I just received confirmation that I will be appearing on local television on the Rhode Show this Friday morning, April 26, 2019, sometime between 9 and 10! I’m being interviewed about my upcoming appearance at a fundraiser: the Women’s Club of South County Book & Author Fundraising Luncheon, scheduled for July 10, 2019. To promote Frozen Voices, I’ve been on the radio a few times, but this will be my first foray into television appearances. After this…who knows…the movies? LOL!
Sharon Hussey of the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation was kind enough to invite the Lighthouse Book Team to come to their Annual Meeting at the lighthouse this June to tell everyone there about our book. I know everyone on the Book Team will enjoy getting together on Rose Island and showing the group our finished product. We are so proud of it! Chris M. from Woodhall Press said that he’s planning on attending the meeting too, so it’s sure to be a fun day for all.
Happy Birthday to me! I feel so blessed, with my wonderful family, fabulous friends, work that I love to do, and high hopes for a fun and exciting future. Thanks to everyone who has wished me a happy birthday!
Last week, we discovered that one of the meanings of the word “wanton” is “sexually unrestrained or having many casual sexual relationships.” Needless to say, we’ve decided to change the name of our first Lighthouse book, which is to be a book for middle grade readers (8 to 12 years old) and was originally slated to be called “Wanton at the Lighthouse.” Fortunately, Chris Madden, a member of our fabulous publishing team at Woodhall Press, came up with a wonderful new title for us: “The Curious Childhood of Wanton Chase.” Look for it on bookshelves this spring!
December has been a crazy busy month—of course! Along with the usual hustle and bustle of trying to get ready for the holidays, we’ve had the added excitement of completing all of the edits for the first Lighthouse book, which were due to the Woodhall Press (our publisher) by December 22. Everyone on the Book Team worked very hard and got everything done, well and on time. Julia enhanced several of her illustrations, Marilyn researched some additional information about Newport for one of the history sections, I rewrote that section and performed some edits throughout the book, and Michaela tweaked the layouts on almost every page to make them even better than they were before. The book’s looking great!
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Wonderful New Year!
After thirty years in the business, I have decided to “retire” from being an architect to pursue a career as a freelance writer. I am well aware that this choice might not be the most logical one I have ever made in my life—architecture is certainly a much more stable occupation and pays better than writing—but this decision sure makes me feel very happy! Those of you who know me well, know that I have been contemplating this change for several years, now.
I am currently in the process of writing up a four-part business plan that includes one section for each freelance opportunity I intend to pursue: teaching/leading workshops, book coaching, editing, freelance/business writing/editing. I will be updating my website shortly to provide more information about these branches of my new business and then I’ll work hard to try to make this happen. I’m looking forward to this new adventure!
This afternoon, most of the Book Team for the Rose Island Lighthouse Book Series met here for a barbeque in our backyard. My husband, Chris—who has become completely obsessed with smoking meat!—was kind enough to cook up a brisket, ribs, chicken, and a half-dozen sides to feed many of the folks involved in creating Wanton at the Lighthouse, the first book in our Rose Island Lighthouse Book Series: Julia Heinzmann (illustrator) came with her boyfriend Adam; Michaela Fournier (graphic designer) arrived with Julian, her boyfriend; Marilyn Harris (researcher), AKA my mom!, joined us from her downstairs apartment; and Chris Madden and Dave LeGere (Woodhall Press, our publishers!) drove up from southern Connecticut to sample Chris’s cooking and talk about the book project. In addition, we were fortunate enough to have fellow-writer Barbara Wanamaker and her husband, Greg, also join us for the festivities. Michaela had printed out dummies of the book-in-progress, so we were all able to review it and discuss possible improvements.
The book will now be revised a few times for its final submittal to Woodhall Press sometime before Christmas, leading up to a publishing date of April 1st, 2019. How exciting!
Tonight I was fortunate enough to attend a writing seminar taught by Hester Kaplan from the Goat Hill Writers’ Group. Together with about two dozen other authors, we spent two-and-a-half enjoyable hours learning the finer points of how to craft a truly memorable scene. Hester did a masterful job of presenting clear, concise information, involving the entire class in the learning process. During the break, we were encouraged to mingle and exchange contact information with other students to increase our network of fellow writers. Afterall, being an author can be a lonely business!
Thank you to Hester Kaplan and to Goat Hill for providing these wonderful seminars to help other authors continually hone our writing skills. They are offering another in October and one in December, taught by either Hester, Ann Hood, or Taylor Polites, all accomplished authors. Visit their website for more information: GoatHillWriters.com
On Monday of this week, I started my new “day job” at Andreozzi Architecture in Barrington, Rhode Island. The firm specializes in designing high-end classical residences in and around our beautiful state. I am very excited to have this opportunity to learn the intimate details of how a well-built house is put together and to work with David, Dave, Cheryl, and Juliana, my cohorts at the firm. This is going to be fun!
