Dear Gentle Readers,
I firmly believe that there’s a writer hidden away deep down somewhere in each and every one of us. Everybody has a story to tell. Of course, no one may want to hear it, let alone pay to read it. But that shouldn’t stop you from putting pen to paper.
Buy a journal. Type up some notes on the electronic device of your choice. Or find an old notebook leftover from some class and start today. Write the date at the top. It doesn’t matter WHAT you write, it only matters that you write. A few minutes before bedtime is an excellent time to write. Some people have trouble writing full sentences that contain a complete thought. That’s okay, start with a list. Start out with what you did today, or maybe what you would like to accomplish this week. Is there something bothering you, just slightly under the surface? It’ll show up in your journal as soon as you relax and just write. Write down something that made you smile today. Or three things you are grateful for, and I know some days you might really have to dig, like it didn’t rain here today or, the sun finally came out today. Start small. Be appreciative. You’ll find more things to be grateful for as soon as you actively start looking.
The physical and mental advantages of writing cannot be ignored. It stabilizes your blood pressure. It improves your thinking skills. It calms you down. It makes you more organized. It helps you get into a reflective state of mind. And when you go back and read your journal entries later, you will gain tremendous insights into your own behavior and reactions, and sometimes, have a good laugh at yourself for worrying so much about things that never came to pass.
So start today, tonight. And let me know what you think.
This is an early blog entry from my website, carolannkauffman.weebly.com, and I still firmly believe in the power of writing to heal. We adults (especially adult women) are crazy, complex creatures. We have lost that pure, childlike honesty, mostly when it comes to dealing with ourselves and what’s bothering us. We gulp it down, we hide it, we bury it somewhere to deal with at a later date, or not, and wash it down with double latte and a couple of cookies. We have been taught to ignore our feelings as unimportant and take care of everyone else. After all, you’re an adult.
I am here to tell you that’s a boatload of baloney. And don’t you believe it, or buy into it, for a moment!
Have you ever been on a plane during major turbulence? These little cups carrying your life-saving oxygen pop out of the plane ceiling and you are instructed to put yours on first. There is a reason for that. If you rush around taking care of everyone around you, by the time you get to you, you may become dizzy or light headed, or pass out from lack of oxygen, and those little ones or old ones who were so dependent on you will be on their own. SO all the major airlines and I agree, take care of yourself first.
The smartest, easiest, and cheapest way to do that is…to write. Yeah, yeah, I got that part about you have no time or desire to write a long, tedious, boring tome. I’m not talking about your personal version of the great American novel here, I’m talking about a journal. Something small and personal. Something only you will see. Just write. Start small, a few sentences before bed. Just write. It doesn’t have to make sense. Just write.
Soon you will find you are looking forward to that few minutes of journaling at night. Soon after that, you will experience a release when writing, when the aggravation of the day leaves you and enters the paper. Then, my darlings, that’s when you begin to see and feel the physical and emotional benefits of writing. Calmness. A more organized mind. A more reflective state of being. The ability to stop yourself from screaming “You idiot!” and dashing or your journal. All from having a conversation with yourself! Who knew?
Carol Ann Kauffman is an author from Ohio. She is a retired teacher from a local school district, where she taught for thirty-five years. She has worked as a printer, managed a department store office, worked in an insurance agency, retail sales, and automotive. She was a Red Cross volunteer. She loves to travel; her favorite places being Italy, and Aruba, which show up in her novels quite a bit. She loves to play Bridge and to garden. She grows African violets and orchids. She loves dachshunds and trains. She is the author of the Time After Time series, which follows a pair of lovers through their many lifetimes together. Her novels, classified as romantic action adventures with a sci-fi/ fantasy twist, are about life, love, loss, and lunacy. Connect with Carol on Twitter at @Cay47. Visit her website at carolannkauffman.weebly.com or visit her blog, Vision and Verse at visionandverse.blogspot.com
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I’m from northeast Ohio, the gray land, the flyover zone.
We travel. I wrote the first chapter of Charming Deception while in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Parts of Blue Lake were written in Lago Maggiore, Italy. The Venice scenes in The Baslicato were written in Venice. But I’ve written a great deal at home. I don’t think where I live confines my writing as much as where I am in my head.
