Cat Longes…the phenomenon sweeping the country!😺

They’re springing up all over the world! Cat Lounges, or Cat Cafes, a place where cats can live in peace and harmony, often times with a good book or a cup of tea.

Heather Staggs, Winchester, Indiana entrepreneur, and owner of Home Health Angels, visited Japan last year and came home determined to start her own lounge for cats in need of a home. Using the building at the front of her health care business, she was only one of 33 Cat Lounges in America when she first opened her doors and today that number has risen to over 120.

Staggs says that in Japan people consider cats to be lucky but because houses are small cats are often left at cafes so they can be enjoyed and cared for. Some Cat Lounges are so popular that reservations need made to even go in for a snuggle! Imagine!

What an ingenious and loving way to handle the unwanted cat population in the world. Have a cup of tea, or glass of wine, grab a book and cozy up with a kitty that needs some TLC. It will be good for both of you!

If you’re interested in learning more about Winchester’s Cat Lounge make your reservation now for an evening with me, and some gorgeous cats, on September 25th at 6:00pm. I’ll be discussing my latest release in the AMI Series, The Greysons, plus there will be a Question & Answer and Book Signing opportunity afterwards. All 3 books in the series will be available for purchase.

The kitty’s and I look forward to seeing you on the 25th!

Until we read again…📚

Blessings,

Dana L. ❤️

The Psychology of Writing

By Ken Johnson

What if I could tell you how to prevent the #1 reason why readers will either stop reading a book altogether or give it a bad review? Would that interest you? Would you believe it isn’t because of poor grammar or plot structure? It isn’t even due to erratic changes between third-person omniscient and first-person narrative voice. Indeed, many readers say they will overlook these issues with a new author. Instead, the pivotal turning point for most readers is when the author exhibits no fundamental understanding of character types (archetypes) and therefore no concept of their hidden meanings (allegories)!

While marketing my latest book, A Quick Guide to Archetypes & Allegory, one professional reviewer recently shared with me 75% of her yearly reading list will be duds. She expects that number to grow by 85% next year alone. Another told me about 90% of the stories she reads are not even memorable. In both cases, they say the authors’ lack of acumen in character mechanics caused them to waste chapters in needless descriptions and contrived storylines. Of the few that understood some of the basics, they complained the authors worried more about inclusion of certain demographics more than they did crafting memorable storylines using archetypal allegory as a filter. This made the stories, at times, off-putting.

In other words, it would be the equivalent of having an author write a story about an epic airplane dog fight – only one of the characters is flying a submarine. Imagine spending two-thirds of the book reading what a submarine looked and acted like while the remaining third of the book was wasted trying to make it fly. How would you feel if someone tried to pawn off such an absurd story? Naturally, you’d be upset! Unfortunately, the market is showing this very frustration now as less than 1% of all new titles printed in 2019 will sell 1,000 copies in entire life of the book.

THE HISTORY OF ARCHETYPES AND ALLEGORY

The frustrating part for me is the literary world has known, at least since the nineteenth century, about how to use archetypes and allegory. Starting with Sigmund Freud, Fredrich Nietzsche, and others – Carl Jung ultimately hand-delivered the world of fiction writing a concise reference guide for how to write characters that are instinctively known by the audience, characters that do not need to be described, their behavior is innately understood, and more than that they also have a hidden meaning which is also instinctually known by the audience. 

Ultimately, Jung created a form of psychological shorthand for writers to employ. Using the tools he provided, artists could now quickly create memorable stories with no wasted words. 

So, what did the writing world do with this knowledge? For a while, new voices improved upon the concept. It was learned allegory could be changed. We also learned the difference between humanoid and non-humanoid archetypes. Over time, we learned non-humanoid archetypes could be changed into humanoid archetypes to change their inherent allegory. Indeed, for a time, some great innovations were coming out!

Then, almost overnight, it was all rejected. Colleges and universities quit teaching the subject of psychology in literature.

Today, it is shocking how the literary world has regressed in just a few short decades.

The truth is, a well-written story will always be appreciated by readers. And, once you can command knowledge of archetypes and allegory, it opens up doors not only to storytelling but also to marketing. In many ways, that is why I wrote A Quick Guide to Archetypes & Allegory

BASICS OF ARCHETYPES AND ALLEGORY

Character archetypes essentially fall into two types: humanoid and non-humanoid. 

Humanoid archetypes are rather easy for us to understand. They represent elements of humanity. The more human the character looks, the more it resonates with our humanity. 

