Saint Patrick’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays around the world. It seems like everyone is Irish or wants to be.
As Saint Patrick’s day approaches, I love to see the smiling faces. Everyone is in a better mood because the sun is shining, and the flowers are blooming. The formally frozen castles of the Irish and want-to-be kinship are bustling with hearty food. (bless the people who haven’t given up the resolution to eat salads for a lifetime.) Uplifting music boasts across borders and nations in celebration as parades unite us all. And uninhibited exhibitions of love and happiness that could get us all arrested are (mostly) acceptable on St. Patrick’s Day.
Though the original phrase “Luck of the Irish” was an old mining expression that carried a distinct tone of derision, the Irish holiday proves to be a way the world disagrees.
I remember my father giving me a crystal tea set, made in Ireland. Since we’d reunited only a few months before, he couldn’t have known I loved Irish made collectables such as those. I now use the tea set when my daughter and I have tea parties. I like to think that although he didn’t know my gift preferences, luck had played a part in the special birthday gift. It was certainly a blessing to see my entire family around the table for the first time.
My father and I are not close, but I am happy this year to be spending St. Pattie’s Day with my husband and daughter. Like so many around the world, I will have a smile on my face. Life has given me an opportunity to build on the unconditional love of my little family and great friendships. I believe in love and luck and blessings.
I also believe that great things come to those who work hard and wait. For two years, I’ve been blogging and writing fiction. Here is my most recent stroke of luck/blessings/serendipity, posted to my Facebook Author page:
I’m pleased to announce the first book of the Riverbend Way series–Serendipity Summer–will now be represented by a new publisher. I’ve signed with Booktrope, a growing publishing company based out of Seattle, Washington.
“Serendipity Summer,” contemporary romance/womens fiction novella was originally independently published, released in November of 2014. It has now opened the door to work with an exclusive creative team through Booktrope while I focus on writing and developing the series.
No woman/man is an island when it comes to writing, producing, and publishing a book. It takes a small village to do all of it and spread the word. Those who have extended to me their expertise throughout this journey, I am eternally grateful. My sincerest thanks for jumping aboard on this journey.
I’m happy to share this moment with my daughter and husband. They have both seen me through the hills and valleys these first two years of a writing career. I’m thrilled “Serendipity Summer” has opened a door to work with Booktrope and a creative team to take this series to the next level.
Thank you all for believing in “Serendipity Summer” as much as I have. Your readership, shares, reviews, and various avenues of support have lighted the path to wonderful possibilities and opportunities!
To show my appreciation for your support,
I'm giving away an e-book copy of Serendipity Summer
to a random commenter. To be eligible to win, answer
this question: what would be your idea of an extreme
stroke of luck? (eg.,"winning a lottery ticket", "paying
off my kid's tuition," "being able to meet my favorite
celebrity.") Don't forget to leave your name and email in
the comments section so I can send you the book if you win.
The winner will be announced on upcoming blog post,
3.23.2015. Good luck!
This year has been a roller coaster. Not just for me–for many of my friends and family, for just about everyone I know. Then there is the gratitude that comes with knowing we are all not alone. We can laugh together. We can still hug our loved ones through the doubts. And those who have lost loved ones understand another’s loss–they send encouraging thoughts, offer their help, and when there are no words…simply pray healing for that person’s heart. This type of community derives from a sense of caring, compassion and being motivated to help one another knowing we are all, in some way, broken, but not defeated.
The morning after my first book signing, I awoke at 2 am to journal. Journalism is nothing new. The insomnia has to be fed in positive and constructive ways, and sitting down with pen and paper to write down things running through my head is a natural occurrence.
What was different that morning, however, was waking up in the middle of the night feeling an overwhelming sense of gratefulness.
I curled up in my robe with tea and wrote in my journal, teary-eyed and smiling. I knew this type of ‘knowing everything is going to be okay’ was beyond anything I could describe here on the blog. My heart beat with meaning, with a satisfying love, and with contentment… is how to describe it.
