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Writing is a touchy business. All subjective and sometimes VERY opinionated. Tom Hanks famously said, “there’s no crying in baseball.” Well, let me tell you, there’s a lot of crying in the writing business. (more…)

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So it’s another year. A new beginning. Out with the old, in with the new. Sometimes letting go of the old stuff is hard. Sometimes not. As some of you know, in December I wrapped up my second year as President of my local writer’s group. It was a challenging yet rewarding period in my life. I learned a lot. But now, it’s time to turn over the reins to a new leader. I’m going to be honest here, I’m ready to hand over the tiara and the scepter.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Some of you are probably all too aware of the challenges associated with leading a group of volunteers all of whom are already over-worked in other areas of their lives. It is, after all, usually the busiest people who volunteer to take on yet more responsibility. If not for these willing souls, however, many things would simply not happen. Until you’ve volunteered or filled in for someone in a volunteer capacity, it is hard to understand what that person experiences. Volunteering is not for everyone, but it certainly enriches our lives when we do it.

Image courtesy Google Images.

Image courtesy Google Images.

So as we move forward with 2015, I wish the best of luck to our new leadership team at the Sacramento Valley chapter of RWA and look forward to learning and growing by your example. I offer my continued support and bow humbly at your feet for stepping up to the plate.

Have you ever volunteered? Did you learn from that experience? Did you regret your decision to help out?

Word of the Day:  Xiphoid

Fun fact about me: I don’t volunteer because I have the time; I volunteer because I have the heart.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

 

 

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Have you ever woke up from a dream and wondered what the heck just happened? Ever wondered what the nonsense playing in your brain could possibly mean? Ever have a recurring dream?

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Today I’m introducing my good friend and RWA chaptermate, Suzanne Vince, who is here to talk to you about her debut novel The Many Lives of June Crandall, a book about a young girl’s recurring dream and what it meant for her. On Friday, September 12, 2014, Suzanne will choose one random person who leaves a comment to receive a free copy of her book.

Photo courtesy Amazon.com

Photo courtesy Amazon.com

Growing up, Suzanne imagined herself as many things (a nurse, a teacher, even a secretary) but never a writer. Despite the fact that she grew up in an exceptionally creative family — everyone having some special talent — Suzanne did not, leaving them all to wonder if perhaps she’d been adopted.

She wrote her first book by accident, four years ago when she sat down to journal her thoughts. Four hours later she’d written the first 30 pages of what became her first novel, The Many Lives of June Crandall.

While Suzanne’s books include elements of romance and spirituality, the main story revolves around a strong parent-child bond, a reflection of the bond she shared with her own parents. Her stories inspire love, hope and the possibility of happily ever after.

Here’s my interview with Suzanne (her responses are in purple):

Tell us about how this book got its start. Did you actually have a series of dreams like the protagonist in your book, or did the idea just strike you out of the blue?

Out of the blue, kind of. I had just finished changing out the books on my bookshelf—removing the old, making room for the new. I came back a while later and found a book lying on the floor. It was titled, Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss. It’s a book about past lives.

I picked up the book and opened the cover and saw an address label on the inside. Like one you’d put on a letter. Obviously I’d purchased the book used. The name on the label was June Crandall from Sarasota, Florida. I put the book back, but for the next week I kept thinking about June, who she was, if she was still alive, what her life had been like. Before I knew it, I’d created June’s story in my head.

The following weekend I sat down to start writing and pulled the book off the bookshelf to serve as my muse. When I looked at the label on the book again, the name was Rosalyn Fink, not June Crandall. As writers, we have to invent the name of our characters, but I never in a million years would’ve come up with the name June Crandall. That’s when I knew that the story was meant to be written.

Any particular reason why you choose those three specific Junes?

Not really. I wanted each June to represent a different aspect of what was missing in Grace’s life. A mother, a best friend, even a lover.

How much research did you have to do before or while writing this book?

The dreams all take place in past centuries and I wanted the details to be as accurate as possible, so there was some research needed there. And since most of the story takes place in New York, I wanted to make sure I got the geographical scenes correct.

