Today is cover reveal day! Writing a book and waiting for it to be published is like having a baby, and I’m so ready for this baby to be born!
This past week I’ve been running a video on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that’s a sneak peek of a scene from The Greysons, and I promised you some of the backstory. There’s more in the back of the book so be sure to look for it when you’re done reading.
My dad was an engineer, entrepreneur and inventor. When my brother was born Dad made up the “Lawnmower Song” and sang it to Tom. Five years later when I came along Dad took it out of storage and sang it to me. It’s been through my three girls and their seven children, and someday my Great Grandkids will hear it, too. It’s part of a tradition in my family so of course it had to be in Charlotte’s life, as well.
I am so excited to share this cover with you and I hope you will love it as much as I do. It conveys all the emotions I have about the completion of Charlotte’s story, and has the appearance of a Fairytale. And as you know, that’s exactly what my writing career has been.
This time last year I was busy getting CallMeCharlotte ready for release in Florida, and all was well with the world. Or so I thought. Several weeks before our journey my 93 year old mother sustained an injury that pretty much incapacitated her. While I was grateful that the The Captain and I were headed to Florida, and could help as caregivers, I knew it would be hard to really concentrate and enjoy releasing my book when my mom was in such pain.
When we returned home I knew it was time to get moving on TheGreysons, but a comment from another author about Charlotte, paralyzed me. Was I nota goodwriterafterall? HadLottieLoserjustbeenafluke? The thoughts were like a tornado swirling in my head and for the first time I found myself doubting my decision to leave a job I loved to write.
Enter my Beta Reader. I call her mine because while she Betas for lots of authors, it’s because of her that I found joy again in writing. She’s become my friend, the keeper of my secrets, and a character in the book I’m working on, TheFourSeasonsofSummer. In the book her name is Dena Daniels, and to “protect the innocent” as they say, that’s what I’ll call her here.
I asked “Dena” how she became a Beta, because trust me she does this for lots of authors, and this is her story.
One of her dear friends from her high school days wrote a book and asked Dena to read it for errors. Together they smoothed out the wrinkles, and she found that she enjoyed the task. With some urging from her friend, Dena decided to go public with her editing/Beta abilities, and voila! A Beta Star was born. She now reads books daily, giving feedback and editing suggestions to authors like me.
I’m not at all sure if Dena knows what she brings to me every day, both as an author, and as a person. I’ve never been good about sharing my work ahead of time, but Dena has read TheGreysons, and gives it two thumbs up! But better yet she’s instilled in me the belief that I need to write what I enjoy and what makes me happy. Those words coming from a person who reads for a living, were music to my ears.
And CallMeCharlotte? Well as you know I won Gold Medal, a National award, from The Florida Authors and Publishers Association 2018 Presidential Awards, so someone liked it!
Now here it is a new year, and I’m preparing to release TheGreysons. ThistimethoughI’m thinking a Virtual Release and maybe a party at my home for friends. This past year has brought me every emotion under the sun but I’m thankful to tell you that today my mom has recovered and I’m back to being me. The person who left a 32 year career in banking to write a book, and made her Fairytale come true.
Years ago I knew that someday I wanted to write a book that would take place on Anna Maria Island, Florida. It was a really long time from that goal to the completion of LottieLoser, but it happened, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Why AMI, you might ask? In the early seventies my parents retired and bought a condo on Long Boat Key. They didn’t plan for Florida to be their permanent home, but they fell in love with the area, and never looked back. From the condo they bought a house, and eventually built a home at Key Royale, in the sleepy little village known as Anna Maria Island.
Today AMI is booming, the sleepy little village a thing of the past, but our family still loves it, and travels there as often as possible. My parents sold their home and moved inland quite a few years ago, and sadly my dad passed away, but mom is still active and goes to the island every Sunday after church for brunch.
Because of my book series I get asked a lot for recommendations on restaurants and places of interest on the island. Since this is spring break season, I thought it would be a good time to share our family favorites.
