Thursday, January 7, 2021

Bittersweet...

 

Walking today, I noticed the bare stark trees, the low sun, barren gardens.  It’s January and I guess I always feel this way after the holidays.  But this year, maybe it’s a bit stronger because of the isolation we have all been feeling for so many months.  I love the holidays but this year they were -- how can I say it -- empty?  Drained of emotions?  We chose to all celebrate separately because of COVID, meeting on Zoom to toast and gather – not the same as you all know.  Now, this season with its cold starkness after the December holidays, makes me think of all the bittersweet moments that I’ve had, the ones that feed my writing.  Many say that authors don’t or shouldn’t rely on personal experiences.  If that’s so, what do we use to write those devastating scenes in our stories, the ones that are happy, overwhelmingly sad, or bittersweet. 

Bittersweet… a single powerful word that says so much – “a combination of both bitter and sweet, or an emotional feeling that’s a mixture of both happy and sad.”

If you think about it, those bittersweet moments probably began when you were little – the first day of school as you watch your mother walk away.  You‘re excited but frightened at the same time.  You want her to stay, make it safe for you. She feels it even more than you do but you won’t know that until many years later.  The death of a pet that you’ve had all your young life, your very first experience with death. High school graduation with everyone and everything you’re comfortable with being left behind.  You’re excited to start college, but you dread making new friends, meeting new teachers and taking your studies to a whole new level – bittersweet. “First loves” – powerful.  Some end because long distance relationships during college are hard to maintain.   Others endure fractured throughout college like mine did… bittersweet.  First jobs, more loves and broken engagements all contain bittersweet memories.  Your wedding day when you’re father isn’t there to walk you down the aisle, so you choose to walk alone… bittersweet.  The birth of a child when his father is away serving his country… bittersweet.  I could go on and on but I think you know what I mean by now.

This sentence that I found somewhere, I can’t remember where, conveyed the message so well.  “No longer filled with magic, the room would be haunted by bittersweet memories.”  Not knowing the back story, we wonder what happy and sad things occurred in that room.  I associate that line with my youth… the dining room in the home where I grew up, where we spent holiday dinners together, candles burning brightly on the table, the smell of roast turkey and fresh pies filling the house.  And then, my father dies in that room.  Bittersweet....

That’s an example of how one sentence can evoke powerful memories and why, when an author uses their personal experiences. it touches something in his or her readers.  A reader once wrote to me that they had cried as they read about the death of Jamie’s parents in “She’s Not You.”  He wanted to know how I could write such a painful powerful scene.  I told him because I experienced it when I was young – the rage, anger and sorrow when my own father died.  I knew exactly how Jamie felt.  If you haven’t experienced it, how can you truthfully write about it?  Sure you can put thoughts down on a page but they just lay there emotionless.  They evoke nothing; they aren’t from the depth of you, from that sad or angry spot, that broken heart.

Another author said, “If you base your writings on your own experiences, you’ll be a one book author.”  Well, I just had my fifth novel published, ‘Til Death Do We Part, and I’m working on two more.  So I guess I’ve disproved that theory for myself at least. 

And as Mark Twain wrote, “Experience of life (not of books) is the only capital usable in such a book as you have attempted; one can make no judicious use of this capital while it is new.”
- letter to Bruce Weston Munro, 21 Oct 1881 (Karanovich collection)

So I wish you all a kinder, gentler 2021.  Make it productive and “pick at those scabs” as the leader of writing group used to say… and so I do.  And I have many….


Till,

Judi


Friday, December 18, 2020

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


 First, let me wish you all a wonderful holiday season.  I know it's going to be different, but we have to do this to make it through safely to the other side.  I had an empty table at Thanksgiving and it will be the same for Christmas... as much as I'll miss the total chaos of the day; everyone understands and we all agree that staying within our home group is the right thing to do.  So please stay safe and well through these holidays.