Non-humanoid archetypes tend to represent more obtuse concepts. From a historical perspective, the most popular force represented by a non-humanoid is nature. However, God, natural order, science, and other obtuse topics have also been used as literary and cinematic allegory.

Even here, things can vary dramatically. For example, just because a witch and a mermaid both typically represent elements of feminism, it doesn’t mean their allegories are interchangeable. We see this with vampires and aliens as well since both archetypes are representative of cultures, subcultures, and countercultures. Yet, in all truth, they are quite different. In many ways, one could even draw similar conclusions about the leviathan and the mummy. Here, this is particularly interesting because you have a non-humanoid and a humanoid representing similar allegories and yet they are drastically different. Another odd similarity between humanoid and non-humanoid allegories is how both a vampire and a unicorn represent female sexuality.

What is important for the writer to remember here is to focus specifically upon the unique allegory being portrayed by the given archetype based upon the archetype’s intrinsic allure to the reader. Look at how the archetype behaves and ask yourself why the audience is being drawn-in by its charms. If needed, research various authoritative guides on the subject. 

To better understand what is being suggested, let’s look at the previous examples of the witch and the mermaid. Witches represent a desire to exert feminine will and power over men through a belief that the natural order favors females over males. Mermaids, however, represent a need to command emotions as well as various, and sometimes stormy, life situations. And, while it is true both witches and mermaids do not always have to be female – the market almost always dictates these archetypes engender feminism whenever possible. This is especially true in the Young Adult market.

Looking back at two other previous examples, vampires and aliens both talk about cultures, subcultures, and countercultures but in drastically different ways. For at least four decades now, both have specifically addressed the issues of bisexuality, transsexuality, pansexuality, and homosexuality in one form or another. Here, the archetype truly colors the allegory since the vampire character addresses the issue from an almost purely sexual perspective whereas the alien character addresses the issue from a contextual social interplay that’s somewhat analogous to what one would find in everyday society. In other words, one talks about your bedroom and dating life while the other is talking about your workplace and your neighborhood.

We see this sexuality-based allegory again with the vampire and the unicorn example. Here, the vampire is, in many ways, representative of female sexual ecstasy, seduction, and lust. The unicorn, being a non-humanoid figure, represents God’s favor and championing of one who is able to keep her virtue, avoid seduction, and cast aside any lustful desires before they have a chance to take root. In many ways, this is also why you now see the unicorn being used as a pariah in certain genres and crassly fun of in certain television shows and even commercials.

And, since we brought God into the picture, let’s go back to the mummy and leviathan archetypal examples. It’s easy for most American’s to equate leviathan-based stories with being religious since most, if not all, of us know the story of Jonah being taken in by a leviathan. True, most churches, and some Bible translations, get it wrong by saying it was a fish or whale. However, mistranslations aside, the story’s allegory stands pretty much untainted that God’s will is inviolable. Mummies, for most people, are a harder thing to equate with religion – until the culture of the mummy is considered in proper context. For example, in The Mummy (1999) a pharaoh was brought back to life. It was his reliance upon his faith’s multiple deities that almost allowed him to take over our world and supplant our mostly-Christian culture with the long dead Egyptian pantheon. Thus, the mummy archetype almost always represents an allegory of a religious takeover.

MARKETING ELEMENTS

In regards to this last example, I brought up The Mummybecause it was an absolute flop at the box office. People hated it! Then, something remarkable happened which caused home movie rental sales to spike. What was this milestone in our culture? It was the 9/11 terrorist attacks!

We were, for the first time in decades, attacked on our own soil by religious zealots – and the allegory of the mummy archetype helped us make sense of it all!

To be fair, this tragedy also ushered in a brief, new era of superhero-based songs, television shows, books, etc. However, one did not need a crystal ball to know such a trend would not be long lived. It was ultimately a knee-jerk response whereas the mummy uptick in popularity was a desire to understand.

Later, as our economy tanked, and our societal discourse turned into nothing more than waspish, the zombie entered the scene to take center-stage with its unique sort of allegory. This marketing gold mine had more staying power because it was society’s acknowledgement of our own falling away and decay. Everything from car decals and shirts, to books and movies, to beef jerky and preserved foods, to knives and guns, and even our own national security was branded using the zombie. Yes, the federal government actually used the “zombie apocalypse” as a way to test our nation’s security systems to make sure we were ready for any disaster that might befall us. 

If anything, the 9/11 aftermath gave market data to further prove what psychologists have contented for years. And, when this data was paired with previous market data, the conclusions are nothing short of undeniable. We gravitate to certain archetypes based upon given needs and moments in our lives. Furthermore, when banned from accessing certain archetypes, it would appear we’d also accept new substitutes.

