I am thrilled beyond words at having won three different awards in the 2011 Reader Views Literary Competition so I'd like to share a bit about Reader Views, explain how the competition.is structured, and provide a link so that you can browse the list of winners in other categories and hopefully discover some wonderful books by authors you've never read.
I'll start with a profile of Reader Views – it is an organization that brings readers and writers together by introducing selected books in a monthly newsletter that boasts over fifteen thousand subscribers. In a little over five years they have reviewed over eight thousand books and worked with over three thousand authors including such notables as James Patterson.
Reader Views sponsor an annual literary competition that is open to authors worldwide, providing the submission is written in the English language. The competition offers twenty-five different categories/genres plus nine regional categories and three global categories – reaching out as far as Australia. The competition also offers Specialized Awards that are sponsored by individuals and companies involved in the publishing industry. You cannot enter the competitions for Specialized Awards, they are selected on merit and to qualify for consideration, the book must be a first place winner in at least one of the competition categories. To browse the list of winning books, click on the following link…
The 2010 Winners included such blockbuster hits as Leona Bodie's Shadow Cay, which took the First Place Award in the Mystery/Suspense category, so it's easy to understand why I am so awed by the honors paid to SPARE CHANGE. It won the First Place Award for General Fiction and the First Place Award for Southeast Regional Fiction. It was then selected as the Receipant of the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book of Contemporary Drama,an award sponsored and named for Jack Eadon, author of the American Drama Series. Oh yes, did I mention that award carried a $100. prize? Okay, it's not a fortune, but most writing competitions are for bragging rights only, so for me it's a very big deal and the first cash award I've ever won.
The Criteria for determining the winner of the Jack Eadon Award is as follows: The characters must be vividly portrayed as those individuals who can exist side-by-side with someone living in this world now, dealing with issues of today in a dramatic fashion. The setting must be excruciatingly real.
Writing is a solitary business – day after day it's just you and your computer, which is probably why writers can often be found hopping around the social media sites, developing virtual friendships, sharing bits and pieces of news with readers and other writers. We don't get the ongoing feedback of a boss or co-worker, we don't get a pat on the back or a ‘job well done' – we operate in somewhat of a void – UNTIL something like this comes along. For a writer it's a great big ‘ataboy' so please bear with us if we're inclined to brag a bit when we win an award. And although these awards are delightfully prestigious, the truth is our greatest reward is when a reader says “I just couldn't put this book down.”
Reader comments and reviews are the lifeblood of an author – so, I want to pause here for a moment and thank all the wonderful readers who took the time to write and post reviews. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.
Well friends and fans, since you’ve already met Ethan Allen Doyle, the lad in Spare Change, I thought you’d like to meet some of the other characters and get to know a bit about them. Today I’ll be interviewing Olivia Ann Westerly, the protagonist of the story. Olivia is a woman who at a young age developed an overabundance of superstitions and beliefs that clung to her for most of her years. Granted, some of those beliefs may seem a bit quirky to those of us who see life through the eye of reality, but Olivia knew what she knew and there was no changing her mind until Ethan Allen came along.
Q: Olivia, you married Charlie Doyle when you were well into your fifties; but as a young woman you were engaged to Herbert Flannery, why didn’t you marry him?
A: It wasn’t because of Herbert, he was a fine gentleman, but I wanted to be somebody and do something with my life—that was never going to happen if I was tied to a man who expected me to cook, clean house and have babies.
Q: That leads me to believe you’re an extremely independent woman, are you?
A: I suppose I am, but it’s little wonder. I’ve seen so many of my friends lose their dreams and expectations in a pile of dirty diapers; marriage means babies and with babies that’s exactly what happens. After seeing how Francine had to beg her no-good husband for a few dollars to buy a new dress, I knew I never wanted to be in such a position. Right then and there I decided to be in charge of my own life and make my way in world alone, without a husband to boss me around or babies to weigh me down.
Q: But making your way alone, isn’t that rather lonely?
A: Yes. There were times when I was very lonely—but I thought loneliness was the price I had to pay if I wanted a career and independence. It wasn’t until after Charlie died that I came to understand how terribly lonely, loneliness is.
Q: After Charlie died, did you ever consider remarrying?
