Saturday, January 24, 2015

Life's Hardest Lessons

Life has a way of grabbing our attention, of turning us around and making us think. We have a way of getting distracted and wandering down paths that lead us nowhere. Then a sobering moment stops us in our tracks.

As an author, I've had the privilege over the years to meet so many others who share my passion for writing. I've come to know (to whatever degree social networking allows us to know) so many talented, generous, creative people. One of those authors was Holly Gilliatt. I never had the chance to meet Holly face to face. I won't claim to have known her as well as some others did. We were fellow authors at Turquoise Morning Press and 'friends' on Facebook.

What I got to know in a very short time was that Holly was a loving wife and mother, had a wicked sense of humor, was a very talented writer, and bore the courage of a thousand women in her battle with pancreatic cancer. When some might have given up, Holly stood up. She didn't sit and wait for death. She forged ahead into life, embracing each and every moment. She continued to follow her passion for writing as well as her passion for life.

Though Holly and I never met or even shared a spoken conversation, it was easy to see all of this in her--through her writing, her sharing on Facebook of her love for her family and friends, and her travels. Holly's courage and strength amazed me and, at times, shamed me. She taught me a few things. Holly taught me that, first of all, we're all terminal. Don't wait. Don't put off the things that are important to you. Don't get distracted and wander aimlessly, but focus and follow your passions, the loves of your life. Don't sit back and let life happen. Take it by the hand and fly with it, rise and fall on the currents of life. Laugh with joy. Love deeply. Hold preciously this gift you've been given.

Holly left us far too soon at the tender age of forty-three. She will live on through her family and friends. She also left the rest of us a legacy in her writing. I think you can measure the depth and openness of a person by the way they are missed by those who never met them, but whose lives were touched by them all the same. This was Holly.

Holly's books are available at
and at

Read more about Holly at author Karen Booth's blog:

Monday, December 29, 2014

Now Available in Both eBook and Trade Paperback

As we head into a new year, we often take some time to step back and think about the past year, the changes we've experienced or the ones we desire and where we go from here. While it's fiction and not a self-help book, LADIES IN WAITING is the ideal novel for your journey. You won't walk alone--Liv, Markie, Cee Cee, Andi and Julia will be right there with you. Talk about a fun group with a bunch of dark secrets! And now LADIES IN WAITING is available in both eBook and Trade Paperback.

Available in ebook and trade paperback at
Also available at Turquoise Morning Press

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Love That New Cover Smell--and Look

I just received the cover art for RENTING TO OWN. It's a reprise release coming from Turquoise Morning Press in February, 2015.

Lily Champion lost her mother when she was just seven years old. Pregnant at nineteen, her father put her out of the house. Lily leaned on the kindness of her former teacher, Helen Shaw, who took her in. She is now on her own with a four-year-old.

At twenty four, Lily has a decent job and a house she is renting to own. But she has learned that, just when the earth beneath you settles, something is sure to cause a quake. As she struggles to balance work and single-parenthood and create a solid future for her daughter, Lily finds herself pursued by two men. One ignites desire in her and the other makes her feel secure. Wasn’t that what got her into this situation in the first place? Lily’s learned that sometimes when the ground shifts beneath you, it moves you to where you need to be.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

PROTECTION Finaled for 2015 EPIC eBook Award

Look what happened--PROTECTION finaled for the 2015 EPIC eBook Awards in Romantic Suspense.

I'm am so excited and pleased. I'm in very good company there. We'll see what happens in March.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Women and Reinvention

My newest women's fiction novel, LADIES IN WAITING, came out a few days ago. Authors will be familiar with this process, but for others let me explain what happens before a book goes to publication. First there's the editing process which can take several back and forths between the author and the editor. Then the book goes to a copyeditor. The last stage involves the galleys being sent to the author for one last look. That's when you search, line by line, word by word, for any small errors that may have been missed in the earlier editing processes. Books don't just happen. They go through rigorous scrutiny.

In working with the galleys for LADIES IN WAITING, I discovered something. Well, not discovered so much as was reminded. I love writing women's fiction. I very much enjoy writing romance and suspense, but I LOVE writing women's fiction. Perhaps it's the dormant psychotherapist in me that enjoys digging into the psyche and the emotions of the character(s) and seeing what makes them tick. Then partnering with the character to not only tell their story, but walk with them to a resolution of conflicts. See, that's what really moves us through. Conflict. It's an essential element when writing a story to create conflict and keep it going to hold the reader through to the end. I think the same is true of life.

LADIES IN WAITING is a book about internal conflicts. Liv, Cee Cee, Julia, Andi and Markie are strangers to one another who all land in Cape May, New Jersey for a women's retreat titled Embracing the New You: Reinventing Yourself After Fifty. But each woman has a very different reason for being there and each one is as much running from something as she is moving toward something. When the retreat director, Bree, is called away on a family emergency, the five women decide to stay anyway and have their own sort of retreat.

As I worked through the galleys for this book, I found myself drawn into the story as if I'd not written it and had never before read it. I found myself reflecting upon my own reinvention. I've wrestled with that word, questioning if we really do reinvent ourselves or if we reclaim those parts of ourselves that we've put aside or shed for the sake of someone or something else. But reinvention seems to be a more widely understood and accepted term for what we women face as we move into our second and then third acts of life. A significant part of my own reinvention was to embrace my desire to write. LADIES IN WAITING is my 20th published novel! Some reinvention, huh?

