ForeWord 2010 Book Of The Year finalist

Last week I was honoured to receive the following news:

iUniverse would like to congratulate you on a job well done.  ForeWord has announced the 2010 Book of the Year Award Finalists.  There were more than 1,400 books entered into 56 different categories. These finalists represent some of the best work coming from today’s independent press community.  So once again, Congratulations!

For more information on the Foreword Book of the Year Awards, please see the e-mail below.

2010 Book of the Year Award Finalist – General Fiction – The Bridge Club, Patricia Sands

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Announcing the 2010 Book of the Year Award Finalists!
ForeWord Reviews is pleased to announce the 2010 Book of the Year Awards list of finalists. Representing more than 350 publishers, the finalists were selected from 1400 entries in 56 categories. These books are examples of independent publishing at its finest!

For a full list of the finalists, searchable by genre, visit: http://www.bookoftheyearawards.com/finalists/2010/

Winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers selected from our readership. Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced at a special program at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans this June. The winners of the two Editor’s Choice Prizes will be awarded $1,500 each and ForeWord’s Independent Publisher of the Year will also be announced. The ceremony is open to all ALA attendees and exhibiting publishers.

ForeWord‘s Book of the Year Awards program was created to spotlight distinctive books from independent publishers. What sets the awards apart from others is that final selections are made by real judges–working librarians and booksellers–based on their experiences with patrons and customers.

Interview with writer Melissa Foster

I first met the talented Melissa Foster when I surfed into the relevant, informative, and entertaining (I kid you not … all that and more!) website she founded and hosts. Through many exchanges of communication, talking on skype, and the sharing of ideas, philosophies, and eventually personal experiences it is a pleasure now to also call her my friend.

Melissa is an author and the Founder of The Women’s Nest, an online social and support community for women. She writes an on-going column in Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Prior to writing, Melissa owned and operated a consulting firm specializing in human resources. Melissa and her husband have six children and live in Maryland.

Melissa’s interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping women see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa’s Motto: “Enjoy each and every day. No one else will do it for you.”

Your debut novel, Megan’s Way, is a moving story of family and friends coping with cancer but it also has a touch of the paranormal. What was your motivation behind this?

I believe that every story needs to leave the reader with a bit of wonder, and maybe even a bit of hope. Megan’s path took her away from so many people who loved her, but she wasn’t really “done” being with them. The paranormal aspect allowed Megan to complete her journey and leave when she — and her friends– were ready to accept her death. I would like to think readers will come away with a sense of wonder of what may be discovered after we leave this earth.

How do you initially develop your characters and do you find they begin to take on a life of their own as the story progresses?

Every time I’m asked this question I cringe. It’s an important question, but my answer seems too silly to be real–but I assure you, it is. I don’t write about a character until I can feel her/his feelings, see her/his face, and have a feel for their personality. Some stew for a while before they’re ready to find themselves on paper, while others appear a bit vague, but each of them grow and change as the story develops. I’m even surprised at what they do and who they become. Getting to know the characters is one of the most fun aspects of writing.

The setting for Megan’s Way is Cape Cod and you display an intimate knowledge of the area. How so?

I’ve been visiting the area for 42 years, and I never fail to find many new and beautiful sights every year. There are few things in life as beautiful as mother nature and as interesting as the differences in people, and Cape Cod is home to some of the most beautiful sights and interesting people I know. The smell of the ocean and the bay coalesce, creating an aura of an ever changing environment–from the landscape to the air itself. For me, that brings a level of creativity that is hard to match.

As writers, we all have hopes as to what our readers will take away from a story. What were yours with this novel?

My wish is that readers come away with a feeling of hope, and a renewed sense of forgiveness. Everyone has secrets, and the reasons are not often fully revealed, so it takes trust in mankind and acceptance of those we love to see past our own judgments and to accept that the decisions made by others might be the best they are able to make at that specific moment in their lives.

How does your writing reflect your personal view on life and what you bring to your daily interactions?

In some cases it’s very closely aligned, and in others it’s so far off the mark that I wonder how I can even write such things.

You are such a busy woman. How do you manage to find time to write when you also paint, run the very popular women’s website The Women’s Nest, and, most importantly, are the mother of six?

Time is an interesting thing. There’s never enough, sometimes I wish for less, less time to worry or stress about things, while other times I wish for more–whether it be to spend with the kids or write, it seems there’s never enough for either. I write when the kids are in school, and at 2:45, my formal writing time is over, and my kid time begins. I don’t write during the summers at all. That’s my time to spend with the kids, and to focus on them. It’s also my rejuvenation time. Writing for almost six hours each day is like a dream come true to me, but being with my children is an equally exciting dream come true.

