Thank you, Linda Appleman Shapiro, for your kudos

Thank you, LInda Appleman Shapiro, for your five-star review of my historical novel, Papa's Shoes, recently published by Aberdeen Bay. I hope it encourages many of your readers to find out what's between its covers. PAPA’S SHOES by Madeline Sharples A Must Read!  I was invited by WOW! Women on Writing's virtual blog tour to write this review for PAPA’S SHOES. It has been my great pleasure to do so, especially because I am the daughter of immigrants, similar to those who fill the pages of this remarkable story.  On the dedication page of PAPA’S SHOE’S author Madeline Sharples refers to her grandparents’ courage when immigrating from Poland  to America at the turn of the 20th century and apologizes for her audacity in fictionalizing their story. I immediately felt compelled to experience that “audacity.”I was then held in her grip from the very first page, as she immediately brings to life the many complexities common to all immigrants – the adjustment to a new world with its new wa … [Read more...]

How to build your brand

I recently shared my thoughts about branding building with my publisher, Aberdeen Bay, Author Community in the hope this would be helpful to other authors. Aberdeen Bay published my historical novel, Papa's Shoes, in May 2019. Building A Brand  by Madeline Sharples Before I discuss what I did to create my brand, I need to emphasize why an author – or any business person for that matter – needs a brand. We must market ourselves so that potential readers will know about us and our books. If people don’t know we exist, they won’t know what we have to offer. In addition, a strong brand lets customers know what to expect, represents us, helps us stay focused on what we’re offering, and helps connect us with our customers. As a result of a strong brand, it will provide value to what we are offering. I can’t emphasize this enough. People need to hear about us if we are going to sell our books. And if we’re perceived as experts as a result, we will stand apart even more from our co … [Read more...]

Yes, journaling has therapeutic powers

I have journaled every day since 1993, and I've definitely experienced its therapeutic powers. It has also been very healing during my son's manic episodes and after his suicide. Mari McCarthy certainly validates my thoughts about the benefits of journaling all these years. Please welcome her to Choices while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour and take a look at her new book, Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.   Mari has also shared her thoughts about the roles of our inner critic and inner coach as we travel through our lives. My inner critic has always been very loud in my head. It's good to know we can learn to hush it up. Here's Mari McCarthy. Conversations with Your Inner Critic and Inner Coach by Mari McCarthy You have two voices competing for attention in your head: your inner critic and your inner coach. Your inner critic brings up all of your insecurities and misgivings. They doubt your abilities, judge your actions and … [Read more...]

My first steps in marketing Papa’s Shoes

After almost five days off-line, I'm glad to say all is well with this site. It's updated and ready for a steady stream of guest posts and my eclectic thoughts about writing and life. Thanks for your patience. Now for a look at what I've been up to for the last couple of weeks to get ready to launch my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes: a Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America, published this month by Aberdeen Bay. There is one word for it: Marketing. They say marketing takes up most of our time once our book has been published. And now that my book is out and available online I totally agree. marketing has been first and foremost even before that. So here's where I am in the marketing path. I've booked a Papa's Shoes launch at my local Manhattan Beach, CA bookstore {Pages} a bookstore, on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm. If you are in my local area, please come. it's a free event; however, Pages would like you to RSVP, so they can get an idea of … [Read more...]

Mindful Dementia Care is an important book

It is so nice to share Mindful Dementia Care: Lost and Found in the Alzheimer’s Forest, a very important book by Ruth Dennis, Velma Arellano, and Luke Nachtrab, with my Choices readers while it's on WOW! Women on Writing's virtual book tour. I've written a review, shown below. But first I'll post a little information about the book, which we all should know about no matter what stage of life we're in. Mindful Dementia Care is a book of stories and a book of love. It is a book without denial, without any papering over of the challenges that can be involved with being a caregiver, and the sadness, anger, and frustration they may bring. It is also a life-changing source of information that can revolutionize relationships with one of the most vulnerable populations in our midst. In her decades as a caregiver, Ruth Dennis witnessed the tragic results of the medicalized and institutionalized way of caring for people with dementia. And equally clearly, she saw a better way. Mindful D … [Read more...]

