cobwebs. No, wait. That's wrong. I ripened. A process happened to me, something ripened in me. I could take out the manuscript and slash through it with a red pen and not feel as if I'd just slashed off my hands. I read the words written so long ago and realized there was more to Jessica's world than was on the pages. More importantly, I read it with a different heart and took the time and care to breathe a deep life into its characters.

You see, third definition of "process" is "3. Progress; passage." This book has made its passage into your world but it has done so through me, through my ripening. As you know, good things only ripen so fast and can't be rushed.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I recently celebrated a birthday and loved the fact that people want to give gifts. We all love receiving gifts, of course. So, that got me thinking. What if the giver and receiver were the same person? Can you give a gift to yourself?

Well, yes. In fact, I did just that many years ago. I gave myself the gift of time and did something that is supremely selfish - I wrote a book.

Let me give you some background. Sixteen years ago I was a working mom of two young boys. I left my job as a VP of a Boston bank, kept my kids' day care arrangements in place, holed up in my freezing cold home office and let the book take shape. Looking back, I had been giving to others - kids, husband, jobs. You know the drill. I was in a career that I loved but wasn't really "me". I had this crazy story rattling around in my head looking for an escape hatch. Stepping off that well defined and highly worn career path and into the weeds is not for the faint of heart. Being responsible to others and for others was the dominant force in my life. Giving to others is just how I was wired then and now.

But there was this story, you see, about a girl who loved the land and loved horses. She experienced a huge loss and met someone that sparked her alive again. There were some complications in their love story - pesky little details like the IRA and a terrorist cell.  Her story ripened inside of me and needed to be told. I wanted to see if I could be the one to voice it.

So, I did. I gave myself the gift of time. I gave myself permission to write.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Changing the World

Writing is a solitary effort. People think of someone clicking away on a keyboard or scribbling frantically at all hours of the night with nothing but the tick of the clock on the mantel keeping her company.

I disagree. While writing isn't a team sport, it connects the writer to the world in a deeply personal way. Not one word is written without an instant assessment of that word against all others. What image will one word conjure over another? What could that phrase mean to a man? A woman? When an essay is written, it articulates a view of a small spec of the world. When a work of fiction is written, it creates a whole world. There is a connection through the process of writing that envelops the writer in every piece of knowledge, every experience, every assumption and every lie that ever sparked a brain cell.

I just released a new world I created -pause now for a brief pat on my back-and I have no grand illusions of what I've accomplished by writing a thriller. I haven't solved world hunger or made the Taliban reasonable. I've simply placed into the world a story that wanted to be heard.

By this one solitary act I have not changed the world. I merely created one of my choice.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


There are some people out there who seem to have a new book published every year. If being prolific is a prerequisite for success, I'm not holding my breath about my prospects for fame.

The Charity was written over 16 years ago. When I get asked what was it like to write this book, I have to respond that I didn't write it - this book wrote itself. This book burned a hole in my head and demanded to be brought into existence. I gave myself the gift of time and let the pages pour out of me. I'll say it now and I'll say it again, writing and weaving a story is a discovered joy for me. What I sampled then - the many hours conceiving a scene then crafting the words - is something that I fell in love with. But life intervened and The Charity was shelved while I worked and raised a family.

I earned a bit more writing cred over the years and my "beta-readers" - those folks who were kind enough to read early drafts all those many years ago - pestered me about getting the trials and tribulations of Jessica and Michael published and out there! So, with one more kick in the pants, I did. I'm finally published!

It was on the night of the blue moon that I finalized my cover and interior design and I knew there would be no more delays. The next blue moon will be in 2015.

I think I feel the pressure of a deadline.