Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wild Wild Women: Finding Love After Devastating Loss

Beth and I were recently interviewed on Wild Wild Women blog. Get to know both of us a little better.

Wild Wild Women: Finding Love After Devastating Loss: Following her husband's sudden and tragic death, Beth Franklin finds solace on her couch, watching Dream House, a home improvement s...

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Loaded Question

My husband returned from golfing on a few Sundays ago and asked sheepishly, “Do you want me to read your book?”

I didn’t answer him right away, instead, I asked who he had been playing with that morning.  Sure enough, of the foursome, two were husbands of friends of mine. They had asked him about the book, it had just released days before.

My husband has never asked to read anything I’ve written, and to be honest I never really wanted him to while I was in the hell that is querying and submitting over the years.  I was getting daily rejections from strangers, I didn’t want to add him into the mix.  I wasn’t keeping my writing a secret. He always knew what I was working on, and I always involved him in the status of the manuscript, whined about agents and the process, and of course indulged him whenever I got news, a request for full or some small encouragement from an agent or publisher. He was part of the process.

Until I wrote a romance.

I told him I was taking a new approach, had an idea for a romance short story that could become a series that I would pitch to smaller, friendlier publishers and skip the whole agent-rejection masochism. “Sounds like a good plan,” he said and left me to write and submit without much  input this time.
I never offered to have him read Reality Re-Do, he never asked.  He celebrated with me when I signed a contract with the extremely friendly and wonderful publisher, The Wild Rose Press, encouraged me through edits and even gave a thumbs up when he saw the cover. He was my first fan.

But he's never read it.

And now, a month later, all of our friends have. 

We were at a small gathering yesterday and my friend’s husband asked my husband what he thought of it.  When he replied he hadn’t read it, he seemed uncomfortable and gave his standard answer, “I don’t know. It’s weird, isn’t it?’
Immature answer or not, this is the question I’m left with – is it weird to have my husband read a romance I wrote? It’s not explicit in any way. It’s  sweet, with ‘behind closed doors’ scenes. Now that he’s asked this loaded question, I don’t know how to answer, “Do you want me to read your book?”
To paraphrase my husband, I’ll pose the question to you – “Is that weird?”

Would love to hear if your spouses read your romances and their reactions.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Imagined Release Day v. Reality Release Day

For years now I've dreamed of today.  Not specifically, September 3, 2014, but the day I would become a published author. Yup, I get to say those words now and will probably work it into every conceivable conversation.

Today is my Release Day.  I've imagined this day for years, not particularly for Reality Re-Do, but for any book.  For the past year, I've had the pleasure of being able to actually imagine a release day for this novella - a short, sweet romance that I believe is the perfect start to my career.  Since May, I've known the date.  Since then, September 3rd has been THE DAY.  Now, in the afternoon of this momentous occasion I have some observations:

I am overwhelmed, humbled and grateful for the support in the writing community, especially at The Wild Rose Press and #amwriting followers on Twitter.

I've actually enjoyed Facebook this week.

My imagined day was a far cry from real one. I pictured myself surrounded by fans, signing autographs, sipping champagne and graciously accepting praise while wearing a ball gown. My hair in an updo, my nails freshly manicured.

My real day involved making lunches at 5:45 (I was just informed they were, "disappointing"), doing release day laundry, release day vacuuming - vacuum broke and spilled an entire canister worth of dirt on my kitchen floor which resulted in release day sweeping and mopping.  My hair is not in an updo, but blown dry because I showered at 1:30 pm.  I'm squeezing this post in now as I will be driving to soccer and basketball shortly, followed by making dinner, picking up oldest daughter from the train and attending youngest daughter's open house at school.

There were no books to sign, but there were links to share and a gorgeous cover to post, tweet, pin,
and many people to thank.

So this is my reality, but it's Reality Re-Do's release day - and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One More Day

Tomorrow my dream comes true.  I will be a published author.
Today, however - I cannot sit still, concentrate, remember anything or speak coherently.  Writing would be futile so I will end this post before it becomes a rambling mess.
I hope to have a better handle on my nerves tomorrow, but I doubt it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Hop!