Tell us your latest news??
I have a new book coming out in June with BTGN (Books To Go Now, out of Seattle, WA). It’s part of a five-book anthology called The Monday Mystery Society. It takes place in a small Ohio town, where members of the book club find more than their next favorite author. Each book in the series revolves around a mystery novel. It’s an exciting concept. My book is called Daisy’s Dilemma.
Also, Sea Witch should be ready by the end of August. Life extraterrestrial life scientist Dr. Laura Martin hires a new asisitant, Dr. Scott Conner. Mayhem insures, mainly because of the mermaid/siren/monster in the basement.
And I have another installment in the Time After Time series that is due out in October, called MacKalvey House. Young American woman/older British gentleman find love and heartache.
THEN the sequel to Madison’s Christmas is due out November 1st. This one, Christmas at Star Lake, picks up almost a year after Madison’s Christmas ended, when Madison discovers the deaths of her father and best friend were murders.
When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
With me, reading and writing have always gone hand in hand. I wrote as a child. I won an essay contest in middle school, and wrote an article for a teen magazine in high school. But college, job, life got in the way and I didn’t pick up writing as a serious endeavor again until I retired.
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
My favorite authors are M.C. Beaton (Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin series), Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum), Sue Grafton (A is for Abili, B is for…), Dan Brown, to name a few. I love indie author Loretta Laird, whose Passers trilogy is a Tolkien-like saga of a princess and a passer, love and duty. I like an author who drags me into the book no matter how I am feeling when I sit down to read, one who can make me put everything else aside and just read.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
The Time After Time characters reoccur, because the series is about a couple who find each other in lifetimes, at different periods of their lives, sometimes of different planets, so my main female characters have much in common. I start with a detailed character profile. Name, family information, childhood experiences, education, all the way down to favorite cologne, what kind of car she drives, go-to outfit, favorite piece of jewelry (and why). Then, when I have enough of these characters developed, I just wind them up, sit back and watch what happens.
What motivates you to write?
I honestly do not know. It’s like eating and sleeping and other primal necessities that seem to be hard-wired into me.
What is the hardest part of writing?
I tend to suffer from too many subplots. I see twists and turns at every corner. One publisher wanted to divide my novel into three separate books. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea, so I declined. Though a few subplots are good, too many can certainly strangle a good story. Simplifying my story line is the hardest part for me.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Oh, absolutely. For Sea Witch I had to learn the naval officer rankings and the geography of southern France. I also studies the folktales from the Nordic countries about hooked sea monsters, as well as old tales of mermaid and sirens.
The biggest thing I learned as an author was to make a table with columns and rows as you are writing, noting chapter number and title, page numbers, character POV, location, month or time of year action is taking place, new characters added, etc. BELIEVE ME, you will save time and aggravation not flipping and scrolling to find specifics.
Where do you get your ideas?
Anywhere. Everywhere. The bridal section on the newspaper. The police blotter. Lyrics from a song on the radio. Kids playing at the dog park. Something that happened to me personally. A long drive in the park. The people screaming at each other in the hotel room next door.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband is my biggest fan. Although he reads non-fiction, biography, and financial books, he does read mine and tells me he loves them, and also points out any illogical areas to me. My sister is a recent fan, as she just got a tablet. And my niece Cianna has been my techie, my beta, my editor, my counselor, my marketer, my publicist, and my cheerleader.
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Write every day. Don’t let the people who haven’t succeeded squash your success. Today, everybody’s a critic. Do not get discouraged. And this is a hard one: when someone is giving your book criticism, emotionally detach yourself from the book and try to glean something constructive from them. Discard the snide remarks and wrinkled noses. Find something they said that you can use to improve your craft. Someone used the term “too trashy” for one of my books. I howled with delight! My work is not sexual explicit or graphically violent, and most rejection letters said I was too tame, for example “this is something one might find on Mary Poppins nightstand” or “use a more modern descriptive phrase for manpart”, or, my favorite, “throw a few fucks in, young people say fuck a lot.” So, if you can’t find something constructive, then find something amusing.
What book are you reading now?
