Monday, September 24, 2012

My One Year Anniversary

Good morning. On September 28 I will have been published for one year. It has been an amazing journey that's for sure. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would work out as well as it has. Never did I think I would learn so much.

This last year has also been filled with personal triumphs as well. My illness took a turn for the better so I've been able to accomplish so much more "outside" in the fresh air. We bought a new house. I got rid of my ex (which had a lot to do with feeling better). My daughter is now in private school.

I have lots to be thankful for. But most of all, I am thankful for you, my wonderful blog friends. Without you, I don't know where I would be now. Your support and encouragement has enabled me to accomplish my dream of being published. Without you, I would probably still be sitting on my first manuscript wondering what I'm doing wrong.

Like I said, I've learned a lot.

Tell me -- What have you learned in the last year?

PS -- Does anyone else hate the new Blogger changes? I can't find anything!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shipwrecks and Boatbuilders

Today is one I have been waiting to share with you all for a long time. Bridget Chicoine is finally published. Yay!

Bridget and I have been "friends" for a couple of years and I had the great joy of meeting her in person this summer. She's beautiful, delightful, and oh-so-very-smart. OH-SO-VERY-SMART. I've also had the honor of being asked to read her book and that, my friends is something you don't want to ever say no to.

UNCHARTED: Story for a Shipwright is out now, published by Rhemalda Publishing. Here's my review.

What would you do if everything you’ve ever known in your life is taken away and the only thing that remains is a fantastical heart-wrenching story to show for it?

UNCHARTED: Story for a Shipwright is one of those books that you will think about for a long time afterward. J.B. Chicoine’s exciting debut novel about a boat builder in Maine who meets an exceptional woman will leave you breathless as you turn the pages.

Chicoine’s writing is superb, with lyrical prose that envelops you like morning fog, silently creeping into your soul and as it lifts, you find yourself engulfed in a love story so simple yet so profound you can’t put it down. The places Chicoine transports the reader – spear fishing on a tropical island, ocean breezes wafting through the warmth of the dazzling summer sun or that same summer sun in a dusty dry Kansas cornfield – across not only continents, but also time as well to an incredible extraordinary story of survivors of a shipwreck. Chicoine certainly outdid herself creating this novel.

The characters are all three-dimensional, each having their own intriguing back-story, which blends seamlessly with Marlena and Sam’s interactions. The dysfunctional family dynamic is written brilliantly – the tension and anxiety carefully balanced with dry humor and underlying respect. There are no cardboard caricatures in this novel.

Part haunting love-story, part historical high seas adventure, this story about an ordinary man who meets a most uncommon woman will stay with you for a long time. If you don’t read anything else this year – read this book.

That is the review I posted on Goodreads and Amazon, but truthfully I just wanted to write --


Yeah, I'm not kidding, it's that good. And I'm not saying that just because she's a friend of mine. This book HAUNTED me, still does as a matter of fact. Between the story itself, which was phenomenal, and the writing, which was gorgeous, just color me jealous. I wish I had her talent.

Now, because of our friendship, Bridget's graciously offered to answer a few questions for me...

How did you come up with the idea for a story about a shipwreck within a story about a boatbuilder?

Well, I guess it all started way back when I was a little kid—you see, I had a crush on Gilligan. You can read all the sordid details on a blog post I wrote not too long ago.  
You're an accomplished watercolorist. Are the two (writing and painting) exclusive of each other or are they companion to each other?

Um…I’ve painted scenes and images inspired by my stories—like Marlena, on the cover of Uncharted—and I’ve written stories based upon a few random paintings, but one is not contingent upon the other. It’s just that I need a creative outlet for good mental health, so I’m either painting or writing most of the time. If I can combine the two, I feel doubly productive, which I like.

Is it harder to write or paint?

Writing is definitely harder! Way harder. I can pick an image, begin painting and be done with it in a week’s time. When it’s complete,it’s easy to set it aside and move on, even though I know it’s not perfect. And putting it out there for feedback is easier—that is, it takes little time or commitment for someone to offer their opinion. Writing—especially a novel—requires a huge amount of emotional resources and is a much longer and more involved process. And it’s much different to flash a painting in front of someone and ask, “Whaddaya think?” as opposed to passing a manuscript to a reader, saying, “This is going to suck up the better part of several days and there’s a chance that you make not like it at all and feel quite annoyed with me afterward.” 

What is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself during the publication process?

 I’ve discovered that I’m a very private person and that the internet is a very precarious place. I mean, I knew that going in, but the lure of easily accessible research was irresistible and made me lower my guard. I kind of laugh about it now, but I had a situation come up that freaked me out a little back when it happened.

You see, in the process of researching a particular sailing vessel, I came across a real live shipwright’s Website. After inquiring about the particular sailboat project that interested me and explaining about my writing, we corresponded several times over the course of a couple months. By then, I had completed my first draft and thought, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be great to have an actual shipwright for a beta-reader?’ I mean, I hated to think of some poor boat builder reading my novel and hurling it across the room in frustration over some implausible passage.

Alas, I had never asked anyone outside of my family and friends to read my story, and my request seemed rather presumptuous. I imagined this particular shipwright was not unlike my main character Sam—very, very busy. I thought he might be more inclined to oblige me if I showed a little interest in his work and background, justifying all that as further research, and I was genuinely intrigued. Much of what he shared was in fact very interesting and insightful. Unfortunately, by the time I mustered up the courage to ask if he would read my novel, he apparently misinterpreted my interest…

‘Yes!’ he wrote back, he’d ‘love to read it!’ Myheart raced with excitement.

Then I read the next line ….—did he just write what I think he wrote? … Oh nuts!

Just the same, his proposition was rather poetic. Nicely written—a few too many modifiers, but pretty good for a shipwright. Perhaps he was just trying to impress me with some literary ability of his own… but that thing about making love in the oakum and shavings …. Yikes!

It was all very embarrassing. He did not read my novel.

However, I learned a big lesson: Keep my guard up and just be direct. It may feel like shameless self-promotion, but better that than something else.

Well, I'm all for shameless promotion so you can find Bridget in all these places.

Writing blog:
Art blog:

Thanks for stopping by. And make sure you put this book in your TBR pile. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Finding Me

As most of you know I moved over the summer. I won't bore you with the details. I've also been painting and repairing the old house (s-l-o-w going), and finding new places for the junk I've collected over the years. In doing that, I've also begun putting stuff in the "holding room" for a yard sale. It seems I have a lot of stuff.

Well, in looking through all my boxes, I found several that contained my old writing. (When I say old, I'm talking like 1975.) Yes, I was writing in 1975. Of course I was a teenager and dinosaurs roamed the earth, but still it's writing even if it is written on papyrus.

And it's bad. All of it is so very very bad. Flimsy plots, atrocious puncutation, illegible script (I wrote longhand for most of it) and just a lack of (I don't even know what word to use here) ...story.

But, there is one thing I learned, or rather RE-learned when I found all that stuff that was astounding to me

I have always wanted to be a writer. Always. And because of that, I have always written. Always.

And now I am a published author. (By my own hand, but still, I'm published.) Funny how your dreams sneak up on you when you're not looking. Although, this dream was 37 years in the making so I'm not sure it snuck up on me. But, it reaffirms my tenacity. And patience that dreams do come true.

Now if I could only get Tom Selleck to fall in love with me....

Tell me -- how long have you been writing?