Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Hop Tour

Welcome to the Meet My Character Blog Hop Tour. First I'd like to thank author Jennifer Pitkin for inviting me to join her on this tour.  Here's a little bit about Jennifer.

Ever since she was a little girl on a farm in rural Iowa, Jennifer M. Pitkin's heart has been filled with wanderlust and adventure. She started writing at an early age, and has never stopped. After exploring Italy, Ethiopia and South Korea, Pitkin's desire to transport others to those places and to raise awareness of important humanitarian and social issues took hold in the form of her second novel, Watchmen for Morning. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Iowa State University and her Master's Degree from Pacific Oaks College. Her areas of both professional and personal interest and research include: adoption, global orphan care, Interpersonal Neurobiology, social justice and humanitarian aid work. Her adventures never stop as she raises her four small children with her beloved husband in Iowa. Pitkin will be releasing three more books within the next year - connect with her online to stay updated! Links: Facebook   Twitter   Website

Now, on to meet my character.
What is the name of your character?

Jack Harmon is the hero of my novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story. I’m in love with Jack in spite of our age difference because he is a true romantic hero, a real gentleman, a breed of man that is slowly dying out.  Let me explain.  Jack is 80 years old, and he’s the sole caregiver for his wife, Sara, who has Alzheimer’s. Theirs is the story of a disappearing generation, the World War II generation, where people stuck with their marriages through all of its ups and downs (often through sheer will and determination), unlike their children’s and grandchildren’s tendency to dissolve  marriages when situations change, calamity strikes, or boredom sets in.  In my work as a nurse, I've witnessed many men caring for their chronically and even hopelessly ill wives, and I appreciated their loving care and dutiful attention. I talked with them about their feelings and tried to bring some of that into Jack’s character. So often, when we think of caregivers we think of women – wives, mothers, daughters – and I wanted to explore the role of male as caregiver.

When and where is the story set?

Blue Hydrangeas is set in the fictional town of Falmouthport, on Cape Cod, in contemporary time. I chose this setting because I love the Cape, and although every town and village there is unique and lovely I created a fictional town so I could have complete control over it and make it what I needed it to be to meet the needs of my story.  I plan to visit Falmouthport again in subsequent books, including a sequel to Blue Hydrangeas, which will be the love story of Jack and Sara's grandson, Derek.

What should we know about your character?

Jack is a World War II vet, a medic, who worked as pharmaceuticals salesman and made some excellent investments that allowed him to buy Sara the house of her dreams.  In their retirement they operated it as a bed and breakfast called Blue Hydrangeas. He is devoted to his wife, her protector, her lover, and the keeper of her memories. He also suffers from heart disease, and sometimes puts his own health and well-being aside to meet Sara’s needs.  

What is his main conflict? What messes up his life?

Sara’s Alzheimer’s has messed up his life! They never saw it coming; there was no family history or any other indicator that his beautiful, talented artist wife would have this disease. His main conflict is keeping his promise to Sara that they will remain in their home no matter what the disease brings, although his son and most everyone else think otherwise.

What is the personal goal of your character?

Jack is determined to prevent Alzheimer’s from destroying his wife, their marriage and their life together.

Where can we read more about Jack?

I’ve done my best to make my Jack's story available to readers on many platforms: ereader, paperback, and audio.  You can find it at these locations: 
Amazon,Audible,Barnes and Noble,iBooks,Kobo,Nook, Scribd

You can connect with me via:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bublish Book Bubbles

I've discovered something new and fun for authors and readers: Bublish Book Bubbles.

Bublish created book bubbles.  Bublish  is a revolutionary social marketing platform that helps authors and publishers reach readers, build their brand, and track engagement. I met the Bublish folks at uPublishU, a self-publishing conference sponsored by BookExpo America, back in June. 

Book bubbles are excerpts from books published with author insights so readers can get a little peek into the author's head and what inspired her to write the scene, create the character, choose the setting, etc.  Authors can introduce readers to their work, talk about their writing, and share it throughout their social media.  Bublish also promotes the authors' posts and tweets on their social platforms.

Here's what my Bublish page looks like:

To view my complete profile and learn more about Bublish please visit this link.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blue Hydrangeas is a Finalist in Book Goodies Book Cover Contest! I Need Your Vote!

My  beautiful book cover has made it to the finals in Book Goodies Cover Contest! Book Goodies is a free service for readers and authors to connect. My cover was chosen from almost 300 entries. Vote for it by opening the link above (it may take a few moments; please be patient) and posting a comment on what you like about it.
You can also help by sharing my contest page on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest using this link. The more shares, the more votes my cover will get! I am no artist and am especially proud because I created the cover myself, using my below average Photoshop skills and Power Point.

Winners are determined by number of comments (one or two word comments don't count) and combined number of shares. Please only share once a day; we don't want to spam any social media!

Voting ends September 7th at Midnight PST. Prizes will be announced and awarded by September 30, 2014.

Book Goodies will have a giveaway next week to encourage voting so you may win a prize too. Earn entries by voting and commenting on the covers.  There are many categories.
Thanks in advance for your support.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Hydrangea Heaven!

