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  • Review of Home by Marilynne Robinson

    HomeHome by Marilynne Robinson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I loved Gilead by Marilynne Robinson so much. The review is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

    But with Home, I had a different experience. I wasn't compelled through most of the book. At about the three-quarter mark, things started to happen and I felt my interest quicken. But here's a summary of my impressions, and my apologies to those who loved it so much they recommended it to me:

    1. I was disappointed to see this other, peevish, nasty side of Rev. Ames.
    2. I didn't like the Rev. Boughton very much at all.
    3. Jack is tedious and pathetic.
    4. Glory almost breaks free but then doesn't.

    Robinson really makes me wait for it, building my conflict between compassion and resentment for Jack. And just when I lose faith in him, there's a scene where the old misogynist/bigot Rev. Boughton asks to see Jack and his brother together in his room, and Jack insists Glory be included. As if he sees her as an equal to the men, rather than just the servant her father expects.

    In this, I felt Jack himself was a Rorschach test for the reader, in that while he seems almost feral, a man born without skin with which to hide himself from the world, easily wounded and always untrusting, you want to abandon him, but can you? If so, who are you? What are your values - what are your limits?

    So now Glory has decided to stop being codependent with her "fiancé", and switch her ministrations and self-sacrifice to her dying father and her feral brother. This is an arc? This is growth? What is Robinson's meaning, at the end of the story, when Glory decides to stay in a town she has said she hates, in a house she agrees to preserve as a monument/mausoleum to the family? It can only be read as failure to respect oneself in favor of service to others! This troubles me deeply.

    I apologize for the length of this next excerpt, but I have to reproduce it, because it's so telling:

    "(Glory) had tried to take care of (Jack), to help him, and from time to time he had let her believe she did. That old habit of hers, of making a kind of happiness for herself out of the thought that she could be his rescuer, when there was seldom much reason to believe that rescue would have any particular attraction for him. That old illusion that she could help her father with the grief Jack caused, the grief Jack was, when it was as far beyond her power to soothe or mitigate as the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. She had been alone with her parents when Jack left, and she had been alone with her father when he returned. There was a symmetry in that that might have seemed like design to her and beguiled her with the implication that their fates were indeed intertwined. Or returning herself to that silent house might simply have returned her to a s state of mind more appropriate to her adolescence. A lonely schoolgirl at thirty-eight. Now, there was a painful thought.

    "She recalled certain moments in which she could see that Jack had withdrawn from her and was looking through or beyond her, making some new appraisal of her trustworthiness, perhaps, or her usefulness, or simply and abruptly losing interest in her together with whatever else happened just then...She found no consistency in these moments, nothing she could interpret. He was himself. That is what their father had always said, and by it he had meant that Jack was jostled along in the stream of (the family's) vigor and purpose and their good intentions, their habits and certitudes, and was never really a part of any of it. He had eaten their food and slept beneath their roof, wearing the clothes and speaking the dialect of their slightly self-enamored and distinctly clerical family..."

    God! Who hasn't known people like this - men like this, children like this - who take and take and take from an ever-hopeful spouse or family and yet never seem quite able to be satisfied, or fulfilled, or happy! When all the sacrificial loving family member ever wants is for that feral person to be happy. Or at least safe.

    Like I said, Rorschach.

    And in this, I have to admit, Robinson delivers again, most profoundly, in pulling back the curtains and showing us, right down to the faint beat of a pulse along a pale wrist, the impact on a family of such a lone wolf. Not that the wolf doesn't suffer. Not that we don't all feel empathy as we struggle to surface from this mire, gulping and gasping air, sorry for Glory who remains below, yet intent on saving ourselves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

    The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    After reading some of the reviews, I felt a bit off-kilter, as if I'm seeing something that wasn't intended by the author.

    Nevertheless, here's my impression: this story is about a man who, because of his physical limitations, resists closeness with other people, to the point that he marries a woman who seems certain to want the same, arm's length relationship. It's only after she dies that he begins to sense that he was wrong about that. During the grieving process, he comes to realize he's been living an arm's-length life.

