Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

As writers and artists we are often asked where our ideas come from. The answer is complex and usually never just from one place. Take for example, Felicity in my latest Getting to Mr. Right series. What made me choose to have her interested in fashion rather than music, sports or photography – all interests of mine?

The answer lies in part, I think, with my mother and her love of fashion. Whenever she watched television she commented on what the women were wearing, just as after an outing she would give a critical expose on how the women were dressed. In the last years of her life I would visit her and we would watch together What Not To Wear, a show I haven’t watched since her death seven years ago.

One of her favorite movie actresses was Audrey Hepburn, especially the role she played as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I suspect what my mother loved about the movie was not the gangster/call girl plot of the film. Nor Holly’s capacity, in her femme fatale manner, to seduce the men in her life in order to get what she wants. Nor was it the script’s chick-lit style of presenting Holly as an independent woman, unafraid of thwarting feminine customs. What made my mother love Breakfast at Tiffany’s was most likely Ms. Hepburn’s wardrobe.

My mother’s own style was more of the sensible cardigan and slacks (who uses that word these days?) as she puttered around the house. But on those rare occasions when she dressed up she was meticulous about what she wore adding a string of pearls around a plain dress  which, in the imagination of my memory, she might as well have been wearing the sheath black dress or double breasted orange wool coat which Ms. Hepburn wore in the movie.

In Truman Capote’s novella, Holly Golightly (don’t you just love this name?) … was always well groomed, there was a consequential good taste in the plainness of her clothes, the blues and grays and lack of luster that made her, herself, shine so. One might have thought her a photographer’s model, perhaps a young actress.”

Along with my mother’s influence and my love for the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s  I was likely subliminally drawn to creating a character who is involved in the world of fashion.

In this scene Felicity, is with Eduardo, a gallery owner:

This is the second time in less than twenty-four hours that I have been asked if I love Marco. “Absolutely? Can we ever be absolute about our feelings?” I say aware that I’m avoiding answering his question.

“Enough about your love life,” he says almost impatiently. “Tell me about your art project. How you combine it with fashion.”

As he sits beside me, I tell Eduardo about the project with Tina and show him pictures from my cell. “They’re painted graffiti jeans. It’s  a lot of fun to do.”

“These are incredible,” he says. “Do they make these jeans in my size?”

Eduardo is a hefty man and I really can’t see him in a pair of these jeans, even though many of them are made wide and loose. Still, I say, “I’ll make sure to get you a pair. Which design do you prefer?”

He chooses a dark indigo jean with designs inspired by Miro on the legs and back pocket. I feel myself beaming. It’s wonderful getting recognized for my work.

 

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Photo courtesy of The Laurent Brisson collection 

 

I’d love to hear about where you get some of your ideas.

 

 

Why I Changed My Cover

In my last post I revealed a cover for my latest novel Not By Design. 

Many of you took the time to comment positively about the cover and with all my heart – THANK YOU!

In the midst of this ego boost I received an e-mail from Debby at  D.G.Kaye who offered a different opinion, pointing out that my cover, although appealing, did not “go with” my brand.

The photo doesn’t give me an immediate feel for what the book is about. And the title should be in stronger font and stand out more, like your other books. Maybe like your Finding Mr. Right book, so it stands out and follows the branding of the previous book?

I literary struggled with the decision to change the cover of my book. At first I tried to take the easy way out and just go ahead with the status quo.  Also because so many of you wrote such lovely comments about the cover I didn’t want to take the risk of offending you by changing it. Besides, I too liked the cover.

I admire Debby’s work and that she has read all my previous books in my Getting To Mr. Right Series added clout to her critique. Plus, there was this annoying tiny voice nudging me to pay attention.

As these things so often happen, Jenny Nash’s weekly post was on getting advice. An interesting article worth reading, as Jenny’s articles are, but what particularly stuck with me were these words:

Most important of all, don’t lose sight of your own heart. When you get advice, weigh it against what you think. Does it ring true to you? Does it strike a nerve? Can you see how incorporating it will make your work more clear, more logical, and more whole? If yes, then by all means, take the advice.