The Women’s Nest is my fun place, or my escape, like a girl’s day out every day of the year. I never have enough time in that sense, because I’ve made great friends on the Women’s Nest, and would love to sit and chat all day long! My painting, I’m sad to say, has taken a backseat to my writing. After I donated six murals to the Hospital for Sick Children, I jumped full-time into writing and have only briefly looked back. My mural site, Kids Murals By Melissa, remains active, and perhaps someday I’ll return to it.

Overall, though, I don’t think I’m any different than any other mother. I have my kids, my work, and my hobbies (let’s not forget my always-supportive husband). Once you have two children you are outnumbered anyway, so having six versus two is no great shakes. You’re just a little busier and are blessed with seeing many beautiful faces each day. Happiness and controlled chaos is about all one can hope for:-)

Was there anything that came as a big surprise to you in your journey as a novelist?

Everything! From my characters to the fact that people would buy and enjoy my book.

What advice would you offer writers who are just beginning to work on a novel?

Write and don’t look back. Don’t think of what readers will think. Just follow your heart and be careful not to try to take everyone’s advice (including mine). Be true to yourself. If you’re happy with your writing, others will be, too.

I understand you are currently working on a couple of manuscripts. Are you willing to share anything about your next novel with us at this point?

Always! Thank you for asking. I’m just completing a commercial fiction manuscript called Chasing Amanda. Here’s a brief description:

Nine years ago, Molly Tanner witnessed a young girl’s abduction in the busy city of Philadelphia , shifting her occasional clairvoyance into overdrive. Two days later, the girl’s body was found, and Molly’s life fell apart. Consumed by guilt for not acting upon her visions, Molly escaped the torturous reminders in the city, fleeing to the safety of the close-knit rural community of Boyds, Maryland.

Molly’s life is back on track, her son has begun college, and she and her husband have finally rekindled their relationship. Their fresh start is shattered when seven-year-old Tracey Porter disappears from a local park near Molly’s home. Unable to turn her back on another child, and troubled by memories of the past, Molly sets out to find Tracey, jeopardizing the marriage she’d fought so hard to hold together. While unearthing clues and struggling to decipher her visions, Molly discovers another side of Boyds, where the residents–and the land itself–hold potentially lethal secrets, and exposes another side of her husband, one that threatens to tear them apart.

I’m also hard at work on my third fiction novel, (working title) Come Back to Me.

Pat, thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. I loved The Bridge Club, and look forward to your next novel, as well as having you on the Women’s Nest as a guest author.

It’s my pleasure, Melissa. You are a wonderful role model for all women and truly one of the most positive, upbeat people I know. Write on!

Click here for Melissa’s website and here for The Women’s Nest

Celebrating Women

 

For the past 100 years, International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated around the world on March 8. Hundreds of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Organisations, governments and women’s groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues. I decided my blog should have a theme for IWD as well so I’m going to begin a series of interviews with some amazing women I have met during the eight months since my novel was published. It’s been quite a ride! One of the best parts of this journey is discovering the fabulous community of women involved in the world of writing and publishing and all the other aspects that revolve around the literary arts. (Not to discriminate, there are terrific men involved too … but this is about the ladies.) The supportive, collaborative, welcoming spirit one finds within this world of words is a joy to discover. I’ll post the first interview in the next few days.

Click here to read more about International Women’s Day.

Terry Fallis, Lisa Genova – what a week!

I have been so fortunate this week to meet and speak with two outstanding authors, both of whom were very inspirational to me when I was writing The Bridge Club. I have followed the careers of these two novelists with great interest.

Today I attended Podcamp at Ryerson University with my friend and fellow author Patricia Caviglia. Walking out of the building, we had the lovely surprise of meeting Canada Reads winner, Terry Fallis, on his way in. With absolutely no one else around we introduced ourselves, congratulated him, and chatted for ten minutes about the wonderful success of his novel, The Best Laid Plans, and the writing world in general. He is as charming and friendly in person as he appears in the media and it was a thrill to have that time with him.

Last Thursday I attended an author event at the Chapters/Indigo flagship store at Bay and Bloor. There I had an opportunity to speak with Lisa Genova who wrote the amazing Still Alice and has just published Left Neglected. Also speaking at the event were Jeannette Walls and Elena Gorokhova It was interesting to hear them compare their experiences and habits as writers and discuss their motivations for writing these best-selling novels. This event was presented by Chapters/Indigo and hosted by CEO Heather Reisman who has probably done more for encouraging reading over the past few years than any other Canadian with her “Heather’s Picks” and support of literacy programs in schools.

Girlfriends are good for your health …

A friend just sent this to me and I want to share it with you.