A: Heavens no! There was only one Charlie Doyle in this world, and not a man on earth could measure up to him. Of course Ethan Allen finally happened along—he was the spitting image of Charlie, the same eyes, same mischievous smile, same way of stealing a woman’s heart…
Q: Ethan Allen, was he related to you?
A: At first I didn’t think so, but once I came to know the boy he was as close to me as my own skin.
Q: When did you first meet Ethan Allen?
A: It was a few months after Charlie died. I’d gone to the movies with Fred Porter and when I got home the boy and that sorry-looking dog of his were sleeping in front of my apartment door.
Q: Were you glad to see him?
A: I should say not! First off, the boy was eleven years old—eleven is the unluckiest number on earth! Everything bad that has ever happened to me was somehow connected to the number eleven. I had the measles when I was eleven, my best friend moved away when I was eleven and Charlie died on the eleventh day of our honeymoon. So no, I was not happy to discover an eleven-year old boy claiming that I was his only living relative.
Q: The story of your and Ethan Allen’s relationship is told in the book SPARE CHANGE – are you the hero of that story?
A: Hero? ~Laugh~ I rather think not. I didn’t exactly step up to save Ethan Allen, the lad just sort of burrowed his way into my heart and once he was there, I only did what any grandma would do. I guess if there’s a hero in the story it would be him. He’s the one who turned his poor little life around and made something of himself.
Q: Didn’t you also turn your life around?
A: Yes, but I was fortunate enough to have any number of friends to help me. The only person Ethan Allen had, was me.
Q: Looking back, are you happy with the way things turned out?
A: ~sigh~ Well, I would have liked to have had more time on earth with Charlie, but God in all His wisdom, gave me Ethan Allen instead.
Q: If you could do it all over again, what would you change?
A: I was about to say that I wouldn’t have wasted all those years worrying about a husband and babies weighing me down ~laugh~ but then I realized, if things were different, I might never have known Charlie and Ethan Allen, so after thinking it over, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: Would you suggest book lovers read SPARE CHANGE?
A: Sugar, that’s something they ought to decide for themselves.
Books to authors are like children to mothers–we fret over having every last thought in place, every emotion captured perfectly, every character truly as likable or dislikable as they were intended to be. And just as a mother cheers when her child is given accolades, we cheer when our books receive awards…so please forgive me while I stand up and shout from the rooftop SPARE CHANGE JUST WON ANOTHER AWARD!
It's true…Not only did SPARE CHANGE win the Reader Views Literary Fiction Award for the Southeast Region, it is also a FINALIST for the Reader Views General Fiction Literary Award…and this mom couldn't be prouder.
Spare Change is one of those Southern babies I tend to favor (I think it's because I hear my mom's voice in so many characters.) Anyway, I tend to watch over this book a bit more than the others and so far it is truly doing me proud–not only for winning awards and being voted into the #1 spot on the Goodreads List of Best Unknown Books but, more importantly, for the wonderful reader reviews it has received.
A very special THANK YOU to all the readers who read the book and posted a review.
‘Tis the season for lots of book talk events and revisiting some of the lovely ladies I have spoken with in previous years. On Tuesday of this week – Valentine's Day – I had a sweetheart of an afternoon. First I visited with the Sisterhood at the Temple Beth El Israel, and then I attended our local book club meeting. Both groups were delightful and fun to be with. Our book club discussed the current read – Saving Cee Cee Huneycutt by Beth Hoffman, which I am pleased to say is also Southern Fiction–a genre growing in popularity–hooray! If you liked Country Music before Country was Mainstream, maybe it's time to give Southern fiction a try.
In this photo I am flanked by two of my hosts at the Sisterhood – Linda Chasen and Ruth Bornstein. In my talk with the ladies, I presented my latest release SPARE CHANGE and treated the ladies to a reading that introduced Olivia Ann Westerly, the protagonist of Spare Change . With her many superstitions and delightfully Southern quirks, Olivia has a wonderful voice which gives me an opportunity to offer up a hearty helping of Southern charm to listeners. And, it seems I am not the only one enjoying Olivia's voice because SPARE CHANGE is still in the #1 spot on the Goodreads list of Best Unknown Books. It is such a thrill to see this book taking off as it has. Yesterday I received a request to speak at a PGA book club gathering in March when the group will discuss Spare Change, their featured read. And, in the fall, I will be revisiting the fifty-member Cascades Book Club as they have also selected Spare Change as one of their monthly reads for the 2012-2013 season.