    I love stories about people who come out of a fog and change their lives, empowered by the realization that they've been missing something important - that their reasoning was flawed, but it doesn't have to remain that way. And Anne Tyler is such a great wordsmith, anything she writes is wonderful. This book is perhaps a bit too subtle to win the raving applause it deserves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

    Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    As I read Lean In, I was intrigued at being able to get inside the head of a dynamic, smart woman who is one generation younger than me, and see the corporate world through her eyes. One of the cultural questions she answered for me was this: why are younger women so averse to the terms "feminist" and "feminism"? Apparently, Sheryl Sandberg and her contemporaries believe(d) the following:

    1. Equality having arrived, there's no need for feminism anymore
    2. Feminists are man-haters who resist makeup and the shaving of one's legs

    Okay, #2 was a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, having observed conditions in the real world for a few years now, Sandberg has come to see that the playing field is not and will not be level until more women occupy positions of power in the corporate hierarchy. She doesn't suggest that this is due to any malicious intent on the part of men, but rather it's simply a matter of ignorance.

    To illustrate, she describes having to park far away from her office door when hugely and uncomfortably pregnant. When she designated preferred parking spots to accommodate pregnant workers, no one complained. It was seen as logical. But prior to her taking her place in the C-suite, the issue hadn't been raised.

    Sandberg talks about not slowing down out of consideration for what might happen in the nebulous future. The example she gives, now famous, is of a young woman confiding her fears of not wanting to accept a job with a lot of responsibility due to the impact it might have on her family. The woman was planning ahead - she didn't even have a boyfriend yet.

    With this example, Sandberg makes the point that women, having been highly trained and educated, are waving off promotional opportunities. The jury is still out as to why, but she suggests, and I agree, that part of the reason is this: in corporate America, a woman's decision to go through pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and child-rearing is viewed as a private matter that should not impact her ability to work long hours and irregular schedules, including lengthy and frequent travel as needed. Rightly fearing this may drive her insane, a woman who wants a family may leap off the corporate ladder at a very early stage.

    Sandberg argues that if a young woman stayed on it long enough to secure a more powerful position, she would be able to exert more control over her work life (a perspective the young woman must trust will happen, since at her current low place on the corporate ladder she can only see her lack of power and control.) After a few promotions, she will be able to delegate some of her work to subordinates, afford more help at home, and influence workplace policies that unfairly impact women and families. Who can find fault with this argument?

    Sandberg is honest about her own mistakes, and I found that charming. For example, I was amazed that, for all her intelligence and education, she didn't originally intend to negotiate her starting salary with Facebook. Luckily a nice man (her husband) set her straight, and she made a counter offer to Zuckerberg. Reams of guidance have been written about how this error could have impeded her in later years, both at Facebook and with future employers, yet she didn't know. For other women who have not yet made this horrifying discovery, please read Ask for It by Babcock and Laschever (http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Women-Power...) which in addition to being enlightening and entertaining, offers tons of strategies for preparing yourself to negotiate. And not just for salaries. After reading that book I saved $150 on furniture I was going to buy anyway, by asking one question.

    But back to Lean In.

    I was also surprised that she wasn't well informed about how women can sabotage other women in the workplace, particularly women in power. This is an unfortunate truth with roots in biology, and is brilliantly explained in the amazing book, In the Company of Women by Heim and Murphy (http://www.amazon.com/Company-Women-I...) which I reviewed here:
    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... This also suggests the reasons Sandberg was hit with such a backlash for the well-intentioned Lean In.

    There is so much more to say about Lean In, but let me close with this: I enjoyed learning how this stellar corporate executive struggled, made mistakes, and ultimately learned some strategies that will enable her, her family, and the women (and men) in her corporation to thrive. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's not even pretty, but part of the lesson is to let go of the need for perfection.

    The other message, younger women, is to get as far and as fast as you can before starting your families. Don't opt out just because it looks too hard from where you're sitting now. The view improves with each rung on the ladder.