Hands down the best place to eat is The Cortez Kitchen. The atmosphere is old Florida and the food is out of this world! A grouper sandwich, onion rings, cheese grits and a Blue Moon Beer is pretty close to heaven on earth. The restaurant is off the beaten path, and can be hard to find, so definitely get directions, but definitely go. http://thecortezkitchen.com
The other place you’ll want to go is The Donut Experiment. People get up at the crack of dawn…and I do mean dawn…to wait in line to order donuts that are made fresh to order. They have everything from my favorite, Key Lime, to The Captain’s favorite, Maple Bacon. The donuts are good, but it’s the experience that you go fo. I hear you can order online now, but where’s the fun in that? http://thedonutexperiment
A trip to AMI would not be complete without stopping at the Island Coffee Haus for a delicious start to your day. The release event for CallMeCharlotte was held there, and things couldn’t have gone better. http://www.islandcoffeehaus.com
Your last venture has to be to Ginny’s & Jane E’s! This wonderfully eclectic Cafe and Costal Store has everything you need for your adventure on Anna Maria Island, plus they sell LottieLoser and CallMeCharlotte! You can take home a memory made by a local artist, have lunch, or even a beer or a smoothie, but it’s definitely a destination in itself.http://ginnysandjanees.com
I’ve given you options to get your vacation started but you’ll want to find your own pieces of paradise, and that can only happen by exploring this charming island, and taking chances. You can’t go wrong…just go, and start making your own memories.
On March 10th I got up to see that I was only two followers away from 1000 on Twitter. For me that was a huge achievement so I put out the offer that I would highlight the 1000 follower on my weekly blog.
Today, on my Wednesday Wake-up Blog it’s my pleasure to introduce you to James Rowlands, my 1000 twitter follower, and my new friend. Please enjoy his story!
I come from the UK, more specifically the area around the River Dee which is the border between Wales and England. I was born right on it but consider myself Welsh and speak the language (lot of fun – very different). I was reading at a very young age and books replaced friends for large swathes of my youth.Age 18 I left home, studied Linguistics and Moral Philosophy – not high on company exec wish lists – and decided to live in France.
Now 47 (sniff) married to Béatrice, 2 daughters, 5 cats, 35 koi carp and a house made of wood on a hill-top in the Brittany countryside 🙂 I teach English at the French Officer Academy “St Cyr” – their Westpoint. I sang and composed music and lyrics for 25 years and that was great fun, more than a 1000 concerts and loads of travelling, but although lyrics are “writing” I needed something outside my comfort zone.
I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m not a trained writer. One day I decided I wanted to write a book, and I did. End of story? Not quite. LottieLoser turned out to be my Fairytale come true in every way imaginable. Because the most amazing thing happened; people actually liked it.
It’s funny how the success of the AMI Series gave me confidence as a writer. To be honest, I really knew very little about writing when I started, other than I liked romance. At that time I had no idea that most genres have a formula and for romance it needs a protagonist, an antagonist and a Happily Ever After. Who knew there were rules for writing?
Last week I mentioned that I was told on the Writer’s Cruise that my current novel, TheFourSeasonsofSummer, was not romance but women’s fiction, because my protagonist is married. Another eye opener. I also learned about pacing, sensual and emotional tension, and conflict, an area I already knew I struggled with.
“Don’t dump your backstory” was a big topic with the editors on the cruise, and since I like to bring in the past, I had lots of questions about that statement. Apparently it means save some for later, instead of giving it all away at once, so thankfully my Now and Then chapters in Lottie and Charlotte are okay. Whew!
At the end of the day, or the cruise in this case, this is what I took away. There are rules for writing, but like with all rules they’re subjective. Just as an artist needs to paint what they enjoy, and what brings out their passion, an author needs to write what brings them happiness. I love my series, and many of you do as well, and that’s all I ever wanted.
Would I like to be a best selling author? Heck yes, but more than anything I want to write what I love and what you, my faithful readers, enjoy. And of course I want my books to have a “meet-cute”; yep something else I learned at sea!😉
Another one of the words used a lot by the publishing professionals was Trope. I could never get a clear understanding of what it meant so I reached out to my Twitter friends, and the definition is below. Personally it’s not a word I’ll use, but at least I won’t feel stupid the next time I hear it.
