Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up


Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I did. We had a wonderful time with my son. Good conversations, a trip to Ghost Ranch, in Northern New Mexico where we hiked up to Chimney Rock. Thanksgiving meal with friends, then another hike. Friday we hiked yet again, then food and games at a friend's house. Who could ask for more?

My heart is filled with the blessings in my life. Blessings I thought I'd never have. When I sat down to do my annual "bucket list," I realized so many of those dreams have already come true. I've begun a new list. The priorities seem to have shifted from things to do to things I want to be.

Here's something a little different from my normal Monday posts. Two writer friends, Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler, are celebrating 30 years of friendship and business partnership today. They've asked that we share the joy of that collaboration by posting how they are honoring their time together. Here it is:

Milbridge, ME, and Gilroy, CA, November 30, 2009—While friendships often last a
lifetime, long-term business partnerships are rare. So Matilda Butler and Kendra
Bonnett’s 30-year friendship and business relationship is reason for their celebration.
While these two partners work from opposite coasts this week—Kendra from her home
in Downeast Maine and Matilda enjoying country comforts in Gilroy, California—they
have decided to do something special to mark the occasion of their personal milestone.

Matilda and Kendra are asking their friends and colleagues to help them get the
word out through their newsletters, blogs and emails to aspiring memoirists. On Monday,
November 30th, they will post a blog on WomensMemoirs.com entitled: “It’s Our
Anniversary, but You Get the Gift.” As Matilda explains: “Starting November 30th and
extending for at least one week, we’re selling our 5-DVD set The [Essential] Women’s
Memoir Writing Workshop: 21 Steps from Planning to Publication for just 30 percent of
it’s regular price of $132. That’s just $7.80 per disc.”

“Thirty years…that’s a lot of water under the proverbial bridge,” says Kendra.
“We wanted to acknowledge it by doing something dramatic. Frankly, I hope everyone
who has ever wanted this workshop takes advantage of this sale. Nothing would make us
happier than to practically give away a truckload of these DVDs.”

A Focus on Memoir
In 2005, while Kendra was visiting Matilda and husband Bill Paisley in Gilroy,
Matilda asked Kendra to read the first draft of her manuscript for the collective memoir
Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story. That’s all it took
to initiate a new collaboration. Soon they were working on the book together. “That was
a very creative time for us as,” Matilda recalls, “we worked to fashion a format that
would accommodate the running narrative, vignettes from the more than 100 women
interviewed, iconic images from the post-WWII years, a timeline and quotes from famous
Rosie’s Daughters.” The collaboration was a success, and Rosie’s Daughters won a 2008
IPPY national book award.

Kendra and Matilda are terrific, so if you write memoir, please check out their website: http://www.womensmemoirs.com/

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - How I really feel about the holidays

Eeeeeew. Holidays growing up weren't much fun. Neither of my parents cooked, so we always went to either my grandmother's house or my Aunt Charlotte, both of whom were phenomenal cooks. But our family didn't get along very well, so there were fights, great silences, and tension. Thankfully, my two cousins and I got along well and we learned to amuse ourselves playing dominoes, building houses with decks of cards, and playing in the park across the street.

I must have blocked out the holiday times during my first marriage, because I have no memory of either cooking them myself or going anywhere, even though we must have done something. After I lost custody of my son, though, holidays became a nightmare of missing him, feeling like an alien because other people got to be with their families, and being convinced everyone else on the planet was normal.

Friends became my salvation and I learned to create my own holiday experiences. During my time with my gay business partner, holidays became movie dates. Sometimes we'd go see two or three movies in a day, then eat dinner out someplace special.

As I learned to get more comfortable in the kitchen, I would host Thanksgiving for other strays--those who either didn't have family in town or who came from dysfunctional backgrounds like me.

Now, I have a mixture of those things. For the last few years that my Dad was alive and living in New Mexico, it was a family affair with another friend and her mom. Dad is gone, but we still spend the day with my friend. This year, my 36-year-old son is coming. I can't remember the last time we spent Thanskgiving together.

Rather than get caught up in holiday insanity and chaos, I am going to kick back and enjoy the moments and reflect on what the Thanksgiving holiday really means...to be thankful...which, believe me, I am.

I won't be posting Wednesday, Thursday,  or Friday, so

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you,
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend had some mixed blessings. Friday night was the awards banquet for the 2009 New Mexico Book awards. "Following the Whispers" was a finalist in the First Book by Author category. Alas, it didn't win an award, but frankly, I am ecstatic that it was a finalist. The good news is that I met some wonderful people with whom I felt an instant rapport.