An author from whom I had bought several of her books had endured the death of her husband only the night before my book signing. I didn’t want to type my condolences in some thread on Facebook (though I am grateful for those who did), but I wanted to hug her.
I wrote about my first book signing, too, and what a wonderful experience it was. Not bragging, but seeing those in the community come out to buy my book. To talk with me about my book and to see, in action, what beautiful people surround me on this journey. I was overwhelmed with love and happiness at what I thought would be a room of empty chairs.
~ Morning of book signing photo, as I wrote out an outline on flashcards for the event. ~
My sister helped to take a few pictures of friends, family, and new acquaintances approached the signing table. I had a great time speaking with individuals one-on-one. I’m not one for sitting around when socializing, especially as the guest-of-honor at an event.
Look! No sweater to cover up those arms! Insecurities, be damned.
People showed up. More people than I ever thought possible. It wasn’t the mosh pit of a concert (thank goodness), but it was a gathering of smiling faces, a pleasant reunion with some I haven’t seen in quite a while. Even the local Italian bakery my family and I frequent made a delicious cake for the event as soon as they found out about it. My husband and daughter had surprised me with the cake only moments before I spoke to the small crowd.
I hugged my husband and daughter when I saw the gift they had bought for me, and later laughed when my husband told me the pastry chef and bakery owner asked him what message to put on the cake…this was his reply: “You’re asking the wrong person. My wife is the writer and would know what words to put on there.”
As you can see, the message is simple, but still, looking at it now, it makes me smile.
The stack of books of my new novel, Serendipity Summer, soon dwindled down to small stack as people offered warm smiles, questions, book chat, and I got to catch up with a couple of good friends. My family gave hugs and congratulations as their kids were hanging out with my young daughter in the childrens part of the library. Though not everyone was blood related, I felt at home as I handed each person who showed their support by buying my book a copy of Serendipity Summer with a bookmark and the pen I signed it with. The potpourri mason jars, once filled with pens, emptied by the end of the event.
The front book on top of the table, beside the business cards, is my original proof copy. I read the excerpt from it, and the big jar in the back, was for the giveaway of the self-spa gift set raffle.
It was a wonderful time of celebration and beautiful memories. The morning after the event my husband asked when I had woken up. He always seems to know when something is off or if I’m going through an emotional time.
My daughter was shuffling around in her pj’s, petting the dog and yawning while my husband was turning omelets on the stove, with a spatula, for breakfast. I had a cup of coffee this time and looked at him with watery eyes as I wrapped my hands around the warm cup.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
He stood holding the spatula, eyebrows crinkled, while my daughter and dog began to fill my lap, offering kidlet hugs and puppy kisses.
I chocked up but finally got out what I wanted to say.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
He turned the heat down on the stove eye and started towards us.
In case you missed it on Facebook (I hop back and forth these days), I’m excited to share the cover of my debut contemporary romance novella, Serendipity Summer!
Serendipity Summer is the first book, of four, in the Riverbend Way series, set in the rustic and charming mountain town of Riverbend Way, Tennessee. I’ve enjoyed developing the main characters and the side characters–including a couple of memorable animals that will make a regular appearance, throughout the series. I have wanted to hold on to the story for a while, now–but as everything has been coming together nicely, and just for the sake of making sure everything is just how I want it, the release date has been adjusted to the last week of October.
I am still learning the publishing ropes, so if anything changes, I will be sure to post the changes, and keep you updated. All should go well, though, because I’ve published, once before. I’m looking forward to having a release day celebration with giveaways and prizes! This is an exciting time! I have had the honor of being invited to be featured at a book signing event and have begun to order swag and promo items in preparation for my first release! (more details to come.)
Without readers, we authors wouldn’t be able to do what we do–so, thank you!
I am still tweaking the blurb, but I’d like to share the first teaser–and the second teaser (not yet posted to Facebook), of Serendipity Summer. But first, take a look at this beauty of a cover The Killion Group designed for me with images from Hot Damn Designs!
Her gaze traveled back up to his gorgeous eyes.