Happy Friday!  I’ve been tagged by Bethany Myers in a blog hop to discuss my writing process, so here goes:

1.   What am I working on?

I’m thrilled to announce Reality Re-Do, my romance novella and hopefully the first of a three part series is being published by The Wild Rose Press Rose Press. I just found out this week that it will be available 9/3/14.  So aside from promoting, making this blog prettier and making the jump to a website, I am actually writing as well.  I’m working on edits for Reality Re-Mix and still tweaking the first draft of Reality Rewind.  Re-Mix is a follow-up novella and Rewind will be a short, fill in the past novella which will end the storyline. I only recently came up with ending which surprised me.


2.   How is my work different from others of its genre?

I hope it is different!  The MC, Beth, takes a chance on writing into her favorite reality television show, aka her coping mechanism, and ends up taking a chance on love in the process.

3.   Why do I write what I do?
I didn’t set out to write romance; in fact I’m shocked I did!  I initially wrote a YA four years ago that is now getting dusty and tried a couple of other projects, the story of Scott and Beth came to me last year and the two wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote about them.  Thankfully, this novella found a publisher who loved them as much as I do.

4.   How does my writing process work?

Everything I have written has started off in a spiral notebook.  I have stacks of them!  I write a messy outline then actually start writing the story, usually in order, in messy longhand.  Sometimes I type a chapter if I think I nailed it, but usually let the ink dry for a few days then type it up on the computer. I consider the longhand the first draft and the typing the first edits.  I know others think this is archaic and nuts, but it works for me!


Thanks so much for this opportunity, Bethany, and thanks for stopping by blog-hoppers!



Monday, June 23, 2014

Big News!
72 days 0 hours 20 minutes to Reality Re-Do Releases (Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 12:00 PM).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Character Flaw

I have a confession to make, an apology to give. Tom, I’m sorry, but I really didn’t know what happened to you until last week. I left you dangling, and that was unfair. I hope you’ll forgive me as I think you’ll be happy with how I took care of your storyline. Well, as happy as you can be considering you are a fictional character and dead.

Allow me to begin at the beginning. As I drafted my novella, Reality Re-Do, I knew a few things about Tom – he was my main character’s husband, a great guy, a proud father, a successful travel writer and deceased.  As the story took shape, with the main character, Beth coping with her widowhood by losing herself in reality television I came up with the idea that Tom had died while the couple was on a cruise to Greece for work.  I let, “Lost at Sea,” and, “Tragic Disappearance,” account for his demise.  I planned to elaborate further in later installments of Beth’s story. I told my editor I was saving the details for when Beth was ready to tell the new love of her life and it wouldn’t be in Reality Re-Do.

Somehow it didn’t bother me that I didn’t know what those details would be, it worked for me and I felt like it would come to me someday. Someday finally arrived last Thursday.  On Wednesday I submitted my manuscript for the second novella, and still hadn’t answered how Tom had died, but it still felt okay with me. In the post-submission high I began to pen (literally, my first drafts are always longhand) the final novella that would feature Beth and her new boyfriend, Scott revealing their pasts to each other. I now had to come up with the story of the night Tom died, I had no choice. 

On a beautiful sunny afternoon in my backyard I finally killed Tom. It came to me clearly and quickly, my handwriting is barely legible. I did not see this scenario coming; I’m as surprised as I hope the readers will be too.  Maybe my character flaw will turn out to be just a minor imperfection this time.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Home Base

Here in Chicago, I’m happy to say we’re still playing hockey at the end of May. As I cheered on my Blackhawks last night, a thought occurred to me – when did they become ‘my Blackhawks’?  I’m from Boston, grew up cheering on Ray Bourque and the Bruins, rooted for the Red Sox (my T-ball card lists my favorite player as Jim Rice) and sat through cold days watching the Patriots in Foxborough. When did I switch allegiances? Did I truly?