It's August and the hydrangeas are blooming. To celebrate these knock-out flowers and the lovely month of August I'm running a special giveaway with Rafflecopter.  Post a photo of these gorgeous bloomers (any color or variety, they're all great) on my Facebook page to win a $25 iTunes card and paper, ebook and audio copies of my novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story, and an ebook of my short story Ino's Love. Be sure to click through to my Rafflecopter page to earn more entries. And don't forget to share this post! You'll earn more raffle entries when you do. I can't wait to see your bloomers! Here I am on Cape Cod with some magnificent specimens.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Following the Footsteps of My Characters

Last week my family and I had the unexpected opportunity to spend a few days in Provincetown, Massachusetts and of course  we jumped on it.  Cape Cod in July is one of the best things in life and the four wheeling out at the National Seashore is fantastic.  As I went about making my plans and packing the Jeep I remembered that this little seaside village, the most happening place on the Cape, is more than just somewhere for me to have fun in the sun with my family: it's the setting for some very important scenes in Blue Hydrangeas, which takes place on the Cape in the fictional town of Falmouthport.

Aerial view of Provincetown
When I first set out to write this novel in 2002, I didn't have much of a plan.  In fact, I originally thought I'd have Jack whisk Sara away to their former home in upstate New York to escape their problems.  The idea to send them to Provincetown came as an epiphany - what better place to run  away to than the "end of the earth"? Provincetown is the farthest point at the very tip of Cape Cod, right where the "hook" ends. It seemed perfect, and so the plot thickened, as they say, and I created their whole back story in Truro and P'Town.  That's when things really started happening and the story took off.  In this photo we see P'Town in all its glory, the Pilgrim Monument right of center, MacMillan Wharf, and the Cape's tip in between the harbor and the ocean.
I had vacationed in P'Town and Truro (the town next door) many times over the past 20 years and knew the area well, but, as I'm a stickler for accuracy, I just had to go back for "research purposes" several times over the years to make sure I got it all right.  I decided to make this vacation a bit of a "working" one too, to do some promotion and marketing as well as make sure once and for all "I got it right." (This is just an author's technique for justifying a beach week when there's work to do.)

On our seven hour drive, we listened to the story on audiobook,  the first time Lou and Allie heard Elinor Bell's lovely reading.  As we entered the lower Cape it was exciting to hear the book come alive on the very roads in which it takes place, passing sites familiar to Jack and Sara, like the Wellfleet Drive-In and the turnoff for Corn Hill. The photo on the left is of Corn Hill Beach, with the houses overlooking the cliffs and beach, just as I remembered and wrote about.  Of course, I Google-mapped the area many times to verify it's location and the route Jack drove to get them there. 

Each day during our stay we went four wheeling at High Head or Race Point Lighthouse, and then into town for dinner, following Jack and Sara's footsteps, imagining what they did and where they went.  We parked in the lot at  MacMillan Wharf and got dinner at the Lobster Pot, like they did. After dinner, we strolled past the many art galleries, peeking in the windows, taking turns asking, "Is this where Sara went?" It was great fun experiencing our visit through their eyes. In the photo on the right, Allie and Lou peruse the menu outside the Lobster Pot, a P'Town tradition we make sure to take in whenever we're in town.

Provincetown Book Shop

This was my first trip to P'Town with the finished book, and I brought along several paperbacks to donate to the local libraries and market to the  Provincetown Book Shop. These folks were happy to hear about my book  and gratefully accepted copies.  It's now available in the section for Cape Cod Fiction at the book shop and through all Cape Libraries (except Sandwich) via CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing). 

They say books can take us away to lands unknown and worlds that may exist only in the author's imagination.  Books can also bring us to places we've experienced or dream of one day experiencing.   It took many years for me to write this novel and many more to see it published.  The most delightful part of writing it was creating the beautiful town of Falmouthport, which exists only in my mind but is the quintessential Cape Cod town. Situating its dramatic climax in the all too real setting of Provincetown also heightened my enjoyment in writing it, and allowed me to show this colorful, one of a kind town  to readers who may not have known it existed. 

All photos property of Marianne Sciucco

Monday, July 7, 2014

Audiobook Monthly Calls Blue Hydrangeas "A True Celebration of Love"

Blue Hydrangeas has received a stellar review in the July issue of  Audiobook Monthly, 
an innovative showcase for narrators, producers, illustrators & distributors, and a resource for authors & readers, including interviews and new releases.

Reviewer and CEO Susan Keefe wrote: "This is not a soppy romance, but rather a true celebration of the love between two people. I have no doubt that it will make you smile, it will undoubtedly make you cry."

I published BH in audiobook in March through ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange, an Amazon company) because I love audiobooks and I knew the story of Jack and Sara would appeal to others who enjoy them. There’s something about having the story read to you, hearing the characters come to life in the hands of a gifted narrator.

"This is a poignant love story, beautifully written. If you have ever nursed or known anyone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia this story will bring the memories flooding back," wrote Keefe.

I'm also featured in an interview where I talk about my experience creating an audiobook and my collaboration with narrator/producer Elinor Bell.

Keefe writes: "Elinor Bell has a lovely voice, and her soft tones are perfect for this story."

"Blue Hydrangeas " is available in audio through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.  It is also available in paperback (Amazon), and as an e-book through Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo,and other online retailers.