Saturday I had a singing gig with my trio. We did very well and the audience seemed to really enjoy us. The sad news is that one of us is leaving in the Spring for a lengthy motor home adventure with her hubby. When I asked the third member of our trio if she wanted to continue to sing together, she hesitated. She's not sure. If she does decide to continue, we have to find a third partner. If she doesn't want to continue, I am faced with giving up singing, or finding two other people and basically starting over. Not sure I have the energy for that...so I'm quite sad. We'll see how this shakes out.

At folkdancing Saturday night, I connected with good friends, which felt wonderful. I haven't been dancing much this past year because of my shoulder injury/surgery/recovery. Now I can dance once again and it fed my soul.

Several friends expressed an interest in coming to my talk on intuition December 5. It still amazes me when people seem to want to hear what I have to say. I am quite nervous about the talk, because it is new. I've talked many times as a marketing/public relations professional. And I'm comfortable talking about my life and experiences. But this is different.

Do you have any new experiences looming on your horizon that make you nervous? If so, how are you handling it?

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, November 20, 2009

Intuition...a practical approach part 2

"We live life in fear, not love," according to Pema Chodron, author of "Start Where You Are." She goes on to say, "We already have everything we need...all these trips we lay on ourselves, the heavy-duty fearing that we're bad and hoping that we're good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, jealousy, addictions, never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake."

Intuition cannot speak to us unless we are fully awake. This is the crux and heart of the whole topic. Part of my daily prayer is that my consciousness continue to awaken. And as I do, I begin to see, hear and feel the ways intuition speaks to me. Perhaps it is a sense that something isn't quite right. Or maybe it's that I shouldn't do something or other. It might be that I'm supposed to let go of all my chores and take a walk.

If I'm too busy, or too distracted, or rushing to get through my to-do list, I may miss the messages that are trying to get through. So each day, I work on being more fully present with each step I take.

Sometimes this means doing nothing...

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Intuition...a practical approach

Thank you so much, Helen Ginger, for your insightful guest post yesterday. It's so great to receive advice from one who is both an editor and a gifted writer.

Today, I'm talking about intuition, something we all have inside of us, but don't always pay attention to.
I'm putting together a two-hour presentation on this topic that will be given on December 5 here in Albuquerque. I thought I'd present parts of it here on Following the Whispers.

There are many ways our body/mind/spirit might try to get our attention. There are also reasons why we might not listen. I want to talk about one of those reasons--abusive relationships.

If you are in a relationship in which you are shamed, put down, disrespected, controlled, physically assaulted, psychologically assaulted, or emotionally battered, you are in an abusive relationship. And if you are, there is no way you can be comfortable being yourself, open to life and its wisdom. Instead you are encased in a protective covering that shuts out everything. But it really doesn't. Each barbed comment, each ridicule, each humiliation, each slap or punch, each jab at your psyche and your soul, eats away a bit more of your life energy until you feel depleted and defeated, in despair and perhaps depressed.

Since I lived most of my life this way, I know this place very well. It's taken years to recover; still working on it at 60. So my message here today is to start paying attention to how you feel in a given situation and with the people in your life. If your energy feels drained, look to see what was said or done. Was there something that was hurtful that you missed because you were shut down in an effort to protect yourself?

Your body will give you messages even if your mind doesn't notice. Does your stomach hurt after a conversation? Is there a twitch? Headache? Over the years, I've learned the signals my mind/body/spirit uses to get my atention. I get a kind of glazed feeling, as if I am encased in gauze. I begin to lose focus, unable to hear what someone is saying, as if I am in a daze. Nothing comes through when I am in that state.

The first step is awareness. My consciousness needs to be awake enough to notice the problem. More and more, that is the case. Catching those signals before negativity takes a hold of me.

What signals might you be missing?

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Smelling the End - Helen Ginger

On Friday, November 13th, Karen graciously let me take over her blog to post a few things I see frequently when editing manuscripts. I titled that post: The End is Really the Beginning.
http://karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com/2009/11/end-is-really-beginning-by-helen-ginger.html. She apparently took that literally because when I begged to post again, she agreed. In that post, I likened writing and editing a manuscript to raising a baby. Well, let's get that baby out of the tub, powder its behind and talk about three more editing tips.

1. Dialogue defines the character not the writer.
Real people talk in half-sentences. We talk around the subject. We speak with improper grammar and slang or idioms, but occasionally someone talks with perfect grammar. Consider this sentence: "He went to the grocery store for Susan, but refused to go near the feminine products aisle." You could see that either as part of narrative or a snippet of dialogue. When a character speaks, you could use those same words but write them in a way to show hesitation, emphasis, or perhaps teasing by writing: "He went to the grocery store for Susan. But refused to go near the feminine products aisle." In the narrative, avoid starting sentences with words like "but" or "and" or "or" or other connecting words (technically called subordinating conjunctives). You can, however, do that in dialogue to show the character and speech-pattern of a person in your book. Keep it to one character, though. Make it their particular tick. One goal is to be able to read all the dialogue, minus tags, and know who is speaking just by the way they talk.

