Monday, December 15, 2014

Designing A Book Cover With Love

How many of us have agonized over our book cover? How to make it eye-catching? How to write a blurb on the back that engages readers and makes them want to buy the book?

How to create a cover without breaking the bank, yet not look amateurish?

One of the most challenging aspects of being an independent author and publisher is the cover design. 

So here I am unveiling the cover of A Portrait of Love and Honor . . . and what went into designing it. I'm excited, I love my cover, and I hope you do.

A Portrait of Love and Honor is a love story and a novel based on a true story - John’s West Point  memoir.

His memoir was never published; nor was it published when he tried to sell it as a novel. We worked on it together, but his illness soon consumed us. This project is a personal journey. I wanted my cover to reflect that.

At first, I considered a cover with two people walking hand-in-hand down a road. Hiring someone to render that illustration seemed complicated. What would the people look like? The book's genre is literary fiction. I've seen many covers where the people look like they belong in a video game. I didn't want that.

I researched agency and freelance design fees - they began around $750 (if you supplied your own image), moving upwards of $1,600. As with my memoirs, I was working within a budget. With a quality point and shoot digital camera, (mine is a Lumix Panasonic with Leica lens), an eye for color, good light and a clear concept of what your story is about, your cover image reveals itself.


A photograph that didn't make the cut.
I wanted a cover conveying the theme of a romantic story, along with a man’s story of West Point. The cover needed both the feminine and masculine touches; the flowery font for the title which stands out and the heavier, more masculine one for the subtitle and author name. John’s West Point hat from his days as a cadet and the crimson roses Jay gives Ava in the novel added to that.

Was my cover beautiful?

The reader decides. I feel my cover is unique . . . personal. I don’t shy away from the personal. Authenticity means a lot. I took over a dozen photographs of John's hat and long-stemmed roses. I then asked several people which one they liked best. Interestingly, they all agreed on the same photograph, so I used that. I own the image. No copyright worries. (I also used my own photograph on the cover of Morning at Wellington Square.)

Some say less is more. These are the book covers cited in The New York Times as the best covers of 2014. I leave it to you to decide if they are “beautiful.”


I worked with my design team at Amazon's CreateSpace. Kristin understood what I wanted because of the questionnaire I filled out and the photograph I supplied. She and I also talked about the story, my upcoming trip (at that time) to New Zealand . . . it felt like the personal touch.

CS charges $399 for cover design, which is up $50 from two years ago. They also reduced the number of cover concepts. It used to be three, now it is one. I did receive two concepts - one in black and gold and the other in cream and red - because I supplied my own image and told them I felt one was insufficient.

One concept included my name at the top; the other, the title of the book at the top  . . . and a choice of fonts. Changes and edits can cost $49 for each new round after the initial changes so know early on what you want. Again, I sought the opinion of several people. All but one person preferred the red and cream and the title at the top.

Hiring a professional meant collaborating with people trained in design and graphics. It’s worth the money. That said . . . .We’re artists, aren’t we? While there is an abundance of fine illustrators and graphic designers, have confidence in your artistic taste and talents. The best concept is often within you. No one knows your book as well as you do.

The Synopsis/Blurb on the back.

Be able to answer the question: What is my story about? If you can write that, you're on your way to "hooking" and intriguing your readers.

Run it by your developmental editor, someone who, like you, knows the story inside and out. I was limited to 250 words on the back so tight writing is essential.

Market yourself in your bio. Since my ebooks have been on the Amazon bestseller list several times, I felt 'bestselling author of memoir' was accurate and fair. (Click on the image of the back cover to enlarge it.)

Final note: Work to get advance reviews from a well-known author. I’ve done that and may soon have an exciting announcement. Even if it won't go on the back of my book, a two-line endorsement from a bestselling author can be highlighted on my Amazon Author Page.

Designing a book cover you love is one of the great joys of the indie publishing experience. Creative control is yours. Have fun with it.