Eyes looking upon her with a familiar heat she’d seen only once before.
She struggled not to choke on the water as it dawned on her who was standing before her. A man who had made it into many of her dreams, but never, permanently into her life.
The sound was far off in the distance, but Jake gradually became aware he was the person being observed as an older and feminine voice chimed in.
“No, Kady-bug. Not your Uncle Trevor. Just a friend of Mommy’s. We were having a sleepover.”
Jake resisted the urge to chuckle and kept his eyes closed to listen in.
“Why is he on the couch, in a suit, and not in jammies?” the young girl asked.
“Sometimes at sleepovers, not everyone wears jammies. They can sleep where ever they want to.”
Anna indulged the girl.
Now trying to swallow down a full-fledged belly laugh, Jake hid the grin on his face, knowing Anna would be angry as hell if he continued to pretend to sleep while the kid put her through the great inquisition.
Finally letting a deep chuckle go, he opened heavy eyes.
~ Serendipity Summer by Laurie Kozlowski ~ Copyright, 2014.
Many of you who follow this blog know I write romance. My five year old daughter and I are also having fun creating a childrens book. It gives me a break from revisions–though I’m excited about the cover release, coming up soon, for Serendipity Summer!–and it has also given her an outlet for expression as she creates the illustrations. We don’t worry about how messy it gets, but we enjoy cutting loose each weekend with a ton of multi-textured finger paint as we break out the brushes with all sorts of colorful backdrops for the foundation. We explore our messy muses by telling the story we want through art.
It has also been a way for me to communicate with her in a more relaxed environment. I have felt our communication growing stronger and our bond growing as we continue to build upon our story with these fun illustrations. If you’d like to know more about Messy Muses, our new childrens book project, please feel free to follow our blog. We hope to have our first newsletter out soon and would love for other parents, teachers, musicians, and artists who want to spread the word for child literacy through art, music, reading, and writing…to be guests on our Messy Muses blog and be involved with us on our site as the project continues to grow.
Now back to revisions with Serendipity Summer! As promised, I will be posting back here, soon, to let you know of the progress concerning my romance writing. Be on the lookout for the beautiful new cover designed by Kim Killion from The Killion Group. I’m so excited to share it with you! Thanks for being a part by following LaurieWriting.
I’m sure most people feel the need to spiff up a bit when they have to make a grocery run. Then again, I don’t think it’s normal for a person to make a grocery run at 8am – but that’s what we did one morning recently, following a snow day. It was frigid and sunny despite mine and my husband’s reluctant dispositions for weathering the cold after dropping our daughter off at school.
The weather did nothing for our motivation to look spiffy that morning because we both had wanted to stay in and sleep. My husband managed a wrinkled shirt and cargo pants. His buzzed-cut hair smooshed and sticking out in several directions; I glared at him for complaining about it like a preppy high school jock. Sure, he had been a jock in high school (way back when), but he didn’t exactly have a mop of hair. He didn’t get much sympathy from me.
I had on one of my not-so-form-fitting, but comfy hoodies with loose fitting yoga pants. I’d pulled my hair up in a messy array, passing for semi-stylish (if you were back in the 80’s), and I wore white socks with black shoes. Long story short, we looked a mess. But onward we went after dropping daughter off at school, into the land of our local grocer.
We made it out of the store with only the necessities we’d be needing for the remainder of the week. Before we were able to sprint from the door to the truck with our cart and get out of the cold, a friendly journalist stopped us mid-stride.
She smiled. (Too cheerful for a snow day, in my opinion.) But, she was nice and so we shoved our hands into our pockets to listen to what her purpose was for being out in the wretched cold at such an hour.
“Hi. I’m with the local newspaper, and we’re covering a story about the snow day today. Would you mind if I took a photo of the both of you coming out of the store with your groceries?” She asked.
My eyes widened as I looked at the huge camera waiting to capture me looking like a hell-doll in the Land of The Misfits. My husband ran a hand over his mashed hair, holding onto the grocery cart with a Kung-Foo grip.
