Back in the Groove

Two things have been happening since my last blog post eons ago.

Number 1

I moved.

Moving is much like doing a major spring cleaning of every room in your house. Every nook and cranny and every spec of dust. In a way, it was very liberating and made me practice minimalism. It struck me as incredible and depressing to see how much stuff I’d accumulated throughout the years.

I moved into a smaller apartment and so I needed to downsize and trim my possessions. I still haven’t been able to let go of a small beige colored handbag which I haven’t used in years but it used to belong to my mother. What am I holding unto?

And then there was the move itself during Montreal’s heaviest snowstorm of the season!

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Oops! Sorry, wrong photo!

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My poor dog, Bau, didn’t at all like the move.

Wake me when it’s over!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Number 2

The second reason why I haven’t been posting on my blog is that I had nothing to say.

Then, I received an e-mail from Thelma Mariano, the editor of my women’s fiction novels:

New Picture (9)  balawydermissisdatingadventures  cafe paradise a  Not by Design

Thelma was recently interviewed by Duke Diercks where, along with 12 other editors, was asked this question:

What is the #1 mistake that you see first-time authors make?

 Here’s part of her answer:

 Most first-time novelists underestimate the amount of work required to bring their completed draft to a publishable level. This leads to what I believe is the #1 problem with early manuscripts: a lack of story tension.

If we lack a “story-worthy” problem, something strong enough to pull a reader through hundreds of pages, needing to know what happens next, no amount of editing will make it better.

Click here to read more on Thelma’s answer

and here on the editing process

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.

 

NOT BY DESIGN (1)

 

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

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