2. Avoid brain farting
When you're in a character's Point Of View, you're in that head - and so is the reader. You can have multiple POVs in a manuscript, but keep the reader in one head at a time and let us know when we switch heads. Don't jump from head to head without warning. When you do, you lose the reader. Instead of listening in on one set of thoughts, the reader is jerked from head to head, staying just long enough to sniff the character's brain fart before moving on to the next one.

3. "I've finally finished my manuscript and would like to see if you are available to edit."
This type of thinking sends up little red flags for an editor. Rather than typing The End, then contacting me or any editor to work on it, set it aside, don't look at it, work on something else. Wait at least two weeks, longer if you can (two months or a year would be better, but not always realistic), then re-read it. Just like the intensity of labor pains, you forget your words over time. Most of what you read will feel new, fresh, and wonderful. Some will make you stop and groan. Work on those what-was-I-thinking parts.

If you don't know the goofs you're making, you'll keep making them. Do as much of the editing as you can before paying an editor to do it for you.

Aren't you glad Karen consented and let me post again? Where else could you hear about powdering a baby's behind and sniffing brain farts and somehow find a connection between both of them and writing?

Helen Ginger

If you don't already do so, please visit Helen's blog. She's not only a gifted editor, but a gifted writer and a fountain of information. I am actually glad now that I goofed, since we got more of Helen's wisdom.

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Losing and Finding Friends

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I re-connected with an old friend. Crystal, from Crystal Clear Proofing, responded by saying, "One thing that stood out in your post is the rekindling of a "lost" friendship. You only mention it in passing, but many times that is a huge step. Difficult and sometimes not even possible. I commend and congratulate you on this achievement. In a situation like that one can find closure on one hand and a sense of peace and growth on another."

Crystal is so right, especially for me. I don't have a great history when it comes to women friends. I married my best friend from high school's brother and lost her when he and I divorced. Another close friend ended up marrying my first ex. Lost that one as well. Still another close friend ended up with my second ex. Are we seeing a pattern here, folks? The last friend I lost was a teacher.

This a complicated topic for me and one I can't adequately address in a blog post. I can't really go into what happened with the friend I reconnected with without disclosing things about her and her life, which I will not do. Suffice it to say, we both were able to acknowledge to one another that we caused each other pain, but that we had, at the time, done the best we could. In the end, that's all each and every one of us can do. In each and every moment, we can be the very best we can be and do what our hearts and minds and souls tell us to do. If it works, great. If we're wrong, admit it.

Yes, it was a gift of closure and of opening, as well.

Blessings,
Karen

P.S. Don't forget to tune in tomorrow for Helen Ginger's guest post, "The End is Really the Beginning."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend Wrap up

It was a relatively quiet weekend, thank goodness. Friday night hubby and I cuddled on the couch, except for when our dog, Buddy, snuggled between us. We watched an HBO film, Recount. Saturday, I got together with two old friends, one of whom I recently re-connected with. It is the first time in my life that I've lost a friend and than was able to heal the wounds and move forward. Then I visited another friend in Santa Fe whom I haven't seen in awhile. We talked, laughed, ate some soup, and went to see a Japanese film called "Still Walking." The movie felt like a lyrical poem; simply exquisite. When I left Santa Fe, it was snowing hard, but by the time I reached the freeway that would take me home to Albuquerque, it was just rain.

Sunday is Mom day. We brought her to our house and watched the movies my hubby took on our trip to Scotland/Ireland. We hadn't seen them yet. Video is a wonderful way to capture moments from life.

Regular readers of this blog know that I goofed a bit last week and inadvertently posted an article written by wonderful editor, Helen Ginger. We are going to run that post again on Following the Whispers, this coming Wednesday, 11/18, since there are a few more points Helen wanted to address. Please make sure to stop by Wednesday for the rest of "The End is Really the Beginning."

Blessings,
Karen

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday musings

Well, yesterday I posted that I had nothing to say. Then I proceeded to post an article from Helen Ginger that was not supposed to appear until Wednesday 11/18. It received a bunch of comments, so I couldn't take it down. Didn't want to anyway. It's so good. If you haven't read it, please give yourself a gift and do so.

So, I'm going to promote it again next week and it will appear as originally scheduled on Wednesday. The moral of the story. When you don't feel like doing anything, pay attention and don't do anything, because if you do do something, you might just do it wrong.