“Oh, God no! Please don’t,” I said, shaking my head. My husband softly cursed and motioned for me to come on. The journalist’s shoulders slumped a little, and I felt ridiculous because I didn’t contain my outburst. I tried to fix my rude comment in an awkward attempt at reconciliation. It wasn’t her fault we looked like hell.
I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry. I sure hope you find a glamor shot this morning for your article. Thank you for the opportunity, but I guess we’ll have to pass. I hope you have a good day.”
She smiled. “No problem.”
We waved and continued on to the truck, my husband whispering harshly when the journalist was out of ear-shot.
“I can’t believe you said that,” he said.
“Yeah, it was rude. But you have flat hair, and I have white socks on with black pants. But I’m wearing pants today, so that’s something!” I gave him a thumbs up, widening my eyes.
“You’re weird,” he said.
“I know. And you love me that way,” I said, giving him my sweetest smile.
He gave me a sideways glance, his disagreeable hair strange and endeared at the moment, and grinned. “Yes, I do.”
Who would’ve thought we’d find one another in a sea of people and still be together after all these years? Romance for us hasn’t always been chocolate covered fruit, music, and dinners or nights out alone. It’s stealing moments that make us cringe, laugh, and lead to love we’ll only know with one another during the day-to-day stuff.
Since I’m only posting once this week, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s a spouse, a partner, a good friend, a close relative, a loveable pet or spending time treating YOU well – I hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with love happiness.
Sometimes a person can get so caught up in working (especially if they work from home and can’t switch it off in their brains) that they forget to take time for the non-work related things they also genuinely enjoy. I thought I’d share a peek into my family life for minute and one of my favorite hobbies that does not involve writing to remind myself and others some of the best times in life are when we step back to enjoy the small things for a while.
It’s good to be a serious writer and spend time taking workshops, writing, and building a platform. But it’s okay to NOT write sometimes and enjoy something non-writer related. It rounds us out as people, I think, and does the mind and body good. Of course, when you’re done, be sure to sit that ass down again and write 😉 Only takes a pen and (hopefully many sheets) of paper. So, here I am being a hypocrite and writing. Lol. But, I took a few weeks off (mostly) from social media and did some things I enjoy. This is ONE of my favorite things. Turning trash to treasure.
There are many people out of jobs, on tight budgets, and barely getting by to provide for themselves and/or their families. A great way to save on a tight budget is to remember everyday items and trash have the potential to be very useful for storage and organizational purposes around the house.
Why would you want to take the time to turn trash to treasure?
Most storage containers, even at a dollar-discount store, will be around $1 for the small containers and more for the larger containers. These containers are usually see-through for convenience and pretty colors for well…color-coding? Lol. Why spend money on containers that will remain hidden most of the time, anyway? Save money by taking a few minutes to transform boxes, holiday tins and baskets, etc… and organize for your daily routine. It saves time, too, when everything has a place!
It’s also fun for kids. I have a 4 year old who loves doing craft things…I don’t. 🙂 The way we do it at home is – I usually do the practical and boring things to put the container together, then she decorates it with markers, stickers, glitter, and whatever else she can find. I love seeing things she and I made “together” when I look into a drawer or open a book. Here are some bookmarks we made, and how we did it:
My daughter finger-painted with Crayola “invisible” metallic paint using the special paper. I used an empty granola bar box and cut out the side (perfect bookmark size), then wrapped her artwork around the cardboard and laminated it with boxing tape. Cut around the edges for the finishing touch, and voilà! Instant bookmark and useful preservation of a beautiful memory.
After the holidays (Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s day, etc…), we also use the tins and baskets to stay organized and save time. Here is my daughter’s craft center. We use her Easter baskets for storage. I also re-used a Valentine’s Day tin for writing utensil storage. Because even romance writers have a practical side 😉
I’ve re-used this old sunglasses case box in addition to my spice rack to have the frequently used spices on hand and stored together beside the stove….
Then the most recent 5 minute thrifty project I’ve done: make a straw caddy for the every-day flatware drawer out of an empty aluminum foil box.