For example, there once was a period of time when no comic book company could get a werewolf-themed story approved by the Comic Code Authority. This is because the werewolf allegory represents puberty and aggression in males. As a workaround, one comic book company developed a certain green, hulking monster based upon the old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story – which was nothing more than a variant of the old werewolf story that had to be reinvented due to social pressures of the day. Naturally, this new green monster was marketing gold!

Using marketing data, we now can craft manuscripts based upon perceived economic trends, projected political trends, the psychological needs/desires of a targeted audience demographic, and more. In fact, prolific and savvy authors can even squirrel-away multiple manuscripts, just in case a certain trend has yet to manifest itself yet, and then release the work later when the time is right – thus getting a jump on the competition!

To better assist you, here are five basic steps to follow in the writing and marketing of your manuscript using archetypes and allegory:

1. Have a marketing plan in place before you ever write the outline to your story. Your marketing plan should take into account the specific demographic(s) you will be marketing to, how you will be marketing to them, and any relevant competing works.

2. Consider your archetypal character well and the markets it might best sell in. For example, zombies and pirates do very well during times of economic turmoil whereas werewolves, vampires, and witches tend to do very well with pre-teens and teens regardless of economic situations.

3. Don’t be afraid to utilize a less-popular archetypal character if it will resonate best with a targeted niche audience. Readers always want something new and fresh that calls out to them. In my book, A Quick Guide to Archetypes & Allegory, I mention how rural and suburban Americana would gravitate to a positive hunter-based story even as it would do poorly in major cities.

4. Stay true to your archetype’s allegory. Writing is a sacred trust between the author and reader. The reader will expect a plot twist or so. The reader may even appreciate an innovation to an allegory. However, it must be natural and true to the archetypal character. Moreover, it must psychologically ring true to the reader’s own mental and emotional state.

 5. Use your archetype’s traits to your advantage. Sometimes, this means you can use the archetype as a filter for a sensitive subject – just as what Harper Lee did in To Kill a Mockingbird. Other times, because the archetypes are so strong, and yet so flawed, you can put numerous opposing types together for a unified cause. This practically writes the story for you and give boundless interplay as is seen in “Firefly,” “Ocean’s 8,” “Leverage,” and others.

———————————–

Ken Johnson is a consultant, culturalist, and award-winning author. His latest book, A Quick Guide to Archetypes & Allegory, is available wherever fine books are sold.

Until we read again…📚

Blessings,

Dana L. ❤️

The Decatur Book Festival and my Unplanned Unplugging!

Ever since my fourteen year old granddaughter was four our family has used the term “Lordy Chicken” to express exasperation. Well now my girls and I have a term that seems to fit a lot of different situations. Shitshow. (Please don’t be offended!) Anyway, this past weekend is what I’m calling a Lordy Chicken Shitshow, with a built in blessing.

My publisher, SYP Publishing, had four authors ready to attend the Decatur, Georgia Book Festival and take it by storm! One had a family emergency, which left three of us, but very doable. And then Dorian raised her ugly head and our author friend from Jacksonville, Florida saw the writing on the wall. And then there were two.

Things were going well on Saturday morning. The booth was set-up, I’d sent out some pictures and our resident pirate, Author Sam Staley was in full pirate garb. We were engaging with potential customers, selling books and having fun when I realized my cell phone was missing. And not just misplaced, but truly missing.

The next half and hour or so was spent getting my service turned off , contacting my family, and being downright mad! I’d only had that phone a few months and it was a new expensive model! But I didn’t yell and I didn’t cry, even though both felt appropriate.

So where does the blessing come in? When a lovely woman named Melisa came by the booth asking for me by name. Her Aunt Rose is a member of a Book Club In Indiana where I had recently spoken, and told Melisa I was her favorite author and she should come meet me if she could. Not only that but she asked if she could get a picture of me with her kids to send back to Aunt Rose. It was definitely the lemonade I needed after the lemons I’d dealt with earlier.

Today I was finally able to post some pictures to Facebook and Twitter, but nothing to Instagram until my new phone arrives, and that should be any minute! To be honest, my unplanned unplugging wasn’t the end of the world that I thought it would be. Since I didn’t have a screen to continuously looking at I turned my attention towards smiling faces, and that’s something we all need to do more of. I hate that someone felt the need to take my phone, but I’m not going to harbor ill will. I can forgive and forget, but will definitely be more cautious in the future.

