Tag Archive | novels

Walking Down New Roads

When I’m not in a hurry, I like drive down roads I haven’t explored in other trips. That’s one great thing about being retired; you never have to be in a hurry to do anything. I haven’t published any posts in over a year simply because I didn’t think I could write anything someone would like to read. It was time for me to explore other creative roads.

First, I finished my eighth novel and got it published. I love the story and wish other readers would pick it up and enjoy the story about American women pilots during WWII. Didn’t know women pilots flew military planes so early? Neither did I. As I researched the subject, I got more intrigued about these pioneers, and voila, I discovered a story within me.Grounded No More cover

 

I write historical fiction because it gives me joy. But I’d be a hypocrite if I said that was the only reason I produce these novels. I do have a dream of raking in the royalties someday, but so far, I haven’t seen a penny for the eight novels I’ve produced.

I purposely don’t hawk my books on this blog because I really dislike people using this medium exclusively to sell things. but I do wish I could sell more books and rake in some royalties.

But every time I walk into Barnes and Nobel, reality slaps me in the face. I’m just one little drop of water in the HUGE ocean of publishing. So what does an author do to get more exposure?

One thing I do is participate in marketing opportunities through the publisher because I couldn’t possibly reach out to the audiences they reach at book fairs and other events. And paint when I get stuck. I turn on the classical music and warm up my acrylic paintings and favorite brushes and spread my frustration on canvas.

This group of paintings were created for our remodeled living room. Since my last post, Ken and I were able to hire a contractor to make our home a bit more wheel chair friendly, seeing he’s in his electric wheel chair for most of the day lately.

 

I’ve never taken a formal painting class, but I love watching Jerry Yarnell who appears on PBS and demonstrates painting techniques. My other teacher is Marie who has come home to roost after living twenty years in Florida. Marie is a wonderful watercolor artist and she is willing to critique my paintings. So far, she’s only turned one picture over because she couldn’t bear to look at it. (I’ll tell you about that experience in another post!)

 

I also took a look at my first novel which was published about four years ago.  Needless to say, I write better now than I did then, so I rewrote and edited the story again with the intention of publishing it again. What I have decided to do is put a chapter a day on this blog. Do you think we can build an audience this way? Let me know what you think

*****

Apple Pie and Strudel Girls 

A coming of age story about six girls living a world apart.

BOOK ONE — 1936 to 1938

Chapter 1

Berlin, Germany-1936—After World War I, German people endured hunger and shortages of all kinds because of the harsh treatment they received by the allies in the Versailles treaty.  In 1933 the people elected a new Chancellor who worked to restore hope and pride in the Germans. His charisma and speaking ability fired huge crowds into frenzies as he infused a sense of urgency to join to the Third Reich.

Hitler made people believe Germans should throw off the stigma of defeat and economic hardship inflicted on them after World War I. They should pick up the mantel of becoming the strongest nation in the world. He instilled a sense of pride in the German people again and through new policies and programs he raised them up from despair. Since Hitler came to power, the store windows once again displayed stylish clothes. People didn’t suffer hunger any more, and best of all, the men found jobs building new roads and repairing a neglected infrastructure.  He also put youth movements in place for children of all ages. The program for girls, the BDM – “Bund Deutscher Mel” emphasized the importance of women in the home to raise children and please their husbands.

Marta Schmidt, Leisel Fuchs, and Heidi Schiller met as six year olds at a “Bund Deutscher Mel” meeting. As little girls, they learned how to be good housewives, seamstresses, cooks, and bakers because men considered them future breeders of the Third Reich. The Nazi party considered a woman’s role to be that of Kinder, Khe, Kirche—children, kitchen and church.  In fact, Heidi’s mother won the “Cross of Honor” for simply having four healthy babies. Oddly enough, other women coveted her award, and Heidi looked forward to the day when she would win a Cross of Honor of her own.

As the girls matured into teenagers, they enjoyed going to youth sponsored parties because they loved to dance and socialize with boys their age who now donned the uniforms of soldiers. The dances and parties showed Leisel she had power over boys. She exchanged her school uniform for beautiful dresses which emphasized her young womanly figure.

As teens, Marta, Heidi and Leisel didn’t understand the significance of Hitler’s rise to power, but they did recognized how things changed for them.  They found fun again. People wore smiles on the street. Parties took over for drudgery.

Of the three girls, Leisel got swept away as she cheered for smartly dressed German soldiers who often paraded through the streets of Berlin in perfect lines. Marta and Heidi seemed less impressed with the battalions of strutting men dressed in the crisp uniforms; however they recognized a distinct difference in the overall climate of their country, especially after their fathers joined the Nazi organization and rose up the ranks quickly.

Chapter 2

Lacrosse, Wisconsin, USA-1936—The girls of Scout Troop 73 sat quietly as their Girl Scout leader spoke. She talked about a cookie drive which would present an opportunity to raise money for their national organization as well as their troop’s summer camping fund. The Girl Scout Cookies sold for twenty-five cents a dozen, and Mrs. Hanson’s enthusiasm for the venture rubbed off on all of the girls sitting in the “friendship circle.” When the meeting ended, Josie, Donna Jean, and Rosalie walked home and buzzed about how they would sell cookies at school, church, and door-to-door to their families and neighbors.

Bubbly Donna Jean yammered all the way home with ideas how she would win first prize for the most sales. Josie remained quiet. She wondered how people could afford cookies when most families struggled to put a decent meal on the table every night. Rosalie stayed quiet too. Her father owned the best Italian restaurant in town, but customers didn’t come in like as they did in the past. Most people considered eating at a restaurant an extravagance, and many nights the restaurant stayed empty.

