Thursday, April 24, 2014

What to do, what to do...?

So, I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to let everyone know about all the cool and exciting things that are coming up just because I decided to publish a book! I could compose an email and send it out to everyone I know and hope that the people who really don't want to hear from me don't get mad. I have two Facebook pages to post events on, but minutes after I post almost anything it disappears into the ether. (Does that make it the ethernet?) I would have to keep at it, posting, reposting, checking my page, posting again. If there were only a place on the internet to which I could direct folks via email or Facebook that would stay put long enough for people to visit it at their leisure. 

Wait a minute. I have a blog! (and a website, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.) And, on my to do list is an insistent #2 entry to update my blog. That loud sound you hear is me smacking my forehead: Two birds, one post. Without further ado, my upcoming two weeks: 

It’s a CAPA weekend! Authors from the CT Authors andPublishers Association is involved in two events this weekend and yours truly will be at both of them!

April 26th - NewBritain Art Museum Family Day.  Visit CT authors in Stanley Works Center between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m..

April 27th - TheMark Twain House 3rd Annual Writers' Weekend!  Sunday morning will feature an expo and book signing of the members of the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association.

May 1st - FirstThursdays are back! Woodbury Park & Rec is thrilled to bring Hi5netTV's First Thursday back to Woodbury on May 1st 2014 from Woodbury's Historic Town Hall.

May 2nd - Byrd’sBooks in Bethel. Join us at Flip-Flop Night on Friday May 2nd at 6:30p.m. at Byrd’s Books!

May 10th - House of Books in Kent, CT. A lovely afternoon book signing in even lovelier Kent, Conn.

Also, for now, Sandi KahnShelton has featured my book on her BooksNewHaven blog. I feel like I just won the Pulitzer.

And for anyone who has ever suffered the pangs of rejection, here is my latestblog post on She Writes, where my publisher She Writes Press lives.

Well, that should take care of you for awhile, yes? Please enjoy any or all of these events and posts. If you have to pick one, pick the one that supports a local, independent bookstore. I am learning a great deal about the brave and hearty souls who own and run these shops. Thank God for them, every day. 

And, as always, thank you for your support. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Dear Everyone,
This is my love letter to you. On Monday night I had the opportunity to experience one of the most wonderful nights of my life thanks to you. I could have never imagined the impact seeing all of you stream in to the Watertown Library would have on my heart. It is almost indescribable. But, as a newly published writer, I should at least give it a shot.

People traveled over distance and time to be there on Monday night. Friends and colleagues I hadn't seen in years--lots of years--were seated in the hard, wooden chairs to listen to me read from my book. My brother flew in from California. In-laws drove in from Buffalo.  Every member of my family within driving distance was there to help out and make the evening beautiful and smooth-running. And memorable.

But it wasn't just the folks who showed up on Monday. It has been all the messages of congratulations and other well-wishing from the friends and family who couldn't be there that have contributed to this elation that has kept me walking several feet off the ground. I got texts, emails, Facebook messages, and notes. Every word is like a pat on the back, a smile, a "well done."

And you bought my book! Let's not forget that! People stood in line to buy my book! People logged on to Amazon or contacted me directly to get a copy. If that isn't a great feeling, then I don't know what is. Of course I figured that my parents would buy a copy and, hopefully, my husband and kids and best friends. But there are hundreds of books being sold and I don't even know how to understand that. By smiling, that's how.

To be honest, I haven't actually been all that fun to be around the last couple of days, though. A little bit of insanity sets in after such a momentous event. At least it did for me. A feeling a little bit like post-partum depression or how it feels to finish a play sets in; as if something is missing. I've been advised that it is the reality of everything going back to normal and it could be partly that. I did sit at my desk all day on Tuesday, writing reports and monitoring visits, but I had anticipated that. I was pretty sure that the Lear jet wasn't waiting to whisk me away to be inteviewed by Ellen or Jimmy. I haven't even been interviewed by any local media! (Yet!)