My reinvention had a lot to do with embracing truths and letting go of fantasy thinking about life. Reinvention can be a painful process, but it's also one that offers a new freedom--freedom to be honest with ourselves, to make new and sometimes better choices, to dare to give free rein to our dreams and step onto formerly untried paths. It might sound overwhelming and little scary. And it can be. But it's also a hell of a lot of fun.

Liv's life blew up in her face and she had to face the truths of what she had compromised or given away of herself to make a life that was less than satisfying for her. Cee Cee (only thirty-two, but taking her mother's place at the retreat because she needs time away from her husband and kids) is questioning her marriage. Julia arrives at the retreat wound so tightly, she fears if she relaxes, she might fall apart. And falling apart is not acceptable on any level for Julia. Andi is still trying to find her way through early widowhood and into a future of happiness. Markie, in whom the hippie era meets new age, doesn't see an option for reinvention so much as a need to find some inner peace to make a decision she feels is imperative and final.

By the time I'd finished the work on the galleys and sent them back to my editor, I was feeling a loss. What I imagine post-partum depression could be like. I wanted to sit on the beach with these five women and draw my energy from them as they grappled with lies and truths and changes to find the next step, the true path that fit for each of them.

Whether we engage in this process of reinvention in big ways or in small, it seems to me it's not something we choose. It's an invitation that life lays before us. We women have so much wisdom and experience to offer one another. We are each architects of our own reinvention, but I dare say it would be a lonely, possibly impossible, task without our girlfriends to hold our hands and to sometimes give us that much needed shove from behind.

Two of my favorite authors have written non-fiction books about this process of reinvention. Barbara Sher wrote It's Only Too Late If You Don't Start Now in 1999 and her words still ring true today. Claire Cook (one of my all time favorite authors of women's fiction) wrote Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) in 2014.

If you find yourself  thrust into your own reinvention, I recommend both of these books. And if you want some companions for the journey, I recommend LADIES IN WAITING. The girls will be happy to pour you a glass of wine and sit with you while you figure it all out.

Here's to your journey!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Your Next Book Should Be Your Best Book

Your next book should always be your best book. Writing is a learning process. At least that’s true for me. If we’re serious about the craft of writing and open to the process that goes into creating a book, we are always learning more about our writing and stretching our boundaries and limits.

Some writers embrace the editing process while others see it as a chore. I’m in the former group. I love the editing process. I love getting a fresh perspective on what I’ve written and having the opportunity to tighten up my writing and add color to my scenes and my characters from another point of view. That doesn’t mean I always agree with an editor’s suggestions, but I certainly consider them and try them out to see how they fit. In the end, I’m the one who best knows my story and my characters. But I owe it to myself and to my editors to give consideration to their suggestions.

Writers benefit from listening to feedback from their readers as well. I know some writers hold to the notion that you should never read reviews. I say, “Why not?” Sure there are reviewers out there who do a lousy job of reviewing, either telling the entire story in their review or slamming a book without obviously having read it. And there are good, honest reviews that reflect the reader’s thoughts and considerations about the story. Some reviews give a higher rating than others. I appreciate honest reviews and I try to take something away from them that informs me in writing the next book. I don’t let negative reviews get me down. I do let positive reviews buoy me up and nudge me forward. Everyone has a right to their opinion.

I take writing seriously, but not so seriously that it ceases to be fun. When it stops being fun, I’ll be finished. I owe it to myself and to my readers to work at this business of writing to make the next book the best I’ve ever written. Most writers, if they will be honest with themselves and go back to read their earliest work, can see the changes and improvements in their writing. If they can’t, well, they might want to re-evaluate their career choice.

As for me, my goal is to make the next book the best I’ve written so far. LADIES IN WAITING will be out in a few weeks. I’ll let you all be the judge.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Meet the Ladies In Waiting -- Coming in December

Liv, Markie, Julia, Andi and Cee Cee each came to the retreat—Embracing  the New You: Reinventing Yourself After Fifty—with a specific purpose and each brought her own secret. When the owner of Síocháin (which translates to peace) is called away for a family emergency, the five women who have never before met decide to stay at the Cape May, New Jersey retreat house and find their own way to the ‘New You.’ Each woman has a reason for being there and not somewhere else. They could give the term ‘retreat’ a whole new meaning. Except that, for these women, the retreat is just a backing up to get a running start forward.

Liv hardly recognizes herself in the mirror any more. She's changed everything she can about her appearance in an effort to hide her shame. Markie, a product of the sixties and a child of the universe, has a more pressing issue with which she must find peace. Julia, an Assistant District Attorney, is used to being in charge, but recently life has spun out of her control. Andi is second-guessing her second chance at love two years after the sudden death of husband. She's also avoiding a secret that haunts her from the past. Cee Cee, the baby of the group at thirty-two, is in crisis and, with her mother disappearing into the darkness that is Alzheimer's, desperately needs womanly advice.

Lies are told, secrets are revealed, tears are shed and laughter abounds as they make their way past the differences that divide and into the familiar territory of sisterhood that holds them together. In other words, they have one another’s backs—eventually—as each woman sheds whatever is holding her back and weighing her down. The journey is not without conflict and challenge. In December, you’re invited to join Liv, Markie, Julia, Andi and Cee Cee to sit down, put up your feet, throw back a glass of wine and embrace the new you!

* Coming in December from Turquoise Morning Press.

I had such a great time writing this book, getting to know these women. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did.