This weekend, the family and I traveled to Slatington, PA, for the 80th birthday party of a dear friend and almost relative (my brother Phil’s mother-in-law), Kathy Peters. We all had a wonderful time meeting new people and reconnecting with others we haven’t seen in many, many years. I grew up near Slatington and love going back to visit the “old neighborhood.” Perhaps it’s because when I visit I am away from my day-to-day routine or maybe it’s because Slatington is removed from the hustle and bustle of big-city life, but for whatever reason, time seems to move at a much calmer pace there. We went to the picnic birthday party, played a few games of corn hole, and just sat around and talked for two days. It was wonderful!
While there, I also got the chance to speak to Phil’s four children. Although, I’ve seen them every year or two since they were born (they live in San Diego), this was the first time I had the opportunity to talk to them as the fascinating adults they’ve become. Megan, Mitchell, Andrew, and Olivia, you all are amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you a little better!
Last night, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of docents at Smith’s Castle, a 340-year-old house museum located right here in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. These men and women generously volunteer their time to dress in period costumes and lead school children and tour groups through this fascinating old house. They were a wonderful audience as I spoke to them about the fun I had researching and writing Frozen Voices. I also talked a little bit about the lighthouse book series and they seemed eager to read the first book when it comes out in the spring.
Hooray for great men and women like the Smith’s Castle docents who give so freely of their time and talents to teach us all about our fascinating, historic past!
Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to speak by phone with Charlotte E. Johnson, former Executive Director of the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation and the person who probably knows more about the lighthouse and Rose Island than anyone else on earth. What a fascinating woman! Charlotte told me when she was younger, she and her friends used to boat out to Rose Island to spend the day climbing around the abandonded lighthouse and poking through the old Fort Hamilton military buildings. She spent many enjoyable afternoons on the island. Later in life, when developers wanted to tear down the lighthouse and the other buildings, Charlotte told me she recalled the fun she’d had on the island and was instrumental in thwarting the developers’ plans. She told me how they wrapped the entire island in bedsheets to draw attention to the lighthouse’s plight and to raise funds for its rescue. And she was successful! The Rose Island Lighthouse is now beautifully restored and is available to rent by the week or the weekend by “guest” lighthouse keepers. It’s a magical place!
Last spring, the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation contacted me and asked if I might be interested in writing a historical novel about the small, mansard-roofed lighthouse on Rose Island, a tiny 18-acre landmass halfway between Newport and Jamestown, Rhode Island. At the time I was trying to make a living at writing so, after exhausting all the funding opportunities I could think of, I spoke at the Foundation’s annual meeting last April and then we parted company, hoping to figure out a way to work together in the future. Then, a few months ago, I accepted a new “day job” as an architect and am once again free to write whatever I want to write. So, I got back in touch with the Lighthouse Foundation.
Although we don’t yet have all the contractual details fully worked out, I’ve begun to write the first book in a series about the Rose Island Lighthouse and the people who once lived there. And I have lots of help, too! My daughter, Julia, will use her considerable artistic talent to illustrate my stories. Michaela Fournier, a gifted graphic designer and friend, is going to design an awesome cover for the book and figure out how all the words and pictures look on the pages. My mother, Marilyn Harris, a retired teacher, has graciously agreed to provide us with all of the research assistance we need. My other daughter, Laura, has signed on to become our Internet/social media guru, updating this website and posting messages on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. And Colin, Chris, and Dave, three great friends I met in my Master’s program at Fairfield University, have kindly agreed to publish the first Lighthouse Book through their Connecticut-based publishing company. With a team like that, the book’s bound to be amazing!
Book One of the Rose Island Lighthouse Series will be about Wanton Chase, a boy who lived in the lighthouse with his grandparents from the time he was 18 months old until he had to go to school in Newport at age seven (1910 to 1917). His grandfather, Charles Curtis was the lighthouse keeper, serving at that post longer than anyone before or after him. Before he died at the age of 99, Wanton Chase wrote down his memories of life at the lighthouse, and I’ve taken those memories and expanded them into short stories. The book is composed of those short stories about Wanton interspersed with brief snippets of history about such subjects as the Rose Island Lighthouse, life in America in 1910, and the duties of a lighthouse keeper. It is written at a middle-grade level so that it will appeal to readers of all ages. And we plan to publish the book in hardcover as well as paperback so that everyone will be able to buy a copy. My publishing friends tell me if we complete the manuscript by September, the book will be available for purchase by early spring 2019.
Although copyright restrictions prevent me from posting excerpts from the new book online, I will post photos and articles about the Rose Island Lighthouse so that you can see why we are excited to write this book. And, beginning Memorial Day Weekend, the lighthouse is open for tours. So, if you happen to be looking for something fun to do this summer, take the Jamestown Ferry out to Rose Island and check out the lighthouse, beautifully restored by the folks of the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation. And make sure to check back here to see new stories and postings about the lighthouse and about our upcoming book. See you then!
In a moment of weakness, I agreed to participate in this year's Cycle the Seacoast Event, on Sunday, May 6th. My "little" brother, Dave (who is 6'-2" tall), somehow convinced me that bicycling 25 miles in New Hampshire would be fun! I'm not sure about how much fun it is going to be--I have never been much of a bicyclist, not even when I was a kid--but the ride is definitely for a good cause: the American Lung Association. We are raising money to support the fight against lung cancer, COPD, Asthma and other serious lung diseases and to increase awareness about the importance of lung health.
