Saturday, October 30, 2010

From Project Happily Ever After

Alisa Bowman has listed Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart, on her blog, Project Happily Ever After under "some links you'll love." Thanks Alisa!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Marijke's Books Arrive! (Video)

People who know me already know I'm a bit on the odd side, so they shouldn't be surprised to learn that I video-ed (is that a word?) the arrival of my first copies of the book Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. So - on with the show!

video

This week's Q&A author round up

A quick round up so you can see who is part of the blog's Q&A sessions. I'm working on getting photos for the writers, so you can put faces to the names. I was going to put Grover (Sesame Street) for mine, but thought better of it.



Essayist Wendy Helfenbaum answers our Q&A


Today's Q&A Author: Carol Brzozowski


Today's Q&A Author: Amy Mayer


Today's Q&A Author: Denise Schipani


Today's Q&A Author: Judy Gruen

Today's Q&A Author: Judy Gruen

Here we are at the end of the week! Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart has been out for two weeks now and we're thrilled with the response we've had from friends and those who are learning about the book from others.
Today, author Judy Gruen drops by with her Q&A session about her essay and writing. Enjoy!

How long have you been writing essays?

Oh my, since gas was cheap and only sailors had tattoos! That would be more than 25 years, which I find hard to believe, since I'm still only . . . well, never mind.

When and where was your first essay published?

Not counting the editorials I wrote as editor of a college newspaper, I sold my first humor essay to the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in 1983, I think. The Herald had always been the scrappy second-tier paper in LA till its demise many years back. The essay was a spoof on the aerobics craze, and it was called, "Fear of Fat: Don't Let it Make You Skinny." I was thrilled down to my toes when it was published.


How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

I submitted two essays, and was extremely gratified that both were accepted. I was especially grateful that the more serious of the two essays, "The Rabbi and the Skeptic," was included, since I wrote it with this anthology in mind. This essay has become the springboard for what I hope will be my fourth book.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

My humor piece, "Click Here for Trouble," is about how we found our beagle-lab through an online pet rescue matchmaking service. My husband hadn't wanted a dog, the kids were clamoring for one, and I couldn't resist him. (I'm referring to the dog, but I still find my husband irresistable, too.) Conflicts over chewed socks and stolen pizzas ensued, but peace eventually returned to the house, though we are down by many socks and one half-eaten sofa.

"The Rabbi and the Skeptic," on the other hand, traces my mistrust and apprehension about attending a class on the Torah taught by an orthodox rabbi. The struggle to be willing to engage with traditional Jewish teachings, and a controversial rabbi to boot, forced me to confront my own unfair stereotypes about what Judaism, undiluted by modernist twists, really said. It felt threatening, and it was the most difficult, important, and transformative decision of my life.


Had you tried the essay market before?

Yes, I've been an essayist for more than 20 years. My essays have been published in Woman's Day, Family Circle, the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and many, many other media outlets. My most recent book, "The Women's Daily Irony Supplement," is also an anthology of what I consider my best humor essays in recent years. I continue to write regular humor columns for Aish.com, MommaSaid.net, and many of my essays are syndicated through Featurewell.com.


What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

I'm really thrilled to be in the company of so many other accomplished writers. This is an exciting project, and I'm enjoying my colleagues' contributions immensely.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

Everyone who has a pulse has something to write about, even if it's just musing about the miracle of having that pulse continue to beat! My funniest and most poignant work is never fiction based; it's all fodder for essays that has come from listening and observing the fascinating, ironic, touching, scary, amazing and sometimes infuriating things that happen every day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Emily Rogan Guest Posting over at 'Making Baby Grand'

As we spread out the news about Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart, many of the writers are writing guest posts on other blogs as well as this one. Emily Rogan has written such a post, Taking Chances, over at Dina Santorelli's blog Making 'Baby Grand,' the Novel: Afterbirth.

