speaking up for late bloomers

When I get a bad review of one of my novels, I’m obviously disappointed, but I have never, nor will I ever attack the reviewer. People are entitled to their own opinions and I long ago accepted that not everyone will like my books and, in fact, some people might hate them.  I am not under some false belief that every person who writes me a bad review is a troll. Critics come with the territory of putting your art out there publicly.

Part of my motivation for writing How Do You Know? was to argue the misconception that there is an age by which women “grow up” or figure themselves out. And while the story was one hundred percent fictional, I have experienced many of the same doubts as my character Maggie, especially as I approached forty, and I know I am not alone in this. So when I receive a negative review based solely on the fact that my character is “too old” to be having her doubts – doubts acceptable to woman at a younger age, I’m offended personally—not as the author but as a woman and a late bloomer.

For people who are so simpleminded to attach a deadline to emotional growth, I say lucky for you! How fortunate to have experienced such a healthy, functional upbringing that you can’t possibly compute the reality of the many people who weren’t so lucky. I also say that taking the time to ask questions and make less popular choices is not self-absorbed—it’s brave.

Finally, I suggest you get out more. You’d be surprised how many amazing people you could meet if you took down your judgmental walls. And how much you’d learn—even after 40.

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Excerpt to “Blogger Girl” sequel and Introducing Felicia Harrison

This time last year, I put out a challenge to the “blogosphere” to set me up with a man – not just any man but an appealing and available man I actually liked. In return, I vowed to name a character of my next book (the sequel to Blogger Girl) after anyone whose matchmaking led to an actual date. You can read the post here:

Well, it’s a good thing I have my own ways of getting dates because you guys FAILED miserably. Seriously. Thanks for nothing people…

One person did, however, stand out among all others. My interactions with this woman were very limited at the time, but she really made it her mission to set me up. She, also, failed. But her efforts have earned her the prize as well as a true friend who adores her.

After much discussion, she has chosen to remain anonymous so rather than use her real name, I have named a character after her alter ego, aka the fake name she gave to men when she was single and not interested.

I’d like to introduce you all to Felicia Harrison. The below excerpt is subject to change since I’m still in editing.

I spotted Felicia immediately. She was sitting on a black upholstered couch scribbling in a leather-bound journal. As I approached, she looked up and smiled. Standing up, she said, “Kim?”

I returned her smile and nodded. My throat was dry and I swallowed hard, praying my voice wouldn’t crack. “Hi.”

Motioning toward the couch, she said, “Is this okay? I got here early and snagged the only open spots. I’m glad you got here before I had to fight someone for the space.” She laughed.

I scanned the crowded lounge and smiled timidly. “It’s fine. I hope I’m not late.”

“You’re right on time. Do you want a drink?”

The answer to her question was an unequivocal “yes” but I didn’t know the proper protocol. Was it a trick question? 

As if reading my mind, Felicia said, “Having met with many new authors in my fifteen years as a literary agent, I find a drink calms their nerves and they almost never make drunk fools of themselves.”

I bit my lip. Almost?

Felicia laughed. “I’m making an executive decision and getting us both glasses of Champagne. You sit and protect our space.”

I chuckled. “Okay. Thanks.”

Even though I had seen pictures of Felicia during various stages of agent-stalking, I discreetly checked her out as she ordered our drinks at the bar. With fifteen years’ experience, she was probably about forty, although she could easily pass for thirty-five. She was tall (at least compared to me) and thin with killer legs and warm brown eyes. Her chestnut brown hair was styled all one length except for bangs. She was pretty and so far, seemed as kind as her appearance suggested. 

Returning from the bar, Felicia handed me a glass of Champagne before sitting down next to me. Then she clinked her glass against mine. “Better?”

I took a small sip, determined to pace myself. “Much better,” I confessed. The Champagne took the edge off my nerves, but I was far from tranquil. I had conversed with many agents in my blogger capacity, but this was my first face-to-face as an author and I didn’t want to blow it. 

Felicia smiled. “Good. Thanks for meeting me today.”