Debby’s advice did strike a nerve that I couldn’t ignore, especially what she said about branding.

What did I know about branding except nothing. Then, I came across a tutorial on branding which you can find here.

If I was to be honest with myself I had to admit that my current cover, as eye-catching as it was, was not the right fit for my Getting To Mr. Right series. It just didn’t go with the other covers.  Something I should have thought about beforehand. But honestly, I hadn’t at all considered branding.

 

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As hard as it was for me to let go of the “old” cover, I had to do it.

The cover I’ve ended up choosing is more faithful to the character’s spirit and, hopefully, more in tune with the other books in this series.

 

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In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.

Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.

Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.

Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.

Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

 

Buy Not By Design – A Getting To Mr. Right Series

 Amazon

 

 

 

Cover Reveal

It took a lot of searching and tries before I finally settled on a cover for my upcoming novel Not By Design.

My first idea for a cover was one that would depict Rome – where the novel is partially set. I particularly liked a certain photo that was on an Italian tour company’s website – an alleyway with huge overflowing flower boxes.

Here’s an excerpt from my novel to explain why I thought such a cover photo was appropriate. (Garbatella is a village-like community about twenty minutes from the center of Rome.)

The fifteen-minute walk to Tina’s cottage leads through a maze of courtyards, each with its own English garden. Her low-rise house, with its wrought iron gate, is at the end of a winding, cobbled street filled with overflowing flower boxes. I make my way along the curved sidewalks, soaking in the splendor of the terra cotta buildings with their clotheslines full of colorful laundry slowly drying in the late afternoon sun. I pass by a huge mural and smile to myself. Perhaps one day, Garbatella will also have one of my paintings on its walls.

Alas, my request to use the flower boxes-alleyway photo was never answered. That was a good thing. Not by Design is about more than Rome and its great places to eat. It’s about a woman’s struggle to come to terms with her road map. A short novel more about character than setting.

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I haven’t completely chucked the idea of using the setting as background for a future cover of this book. Consider this quote by Tim Kreider in his The New Yorker article The Decline and Fall of The Book Cover.  

I’ve been told that the most powerful figures in the current literary world, the buyers for the major national bookstore chains, have been known to offer to increase their orders for a book if its cover is changed.

Matt Dorfman, art director of The New York Times Book Review, lists The Best Book Covers of 2015 in this article.

Enjoy! 

What do you think? Do you judge a book by its cover?

Seeking Purpose

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I’m pleased and honored to be featured on Joanne’s blog. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
If you haven’t yet been on Joanne’s blog I encourage you to browse through it. You’re sure to be inspired.

http://joanneguidoccio.com/

 

Joanne Guidoccio

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Canadian author Carol Balawyder musing about the two acts of her writing journey.

Here’s Carol!

carolbalawyderI am so grateful to be featured among so many (over 90!) wonderful writers in Joanne Guidoccio’s Second Acts series.

In life one has many second acts but the one which I wish to focus on here is my writing journey.

ACT ONE

Five years ago I retired from a successful teaching career with the luck of a pension that allowed me the freedom to write without the financial burden of having a day job. My initial intention was to put my heart and soul into writing crime novels. After all, wasn’t that the purpose for my going back to school to study criminology and later teach Police Tech and Corrections so that I would have credibility as a crime writer?

mourninghasbrokenBut then people around me…

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Giving Thanks

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October 12: Canada’s Thanksgiving Day.

For all of you who have followed me and continue to do so; for your awesome posts and wonderful books; for all who have read my books and posted reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and other social media; for those who have featured me on their blogs and websites

 I THANK YOU 💖 

In appreciation, all my books are on sale this week.

http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Balawyder/e/B00HVETKWM

Reviews are gratefully welcome 🙂

 

Empowering Divorce Summit: Day 2

Dear Blogging Friends,

I hope that you are all having a good day. 🙂

I just want to let you know that my interview with Heather Debreceni, host of the Empowering Divorce Summit (Dating Edition) that started yesterday, is now live.