Today's Q&A Author: Denise Schipani


Today, Denise Schipani, writer, editor, and owner of the blog Confessions of a Mean Mommy, tells us about her essay writing experiences and her essay in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.
How long have you been writing essays?
I've been writing in the first person as long as I could write. ;) That said, I've been writing essays for many years now, though like most essayists I have many more pieces on my hard drive than I do in my clips file!
When and where was your first essay published?
I'm not sure I remember -- though I have to say that the one I am most proud of (apologies to my Fits, Starts piece -- was published in 2005 in the Washington Post Styles section. It's a piece about losing two friends in one day -- one to cancer, one due to the fact that, aside from calling to tell this person about our friend who'd passed away, we had no reason to talk anymore. It was painful to write in the way the best essays are. Not so much to write, but to work and re-work, because it ended up bringing me to a different (and emotionally raw) conclusion than I believed I'd reach when I first started writing. The best essays end up being therapy sessions!
How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?
Pretty great! I was not part of the selection committee, but I had signed on to head up the editing committee, which meant that no matter whether my piece was accepted, I had to work on the rest of them. Plus just being a part of something this amazing group of people put together -- something that, if memory serves, started out as a thread on FLX bemoaning the lack of good essay outlets -- is a great feeling.
Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it? Had you tried the essay market before?
 It's a piece about an old, failed relationship -- an exploration of how, and why, I held together a relationship that was built, from the start, on rocky ground. Funny you should ask if I've tried to sell it before: In another form, years and years ago, I got thisclose to having this piece published in the Lives column in the New York Times magazine. I worked on it with an editor there, who loved it, but it didn't get past a committee. Ah, well. Actually, there's not a lot left of the original piece -- reworking being the name of the essay game. In the end what I submitted was the progression of an idea that originated with that long-ago essay and had been merged with other pieces and scraps of pieces I'd worked on over the years since. Again, because it was highly personal and something that happened to me, my feelings about it -- and thus the way I approached it as a writer -- necessarily changed over the intervening years.
What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?
 It's nice! This is my second anthology -- I had a piece in P.S.: What I Didn't Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, edited by Megan McMorris, which was also a thrill and a delight. Right up there with the professional bump of getting my essay chosen is the gratifying sense that you're part of a group -- it's like a pat on the back by association.
 Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?
 Everyone who can say "I don't" is alive, yes? If you're a living human, you have something to write about.




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One of my clients is promoting the book on their site

How nice is this?

One of my clients, ScrubsMag, is a nursing lifestyle magazine. It's an online publication but also comes out in print. The gang there is wonderful to write for and I have such fun with the topics I'm assigned.

When the Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart came out, I told my editor - I figure, you just have to tell everyone you know about stuff like this, right? Well, the people there very kindly listed the book in the Nurse Pick section -it's on the second page.

It's small things like this that really make my life a lot of fun. Seriously!

Today's Q&A Author: Amy Mayer

 Today, it's Amy Mayer's turn in the Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart hot seat. Let's see what Amy has to say about writing essays and being published. Amy is a freelance writer and radio producer in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Her website is AmyMayerWrites.com


How long have you been writing essays? 

I wrote some commentaries that aired on public radio beginning 10 or so years ago. My first published essay in a print outlet was in 2007.

When and where was your first essay published?

That first essay appeared in Wellesley, my alma mater’s quarterly magazine, in the Winter 2007 issue.

Tell us a bit about the essay published in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it? 

My grandmother told me several times about the unlikely friendship she had with an African-American man shortly after she emigrated to the United States in 1933, a German-Jewish refugee. The part that tickled her most was that 30+ years later, she discovered his daughter lived down the street from her daughter, and they, too, became friends. But what interested me, was how that original friendship caused much friction in my grandmother’s family and how she chose to deal with it. I started contemplating some sort of story on the subject a full decade before this essay collection came into being. I wanted to produce a radio piece, and pitched it a few places but never found it a home. Then I decided on the essay format and wrote a few versions that I submitted to publications, again without success.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

Being chosen for inclusion in this collection gave me a new confidence in the essay I submitted. Selection in this anthology validated my sense that this story could resonate with others.

What inspired you to write it? 

As an adult, I became increasingly close to my grandmother…until she found out about my plans to celebrate my wedding—to a woman. After we reconciled, I began thinking again about the material I’d gathered around the subject of her friendship with Julian Steele and that’s when I came to interpret her friendship with him in a new way. From the bigoted environment her siblings created during her early years in this country, my grandmother emerged into an impressively open-minded and tolerant American. Still, that kernel of thought percolated for some time before I figured out how to write about it. My grandmother’s 100 th  birthday helped nudge me into finally doing something with her story.


Had you tried the essay market before? 
 

Besides unsuccessfully pitching this essay, I have also submitted a few other essays here and there. Wellesley has run a few and I also had a piece (coincidentally also about my grandmother) in the Boston Globe.

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology? 

Certainly it is an honor and a thrill to be published alongside such a fantastic group of other essayists. It also feels like another step in the direction of writing a book, something I am striving toward.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."? 