Linda Lee Kane is our Choices guest today

Linda Lee Kane, author of fantasies, thrillers, and contemporary fiction works, joins us today while on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour to celebrate the re-release of The Black Madonna A Pope's Deadly Obsession. Before discussing her intriguing book, Linda shares about her life as a writer and some advice about how to publish our writing. Life as a Writer by Linda Lee Kane The same commitment you brought to writing your novel will be critical when facing the publishing world. For beginning writers, the publication can be a difficult path. The steps to publication involve finding an agent, working with an agent to sell your novel to a publisher, working with a publisher to prepare your book for launch, and marketing your book. This process can take years. Self-publishing is another option. You’ll cut out the agent and publisher, and produce and sell a book on your own. It may be a quicker route to publication, but it still requires a lot of work. In either case, … [Read more...]

Living among different cultures is great material for a memoir

Our Choices guest today, Neill McKee, writes about living in and learning about a very different culture, in his new memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah. His description of how he chose to find work in a world of more sunshine reminds me of my family's adventures living in the South Pacific in the mid 1970s. We lived on a tiny Marshall Island, called Kwajalein, for nineteen months, and it was definitely a life-changing experience - exactly the way Neill feels about his sojourns. Thank you, Neill, for stopping by Choices on your WOW!Women on Writing book tour. We are very interested in knowing about your successful and long career that all started in Borneo. About  Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah by Neill McKee I grew up in Ontario, Canada. As a kid, I dreamed of escaping my industrially polluted hometown for a cleaner, greener world full of sunshine—possibly in Asia or Africa. In college I studied psychology, philosophy and playwriting, but I di … [Read more...]

Welcome Jane Bertrand – hiker extraordinaire!

I thought I was pretty adventuresome when I hiked down and up the Grand Canyon at age seventy-six - a feat I had put first on my Bucket List nine years before. Well, Jane Bertrand's proclamation of wanting to reach the high point in every one of our fifty United States certainly beat me out. And I'm happy to say I was very glad to read  her memoir You Started What After 60?: Highpointing across America about her extraordinary accomplishment. Please welcome Jane during her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour.  Here Jane Bertrand traces her love of hiking back to Girl Scout Camp Natarswi, located at the foot of Katahdin in Maine, the Northern terminus for the Appalachian trail. ​ After attending college out-of-state, she would return annually for her two-week sacrosanct vacation in Maine.  Over the years she would continue to climb Katahdin, first with her sisters, later with her own children, and finally with adult friends who shared her love of the mountain. Yet not u … [Read more...]

What are you reading?

I've learned over the years how important reading is to writers. I feel I can always learn something from another author - even if I don't particularly like his or her book. So I try to keep reading and competing in the Goodreads yearly book challenge helps. Last year I committed to reading twenty-five books - yes, I know that's not a very big number, but it was plenty big for me. Even so, I overshot my goal and read twenty-eight last year. This year I've committed to reading another twenty-five books, and I've already finished my first and I'm well into my second. I'll be reviewing my first book of 2019 here on January twenty-fourth when I host the author while she's on her WOW! Women On Writing virtual book tour. As you will see from that list of books I read in 2018, I'm a very eclectic reader.  I even mixed in a few politically themed books and included some poetry volumes. By far my favorite book of the whole year is Michelle Obama's Becoming. It is so … [Read more...]

Should we write fiction about real people?

I'm excited to have Cindy Fazzi here today while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. She discusses her new book My MacArthur and how to write fiction about a famous person. I love this subject matter so much that she's inspired me to find a famous person to write about too. Perhaps a dead famous person like she did. Here's Cindy! Three Tips on Writing Fiction about a Famous Person By Cindy Fazzi Writing a novel about a real person is difficult—the more famous the person, the greater the challenge. Writing about Douglas MacArthur, an iconic World War II general, was certainly not easy, especially because I focused on a little-known love affair he had with Isabel Rosario Cooper, a Filipino actress. Here are a few things I learned from my experience writing my historical novel, My MacArthur. 1. Choose your subject well; remember that you can’t defame the dead. Under American law, the party who claims that he or she was defamed may file a lawsuit. Obviously, a de … [Read more...]