    View all my reviews

Our Dreams Persist

Last Saturday morning, I hit the freeway and headed west for my very first book fair as an author. While nervously rethinking all my gear (DVD player for book trailer, books, small bills for change, pens, etc.) I suddenly realized I was living my dream, returning as a published author to the town where I’d spent most of my corporate career. No matter how much my day job beat me up, I had never stopped dreaming of becoming a writer, and now, I was one! I stopped fretting about my equipment and indulged in some memories:

  • I was 26, newly divorced and living in a bad part of town in a tiny (780 sq. ft.) house with my eighteen-month-old son. Working full-time (with side jobs selling Jafra and bartending), and mostly exhausted. Writing was a very distant dream. Like never.
  • I was 36, living in the high desert and commuting down the Cajon Pass every day for my HR job at Jurupa Unified School District. On my weekend morning walks, I carried a little tablet and a pencil in my pocket, and worked out solutions to scenes in my head. Those scenes went in a box, awaiting the day I could shape them into stories.
  • I was 38, sitting in my car at the Cedar Springs Dam, overlooking Lake Silverwood. The car was rocking, buffeted by an incoming squall, while I wrote in a tablet. My second marriage was on its last legs, and I was dying a little bit inside as I watched storm clouds engulf the distant shore. I felt incompetent as a grown-up, let alone the fact that I would never be a writer.
  • I was 48, and my son was independent. Now that I was finally able to work part-time and write, they told me I missed my shot. The publishing industry had changed. Agents and publishers now asked that you first develop a platform (i.e. thousands of ready customers). So while I learned how to put together a novel, I also built a website; I created and discarded three blogs before finding one that felt like home (this one); and learned about Facebook, Twitter, and many other social networking sites.
  • I am now 58. Dakota Blues is published! My novel has become a reality, and like the Little Red Hen, I did it all myself. That is, if you discount the three editors, cover designer, book trailer developer, and publishing and marketing services. Not to mention several mentors, my beloved friends, and a supportive family.

Please buy my book. Please?

So, on Saturday I arrived at the book fair, got set up, met everybody, ate a couple cookies provided by our thoughtful hosts, and waited for the doors to open. It was September 15, what would have been my dad’s 88th birthday, so I looked heavenward and asked him for luck.

When it was over, I’d invested six hours (if you count the drive) on this mission to tell people about Dakota Blues. If you measure the day in human terms, it was a ten. I enjoyed the company of my fellow authors, the library staffers and volunteers, and the people who dropped in to see what was for sale.

In pure commercial ROI, however, it wasn’t so great. I sold five copies, which was more than most of my fellow authors. I donated to the library, swapped copies with another author, and when you throw in a few more bucks for gas, I broke even.

When I got home, I sat with my husband and a glass of wine and evaluated. There are other activities that would bring in better results. Like sleeping late and not going anywhere. You know I’m babysitting all week and my weekends are precious. How I would have enjoyed the time off.

Why am I telling you this? It’s kind of embarrassing.

Because I want to show by my example that it’s rarely easy to chase after your dreams, no matter what your age. Many younger people slave away in the wee hours to build the foundation for their dream. It’s not easy for them either. In my case, I sometimes feel foolish to be so obsessed. Us older peeps are encouraged to relax, slow down, smell the flowers, and all that, but I can’t. This is my dream, and I’m going to see it through. I have two more full-length novels in my head and two collections of short stories. I’ll be attending the Southern California Writers’ Conference this weekend to find inspiration and information. I love the company of creative people, and I enjoy thinking of myself as a businessperson, with a storefront on Amazon.com and in the trunk of my car. This is my American Dream. I hope you have one, too.

Dakota Blues, a story of midlife reinvention, our immigrant roots, the sweetness of the American Heartland, the bonds of friendship, and the wisdom of our elders, is available at Amazon.com. If you’ve already read it and enjoyed the experience, please rate it on Amazon, Goodreads or your favorite book site.

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48 Comments

  1. How wonderful that you have been able to follow your dream. Getting published is a huge thing these days. I for one am proud of you and I don’t think we are ever too old to follow our dreams. It’s sometimes harder learning the new rules as we get older, but we are fighters.

