Laying the Keel

I launched my debut novel, Ameera Unveiled, on July 25, 2013. Subsequently, I’ve been pushing her into the internet waters. What an endless sea of opportunity to navigate! As the captain of this ship, I am blessed to have the support of BQB Publishing and their managers. Shari Stauch of Where Writers Win keeps me on task and sets my course for the next portal of call. Being new to marketing and social media, sometimes it is a slow and tedious assignment.

But since the launch, I’ve been researching a new idea using my childhood experiences as a Navy dependent. I am laying the keel for my next project. keel1

My writing room is littered with my father’s military record, the shadowbox with brass plates of ship assignments, and personal possessions that would have been on his desk or dresser. His dress blues hang on a doorknob proudly displaying five gold hashmarks. I’ve been privileged to make new friends with veterans through the VFW and American Legions. I loved attending Liberty Call with the Goose Creek Tin Can Sailors. They’ve embraced my request for stories of their glory days. I’ve climbed and descended into the bowels of the USS Laffey at Patriots Point. The smell of grey paint and fuel refreshes my childhood memories of visiting my dad’s floating office.

My new Orders? Start writing it. In my mind, I stand across the word-processing shipyard and watch as the keel is laid. I’ve set my compass and now I have to follow my heart on where the story will take me…research floor

Green Apple Bookstore appearance

Another serendipity moment. I’m cutting my teeth for a book appearance revealing Ameera Unveiled at an iconic bookstore in San Francisco, CA —– Green Apple Bookstore. I hope when it the clock strikes midnight, I lose my glass slipper and my coach turns back into a pumpkin!

I feel like Cinderella

I feel like Cinderella

“It was never just about the cards… Patricia Sands”

Recently, I was honored to be on Southern Writers Magazine’s must reads list. Gary Fearon graciously alerted me and I hit his link. Penning and marketing a book is still an unexplored territory for me. Seeing my cover beside a blog by Patricia Sands regarding her message in The Bridge Club, put a lump in my throat.

It was never just about the cards... Patricia Sands

It was never just about the cards… Patricia Sands

Three years ago, when I approached my writing coach/editor, Shari Stauch, with my story idea— without hesitation she pushed me to my laptop to learn my character’s voice. Continue reading

Introducing my own Queen…. Ameera

Although this is a work of fiction, I admit it was driven by my own desire to dance—but was told I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or was forbidden. As I pull my main character into facing a long neglected dance zone, I’d ask the reader to be patient with her. hedo 054Her story focuses on the impact of chasing a glittery dance dream and lack of experience in a spotlight. In spite of many off the page life experiences, she’s suffered and victoriously overcome many obstacles—especially as a woman. But, Ameera’s pioneer spirit blazes a trail through the unknown land of Dance.

Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe is real. I was given permission to use many of the actual troupe members’ names. They’ve been patient and supportive as I labored to unveil Ameera. I’ve embraced their generosity to take creative license with the unbelievable glittery story. I hope to show the bonding power of resilience, humor, and passion among friends and strangers. The therapy of dance is real—not fiction.

I would not have accomplished this tale if I hadn’t been introduced to Shari Stauch. Her publishing experience and . . . let’s say it like is . . . puts your balls to the walls honesty required me to get mad and tell how unfair life can be. BQB Publishing enthusiastically polished the project with many talented artists. Terri Leidich, Heidi Grauel, and Julie Breedlove offered prompt answers and resources. My editor, Sharon Hecht, untangled my grammar and cut story interruptions without ripping off the band-aid. Even the book cover embodies many of the messages in the story. Kendra Haskins did an amazing job with my website—capturing the ‘pretty’ that makes women and little girls say “wow!” And, thanks to Leroy Mazyck (Pixel Studios) for always easing the stage fright in front of his camera. He did a fabulous job with my author’s headshot. When I doubted my ability to finish the project, it was my family, friends, and community that urged me on.

If you are reading this, I want to thank the readers! I hope you enjoy Ameera’s glittery release from her forbidden zone. From my own experience, once you’ve been bitten by the dance bug, it infects all the senses and perceptions. It reveals old tapes and fears and rewards you with unique memories and bonds.

But, most of all, I thank my soul mate, Steve. He made me his queen and supported my search for the little ballerina that got left behind in my childhood. It takes a special man to stand with his belly dancing wife. They can’t be afraid of a little glitter!

 

Ameera’s Cover Unveiled

BEA New Title Showcase

Ameera Unveiled (for real!) at Book Expo America last week…

One of the supposed traits of a Virgo is an eye for detail… (Okay… being a perfectionist). I love having that Virgo’s eye for detail but look at a challenge with a safety net that allows me to fail. I’ve substituted “Achiever of Excellence” for perfectionist. When I hit detours or situations that require flexibility, it gives me a little damage control: Plan A was a bust, let’s start over. Or, in the case of my book project, there was a better cover than I originally envisioned.

I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by an incredible writing team. From conception to printing, there’s been guidance of short term and long term goals to tell Ameera’s story. One of my favorite phases was designing the cover. Being the achiever of excellence that I am, I dug in on the concept that when a reader finishes Ameera Unveiled, the cover will be even more significant.

Yes, I want to make someone look twice and ask, “What’s going on in that book?” But I also want the cover to embody the story from start to finish. As we searched the globe for the perfect image, my beautiful non-accommodating belly dancer hit my email box. (Teaser for the reader… and all the way from the UK).

Through my own journey towards embracing dance (specifically, belly dancing), it confirmed and reaffirmed my own little girl’s desire to feel pretty and wear costumes. As a product of the 60s and 70s in a traditional gender role, forbidden zones abounded in my life. Thanks to a wonderful cast of characters as I’ve journeyed through so many phases of my life (both supportive and adversarial) I found the stock and symbolic visual to represent the words to my story.

In summary, I’m thrilled with Ameera’s cover because it demonstrates the inner dancer my main character wants to become… perhaps that we all want to become…

The Birth of a Book…

doula_henna_design_belly_expecting_motherAfter two years of trying, I got the news last October. I’m pregnant!

Well, but, I’m also an empty-nester who has already raised a son and a daughter. I started juggling being a mom, wife (and many other plates) at the age of 20 and I like to think I learned through my mistakes and rejoiced through the milestones of mommy-hood. I wrote on the pages of my children’s hearts and recorded chapters of their experiences in journals.

So, in my late 40s, while they left the nest to pursue their own life goals and dreams, I turned my sights to a late life “baby” goal. It wasn’t that I had an unhappy marriage, or lacked outside interests. My life was thriving. But I’d always wanted to conceive and deliver a new story. The longing and yearning to fulfill my late life golden child pushed me into a relationship with a writing coach. After a one hour consultation, I conceived.

Under the watchful eye of my publisher, BQB Publishing, I’m now anxiously awaiting my due date in July, 2013. The story has survived and improved under multiple edits. And… it’s a Girl! Continue reading