Using educator skills to build fictional characters

Cheryl Carpinello, our Choices WOW! Women on Writing book tour guest today has used her years as an educator and observation skills to create characters her young readers can relate to. Author of Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend, Cheryl shares how using the traits of her students helped her build believable characters for her award-winning fiction.   Being an Educator Helps Me Build Believable Characters By Cheryl Carpinello Writing characters that readers can identify and bond with is difficult at the best of times. When writing for young readers, I transport myself back to my classroom where I watch my students working and discussing. I wander the school hallways and observe students’ interactions with each other and with other teachers. Doing these exercises helps me develop characters that my readers can relate to and see pieces of themselves. As an adult writing for ages 9-15, it is important that my characters come across true. Kids are really amazing and at t … [Read more...]

Welcome! Mary Maurice, author of the Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe

Choices is very pleased to have Mary Maurice visit while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour of The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe. She has also given us her thoughts about the failing use of the word, Please - a word that has always been well-used in my family - along with its companions, Thank You. At least Ms. Maurice has a sense of humor about it. Here are her thoughts! PLEASE, WHERE ARE YOU? by Mary Maurice Has anyone seen, Please? You know, to please or not to please, that is the question. Whether it is pleasurable to please, or polite to say please, is becoming a mystery to people, at least that what it seems to me as I pace through this unconscious society. Just another word that’s lost its meaning and status in our vocabulary. I can still hear Mom saying. “What’s the magic word?” Or maybe it’s what the techno world is turning humans into. Rude, insensitive, self-indulged individuals, who think because they have the world at their fingertips, as they thumb … [Read more...]

What is literary alchemy?

I'm pleased to host Professor M.C. Gore, Maestro Philip Wilson, and Angie F. M. Trotter while they are on their WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. Their children's book, All is Assuredly Well, is   about how hard a king had to work to be worthy of becoming a father. Here, Professor Gore, shares with us her thoughts on literary alchemy - a term I wasn't familiar with until now. Hopefully my Choices readers will learn as much as I have about it by reading her essay below. Who wouldn't want to learn how to how to purify our souls? Want to Join Our Secret Society of Literary Alchemists? by Professor M.C. Gore In the Middle Ages, alchemists believed they could purify their souls through the process of turning lead into gold.  Getting rich wasn’t the goal; purifying their souls was. An alchemist saw no distinction between the actor (himself) and the object acted upon (the lead) as he worked his craft in the Sacred Mysteries.  The alchemist and his lead were inseparable prim … [Read more...]

Writing to heal in times of grief

Wendy Brown-Baez and I are soul mates. We're both advocates and beneficiaries of writing to heal and survivors of a loved one's suicide. Please welcome Wendy today as she stops by Choices on her WOW! Women on Writing book tour. Her literary fiction book, Catch a Dream, is described below. Here are her words about experiencing loss and grief and the benefits of writing to heal that experience. Writing for Healing by Wendy Brown-Baez, author of Catch a Dream My healing story begins not with my own healing but with seeking solutions for my companion’s depression. Sometimes Michael was unable to get out of bed for days at a time. Other times, he was energetic, gregarious, spending money wildly, followed by aggression. With a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, the puzzle pieces fell into place. I was involved in two writing groups at the time, a writing support group called Write Action and a women’s poetry group. Michael became more and more mentally unstable and finally killed him … [Read more...]

Fiction: another way to erase stigma

My guest today, Joanell Serra, explores the idea of reducing the stigma of mental illness by openly describing the mental illnesses fictional characters experience. That is to say, being open and communicative about mental illness in fiction and/or real life helps reduce stigma and paves the way to recovery rather than hiding some pretty grotesque characters in corners as was done to Miss Havisham, in Charles Dickens Great Expectations. With that in mind it is easy to understand that the characters in her debut novel, The Vines We Planted, are deeply portrayed and very well written so that they can work through the many emotional and challenging issues they encounter in her book. Please help me welcome Joanell Serra during her WOW! Women on Writing book tour. Can we reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness through fiction? by Joanell Serra When we think of characters with mental illness in fiction, there are many extreme examples to choose from: Billy Pilgrim from V … [Read more...]

