Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

End of That Misery, Moving On

I can’t tell you how excited I am that today, launch day, ends the journey with my latest book, the self-help memoir Slim Within: 4 Rules of Eating 4 Permanent Weight Loss. There will be a blog tour coming later, and the usual marketing efforts here and there, but the creative part is done.

There are some books I've written that are difficult to let go of. This wasn’t one of them. Writing it and revisiting my past issues with weight and food and dieting was extremely painful.

These problems had been solved--all in the distant past--things I barely give a thought to anymore. Yet in order to write about them, I had to dig it all up. I was surprised by my emotional reaction to this process.

Still, I’m very proud of Slim Within, that I stuck it out and wrote the book. I'd like it to be a success but even if it isn’t one bit, writing it was something I really wanted and needed to do. I’m glad I wrote it and glad I’m done! 


For more information, go here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Expecting the Unexpected?

Two things happened to me today that were completely unexpected. Well, three if you count my husband washing all the dishes while I was out. And it's not even my birthday!



Then there was a letter WiDo's submission editor sent to me, concerning her rewrite and resubmit request to a prospective author. Although he seemed very eager to publish with WiDo, his manuscript had a few major flaws that needed correcting. We've learned it's better to ask for these corrections up front before offering a contract.

Most writers are wonderful to work with in editing but some will get stubborn when it comes to changing their masterpiece.



This particular writer's email disagreed with everything suggested and clearly stated he was not interested in a rewrite and resubmit. This is his right and choice, of course, but it's always unexpected when it happens. Usually a writer will take editorial advice and work to improve the manuscript to get another chance at a contract. Most writers are happy to get suggestions from an editor outlining the strengths and weaknesses of their submission.

His negative response was unexpected. It wasn't just negative, but highly emotional, including chastising our editor for getting the spelling wrong on one of his characters' names. A real prima donna, that one was.


The other unexpected occurrence was while I'm sitting in my "study", which is a bed in front of a second-story window. A man walks right past the window. Well, hello there!

Turns out we have these very narrow balconies outside the windows and the landlord likes to send men up there now and then to clean or paint. Unexpected!

We can never really expect the unexpected, can we? Because if we do then it's no longer unexpected. Has anything unexpected happened to you lately?


Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Writer's Story: AN INCREDIBLE TALENT FOR EXISTING

I am participating in the WOW! Women on Writing tour for a memoir that every writer needs to read. It's called An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story by Pamela Jane. Intrigued? I was! My review follows the book information:

A Young woman longs for an idyllic past, despite her revolutionary
belief that everything that exists must be destroyed.
Paperback: 246 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:  Open Books Press (February 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1941799213  
ISBN-13: 978-1941799215
Amazon Link: click here


Book Summary:
“An Incredible Talent For Existing: A Writer’s Story” summary: It is 1965, the era of love, light and revolution. While the romantic narrator imagines a bucolic future in an old country house with children running through the dappled sunlight, her husband plots to organize a revolution and fight a guerrilla war in the Catskills.
Their fantasies are on a collision course.
The clash of visions turns into an inner war of identities when the author embraces radical feminism; she and her husband are comrades in revolution but combatants in marriage; she is a woman warrior who spends her days sewing long silk dresses reminiscent of a Henry James novel. One half of her isn't speaking to the other half.
And then, just when it seems that things cannot possibly get more explosive, her wilderness cabin burns down and Pamela finds herself left with only the clothes on her back.
From her vividly evoked existential childhood ("the only way I would know for sure that I existed was if others lots of others acknowledged it") to writing her first children's book on a sugar high during a glucose tolerance test, Pamela Jane takes the reader along on a highly entertaining personal, political, and psychological adventure.


My Review of An Incredible Talent for Existing


I was especially intrigued by this memoir because 1) I'm a writer and writing--or not writing--is a theme of this book and 2) I also came of age during the mid 1960's, the time when most of the events occur. 

I found Pamela Jane's account absolutely fascinating, where I started and finished it in an entire sitting, due entirely to the magical way she weaves her story. It begins with her childhood, where the main character "Pamie" creates ongoing stories in her head. This charming little girl evolves into a not so charming teen and college student but well...it was the times, wasn't it? 