The actual definition is “any literary or rhetorical device, as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, was and irony, that consists in the use of words in other than their literal sense.” But it can also be used for cliches. EX: dumb jock, brooding YA hero, manic pixie dream girl…
So now you’ve learned everything that I did on the writer’s cruise, but you got the Readers Digest version. It was actually extremely enlightening and if I’d have gone on the cruise before writing LottieLoser, she would still be an idea floating in my head.
Have an amazing week and why not try a new author? Your next favorite read might be sitting on a shelf but you’ll miss it, because you won’t take a chance.
I was a Girl Scout until I was sixteen, so their motto of “Be prepared”, is ingrained in my head, and it’s a good thing it is. As you know, last week I attended a Writer’s Cruise with the idea of pitching the AMI Series to Hallmark and Netflix. I had my pitch down, my Onesheet made and was ready to WOW my books right onto TV. But there was a problem. The Hallmark representative, who I really, really wanted to meet with, didn’t come.
Robert Burns wrote a poem called ToaMouse andfromitcomestheoften used adaptation, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” And go awry is exactly what happened to my plans. So now what?
The first night I spoke with an editor from Source Books and she told me I couldn’t pitch a Books series that’s from another publisher to a new publishing house, and asked if I was working on anything outside of AMI. As it happened I was. What that meant was I had two days to work up a new pitch and “be prepared” to sell my story and me, to a literary agent or editor.
I worked day and night on the new pitch, even taking a tablet with me to Nassau and making notes throughout the day. By Thursday I was feeling confident with what I had, it was memorized and I was good to go, right? Remember about what happens with best laid plans? They go awry, and mine did right out of the block!
I write romance. At least I always have, but after my first pitch to a literary agent with The Seymour Agency, I found out that it’s not romance if there’s a married woman and a man other than her husband involved. If that’s the case it’s called Women’s Fiction, and this particular agent didn’t represent Women’s Fiction. It was a Lordy Chicken moment if there ever was one!
The good news is I did pitch the new book to an editor of a well known publishing house and she wants me to send her the first twenty pages. I have no idea where it will lead but it’s exciting, don’t you think? And I did get to talk with the Netflix representative about the AMI Series, and she made a few notes and took my Onesheet, so all was not lost.
So where does my future as an author go? I hope up and up! I learned so much last week from the professionals and other authors, and I came home eager to get back to the business of writing. And just so I’m being totally transparent, I also drank a couple of Blue Moons and a few fruity island drinks while I was gone, but all in the spirit of fellowship with the other participants.😉
This is the tagline I was prepared to use to pitch Charlotte Luce to Hallmark. “Ayoungwomansearchingforherforever, andtheempowermentshefindsinforgiveness.” Oh well, maybe someday!
When I worked for First Merchants one of the benefits they offered was continuous training, but I never expected to actually use it once I left banking. But here I am, thankful for our trainer, Jeff Curts, and what he taught us about the art of pitching because I now have an opportunity to pitch my book series to producers and publishers, and boy will that training come in handy!
A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning out my office and came across WINNERSDREAM, the last book Jeff trained on before I retired. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but it’s not in my DNA to get rid of a book, so I started looking through it and guess what I found? Not only good information from the book’s author, Bill McDermott, but lots of notes and material on an elevator pitch, the exact thing I needed for my upcoming Writers’s Cruise.
One line from WINNERSDREAM that really stood out for me was “It’s all about execution”. All of the notes I made centered around making my dream a reality, and if the AMI Series never makes it to the big screen or TV, my dream came true the minute I held the first copy of LottieLoser in my hands. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t enlarge my dream, it just means I need to look for other avenues of execution.
Which brings us to the elevator pitch. We had to write one for Jeff, using our own dream as the theme, so of course, mine was on writing. I had an idea in my head about an article titled “When Grandma is a CEO..Chief Everything Officer”, and I wanted to pitch it to O Magazine. I felt like there were other women in my age group who had a demanding career, but also kids and grandkids, vying for her time and attention.
Jeff was the “make believe” editor from O, whom I met on an elevator, and this was my pitch to him.
Mr. Curts, my name is Dana Brown, and my dream is to be a published author. I’m a banker, a wife, a mother and a grandmother who struggles to find time for myself while staying involved in the lives of my family. I’ve written an article titled “When Grandma is CEO” and I think it’s something your readers can relate to. If you will agree to reading this draft, and sharing your insight, you’ll help me be one step closer to realizing my dream. I appreciate your time.