Please join me in my efforts by making a personal or corporate tax-deductible donation to support the American Lung Association. To make a pledge, please click on the link below.
Thank you in advance for your support!!
Let me tell you... Tatnuck Bookseller in Westborough, Massachusetts, is one beautiful book store! On Saturday, BJ Knapp, Gail Ward Olmsted, Tracey Ryan, and I spent two enjoyable hours at Tatuck, discussing the different ways that we became published authors. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with those three talented ladies, talking to a great audience of writing enthusiasts. Before our book talk, we ate some excellent sandwiches in the book store's cafe, and then afterward, we spent nearly an hour browsing their fantastic book and gift selection.
Thanks to Tatnuck Bookseller for hosting our book event and thanks to BJ, Gail, and Tracey for a fun afternoon!
Did you know that Tatnuck Bookseller in Westborough, Massachusetts, is the largest independent book store in New England? Plus, it has a charming cafe, a well-stocked gift shop, and an entire department devoted to children's books and toys.
On Saturday, April 7th at 2 PM, authors BJ Knapp, Gail Ward Olmsted, Tracey L. Ryan, and I will be presenting a panel discussion at Tatnuck, entitled "Find Out What It's Like to be an Author." With our varied specialties--from women's fiction to romance to mystery to historical fiction--and different paths to publication--from self-publishing to traditional publishing to publication upon receipt of award--the conversation is sure to be lively and informative.
So, on April 7th please check out beautiful Tatnuck Bookseller and join us for our presentation. We'd love to see some familiar faces in the audience. And (as an added enticement) we will be providing snacks!
This past weekend, my husband (Chris), younger daughter (Laura), and a friend of mine (Catherine) went with me out to Block Island so I could do a Frozen Voices presentation, mostly for the folks who live on the Block year-round. I must admit to being a little worried about the ferry ride to and from the island, because--ironically!--I am not the best "boat person," often becoming quite seasick at the slightest provocation. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The seas were calm and the weather was beautiful...in the high 40s. A perfect day for a ferry ride...or two!
The book event was held at the Island Bound Bookstore, near the island's post office and was well-attended by lots of islanders. I love doing book talks and enjoy them even more when members of the audience are related to real-life characters in my book! Since many Block Islanders in 1907 were involved in rescue efforts for the Larchmont passengers, quite a few of the audience members Sunday were connected, in some way, to characters in Frozen Voices. After my talk, I loved hearing all of the interesting stories people told about the disaster.
Thank you to Susan Bush, the incredibly nice owner of the Island Bound Bookstore for organizing and hosting Sunday's event. Susan was even kind enough to lend us her car before the reading so that we could take a tour of beautiful Block Island and see again some of the places mentioned in the novel. Thanks a million! I hope to be able to do more events with you in the future. They're so much fun!
And thank you to Kristin Bauman, the director of the Island Free Library, co-sponsor of the book reading. Kristin was instrumental in assisting with the publicity for the event and provided the projector and screen I used for my presentation. Thanks, Kristin!
And three more thank-yous: to Chris, Laura, and Catherine, for coming with me to the Block and for helping out in so many ways. Catherine ran the projector and provided me with interesting/distracting conversation on the ferry so I didn't get seasick. Laura kept me company and said very nice things about my presentation. And Chris drove, carried, and did anything else that needed to be done...my best friend, my husband, and an all-around great person!
It was a wonderful day that I'll never forget!
Happy Valentines Day!
And a HUGE shout out of thanks to Jessica D'Avanza and the other folks at the Barrington Public Library for hosting a great Frozen Voices presentation/reading last night! So many people came out on a chilly night to hear me talk about my novel. Everyone seemed to enjoy the presentation and then asked so many great questions afterward. As a special treat, one gentleman who attended, Al Pointe, showed us all a piece of the SS Larchmont, collected from the bottom of the Block Island Sound during a scuba dive to the wreck. Thanks Al!
I also was honored to have Howard McVay, nephew of Captain McVay, in the audience last night. After my presentation, Howard graciously introduced himself and shared some of his memories of his uncle. Thank you, Howard McVay, for the opportunity to meet you.
The publication of Frozen Voices has provided me with so many new and wonderful experiences for which I will always be extremely grateful.
And now for something completely different...
For the past few years, when I'm not busy writing, I've been trying my hand at making stained glass pieces. The creativity and craftmanship of it seems to work well with my personality, for some reason.
I thought you might appreciate seeing one of the projects I've completed lately. It is a piece made from a bicycle sprocket for a local bike shop. Enjoy!
If you are looking for something fun to do to get you into the Spirit of Christmas, please consider joining us this evening at 7 pm at the St. Francis de Sales Church Hall in North Kingstown, RI, for a radio play production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The performance, which is free and open to everyone, will include the choir beautifully singing many much-beloved Christmas carols, too. After the show, there will be a reception with homemade Christmas treats. This will be my first (and possibly last!) attempt at being a cast member of a theatrical production, so please come out and share the fun!