Saturday, April 30, 2016

Articulture-Westfield Event

Today I will be doing a meet & greet the author and book signing at the first ever Articulture event here in my home town. It's a 10AM to 10PM full day of dance, music, art and literature. I am one of five local authors attending the event.

It's an exciting day for me because, while I have been writing for most of my life I have only recently begun sharing what I've written with the public. Family and friends have been entertained since I was a teenager by the stories I've written- and I certainly have grown up and matured as a writer over the years, but find that even now my style is evolving and changing wit every book.

The challenge is confine me to a single genre. All of my stories have romance in them to various degrees but are not true bodice ripper romances. Neither are they contemporary romances because some are action/adventure, some magic/fantasy, some supernatural and spooky...I don't exactly know where I fall should my books be on the shelf in the local bookstore.

I also write holiday stories. Many of the stories in the three volumes published so far of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales were originally written to entertain family and friends at Halloween time. There are three volumes of collected annual Christmas stories, also written to entertain family and friends at the holidays.

One of the secrets in anything I write is I always put at least one element from  my real life into every book. It could be a family tradition, a favorite food, a place that we've visited, a phrase that one or the other of us commonly uses, an object, a started out as a game for my daughter when she was little and I wrote stories for her. I'd read them aloud and see if she picked up on the real life thing I'd incorporated into the story- usually she did. In 2014 I began writing people I know into stories as fictional characters. My late 92-year old surrogate Mom appears in several stories as a character. I still remember visiting her on a Sunday and leaving a new story called The Weeping Angel in manuscript form for her to read. She loved reading my short stories. On Monday evening she called me and during the course of our conversation she remarked that she'd read the new story. I asked how she liked it. There was a hesitation, and then in a somewhat emotional voice she asked, "Is that me in your story, the shopper in the bookstore who buys the romance novels?" I said, "Yes, that's you." And she got all teary. She was touched that I'd worked her into my writing. The next story I wrote had both me and her as characters and was pretty close to true life. Her health was failing and I wanted to give her something but she didn't want anything from me except my stories to read at night when she couldn't sleep because it made her feel as if I was there with her. So I wrote a story called An Intangible Gift in which the writer character goes to visit her elderly friend who is now on hospice, and she brings her some new stories. During the course of the visit, as she is preparing lunch in the kitchen, she thinks of the perfect gift for her friend. While they're eating she tells her she has a gift for her, and goes on to explain that she is going to continue to write her into stories, even after she is gone from this life she will continue to live on in those stories and the writer will hear her voice through the character, that when she is missing her and wants to feel her presence she will write her into a new story and be comforted by remembering her in that way. The elderly woman is a bit taken aback by this and quiet for a few minutes, but then she asks, with a twinkle in her eye, "Are you telling me that you think I'm a real character?" thereby letting the writer know that she's touched by this gift- literary immortality. In real life, I gave her the story and she read it after I'd gone home. The next night she called me and told me, "I'm putting this story in my safe deposit box." That she treasured it that much meant a lot to me. And I've kept my promise to her to keep her alive in my work. She passed in September of 2014 and that December I wrote her into a holiday story called Christmas Cakes. I didn't just use her as a character, I also used her actual house in the story as well, although I set it all in a fictional town, gave her a fictional name and surrounded her by fictional characters with whom she interacts much as the real woman would have reacted. The way she speaks, the way she acts with kindness and generosity and love is exactly how my dear friend acted during the thirteen years I was fortunate to have known her. My daughter called her Grandma one day and she wept. She'd had only one son and he'd never married, so she had no real grandchildren, but from that day forward she called Kelly her granddaughter. I was happy to have given her the grandchild that filled her heart with joy.

So, today I am taking my history as a writer, currently contained in 7 novels, 9 short story/novelette/novella collections, one young reader and one young adult novel to Articulture and sharing with my hometown what I have been creating for years while living and working in this community. It's a big day for me because I am a reserved, quiet to put myself out there is a huge step forward for me. I'm just glad I will be in the company of many other talented, creative people.

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