The narrative following Pamie into her nontraditional marriage and beyond is compelling. I found myself thinking more than once, "How is she ever going to get out of this fix?"  And of course I had to keep reading to see what came next, where Pamie's choices would land her this time. From Connecticut to Michigan to Portland to New York to San Francisco and back to New York, following Pamie's life and loves is like a high speed trip across the U.S. during these volatile, changing decades of her young life.

And never leaving her side are the hopes of one day being a "real writer." One statement early in the book struck me as descriptive of a writer's life. These feelings came when she was a child, when the writing dream was just beginning: "Voices of the past sighed by me in the wind and whispered in the waiting fullness of the shadows." Voices that haunted her for years until she was able to give them words on paper.

With imagery that carries me to another time and place, descriptions that make the settings come alive to the senses, darkness laced with humor, this is a book not to miss. If you enjoy memoirs, if you are a writer yourself, if you want to get immersed into the era of the 1960's, then get this book!

About the Author:  Pamela Jane has published over twenty-five children’s books with Houghton Mifflin, Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, Penguin-Putnam, and Harper.  Her books include Noelle of the Nutcracker illustrated by Jan Brett, Little Goblins Ten illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning, and Little Elfie One (Harper 2015). Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp Through Jane Austen’s Classic (Skyhorse) was featured in The Wall Street Journal, BBC America, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Sunday Book Review and The Daily Dot, and has just come out in paper. Pamela Jane has published short stories and essays with The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Antigonish Review, Literary Mama. Pamela Jane is a writer and editor for womensmemoirs.com

Below are three clips of her work:

Literary Mama:


Womensmemoirs:




Find Pamela Jane Online:
 http://www.pamelajane.com (children’s books)


Twitter:  @memoircoaching, @austencats

Book Trailer for “An Incredible Talent for Existing”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA1znyLsaGY


Monday, March 21, 2016

Such a Big Deal

I've been collecting writing books since I was in college. A couple of them I still have and read for inspiration. Most of the writing books I thumb through, read once or twice, then discard as no longer helpful.

I like reading what other people have to say about writing, such as techniques, how to get inspiration, things they are working on. Now instead of having to buy a book with this kind of information, I can get it for free from blogs. So many writer blogs.

Do you remember back when starting a blog was a big deal?

Do you remember back when getting a publisher was a big deal?

Do you remember back when telling people you're a writer became a big deal?

Do you remember when telling people you had a book on Amazon was a big deal?

Do you remember when it was a big deal to sign with an agent?

Now, blogging is one of the oldest forms of social media. Tens of thousands have long been abandoned.

So you're a writer? Isn't everyone?

You've got a book on Amazon? Doesn't everyone?

You have an agent, good for you! Good luck selling the book, hope you're not in any hurry.

Getting a publisher is not as difficult as it once was, with so many new  ones popping up every day, hungry for material-- ebook only, pay for services and hybrid types are bloated with start-ups.

It makes me wonder if there are any Big Deals left in the book publishing world. Maybe signing with one of the Big New York Publishers and getting a Six figure advance. If I got a six figure advance, it would definitely be a big deal to me.

But we've even heard those stories before, and how the book doesn't earn out the royalties and the writer is dropped. There's a whole lot of sad tales about what happens with the "dream" agent or the "dream" publishing contract.

Is there any magic left in the world of writing and publishing? What do you think? If you allowed yourself to dream big and pull out all the stops, what would be your Big Deal?

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Writer's Memoir

I'm participating in the WOW Blog tour for an amazing book, THE INCREDIBLE TALENT OF EXISTING by Pamela Jane. 

I'll be posting my review later this month, but I'm listing all of the Blog Tour Dates, where you can read reviews, guest posts and interviews. These are fantastic, informative posts. 

Pamela Jane provides excellent advice on the how-to's of memoir-writing.