What are your experiences with designing or working on a design for your book cover? Share your thoughts, insights and experiences. We love having you here in the Circle. ~ Susan

Monday, December 8, 2014

When Fiction Is Better Than Memoir

How many of us have taken a memoir and used it as jumping off point to write a novel? Well, that’s exactly what I did in my forthcoming novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor. It wasn’t my memoir. It was my late husband’s unpublished West Point memoir, which I wrapped a fictionalized love story around. It was risky, but creatively rewarding.

When you write a memoir, you are bound by the truth. Accuracy is uppermost. Of course, who hasn’t written a memoir and left something out, either by design or accident?

When you take the memoir, the journal, or the diaries of another person, you are also bound by the accuracy of what they wrote. Tampering with their words, their memories, is not just wrong, but unjustifiable. It is almost like changing someone’s Last Will and Testament.

That being the case, when you write fiction, you weave a larger and more imaginative story that allows the memoir to be showcased and shine. 

The introduction of another character – in this case, my main female character, Ava Stuart, offers the reader her views of the memoirist, Jay Scioli (my late husband, John M.Cavalieri’s, pseudonym). Ava reads Jay's memoir and asks him the questions that John never asked himself in the memoir. As his wife, I imagined what he would have said to Ava's questions; hopefully, holding true to John, while at the same time enjoying the creative license to invent - a definite 'no no' for the memoirist.

When I wrote Ava Stuart, a 40-something writer on her own, newly-divorced, it let me draw upon but also move away from my own experiences. I could enhance a single woman's journey  . . . finding true love, friendship and connection in a life that had been marked by disillusionment.

When I wrote my memoir Morning at Wellington Square - in actuality, a series of vignettes tied together through transitions - there was only so much I could elaborate on without veering from the narrative of a woman’s journey from loss to renewal.  

In Again in a Heartbeat, many of the feelings I wrote were still too raw – albeit I had waited 13 years after John’s death to write it. If I had to criticize my own memoir, it was that rawness and lack of understanding of myself that made the story fragmentary at times. Yet, because it was a memoir and going into greater depths of feeling simply was impossible at the time, I was tied down to the truth as honestly as I could perceive it. Does that make sense?

Memoir can be one-dimensional. You know the ending before you start. (I'm not talking about the journey of discovery  . . . one of memoir's great joys.) You cannot get into the minds of others . . . only your own.


Photographs: John at West Point wearing the hat featured on the cover of A Portrait of Love and Honor. He captioned this photograph: “Your toy soldier arrived,” in an album he created for me.  The album also included this photograph of me at a formal dance at Valley Forge Military Academy when I was 14 years old. John entitled this: “Ah young love – always one to fall for uniforms.”

How has your writing journey been altered or enhanced by taking someone’s memoir, diary or journals and casting that in a fictionalized story?  If you have had this experience – or even if not, and you simply want to weigh in here – I would love to feature your comments . . . or your essay as a guest blog. For more information about guest blogging for the Women’s Writing Circle, go to:

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Writer Finds 'Gold' In New Zealand

What makes us writers? Is it the ability to craft words into lyrical phrases, create memorable and complex characters, hone a message that captivates readers? Yes, of course, but the modern writer, with rare exception, becomes a better writer by expanding horizons, traveling the world and absorbing the people, the customs and the culture.

I recently traveled for 17 days to the South Island of New Zealand, also known as the gateway to Antarctica, that’s how remote it is. Only a thousand years ago the Maori people of northern Polynesia set foot on “Aotearoa", their word for New Zealand. Translated, it means "the land of the long white cloud."

The British didn’t settle Christchurch until the mid-19th century and the only castle in the country – Larnach, located in Dunedin, wasn’t even built until 1861. More sheep than people populate the verdant, rolling hillside pastures, although at one time the entire country was wooded. The only animal life consisted of birds; many species lost their ability to fly as there were no predators.

Getting to New Zealand from where I live outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania feels like traveling to the moon. A 9,000 mile journey, it entails flying across the United States; then from Los Angeles to the Fiji Islands and from Fiji to Auckland; from Auckland to Wellington, the southernmost tip of the North Island, which is where my son and I began our journey.

From Wellington, a three-hour ferry ride across Cook Strait landed us in Picton on the South Island; from there we traveled the entire perimeter of the island, driving 2,000 miles as we toured the land of the long white cloud, also known as the "long bright world" or "land of abiding day" because of the length and quality of daylight in New Zealand.