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, November 13, 2009

The End is Really the Beginning
By Helen Ginger

There is no greater joy than typing The End on the last page of a manuscript. Well, okay, maybe the birth of a child, but in a way, writing a manuscript is like giving birth. It takes about as long and can be just as painful. Another way the two are similar is that giving birth to a child or a manuscript is never The End. It is, in some ways, The Beginning.

Of course, you have to raise that manuscript up to be the best book it can be before you send it out into the world. That takes time, work, discipline and dedication. It takes editing. I’ve been a freelance editor for years and I’ve yet to come across a book that didn’t need editing -- some more than others, but even the best-selling authors can miss the need to put braces on the buck teeth of their children.

There are many things to look at between the time you type The End and when you send your query and manuscript to an agent or publisher. Entire books have been written on editing. If you’re like me, you probably have several of them on your bookshelf. For the next few minutes, let’s forget about those tutorials. Instead, let’s look at 3 things that I’m seeing frequently in manuscripts.

1. Backstory
Cut it. Seriously. I know you feel it’s important to tell the readers about the protagonist’s upbringing or character or the relationship between him and Sue. That’s the problem. You’re telling. Most of the time, this type of telling is done by an omniscient narrator. It may be important stuff, but it’s being given by a discombobulated head talking down to us. Joe loves his wife. Ever since they met at the rodeo where he worked summers as a clown and she sold hot dogs. Joe’s mama always said he’d find the perfect wife…. It’s boring. Put us immediately into the characters. If Joe loves his wife, let us see that through his actions and his words.

2. While reading may be a passive endeavor, your writing should not be.
Do a search on your manuscript for the word “was” and variations, like “had.” Almost all writers, yes, even me, will be amazed by the number of times we use the passive voice. Janice was on her way to work in the pouring rain when she had a flat tire. Come on, this needs some action. Janice squeezed the steering wheel so tightly she could feel the leather wrap imprinting on her palms. She leaned forward, trying to peer through the curtain of water rushing down the windshield with each clicking swipe of the wipers….

3. Serena walked into the coffee shop, her eyes immediately falling on the dark-haired man sitting with his back to the counter, the Wall Street Journal open on the table.
Really? Do her eyes fall out often? Are they easy to put back in? Watch out for flying body parts. This seems to happen most often with the eyes. Eyes often fall or caress or fly or do any number of impossible things.

There’s a lot more to raising up your manuscript so it can stand on its own with an agent or editor. These three things are ones you can look for and make changes and improvements. If you don’t and you send it to an editor, you end up paying, either in money if she charges by the hour (to do things you could have done yourself) or in time if it takes her weeks to read and re-read, marking repeated mistakes, a lot of which you will want to bop yourself on the forehead for missing.

Don’t worry, though, with each baby manuscript, you learn. Each subsequent baby gets easier to birth, raise, and send out to the world.

Helen, thank you so much for this enlightening article. If you haven't already done so, please check out Helen's blog. You will find a wealth of information for writers and readers.

Helen is a freelance novel editor, with an informational and interactive blog for writers and a weekly e-newsletter that has been going out to subscribers around the globe for nine years. She coaches writers on the publishing industry, finding an agent, and polishing their work for publication. An adept speaker, she has presented at Story Circle Network’s National Conference, Writers’ League of Texas’ Agents & Editors Conference, Baylor University and Mary Hardin-Baylor University. She is an owner-partner and Women’s Marketing Director for Legends In Our Own Minds®, which specializes in creative networking opportunities for companies and groups. With her experience in the business world, her knowledge of the publishing industry and her desire to help writers achieve their dreams, she has redefined the concept of freelance editor to include teacher, coach, and advisor.

Blessings,
karen

Nothing to Say

I'm on overload. Jammed up. Exhausted. I need a break from normal routine, so I am not writing a blog post today. Please forgive me. I will be back on Monday with my normal weekend wrap-up. Be well, everyone.
Karen

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Cloud of Unknowing

I can't take credit for the title of this post. It is a book written by a 14th century monk. I've always loved the title, because it accurately reflects a spiritual journey. So often, we are asked to surrender to something we don't know, don't understand, don't necessarily agree with, and sometimes it's just darn hard!

My new writing project is like this. Fiction is a whole new world to me. Memoir was a piece of cake. I had my journals. I'd lived the experiences I was writing about. Grappling with the emotions wasn't easy, but I knew what I was grapping with.

This time, I don't yet know the characters, the plot, the conflicts, none of the elements that make fiction fiction. Yet, I have received inner guidance that I am to do this. I am to trust the process. So, day after day, I sit. I am reading some books I have been drawn to that might pertain to the book. Perhaps I need to immerse myself in them until something emerges.