Next is the excitement of my new book!  It has been well received and that pleases me immensely.  As a writer, you are so close to your story and characters that you're sure what you are releasing on to the readers. When "Dark Secrets" first came out, I wasn't sure how the story would be received.  I had struggled with how to create a story around the inherited apartment.  Yet, lo and behold, the reviewers loved it for many different reasons - setting, characters, plot and surprise and suspense, and my usual twists and turns :-)  So writers are never a good judge of their own work.  I function well in a writers group because I can see what to improve in some one else's writing, but definitely not in my own :-) 


And my new time travel manuscript seems to be working well so far... again partially based in France's Loire Valley and Boston.  I find that changing settings in the story makes my writing and character building better strangely.  Not sure if any of you find that?  But I'm still struggling with the next Oyster Point Mystery - I have a story but not sure yet how to solve the problem I've created.  But my two main characters, Jack and Jamie, are just as dynamic as ever and now we have the two "old" loves from the first mystery, She's Not You, appearing to stir up a little friction.


So, once I made it through the initial stages of this COVID isolation, I had many many hours that I used for writing which I love.  


Still keeping up with my walking and have had many too many Zoom meeting for different Committees I'm on.  Maybe it's that I'm on too many committees... maybe?


I built a gloopy wonky gingerbread house which was so much fun and so frustrating :-)  Many years ago I built one from scratch and this year I thought, why not use the kit!!  Should be easier, right? Wrong... LOL!

I had it all together when first one wall fell, then a second and one side of the roof and finally the entire house was flat on the table. 



But I persisted and made it whole again. 



So stay safe and well during these times when it's easy to let down your guard.  And enjoy your holidays doing fun things!  


Till 2021
Judi


Friday, November 27, 2020

A new book just released!!


 Well, it's been a while for sure since I've written here.  BUT, look what has just been released... my fifth novel, 'Til Death Do We Part.  It's up on Amazon today - order here!


The last few weeks have had me working with the publisher choosing the cover and then conversing with the editor.  Not much to correct but each time that I receive the manuscript back, I have to read it all again and make sure I didn't miss something.  Eventually, I receive the final copy to proof and once I approve it, off it goes.  So all in all, it's been a very busy 4-6 weeks, but very productive as well.

 

This novel is set in Maine and Boston.  The back blurb says: 
"In “Till Death Do We Part”, Judi Getch Brodman knits together a young woman, a murder, an unanticipated love, abduction, and the twists and turns that her readers have come to expect.  

The flaming red haired tomboy on the swing with the big smile returns years later to a quiet snow covered village in Maine where she hopes for nothing more than a final Christmas in the old family vacation home.  Yet somehow Elle Harrington, now a forensic consultant, becomes obsessed with solving the 1800’s murder of a woman found buried under the old oak tree outside the house when she was a child.  But how does she piece together long forgotten history and hearsay, a forbidden love affair, and the contents of a locket that she found wrapped around the woman’s bones?  And enter another complication – a handsome Boston architect who causes Elle to reassess her life while putting her in danger."

As I write, I never know where the characters are going... they just take me along and I'm their scribe.  I'm busy working on two more manuscripts - one's a time travel which I love to write and many of my readers love those as well.  This one takes place in France as my main character Amelia, a writer, winds up trying to solve a mystery while she's there to write her next novel.  As usual, there are plenty twists and turns.  I'm loving this one and hoping it might be out in spring, if I use my "pandemic time" wisely.  The second is another in the Oyster Point Mystery series with the same characters everyone loved in "She's Not You" - Jamie and Jack.


My American readers had a very different Thanksgiving Day.  Our table which is usually filled with thirteen, this year had only two of us.  I feel the rest of the holidays might be the same this year, but we are willing to sacrifice in the hopes that next year will be twice as good.  We Zoomed and toasted and cheered so the day wasn't a complete loss.


I hope that you are being safe during this time as we await a vaccine.  Only a few more months... we CAN DO IT!!


In case I'm not back till the beginning of next year, have wonderfully safe holidays and let's kick 2020 right out the door on December 31st!! 

Till,

Judi


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Are we out of this yet?

 


So here we are still in this Pandemic.  Better... not really?  Closer to a vaccine or a treatment... I sure hope so.  

I know I've been missing for a bit, but with good reason - just submitted my next book to the publisher!  Fingers crossed for this one.  I've been so lucky having all my books published!   This one ended up being a bit of a struggle mainly because I was trying to write it in the swelling tide of the pandemic.  It was hard to focus on anything.  And my story came in bits and pieces and then one morning I woke up with a solution and the rest came a bit easier.

And I'm the one who doesn't submit a manuscript until I've edited and edited and reread and done a final check of it.  Well, I submitted it yesterday and am hoping for a positive response.  