They Teach It at Stanford

As reported by a woman who had just finished taking  an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head  of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a  woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and  provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult  life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being.  Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf?

Yes.  But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health.  He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we  are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged—not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health.”

 

Me And My 1000 Girlfriends, That’s Who!

Kathy Scott, the founder of this popular website has chosen The Bridge Club as their Book Club Choice this month. I’m so honoured to be featured here. As well as sharing information about books, products, women’s history and issues, the website encourages service to community and active participation in events that affect all of us. Click here to read what she says about The Bridge Club. Go girlfriends!

EXCITING NEWS!

iUniverse announced this week that The Bridge Club has received the Reader’s Choice Recognition Award which is based on sales figures. I’m delighted and thank you! Onward to the Star program!

I’m so grateful to all the readers who are sending me their comments about the story. That’s the part of writing I enjoy the most. It’s incredibly rewarding for a writer to hear that his or her story resonates with others! Book Clubs are telling me the final chapter sparked lively debate. I do confirm if they correctly identify the protagonist in that chapter but do not reveal the answer if they are incorrect. Back to the drawing board! I also find it interesting to see how many don’t want to know because they cared about all of the women too much. So good!

If you purchased The Bridge Club through one of the booksellers online, please post a review on their website. If you purchased the book at a book store but have an Amazon or other online account, you can also pull up The Bridge Club and post a review. These reviews are very important and can dramatically affect the sale of the book. Click here for the right page on Barnes and Noble and also Chapters/Indigo  (although they still don’t have my cover art displayed, which is very annoying!).

Here are two other simple things you can do that are incredibly helpful:
1. When you go to the book listing on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, if you keep scrolling down the page (below reviews and other stuff), you will come to a section marked “Tags”. If you see boxes already checked, just click where it asks if you agree with the tags. If the boxes aren’t check, please check them. Feel free to add any other tags you feel are applicable.
2. Amazon.com now has a “like” button beside every book they have listed. Please click here to go to it.

It may not seem like much but doing these little tasks is extremely helpful to building the profile of a book. I told you I was learning a lot! These are things you can do for every author when you purchase a book but most of us don’t know about it. So for myself and every other author you help, I thank you!

The Freckled Lion Children’s Book Store

This delightful shop at 56 Main Street South in Georgetown, Ontario, also has an adult fiction section in which The Bridge Club can be found. I’m delighted to have a presence in this community in Halton County where I lived with my family for 14 years and where my sons attended the local schools. The welcoming owner and helpful staff fill the space with warm energy and seem to know which book is the right one for you. A very thoughtful and informative blog has been posted on the Freckled Lion’s website about their upcoming move and the difficulties small book stores face these days. Please read it and offer your support.

More about TBC characters- Jane

Wow! It’s been fun to hear how many of you related to the Sea To Sky Highway, Jane’s favourite drive (Chapter 3). It’s an awesome drive from Horseshoe Bay, just north of Vancouver, along the coast and then carved out of the steep cliffs overlooking the always breathtakingly beautiful Howe Sound, up past the in-your-face monolith The Chief in Squamish, to the abundant pleasures of Whistler and beyond to the open valley spaces of Pemberton. The Duffey Lake Road takes over from there to Lillooet. It’s all part of Highway 99 and prior to the major improvements for the 2010 Olympics, this section has a checkered history. Fifty years ago it was a two-lane undivided highway with no outside barrier. White-knuckle driving, I well remember! In those days, a number of motorists lost their lives due to inclement weather, poor visibility, speeding, passing slower vehicles, or drunk driving. Local media have called it variously the “Killer Highway”, the “Highway of Death”, and the “Ski-And-Die Highway”. Not infrequent rockslides have also added “Sea-To-Slide Highway”. Negativity aside, this drive is often in the top ten of “beautiful drives you must do” in travel magazines. Click here for photos
I knew when I began my novel that somehow I would work this drive and skiing in Whistler into the story. It’s a passionate part of my history. So I gave those same passions to the character Jane whose zest for life grew from her childhood summers in those spectacular surroundings. Perhaps it was that same zest for life that allowed her to come to terms with her sexuality and recognize who she was with grace and ease. Some might say surprisingly so. I have no doubt it was that same zest for life so appreciated and admired by the rest of The Bridge Club that helped them overcome the shock of her announcement and support her on her journey. Friendship at it’s finest, although not without some hurdles – that’s the women of The Bridge Club.

Guest post on Rachel Howzell Hall’s site

Rachel, thanks so much for inviting me to post on your blog. Writing is such an individual undertaking, it’s always interesting to hear how others make it happen and using your blog as a platform for this is a great idea. Click here to see my post and check out Rachel’s blog and website. Rachel is the author of A Quiet Storm and The View From Here, both available as e-books.