Here’s one I invested some time in during pregnancy bed-rest several years ago. Yes, I had some time on my hands and we couldn’t afford the frivolous, pre-made and festive holiday shapes. So, I made this Christmas tree with my crafting pliers, multi-colored lights, and a holiday tin.
This is my next project. Oh, yes, I’m now out of control! Lol. Came across this idea on Pinterest. Use an old dresser drawer for a bookshelf! Consignment stores are great places to find such things – then remembering to donate back the gently used (new) items you buy so someone else could use the “treasure.” 🙂
I’m fortunate to have a spouse who appreciates my thriftiness and creativity. After all, he didn’t take issue with me burning a design into the first piece of furniture we bought for our house after he stained it and was relieved to know I didn’t put clovers on it (I was on an Irish kick then)….
It truly is a team effort to save money, as a family. My daughter is learning such things as turning the light out when she leaves a room, turning the water off while brushing her teeth, and participates in these fun (and money-saving) activities.
It may be the fact that I grew up poor, but I still and never will regret or be ashamed of my thrifty-minded nature. It’s one of the advantages of a creative and practical mind to be able to stretch a dollar in today’s consumerism-minded society. I’ve seen both sides of the fence. Thrifty, creative, and family fueled memories and projects are one of the most priceless moments of all.
Happy New Year, and I hope you’re able to enjoy something that makes YOU happy soon! Take care.
Humans crave connection. One article suggests our brains are hard-wired to connect with those who are similar to us. I like to spend time with the fictional characters in my stories. It’s often like a relationship to me. Where I do most of the work <grins>.
As much as I love to read and write fiction, I read a variety of non-Fiction as well. Namely articles, because they seem to take less time to read between writing, studying, and family time. A couple I found recently commented on how Facebook is replacing face time and how Fathers are often too busy for their children.
It got me thinking about my own real-life relationships. I often spend time spinning fictional scenarios in my head as a way to escape reality and cope with stress. Initially I thought it was an effective way to fuel creativity and press forward in life, an outlet. I ran into a problem with this reasoning, though. Being a full time student, wife, and mom on top of writing sent my brain and body in a tailspin of confusion, frustration, and exasperation.
Not too long ago I posted about how stress was beginning to take its toll and how my balancing act seemed a little off kilter. Well, it happened. I had an anxiety attack a couple of weeks ago and have been in limbo on what to shove off my plate ever since. My quality of life was suffering because I had neglected taking care of myself with food and exercise. I crashed, often after pushing for 12-16 hours straight trying to keep up. I got an occasional day off, and it helped short term, then the cycle started again. Something had to go.
Most anyone from the South will tell you Southern women are proud of their inner strength. I’m no exception. Frankly, just recently, my life situation gave me a swift kick in the ass a few times until I finally succumbed to defeat. I had to push something off my plate because it was costing time I should be and wanted to be spending with family.
It wasn’t only affecting me, but my marriage, my relationship with my Daughter, and friends who were sure I had either gone MIA or completely loco.
One day a sad reality hit me. I saw my Husband (who understood my need for privacy to take an exam) take my Daughter on an outing without me one day. I was happy they were spending time together, but miserable that it had been several weeks since I had been able to spend some real quality time with either of them. Since the exact same week classes had started in late May.
I’ve prided myself on being practical most of my life. Naturally feeling obligated to pull my weight as a spouse, I’ve been in the process of continuing my education in a field that would offer a practical career to bring in income. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But then there were times I felt guilty for working in my much needed writing time to have an outlet between coursework assignments. With all this work and juggling family and home, who has time for nurturing real-life relationships?
So, to the discontent to my Mother (who is adamantly supportive, but only if I’m working toward a practical, income-driven job) and a Husband who understands my need to work toward my dream of becoming an Author………..
I Choose Writing
Truly, it chose me. Yes, this means I’m a beauty school drop-out. I do feel a twinge of guilt for not completing what I started. I know there are a few superhero people out there who are able to manage it all. Good for them. But, that’s not working for me.