In this interview I talk about how my post divorce experiences influenced the writing of my contemporary women’s fiction books.

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The interviews go on for 10 days. In Day 1 Heather gives great advice for high conflict divorce cases and the inspirational Amita Patel offers 7 skills to improve any relationship. 

http://www.empowereddivorcesummit.com/day-one/

 If you haven’t already reserved your spot to the summit you can do so Here.

 

 

Café Paradise: Presenting

Some of you might be familiar with Suzy Paradise who appeared in Getting To Mr. Right. Two years have passed and Suzy has given up online dating. Here’s a scene between Suzy and Lyse, her friend and mentor:

“I haven’t been online for three weeks,” I told her as I poked my finger in one of the donuts to test to see if it was cool enough to glaze. 

“You sound like an alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in three weeks,” Lyse said,

“A perfect analogy,” I said. “At first you get a high from all these men hitting on your profile. All this interest. But after a while, it gets boring and disappointing. What’s your secret with Teddy?” Lyse had been married for over forty years.

In Café Paradise Suzy is pursuing a lifelong dream of hers. I like the idea that on the cusp of mid-life she goes after her dream. As I went along writing the novella I was inspired by a hanging in my office:

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. E.M. Forster  

 Suzy is confronted with– as anyone with a dream is –choosing between letting go of her dream or hanging unto it.

 

Café Paradise is now on sale at Amazon.

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My Blogging Holiday

Hello Dear Blogging Friends,

It’s nice to be back.  I hope that you have all been having a wonderful June and July and that this post finds you well and happy.

Just in case you’ve been DYING TO KNOW here’s what I’ve  been up to during my blogging holiday.

I’ve been preparing guest posts for my crime writers’ series How I Got Published. Kristina Stanley will be featured this Friday and later in the fall Judy Penz Sheluk and Carrie Rubin will talk about their publishing process. Keep a look out for these three fabulous (and need I add, hard working) writers of crime fiction.

I also did an interview for Heather Debreceni’s upcoming Empowered Divorce Summit on Dating. The interview will be aired on Sept. 8 and you can reserve your spot at www.empowereddivorcesummit.com More to come on this.

Most of my time has been spent editing Café Paradise, the second in a four novella series following Getting To Mr. Right. In Café Paradise the focus is on Suzy Paradise and her struggles to fulfill a life time dream.The hardest battles are the ones we wage inside.

I hope to have Café Paradise on Kindle by the end of August.

It hasn’t been all work and no play though.

 

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I’m truly looking forward to catching up on your blogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free: Second Edition of Missi’s Dating Adventures

I’m offering Missi’s Dating Adventures FREE from April 3-5.

It’s a second edition and I’ve made some fun changes to it.

Writing the second edition was a lot like renovating a house. Walls (chapters) were torn down, and new extensions built. Included in this revised version are the lessons which Missi learned from each dating experience. Surviving disappointments in her love life made her stronger, and the bad dates, the many encounters with Mr. Wrong, gave her more confidence and a better appreciation of who she is and how discerning she is becoming through her dating adventures.

Even if you’ve read the first edition do pick it up and if you’re so inclined, do write a review on Amazon, Goodreads or any other social media. 

I will be extremely grateful (Unless of course you trash it! 🙂 )

The book’s available on Kindle but with the free Kindle app you can download it on any reader.

Just make sure you order from your country’s Amazon store! 

Click on the cover to view.

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James M. Jackson’s Guest

I am getting a bit shy about tooting my own horn.

Still, I wouldn’t want to have you miss out on a fellow blogger’s interesting site and his Seamus McCree mystery series. And I do so appreciate all the opportunities which have come my way. So, for a little bit more about me and a whole lot about James M. Jackson click HERE and HERE.

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