Next week’s post is titled The Psychology of Writing by Ken Johnson. If you are a writer, or an aspiring writer, you won’t want to miss it.

Until we read again…📚

Blessings,

Dana L. ❤️

With my new friend Melisa and her kids!

The books I purchased from our wonderful group of SYP Authors! Be watching for book reviews!!

Book Review…The Witness

First things first! This weekend I’ll be at the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Georgia and would love to introduce you to Charlotte Luce!

Below is the schedule when I’ll definitely be in the booth.

Stop by the SYP Booth anytime!

You all know that I love the romance genre, but I love mystery and suspense just as much. And one author mixes the two beautifully, and of course that’s Nora Roberts. She’s the author whose style I want to emulate, without losing my voice in my writing.

The Witness isn’t a new release, in fact it has a copyright date of 2012, but for some reason I’d missed it. But oh is it good! The story begins with the short-lived teenage rebellion of sixteen year old Elizabeth Fitch and her desire to move out from under the control of her very domineering mother. And she does so in a big way.

The events of the next day, and the consequences she faces, are thankfully nothing like the teenage rebellion most of us go through. Elizabeth, who at the urging of a new found ally Julie, decides to rebrand herself as Liz, is about to face the horror that no teenager or adult should ever have to witness. The cold blooded murder of two people.

The Witness is written into parts, the first being titled Elizabeth, and is the backstory of the atrocities of her youth. Part two, titled Brooks, starts twelve years later and tells the reader about Brooks Gleason, the Chief of Police in a small town in the Ozark’s. He’s young, good looking, and an honest cop. He’s also very curious about the mysterious young woman living in his town named, Abigail.

I don’t want to give too much away because if you love romance and suspense, this book has it all. One of the the things Nora Roberts does best is write love scenes that are sensual, and allow you to use your imagination, without being overly descriptive. A line from Brooks reads “Let me take you to bed, Abigail.” Now tell me, is that sexy and provocative, or what?

The Witness earns a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review from me, and if you haven’t read it, and love a romantically written suspense story, you won’t be disappointed.

*The contest to WIN a Free ebook of Breaking The Barriers, by B.B. Swann ends on September 6th. It’s not too late to enter! The link is available on last week’s interview with Bonnie if you haven’t read it. Click the word WIN or use the link below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until we read again…📚

Blessings,

Dana L. ❤️

B.B. Swann…Breaking The 80’s!

My guest today is B.B. Swann, Author of the Breaking in the 80’s Novels. On top of her busy job as an author she’s a wife, mom and teacher to “firsties”, and a great mentor to new writers. It’s my honor to present, B.B. Swann.

You are a teacher and a mother. Do you feel an extra responsibility in guiding our youth through your books?

This is a battle I have in my head every time I write. I love happy endings and that’s what I want to give my readers. At the same time, I want to portray characters in a realistic, believable way, as any author should. But I don’t want to sound preachy to younger ears. I think sometimes, authors patronize teen readers and don’t give them enough credit for being able to understand difficult situations. In my twenty-five years as an educator, I’ve worked with families who face incredibly sad and difficult times. I’ve had students who’ve suffered or observed poverty, abuse, teen pregnancy, rape, murder, addictions, incarceration, and criminal activities. The resilience I’ve seen in many of these students amazes me. I know they can handle more than I would ever have thought they could, and I want to show readers like that a character who may be in the same situation and the choices that character makes for a different way of life. Sometimes people need to see themselves in a book to possibly gain hope that they CAN change their future. It’s my job as an author to give them that chance and I can’t do it if I shelter my reader from real life. I do draw the line at sexually explicit scenes. While my characters may have encounters, I don’t want to be the one to tell an innocent what happens. That’s their parent’s job! LOL! I focus more on the emotional end of those situations and it’s always a consensual act between two partners.

I was privileged to be an advanced reader for Barriers, and you know what I love most about the book! Who’s your favorite character and why?

Cindy runs a close second, but hands down, my fav is Mike. He was a fun character to write in Breaking the Bro Code, that’s why I decided to make him the MC of the second book. In Bro Code, he was the voice of reason for Hayden during his conflict. His advice wasn’t always the best, but his intentions were. In Barriers, Mike begins very naive about the world of relationships but thinks he’s already an expert. The way he views Cindy is adorable. He really does think their love should be a simple thing for everyone else to accept. I love seeing how he develops and matures throughout the story. Of course, he still has some growing to do, but maybe that will be a part of book three, right? 😊

Is any of Barriers based on true life experiences?

