Trastevere

I recently returned from a trip to Italy where I spent time in Rome. One of the areas I visited while there was Trastevere where part of my novel, Not By Design, was set.

Not by Design

We cross the River Tiber and approach the archeological remains of rooms that were once baths made of black and white mosaics. My guidebook tells me that these were made in the first century AD. It’s hard for me to grasp that over two thousand years ago there was an entire civilization living on the ground I am standing on.

We are walking along the delightful district of Trastevere.  In Trastevere one will get glimpses of the “real” Rome. Marco and I have been here many times. To eat in their famous restaurant area, go to the theatre, the cinema or just mingle with the Romans in clubs and bars. Today our mission is different. We are visiting the church Bridget reserved for our wedding.
Marco and I are holding hands as we pass by boutiques offering handcrafted wares and clothing stores with magnificent styles.

As we approach Piazza Santa Maria with its spectacular fountain I stop to take in the church in front of us. It is a stunning Medieval church. Its façade glows with its series of faded mosaics honoring the Virgin Mary. I can’t think of a more romantic setting for our wedding. Even before entering the church I know that it is perfect. Except for one thing. “I can’t believe that my father won’t be here to walk me down the aisle,” I say.

 

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To visit my author page click here 

 

 

 

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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Source

Oops! Sorry, wrong photo!

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Source

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

Wake me when it’s over!

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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

My Interview With Aimee at Hello…Chick Lit

Some of you might have read my guest post as author of the week on Aimee’s blog. Today, I am being interviewed there.

Here are some things you should know about Aimee:

 

About the Author:

She’s an Authors Assistant and Publicist (freelance) and thinks most authors are awesome, which is probably why she so generously opens her heart (and blog) to writers.

She’d love to be a Literary Agent.

She loves romantic comedy movies… Father of the Bride, You’ve Got Mail, which she may have them memorized and claims that she never watches other genres because, no one can make her.

Read more about Aimee on her fun About Me Page

 

Author of the Week – An Interview with Carol Balawyder

What was your inspiration to start (and keep) writing?

I really can’t remember when I started to write. Maybe I was ten. Maybe twelve. I just had a desire to write. There was no horrific incident happening in my life and no urgent message that I wanted to share with the world. What has kept me writing is more complex. I am basically an introvert and in a group I tend to listen more than talk. Writing is my preferred way of expressing myself. I draw a lot of my inspiration to write from books and blogs I read. Sometimes I draw inspiration from my past life experiences that I transfer to my characters. The creative process of writing fascinates me and I find the challenge which writing presents inspiring. Of course, there are times when I don’t feel inspired at all. These are the times that I have to accept this flat period and trust that inspiration will come. It usually does by my pulling away from my desk and engaging in something different – listening to music, going to an art gallery or taking my dog for a walk on the mountain.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write in and how it found you?

I write chick lit with my protagonists being older than most chick lit novels. How did it find me? I’ve always loved reading good chick lit. I find it entertaining and relaxing.  I like the lighthearted style of chick lit. The way the protagonists are able to self deprecate and the humor of chick lit. I guess I just feel comfortable in this way of writing..

Is there any author whom you’d admire and read every book they publish?  Who and why?

I admire tons of writers of different genres: crime fiction, literary fiction and biographies. Since we’re talking about chick-lit I’ll read anything that Helen Fielding writes. She’s clever, funny and heartwarming.

Click here to read more

 

 

 

 

Follow Me Today at Hello…Chick Lit

Meet AIMEE

About the Author:

 

Aimee has worked in Publishing for almost a year as a Book Marketing Manager, & Author Assistant. She has years of experience in Customer Service ranging from Call Centers (Netflix) – to Hospital ER’s.
She owns her own freelance Virtual Assisting Service/Blog Tour Company and is available for hire as an Authors Assistant/Personal Assistant. She also runs a Book Tour Company and is an aspiring author and freelance writer.

HCL Book Tours

 

This week I have the honor of being author of the week on Aimee’s blog 

Author of the Week

Posting Schedule:

A Guest Post – 06.14.16
An Interview – 06.16.16

You’ll find me as guest post today where I’m giving away

5 FREE ebooks of Not By Design. 

 

 

 

 

World MS Day

 World MS Day

A day to celebrate global solidarity and hope for the future

World MS Day is officially marked on the last Wednesday of May every year, though events and campaigns take place throughout the month of May.

It brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign with and for everyone affected by multiple sclerosis.

In 2009, the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and its members initiated the first World MS Day. Together we have reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world, with a campaign focusing on a different theme each year.

In 2016, the theme for World MS Day is ‘Independence’. It will explore how people with MS can be independent, acknowledging that independence can mean different things to different people.

MSIF provides a toolkit of free resources to help everyone to take part in World MS Day. Anyone can use these tools, or make their own, to create positive change in the lives of more than 2.3 million people around the world.

 

What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common neurological disorders and causes of disability in young adults.