    Hugs,
    Laura

    Reply
  2. Hi Lynne, You have a thirteen year head start on me. I have spent most of my life making other people’s dreams and businesses successful. I feel it is important to remember our past shapes us as a writer and helps us to become more productive in the future. I try to remember the successful person is the one working at whatever they enjoy spending their time on.
    Networking on the internet is probably the most efficient way to market any product. The downside is the lack of physical interaction with others. You are a great communicator so my guess is you probably need both. You have the determination and I am sure you will be successful. (You are successful is more accurate)
    Jim

    Reply
  3. What a poignant lesson in never giving up, even when you think that’s exactly what you’ve done!
    I, for one, will definitely buy your book.
    Wendy

    Reply
    • Aw, thanks, Wendy. I so much appreciate that.

      Reply
      • And from the other half of our blogging team…
        Lynne, I know whereof you speak. I wrote my first three novels back in 1997, and by the time the first one came to market in 1999, the whole “Internet presence” thing was just starting. It’s a tough road, and while book fairs and signings may not bring much in terms of immediate ROI, they establish your “IRL” (in real life) connections within the writing and reading community.
        I think you’re doing a marvellous job, and your book sounds fascinating! I’ll be ordering it ASAP.
        Take care,
        Karen

        Reply
    • And Karen, I love the IRL. Exactly! I felt discouraged about the sales, but thrilled and energized by the people. So it’s worth it. Best wishes!

      Reply
  4. I love your Dreams Persist blog! And, boy, do I know that experience. I slogged everywhere I could with HOT WATER. Drove all the way to Santa Fe, N.M. for 3 book events and a stop at a spa to drop off a few copies. Believe me, I did not break even. But how I cherish the memory of selling books at the Hot Licks Barbeque And Saloon in Bisbee, Arizona, and also at a Women’s retreat in Ojo Caliente north of Santa Fe. And being treated like a celebrity by the managers of a fancy hotel in Santa Fe, free room for one night, gift basket, lunch with the managers, etc. And not one person showed up at my “signing” that night. What the hell.  I sold a copy or two at a table in the spa that afternoon. And had some amazing photos for my web site. I also drove up through CA all the way to Mendocino, book events along the way. Some were good. Some I sat alone and nobody came. I spoke to a group of 5 at Petaluma Library. My publicist at Berkley/Penguin got me signings at Borders everywhere I went and they were dismal. Sitting there trying to draw a customer to my table with, “Hey, are you interested in a  hot, sexy novel?” OMG.So this book selling thing is a mixed bag. I learned that the best events are when you’re the ONLY author. That’s why I did lots of HOT WATER House Parties in private homes. They were great. Also book talks at country clubs, one in DHS and Rancho La Quinta. And book clubs are great fun because they’ve already read the book and the discussion and questions are a kick.When we get together I’ll share some contacts and tell you more.Have a good time at the Southern CA Writers’ Conf.K

    Reply
    • Wow, you kicked butt, Kathryn! I’m trying to get into the Ojai Resort right now but it’s like they’re stuck in molasses. Real sweet but slow.

      Reply
  5. Another sprakling post, Lynne. Although I’ve been publishing for years, everything you say still resonates. But really, sit back and relax? That’s great occasionally, but I can’t think of anything sadder than having no dream. I’m not sure what the point would be if we don’t continue to pursue something, whether it’s commercial success or mastery of a new skill or helping someone else along a worthwhile path. Thanks for writing this blog, and hanging onto your dream.

    Reply
  6. Ha – my dream is to learn to proofread BEFORE I hit send! Sparking, sparkling….

    Reply
    • Haha, Sheila, I didn’t even see it at first. I think sprakling ought to be a word. It would mean something you love that nevertheless hurts you. A combo of sparkling and raking, and in claws. As in, across one’s heart.

      Reply
  7. You are my inspiration! Although our paths are different with our own unique obstacles, like you I never gave up on my dream to write. I can relate to the stages and ages you went through and that nagging obsession of a story that just has to be told. Thanks for giving us Dakota Blues!