***SPOILER***

A lot of the story comes from little experiences I had growing up in the 80’s, but the scene that holds the most of my heart is where Cindy speaks to her father in the hospital. My own father passed away ten years ago after an accident. He and my mother lived so far away, by the time I got there, he was gone, and I wasn’t able to say goodbye. When writing that scene, I thought of the things I would have said and that my father would have probably said. It was a very emotional scene for me. I cried writing it and sobbed editing it. I think it’s a beautiful scene and really pulls on the heartstrings. I hope that it can maybe help a reader going through the same thing as Cindy or I did.

Mike’s parents are pretty cool with his relationship with Cindy. Do you see interracial dating as easier or harder today than in it was in 1986?

I knew several multi-racial couples in the 80’s though I never experienced that myself. I do remember it being a huge deal where I lived. My hometown was the setting for Barriers, so I based the reactions of Mike and Cindy’s classmates on people I knew then and how they reacted. Many accepted it but a lot didn’t. I did a lot of research through interviews with older bi-racial couples about their experience in the 80’s and watching videos of the same types of interviews. Many said that even with the civil rights movement of the 60’s, the 80’s still had plenty of resistance. Today the reaction to these types of relationships seems different, but I am definitely not the best one to make that judgement. My son has been involved in a bi-racial relationship for the past five years. While he and his girlfriend say they haven’t had any problems, I still hear of others who aren’t as lucky. Hopefully one day, it won’t be an issue. As Cindy says, nobody should be punished for love.

If you could go back to the eighties, and change one thing in your life, what would it be?

I’m not sure I would change anything. My life is pretty good right now and I wouldn’t want to risk losing something now because I changed something then. BUT if I could guarantee to still have my life… I would go back and not change my major in college. I began as an English major and changed to Early Childhood Education. 5 and 6yo’s are exhausting! 😊 I would love to be an English teacher instead right now. Still, at least I don’t have to grade term papers in 1st grade.

What other books have you written?

I have 10 completed picture books, one of which comes out in October. KATIE COMMA is a story about a comma who gets blown from her sentence in a classroom book. She wanders around, hopping into other sentences to hide from the returning students. The sentences inform her that she doesn’t belong, and she continues to search for her home. It’s a simple story that teaches primary children about the correct use of commas but more importantly, it teaches about perseverance, to keep trying when things get difficult. Pelican Publishing will release it in October, and I am super excited. My illustrator, Maja Andersen, did a fabulous job on the pictures.

As for my YA books, I have 8 finished novels. Three are with my agent and one of those is out on submission with several fulls under review by some exciting editors. Right now I am playing the hurry up and wait game with them.  I’m pretty terrible at that game by the way. I also have another published book in the same world as Barriers. It’s called Breaking the Bro Code. It’s the story of Molly and Hayden’s romance, Mike and Cindy’s best friends. There’s a little more sports in it, which was fun to write. I based them off my sons and daughter. My boys played soccer and my daughter did cross country and track. It was fun to research those sports in 1986 to see how different they were then.

What is your next project?

There are several books bouncing around in my head, vying for the right to be heard, but I would like to finish the one I am working on currently first. It’s the follow-up book for the one on submission. I’m hoping to get a three-book deal for a cool million so I can retire early. Just kidding (sort of) but every now and then, an idea for a picture book jumps out and I have to stop everything and write it. They are kind of like children, impatient and always thinking of themselves.

When you find time to read what is your favorite genre?

I read a little bit of everything. If it sounds like a good story, I read it. But YA romance will always be my favorite. It has to be quirky and unique though. I usually write magical realism, though not in Barriers, and I love sci-fi and fantasy so that’s what I tend to seek out. But I can never seem to leave Target without browsing the children’s books and dropping a few new picture books in my cart. Thank God for the Target Redcard with 5% off!

Tell us everything we need to know about B.B. Swann.

You pretty much know it already from reading the Q/A above. I am a supporter of respecting each other despite our differences. I believe everyone deserves a fair chance at happiness and that those with should do what they can for those without. But I also believe that we all have a responsibility to WORK for our happiness. Nothing should (or will) be handed to us. We need to go out and make things happen. Integrity is important. Education is important. And love is most important of all. If we let hate take over, we’ve already lost that chance for happiness.

If all of that is too deep, I like cats, my favorite color is purple, and I have 5 years until I retire. 😊

If there was just one thing you want people to take away from Barriers, what would it be?

