Happy New Year.

Time zips by.  It doesn’t feel like a whole year has gone by since my first blog.  I suppose in light of that, this is both an anniversary and New Year blog.  Thanks so much to those who took the time to stop by and read or comment on my blogs over the past year.  You are much appreciated and helped to keep me motivated to write.

A friend recently asked what the point of blogging is.  I suspect the reasons are unique to the individual blogger.  For me, it’s an exercise in finding ways to put my thoughts into words on a regular basis.  I hope that the practice helps make me a better author, but at a minimum it’s a good way to make some sense of my feelings and observations.  Maybe someone who reads my blogs gets something out of them as well.  I hope.

Speaking of this blog, I’ve been struggling with what to write about recently.  I’m sure that it has a lot to do with what happened in Newtown, Connecticut.  I think it struck a lot of us wordless.  Also, in my first blog last year I mentioned that I’m not fond of the days leading up to the New Year.  I still find it an overwhelming time as the news media focuses on all the awful things that happened over the course of the year.  It makes me wonder what awful things will happen in the coming year.  I tried something different this year, however, and it really worked.  I haven’t watched the news at all.  Instead, I reflected on all of the great things that happened in my own little sphere of existence over 2012.  There were many.

As for anticipating the coming New Year, lots of good things are on the horizon too.  My second novel, Step Into the Wind, will be published in January.  I’m working on a third novel that has as a central theme the question of faith and what that means to different people.  It’s a journey I’m very excited about taking.  Writing is lots of wonderful things.  One of them is self discovery along the way.  I long ago walked away from all religion.  Nevertheless, my faith is strong in the people who I love and the world that I live in everyday.  I hope to be able to express what that means more fully in my third novel.

In terms of New Year’s resolutions, I don’t make them.  However, I do have subjects that I like to try to focus on or learn about.  I’m hoping to finally learn to play the ukulele.  I’m going to be exploring all I can about the practice of keeping honey bees so that in 2014 I’ll be ready for my first hive.  I’ve already started to think about my gardens and the meadow in terms of new flowers or vegetables that I’d like to try.  We’re also planning trips to Finland and Antarctica.

The big ticket matter that I want to continue to focus on over the coming year is fear.  Fear does awful things to not only the individual, but societies.  It’s time that we stop letting people in power, whether they are our political or religious leaders, pervert our world in order to keep us under their thumbs.  Especially after what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, this has to be the year that we put our fears aside and have a rational discussion about the problems of society.  Instead of instantly vilifying each other, we have to learn to talk to each other in a productive rational way.  We’re doomed if we don’t.  I hope to write more about the topic of fear and how political and religious leaders use it against us every chance they get.

In the meantime, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy the rest of my vacation reading, playing and ignoring the world for just a few days longer.  Then I’ll jump in with both feet and do my best to make a difference.  Happy New Year!  Hold tight to the ones you love and peace.

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“Next Best Thing Blog Hop” Guest Blogger, Renee MacKenzie, of Blue Feather Books

Guest Blog by Blue Feather Books author, Renee MacKenzie

Last week one of the authors who I tagged as part of the “Next Best Thing Blog Hop” is my friend and fellow Blue Feather Books author, Renee MacKenzie.  Renee is a fantastic author and I encourage you to check out her work at http://www.bluefeatherbooks.com.  She is the author of “Confined Spaces” and “Flight.”  I’m honored to have her here as a guest to discuss her recent release, “Flight.”  Here’s Renee!

The next Big Thing Blog Hop 2012 by Renee MacKenzie

What is the title of your book?

Flight.

 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wrote a short story for a college literary magazine back in the late 90s based on the Hunter sisters and an abusive event with their cousin.  I never felt like the story had closure, so a few years later I started to look at it as a longer work, eventually taking it in the direction of the novel.

 

What genre does your book fall under?

General lesbian fiction.

 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Of all the stories I’ve written, Flight is the one I would have the hardest time trying to match actors to characters.  It’s been so long since I first started working on this story that the people I would have even considered at first would now be better off as parents.  I would probably lean toward having up-and-coming actors play the roles.

 

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

When the lives of two very different sisters collide, will they both survive the wreckage?

 

What is the longer synopsis of your book?

It’s 1983 and Kate Hunter is a student at a small, private college in Virginia.  When Lana coaxes her onto the back of her beat-up scooter one night, Kate’s education starts to encompass more than just her pre-vet studies.  Lana is secretive, but Kate accepts things as they are and gives Lana her space.  When she feels the sting of betrayal, will she be able to continue giving Lana her privacy?

Kate’s sister April is a high school student playing with fire as she parties with her older boyfriend, Boyd.  After finding someone overdosed the morning after a party, April grows weary of all the drugs and alcohol.  Will she be able to convince Boyd that they should slow it down?  Will she be able to pull it together before it’s too late?

Kate and April are forced to face up to events from their younger years, their mother’s desertion, and their long-deteriorating relationship with one another.  Some lives will be lost and others changed forever when the sisters’ lives intersect.  Will they be consumed by the wreckage, or will they be able to pick themselves up and take flight?

 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book was published in October by Blue Feather Books.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two years. I do a lot of editing as I write.