    Reply
  8. Oh Lynn, you are my hero! You’re living MY dream, too! We’re the same age and have so much in common! I could write almost the same “every ten years timeline” – I, too, was always writing scenes and snippets of conversations on pieces of paper. I, too, am twice divorced, worked at other jobs just to survive while my dream of being an author never left my mind. I’m so proud of you! If I lived close, I would have been there to meet you! It doesn’t matter how many copies you sell (well, sure, I know in a way it does) but the point is you’re PUBLISHED and you were at a book fair with YOUR novel!! You give me hope and encouragement that it’s not too late for me and others like me. Thank you!
    Hugs, Cindy

    Reply
    • Cindy, I debated whether to include all that, because it’s kind of a downer, but then I thought, might as well be real with my friends. And you’ve confirmed it – we’re all sisters under the skin. Thank you for your heartfelt comment. It means so much.

      Reply
  9. Sarah

     /  September 21, 2012

    Lynne- thanks for sharing your story with such honesty. I went through a similar trajectory in my mid-forties- after work and kids and divorce and financial struggle, into writing success. But then illness hit and the dream went into abeyance, as I lost the energy needed for continuing to write, never mind sustain and grow the “platform”. Now, at fifty-two, trying to discern how a writing life, and maybe even a writing career, might take shape this time around, in yet-again altered circumstances. Fatigue and despair are the two greatest barriers, That’s why I appreciate your stories of encouragement.

    Reply
    • Sarah, I have a will of steel and a body of mush. I can’t count on it. Just when I need my physical strength the most, it deserts me, time and time again. That’s why I’m grateful for modern tech, because it allows us to do so much from our home and keyboard. BUT, and this is a big one, I (and probably you, too) can’t do anything if my mind isn’t healthy, rested, and eager. It’s horrible to lay around without even the energy to WANT something, let alone work for it. I know how that feels – it’s so depressing, and I really sympathize. All I can offer in support is to remind you of Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit and Unbroken while dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome. She has said days would pass in which she lacked the strength to hold a pencil. Christ! For what it’s worth, know that you are not alone in your struggle, and I wish you the very best. And be gentle with yourself. Here’s her story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/28/AR2010112803533.html

      Reply
      • Sarah

         /  September 21, 2012

        Thanks Lynne, yes, I know her story- I also have CFS. Many similarities in our illness, though our circumstances are different. What I’ve noticed, based on what I’ve read about Laura, is that we’ve made some different choices. What energy she has is 100% used in writing. I don’t do that, since I want to also spend whatever energy I have on my kids, my marriage, creating a home. It’s been my choice, but I’ve paid a price as a writer. These days I’m focused on finding ways to shift the focus more from caring for others to caring for myself, with writing being the core way I need to take care of myself at the soul level. Thanks for your encouragement. If you’re ever passing through the Bay Area, let us know. Write on! :)

        Reply
  10. Kathy J.

     /  September 21, 2012

    You GO GIRL!

    Reply
  11. Jean

     /  September 21, 2012

    Congratulations, Lynne, on a GREAT success!

    Reply
  12. My friend, Virginia Anderson and I, have put together a manuscript that we are now shopping to agents, so I do identify with your ups and downs.

    The whole platform thing is a laugh/cry situation– we do have a social media presence, but it’s like an agent wants you to already have done their work for them (no offense, agents, but you get my drift). Nothing worthwhile comes easy, so I do applaud you for plugging away.

    Mid-life has its challenges (to put it lightly!), but I try to remember that Margaret Mead quote “There is no more creative force in the world than a menopausal woman with zest.”

    I love your blog, and look forward to reading your book!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Melanie. You probably know that Dr. Christiane Northrup thinks the post-menopausal brain is flooded with chemicals that enhance intuition, so at least our writing should benefit, right? Very best wishes to you and Virginia. If you want to do a guest blog about your efforts, let me know. We can inspire each other!