No, it's more like a combination of all of the above with a little exhaustion thrown in. But do not, for one moment, think that it means that the euphoric and thrilling feelings and emotions that made my book launch a singularly affirming and significant event in my life have dissipated. No way. The realization of a dream, the achievement of a goal, finding another piece of one's self; that doesn't go away too quickly. It sticks around and becomes the Way Things Are Now; different than the Way Things Were Before. Now, I am a published author and I didn't get here alone. I got here with you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the encouragement and support. It is immeasurable and profound to experience utter joy like this. Thank you for such a gift.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Let's go to the Hop!

 My friend, Steve Parlato, was kind enough to invite me to his latest project: a blog hop. I did not know at the time what the heck he was talking about, but I know Steve to be a mostly trustworthy person, so I signed on. Actually, Steve is a completely trustworthy person and I am happy to be included in anything he suggests doing. We became friends when I was teaching with him at Naugatuck Valley Community College and remained friends after I left. Lucky for me. Here's a little more about him:

Steven Parlato is a writer, illustrator and Assistant Professor of English at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Connecticut. An occasional actor, he’s played roles including MacBeth, The Scarecrow and Bambi’s dad, the Great Prince of the Forest. Steve’s poetry appears in journals including MARGIE, Borderlands, Freshwater, CT River Review and Peregrine. His debut YA manuscript, winner of the 2011 Tassy Walden Award for New Voices, was released January 18, 2013 by Merit Press as The Namesake. Recently, Kirkus called the novel a “memorable, disturbing story, carefully wrought.” Represented for fiction by Victoria Marini of Gelfman-Schneider Literary Agency, Steven is at work on his next YA novel. He’s a member of a YA author collective, Uncommon YA. Find him online at or on Twitter: @parlatowrites

Thank you, Steve, for this invitation! It gave me a wonderful opportunity to remember that connecting with my fellow (and sister) writers is a good thing to do. Please visit the three writers' blogs following the Q&A and please visit Steve at his next author appearance on Saturday, April 12th at House of Books in Kent, CT. He’ll be signing copies of THE NAMESAKE from 2:00-4:00 pm.

There is, of course, a Question and Answer portion of the Hop:

1. What am I working on?
Technically, I am "working on" my second collection of essays. But actually, I am working on promoting and maintaining a platform for my first book. (A platform is basically an author's digital presence, without which he or she would fall into an abyss of anonymity.)  I'm not complaining; far from it! (Someone should slap me if I do.) It takes a lot of time and energy to act as your own publicist, again--not complaining, and finding time to write between promotion, platform building, my day job and sleeping is challenging. 

But, writers gonna write and that is my daily, intentional goal. Back in January, I joined a Facebook group that challenged me to write 500 words every day. Last month, I applied for the Amtrak residency because I dreamed of having long, interrupted time to gather my thoughts, words and notes and put a dent in my second book. I have my title worked out and a selection of topics that I want to write about, continuing with my theme of life after 50; navigating it and enjoying it. I'm also posting to the She Writes website each month and trying to keep up with this blog--at least bi-weekly.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don't know that it differs too much from others...maybe funnier?

3. Why do I write what I do?
Mostly because of my attention span. I write short form essays because I can pay attention long enough to start and finish one in one sitting. I wrote a screenplay once and I shared it with some people who said, "Wellll...not so much a screenplay, but maybe a novel?" The thought of writing a novel was dautning to me. Even though I had already written a whole story from start to finish in "screenplay" form, I couldn't imagine writing it all over again. I put it aside and there it sits. (Anyone want to read a screenplay?)

I enjoy writing in this form for many reasons. With my particular work there is a challenge to get my point across within a specific length or amount of words. When I was teaching English, I taught this form to my students and that has helped me immensely to organize and be more clear. Hopefully. I have tried my hand at fiction and poetry, but I continue to be drawn to the essay for its elegance and simplicity. Except for veering off course with that screenplay, I will probably stick with writing essays as long as anyone will read them. Even if its just me. And my husband.  