I hardly feel qualified to advise other people. What I have discovered for myself is that essays spring up from inside, usually unexpectedly. I don’t typically sit down and say, “I’d like to write an essay today. Let me think of a good topic.” Rather, some incident, conversation, Facebook status update, interaction at the grocery store, etc. wedges itself in my brain and grows, sometimes without my realizing it, until suddenly I have an idea for an essay. If I’m able, I scratch it down right then. If not, it continues to grow and morph until I’m finally able to feed and nurture it. Everybody has stories to tell, but searching for one isn’t always the best way to find it. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Today's Q&A Author: Carol Brzozowski


Carol Brzozowski, author of “Loving Jesse,” is the subject of today's Q&A. Thanks Carol!

How long have you been writing essays?

Since first grade! It was a story about a bird that I wrote and illustrated on construction paper, bound by staples. My school system emphasized writing – I was always writing something. The teachers would have us do our own illustrations and binding, so writing was both cerebral and tactile for me. If I’d viewed the Internet in a crystal ball as a child, I’d believe it to be science fiction! I’ve been a lifelong journalist, reporting and writing for newspapers and magazines. I love doing that, but I also love to tap into that creative side of my writing - and my soul – in such a way that can only emanate through essays. Writers understand you have a story that must be told.

When and where was your first essay published?

I’ve done first-person stories as a journalist (mostly about parenting issues, such as the day my first-born started kindergarten), but nothing one could technically classify as an “essay”. “Loving Jesse” is a true essay that had been rejected several times before being accepted by Freelance Success for publication in “Fits, Starts and Matters of the Heart”. Such is a writer’s life!  

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

I was beside myself with joy! The process entailed “blind” submissions, in that our names weren’t on the initial submission, so we were judged purely on our essay’s merit.  Getting published in a book was something I hadn’t experienced yet as a professional writer, so it was like giving birth to another child – one unique from the others, but you love them all the same. I couldn’t wait for the book to get published. When I got my copy through UPS, I hugged and kissed the book. My youngest son Jon put together a family dinner party to celebrate. I’m used to seeing my name in print all of the time, but not like this.

Tell us a bit about the essay published in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

“Loving Jesse” is a story about my boyfriend’s black Labrador retriever. I confess to not liking dogs before Bob brought Jesse into our lives, but it turns out the dog knew more about love than I did. Jesse taught Bob and me – whose relationship has had its ups and downs over the years – lessons about unconditional love. When we had to say goodbye to Jesse, it was one of the most heart-wrenching days of our lives.  

Had you tried the essay market before?

Other than “first person” pieces occasionally published in the newspaper and in regional parenting publications, I’ve not. I’ve chosen freelance journalism because the pay is decent and comes within 30 days in most cases! I’m raising two sons as a single mother – if I make money as a writer, it must be steady and predictable. To make the foray into creative writing is a risk: there is a lot of rejection and a long wait for pay in the creative writing sector. Sometimes you do something just for love and if it becomes financially successful, that’s the frosting on the cake!

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

In a strange way (given I’ve written professionally for many years), I feel validated as a writer. My work appears in publications (such as trade journals) that are typically read only by a select audience. It has whet my appetite for producing more of this type of work. If “Loving Jesse” generated interest, then what else will? I’m also in awe of the other writers’ work. Their stories touch upon universal human themes in such a compelling way. I certainly hope it reaches a broad audience, as it deserves. There are a lot of lessons in doing this in the “New World” of publishing; I’m learning a lot and having fun.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about”?

I don’t think people lack material of which to write; I think they lack the confidence. They have to get break through the wall in their mind with the sign that reads: “Who cares?”

Carol Brzozowski is a freelance journalist based in south Florida. You can view more of her work at www.freelancewritingservices.webs.com or contact her at Brzozowski@aol.com.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Essayist Wendy Helfenbaum answers our Q&A

As I mentioned in my first post Welcome to my new blog about Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart, one of the other essayists is Wendy Helfenbaum. Here is her Q & A about writing essays and her feelings of being part of this great book.