I just finished Olympian Passion by Andrya Bailey. It was a love story set against the backdrop of beautiful Greek antiquities, museum mystery, and one hot Greek professor. Now I’m reading Forgiven Love by B. Maddox, about a single mother with twins reconnection with the father of said twins.
Cold Coffee Café: coldcoffeecafe.com
“Lord Andrew! Come quick! We’re being attacked! There is a regiment of Bishopites on Blakeley soil. Up on the hill! They’re burning our crops. They’re chopping down our fruit trees,” Jacob cried out at the bedroom door.
“Aleese, listen to me very carefully. Go to the wine cellar and lock yourself in. You’ll be safe there. I’ll be back as soon as possible. Stay in there and do not come out until I personally come down and get you. This is very important. Do you understand me?”
Aleese nodded and Andrew ran out and mounted the waiting horse, riding out in front of his army to find and do battle with the Bishopites.
“Carmine!” called Andrew, “Are you sure they are the Bishopites? How the hell did they get here? We dismantled and buried the transport dock. They have no way to get back here! They cannot possibly be the Bishopites.”
“One in uniform came down and announced to us that he was a Bishopite and they were here to steal our food, chop down our trees, and burn the rest of our farmlands. That’s all we know.”
“Men, fall back. Something’s not right here.” The men stopped and Andrew rode ahead to the hilltop facing the Bishopite army alone, behind them the fruit trees and the farmlands of Blakeley safe and unharmed.
“Bishopites,” he shouted, “we are not your enemy. We will not take part in this war of brother against brother. Take your fight elsewhere and leave the peaceful province of Blakeley at once!”
Just then a man jumped on Andrew out of nowhere and they both were blown up in a cloud of dust and flame with a thunderous crash. Debris flew in the air. Immediately all of the Bishopite army at the top of the hill disappeared.
The stunned Blakeley army was in shock over the loss of their beloved leader. They searched the area for any sign of Lord Andrew, but found nothing. Sad and dejected, they returned to the village center in silence.
“He blew them all up! Our Andrew, our Lord of Blakeley, managed to somehow blow up all the Bishopites. To save our land. To save our food, our crops, our trees. To save us. He is a hero. The bravest man in all of Blakeley, the bravest man I have ever known,” said Carmine crying. “And who among us had more to lose than Andrew? No one.”
“Jared, somebody has to tell her. I don’t want to do it.”
“Carmine, you have to do it. She likes you. You’re closer to her than any of the rest of us.”
“Yes, I am. And that’s why I don’t want to be the one to tell her. She’ll hate me for the rest of my life if I bring her the news of his death.”
“No. She won’t. She’ll be broken-hearted because she truly loves him. She’ll sob and cry. And then, she’ll probably go back to Havenhill. She only stayed here with us because of Andrew, to be with him.”
Carmine dismounted and walked into the Manor House.
“Lord Andrew has been killed in battle,” he announced to the staff waiting at the door. “He died saving the rest of us. He… He was the bravest man we have ever seen in all our lives. Where is Lady Aleese?”
“She has locked herself in the wine cellar, as Lord Andrew instructed her to do,” said Ruth.
Carmine turned and went down to the cellar. He knocked on the door.
“Lady Aleese, it’s Carmine. Come out.”
“Where is Drew?”
“Lady Aleese? Please, come out,” he begged. “I need to talk to you. It’s about Andrew. He… he’s been…”
She unlocked the door and looked at him. She saw the look on his sad tear-stained face. He didn’t have to say another word. She knew.
“NO! NO!” she cried, falling on the floor. “NO! Do not tell me he is dead! NO!”
“I’m so sorry, Lady Aleese. He died saving all of us, our land, our crops, and our food. Oh, he was so incredibly brave, My Lady! He was majestic, even. He managed to blow them all up. Unfortunately he was in the middle of that explosion.”
“NO!” She pulled herself up. “I feel in my heart that my beloved Drew is not dead.”
“I saw it with my own eyes. I saw him… get blown up.”
“No. It cannot be. Go away, Carmine. I wish to be alone.”
“I understand you want to be alone. But, please, let me help you up to your room. Your ladies can take care of you upstairs. You don’t want to stay down here in this cold, dark cellar by yourself.”
“Drew told me to stay here and wait for him to come and get me. And I’m staying right here. I’m waiting for him to come and get me. Go away.”
