The BRAVE Interview #9 April 2017: Charlotte

Please enjoy this month’s BRAVE interview with Charlotte!

Who are you? I am a Registered Nurse, a Mom to 3 adult children (where has time gone?!), and a 5 month Golden Retriever named Charlie. I was born and raised in Maine, and have lived here ever since. I live in the small town of Limerick, Maine, a quiet country town.

What is your ‘one brave thing’? My One Brave Thing?  Let’s see. I have done a few brave things up to this point in my life, but the one I’d have to say that tops all was taking care of my terminally ill brother. He was 51 yrs old when diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, mets to the brain. His wish was to get home to Maine to die. I had no choice but to be brave, and honor is wishes. It was a very difficult, emotional time.

When did you do it?  In June 2007, my brother called me from the hospital in Florida, telling me he was very sick and needed me to fly down to help him.

Where did it occur? Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

How I made it happen: flew down, packed up his apartment.  I rented an RV, and found portable oxygen, filled his meds and things for the trip. Right out of the hospital, we were on our way home to my house. It was a rough ride in the back of an RV. I stayed back there with him, while my fiancé and my brother’s friend took turns driving. I wasn’t sure my brother would make it all the way, but he said he was okay each time I asked. I had spoken with hospice while traveling, and I got things set up for when he arrived. My bother lived only 5 days here, but made it to where he wanted to be, and that was home!

It is an honor to print your story, Charlotte, and I thank you so much for sharing it with us all!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here: https://kwrites.com/?s=The+BRAVE+Interview

If you would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at kmcwrites.com!

Time warp

I’m excited for the new version of  Beauty and the Beast coming out this Friday. To get into the proper mindset, I decided to watch the earlier version from Disney last night.

My husband and I were sprawled out on the couch, and our teenaged daughter was in the recliner. We watched the movie on Blu-ray together in the living room.

As the movie the opening credits rolled, I suddenly flashed on the first time I watched this movie, in the early 90’s. I was so excited to buy the video! The VCR was in our bedroom, and as soon as we got home we popped it in and got into bed to watch it. Our then-infant son (who is now twenty-five!) was lying on the bed between us as we watched.

I was completely transported back to that room and for just a few seconds, felt those feelings. What an amazing gift.

I was struck by how many lines from this movie have made their way into our everyday life!

Such as:

  1. ‘It’s over, Beast!’
  2. ‘You have a library?’
  3. ‘…promises you don’t intend to keep,’
  4. ‘If she doesn’t eat with me, then she doesn’t eat at all!
  5. ‘I’m especially good at expectorating…’ What can I say? I like big words! I cannot lie!

I use these quotes all the time! Beauty and the Beast, the gift that keeps on giving… on so many levels.

I leave you with the official trailer to watch here:

The BRAVE Interview #7 February, 2017: Jennifer W. Smith

Here is this month’s BRAVE Interview with author, Jennifer W. Smith. ENJOY!

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Who is Jennifer W. Smith?

I put my family first, so I’d start with I’m a wife and mother.  My next top three answers: I’m a novelist, a world traveler, and a foodie. I live in a cozy New Hampshire town in a busy household including a blue-eyed kitty and a collie who looks just like Lassie. I’ve had other careers before I became a fulltime writer in 2015. I’ve used my experiences from when I was a flight attendant and interior designer to inspire my story ideas.

What is my One Brave Thing for 2016?

Well, if you asked me my brave thing for 2015, I’d have said publishing my first novel, Flying Backwards. In 2016 I published two books, The Rare Pearl and The Forsaken Pearl, but I’d say the One Brave Thing was pushing myself to maneuver—and conquer—the digital age to produce all aspects of publishing my latest books—mainly book cover design. The cover is critical. It’s the first thing a reader sees. If the cover isn’t appealing they won’t bother to flip it over and read the back. I worried that I’d be unsuccessful, but I was determined to give it my best effort. Let me state, my skills were basic at first. I’m happy to report that after all the puzzle solving I’m pleased with the final products.

Why did you do it?

So why make my own book covers if I could just pay someone? Well, I love design in general. As I mentioned I’m a former interior designer by trade. Also, I spent a decade taking photos and documenting my family’s life in scrapbooks. So a part of me thought it would be fun and creative. Besides, I found it difficult to explain what I wanted my cover to look like to someone who hadn’t read my story. I paid to have the cover done for my first novel Flying Backwards. I explained what I wanted, and I do love the cover, but it’s not perfect. For example, in that story the main character is an international flight attendant and the airplane on the cover is a domestic plane (it should have four engines instead of two). I know it’s a tiny detail. But the control is what I like—and it is kind of exciting and fun.

When and how did you do it?

I spend loads of time the whole year reading and watching YouTube tutorials about how to produce a successful book cover. Who knew fonts had so much impact! It took me a while as I tried different programs, but eventually I discovered which ones worked best for me. My fellow friends and authors recommend sites where I could purchase photos or fonts. I also stumble across Derek Murphy’s book cover design tutorials which helped me immensely. After vastly improving my MS Word skills, I managed to produce book covers for my Broken Water Series, which include The Rare Pearl and The Forsaken Pearl. I was able to manage 95% it, but I confess, my husband helped with the file conversions. I may have shed some tears of frustration throughout the learning curve, but it was worth it.

Where did you do it?