The scenery inspired Peter Jackson, New Zealand film director’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy, based on Tolkien's novels of the same name. New Zealand tourism has capitalized on both, advertising the unspoiled landscapes as the "perfect Middle-earth.”

Although I had traveled to the beautiful North Island several years ago, the South Island is beyond breathtaking; it is almost other worldly. Clouds and floating mist drape snow-covered mountains like so many gauze necklaces.

Glaciers plunge to rain forests and fiord lands to the narrow and deep inlets of the mighty Pacific Ocean. Waves crash against huge jutting rocks; seals sun themselves on boulders.

Lakes and streams, cascading waterfalls, and hillsides covered in bright yellow flowering trees
are a photographer’s dream. Mountains are mirrored in perfect clear lakes. Nature is mightily and powerfully on display.

A true traveler becomes aware of different cultures, languages and customs. A writer breathes it in, embraces and learns from it. In the contemplation that travel affords, an opportunity to develop as creative people is ours for the taking.

Interestingly, when I traveled to Wellington, I arrived during the city’s first LitCrawl. Seventy writers and performers throughout 15 venues allowed visitors to make a choice from a lot of options.

I selected “True Stories Told Live” at the Embassy Theatre, Kent Terrace. Memoirists, like our writers in the Women's Writing Circle,  stood up at a mic and spun inventive vignettes. It was literally standing room only as the crowd of men and women of all ages spilled out of the area where the writers spoke into the upper gallery of the movie theater.

 “We’re thrilled at the turnout . . . we had no idea it would be this popular,” enthused a member of the New Zealand Book Council whom I spoke with. The writers’ books were displayed; many were independently published or with a small university press.

Everyone has a story to tell no matter where in the world you travel.

We become better writers by opening ourselves to the larger world outside our own safe havens.We weave more inventive ways to tell our stories when we break our comfort zones and travel. As they said at LitCrawl, you’re a miner and around every corner is a nugget of gold.

How about you? Have you found inspiration in travel?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sonia Marsh - 'My Next Gutsy Chapter'

Like many writers, I follow Sonia Marsh's Gutsy Indie Publishers Facebook page. I read her entertaining and poignant memoir, Freeways to Flip-Flops. I contributed to her first My Gutsy Story anthology.  
I met Sonia last spring after she offered an author-entrepreneur workshop for the Women's Writing Circle. I picked Sonia up on a May evening in Chester Springs from Philadelphia International Airport. I hadn't anticipated how energetic, beautiful and honest she would be. She opened up her life . . . her journey as a wife, a mother and a memoir writer . . . with candor. 

I asked Sonia to share her next 'gutsy' chapter, and her new adventures. She also shares advice on how to become a successful author AND make money. Please welcome Sonia Marsh back to the Circle. ~ Susan

If you want to be semi-successful as an indie (self-published) author, you may want to think about creating a brand that can help you make a living in other areas.

One of the main lessons I’ve learned since I published my first memoir, Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is that if you want to make a living at writing, you have 3 options:

·         You write at least 6 great books. Why 6? Because your royalties start to accumulate, and six seems to be the breaking point at which you bring in sufficient revenue.
·         You start side businesses related to your writing like coaching, editing, public speaking, Webinars, Workshops, helping other businesses with branding and social media.
·         You become an “expert” in your field. Find your passion, focus on a “niche” market and target your audience. Read Dan Poynter’s  advice on “How to Find Your Customers” on my website.

So much has happened in my life since I wrote the first post on Susan’s blog. I feel like I’m cramming ten years into one.

Let me summarize by stating the highlights, and yes, even my divorce is a highlight.