Well, what do you think? I’d like to say that my pitches are stronger now, but I guess time will tell. I’m not sharing the pitch I have for the Writer’s Cruise, because I want it to be fresh when I present it, and you never know who might read this blog!
Is there a moral to this story? Of course there is! The first is to never discount what you’re being taught as something irrelevant, or not important to your life, and the second is to never get rid of a book! There is a wealth of information in each and everyone, and you never know when you’re going to need it.
To Jeff Curts, who taught me so much about myself, and how to be the best that I can be, I want to say Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Because of you I was a better leader, and banker, and now, a better author.
And to the producers, agents and publishers I’m going to meet while cruising the Bahamas? Watch out! There’s a CEO headed your way.😉
How do you forge the past with the present? How do you take interesting characters from 1930 and make them jump off the page in the year 1984? Marina Brown ( no relation to me) certainly knows how, and her novel, Lisbeth, is a beautifully written example of just how it should be done.
Claire Elliston is the granddaughter of a Big Daddy Charlie Elliston. Richer than dirt, and founder of the Farmers’ and Businessmen’s National Bank, he has allowed Claire to be the bank’s manager, but has no real relationship with his only living relative. And that suits Claire just fine.
As Claire struggles to rebuild a property left to her by her mother Lisbeth Elliston, daughter of Charlie, the past comes alive as Claire’s mother reaches from her grave for redemption. What evil lurks on Buena Vista, and to what cost is Claire willing to go to find out about her mother Lisbeth’s life and death?
Lisbeth is filed with naughty Southern humor, and provocative situations as it takes you from the era of the Jim Crow South, to the families trying to deal with the implications of interracial love and commitment.
Lisbeth is funny and sexy, warm and poignant, and definitely thought provoking. From Big Daddy Charlie’s hatred, to the love in the afternoon at the B & B, Lisbeth will keep you on the edge of your seat as you turn from one delightful page to the next!
I’ve got be honest here, I’m a sucker when it comes to romance. That’s why I write it and that’s why I read it. I mean, what’s not to like? That rush you get when that certain someone makes you feel as if you’re the only person in the world; it’s a pretty heady feeling. So I decided to look up the meaning of romance and this is what I found.
“A feeling of mystery and remoteness from everyday life, associated with love.”
Hmmm. Remoteness from everyday life? Associated with love, but not necessarily love. Most of us have experienced romance, and usually love is involved, but not always. So I got to thinking, if you can have romance without love, can you have love without romance?
February 2nd is my 45th wedding anniversary and in those years I’ve experienced amazing love and amazing romance, but not always at the same time. I’ve always felt the love, but as life happened in our marriage, when kids came along, and careers brought pressure, the romance took a back seat. Doesn’t mean I liked it, but between sporting events, dance lessons, music lessons; well, you get the idea, we definitely fell in the category of love without romance.
So, if I could only have one for the rest of my life, which one would I choose? The excitement of romance, or the tenderness of love? Id go with love any day of the week. Because for me, this is what true love looks like.
I had a terrible cold, and was miserable. But then so was my husband. At 3:30 am I woke him up because my swollen sinuses were making my head feel like a watermelon about to be smashed, and I needed relief. In the cold, dark morning he went downstairs and got me a decongestant, along with a hot, steamy rag for my face. And then he wrapped me up in his arms and for the next hour massaged my head and neck, until I fell back to sleep. There’s not a flower or a sonnet in the world that could have been more romantic than that.
And just for the record, I get up some mornings and find sweet notes in the coffee can! Maybe not the romantic notes I sometimes yearn for, but the ones that tell me all I need to know. After 45 years my husband still wants me, and that’s love and romance all wrapped into one!
This is a picture from our wedding, when we were young and thought the highs of romance would follow us throughout our life. And you know what? Maybe they did, because 45 years together is quite a feat, and I look forward to every one of them yet to come.
Until we read again 📚…
Dana L ❤️
💝The giveaway celebrating love begins on my anniversary, February 2, 2019. Be watching for the links and the #450202, and enter by sending Charlotte or Nick a valentines message through my website comment section. The WINNER will receive both of my romance novels, personally signed to them💝