How long have you been writing essays? 
I think I wrote my first one in fourth grade. I love the freedom that essay writing affords, and I also enjoy incorporating dialogue, which is often the most challenging part.
When and where was your first essay published? 
My first paid essay, about how my husband proposed to me at an outdoor rock concert in New York City in the pouring rain, ran in Real Weddings Magazine about four years ago.
How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?
I was over the moon when my essay was chosen to appear alongside such incredibly gifted writers. Because essays are so personal, it’s hard to know which ones are going to strike a chord with readers.
Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it? 
The title of my essay, ‘Tales from The Pit: I Was Squished Among the Masses in the Boss’ Promised Land’, popped into my head as I was literally being squeezed in a throng of rabid Bruce Springsteen fans right up against the stage, just before a concert in New Jersey. I turned to my husband and said, ‘You know, this whole crazy day leading up to us standing front-row center would make a great essay.’
When I read that FLX wanted to do an anthology about relationships, I thought it would be fun to think outside the box a bit. I knew people would be submitting heartfelt stories about their lovers, family and pets, so I wrote a rather quirky piece about the longest relationship of my life: the musical ‘union’ between my favorite musical artist and myself.
Had you tried the essay market before? 
I’ve had several dozen essays published over the last few years.
What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology? 
I’m very honored to be among this group of A-list essayists! Reading their stories has inspired me to push myself more to create great work.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?
I really believe that when it comes to writing about your own experiences, you almost have to step outside yourself and ask: ‘Why would anyone care about this? Did I learn something from this that someone else could learn from as well? Would sharing my story bring a smile to someone’s face, or make them feel better about something dumb that they did, or help them resolve a problem that I worked through?’ 
Everyone has something to share that would make an interesting read. But you have to be open to it.
Wendy Helfenbaum is a writer, television producer and translator in Montreal. Visit her at http://www.taketwoproductions.ca.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Now Discounted on Amazon.com as well - Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart

It took a bit of time, but Amazon.com has finally discounted Fits, Starts and Matters of the Heart on its site. This is definitely a Good Thing.

The essay writers have been chatting about ways to get this book into the hands of readers and reviewers. Do you have any ideas to share with us?

Stay tuned for news from the various writers...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Amazon.ca discounts Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart

Hey Canadians! Amazon.ca has discounted the book! Good for you, not so good for me. First, I bought five copies from Amazon.com and paid for shipping because the free shipping doesn't cross the border. Then yesterday, I ordered two more copies from Amazon.ca and got free shipping but... the price wasn't discounted. Argh.

No matter, I did what I wanted to do. Now I can't wait to have a few copies of the book in my hands.
Don't forget, it's not out of stock - we don't know why it's saying that.

I've been chatting with some of the authors who have essays in the book and they'll be doing either a guest post or answering a Q&A, so you can learn a bit more about the book and about them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart now at Amazon.ca

Great news for Canadians. Our book Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart is now available through Amazon.ca. If you buy two, you qualify for free shipping. One for you and one for a gift, perhaps? ;-)

The listing says it's out of stock, but don't let that scare you. It's not out of stock.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to my new blog about Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart

Hi. For those who don't know me, my name is Marijke Vroomen-Durning. I am a writer who specializes in health writing, but I like to dabble in other stuff too. Luckily for me, other people seem to like my writing and now I'm pleased to announce the birth of a new book called Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss and Everything in Between.



The book is a labor of love that was conceived by Freelance Success (FLX) writers from across the continent.

According to Amazon.com:

"For anyone who has fallen in love, been betrayed, lost a parent or let a child fly from the nest, Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart will resonate with your heart. A woman recalls her decision to lose her virginity at 17 - and the emotional roller coaster that ensues when her parents discover a secret stash of prophylactics. A mother comes to terms with her adopted daughter's quest to find her birth mom. A black Labrador wreaks havoc on one woman's idyllic relationship with her boyfriend- until she, too, falls in love with the beautiful canine. A pregnant woman discovers her husband's affair - and realizes that the baby she's carrying is her ticket to rebirth. A daughter learns that the way into her father's heart is through her hair. These are just a few of the essays in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss & Everything in Between. In this compelling collection, a group of writers, who connected through a professional community called Freelance Success, share the joy and angst at the root of all relationships. Through stories of family and friends, lovers and exes, even pets and rock stars, these writers demonstrate the enduring power of relationships to drive, haunt, empower, and enrich us."


There are only two Canadian authors in the book. I am one and the other is writer and friend, Wendy Helfenbaum.

The beauty of this book the way it was put together. Everyone who writes essays knows of at least one that is good but hasn't found its way into publication. So, FLX as a group decided to gather these essays and publish them in this anthology.

The process was a blinded one. A committee was formed and many authors submitted their essays for consideration. All identifying information was stripped from the pieces so the reviewers would not know who had written them. Of the more than 100 essays that were submitted, 28 were chosen - one of Wendy's and one of mine.

The book is available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. It is our hope that it will have a Canadian source shortly.

So, if you're looking for a great-curl-up-and-read book or you know someone who would love to receive this book as a gift, please consider ordering one. Or two. Or more!

We'll keep you updated on the book's progress and I'll post reviews if anyone wants to share.

Thanks!
Marijke