Women's Writing Circle Author Entrepreneur Workshop

3.      Started my “Gutsy Book Coaching” business after hiring my own business coach
4.      Started Google+ Hangouts with interesting authors and experts including:
7.      All my interviews on YouTube here
8.      Started Webinars to help indie authors
9.      My “Gutsy Indie Publishers” Group on Facebook has grown to 760 writers. (You’re welcome to join.)
10.  Started sending out newsletters once a month from adding e-mail sign-up on my landing page (see more details below)
11.  Workshops at Total Wine Stores
12.  3 Costco Book Signing Events (get your free video when  you sign-up on my site)
13.  IBPA conference in San Francisco (Learn why I joined IBPA, and why you should too)
14.  Got nominated for the “Gutsy Gals Inspire Me” Awards in Santa Barbara, CA.
15.  Met Susan Weidener on May 8th and spoke at Women’s Writing Circle on “How to become a Successful Authorpreneur.”
16.  Volunteered in Spain in at Vaughan Volunteers for one week speaking English to Spanish business people
17.  Signed up to join the Peace Corps in 2015 (a 27-month commitment)
19.  Moving to a wonderful rental
20.  Selling properties
21.  Attending a 3-month course for women in transition
22.  Working part-time coaching a professor on his book marketing and promotion
23.  Pet and House-sitting
24.  Working with a plastic surgeon on his blog and website “face-lift.”
25.  Receiving the READERS’ FAVORITES GOLD MEDAL for my memoir in Miami on November 22nd, 2014
26.  Off to Paris, London and Copenhagen from December 15th-31st, with my 20-year-old son
So quite a few new things have happened since Susan Weidener, published my first post on her site.

I’d like to share my next adventure since I’m divorcing after a 28-year marriage.

I truly hope to experience another major life-changing adventure now that I’m divorcing and my children are 20, 24 and 27. My three sons are still single, and I have a passion to help women start a business in a 3rd world country. With my background, I know this is the right time for me to do something for others, and realize that this will also transform me.

I want to write another memoir, and have trademarked the Gutsy Living® brand. Please keep in touch as I plan to interview “Gutsy” women in other parts of the world and both film them and write about them.

Please follow me on my website as I disclose more news about my future and the Peace Corps, or other adventures.
I also hope you submit to the 2015 “My Gutsy Story®” Anthology publication. The submission guidelines are here.
Any questions you have for me are welcome. So please ask, and I shall reply.

Sonia Marsh is a “Gutsy” woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She’s an award-winning author, blogger, unconventional thinker and world traveler with a passion for tropical islands.

Sonia likes to inspire people to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story®”; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family to reconnect on an island in Belize. Her memoir received the 2014 Gold Medal at the Readers’ Favorite Awards.

Sonia has lived in many countries – Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize – Sonia Marsh considers herself a citizen of the world. She is looking forward to embarking on her next “Gutsy Adventure.”

Monday, November 3, 2014

Feeling Kinship, We Celebrate Writing

Each of us is the Women's Writing Circle. Without the other, our community wouldn't exist as we explore the rich life that writing awakens.

The good news - we feel kinship even if only a couple hours a month, thanks to sharing our stories . . . stories that aren't always pretty; or maybe because they aren't pretty.

As we celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Women's Writing Circle this weekend, I'm honored to offer you the following tributes from our wonderful writers. No more needs to be said except a huge and heartfelt thank you. This is the power and the joy of collaborating and sharing our creative lives and passions in community. ~ Susan

The Women's Writing Circle is a refreshing anything-goes type of group. No apologies allowed. We speak what we write because it feels safe to share. We connect first through our voices, but in the end it's our stories that unite us and make the Women's Writing Circle so unique. ~ Candice Swick

The Women’s Writing Circle has brought an unexpected dimension to my creative life for several years. The Circle has provided a safe setting for me to explore my writing after a hiatus of nearly forty years.  An elementary school teacher once described me as the most aesthetically-minded student she ever had. As the years progressed, I came to realize that what I had to offer was not necessarily valued by today’s society. Poetry was replaced by practicality and creativity was funneled elsewhere. Today as I prepare to turn sixty, I feel closer to the whimsically ponderous and aesthetic child I once was. I thank Susan and the Women’s Writing Circle for bringing me back. ~ Flo Shore