Life is filled with emotion and that’s what I want my readers to experience. While my purpose for writing is to make others happy, and I can promise I will never write a book with an unhappy ending, that doesn’t mean my readers will never cry or get angry. Those emotions deserve equal representation because without them, the good stuff isn’t as good. I hope they read Barriers and laugh, cry, and ultimately celebrate when the good stuff comes.

It has been my pleasure having you as a guest on my Wake-Up Wednesday blog and I can’t wait for the reviews on Breaking The Barriers. This is a definite must read for teenagers and their parents and I’ve already ordered my own copy!

Until we read again..📚
Blessings,
Dana L.❤

Family, Focus and a CEO!

Last week my daughter said “I want to give you a date to think about”, and I knew right away that meant she was looking for a babysitter. To her credit she knows me well enough to realize I’m not good at spur of the minute decisions, but I had just returned from the five day trip to the FAPA Conference, and I was exhausted. So being me, I told her to wait before even asking.

Grandmothers are supposed to want to be with their grandkids, right? And I do, but I also need time to do all the necessary parts of my job, and that’s where the disconnect comes in. Being a writer is my job; but only other writers understand that.

When I was in banking no one would have questioned the fact that I was working through the week, and not available for childcare. But now that I work from home it’s a whole new situation. Let me say right now that although I love my girls and my grandchildren, I took early retirement to write, not to be a babysitter.

Last week I was talking with a friend who has her grandkids all the time. I told her how much I admired her but she agreed that it can be a lot of work. She also shared that it might be different if she had a second career like I do, so I felt a small amount of relief for my feelings, but still a lot of guilt when I see how involved in their lives she is.

Is there a solution, because I can’t seem to find one. If I say “no” to requests to babysit I’m full of self reproach and it follows me like a dark cloud. If I say “yes” I see the time I need to be writing or editing slipping away, and that takes away from the enjoyment of being with the children.

What did I do when the question was finally asked? And yes, it was for babysitting services, but with options. At first I took the easiest, which was staying overnight on a Sunday evening to take my grandson to school on Monday morning, and then have my day left to write. But then this past weekend we were all together to celebrate birthdays and I saw my oldest grandson, who’s sixteen, six feet two and now a licensed driver, and I realized how much of his life I had missed out on during my busy banking career, and it broke my heart.

So now I’ve changed my mind and the other grandmother can have school duty and I’ll have a slumber party with my four year old granddaughter on Sunday night. We’ll play dolls and I’ll watch her ride her new bike on Monday while my daughter and her husband take the baby to their last court meeting before her adoption is final. Will I be totally frazzled by Monday evening? Yes, but I won’t feel guilty and I’ll have made some new memories with my grand-girl, who says I’m her best friend.

I’m still looking for guidance on how to get my family and friends to understand that writing is my job and it needs my time and focus, but until I find just the right words I’ll continue to be the CEO of my world. That’s Chief Everything Officer by the way!

Next week’s post is an interview with B.B. Swann, Author of Breaking The Barriers, a Young Adult Coming of Age Romance. Check it out on Amazon.

Until we read again…📚

Blessings,

Dana L❤️

This is a signed Will Moses print that I got when the first grandchild was three. It’s titled Visiting Grandma and it’s how I envisioned being a grandmother would be. It’s a beautiful picture but just not quite me!

FAPA 2019

The Greysons, Book III of the AMI Series, won two Silver Medals at this year’s FAPA Presidential awards. In honor of this exciting recognition my publisher, SYP Publishing, is offering the Kindle Box Set of The AMI Series FREE on August 8th! This is a 1 Day offer, so I hope you will take advantage of it.

https://www.amazon.com/Anna-Maria-Island-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B07TJTMW98/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3SZY5GVLFTXMQ&keywords=dana+l+brown+books&qid=1565049329&s=gateway&sprefix=Dana+l+brown%2Caps%2C162&sr=8-3

This year’s Florida Authors and Publishers Conference was great! The sessions were interesting and informative, and I learned so much. Marketing was the focus, and even though I always feel that marketing is my strength, this was a different type of marketing . I’m anxious to go through my notes now and see what I can do better.

Two of my FAPA friends, Pat Stanford and Kathryn Knight, were up for Adult Cover Design along with me, and Pat’s book of poetry, The Proverbs of My Seasons, won the Gold Medal. Her book is beautiful so I’m fine with that decision. Kathryn and I tied for Silver, so it was truly a friendly fight!

A few weeks ago I highlighted Kathryn on this blog, and her book Unveiled The Twenty & Odd won the Gold Medal in the category of Adult Non Fiction. I’m so proud of her!