 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write about a time before crack and AIDS.  There was a kind of innocence before I became aware of the AIDS crisis (for me that was about 1983) and before drugs like crack became so prevalent.  I know it’s weird to refer to April’s drug use as innocent, but it was so different back then.  I would have to say that the biggest inspirations were Kate and April’s innocence and their dynamic as sisters.

I was also inspired by music, especially Joan Jett’s version of Crimson and Clover.  When I was between Kate and April’s ages, first realizing that I was gay, I was a huge Joan Jett fan.  One night, I drove around and drove around, listening to Crimson and Clover over and over, until I was able to look into the rear view mirror and say out loud that I was a lesbian. Then I found the woman I’d been interested in and seduced her.

 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Writing a book set in the 1980s provided quite a challenge for me because my memory pretty much sucks.  I had to spend a lot of time researching the everyday details.  Phones had just been deregulated, so there wasn’t a set price for pay phone calls.  Then there were things like whether or not the back seat of a Gran Torino was large enough to have sex… Bench or bucket seats… Blackberries: berries or blossoms… Trying to remember what was inscribed on Quaaludes…

“The Next Big Thing”–Blog Hop 2012

“The Next Big Thing”—Blog Hop 2012

As part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, I was fortunate to be tagged by two fantastic authors, Liz Bugg and Ann McMan.  Please check out their blogs to see what these talented women are up to next.

  1. Liz Bugg at http://lizbugg.com/
  2. Ann McMan at http://annmcman.com/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop-2012/

The purpose of this hop is to introduce readers to writers and works that might be unfamiliar. This includes new releases or Works in Progress (WIP). This is week 26 of the hop.

According to the rules of the hop, I will be answering some questions (the same ones for every other blog hopper) about either my newest release or my WIP and then at the bottom of the post I’ve listed authors who will do the same thing next Wednesday, December 19th. Notwithstanding, two of the authors who I will be tagging will be guest bloggers here at my site at later dates as their schedules allow.

Here goes…

What is the working title of your book?

Step Into the Wind

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from being fortunate enough to witness a nesting pair of eagles raise two eaglets over the course of a summer in Maine.  At one point prior to the eaglets fledging, one of them fell from the nest and broke its leg.  The bird was taken to a rehabilitation facility for a couple of weeks until its leg healed enough to bring it back to the nest.  Two weeks is a “wicked” long time for a young eaglet to be away from its nest and not engaged in the business of learning to fly.  When it was brought back it was left on the ground to figure out on its own how to get back into the nest.  Its odds of surviving were 50:50.

I never would’ve believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it myself, but somehow that eaglet managed to do what it needed to do in order to survive.  We don’t know how or when exactly, but several days later it was back in the nest with its sibling and parents.  Despite all the odds against it, the eaglet did eventually learn to fly.  I hope wherever it is life is treating it well.  What struck me most was that there are moments in life when we have to put our fears and hurts away and simply trust our own hearts to carry us where we need to be.  We have to be brave enough to simply let it all go and step into the wind and fly above the things that hold us down.  The eagles gave me inspiration as well as the idea for the book.

What genre does your book fall under?

General lesbian fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s a tough question.  I can’t think of any short quirky actresses with the body of a gymnast who could play Zoe, maybe Jennifer Lawrence for Alex though.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One summer in Maine a woman learns to put away her fears and forgive the unforgivable in order to finally fly free of her burdens.

What is the longer synopsis of your book?

Alex Marcotte is a runner.  She’s been running since the day her twin brother took his life at the age of fifteen to escape the bullying he endured for being gay.  Alex runs from her anger at her parents for not protecting him, the stain his death left on her family’s summer camp for kids in Maine, and the unrelenting anxiety and depression that still haunt her.

Years after not having stepped foot in Maine, she agrees to go back for the summer because her mother is dying and her father is struggling to maintain the camp.  Her plan to say good-bye to her parents and Maine once and for all gets complicated when she falls in love with Zoe Kimball, a wild life biologist, assigned to study a breeding pair of eagles that have taken up residence on an island owned by the camp.

Over the course of the summer, Alex gets closer to Zoe and is drawn into the struggles of the eagles’ offspring as they learn to live in a harsh world in which survival depends on trusting that their fledgling wings will carry them.  Will Alex see the parallel in her own life long enough to stop running?  Will she be brave enough to trust her heart by letting go of her fear and anger, and step into the wind so that she can finally fly free of her burdens?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be published by Blue Feather Books in early 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A little more than a year.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The eagles described above.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Step Into the Wind also deals with the topics of bullying and what it’s like to suffer from anxiety and depression.

Tagging Time:

Please be on the lookout for upcoming blogs from the following authors:

Penelope Grey:  Penelope is a new author who will debut her first novel in early 2013.  I’m really looking forward to what she has in store.

Lee Graham:  Lee is one of my favorite authors and best friends.  He writes fantasy and his fantastic debut novel, The Herald of Justice:  The Heroes of Nimph—Book One, was published in 2012.  He’ll be a guest blogger chatting about his next work here on my blog coming soon.

Renee Mackenzie:  Renee is a fellow Blue Feather Books author.  Her terrific second novel, Flight, was recently published.  It’s a must read.  She’ll also be doing a guest blog here after the holidays to discuss her next work in progress.

Peace.