I learned, and continue to learn, right from the comfort of my home. After I got used to navigating the internet—I realized the world is at my fingertips. With dedication to succeed, I’m grateful to live and thrive in this modern age. This is a usable tool to become self-published. I hope I inspire other budding authors to give it a try.

I always love to hear from readers. Please check out my website at JenniferWSmith.com for book trailers, release updates, events, blogs, and more. Also, you can read the first chapter of The Rare Pearl, Book One in the Broken Water Series for FREE. You can find me on Twitter @authorjenwsmith and Facebook at AuthorJenniferWSmith.

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Be still

I am sitting here on the couch trying to write a ‘signature talk’, which would be so much (expletive) easier if I could just decide on one fullsizerendertopic, already! I am trying to figure out how to combine my metaphysical nurse blog with my kwrites blog under one domain, a version of my name, which I bought 14 months ago as part of a workshop but that’s where it ended. I never did anything with it, except to look at it longingly from time to time. Now I am trying to decide if combining it all is even a good idea!
I am giving several topic-specific talks over the next few months and I am trying to write those.
I am writing a parent ad (sorry, but this feels like a ploy to get more money from us) for the high school yearbook because my graduating daughter WANTS one.
I am debating (OMG! YES! STILL!) if I should give yet another talk at an upcoming event (this internal debate has been raging for months now) and if so, WTF to base the presentation on.
And then I realize that I am actually doing none of these things, except the ‘just sitting here on the couch’ part. Okay, and eating a large quantity of chocolate (#lunch).
Surrounded by paper. And pens. And my laptop. And my iPhone playing Pandora.
I am a (expletive) mess.
And then this song comes on:

And I hear the words:  Be still and trust my plan. I’m more than you think I am.

And then, with tears streaming, I know it’s true.

Hello from Heaven

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Big Nana with her great-granddaughter Ariana in her kitchen in Nantasket

As I recently wrote, my son moved into his new apartment. Apartments, as we all know, usually need furniture. As a mother, I want to (over) help him with this. When I got my first apartment, my mother and my grandmother went to great lengths to make sure I had everything I might need or want, opening their cupboards, closets, drawers, and wallets to help me get things I didn’t even know I would need. I always knew that I would do the same for my own children one day.

The current need for my son’s apartment is for a kitchen table and chairs. I remembered my grandmother’s kitchen table has been stored at my brother’s house for years. I checked to make sure it was still there and usable. My brother determined (after some digging) that it was.
I started thinking of how my grandmother, Big Nana, spent most of her life helping her family. She has been dead since 2004, but she is still helping her family all these years after her death. Because now her kitchen table and chairs, at which we ate so many wonderful, lovingly prepared meals, will now serve my son and his girlfriend.

And here is the biggest gift of all: when my brother was looking for the chairs, he found a photo Nana, as well as some of my mother and father that I have never seen before.

It feels like they are all saying ‘Hello’ to us from heaven tonight, and letting us know that they are still watching over us and taking care of us, even though they are not here physically with us anymore.

What a wonderful start to 2017.

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Endings and beginnings

box-truckThe new year is already promising to be a very different one from those prior.

My firstborn is moving out and getting his own apartment. I am happy and excited for him.

I am also sad that he is no longer living here. I am still checking the driveway to make sure he is home safe at night, and he moved out almost a week ago. This new feeling that I’m experiencing–I’ve dubbed it HappySad.

I flash back on my own first leave-taking from my family of origin. My mother tearing up. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “I’m afraid I’m never gonna see you.” I reassured her that of course she would still see me. I would come by all the time. I’d call. She just looked at me with those eyes that knew the truth, even as I ‘doth proclaim too much’.
She was right,  of course. I rarely went over. I eventually started calling her once a week because I felt obligated, not out of a true desire to speak to her. I loved my mother, so it wasn’t about that. I don’t know what it was about, to tell you the truth. I just moved out and I didn’t look back (until I had to move back, but that’s another, sadder story).

I was free!

So, as I watched my son excitedly packing up for his move to his first apartment, part of me was channeling my own mother, feeling her exact emotions, I am sure. “I’m never going to see him now,” I thought.

What goes around, comes around.

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The power of one

I have been giving a lot of talks at local libraries. For my most recent one, I personally invited and Facebook invited a lot of people.

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A lot.

Plus, it was a full moon in Gemini (my sign)! At 7:05pm! And my talk started at 7:00PM!

I know this is a busy time of year for us all, but I was expecting at least 10 people or so.

When it 6:59pm and still no one had come, I began to consider that maybe I had saturated my geographic location.

If no one came (as I have heard sometimes happens, but thankfully had never happened to me), my Plan B was to have my husband make a video of me reading so I could post it on my YouTube Channel (still evolving–don’t judge it). At least this would be time well spent, right?

What I learned: Don’t accept a time slot that starts when the library is CLOSED. Duh. I’m not sure why they even did that… oh, wait. Yes, I do. I took the slot because I was hoping to sell a lot of books before Christmas, and this was the only December slot they had. They had one slot available in January, but I thought people might not come out in the cold when they weren’t possibly out already, shopping for the holidays (books make great gifts!). Note: the temperature was in the 20’s last night.

And then, at 7:05pm, one person came into the room.

My audience had arrived. She probably didn’t really feel like going out, but she wanted to support a fellow writer/author, and guess what?

SHE DID.

Thank you again, Katherine. ❤

For some reason, this song was in my head on my way home from the event, so I am including it here for your listening pleasure:

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