Hayley Rose, another dear author friend, was the Gold Medalist in Children’ Picture Book Ages 0-7 for FIFO, Today I Feel Emotion. I bought this book for my granddaughter’s 1st Birthday last fall, and she loves it!

Another Silver Medalist was Kip Koelsch, author of Delphys Rising. His book won in Adult Fiction Horror/ Suspense. I bought the book for The Captain, and I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.

And of course, there’s me! Winning the Silver in Adult Romance was such a blessing and knowing how many entrants there were in the category makes it that much more special!

There were so many new people to meet this year, as well as old friends who didn’t attend, but overall it was a wonderful weekend and I’m exhausted. At our first FAPA Conference Bob had a wine glass made with Lottie Loser engraved on it and it’s a tradition that continues. It’s such a thoughtful gift and I cherish each one.





Don’t forget about the 1Day FREE offer of the Kindle Box Set of The AMI Series. It’s a great value and will have you ready for next year when Noah’s story releases.

Until we read again…📚

Blessings,

Dana L. ❤️

Memories…

The first weekend of August my favorite book event of the year happens! The Florida Authors and Publishers Association Book Awards and Conference. I’ll be honest, I’ve attended some pretty amazing events this year…like the Seymour Agency Cruise, but FAPA is like home, and it’s where my heart is.

In 2017 a social media encounter with Mark Wayne Adams led me to FAPA, and I will be forever grateful to him. That year Lottie Loser, my debut novel and Book I of the AMI Series, won the Silver Medal in ChicLit and my life as an author began. I met my publisher, Terri Gerrell of Southern Yellow Pines Publishing, and signed with her, but most importantly I made friendships with other authors, and they took me under their wings.

This will be my third conference and I’m nervous and excited all in one. Last year Call Me Charlotte won three medals, including the Gold in Adult Fiction Romance, and this year Book III of the AMI Series, The Greysons is up for a medal in Adult Fiction Romance and Cover Design Adult. I won’t pretend that I don’t want to do well, but two dear friends are also up for Cover Design, and I’m so pleased for them.

I’ve met some very competitive people in the literary industry, but my friends from FAPA are people I trust, and know I can count on. What a blessing that is.

Now I want to introduce you to my special FAPA friends.

Hayley Rose, David Edmonds, me and Kip Koelsch all 2018 Award Winners
With my dear friend Kathryn Knight
Kathryn and Patti Brassard Jefferson, The incoming FAPA President
Author Talya Boerner
With Mark Wayne Adams in 2017
With Jane Wood, 2017 FAPA President and Mark
With Author Zelle Andrews
2017 Silver in ChicLit

I can’t wait to see what learning opportunities FAPA has in store for us this year, and I can’t wait to see these wonderful people.

Until we read again…📚

Blessings,

Dana L.❤️

A State of Mind…

10.3 million adults in the United States suffered some type of extreme depressive episode in the past year. 10.3 million! And 50% of them also suffered from anxiety. The numbers boggle my mind, and yet, I know that they’re true.

I’ve told you before that my journey into Social Media only started because I wrote Lottie Loser. But now I’m hooked, and every day I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Most of the people I follow, and who follow me, are involved in writing and an awful lot of them suffer from depression and anxiety. Is there a correlation? I hear over and over that most writer’s are introverts and for me that’s part of the puzzle. I am definitely an extrovert, and speaking engagements are one of my favorite things to do, so do people who are more reticent to be out among others also have more issues with depression and anxiety? I don’t know.

I am a strong woman, with a strong personality, so this is where I need to admit something that I’m not very proud of. I didn’t used to have a lot of compassion for people who said they were depressed. I thought they were whining, or looking for attention and that they just needed to get over it. I’m so ashamed of that now.

Let me take you back to 2017. I was retired, had won a National Award for Lottie Loser, and Call Me Charlotte was written. The world was looking pretty rosy. I signed with Southern Yellow Pines Publishing and was pretty sure I was on my way to being the next Nora Roberts. ( Okay, that part’s not true, but it’s fun to imagine!) That November I worked diligently on The Greysons during National Novel Writing Month, and was pleased with it; and then came 2018.

I started the new year off with a bad bout of vertigo, and for a week was flat on my back in bed. Any motion or noise sent me reeling, and it was one of the worst weeks of my life. Eventually I recovered but by now it was dead on winter, and I became like a bear. I just wanted to hibernate. I didn’t feel the need to write because I had one book heading into publication and one book ready to go, so I whiled away the months, waiting on spring.