What’s your favorite part about the story?

I think the book signing scene is my favorite. And of course, who doesn’t love a happily ever after?

What would you tell your readers to expect before they start reading?

Well, the book is classified as a women’s fiction novel, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a mystery, a romance, and a coming of age story all in one.

Without giving anything away, what one thing about the book surprised you as you were writing it?

 I think it had to be how hard it was to make my character (Grace Adams) suffer. It took a lot of revisions to get to the point where I felt she’d suffered enough.

Were you inspired by any particular author before or during your writing of this book?

There’s a little book titled God on a Harley by Joan Brady (I highly recommend it–it’s funny, moving and every woman on the planet will be able to relate to the story). Anyway, I’ve read the book several times and every time it stirs something inside of me. I read it last in July of 2010 and then, without realizing it, I wrote the first fifty or so pages of what would become my first novel (which is now collecting dust bunnies under the bed). So I guess you could say that Joan Brady inspired me to write.

Photo courtesy SuzanneVince.com

Photo courtesy SuzanneVince.com

Here’s the 4-1-1 on Suzanne:

I grew up in Park Forest, Illinois—twice an All-American City—in a hectic and chaotic but loving family. After graduating from Loyola University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (major in Accounting), I said goodbye to snow shovels and ice scrapers and followed my parents out to California.

I currently live in Sacramento with my husband, my step-daughter and our four furry children. I still have my day job—for now—but spend most of my free time writing.

Learn more about Suzanne by visiting http://suzannevince.com.

And here’s the 4-1-1 on The Many Lives of June Crandall: 

Shuffled from one orphanage to another and finally abandoned into foster care, Grace Adams finds comfort only in her dreams, only these dreams are unlike anything Grace could ever dare to imagine. From a Nazi concentration camp in World War 2 to a Geisha house in Feudal Japan, in her dream world Grace is loved and protected by one person: a woman named June Crandall with a face she is unable to forget. Believing that the woman from her dreams is the mother she’s never met, Grace petitions the court to unseal her birth records, and what she learns about her birth mother will shake her to her core. Years later, at the urging of her husband, Grace publishes a book about the woman from her dreams. At a book signing, a stranger appears and offers a clue to the mystery surrounding Grace’s birth. Putting her skills as an investigative journalist to work, Grace uncovers a web of secrets and betrayal that threatens to destroy her dream of being reunited with her birth family. Will Grace find the woman from her dreams? Will she solve the mystery of her birth? Will she be able to put the past behind her and find forgiveness for the family that abandoned her?

Get your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Many+Lives+of+June+Crandall

Word of the Day: Cajuput

Fun Fact About Me: I consider myself a wine snob.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt September 2014. Photos courtesy, Google Images, Amazon.com and suzannevince.com.

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Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

As I arrive home from the annual national conference of Romance Writers of America, I am weary but bursting with joy. I have learned much from the huge variety of engaging workshops and have filled my creative tank to maximum capacity.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

I am still high from riding the waves of excitement that swell throughout this event. There is an unexplainable joy that settles into my soul when I am among like-minded individuals all pursuing the same goal; people who understand the ups and downs of this business we call writing.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

I am hung over with the giddiness that comes from meeting new friends and reconnecting with others I see less often. A plethora of social events provides many opportunities to hear amazing stories of people who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles on their way to success.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

A rejuvenating optimism courses through my body and I return home inspired to dig a little deeper in order to achieve that next step on my journey.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Until next year, I shall endeavor to raise the bar on the quality of my work, my relationships and my life.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

The following short poem, by Tiffany Prochera is an accurate reflection on my current state of mind. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

http://www.inspirational-poems.net/short-inspirational-poems/404-be-inspired

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

How about you dear readers – what inspires you? Where do you go, or what do you do when you need a little pick-me-up? Do conferences inspire you? Does nature inspire you? (Obviously it does me, ergo, the photos.)

Word of the Day: Winze

Fun fact about me: I love lighthouses.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, July 2014. Original poem by Tiffany Prochera. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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