“Thanks for asking me! And for reading A Blogger’s Life.” I felt a pulsing in my throat in anticipation of the conversation about to take place.

Felicia put her glass down on the table in front of us. “It was my pleasure. It’s a great story, Kim. You should be proud.”

Lifting my chin, I said, “Thank you.” So far so good.

“Although the market is flooded with bloggers turned authors, a fictional novel from the perspective of a book blogger is fresh.” Tipping her head to the side, she queried, “It is fiction, right?”

“Yes. I mean, I relied on my own experiences as a book blogger for authenticity, but the story itself as well as the characters are completely fictitious.”

Felicia nodded. “You’ve got talent Kim and I think the novel has a wide appeal for younger readers of chick lit, romantic comedy, and humorous women’s fiction. But…”

But what??? Nope. You’ll have to wait until the book is released to read what comes next.

For those of you who didn’t win, it could have been your name up there. Aren’t you jealous?

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-june-2015/

I’m letting my books speak for themselves!

My last post was extremely personal and raw. The multitude of comments and shares suggests that it touched many readers who were able to relate. I’m glad about that, but being so open and honest is draining and I couldn’t do it two weeks in a row. So, as a change, I’m focusing this week’s post on my books and what’s going on with them. And as a treat, I’m going to let them speak for themselves:

How Do You Know? – Thanks for letting me go first even though I’m the youngest. My characters are older so that should count for something, right? Anyway, I have some exciting news to share. Only, I was told that I’m not allowed to share yet because details are still being worked out. Sorry! In the meantime, I received my 57th review on Amazon this week and it was 5 stars! Woohoo! I would really love to catch up to my older sisters so if you haven’t left a review yet, please consider doing so. Pretty please?

Just Friends with Benefits – I’ve been a best seller in the UK for several months and consistently in the top 100 on the humor list. I’m very excited to be reaching chick lit readers and fans of romantic comedy across the pond. Like a good wine, I’m getting better with age!! Be sure to read my sisters too!

Blogger Girl – I was republished by AmazonEncore last year and—

A State of Jane – so was I!

Blogger Girl – Excuse me, we were republished by AmazonEncore.

A State of Jane –  It’s very exciting to be part of Amazon Publishing. We’ve recently been included in a special promotion for members of AARP offering discounts of up to 50% off our ebooks. If you’re a member of AARP, be sure to check out Amazon.com this month for an exclusive discount just for you!! http://amzn.to/1Ha5qwA

Blogger Girl – *rolls eyes* – Since I was so rudely interrupted, I’ll also speak on behalf of my sequel, Novel Girl. Her name might change, although I’m hoping we’ll hold onto the “Girl” part since “Girl” is very hot in books right now. Anyway, my sequel (whatever its name will be) is completed and with the final beta reader. We’re hoping to send it to the editor in the next month or two for release later this year. No spoilers but there are lots of exciting developments in store for main character Kim and her friends and frenemies.

And now a word from the author:

While waiting to begin final edits on Novel Girl, I’ve started writing a prequel to the series. The working title is Kim and the Mean Girl. I’m bringing Kim, Bridget, Hannah, and Jonathan back to high school in 2000. I asked several people who were teens in 2000 what it was like, have been binge watching Gilmore Girls, and added more YA to my TBR for inspiration. I’m currently reading To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han. The writing process is fun, particularly since I’ve never written YA before and I’m also writing from both Kim and Hannah’s perspectives. I hope this novella (aiming for 100-150 pages) will appeal to lovers of chick lit AND YA. It’s already 16 pages.

I’ve come up with what I think will be the plot of the second installment of the Seeking Happily Ever After series. This book will feature Maggie from How Do You Know?‘s friend Amanda. Again, no spoilers but think The Vow meets Glee meets The Best of Me.

I’m also toying with writing a novel inspired by the relationship between me and my late boss featuring a thirty-something single city girl and the ghost of her late mentor/best friend. It will be humorous yet heartbreaking at the same time.