Monday, March 7th  @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!
Tuesday, March 8th @ MC Simon Writes
Don’t miss today’s guest post “Likeability: Getting Your Readers to Hang Out with You” and giveaway of the memoir “An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story” by Pamela Jane.
Wednesday, March 9th @ All Things Audry  
Pamela Jane visits All Things Audry today with a guest post “The Light Side: Adding Humor to a Dark Story”. Don’t miss this great post and a giveaway of Pamela’s memoir “An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story”.
Thursday, March 10th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples  
Madeline Sharples hosts fellow memoir writer Pamela Jane as Pamela provides today’s guest post: “Trimming the Pie Crust: What to Leave out of Your Memoir”. Don’t miss this insightful post and get in on the giveaway to win your own copy of Pamela Jane’s memoir “An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story”. Good Luck!
Friday, March 11th @ Colloquium
Pamela Jane visits the popular blog Colloquium as she answers the question "Writing About Sex: Fade in or Fade Out?" and offers a giveaway of her memoir "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story".
Monday, March 14th @ Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now
Join Pamela Jane with a guest post titled: Organic Organizing for Writers. In addition to this fabulous guest post, readers can also participate in a giveaway for Pamela Jane's memoir "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story".
Tuesday, March 15th @ Bring On Lemons
Pamela Jane writers today's guest post: Do You Need a Writing Coach? (5 Tips on Finding a Good One). This is fabulous advice you don't want to miss. Once lucky reader will also win a copy in the giveaway for Pamela Jane's memoir "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story"
Wednesday, March 16th @ Jerry Waxler
Fellow author and memoir expert Jerry Waxler reviews Pamela Jane's "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story"
Thursday, March 17th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker
Cathy Stucker interviews Pamela Jane to find our more about Pamela's memoir "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story"
Friday, March 18th @ Lauren Scharhag
Author Pamela Jane offers a great guest post "A New (and winning) Perspective on Rejection" and has graciously given a copy of her memoir for a giveaway. Don't miss this blog tour stop to find out more about Pamela Jane's memoir "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story".
Monday, March 28th @ Sherrey Meyer
Sherrey Meyer reviews Pamela Jane's memoir "An Incredible Talent for Existing"
Tuesday, March 29th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Fellow author and memoir writer Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts as she reviews Pamela Jane's memoir "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story".
http://applemanshapiro.com/

Thursday, March 31st @ Karen Jones Gowen
Karen Jones Gowen shares her thoughts after reading "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story" by Pamela Jane. This is one memoir and one memoir review you won't want to miss!
Friday, April 8th @ Kathleen Pooler
Kathleen Pooler puts Pamela Jane in the author spotlight today as readers learn more about Pamela Jane's memoir "An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story". There will also be a giveaway for one lucky reader to receive their own copy of this intriguing book.




Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Slim Within: 4 Rules of Eating for Permanent Weight Loss

My new book is scheduled to come out next month, a project I've been fairly quiet about until now. It's a self-help memoir and truthfully, up until a few months ago, I wasn't sure if I'd finish it. I think it's the hardest thing I've ever written, because  it's so personal as a memoir must be. It was painful revisiting things in my past I thought were over and done with.

It's a completely different genre from anything else I've written. What is it about me that I can't stick to a single genre? Well, the truth is, I write what I want to write, what I feel passionate about. I couldn't spend nearly two years on a manuscript otherwise. As difficult as this was to write, it's still a topic I feel passionate about.

And now, the info on Slim Within: 4 Rules of Eating for Permanent Weight Loss---



Getting into diet addiction at a young age, Karen Jones Gowen spent a lifetime trying to get over it. Losing weight wasn’t enough; she wanted to achieve and maintain a healthy size without diets, grueling workouts or strict weight control plans. She wanted to discover the secret to eating normally, instead of like someone who was either on or off a diet.
In this self-help memoir, Gowen relates her own story with detailed authenticity. She shares the plan she developed over many  years and with much trial and error.  A plan that enabled her to lose 80 pounds and keep it off: the Slim Within program, with its simple 4 Rules of Eating.
The final section of the book guides readers into understanding and implementing their own best way to lose weight by following this method of natural, appetite-centered eating.
Utilizing Slim Within, it’s possible to overcome a lifetime of diet addiction, or obesity, or any type of eating disorder and at last find peace with food, weight and body image. To become slim permanently, not just on the outside where it shows but inside where it counts.
Slim Within is available on the publisher's website for pre-order of print copies here. 
And I should have electronic ARCs in a few weeks for anyone who is interested in reading for review purposes. Let me know if you'd like an ARC and I'll see that you get one, as long as I have your email.
I set up a Facebook page, Slim Within Workshops, for up to date information about the book as well as inspirational tidbits. If you want an ARC you can contact me there as well.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Don't be a chicken!