Donna, Josie, and Rosalie began their friendship in first grade. They all went to Saint Rose’s Catholic school, attended Girl Scout meetings once a week after school, and played together as often as their spare time allowed. They all loved scouting. Their meetings taught them skills they didn’t learn at home. They went on trips to museums and other places  which taught them about history. They visited local factories to learn how things got put together. They did service projects to help their community.

Josie’s loved learning about the outdoors on camping trips while Donna Jean served as the troop pitch pipe leading the songs they learned. Rosalie accelerated at craft projects they made out of everyday junk. Selling cookies would add one more skill to their experience; they would become saleswomen as they took to the streets with their cookies. But nothing topped their close friendship they intended to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

The things they discovered about themselves through years of scouting would carry them into adulthood. Josie emerged as a leader, Donna a singer and performer, while Rosalie developed her artistic ability.

 

My Writing Process

ground_hog_2007Have you ever felt like you were on the set of “Ground Hog Day?”  You know the movie. Bill Murray relives the same day over and over and over again. There seems to be no way out. I think I know how he felt.

This winter has been horrible for everyone. People living in the northern states have learned how to endure the never-ending grey, COLD, snowy days. People in the southern states say have winter–temps in the 50s and 60s, but this year there has been ice and snow in Atlanta.

Everyone is talking about the weather, even though I try to keep my comments to a bare minimum, but being retired now, this weather is holding me prisoner.

One day my car didn’t start because even sheltered in the garage, the temperature was ten below zero. One day my back got a chill and the muscles seized up which has put a severe pain in my backside.

Ken and I feel like a couple of grounded teenagers. Worst of all, this inclement weather has emphasized the sameness of our “normal” life. When the temperature rises above zero, we have two or three inches of snow to jazz things up . . . and because Ken’s wheelchair doesn’t have snow tires, he can get stuck in the stuff.

The one good thing this sequestering has done has been to plunk butt down in my chair and finish the first draft of my seventh novel. Now, I’m re-reading the story and putting the first pass of editing on it before I send it off to my editor.

Yesterday when I talked to a friend who has moved to Florida (who was sitting on her porch slipping lemonade), she was flabbergasted I would reread and edit my work a couple of times before any other eyes saw the text. I see this element as part of the process. I was surprised at her reaction because she likes to think of herself as a writer, too.

Do any of you come from the school of writing that I do? Do you rewrite your prose a couple of times before sending it out? Do you pass it in front of a person you trust before thinking it’s “done?” I can remember doing such a thing since I was in high school. To me this part of writing is normal.

What do you do when you complete a “first draft” of one of your pieces?

Finding Gessler is Released! Get ‘Em While They’re Hot!

Latest Novel from McCloskey

Latest Novel from McCloskey

It’s here! It’s here! The UPS guy delivered my sixth novel this week. I don’t think opening the shipping box and looking at a new work will never grow old. FINDING GESSLER  is a beautiful book thanks to Sue,  my sister-in-law. Shee did the cover art again, and I’m convinced the cover will entice readers to my books. I’m sorry to say, the covers PublishAmerica created for two of my novels pale in comparsion with Sue’s covers.

Between my support staff of Heidi editing, Sue providing the art, and Linda helping with the proofreading, this book is one of the best I’ve produced. I’m just saying. . .

It’s exciting to see the progression of my writing, too. Writing is just like any other art, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Sometimes I wish I could rewrite the early books, but writing is a process. I’ve learned to use other people and even a digital editor to help me improve. It’s true. We all fight natural tendencies of using the same words too many times. We all fall into the trap of overusing certain sentence structures. I am particularly lazy with the verbs I choose. Now, however, after six novels and help from my band of helpers, I am growing. Exciting stuff.

If someone would have said I ever could write six novels three years ago, I would have laughed. “Me? No way.” That’s probably what I would have said. But circumstances in my life gave me the time and the angel of inspiration lit a fire under me. And Voila! I have six books with my name on them sitting on my bookshelf. My goal is to fill the shelf before I pass on to another life. 

Somewhere I heard the advice not to quit your day job before you have produced TEN novels. I’m almost there with  STEPHANIA IN AMERICA in the rewrite stage. Heidi read the novel and gave me her critique. Now it’s my job to satisfy her questions. I trust her judgment and appreciate her help. And so it goes.

Oh, did I mention my staff works for free? (I do give them a book after I order my initial copies.) They are people who believe in me enough to give me their time and talent. What a gift!

Good Pages Keep on Turnin’!

My favorite comment I love to hear from my readers about my novels is: “I couldn’t put it down!”  When I hear this, I’m satisfied I’ve done a good job to entertain my readers, and that’s the best gift I can give as an author.

My stories will never change the world. They are designed to entertain–to take readers to another time and place. I strive to evoke emotion. My novels offer insights about friendships and love, strong women and brave men. And in the final chapter, I finish the book.

I don’t know how you feel, but if I’m left “hanging” at the end of a novel, I feel cheated. I want resolution. I want to know that the time I spent reading 300 or more pages was worth my time.

So how does an author keep readers turning pages? I believe in today’s reading world it comes down to a couple of things. First, chapters should be short. Our modern attention spans demand quick, concise reading. When a chapter is only a few pages, readers don’t tire by the end and are often spurred on to read another. (I figure if  James Paterson can do it, so can I.) Second, the chapter leaves a tease. The reader wants to know what happens next, so they will continue reading. And finally, timing must be perfect. The author needs to instinctively know when to pause and begin the next chapter.

My advice is if you think you should stop, you probably should. The over-worn saying “less is more” really does apply in this case. Happy writing!