In May we headed to Anna Maria Island for the release of Charlotte, but things didn’t go as planned. My mom was ill, the crowds that I had anticipated didn’t materialize, and I was distraught . From there the summer went downhill, and all of a sudden I was one of those 10.3 million people. Hurting, unhappy and yep, depressed. I couldn’t write, I cried all the time and kept looking for outlets to make my life whole again.

I am so thankful for the special people who helped me through my darkness, and even the meds that helped me regain the joy that I thought was gone forever. One day in the late fall of 2018 I realized that I’d forgotten to take a pill for several days in a row and called my doctor. She assured me that what I was taking did not need a gradual decrease, so I just quit. And that’s when I knew I was going to be okay. *If you are taking medication for depression or anxiety please talk with a medical professional before you stop taking them.*

Now everywhere I go people are admitting their depression, anxiety, and OCD issues to me, and I can be the caring, supportive friend that they need. Would this have happened two year’s ago? Probably not.

When I was in banking I liked to tell the people I worked with that you needed to walk a mile in someone’s shoes to truly understand them. I believe that today more that ever.

Anyone can suffer from depression; it’s what puts it in motion that’s different for everyone. But like with any mental incapacity, depression and anxiety are not issues that should be swept under the carpet, but need brought out into the light.

Today I have several friends who are dealing with depression in various stages, and I’m so thankful that they trust me enough to confide in me. A couple are Christians with a strong faith, and a couple aren’t sure of their religious beliefs, but for all of them their depression is real.

Once again I’m the strong woman that I was before 2018, but I know how easily that could change. I’m writing again, have started a local writer’s group, and am looking forward to my husband’s retirement in 2020. But never again will I discount someone’s feelings when they tell me they’re depressed. I’ve walked in their shoes and to be honest, I’m grateful that I did.

Until we read again…📚

Dana L.❤️

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Adventures at the Y!

If you’ve looked at my picture you can tell that I’m not an athlete. If you know me at all you know that I’m not giving in to getting old! There’s a common denominator here and as much as I hate it, it’s exercise. And thus begins my adventure at the YMCA.🏋️‍♂️

Last winter my youngest daughter asked me to start going to the Y with her. She’s a medical technician at our local hospital and the employees were given five year memberships. Nice! Until it involved me going, as well. Her plan was that I would meet her there every day when she got off work, but working in a rural hospital you don’t always have set hours, and that was the case with her.

So of course, I declined. It was still cold and snowy outside and I had no desire to go out if I didn’t have to. I’m retired, remember? Then spring came around and she asked again. My response? Same song, different verse. The Midwest was experiencing terribly cold, wet weather, and again, I didn’t want to go outside if it wasn’t necessary.

Finally she started going on her own but every weekend I’d receive a text with messages like “Can’t wait to work out with you”, or “We’re going to have so much fun together when you join the Y”, you know, positive reinforcement. But I held fast to my excuses. The best one was that I needed to be writing and couldn’t break my concentration. If you’re a writer, you can relate. But come the middle of June I had a wake-up call when I realized that she was losing weight, something I always struggled with. Finally I agreed to start on July 1st, but then found out our Y was closing that week for some updates.

On July 8th I finally stepped through the doorway of the Randolph County YMCA, and have gone 5 times since! And do you know what I discovered? Besides the fact that I’m way out of shape? People of all ages, but many of them my age or older, walking the track and working out in the weight room. I saw people I knew from my days in banking, friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, and a new found enjoyment in exercise. Who knew?

I’m still not great at some of the machines, but I try them, and do as many reps as I can. Three years ago my husband and I biked with friends through the Netherlands, so the fancy bike that can go up and down hills is a favorite. Never in my life have I been able to do a sit-up, so the machine that helps you do rolls, and works on your core is one I use faithfully. Sometimes I add extra weight and sometimes I don’t.

The best part of my Y adventure is the time I get to spend with Alison. As a wife, and busy mom of 3 who works a full time job, she doesn’t usually have time to spend with me, one on one. Not that I don’t love spending time with her family, but sometimes it’s nice to have my little girl all to myself.

I haven’t lost any weight yet, and I still don’t look like Rachel Hunter, but I do feel better and that’s really my goal. My hope is that by the time winter rolls around again I’ll be so into working out that I won’t want to resume my hermit lifestyle.

If you’re looking for adventure, and don’t want to go too far from home, try out your local YMCA. And go with someone you enjoy spending time with. I guarantee it will make you feel good inside as well as out.

Until we read again…📚

Blessings,

Dana L.❤️

My baby girl and work out partner!

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