The Women's Writing Circle has a special spot in my heart. When I miss a monthly meeting, I am a little less alive, creatively fulfilled, whole. Yes, it's about the lovely ladies and their diverse stories. It's about the cozy room at Wellington and the steaming free coffee in the real mugs. Mostly though, it's about acceptance. It is my time to take a deep breath and celebrate who I am as a person and a writer. I know that I am not being judged. It's ok for me to share my deepest fears and evolving truths." ~ Diane Yannick

The WWC continues to be a life raft for me - a unique place for renewal, contemplation, listening and sharing. How fine to gather in an amazing, welcoming bookstore to hear women tell their stories, read their poems and discuss the rigors of the writing process. What is more amazing is that women have given their ear as I wrote about (and wept) over the loss of a dear cat. Where else could I write - and have a lively audience of women writers listen to my mid-winter story about a life-long love of reading? The WWC remains my own special piece of survival gear. Challenging. Nurturing. Accepting. Exciting. Funny. Fulfilling. Nostalgic. ~ Edda R. Pitassi

I’ve found a safe place to connect with like-minded women, gestate ideas, test drive my “voice” and cast off my sense of artistic isolation.

Our leader and founder Susan Weidener demonstrates patience and respect for each writer, however novice or seasoned. Over the past year, I’ve grown to respect and admire her as a sharp editor and a careful, insightful listener. Each session proves to be genuine and thought provoking—I’ve never departed without an idea or two to inject into my own work.  I feel fortunate to have found the Circle and be immersed in the creative process, if only for a few short hours each month. I’ve enjoyed the quick intimacy that we share as introspective women, who reflect on both the sacred and profane stories of our lives. In the bustle of life and all of its banality, I intend to carve out a space for the important work of tuning in to women’s storytelling, and reaping the benefits of inspiration and community it has bestowed upon my writing life.  ~ Marjory Cafone

In the few months I have been coming to the Women’s Writing Circle, I feel a sense of kinship to this beautiful group of women. Together we share our writing, using experiences and insight to celebrate the journey of life. The Circle has given me an opportunity to grow, empower myself and demand of myself to write well. ~ Doris D. Westermark

When I attend the Circle, I am lifted creatively and feel a completeness within. There, the human spirit prevails and an ethereal spirit swirls about the room. The atmosphere is like no other; magic and earthiness abound. The Women's Writing Circle is an outlet and a place for me to experience other women. Their trust and confidence is placed upon me and I somehow soar. Sometimes the sharing is quite deep and the content is tough. By the end of our gathering I am satisfied and my heart is again light. ~ Jan Backes

The Women's Writing Circle is a special community that presents a venue where women find their individual voice. Memories of past experiences are validated through the individual's writing. Everyone has a story to tell. In sharing our stories we give compassion and understanding to each other." ~ Maureen Barry

I feel blessed to be a part of the Women’s Writing Circle. When Susan and I met on LinkedIn in 2010 and I read about her Women’s Writing Circle, I visualized myself participating, even though it was many miles away. My dream came true and I have had the honor of being a part of the Circle since 2012. Susan has created a sacred space where the stories of our lives can be shared in safety and with the utmost respect. I am deeply grateful to the Circle for helping me claim and honor my voice and my story. Happy 5th Anniversary, Susan and wonderful members of the Circle! ~ Kathy Pooler

The Women's Writing Circle is a superb example of what humans (not just women) can do to inspire each other to tell their stories to help themselves and others live a better life and not just endure, but learn to thrive from the pain we all inevitably suffer in this life. In founding the Circle, Susan Weidener has made the contribution of a lifetime to human well-being. Thank you Susan. I can still feel the inspiration from my visit to the Circle in May 2013. ~ Boyd Lemon

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Novel Born In Memoir Completes Trilogy

I have shared on this blog the story of my late husband, John M. Cavalieri, who, two years before his death, wrote a memoir about his time as a West Point cadet during the Vietnam War. 

John also wrote about his battle with cancer and impersonal systems – the military, the medical establishment and corporate America; systems which often destroy the individual spirit and soul. 

My new book, anticipated publication date early next year, is titled A PORTRAIT OF LOVE AND HONOR. Wrapped around the memoir of Jay Scioli (John’s pseudonym) is the story of Ava Stuart, author and editor, a woman who fears taking a risk on love, almost as much as she fears never finding it at all. Ava and Jay's love story "embraces" Jay's memories of the past and serves as a canvas on which to paint a larger portrait of love and honor.