There are 2.3 million people with MS worldwide. It is likely that hundreds of thousands more remain undiagnosed and many lives are affected indirectly, through caring for someone with MS.

Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 31, with around twice as many women diagnosed than men.

The cause of MS is not yet known and as yet there is no cure, though there are treatments available that can help some forms of MS and many things you can do to improve the symptoms.

The severity of the course of MS as well as the symptoms can vary widely among individuals.

The severity of the course of MS as well as the symptoms can vary widely among individuals. These can include blurred vision, weak limbs, tingling sensations, unsteadiness and fatigue.

For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission (meaning it gets better for a while but then can attack from time to time), while for others it has a progressive pattern (meaning that it gets steadily worse with time). Some people may feel and seem healthy for many years following diagnosis, while others may be severely debilitated very quickly.

MS makes life unpredictable for everyone.

To find out more about MS, get in touch with an MS organisation near you or visit the MS International Federation website.

Read more at www.worldmsday.org/

 

In honor of raising MS awareness I am offering Not By Design at 99 cents (US) during the month of May. 

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Click here to buy

“Sometimes we have control over our destiny… and other times life simply happens, and not by design. That’s what Felicity Starr, the protagonist of Carol Balawyder’s fourth book in the Getting to Mr Right series, finds out when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Not By Design is not your typical “boy meets girl, they overcome various obstacles and live happily ever after” romance.” Ana Linden. 

 

“The book was well researched, and the story took us through Felicity’s depression and hopelessness for future happiness to learning to lean on friends for the love and support they so willingly gave, and finally to acceptance of what her life with MS would be, and making the best of it.” Michelle James.

 

 

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Helping Author’s Gain Exposure

Today I’m at Don Massenzio’s blog. Don is not only one of the most prolific bloggers I know but he posts about a variety of interesting subjects. One of his series is helping authors gain exposure and strengthen the blogging community. Don is always looking for authors to feature on his blog so if you’re interested just click here.

Don Massenzio author photo

In the meantime, here’s my interview with Don. 

THANKS, DON! 

Comments are closed here but open on Don’s blog.

May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

 

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This Mother’s Day weekend think of offering a bouquet of carnations – the symbol for Multiple Sclerosis – to your mother in support of raising awareness of MS, a disease which changes the lives of young people affected by it – In general, it strikes people who are between 15 and 40 years old.

 The video below shows what happens in the central nervous system when a person has multiple sclerosis.

  What Is MS?

Felicity Starr, the protagonist of my latest novel – Not By Design – develops MS. Like many other writers, I like to give the reader a bit of information as well as entertainment so that they come away with a feeling that they’ve learned something and had some fun as well. In Not By Design I look at  the effects that this complex disease can have on family, friends and the person suffering from MS.

In honor of raising MS awareness I am offering Not By Design at 99 cents (US) during the month of May. 

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Click here to buy

Sources used in this post:

http://mssoc.convio.net/site/TR/MiscEvents/DivisionduQubec?pg=entry&fr_id=5302&s_locale=en_CA

https://www.youtube.com/embed/KGzsriXqg6U

Book Chat Reviews Not By Design

Sometimes you just have to toot your own horn and sometimes someone else toots it for you! Thank you Michelle James at Book Chat for this great review of my latest book Not By Design.

Michelle’s Review

When I began reading Not by Design,  I expected it to be a twist on a traditional romance novel but was delightfully surprised to find it was much more than just a variation of the conventional romance.  Felicity left her father’s company in Montreal and moved to Rome to pursue her career in art causing a rift between Felicity and her father that could not be healed.  While in Rome, she found love and a proposal of marriage, along with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. When Marco, her fiance, learned of her diagnosis, he said, “Arrivederci.” Frightened about what was in store for her in the future, Felicity decided to move back to Montreal where she could have health insurance and be near her life long friends Missi, Suzy, and Campbell. But what frightens her the most is whether or not with her diagnosis, will she ever be able to find true love.

The characters were true to life, and as much as I loved Felicity from the start, I equally disliked Marco.  Felicity had a love-hate relationship with her mother Nicole in the beginning, but I was happy to see some of the walls between them torn down and a much better mother-daughter relationship take hold.  I love characters that serve to lift up a friend or family member. Missi, Suzy, and Campbell convince her to get a puppy and a cane. Her friend Eduardo, who ran an art gallery, and her new found friend Jeff who walked his dog Clyde at the same dog park where Felicity walked her dog Bonnie, all figure into Felicity’s acceptance of her multiple sclerosis and her outlook on the future.

The book was well researched, and the story took us through Felicity’s depression and hopelessness for future happiness to learning to lean on friends for the love and support they so willingly gave, and finally to acceptance of what her life with MS would be, and making the best of it.

I don’t often read a book straight through, but I couldn’t put this one down.  I honestly can’t find anything I didn’t like about it, other than Marco.  It was a heartwarming story of a person learning to accept and live with a debilitating disease.  There is no reason for me to award Not By Design five stars.

Read more at Book Chat.

 

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