Right now writing is my refuge. It is also a full time job. I miss my family and friends. I miss living. I’m going back to what matters. Nurturing those real relationships and following my dreams full time.
Maybe there is a certain inner strength to admitting defeat. It doesn’t make someone a failure, but shows they are brave for trying. You never know until you try, right?
Time to jump in with both feet on the writing thing and boldly go into this story where I’ve never gone before…….
Robin:Holy hotness, Batman! Is that a steamy Contemporary Romance manuscript symbol I see in the sky?
Batman: *Scowls* That’s just Zane, the ex-pro Football hopeful and Hero in Laurie’s story. *Menacing glare* He’s not getting my cape! *Whoosh*
Me: To the Writing cave!
Zane: Yes, Ma’am *Winks and walks with Laurie*
Robin: I’m not sure what happened here, but I think I may need to read this book! *Runs to the Batmobile*
Lonely Hearts In Texas Series
“Untitled” – Book 1
By Laurie Kozlowski
Los Angeles Stadium – Home of the Sunrays, 4 years later
Zane took the stage with prestigious likes of LA’s football business elites in preparation to give what was to be one of the most full of shit and politically correct speeches to be announced as the new quarterback for the Los Angeles Sunrays. His PR advisor pulled him to the side, so they wouldn’t be heard over the mic.
“Remember, this may be a professional move, but it is also a celebration. You need to smile and engage the press. Answer their questions, but keep it short and sweet. Don’t try to be overly humorous or it’ll be a disaster. And lastly, if any questions come up about your supposed injury and mishap from the National Championship game make sure you direct the question to Coach Graham. Don’t answer it and don’t discuss any details of that game no matter how good-natured the question may seem. Don’t do it. Got it?” The lanky and sharp dressed PR rep asked.
Zane laughed, but it came out sounding of empty sarcasm. “Anything I can do?”
The PR rep slapped him on the shoulder and cracked a wry smile. “Yeah. Play football and win so I can get a raise for having to deal with smart ass rookies like you on a regular basis.”
If he were smart, he wouldn’t be trying to ward off guilt from the past and think about his future instead. It seemed everyone around him thought of this day as one of the brightest points in his future. They had plans for him, all he had to do was go out there and win games. The springboard for his career was the moment an agent contacted him with the news that The Sunrays were willing to pay him an obscene amount of money with extreme perks to do what he loved to do. All he had to do was sign on the dotted line.
Except, what everyone had planned for him paled in comparison to his true motivation behind pushing himself to win every single game. It was never enough. He was never enough. What had kept him going were the words of a certain sweet blonde willing to stay by his side no matter how much money he made or successful he was. She was willing to take a risk on him, and he had been taking risks to drown out her memory ever since. It wasn’t working. Her parents still sent cards every holiday reminding him of each time he could’ve been spent with her. The press had long memories, continually falling back on Emily’s death. Every mention of that tragic night was like a guilt ridden interrogation. The suspicion and speculation never seemed to end.
Once upon a time he wanted it all. To make his favorite game a career, the love of a good woman, and to live in luxury. He took a seat beside Coach Graham in front of the mic. The owner of the Sunrays shook his hand and handed him a gold pen. Everyone took their position surrounding the table, preparing for the official press photo.
Zane looked down at the contract of a lifetime and gripped the pen trying to maintain control and to block out the fact that one more concussion could end his career or take his life. The tip of the pen touched the paper and all was quiet except for the clicking of cameras and positioning of overhead mics and lights. His PR rep nudged him and exaggerated a smile as a reminder of their previous conversation. Zane looked up at the crowd and immediately spotted Emily’s Dad in the front giving him the thumbs up.
The encouragement did nothing but remind him of how he didn’t look for Emily in the stands the night she went missing. He was too busy winning the game. Football had lost its appeal after her death. His only motivation was keeping her memory alive by winning the Heisman in her honor. It wasn’t for the love of the game. It was a way to release the frustration of something out of his control, losing someone he loved.