My son, Daniel Cavalieri, pointed out that by incorporating his father’s memoir into a fictionalized love story, it represented the ending to a trilogy which began with Again in a Heartbeat: a memoir of love, loss and dating again, and its sequel Morning at Wellington Square. So at the very end with A Portrait of  Love and Honor, we arrive back at the beginning.

For the past two years, I’ve written and revised numerous drafts. I’ve gone to bed thinking about the story, jumped up to write down this line of dialogue, that turn of phrase while still fresh in my mind. After batting around a dozen titles, I settled on one I felt the perfect fit.

Even the image for the cover (see photograph above) came to me in one shining moment.

Last week, I finished my book; felt as good as any writer can feel when accomplishing something they set out to do.

The Women’s Writing Circle provided invaluable input as I crafted my story and read excerpts. I especially thank Edda Pitassi, who gave heart and soul as my developmental editor – a woman of Italian American descent whom I know John would have loved; Diane Yannick, whose sensitive and insightful critique came unexpectedly and “capped off” the final version; Marjory Cafone who has been supportive and a valuable listening ear at read around and in private conversations.

Collaboration, friendship and support have always helped the writer. I may not have Gertrude Stein’s salon but I have something equally treasured and valuable – a circle of friends, colleagues and mentors who inspire and encourage the hard work of not just starting, but finishing a book, offering insight how to improve it.

Colleagues, friends and other authors can be incentive to finishing your work-in-progress..

I also thank Elizabeth Madden, a psychologist and social worker who critiqued the story and suggested I dig deep into the psychological dynamics of Jay and his family. Betty urged me to ask the questions: Why did Jay keep coming back to West Point year after year? What role did his mother – an Italian immigrant, play in Jay’s desire to be special? Was pleasing his father, a World War II veteran, instrumental in Jay’s decision to pursue his dream of becoming an officer despite signs that “duty, honor and country” often fell flat in the face of reality?

With John at Yosemite
Cynthia McGroarty, a former colleague at The Philadelphia Inquirer, set me on the right direction when she asked, “Who is Ava?”

Cindy wanted me to dig deeper into Ava’s story. That helped establish the framework of my novel – Ava’s love acting as an “embrace” around Jay story.

I also thank my son, Alex Cavalieri, who read the book and offered up what will eventually become its synopsis. And Bruce Mowday, bestselling author of Pennsylvania history and a friend for over two decades, whose interest in Jay’s story offered the much needed male perspective, separate from my sons.

Finally, to Kathy Pooler, memoirist, who also acted as a beta reader and gave me the warmest glow of encouragement when she said, “Susan, I was swept away and deeply touched. . . Fabulous, heartrending, real. I have no doubt John was not only with you throughout the writing process but is smiling right now and so proud of how you have brought this to fruition.”

In coming months I’ll blog about the themes in A Portrait of Love and Honor, perhaps, take a page out of author Mary Gottschalk's innovative marketing and seek guest bloggers to write about those themes.  

I read on Daring to Live Fully a blog featuring tips for writers that.“Chilean author Isabel Allende once said that writing a book is like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. You never know if it will reach any shores.” 

For now, just finishing the book offers a restful shore.

TOP PHOTO:  Susan G. Weidener photo:  All rights reserved.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Make Way For The Lovely Blogs

In many ways blogs have replaced the old-fashioned magazine. Remember those? We all used to thumb through them at our leisure.

I still recall how excited I was when TIME magazine arrived weekly in the mail. I would curl up in a chair and get lost in the articles, insights, and opinions of people from around the world.

Print magazines, unfortunately, are dropping by the wayside in a digitally-driven world. See this article in the Wall Street Journal.

 It might not be that big a stretch to say magazines are being replaced by many mediums, not the least of which is the blog. 

Blogs brimming with attention-grabbing observations; interviews by a variety of people; essays; stunning photographs, garner thousands of "views" by readers each month, sometimes each week.