“But Lady Aleese…”
“GO THE HELL AWAY!!!” She threw a wine bottle at him. It crashed to the floor and broke into pieces.
Carmine nodded and backed away from her. She slumped back against the wall, slowly sinking to the floor, screaming and sobbing.
“Come for me, Drew! Please, My Love, come for me. I don’t want to go on without you. You told me to stay here and wait until you came for me. I’ll wait for you, Drew. I’ll wait right here. Come for me, My Love. Please, come for me.” She cried some more and soon cried herself to asleep on the cold, damp cellar floor.
She heard something, someone walking on the broken glass from the wine bottle on the floor. A shadowy figure approached her.
“Drew? Drew, My Darling, I knew you would come for me. I knew you wouldn’t desert me. Drew!” She reached for him. The shadowy figure reached out and grabbed her tightly. The light caught a silvery glint from his wristband. They both disappeared.
Location: The Dungeon in Havenhill Prison
“Well, look who’s awake? Hello, Andrew,” said Grant Havenhill, smirking at Andrew, who was securely tied to a chair.
“Where am I?” demanded a dazed and stunned Andrew.
“Dead. You’re dead. At least, to the rest of the world, you are. Aleese has been informed that her beloved Andrew has died a noble and heroic death in battle. She is now free of you.”
“I will let you figure that out for yourself. All you need to know is you will never see Aleese again. You will never hold her in your arms, never kiss her, or make love to her ever again because you are going on a very long and painful sea cruise, one from which you will never return. By the way, your new name is Ando and your life expectance is less than a year. But do not worry about your… widow. I shall take excellent care of her.”
Andrew felt a blast of searing pain to his chest. He passed out.
Location: Aboard the Bedelia, A Clotus Cargo Freighter in a Faraway Galaxy
Andrew woke up in a dark, dank room with incredible pain in the center of his chest. He gathered he was at sea from the pitch and toss around him. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkened space, he realized he was not alone. Filthy, unkempt men lined the walls of the cargo hold.
“Where are we?” he whispered to no one in particular.
“At sea. Aboard the Bedelia, with Captain Pslotneck at the helm,” answered someone he did not know. Andrew nodded, remembering the conversation with Grant Havenhill.
A sailor opened the door and pointed to Andrew.
“You! Ando! Come!” he growled. Andrew struggled to get up. He was sore and aching, and in pain. He hit his head on the low ceiling as he followed the sailor out the door.
“The captain wants to see you. And you watch your mouth,” he threatened. Andrew nodded and the sailor opened the cabin door. Andrew stepped inside to face the captain seated at his desk.
“Well, Ando,” the captain said, shuffling through the papers in his hand, “you certainly managed to piss off a man of great wealth and importance. What in the hell did you do, diddle his wife?” laughed Captain Pslotneck.
“No, Sir,” said Andrew seriously. “That wealthy man is Grant Havenhill. His father is Lord Havenhill of Nord. They are not all that great, nor that important. And it is he who has committed the transgression, not I. He faked my death, flung me far out into space, and has stolen my wife, my Aleese, the love of my life. And he knows I will cross hell on my hands and knees to get back to her.”
“Well, he went out of his way to make sure you are as far away from civilization as possible. And this contract? It’s criminal! And he had you surgically fitted with a control device, claiming you’re a violent psychopath.”
“This?” Andrew pointed to device attached to his chest.
“Yes, and he also paid handsomely to have you mistreated. Luckily for you, I plan on simply pocketing that sum. I can’t afford to have you lying around, whimpering, licking your wounds, not working. I don’t have time to beat the shit out of you on a daily basis. I’m a busy man! As far as the control device, I have no means to remove it aboard ship, so you’re stuck with it until we get to a port that has a qualified surgeon. But then, you have to worry about infection until it heals. The hull is a filthy, stinking hole. My advice? Ignore it. I won’t use. Keep a shirt on so nobody sees it. Do your year. Get it removed when you’re free and in a clean environment. Work hard, do as you are told, and you will be treated just like the rest of the crew. The Havenhill name carries no weight aboard my ship. And Ando, I hope you find her.”
“Thank you, Captain. I will.”
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