I haven’t decided which one, if either, to write first. If you have a preference, be sure to let me know although I make no promises. And that’s it for me and my books. Books, say goodbye to my followers.

 Books: Later, followers!!!

Dwelling

I was planning to write about part two of my vacation from real life—when I returned to New York City after my trip to Barbados just in time to greet my fellow authors from faraway lands who were in town for the Book Expo America Conference. I had such a fantastic, if not exhausting, time but I don’t feel like writing about it. My friend Samantha Stroh Bailey wrote a terrific recap here if you’re interested.

I was also thinking about doing a mass giveaway of my most recent novel, How Do You Know? I think it’s my best writing so far and I want to reach a larger audience but I don’t feel like promoting today either. (Although if you want a free ecopy, send me an email as I’m in a generous mood.)

My books are lighthearted, fun reads but my heart is too heavy right now to write a light, fun blog post. I miss my boss/best friend Alan so much and I can’t shake it off. Maybe I don’t want to shake it off. Missing him keeps him alive but the pain right now is excruciating. Don’t get me wrong, not a day has gone by since he died that I haven’t missed him and thought about him a hundred times an hour. But sometimes it’s a dull pain—I know he’s gone and I hate it but I go to work, write, spend time with friends, exercise, watch television, date, and yes, enjoy being alive. Other times, more often than not in the last week, the pain is sharp and I feel the grief so deep in my bones that I can’t breathe. The silliest things set me off and I break down while doing my ab routine at home, while doing sprints in spin class, while making coffee in the pantry at work etc. For instance, I cried remembering how Alan would sometimes reply to my emails/texts with a simple “Ok” and when I would complain that he wasn’t really listening to me, he’d respond, “Ok” again just to piss me off. I couldn’t be angry with him because I was too busy laughing. Another example: I was getting ready for work one morning, listening to a concert on the Today Show, and from out of nowhere, I heard Alan’s voice saying, “O No You Dit-ten” and I felt my heart in my throat.

The man could read my moods like no one else. He would take one look at me and know when I was having a bad day without my saying a word. He’d say, “What’s wrong, Merrybeth?” and my lips would tremble and the whole story would come pouring out. The amount of time he spent trying to cheer me up when I was down could be measured in years. I think about going the rest of my life without hearing his voice or his laugh and I’m terrified. I wonder how I will navigate this crazy world without his encouragement, guidance and humor. He had such faith in me and tried tirelessly to make me see myself the way he did but he died before he succeeded. Every day, someone’s life is irrevocably changed due to the death of a loved one and somehow the world keeps turning but right now, as I hover over my tablet at the coffee shop blinking back my tears, I can’t breathe.

It’s called a grieving “process” but a process suggests that it will end and I can’t imagine a time when I won’t miss him with a fervor. I don’t publicly dwell on my grief very often and only share it with a select few in sporadic outbursts. I think I’m embarrassed. Like I should be “over it” by now and the fact that I’m not makes me weak. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough but how does one “try” to stop missing someone? Alan used to implore me not to dwell on things I couldn’t control and I’m dwelling for sure. I’m sorry, Alan.

When I first started blogging on this site, I wrote a post called Blog Vows promising, among other things, to keep it real:

I vow to keep it real.  I will not paint my life as one of perfection because we all know that no one’s life is perfect.  I will post the good, the bad and the ugly.  But the ugly will not include pictures of myself after a two hour run or after just waking up in the morning.  I vow to post about my books and my writing but also anything on my mind I think might be of interest to my followers, including but not limited to events in pop culture and humorous observations about life in New York City or anywhere else my travels take me.   

So, today I’m keeping it real by admitting that I’m having a difficult month. But it’s time to wrap this up. My plan for this afternoon was to spend an hour on my blog and two hours on my fiction but it’s almost five o’clock and I need to get home and prepare for my evening out. Stay tuned for my next post which will hopefully correspond to the humorous, light tone of my novels! Similar to a good book, I like to keep you guessing and, truth be told, I often surprise myself.