I’ve lived in Chicago for almost 17 years now, but I spent the first 25 of my life in Massachusetts. I’ll save you the math, I’m 42. I keep thinking when I get to the halfway mark, when I’ve lived here 25 years I’ll legitimately be able to say, “I’m from Chicago,” but will I be?  Will I always be from Boston?  When I’m here in Chicago, I refer to Boston as ‘back home,’ but of course when I’m visiting my family in Massachusetts I reverse it.  Also, I don’t currently live in the City of Chicago, nor did I live in the City of Boston, but the suburbs of both and always give the city name rather than my town.  C’mon we all do it.  Only when speaking with someone who actually lives in either city do I get outted, and they always make sure to point out the distinction.

Around this time last year I was put to the test. The Bruins faced the Blackhawks in the quest for the Stanley Cup.  While I really wanted the Blackhawks to win, because it’s fun to be in a place with a winning team and the parade is insanely fun, I joked with everyone, telling them it was a win and t-shirt for me either way.  My brother back in Boston and I had fun at each other’s expense on social media and in the end, well you know.

As for baseball, I flub that one too.  I say I’m a Sox fan and leave it at that.  My husband’s family are all White Sox fans, the other Chicago baseball team is like Voldemort, we don’t use the “C” word.  Again though, when Neil Diamond sang and everyone at Fenway came out Boston Strong, I proudly wore my Red Sox shirts and hats around the suburbs of Chicago.  However, when I took my kids to visit family last summer, we made sure each of us wore a Blackhawks shirt each day. 

Confused as to where home is?  Maybe.  Lucky to have two wonderful cities to cheer for? Absolutely.  Even from the suburbs.  Go Hawks!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day Without My Mothers

I've been a mother myself for almost fourteen years now, you would think I would've made it about me by now. I do for appearances, but Mother's Day has always been one of the most emotional days for me. Actually, it begins right after Easter when all the commercials for flowers, jewelery and pampering inundate viewers and listeners. "Don't forget Mom!" they all chime, and at my home-away-from-home, Target, not only do I have to see the cards, I have to buy two. One for my mother-in-law and the other for my father's wife. Both cards will be signed and sent from my three daughters wishing their grandmothers a Happy Mother's Day.

It's been 20 years since I was able to send my own mother, Mum, a card. She passed away in 1993.
It's been 42 years since my birth mother put me up for adoption.

Not a day goes by that I don't think about Mum, I don't need a Sunday in May to make me aware how much she did for me.  Since my three daughters never knew her, I talk about her all the time. I also let myself think about her and cry whenever I feel like it.  At first it happened in department stores, seeing another girl my age shopping with her mother. I left many a store in my twenties to go cry in the car.  In my thirties while my daughters were babies I cried because I wanted her there to help me, no one could replace her during those years no matter how hard they tried.  Now as my girls are getting older, I cry for two reason - one because I'm mad she has missed out on so much, and two because I don't always know how to reach my teenager, who has become -sigh- me.  How did she put up with me?

I also think about my birth mother. Though I don't have any plans to find her at this time, I am keenly aware there is a women out there somewhere who thinks of me too and when I think of her, it is with sincere gratitude.  I will always love and respect her for the tough decision she made. I will eternally be thankful.

So forgetting is not an issue, and putting on a happy face and remembering it's a day for me too is becoming less difficult.  Bring on the Eggo's and coffee in bed, present me with your homemade cards and bookmarks from school.  Put the flowers in the crystal vase, just be careful of those two extra ones I placed in there, they're not for me.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Reading While Writing

I’ve noticed lately that reading while writing is a bit tricky.
While I am always writing, there are those times when I’m really writing or like now when I’m on the last edits (big smile creeps across face) and these are the times I either cannot seem to read anything at all or must read something completely different, even opposite of that which I’m writing, or editing.

I’ve asked a few writer-friends if they find this is true for them, and I found everyone had their own quirks. One friend can only read in the same point-of-view as she’s writing or it will “mess with her,” others say they can’t read at all when a deadline looms. I know I have to read the genre as I’m writing when I am having a bit of a writer’s block and a few agreed that has helped them as well. When I’m in the groove though, I find it difficult to choose a book.