Renee Antonia writes about learning to breathe

I am pleased to welcome Renee Antonia here at Choices. She's participating in a WOW! Women on Writing tour of her book, I'm Not Okay. Renee has written a sensitive and meaningful guest post about her struggle with anxiety and how she found a community of people going through the same thing that helped her through. With mental illness it's always best to communicate our stories. That provides a two-fold benefit: it helps erase stigma and helps us understand and rid ourselves of the demons that plague us. Thank you for telling us your story about overcoming your demons.   Learning to Breathe While You’re Drowning By Renee Antonia There are many times throughout my busy work week that I realize I haven’t stopped to take a breath.  Between working, writing, friends, and family I forget to breathe. After one of these realizations, I stopped and asked myself why?  Why do I work myself so hard that I forget to stop and take a breath?  To embrace and enjoy what I have?  To be … [Read more...]

Dr. Leona Stucky writes about violence against women

Dr. Leona Stucky has written an eye-opening account of the violence she experienced in her own home as a young Mennonite woman in her memoir, The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God. She calls this treatment the Invisible American War. The numbers of those affected are staggering, and bringing their turmoil into the light still escapes us. Dr. Stucky says there is denial about the violence against women and men in America. To. This. Day. Choices readers: please tell us your ideas of how to bring these atrocities into the light. We need your help. Public Denial of Violence Against Women by Dr. Leona Stucky The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God is an historical personal account of a young Mennonite woman who finds herself on the front lines of the Invisible American War. I remember the breathless reaction I had when, years after my war experience, I read in Jeff Wolf Wilson's book, Children of Battered Women, that during the same years that the US lost 39,000 … [Read more...]

Larry Kilham – thoughts on fiction vs. nonfiction

Choices is so excited to have Larry Kilham here today - the last day of his WOW! Women on Writing blog tour. His work with creativity, invention, and artificial intelligence is fascinating. Please check out his latest book, Free Will Odyssey. You won't be sorry. Larry has also written a post especially for Choices about his thoughts on writing fiction vs. non-fiction. I can relate since I've also written both. Here is what Larry Kilham has to say: Fiction vs. Nonfiction by Larry Kilham I have written about an equal number of fiction and nonfiction books. Each time I start thinking about my next book, I confront the difficult decision about which modality to use. With fiction, you are not held to a high standard about detail and truth. Writing a nonfiction book, on the other hand, about a current topic like addiction generally requires a team of researchers and a noted research institution in order to gain gravitas and establishment acceptance. Nonfiction is clearly the … [Read more...]

Eric Trant returns to Choices. Hello Eric!

Please welcome Eric Trant back to Choices - his second stop on his WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. His new book, Risen, is in the historical supernatural fiction genre. How much more creative can a guy get! Before I go into details about the book, Eric will share his thoughts about a career in the arts - something I can seriously relate to. My husband worked his entire career in science and engineering (I like to call him a rocket scientist), and I worked as a technical writer in the aerospace business. However, both our sons chose careers in the arts. Our older son was an accomplished jazz musician and composer before his untimely death in 1999, and our younger son is an actor and movie maker. However, each found realistic ways to earn a living while pursuing their dreams - one as a computer expert, and the other is a tennis instructor. Eric Trant has some very wise words about the situation we and so many other parents find ourselves in. "Is a Career in the Arts … [Read more...]

Shirley Melis writes about dancing through grief

I feel so grateful that I got the chance to interview Shirley Melis as she participates in her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour. As I'm no stranger to grief I was interested in how she deals with it and writes about it. Ultimately for both of us, we've learned to survive. Thank you, Shirley, for being here at Choices today. About Banged-Up Heart:  is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again. When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend's husband, she asks him to marry her! What foll … [Read more...]