Hi Liz! I'm glad you joined me as 2021's first campfire guest. With so much going on in the world it's nice to step away from it all and hunker down around a cozy flame and great company. So, what can I offer you? The camp fridge is like shooting star where all your wishes come true.
I’ll just get some coffee. Oh, good, you have hazelnut creamer.
I love hazelnut creamer so it's a staple on every shopping trip. Tell us, have you ever camped?
I camped with a friend’s family as a kid, and it was so much fun, but it wasn’t something we did later with our own family. I do love staying in a lodge in a state park—any state, any park! That’s almost like camping, isn’t it?
Absolutely. To me, camping is just about the shelter or lack of one. It's about time in the outdoors with family and friends. Conversation and good food. My son and his family don't have a camper but love the experience. Each Christmas we get them a KOA gift certificate and they rent a cabin and enjoy themselves. Now, tell us about your latest project. What book are you talking about today, and what’s on the horizon?
My latest book is a complete departure. Although I’ve written contemporary romance since the late 90s, I’ve also written a column called “Window Over the Sink.” Sometimes for newspapers, a few times for magazines and often for my blog. My husband wanted me to compile a bunch of them in a book. A mere 15 years or so after he broached the subject, Window Over the Sink, the book, was published.
That's great! I love books like that .Do you have a tagline? Life Motto? If you have both, let us have them.
My tagline is Stories from the Heart. My motto is my favorite A. A. Milne quote: “What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
My favorite mug is a Winnie the Pooh one. So much simple wisdom from the stories. How long did it take you from conception to publication?
It took years—probably 10--at the beginning, and sometimes years between sales, too. I was published before indie became a “thing,” so my career path wasn’t unusual. While I always resented the term “hobbyist,” I suppose to some, that’s what I was. Writing was my second job, no matter how much I loved it, and the time I had for it came after the kids, the husband, and the day job. When I had the time to devote to it, I no longer had the drive. If I didn’t still love it as much as I always did, it would be a sad story; as it is, I’ve just been lucky.
I don't know, luck? Maybe. How about adding talent and perseverance? And speaking about writing, are there any mentors, authors, or books you would like to give a shout-out to?
The list here is really long, so I’ll name just three. Muriel Jensen, who wrote a gazillion books, all of which I’ve read, told me never to give up and was a friend to me always. Kathleen Gilles Seidel has, for my money, the best voice in romantic or women’s fiction, and I grew as a writer just by reading her. Nan Reinhardt, who is my favorite travel buddy, is also my best writer friend. We brainstorm and have even discussed writing a book together, but decided the friendship was too important to risk.
They sound like a fantastic trio of women. Liz, what does literary success look like to you?
I’m happy in my writing life, and that’s all the success I need. I’m not sure how I’d answer that if I wrote for a living; I’m afraid I wouldn’t have recognized pleasure as success.
Life Hacks for Authors. Do you have any tips, tricks, or anything you specialize in that you would share with others? I'm especially interested in how you've dealt with COVID-19.
Have your own space. I remember reading that way back when my own space was my seat at the kitchen table. I laughed—probably derisively—but I can’t overstate its importance.
It’s easier for us than it is for many other people. We live rurally, like each other’s company, and being creative when it comes to shopping or food someone else has cooked. I miss my kids and grands a lot, but we’re all safe, so I count my blessings.
Now the fun questions
Funny how the spelling of some words allude us. Liz, thanks for being my guest today at the campfire. Would you leave as with a little more about your book and where readers can find out more?
It’s been nearly ten years since we retired. I’m still in the office Duane and the boys created for me. The seven quilts I promised to make have been completed. A few books. He has new knees and new guitars. We’ve had grief and loss in these years, occasional discontent, times of being alone even when we were together. We’ve also had a blessed amount of fun. Of music and laughter and family. Of the other side of being alone that comes of knowing we never really are. Much has changed in those nine years and change, and much has stayed the same. At first, it seemed as if this book was a vanity thing. Or a thing for the grandkids to look at and think Okay, Nana, what do you want me to do with this? But in the end, like most other things in life that are worthwhile, it is a labor of love. A gathering of thoughts and dreams and memories. Thanks for joining me on the journey.
GOALS AND SOMETIMES
I don’t do resolutions, although I start each new year with some goals that sometimes I make (finish at least one book) and sometimes I don’t (lose fill-in-the-blank pounds). I hope each year will be an improvement over the last one, which sometimes works out and sometimes not.
I used “sometimes” a little too often in that first paragraph, didn’t I? But to tell the truth, it’s an important word. If you say “always” or “never,” you’re committed to something whether you want to be or not.
Like “I would never say that.” Sure, you would, if you were mad enough.
Or “I always wash the sheets every Monday.” Unless I forget.
Or “I would never wear yoga pants to the grocery store.” Yeah, you would. And hair curlers back in the day. And, if your nose is running and you’re about to cough up a lung and you’d rather just stay in bed, maybe you’d wear your pajamas, too. (Lots of people do, even though they really shouldn’t and I wish they really wouldn’t.)
Or, my kids never did that. Okay. You go ahead thinking that.
Or, things were always better in my day. No. They weren’t. They were different and some things were better. Some things were awful.
Unless you say you’ve never done something that might be fun or exciting or mind-enhancing. Then you should add it to your list.
Or unless you say you’re always glad to see someone or to help someone or to have a great conversation with them. Then you should hang onto those things and do them more often.
You can say you’ve never done or said something as long as you tack “yet” onto the end of the sentence.
You can say you always do or say something as long as you add “almost” in front of the always.
Often, though, you’re better off with “sometimes,” instead of committing to something you might not be able to accomplish. Or with “I’ll try” instead of “I promise,” because broken promises are much harder on both sides of any equation than trying and failing.
I need to interject here that I am kind of big on clichés and quotes—you may have noticed—and one of my favorites is the only failure is in not trying. Robert Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Even if greatness isn’t your goal, daring to fail is an important part of any success.
There, do I sound pompous enough for you?
So, although I don’t do resolutions, I have goals—finish another book, lose…a few pounds, laugh a lot, see good movies, cry some, read, see my family and friends every chance I get, stay healthy, volunteer.
I’ll achieve all of them. Sometimes. And I’ll keep trying.
Buy links: https://books2read.com/u/bw7NM0
Bio and links:
Retired from the post office, Liz Flaherty spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and wanting to travel. The author of 20-some books and her husband Duane share an old farmhouse in North Central Indiana that they talk about leaving. However, that would require clearing baseball trophies from the attic and dusting the pictures of the Magnificent Seven, their grandchildren, so they’ll probably stay where they are.
Liz can be reached at email@example.com
or please come and see her at:
Liz also sent a cover shot of her favorite book. So I've attached the blurb and Goodreads link What are some of your favorites?
For all of her nine years, fragile Elizabeth Ann has heard her Aunt Frances refer in whispers to her "horrid Putney cousins." But when her aunt can no longer care for her, Elizabeth Ann must leave her sheltered life to live in the wilds of Vermont with those distant relatives.
In the beginning, Elizabeth Ann is shocked by country living--pets are allowed to sleep in the house and children are expected to do chores! But with country living comes independence and responsibility, and in time, Elizabeth Ann finds herself making friends and enjoying her new family. When the year is up and Aunt Frances comes to get her niece, she finds a healthier, prouder girl with a new name--Betsy--and a new outlook on life.
Understood Betsy has delighted generations of young readers since it was first published by Henry Holt and Company in 1917.