For the past few weeks I’ve been stuck as to what to read – because God forbid I’m not reading a book, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been without. I’ve picked up and put down a few, many I want to return to after I send off the manuscript for the last time, but nothing felt as if it wouldn’t interfere with my writing. Until I cleaned out my daughter’s bookshelves. Mid-dusting I opened up one of her middle-grade books, and got lost in the world of simple sentences and terrific storytelling. I’ve been plowing through great 4th – 7th grade books by Wendy Mass, Cythia Lord and Rob Buyea to name a few. Not only did I find enjoyable books to escape into and depart from my own writing, I found a valuable lesson. Don’t lose sight of the big picture – write a great story.

Who know, maybe next time I’ll find historical or paranormal while I write about broken hearts and second chances. Whatever it takes to keep reading and writing and reading while writing.

Back to edits now.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

St. Francis and Friends's Team Page for Walk for Wellness House May 4, 2014

St. Francis and Friends's Team Page for Walk for Wellness House May 4, 2014

Just little note about this link.
Like most, I get approached to participate in various causes, charities and organizations.  In the past two years, I've had to soul search and narrow down the vast list.  There are many I believe in and support, and then there are those I want to see flourish and for those I chose to give my full attention and time. Wellness House continues to be one of those I hope to see succeed.

Wellness House in Hinsdale, IL is a welcoming, friendly place (literally, a house) where individuals and their families living with cancer can find support and encouragement.  Notice I said 'living' with cancer, because that's what it is all about - living.  Services such as group support, cooking classes, exercise classes and a host of other events are free thanks to generous donations.

So now you're wondering my connection.  Well, none at the moment.  I thankfully have no one in my family with cancer presently.  But, I wish Wellness House had existed for my mom.  Mum passed away 20 years ago from lung cancer in Boston.  She didn't 'live' with cancer, she suffered from it and hid her suffering from her family and friends. While I miss her everyday, my biggest regret is that we couldn't help her, she didn't have an outlet to let us in, so she shut us out.  I don't blame her, she had no other choice.

Wellness House gives you a choice whether to live with, or suffer from cancer.  I know she would've chosen a place like Wellness House had there been one for her.

For me, it was an easy choice to support Wellness House and the walk is one of my favorite days of the years.  I truly feel like I do make a difference.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Coming Out of the Writer’s Closet

“Hello, my name is Ally and I’m a writer.” I mean, “I write,” No, “I’m an author!”  
So, maybe I’m not completely ready to come as it appears I don’t even know how to introduce myself, but this is how I have felt for the past few years. After the initial excitement at the onset of writing my first book I over-enthusiastically told too many people and almost immediately regretted it. When friends and family would innocently and half-heartedly ask what was new with me, I actually told them.

“Well, I’m writing a book,” and I would then ramble on about the premise and enjoy the impressed looks they would give me. I loved it, while it lasted. It lasted until I would see the same person again and they would ask how it was going.

“Good,” I would answer and hope to change the subject.

“When is it going to be published?”

“Well, I don’t know. I have to find an agent, or publisher,” I would sigh, “It’s a process.” I would lose their attention and I assumed their respect, or at the least impressed thoughts of me they had previously formed.

Thankfully this all happened around the same time that I discovered the writing community on Twitter. There, I found the group with whom I confide in and commiserate with. During the agonizing querying, contest-entering, and synopsis writing phases I could whine from my keyboard and instantly hear from a fellow writer who would either validate my feelings of frustration or boost me up with 140 characters of encouragement. I began to be a writer only in the virtual world and amongst those few ‘real’ friends who happened to be writing too and alongside me in the trenches toward publication. I was a comfortable place to hang out for three years.