With cool weather in Mexico, I'm craving soup. Homemade chicken and vegetable is one of my favorites. I went to the store and bought a nice plump bird from the meat department, brought it home to prepare for the three day process that ends up in soup. It begins with roasting the chicken with carrots, onions and potatoes.



First to wash it and clean out the inside. Wait, what's this among the gizzard, neck and liver?


You guessed it....chicken feet! Fascinating, aren't they? Too bad I didn't have any boys at home. They'd have had fun with these.


The girls could have enjoyed them too.


Since there was no one to run off and play with my chicken feet, I tossed them into the stock pot. I'm happy to report it was the best chicken soup I've ever made.

Apparently people will in fact buy the feet just to make rich and nutritious stock. When you buy a whole chicken in the States, the feet aren't included. I guess they're just thrown away, or maybe sold to the Campbell's soup company?

Have you ever used chicken feet in making soup? Or pig's feet? I heard they too were excellent for making stock, and I've seen pig's feet for sale everywhere in the stores. There's my next experiment!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

When there's nothing to say...Do you say anything?

Lately I've been clicking over to my blog and thinking I should post but then I can't think of anything to say. Ever have that problem? It's happened to me a lot lately, and I'm wondering if perhaps I've outgrown the blog. Or maybe the blog has outgrown me? I feel the same when I go to Twitter. Just kind of bored with it. How long can a social media site stay viable anyway?

That's a lot of questions in the opening paragraph, so feel free to weigh in on any of them. As for Instagram, I've been hearing a lot about it but never set up an account until I replaced my smart phone in December. My old BlackBerry got stolen, a loss since nothing works as well as a BlackBerry for organizing-- but as a smart phone it left a lot to be desired.

How do you feel about Instagram? I enjoy it more than about any other social media site right now. Definitely more than Twitter. Pinterest is fun as a light magazine-type read. I can follow links on all kinds of things to keep me busy for hours. I don't see Pinterest dying out anytime soon.

And as for blogging, well, we shall see. It seems there's always something to say even when there's nothing. Meanwhile, here's a picture to look at. My kids who came to visit us for Christmas, leaving for the bus stop. Kind of a bittersweet shot, isn't it?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Resolutions, Goals, Changes

The New Year is one of my favorite holidays. For me, it lasts all of January because I like to ponder and reflect and take my time about it. It's the wonder and excitement of New Beginnings. The promise of realizing goals, making changes.

This January my husband and I are in the process of moving from Guatemala to Mexico. It's taking a bit longer than the typical U.S. move where you hire a van or bribe your neighbors with donuts and pizza to get it all done in a few hours.

We are going via the local transport system and need 4 trips. But that's the fun of it. At this point in our lives, we are all about adventure and discovery.

Our first trip was to decide where we'd live in Mexico. We had chosen Comitan, Chiapas but we needed to see the town and if we liked it, find an apartment.

We found a hotel downtown for $17 a night and stayed 3 nights. Our hotel was through this glowing hallway and then up the stairs to our second floor room. I felt like a fairy tale queen, or maybe Jack and the Beanstalk.

At night the central park in the historic downtown area was still lit up and decorated for Christmas, even one week into January. It was a happy place where people gathered to enjoy the mild evening, eat dinner out, stroll around the plaza.



A marimba band was playing in the square with chairs set up, inviting us to relax and listen to the music. A few couples ventured into the cleared area to dance.

We weren't brave enough to dance, just sat in awe of this magical night, having fallen in love with Cometan.
The next day we found our apartment, a small but lovely place in a nice neighborhood. Altogether a wonderful start to the new year.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Land of Nada

I usually take a blog break this time of year but at the rate I've been posting, it looks like I'm already on my holiday blogging break. I did however write a post for Christmas on my website:

I was layering on the decorations on the Christmas tree at the hotel in San Pedro where we live now. Adding more lights, more shiny balls, beads, red and gold wrappy things. One of the workers came by and complimented my work.
I said, “Is it too much?” He said, “No, it is pretty. It’s good that you are doing that.” I said, “In the U.S., Christmas is a time of excess. It’s all about too much. Too many decorations, too much food, too many sweets, too many presents, too much everything.”
I asked him if it was like that in Guatemala, although I already knew the answer. He smiled and said, “Nada.” (nothing)
Go here to read the rest, and I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. See you again in January!