      Reply
      • Ha-ha, yep, the brain is boiling! Thanks so much for the well wishes– your blog does inspire me, and I’ll get back with you on the guest post. So sweet of you to suggest that!

        Reply
  13. I purchased your book through Powell’s Books in Portland Oregon (they ordered it for me). I haven’t had time to read it yet, but it’s on my bedside table. You’ve kept the dream alive and active for yourself – which is encouragement to many others who are still struggling to find their own dream.

    Reply
    • Oh, Barb, I know what you mean about having a book on the nightstand, ready to go. Thanks so much for buying it. You’ll know as you read it that it was written by your friend, so I hope that adds to the enjoyment!

      Reply
  14. I’m so happy for you! Just reading of your journey and then seeing the adorable smiling picture of you at your author’s table made me smile. Congratulations over and over! At 55 years old – it’s nice to hear. And so encouraging.

    Reply
    • Barbara, I look like a kindergartner posing for the class picture – all wide-eyed anticipation of what lies ahead. May we never lose that feeling. At 55 you’re just getting your second wind.

      Reply
  15. Lynne, you’re my inspiration! After reading what you’ve been through to see your dream come to fruition, I know your sweet dad must have had a hand in it! How exciting to finally be able to call yourself a published author — now get busy and start working on the next novel!

    Reply
    • Debbie, by the time I’ve soaked off the grandbaby spit-up in my evening bath, I don’t have much energy! But thanks for the kick in the behind. I know I need to keep plugging.

      Reply
  16. peggy

     /  September 22, 2012

    Lynne, you did what was most important to you. Wrote a book, and published it. I don’t see anywhere that becoming “famous” or even being a successful author by other people’s definition, or even getting an agent and a publisher to pick up your book rather than doing it yourself, was part of your dream. Your dream was to be a writer, to get your book out there. You did it. I’m proud of you. By the way…you didn’t miss the boat, not by a long shot.

    Reply
  17. You are one of my heroes, Lynne. I am so proud of you!! You continue to prove that people of every age have important things to do and bring zest to life. I love your honesty. I know how difficult it is to talk about those “hard bits” and I aspire to be as open in my life. I talked about Dakota Blues in my book group. I told people that part of my enjoyment was being able to hear my friend, Lynne’s, voice in it and asked them to read it and share their opinion. I know that at least several wrote it down and I will look forward to hearing their thoughts about your inspiring book.

    Reply
    • Nanci, thanks so much for your kind words. I hope the ladies in your book group feel that Dakota Blues resonates for them. This is a weird, powerful, scary, magical, amazing time – this period between midlife and beyond – and I think we can learn from each other. I am grateful for your friendship, Sis.

      Reply
  18. peggy

     /  September 22, 2012

    You inspire me, Lynne. I love your writing, and I love your blog. I’ve resisted starting my own blog because I thought it would detract from my “novel writing time,” but just today I registered a domain name and I’ll be writing a blog. Why? Because aside from a good marketing strategy, your blogs are so beautiful, and thought provoking. I may not comment on every one, but I read every one, and I’m always impressed. Well done, Lynne.

    Reply
    • Dearest Peggy, it’s enough to know you’re stopping by and enjoying it. Blogging does take away from your novel writing time, that’s the tough part, but like love, it’s hard to say no to it. It’s a part of my heart. I don’t know what I would do without my friends who visit in this space. I feel like I have a giant family with many sisters and some brothers (Jim and Terry!) Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  19. I sometimes think that this funny idea about “having to have a name, a platform” etc is mainly a sign of people being frightened (rightfully) that the book might not sell, so they try to do everything they can to build a security net. I am not all that sure that it works–or that networking instead of actually working (which seems to be very important to many people) actually works. At least all my experience in advertising tells me that it’s the actual product that does all the work, and the advertisement (or, in your case, “platform”) just gets the word out.
    And I think that you’re in a pretty good place where you are right now, really! So congratulations on that!