I enjoy reading blogs about writing and publishing over a hot cup of coffee in the morning, or while eating lunch . . . even after dinner. Many blogs are linked through Facebook and Google+ which makes for easy access.

So why not take a moment and give a nod to a favorite blog?   A “one lovely blog award,” a sort of chain love letter, has been making its rounds through cyberspace as bloggers take a moment to recognize other bloggers.

I’d like to thank Madeline Sharples, Mary Gottschalk and Kathy Pooler for awarding the Women’s Writing Circle blog the “one lovely blog award” in the last two weeks. I admire the generosity of these three women who nominated me; I admire them as bloggers and writers. They share their personal journeys, their writing process and open their blogs to other writers without self-promotion.

The loveliest blogs are written in an informal or conversational style. That's the art of the blogging genre; to present information in a way that people can relate to, enjoy and, hopefully, find useful.

Blogs take a great amount of time, commitment and energy in order to give readers something new each week. That said, since I started this blog in 2008 the rewards of being published through this amazing medium known as the Internet and social media are numerous.

Now to move on to the “rules” of the One Lovely Blog Award . . . sharing 7 things about yourself that your readers may not know and then nominating your favorite blogs for the award.

Seven Things About Me: 

When I was in my mid-30s, people used to stop me quite often and tell me I looked like Glenn Close. It was pretty scary since it  was about the time she had filmed Fatal Attraction. I chalk it up to that horrible home perm I got that year (see photographs) because by all measures Glenn Close is beautiful and I have never considered myself as gorgeous as she.

Halloween is my favorite holiday and in the next life I want to come back as a vamp with a sexy Italian gangster at my side.

If there is one woman who has died that I could have dinner with it would be my grandmother Nanny Weidener. Nanny (maiden name Annie Beatrice Dean) came to this country from Blackpool, England in the early 20th century. After her husband died, when she had barely turned 60, she started a boarding house in Germantown, PA, as a way to support her and her elderly aunt. When Nanny turned 71, she got engaged to be married. Yes, there is hope no matter how old you are!

I saw the Beatles at the old JFK Stadium in Philadelphia when I was 14 years old. From the distance, they looked like little bobble head dolls, but I’ll never forget the hush that came over the screaming crowd when Paul sang "Yesterday." I went home and immediately wrote a love story with Paul as the hero.

Speaking of music, I saw Bob Marley at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia around 1972. Truly one of the greats, I’ll never forget his magnetic performance and voice at this small venue where I had front row seats in the balcony.

My best friend is Paula (see photograph with Paula. I still had the horrible perm. That's my son, Alex, nudging his way into the frame). We have been best friends for half a century – yes, this year marks our 50th year of being best friends. Who needs a sister when you have a best friend like Paula?

Over the last 15 or so years, I have met over 70 different men for Internet dates . . . but who’s counting?

Now To The Rules:

Mention a few of the  blogs and bloggers I enjoy (but not those bloggers who nominated me).  Then, someone I list is supposed to take it from here. I gladly let you off the hook if it's not your thing.

Lovely Blogs

Sherrey Meyer, Writer: healing life’s hurts through writing. This blog is rich in book reviews, memoir writing as a way of healing and interviews with authors and aspiring authors.

Widow's Voice: Seven Widowed Voices Sharing Love, Loss, and Hope.  A treasure trove of up close and personal experiences, emotions and grief that comprise the widowed journey, I have been a fan of this blog for years.

Write on the River by Bob Mayer. I just found this blog recently. Bob is a West Pointer and shares generously of his publishing journey, his prolific career as an author AND his opinions about the state of publishing in an ever-changing world.

Anam Cara. Kellie, Kellie Springer’s blog. Anam Cara refers to the Celtic spiritual belief of souls connecting and bonding. Kellie has come to the Women’s Writing Circle to share her wisdom about life, dispelling myths about women and culture, and the never-ending and exhilarating journey of self discovery. All of this makes her blog a treasure.

Sonia Marsh. Always one of my favorites because Sonia’s gutsiness, honesty and letting-it-all hang out personality set the tone and template for finding our voices through writing, publishing and promoting. Her blog features stories from people all over the world who share a "gutsy" moment.