If I Could Invite My Characters Out . . . By Samantha Stroh Bailey

I absolutely LOVE her book, “Finding Lucas” and am thrilled that Samantha Stroh Bailey could contribute to my blog this week!  Enjoy and if you haven’t checked out her book yet, you really should!
If I could invite my characters out for a night on the town, we would definitely start with some greasy burgers and drinks at a low-key pub and then head out for a night of shaking our booties at a dance club. Hanna and Lucy will, of course, have the best moves, but Jamie and I will try to keep up.
Can you ever really go back to the past?

After five long years of living with Derek, her former bad-boy-turned-metrosexual boyfriend, Jamie Ross finally reaches her breaking point. She’s had enough of his sneering disdain for her second hand wardrobe, unusual family, and low-paying job as the associate producer of Chicago’s sleaziest daytime talk show. When her new boss plans a segment on reuniting lost loves, Jamie remembers Lucas, her first love and the boy she’d lost ten years earlier. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, Jamie goes on a hilarious, disastrous, and life-changing hunt to track Lucas down. But are some loves best left behind?

Samantha Stroh Bailey
Author of Finding Lucas, Available on Amazon and Kobo

Samantha Stroh Bailey
Author of Finding Lucas, Available on Amazon and Kobo

This One is for the Indie Writers!

To be a good writer, they say you have to be a good reader first and find inspiration in stories that move you.  I’ve been a lifelong lover of books and I admit to devouring a few of them a month (and that’s during a slow month).  And, when I started writing my own books, I found tons of inspiration in published authors that weaved stories I felt connected to because they wrote about characters who were just like me,  only thinner, smarter and living in a great one bedroom apartment in the city, one that I could never afford in my lifetime.   I came to know and love such authors as Sophie Kinsella, Emily Griffin and Jane Green, just to name a few, because I found my laugh in between the pages of their novels.

Now that I’ve been an Indie writer for almost a year (it will be  official in May), I have come to know another group of exceptionally talented writers who have taken their dreams of being published and made it happen on their own.  These are people I have come to admire as my colleagues and who understand the struggles (the highs and lows) of being a self-published author.  They are a great support system too (think AA but in this group, we do drink!), forwarding over resources and information, sharing and celebrating in your successes and talking you through (and off the ledge sometimes) the inevitable hiccups happening along the way.

And, more importantly, I have myself become a fan of their writing.  They make me see that it can be done.  You can write a good story and, eventually, someone will read it and like it.

So this blog post is dedicated to all of the Indie authors out there who are working so hard right now at making their dreams become realities.  They are sitting at their desk at home (in the basement, den or bedroom) or at the office and typing away on their computers, writing another chapter of their novel, a few more pages closer to the finish line.  They are up at all hours of the night or get up an hour earlier in the morning to get in some writing.   They breathe, eat and sleep the dream and, in the process, they are giving us some unforgettably good novels.

All I can say is: keep up the good work! I’m proud to be a member of this club.  And, as someone who is a reader first, writer second, I want to say thank you for giving me so many good stories to enjoy!


How Many Kids Do I Really Have?

Aside from being a writer, I am the proud mother of three young children.   So in addition to being a storyteller, I am also a mediator of fights involving food and/or toys and enforcer of bedtime rituals, teeth brushing and homework, as well as, the motivational speaker to pre-teen angst; not to forget the crazy mom on the sidelines at soccer games yelling at the referee to leave my kid alone (yes, I am that wild eyed woman with no makeup hiding under a baseball hat with a large coffee cup in my hand pacing the field back and forth).

In my spare time, I’m also laundress, housekeeper, cook, server (think Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore and Carson from Downton Abbey without the staff) and finder of everything missing in my home (think CSI without the cool locations and sophisticated labs), aka “the GPS for all things lost.”

So, you might be asking yourself right about now, what  in the world does this have to do with being an author?  Well, the answer occurred to me the other night while I was finishing up a chapter to a novel in progress: It’s the way I have become overprotective of my characters.  They have become, indeed, my offsprings, just like any one of my children.

Now, if you are a mother too and can remember back to the days you were pregnant, you know how much you went through to deliver your little bundle of joy.  Everything in your body was in turmoil, your emotions ran from high to low and vice-versa (like  a  Corvette goes from 0 to 60 in less than five seconds) and you were being stretched to the point that if you were Play Doh, you’d be broken into a million of squishy pieces (I cringe just trying to come up with a mental picture of this).

Whether you remember the labor, the delivery or, like me, had blocked the pain by either passing out or being helped along the way (all I have to say to that is one word-epidural.  Where have you been all of my life?), at the end of a 10-going-25 hour ordeal to the tune of  “Oh dear God, when is this thing coming out of me,”  you were left drained, exhausted but utterly happy holding your little bundle of joy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying writing is the same as delivering a 7-pound baby and all that comes with that (again, cringe-worthy image) but the process is somewhat the same.  As a writer, you fret, you worry, you write to the point of exhaustion.  You suffer through writer’s block, you read and reread the same paragraph until you think you’ve gone mad.  You endure sleepless nights and anxiety. And at the end of it all, you are left with your pride and joy-your finished novel.

And just like a mother, you are fiercely protective of it.  Just like when my first born son came into this world, I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  No one could tell me differently.   Now twelve years later as I look back at pictures of him as a newborn, I realize how unattractive he really was and wondered what exactly was I thinking (I might have still been under the Percocet induced haze).  But at that time, you couldn’t tell me otherwise or, like a lion, I would have eaten you alive!

I guess when it comes down to it, you always think your children are the best.  They are brilliant, beautiful and the center of your world.  There was a period of a year where I seriously believed my daughter was the next Jackson Pollock.  Her drawings were abstract, vibrant, and full of truth.  The truth was she was three and  she just meshed all of her colors together on a piece of paper because she liked the feel of it between her fingers; not that she was thinking of some greater existential meaning behind it.  But you couldn’t tell me differently at the time.  She was a genius.  A soulful painter who happened to also eat chalk.

And the same thinking applies to my writing.  I can’t help myself. Every time a review comes in, I cringe, hoping that someone liked my story, loved my characters .  After all, they are my babies.  They give me grief. They have me worrying about what direction they will take, what decisions they will make.  And yes, they do make mistakes and are not always smart at making choices.  They can be ditzy and sometimes cruel.  But they’re mine and I love them, flawed and all.

Just like my children, I may roll my eyes at them and wonder what I was  thinking when I created them but I would never change things.  If I had to do it over again, I would still get in front of that computer and type out the same story, the same characters.