    Reply
    • Hi, Leva. You’re right, developing a platform ahead of time is a hedge against fear of failure, for sure! But I was at a writers’ conference yesterday, and one of the presenters, a forward-looking agent, was asked “has the change in the publishing world affected what publishers are really looking for these days?” and the agent nodded. “It’s more celebrity-inclined”, she said, although I’m paraphrasing both. Clearly celebrities already have a base of readers. Job one, job done. The rest of us are going to have to get the word out ourselves. Which I’m actually enjoying, so thanks for the boost from an advertising professional!

      Reply
      • peggy

         /  September 23, 2012

        Actually, a platform is not so complicated. Boiled down, it’s really nothing more than a writing bio that gives publishers, editors and agents an idea of your qualifications, and provides them with a marketing tool. Yes, it’s very true that sports figures, movie stars, politicians, rock stars, famous scientists and others with celebrity status are widely published. But, no, you don’t have to be a celebrity to have a winning platform. Most successful authors have never attained celebrity status outside of what their own writing has created for them. It’s not difficult to build a platform, but does take a little work.

        I just started a new blog for writers (inspired by Lynne and Jim Parrish), and my next post is about how anyone can create a platform. This is my first attempt at blogging, so I know it’s rough, but I hope to use it to be of help in some way to other writers while building my own following. http://writingandpublishingsuccess.com/ Lynne…you already have a strong platform and I would be honored to help you with it so if you should ever choose the traditional rather than the self-publishing route, you can use it to help find an agent, or to simply query publishers. You have so much going for you, and you are such a fine writer that I’m distressed that somehow somewhere someone gave you the impression that you “missed the boat” on being able to publish traditionally. You are awesomely wonderful, and your writing is also awesomely wonderful.

        Reply
  20. Hail to the victor! You give us all hope, courage and tenacity, Lynne, every Friday and every year.

    Reply
    • Hey Zig! Good to hear from you. Friday is my “coffee with the girls” day. (Although the old dudes are def. welcome, too!) I get that hopey, couragey thing from my friends at AST. See you next Fri!

      Reply
      • peggy

         /  September 23, 2012

        Oh my gosh, Lynne. I’m SO glad you are taking a little time for play, too. I know how busy you’ve been, and just to have a weekly coffee break with your gal pals is wonderful for you. Nourshing, loving time with other women is so important. GOOD FOR YOU. Love, Peg

        Reply
  21. Hello again Lynn,
    I was posting a comment on another of your posts and came back to read some of the others’ comments on this one (I already left a comment) Just had to leave another one about this!! :) I love reading what everyone has to say and was especially moved by Sarah’s post about the mental and physical energy it takes to write. Most “non-writers” (that I know anyway) have no concept of just how hard it is to write and how exhausting it can be – yes, even when you love it and have always felt compelled to write. At times I suffer with depression and SAD in the wintertime, which often makes work very difficult. It’s nice to hear from others who understand and who don’t just think you’re being “lazy” or don’t care. Thanks so much for posting the link about Laura Hillenbrand’s story. I’m going to read it, too. Love you and love your blog!
    Cindy

    Reply
    • Cindy, reading your comment, I’m filled with gratitude for the fellowship that social media has made possible. We’re all doing the best we can, and sometimes it’s overwhelming, isn’t it? But to know you’re not alone is invigorating, to me anyway. I love hearing from you. Thanks for stopping by, and best wishes with your challenges.

      Reply
  1. Oprah to Boomers: Drop Dead « Any Shiny Thing

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  • Lynne Spreen

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    Lynne Spreen's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
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  • Review of Private Life by Jane Smiley

    Private LifePrivate Life by Jane Smiley
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Maybe this book is better than my capacity to appreciate. I don't tend toward writing that is obscure, or dense (or makes me feel dense). However, sometimes it's better to roll along with the storytelling and let the deeper meaning work its way up from subconscious to conscious.

    The ending of this book is extremely powerful. Margaret, due to the traumatic incident that happened when she was five, lived in a fog her entire life, married to a wacko genius, and not waking up until she was in her sixties and everything/everyone is sad and tired. Yet she seems to catch fire, fueled by bitterness, in the very last 3 sentences of the epilogue. It was a long time to wait for the enlightenment.