Now, everything has changed and truly the dream has come true, but I’m at a quandary as to how to deal with it. Of course, my family and close friends were ecstatic when I called them immediately to tell them I’d been offered a contract and again when I had to gloat that I’d signed it, but now as I get closer to it actually being published, the attention is a bit overwhelming. I get everything from,

“You wrote a book? I had no idea!” to, “Wow, that took a long time,” and occasionally, “Congrats, I knew you could do it.”  Then of course there are all the questions about the plot and when it’s coming out. I also have to backtrack to the people I told years ago that I was writing explaining, “It’s not that book.” Nope, the story I was so excited about four years ago sits on a hot pink flash drive. It keeps company with the other two manuscripts that got further, but not quite far enough. I find myself explaining and even surprising myself when I say this book is a romance and then upon seeing my friends’ facial reactions, I add the caveat that it’s a sweet romance, not what they’re thinking it is.
I have no regrets, it felt good and right at the time to hide out, but I’ve got my work cut out now to market myself. I’ll start at the beginning, “Hi, I’m Ally and I’d love to tell you all about my book.”

I’ll make this giant leap in my next post.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Waiting

Tomorrow I will submit the second round of edits to my editor at the Wild Rose Press. Sounds exciting, right? I would have thought so too. Yet, I’ve been repeating that phrase for a week now and not actually sending them in. The edits are done (are they ever really though?) and I just need to attach them to an email. Should be easy, but I find it paralyzing.
After I submit the latest, greatest version of my manuscript, something new begins – the waiting. Sure, I’ve played the waiting game before. Send a query, wait. Send thirty pages, wait. However, this time around it’s different, it’s for real.

I can only compare this feeling to being pregnant the first time. Let’s say about three months along. The baby was going to be a real thing by that point. I’d told people, okay –everyone. I’d had a vague idea of the when and how, but not exactly. All I could do was wait. And worry. I planned, I prepared, I freaked out. I waited. My husband and I chose names, guessed at the gender, weight, eye color. We waited. I wasn’t particularly patient, but I had no choice. And it goes without saying, it was my baby - I couldn't wait to meet her!

Of course the waiting paid off then and I’m sure it will this time as well. I want to meet this baby too. I’ll send it off tomorrow, I’ll freak out a bit with a surge of adrenaline. Hopefully this will translate to nervous dusting, vacuuming and laundry as the editing process has trumped these equally fun activities lately. Then the waiting will begin. Next the speculation: how much more work does it need, what will the cover look like, when will it be released? After that passes, the second guessing will come along: is it good enough, will anyone like it, is it long enough, too long?

I’ll make an effort to do all the right things while I wait. I will count my blessings, continue to write, learn as much as I can about networking and marketing. I’ll try not to whine, pay attention to my family, and generally keep busy; but when something this exciting is so close and just a matter of time, its torture.

Tom Petty said it best - The Waiting is The Hardest Part.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Not so New Year
I’m sure I am not alone with the sentiment that today doesn’t truly feel like the beginning of a new year.  Despite the brand new calendar page, the endless year-in-review shows, and of course the numerous newspaper, television and radio advertisements for clearances and sales, for me the new year began in August. 

August 21st  began the new school year for my three daughters.   In New Year fashion, I began that day with resolutions – wake up early and exercise, pack healthy lunches, don’t yell and be productive while they’re gone.  That day I cleaned and organized, and yes celebrated; and not for the first time.  In the days leading up to the first day of the new school year there were mom’s night outs, lunches and cocktails, and even a back-to-school pool party.  It was truly the start of something new to rejoice.  As I waved goodbye to my kids leaving for their first day, the last time they would all be walking to the same school, I felt the excitement that I hoped they felt, despite their complaints to me.  I’m well aware they save this special treatment for me.

Now, January first is upon us and in an effort to appreciate the actual new year, I’ve chosen today to launch this blog.  I’d been hesitant to start in the past but as I’ve joined the community of writers from Twitter, and more recently The Wild Rose Press, I decided to dive in and thought what better day to begin than today.  So, here goes - I resolve to update regularly, but not obsessively and only when I have something meaningful to offer, and only after I’ve exercised that morning (see first day of school resolution). 

I wish you all a Happy New Year – or continuation of the 2013-2014 school year, whatever works for you.

Thanks for stopping by,