Oh how I envy those of you who dream up characters and storylines and can make detailed outlines to follow. At least I'm not just sitting and staring at a blank page or screen. If nothing comes, I journal, or walk, or practice singing. Or I edit my workshop presentation which is coming up pretty soon. And yes, I am equating writing with a spiritual journey because, to me, it is. Everything that happens in my life is part of my journey towards inner peace and contentment.

How do you handle the cloud of unknowing in your lives?

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Truth can be stranger than fiction: the tragic saga of Lucky, my golden retriever

Today we are lucky to have a guest post by writer, Julie Lomoe. Enjoy!

Truth can be stranger than fiction: the tragic saga of Lucky, my golden retriever
By Julie Lomoe

Dogs have long played a central role in my life and my fiction but Lucky, the beautiful golden retriever in my author photo for /Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, /may have been the last dog I’ll ever own. Six months after the photo was taken, he died of lymphoma, and in the years since then, I’ve switched to cats. Setting up this Blog Book Tour, reading my hosts’ reactions to the photo, I realized I’d never written about Lucky. Since Karen’s blog focuses on memoir and nonfiction, this seems like the perfect time.

But Rishi, the dog before Lucky, deserves pride of place. He’s a major character in "Mood Swing." In fact, his image is in my cover illustration, and his name is the first word in the first chapter:

"Rishi was halfway out the window and onto the fire escape when I tackled him. Arms around my dog’s massive shoulders, I groped for his choke chain and yanked hard. Half a dozen pigeons flapped skyward, squawking."

I described him on Page 2:

"He’s leaner and rangier than a German shepherd, stockier than a Doberman, bigger than a Rottweiler. Despite his forbidding looks, he’s a basically friendly beast, but sometimes it’s in my best interests not to let people know that."

That last sentence was literary license. Rishi was wonderfully affectionate and loving, but only to our immediate family, and he was never adequately trained. Despite a near-death experience with a neighbor’s hammer that left a permanent dent in his skull – a story for another time – Rishi lived nearly ten years, a good long life for a big dog. But his death threw me into a deep depression.

Enter Lucky, a year or so later. He came into our lives with what seemed at first to be joyous synchronicity. At a Woodstock party given by friends of my daughter Stacey, someone mentioned having a golden retriever who needed a new home. I was instantly intrigued – we’d owned a beautiful golden named Shawna when Stacey was a child, and except for her propensity to chew up the woodwork during thunderstorms, she’d been a wonderful member of the family.
Right after the party, I paid a home visit to meet Lucky, fell instantly in love, called my husband on my cell, and within a week we had a beautiful four-year-old male golden. He came with a tragic back story: he’d been the beloved companion of an 84-year-old man who lived alone in the Catskills, and when the man was hospitalized, one of the nurses befriended both him and Lucky. Shortly after the man’s discharge, he was brutally murdered by a neighbor he’d known and trusted for years, a handyman in search of money for drugs.

The nurse took Lucky in, and in turn passed him on to the folks who gave him to us for adoption. The poor dog was threatening the family’s togetherness. They already had a couple of young kids, a poodle and a cat, and a rambunctious young retriever sent them over the top. The husband’s job took him on the road a lot, but when he was home, he told us, he and Lucky slept together downstairs while the wife, kids, poodle and cat slept upstairs. Not exactly a prescription for marital bliss, so Lucky had to go.

Soon after the photo session with Lucky, his health began spiraling downward. He couldn’t seem to keep food down, and he was weakening and losing weight. After extensive testing, the vet diagnosed lymphoma. In a futile attempt to buy more time, we opted for extensive – and expensive – surgery. In retrospect, that was a mistake, but he’d been so young, so lovable, that we thought it was worth the gamble.

He died in early fall. We buried him in the garden out back, marked the spot with a marble plaque bearing an iris design my husband had carved years before. I planted dozens of bulbs – crocus, daffodil, and hyacinth – and they’ve bloomed luxuriously in the three years since.
Dogs play a major role in both my novels, but they never, ever come to a bad end. In fact the villain in my suspense novel /Eldercide /nearly refuses an assignment when he thinks it might mean harming the victim’s Jack Russell terrier. And I could probably never write that scene where the neighbor tries to murder Rishi with a ball peen hammer, with me coming between them, shrieking that he’ll have to kill me first, screaming bloody murder until the neighbors call 911 and the police arrive. On the other hand, maybe enough time has passed – and after all, the dog survived in the end.

As I write, my cat Lunesta is writhing around on the desk next to my computer, tempting me to rub her tummy and doing her best to bat the mouse out of my hand and onto the floor. Does she sense I’m writing about dogs? Is she demanding equal time? For now, she’ll have to wait.