    I gave the book 3 stars because there's too much backstory too soon, making it hard for me to develop an interest. Once there, I felt frustrated at the repetitious nature of Margaret's obtuseness, even though she's a bright woman, and her deferring to Andrew, even though this is what people - women especially - do.

    It went on for her whole life! That she was living in a cloud due to, I believe, the trauma of the childhood incident, and that she was ill served by those around her, didn't make it any easier to like this story. I know Smiley is a master writer, and I feel like a goof not giving her a better rating, but this is my honest reaction.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Up At The Villa by Somerset Maugham

    Up at the VillaUp at the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Very much enjoyed this short book, which I read in one night. The settings are lush, dialogue snappy, and the characters realistic and strong. The plot and writing are compelling. I enjoyed it because a theme might be, "people are not what they appear to be." A character acts one way and you think, okay, he's good and upstanding. And maybe he IS, but the "why" of it is enlightening. Maugham is a respected author for a reason. What talent! A very good story.

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  • Review of Benediction by Kent Haruf

    BenedictionBenediction by Kent Haruf
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Ever in search of stories about midlife and beyond, I set up a page on facebook (www.Facebook.com/midlife.fiction) and asked for suggestions. I got 38 great recommendations, and I hope to read and review every one of them. Herewith, then: Benediction by Kent Haruf. What a masterpiece.

    Benediction centers around an elderly man who is dying, but the story encompasses many rich characters, and their small stories touched me. In fact, I think this is what made the book so special for me: I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. Each one resonated. I felt again what it was like to be a lost little girl, a lonely divorcee, a misunderstood introspective, a grieving wife, a person who is coping with serious illness. I longed for the small-town atmosphere described here (the Fourth of July fireworks over the high school football field is a stellar short story all by itself.)

    Although the central character is dying, the book is not negative. Far from it - Benediction reflects on the everyday goodness (and tawdriness) of people. His characters are beset by the normal difficulties of life yet buoyed by simple beauties and kindnesses.

    Yet, nothing in Haruf's writing is overly dramatic or in the least saccharine. In fact, that's one of the aspects of Benediction I enjoyed the most: being surprised by tears on the completion of a plainly-written paragraph, phrase or description.

    I couldn't stop reading excerpts to my husband, since he also loves beautifully crafted writing. This book put me in mind of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. If I could describe it in one word, it would be "elegiac."

    View all my reviews

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    1. I MADE YOU A MIXTAPE
    2. How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks
    3. Fifty 2 Ninety
    4. Waiting for the Karma Truck
    5. Live & Learn
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    7. My Mother is Losing Her Memory and I am Losing My Mind
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    12. beyondthea64's Blog
    13. Not quite at my wits' end...yet
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    17. Memoir Writer's Journey
    18. www.rockthesilver.com
    19. The Woman Doctor's Guide
    20. Life in the Boomer Lane
  • This Blog Got Five Stars!

I MADE YOU A MIXTAPE

Beauty is an inside job

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks

self-publishing tips for indie authors

Fifty 2 Ninety

Celebrating Some of the Best Years of Our Lives

Waiting for the Karma Truck

Thoughts on work and life and everything in between

Live & Learn

David Kanigan

Platinum Boomer

fabulous @ any age

How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

Grandma Got STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (+more!).

MIDDLE-AGED MAN BLAH'G

Let's Win it in the 2nd Half! Middle-agedman.com

The Parking Lot Confessional

Write until your fingers bleed.

beyondthea64's Blog

The daily musings of a fiftysomething adventurer who has left the rat race to explore the world.

All the small things

A mother-daughter diablog

Writing Out Loud

A Place of Observation

Guerrilla Aging

Navigating the Third Half of Life

Memoir Writer's Journey

Sharing hope one story at a time

MIDLIFE MAGIC

The Woman Doctor's Guide

A guide to good health, women's wellness and getting it all done

Life in the Boomer Lane

Musings of a former hula hoop champion

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