And, as if all this excitement weren't enough, last night I was notified that FC Edge, the amazing ad agency responsible for all of my cover designs, received a GOLD ADDY for the cover design of SPARE CHANGE. ..more to come once I have all the details.
If I'm dreaming, please don't wake me.
Looking back, I must say 2011 was an exciting year, but 2012 holds even greater promise. In 2011, Bent Pine Publishing took me into the world of Digital Publishing with the release of both Spare Change and Cracks in the Sidewalk in Kindle and Nook formats…and what a ride it has been! Before I get into the exciting things happening in 2012, I'd like to look back and share my thoughts on all that has happened.
Once I learned that in addition to the trade paperback versions, both of my books would be available in the digital format, I broke down and bought a Kindle. Up until that point I had been one of those die-hard holdouts who swore I'd never use an e-reader. Too much like working on the computer, I said. Yes, as the song goes, “I was blind, but now I see!”
The e-book reader advantage:
Not only is it possible to carry around your entire library in a device that weighs less than a paperback, but you can also download free chapters of books to browse at your leisure. For me, this is an awesome feature because I just don't have the time to stand in a bookstore reading a chapter or two to determine whether or not I'll like the book. With these good-sized samples on my Kindle, I read when it's convenient for me, decide which books I want to buy and then download the remainder of the book with a few simple clicks. The Kindle has more than paid for itself since I've eliminated the purchase of books that turn sour after ten or twelve pages.
The e-book author advantage:
I can honestly say the advantages that serve me well as a reader, also serve me well as an author–new readers are downloading samples of Spare Change and Cracks in the Sidewalk, loving the story, then purchasing the book. In short, new readers are discovering my work and as an author, that's music to my ears. Digital books also have an added plus–cost. Without the cost of paper and printing, publishing firms can offer books at a lower cost which makes the purchase of an unfamiliar author's work less of an investment, so the customer reaps the reward and the author garners a larger audience. That's a win-win situation. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the big six publishing houses are not passing along this savings to the consumer, so potential readers are quicker to bypass the old standards and search out new authors with exciting voices. This has been wonderful for me and as a result the e-book version of Spare Change (available at $2.99) is outselling the paper version by 10 to 1. The ratio for Cracks in the Sidewalk is approximately 8 to 1.
On to 2012:
With over five million Kindles sold in the month preceding Christmas, there can be little doubt that any and all future releases need to have a digital version, so Bent Pine Publishing is doing just that. In the first quarter of 2012, my first novel Girl Child will be rereleased under the original title which was The Twelfth Child and it will be available in both paper and e-book versions. As The Twelfth Child this novel won the First Place Award for Published Fiction from the National League of American Pen Women in 2007 and, although Spare Change is rapidly becoming a reader favorite, you will fall in love with Abigail Anne Lannigan, the protagonist of Twelfth Child.
Also due to be released in the first quarter of 2012 is Life in the Land of IS…the amazing story of Lani Deauville, the World's Longest Living Quadriplegic. Lani Deauville was given that title by the Guinness Book of Records and I was fortunate enough to have the honor of writing her story. Lani won the Florida State High School Diving Championship in 1957, and the following summer she broke her neck and injured her spinal cord by diving into shallow water. In the years that followed, Lani achieved more professionally and personally than most women ever aspire to; including adoption of a baby and the start-up of GreensPlus, a nutritional supplement company that today has a huge following. This is an exciting story–one that will awe and inspire you, so please don't miss it.
Lastly, in the final quarter of 2012 I anticipate the release of What Matters Most the novel that won a 2011 Royal Palm Literary Award for Unpublished Women's Fiction. This is the fun-to-read story of Louise Palmer, a woman whose life is turned upside-down when her husband decides to retire after inheriting his uncle's shabby little shack in Florida. There are truly laugh-out-loud moments in this book along with heartwarming friendships and ‘lessons-learned' bits of wisdom.
Right now, that's what is on the board. As for the summer months…well, I hope to be working on a new novel and restoring the tan that has over these long months of work faded to a pasty pallor.