Julie Lomoe has been named 2009 Author of the Year by the Friends of the Albany Public Library. She’ll be honored at a luncheon on November 14th, and she’s scheduled her first Blog Book Tour to help celebrate and spread the word about this achievement. Julie self-published her two mystery novels, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders (2006) and Eldercide (2008). She tried the traditional route to publication for both books, but after a limited number of rejections, she found the process inordinately depressing and turned to print-on-demand technology instead, using the Texas publishing company Virtual Bookworm. She loves the control and involvement she’s had over the published product, including the fact that she was able to use her own cover illustrations for both books.

Although she still hopes to land a traditional agent and publisher, she intends to do so on her own terms when the time and the match feel right. The library’s selection committee for the Author of the Year award chose Julie especially for her novel Eldercide, because of its relevance to current issues surrounding health care reform and our nation’s treatment of the elderly and of end-of-life issues. The award has been given for decades, but this is the first time the committee has chosen a self-published rather than a traditionally published book.

Julie Lomoe knows home health care from the ground up. As President of ElderSource, Inc., a Licensed Home Care Services Agency in upstate New York, she became certified as a Personal Care Aide and filled in frequently for absent aides. The experience inspired Eldercide, the first in a mystery series featuring the staff and clients of Compassionate Care, an agency in the fictional town of Kooperskill, New York.

Julie’s first published novel, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders is set in a social club for the mentally ill on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The work was inspired by her many years of mental health experience, both as a professional and as a consumer. Both books are available online from Virtual Bookworm, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Barnard College, Julie received an MFA from Columbia University and an MA in Art Therapy from New York University. She lived in SoHo for many years, exhibiting at the Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, and many Manhattan galleries. She showed her paintings and won a prize at the Woodstock Festival of Music and Art in 1969, an experience she blogged about in a three-part series this past August. Julie has published poetry as well as articles on home care, mental health, aging, and women’s issues.

Visit her blog, Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso (http://julielomoe.wordpress.com/) to learn more and read the first chapters of her novels.

Thank you, Julie, for such a lovely guest post and best of luck on your book blog tour!!

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Michael Jackson

Last Friday I couldn't write. Nothing was happening. I'd stare at the blank piece of paper. I'd turn on the computer. I'd read a few blogs. Write a post for Friday. But nada as far as the new project went. I tuned in to inner wisdom and felt an urge to go see "This is It," the Michael Jackson documentary about the preparation for his final concert tour.

Just then the phone rang. The metaphysical bookstore where I am to give a talk in December needed more copies of the flyer. It's located not too far from the theater. Okay, then. Off I went to drop off the flyers and catch the flick.

Now, I have to say I'm not a huge Michael Jackson fan. I guess I was around 20 when he was 10 and singing "I'll be There" and "ABC" and all of those Jackson Five hits. He was adorable. I lost track of his music after "Billy Jean and Thriller and Beat It" all of which still make me get up and dance. Absolutely can't sit still when those tunes come on.

As for his personal life, I see it as tragic. Being a victim of childhood abuse myself, I can see where that might be part of the problem. His being a child star and having no childhood would just add to that. Having to live life in the limelight put more fuel on this particular fire.

But whether you admire and like Michael Jackson as a performer, whether you despise him personally, whether you empathize or vilify him, he was one of the most creative, innovative entertainers we've ever had. This film epitomizes that aspect of Michael's life. You get to see him in rehearsal, with other dancers and singers, the consummate artist. Frankly, it was mesmerizing. I found myself alternating between dancing in my seat, silently singing along, and being moved to tears when there was a tribute to the Jackson Five era and he sang "I'll be There" with him as a little boy in the background.

It was a tragedy to lose such a talent when he was poised to bring a dynamic concert to the world. I was filled with sadness for what will now never be. The take away lesson for me: Live each day to its fullest, because ya just don't know what's around the corner.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up/Guest Blogger coming soon

Saturday was the day I participated in a book and craft fair in a suburb of Albuquerque nicknamed "Little New York" because during the 1950's hordes of New Yorkers purchased land in Rio Rancho and moved there. Now it resembles Long Island, with patches of housing sub-divisions and strip malls.

The book fair was held at the Inn of Rio Rancho. The room was jammed with local New Mexico writers and a few craft booths, so competition was fierce for book sales. I was situated between a fantasy and a mystery writer, both of whom were consummate sales people. I am not.
If someone came near the table, they would stand up, reach their arm across the table, introduce themselves and say, "I am a fantasy/mystery writer...." I could only watch in awe. I did stand up and introduce myself if someone stopped at my table. I did have chocolate and book marks available. Isn't that enough?