4. How does your writing process work?
If only I had a process!
Typically, I do most of my pre-writing in my head. Often an idea will come to me and I will "write" it in my head for days, sometimes weeks. Sometimes I will begin a Word document with notes pertaining to the essay I'm composing in my head, so that when I sit down to write it, I write it from start to finish in one sitting. Start to finish, however, doesn't necessarily mean coherent. There are many times when I get stuck in the middle, so I skip that part and keep writing.  

Once I get to the end, I reread, adding in the parts I skipped and sometimes, moving paragraphs around. I have been known to exchange the beginning paragraph for the end and vice versa. Depending on whether or not there is a deadline, I will let it sit for a few hours or a day or so, and go back to it to see if it makes sense. Or I make someone related to me read it to see if it makes sense. When (and if) it does, I send it along to its eventual home; blog, contest, book. 

As unorganized as it can be, my writing is one of the things I do that I can count on. I know I can write, I enjoy writing and I rely on its ability to center me. For example, this blog hop assignment landed in the middle of preparation for my book launch, a yearly meeting I had to host and a weekend full of company and yet I accepted it anyway. Writing is my comfort zone even if everything else around me is swirling in chaos or confusion.

And now for something completely different:
Allow me to introduce the three writers who graciously accepted the challenge to join me in this hop. Please visit their blogs and spread the word. (Writers love when you spread the word!)

Chuck Miceli

My text, Fire Behind Bars, (co-authored with Alton P. Golden), was the first book in the U.S. to deal with the issue of deadly fires in secure institutions and put me on the national stage as a speaker and consultant. That experience played a significant role in my novel, Amanda's Room.
I chair the Editorial Committee for "Voices and Visions," the annual literary and arts review of the University of Connecticut's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. I'm also a columnist for and WTNH's weather information website: 

I spend much of my free time in civic, social, and religious volunteer work. I'm past chair of Every Dollar Feeds Kids, (, which provides money to feed hungry children, and a portion of my book sales go to the organization. I co-created The Passion Play, in Southington CT, (now in its 36th year) and co-directed it for the first 14 years. I've also directed productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Godspell.  I currently run a bi-weekly poetry group at the Southington Care Center. 

I am the proud son of a coal miner from Pittston Pennsylvania. I grew up one of eleven children in the tough East New York section of Brooklyn New York and served as Staff Sargent and rifle platoon leader in the Marine Corps Reserves. I now live with my wife, Judy, in suburban Connecticut.

Elizabeth Thomas
Elizabeth Thomas is a published poet, performer and educator.  The author of two poetry collections and a book on writing, she has read her work throughout the United States and in 2009 taught ‘Poetry as Theater’ in the United Arab Emirates at a women’s university.  Much of her energy and time is devoted to designing and teaching writing programs for all ages. These programs promote literacy and the power of written and spoken word. As an outstanding advocate of youth in the arts, Elizabeth Thomas is a coach and organizer with Brave New Voices: International Youth Poetry Slam and Festival.   She believes poetry is meant to be heard out loud and in person.  She hosts a blog at
LG O'Connor 

L.G. O’Connor is a member of the Romance Writers of America. A corporate strategy and marketing executive for a Fortune 250 company, she writes adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. Her debut novel, Trinity Stones, the first book in her Angelorum Twelve Chronicles urban fantasy / paranormal romance series published by She Writes Press, launches on April 22 and will be available wherever books are sold. She is currently preparing the second book in the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, The Wanderer’s Children, for publication at the end of 2014. In addition, her adult contemporary romance will launch later this year. A native New Jersey girl, she lives a life of adventure, navigating her way through dog toys and soccer balls and loaning herself out for the occasional decorating project. When she’s feeling particularly brave, she enters the kitchen . . .

Find and connect with her in any of these places: