WritingPosts2016

How To Understand Your Author

The triumph of typing THE END on a manuscript never gets old. In some instances it takes years to complete a novel, but even those who write fast generally spend several months homing in characterization, story pace, plots and sub-plots, pesky typos and inconsistencies…etc. For non-writers out there, it’s like tearing a mobile phone apart piece-by-piece. Reconstruction is ongoing. After months or years a writer says, “it’s time.” Meaning: they share every nook and cranny of their writing with the world, for better or worse. It takes commitment!

It is also scary-at first.Tweet: The first book release speaks to a writers confidence in a big way. It's a special time in life. #LaurieWriting  The first book release speaks to a writers confidence in a big way. It’s a special time in life. There are those who are waiting to be inspired to write the book that’s in them; by the way, I’ve haven’t caught on to this saying because I’m not sure quite what having a book in you means. It doesn’t sound too pleasant. Anyway! Then there are those who DO.

For the ones who do, after a while, it’s less about the new book release feeling and more about fortifying their resources and energy for the next project. But I remember the first time I hit “publish” as a self-published author back in 2014. It was a proud moment (wow! This is happening!), a conflicted moment (I’ve double and triple-checked, but what if  some minor detail makes someone hate it?), an elated moment (whoa, momma. My name is on this book cover. I own this. I love this. This is my destiny. Angry unicorns couldn’t stop me from writing), and a trillion other thoughts on top of it. Yet I don’t think anything can replace keeping a sense of humor as we write.

With this in mind, I’ve pulled together a saterical post to capture the humorous side of going through the emotions and thoughts of an author’s book release. This isn’t a meanspirited way of minimalizing the experience, just a lighthearted look into it. I can’t say for sure If I’ve actually gone through this, but to some extent, I have.  🙂  Enjoy!

How To Understand Your Author

Let’s say your author finally breaks through the first book-stage and they want to share the moment with you. The excitement of completing this year-long project makes their demeanor glow. They know it’s possible to keep the big news secret and wait until book-release day, but they trust you with thier pride. The hours, days, and months of writing, editing, and making time to connect with you and others-but they choose you. Aren’t you thrilled for them?

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Left to their own vices however, the ingenuity and happiness of the moment isn’t wasted if you decline to be thrilled with them.

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img cred: themetapicture.com

Your author may begrudgingly treat themselves to one too many McCafe’s and wear strange headdresses while using a rubber-knife as a lightsaber to illuminate their joy.

Or your author may, like this tired pup, seek comfort from a friend who will take time understand what an accomplishment it is to complete a book or project.

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img cred: dawgsports.com

Authors who ruminate over perceived minimization can be pretty tough to re-train through positive reinforcement. They have special requirements for affirmation and acknowldgement. But deep down, they have a lovable side that is loyal to the end. (If the fictional character based on you makes it that far into the fiction novel they write.)

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NEVER FEAR. Here are ways to CURB the odd and inconvenient behaviors of YOUR AUTHOR.

First: Offer congratulations to them and show happiness for their latest achievement. No matter how disgusted you are that they can go days at a time wearing PJs while working from home, remember: everyone, including you, puts their shirts on one arm-hole at a time.

Also-take a minute and remember dancing with your first crush, or attending a favorite concert, or the whiff of accomplishment of getting promoted. Times that feeling by 100. Set differences aside to forgive the bubble wrap (authors are the complete package, flaws and all!) and acknowledge their commitment to finishing their project or writing goals. This will win you mega points for being a great friend.

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Next: Buy their book, tell them you’ll recommend it to others, and actually do it! Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Your author has the ability to give back in a big way to those who help them along the way. It could be signed book-merchandise, an advanced reading copy, or any number of creative ways-but authors rarely lack ungratefulness for support when they truly care about their professional growth!

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Last: Expect to support them from a distance as they continue working on the next project. Tweet: the true nature of many creatives is to preserve as much energy for their art as humanly possible. #LaurieWritingThis may sound harsh at first, but the true nature of many creatives is to preserve as much energy for their art as humanly possible. This means when they are in intensive focus mode, leave them alone, but show support in little ways so they know you’re there. Chocolates, coffee, tea, hugs (for those who like to be hugged), are all acceptable ways to tame your writer when they aren’t intensely focused on their work. When they break out of their creative focus-bubble, you’ll be the first to know because they often reciprocate the support they receive from you (times 10.)

By following the steps above, you are sure to have a HAPPY AUTHOR. 

hfma

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Health and Wellness · Humor

To Su-shi, or Not to Sushi:That is The Question #food

I’ve always wanted to live near the ocean, but not because of the beach or sailing or sunrise over gorgeous, expansive waters–for the fresh seafood. One of my favorite places to visit is Charleston, South Carolina. Southend Brewery in downtown South Carolina has delicious she-crab soup. One year, before our daughter was born, we went just for the soup! Plus my husband is a curious student of history and Charleston overflows with unusual, entertaining, and sometimes disturbing historical truths. But this post is about a lighter topic: to sushi, or not to sushi?

Back to the thing about seafood.

Seafood and chicken are a reliable source of protein to avoid hunger pangs and I’ve been pre-preparing weekly meals. I’m taking my time and not depriving myself, exersizing a few times a week and eating delicious and fresh food. I’ve lost five pounds in a month, and energy is increasing more each day. I pre-prepare meals on the weekend (and sometimes in the middle of the week, if possible because fresh veggies and fruit from the farmer’s market).
Foodies will understand when I say, I did not want to mess with sushi. Unless it is from the kitchen of a sushi chef, it couldn’t be remotely good.I love sushi. Cooked or uncooked. Drizzled with sauce or not. Ginger, ginger, ginger, nom nom nom nom —
Er…yeah. So it’s goooood.
But I am not a sushi chef. I do not aspire to be one. I respectfully resign from the notion I could or would ever be a decent fish-slicer, seaweed roller, or sticky-rice super sushi-chef ninja.
So now that we’ve established THAT: this weekend I made sushi.
Here is my first attempt:
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BEHOLD. The enormous and overly-stuffed lemon-peppered talapia, fluffed jasmine rice, and seared asparagus in a common, disposable tupperware container.

And (better) second attempt:
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OH LOOK. My tiny sushi ninja-chef emerged. 

Hey. Let’s not forget the nom, nom ginger (below the sushi roll slices) and drizzled hoisin sauce.

Ohhhhh….yeaaaaah.

It may not be from a sushi-chef kitchen, but it’s fresh and delicious from my kitchen! Quite a delicious meal to eat until we make it to Charleston, or somewhere near the ocean again. 😀

Thanks for stopping by to read my post. I write romantic fiction with heart and humor and I am represented by Booktrope publishing. My newest release will be launching soon. That means I’ll be giving away book swag to readers soon though my blog! Don’t miss the giveaways. I love to show my appreciation for your support. Giveaway announcements and other fun opportunities are announced first and foremost on this blog. Be sure to follow my blog so we can keep in touch! Also, I have a Facebook page, if you’d like to connect there. Don’t forget to like the page and choose to “show first in newsfeed” or else Facebook may hide the post from you! Have a great week and take care. ~ Laurie Kozlowski

Fiction · Flash Fiction · Laurie's Works Of Fiction

Dagger of The Damned #FlashFiction #AmWriting

This story is a participant in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge.
Dagger of The Damned

*This flash fiction story has detailed gore and elements of horror.*

Enjoy! 😀

Daren’s limbs rested in unnatural angles on the damp pavement. Astrid spied the edge of the ancient dagger’s wooden handle that peeked out of a pocket of Daren’s bloodied jeans pocket. The crime scene officer stepped forward to block Astrid’s view.
“Let me pass. I’m Daren’s sister.” Astrid’s vision of the man’s stern expression outlined in emerald green as her eyes filled with moisture. The unusual effect on her vision increased since the news of her brother’s violent death a few hours ago.

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To know she couldn’t tell her brother he means the world to her–was unbearable. Then to see his body, lifeless and limp on the pavement, drove her insane. The officer is in danger to take a swift knee to the balls if he didn’t let her see Daren. Many so-called thugs were dumped into body bags, loaded into ambulances near the cramped and stifled alley.
Druggies. Dealers. Prostitutes.
“We’ll take care of your brother.” He glanced down past the tip of his nose to her. A silver rectangular plate badge gleamed as she read the bold black print:
Trent Gusztav, Investigation Supervisor.
“I will call a deputy to escort you to the morgue if you wish to see your brother,” Trent said.
The investigator’s bland concern didn’t placate Astrid. She took a step aside to peek around him. A forensic team taped off the area while a female in paramedics’ uniform made haste and pressed a fingertip on Daren’s mangled wrist. She wrote something down—the time of death — then twirled her finger and a body bag appeared, damp from previous rainfall.
Perhaps waiting for another poor soul to suck into the depths of the morgue.
They didn’t know her brother. For all they knew, Daren is another misguided young man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Please—,”she glanced at his badge again. “—Officer Gusztav. Don’t take him away until I say goodbye one last time. I’m the only family he has left. He’s not like all the others. My brother doesn’t use or deal drugs. He doesn’t deserve this.”
Trent put his hands on her shoulders as a couple of men shoved Daren into a bag. Astrid noticed no one bothered to remove valuables from Daren’s pocket to confirm his identity. “Ma’am. It’s understandable that you are upset over your brother’s death. No one deserves to die in such a brutal way. The integrity of the body will remain intact. Move. Away. Now.” He demanded.
The integrity of the body.
Not Daren — a human being who had been a lived and breathed. An individual with a sister who wondered why he hadn’t met her at the Pizza Palace a couple of hours ago. A barely recognizable — cold and lifeless piece of mangled flesh, bone, blood, and muscle—body — would keep its integrity intact.
Astrid’s tears fell onto Trent’s hand. The tears made his skin sizzle.
“Ow.” He glared at her, stared at his hand then back to her. The yellow light from a nearby street lamp revealed Trent’s pale face. Distinct worry lines crimped between his brows. “You’re in transition.”
A grin spread over her face. She didn’t know why her tears had burnt him or why his pain made her giddy. Daren had the dagger the woman had given them from the antique shop. The rare weapon had powers that didn’t belong in the hands of the man who confronted her now, or an affiliate to him.
Ambulance lights glared as the Trent crossed his arms. “I could make your life more difficult and report this incident. He held up one of his hands where appeared a second-degree burn in the shape of a jagged line on his palm, “and not fail to mention verbal assault to an officer of the law.”
Astrid wiped the remainder of the moisture from her eyes. She knew this man had the authority to twist their encounter any way he pleased.
Her pulse and anger skyrocketed. Each word and movement Trent made encouraged her to attack. Intuition ached. She felt the instinctual urge to protect but closed her eyes for a moment to remember hope hinged on the antique artifact her brother carries with him. She has a chance to retrieve the dagger, but it is vital to not cause unnecessary chaos. Distractions would cause her to not be able to obtain it.
Astrid climbed onto her motorcycle; the soft seat conformed to the curve of her leather-clad bottom. She’d lost Daren tonight by way of something dark and violent. Her heart twisted into a million pieces of battered fragments as she spoke to Trent. “You’re an asshole. I’ll escort myself to the morgue.”
The echo of the Trent’s frigid laugh sliced through the night. “Good luck, Healer. You’ll need it to keep yourself out of a morgue soon enough.” His figure faded into the darkness. A blood-curdled growl vibrated too close for comfort.
The green tint in her vision for the past couple of hours cleared, and the motor roared as she jetted down a bike path beside the road the ambulance drove the hospital. She used side mirrors to ensure she hadn’t been followed.
(c) Laurie Kozlowski 2015
Contemporary Romance · Fiction · Giveaways · Humor · Inspiration · Musings · Relationships · Writing · Writing Life

‘Everyone Is Irish’ Day and Book Giveaway! #stpattiesday #romanticfiction

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.

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Carolyn Geis, left, kisses Irish Air Corps Pipe and Drum member, Terry Healy, on the cheek during Savannah, Georgia’s 190-year-old St. Patrick’s Day parade on Monday, March 17, 2014. Kissing men in uniform is a tradition during the celebration in Georgia’s oldest city. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) {Image credit, accuweather.com }

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!

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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!

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Laurie's Works Of Fiction · Media and Appearances · Relationships · Things That Matter · Weight Loss · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

Deep Gratitude Hits Home – My First Booksigning Event

 

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.

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~ 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.

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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.

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“CONGRATULATIONS!”

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.

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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.

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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.

“Happy tears?”

I nodded as he embraced all of us in a big hug.

Fitness · Health and Wellness · Mental Health · Musings · Weight Loss · Writing Life

Practicing Self Acceptance

The past couple of months has been a huge challenge in self-acceptance for me and our family. Like so many others, we try to stay optimistic though there is uncertainty about bills and unexpected crises arising that could make or break being able to ‘get by’ comfortably.

I am tired of the doubt. I am sick of the stress. It will always be there, but one thing I know for sure-I’m the person who has to account for my thoughts and actions throughout and at the end of the day. The best thing I can do for myself and my family is to be myself and accept it no matter where the cards may land.

I’m lucky to have a husband who loves me for who I am. But it isn’t what he thinks–or what anyone else thinks, for that matter–that keeps me going.

My fuel comes from knowing what I am capable of regardless of what I think people think of me. It’s about caring less about what others think of me and caring more about myself. I’ve lost and have kept off ten pounds for a month. I’m getting to where I want to be.

I see people’s selfies all the time on social media. I love seeing others be confident and happy…and even silly. But I cannot stand to see a full body photo of myself. Yesterday I took a full body picture despite my insecurities. The photo was originally shot without my short-sleeve sweater on…but then I saw my arms and covered up more. My husband sighed. He loves it all. Even the wiggly bits.

I’m a big woman with a big heart and an even larger dream of succeeding as an author in a society where the skinny ladies get all the compliments and admiration. But you know what? I’ve decided self-image is what I make it. But I’m no longer going to hide. Good for the “skinny” girls. They are more than a number on the scale, too.

And good for me for taking this Halloween full body photo with my sweet pumpkin husband.

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Me after our Halloween night out with family. Happy to be ME:

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