I had been dreading the event, imagining sitting there from 10 to 4 with not one person stopping by and not one book sale. That was not the case, however. People did come and chat, and at the end of the day I'd sold three books. Not bad for a memoir in the midst of mysteries, fantasy and childrens' books, all very popular genres.

There were other reasons to be grateful I participated. One of the women who purchased my book, as she was skimming it right there in front of me, looked up and said, "You are an amazing writer." When I asked her what she meant, she said, "You've taken a very difficult subject, a heavy one, and made it readable. That's a real gift."

Needless to say, that made my day, even if she hadn't bought the book. Then I connected with another writer, one from Santa Fe. I bought her book; she bought mine. Towards the end of the day, a woman who runs a book club asked if I'd consider talking at their club. Duh! Love to, I said.

Lessons learned: It's not just about book sales. It's about connecting. It's about getting the name of your book out there, even if people don't buy in the moment. Networking is key as well.
The connecting is especially true for memoir because it's so darn personal.

But I did tell my hubby, who, by the way, came with me and sat there all day, that I was considering switching to murder mysteries. My table partner sold 25 books!

And now for a cool announcement:

I wanted to let you know that Julie Lomoe will be posting a guest blog right here on Following the Whispers on Wednesday, 11/11. She'll be writing about dogs she's known, both real and fictional. She thinks she'll call it Truth can be stranger than fiction: the tragic saga of Lucky, her golden retriever. Julie is a fabulous writer and her blog posts are always interesting and well thought out. Please stop by on Wednesday to see what Julie has to say.





Blessings,
Karen

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gratitude

I am humbled by the support I feel from the community of folks who blog. No matter what I post about, there is always at least one person, usually more, who understands what I'm talking about--someone who truly gets it--and therefore, gets me. I don't always find that in my "real" life. But perhaps that's because, for most of my life, I was a chameleon. Now that I can't be anyone other than me, I am surrounded by people who may not always like what I say or do, or agree with what I say or do, but they love me anyway.

So I am grateful for the journey that has brought me to where I am today. Yes, that includes all the pain, hurts, traumas, losses, as well as the growth, love, and joy. I am grateful I found my way to writing. I am grateful for my family, my friends, my dog, and most especially, my hubby.

I am grateful to all of you for visiting, offering your thoughts, advice and support. And for doing what each and every one of you does to support your own lives and then sharing that journey with the rest of us.

It's hard to believe that a year ago I didn't even know what a blog was.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Events

I signed up to participate in a day-long book and craft fair this coming Saturday. I am dreading it. Thinking about backing out. 100+ authors and crafts people purchased booth space (I purchased a half table) to benefit ReadWest, a literacy program in a suburb of Albuquerque. The cause is great. But is it worth my time to sit from 9 am to 4 pm and hope someone stops by the table and buys a book?

I've spoke with other local authors about this. Some only do events where they are the only author, such as book signings. Others do everything they can to put themselves out there.
I've only done one booksigning. It was at the launch of my memoir, back in February. And it was mostly friends and family who attended and purchased books. Since then, all sales have occurred from either bookstores or online.

Recently, I made a decision to focus on giving talks about issues raised in the memoir. I have the first one scheduled for December 5 at a local metaphysical bookstore. It is called "Tuning in to Intuition--a practical approach." I have no idea if anyone will sign up to attend or whether they will purchase my book even if they do come. But it feels organic to me to do this kind of thing. In this way, I am sharing me, sharing my story, sharing insights I've learned from hardcore life lessons.

Luckily, it was never my intention or expectation to sells thousands of books. Being self-published, that just isn't a realistic goal. So my motto has been, "one book at a time."

Whether you are a writer or a reader, if you read these posts, what are your thoughts about book events? As a writer, do you find them beneficial? As a reader, do you actually purchase books at these things?

Till tomorrow,
Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Choices

We always have choices. Do I want meat or fish? If I want fish, what kind do I want: salmon, tuna, shrimp? How hungry am I? Do I just need a small snack or a full meal? What do I feel like doing? Am I in the mood for a movie, music, hanging out with friends? If it's friends, who do I want to spend this particular time with?

All these choices, if I am really present and paying attention, force me to check in with myself to see what I need. Tuning in to my body is a new experience. I've been alive on this planet for 60 years, but it is only now that my awareness of my body is so prevalent. As a victim of early childhood sexual abuse, I learned early on to numb my body. My senses were also dulled. Often I felt as I imagine a mummy might feel.

Yesterday I had plans to visit an 83-year-old friend. I hadn't seen her in quite awhile. She doesn't get out much any more and seems to really enjoy my company. But I'd had a very busy day on Monday and didn't get any writing done. That didn't feel good. So Tuesday morning, I tuned in. What I really needed was to remain at home, in my jammies, assimilating the workshop experience from Sunday and opening myself up to the next phase of that journey.

Hard phone call to make, telling my friend I wasn't coming. Boy, this business of standing up for myself sure is making its presence felt in my life these days. But it was so absolutely the right thing for me to do, even if it disappointed someone I care about.

Choices. In every moment of every day, we have choices. What are you choosing?

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Birthing Your Book--easily

On Monday's post, the intrepid Helen Ginger couldn't make up her mind if I was her idol or mentor, then finally decided I was a trailblazer. Could have knocked me over with a feather. Truly, I'm just struggling to find my way in this world, trying to be the best person I can be after a lifetime of hurts. The Old Silly says he appreciates my sharing my spiritual journey here on this blog. Well, let me tell you, it's not always easy to share the truth about what I'm feeling, experiencing, and learning. But it seems it is what I am meant to do.

And the writing workshop I attended yesterday emphasized that to me.
Mark David Gerson, author of "Voice of the Muse," has been a writing coach for 15+ years. He has a gift. The workshop yesterday profoundly changed how I view writing. In an exercise that included a guided meditation, I had what I can only call an out of body experience. Perhaps you fiction writers experience something like it when your characters talk to you. I've not had that experience before.

When I was in Scotland, what I thought was a character came to me and said, "Tell my story." During the exercise yesterday, this same energy/voice, came through and began giving me guidance for this project. It said not to worry at this point about whether it was my muse or a character. I just needed to surrender to this project. I needed to write in long-hand and transcribe onto the computer later. Some of what it said is quite private, but what I can share is that this next project is another leap into my spiritual journey of healing. When I completed my memoir, I felt as if I'd become the person I'd been striving to be all these years. But yesterday, I understood there is much more depth to be reached. That I couldn't write this next work until I'd done all the work I did on the memoir.

The hardest lesson for me to learn will be to trust the process and trust myself. Trust is hard for me. I didn't get a firm foundation of love and trust growing up. Old feelings from childhood surface unexpectedly and I must be fully present and awake enough to catch them when they bubble, before they erupt.

As Mark David said to me at the end of the session, "It's a journey into trust. Trust that the next word will come. Treat words as breath, flowing as effortlessly as breathing."

Okay then, I am willing to surrender to this journey. Who's coming with me?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

Friday morning my husband left to take his mom back to her hometown for the weekend. The only responsibility I had was our dog, Buddy. During the day, he doesn't require much attention. Just feed him once in the am and once at nite and he's happy. Oh, and if you should happen to decide to take him outside for a walk, he twirls around in circles, which we have determined means ecstatic. He's a Blue-heeler, Border collie mix.

Buddy and I spent Friday nite outside of Santa Fe, at the home of my friend's new fella. Among other things, the new boyfriend is a gourmet cook. We feasted on roast loin of pork, homemade ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, and salad with cheese and pears. The dessert was pear marinated in some kind of liqueor and a cream sauce to-die-for. 360 degree views of mountains surround his home. It was a peaceful oasis, until Buddy took off and didn't return for about 20 minutes.

We came home fairly early Saturday with no further plans for the day. That night I intended to go folkdancing and then to a coffee shop, where my singing teacher was performing with her Bulgarian band, The Goddess of Arno. But as I cuddled on the couch with a cup of tea, my down comforter, and Buddy nestled beside me, I realized I was exactly where I wanted to be. Home.
I turned off the computer and decided to watch two romantic comedies. Hubby would maybe watch one, but never two. And he almost never misses dancing. There is something wonderful about having no one to answer to but oneself. My feelings of selfishness about having chosen to remain at home rather than take a trip with mom-in-law diminished as the weekend progressed.

Since I'm writing this Sunday morning for publication Monday, I will have attended the writing workshop Sunday afternoon. I'm sure I'll me posting about that quite soon. In the meantime, I am going to repeat something I said earlier last week. If I don't stand up for myself, who will? That lesson is proving to be one of the most valuable lessons I've learned. Even with the little things. Like my brother-in-law the other day. Mom wanted to know what to get their grandson for XMAS, since she's going to be with them for the holiday. I suggested she wait till she gets there and take the boy shopping so he can choose what he wants. When I told that to my brother-in-law he said, "Or, we could send you the XMAS wishlist." Before, I would have said, "Oh, sure." This time I said, "No, it's better for me if you take Mom shopping to get the gift. It's one less thing for me to do." He was fine with it. But even if he wasn't, how else are people to know what is okay and what is not okay if we don't tell them. Duh!

Hope you all had good weekends as well.
Blessings,
Karen