In the meantime, I've started another story and am working on the next mystery in the Oyster Point Mystery Series, speaking of which... I did a fantastic Book Club Zoom with a group of readers in August.  It was so much fun and they had such wonderful questions.  I may try to post pieces of it if I can.  They loved the book (She's Not You), couldn't put it down which was what I had hoped would happen.  They also loved the fact that I had nested stories with twists and turns that kept them guessing.  I think all my books are written that way.  I want my audience interested and guessing as they read and then, bam, not what they expected.  So far it's worked great.  It's harder for me to weave the stories together and play with the twists, but much more interesting for the reader.  Actually more interesting for me as well :-) 

So that's pretty much my writing update.  My garden has struggled to thrive with the drought we've been having.  But I've planted more perennials to fill in a few holes.  Next year, I'll probably have more holes from plants that won't make it.

Stay safe all of you and enjoy the waning sweet autumn weather.

Till,

Judi

Sunday, August 9, 2020

AND continuing in survival mode....

 













Well, here we are still trying to stay safe and healthy.  My salvation so far has been my walking, which I do every day religiously, my gardening, which I can only do on cooler less humid days, and my writing, which I can thankfully do every day!

So the result so far?  My walking is giving me energy, strength, thinking time and helping me to lose a few inches.  So that's a positive.  

As for the gardening, we're in the middle of a drought here so the other day when I tried to attach my hose to water the back flower gardens, the faucet didn't work.  It worked a few days ago, but today?  Not so much.  Now if you're thinking this is not a big problem, you'd be  wrong.  The plumber came and said "it's most likely the valve's sticking."  Okay, I think, can you unstick it.  Where is the valve?  Ah... now that's the problem.  Inside my downstairs family room wall where there is no access.  And at this point, I'm not about to have the wall come down, but I'm also not happy about this since I have large flower gardens that are drooping and drying up from lack of water.  Well, I can only watch these poor plants suffer for so long, so like the sorcerer's apprentice I begin to carry jugs of water from the upstairs sink.  You're laughing I know,  but I'm praying for a few drops of rain, asking if the non-existent clouds can be seeded?  They used to talk about that.  In the meantime, I continue my trek with the water attempting to save what I can.

Lastly, my writing.  Now that has turned out to be my salvation.  I think I said the last time that in the early stages of this pandemic, it was hard for me to concentrate on anything, but slowly, as I developed my pandemic rhythm, my words started to flow... unlike my back faucet.  Two days ago, I finished the draft of my next novel, about 73,000 words!  So that's a great accomplishment, but now the real work begins.  I'm finding that my female character, Elle, needs a little more development, more backstory as they call it.  I feel the male character, Gabriel, might be more robust, but still needs some backstory as well.  The setting?  I think that's okay.  Most important are the two houses involved and the old cemetery.  Although, they did take a side trip which ended up being pretty entertaining.  And the goal, I think it is well understood by them and me.  As with all  or most of my manuscripts, this one began with a newspaper article about a strange occurrence, a body from the 1800's being uncovered in a very strange way.  This event becomes front and center now that Elle is preparing to sell the house.  So... if you wait until around October, it should be out.  When I finish my revision, it goes to my publisher where they edit more if needed and then it's proofed and published.  Once that novel is out, I'll go back to work on my next Oyster Point mystery which is maybe a third complete already.  Everyone loved those two character, Jack and Jamie, so much, as did I, that they have to continue their attempts at solving "cold cases".  So, on the writing front, I'm feeling good.

hope you are stay well, safe and sane during this time.  Chronicle your feelings in a journal.  Some day in the future, people might want to read our stories!

Till, Judi



Tuesday, June 23, 2020

AND still in survival mode....


© photo by Judi Getch Brodman

Will life ever return to normal I ask myself every day.  I now understand how much we have taken for granted - the hugs from family and friends, visits with grandparents and the older generation, meeting friends for coffee and a chat, eating out, the kid's sports, even work... I miss all that and more.   


My professional life has sometimes taken me on very solitary journeys - I built software and computer systems and then went on to manage a very large department, but even then, I couldn't socialize with my workers.  And being a writer?  Talk about a solitary profession.  Saving grace is that I have my characters to talk with :-) 


I read an editorial today in a writing magazine which expressed beautifully how the editor felt...  that her emotional swings were "seismic" over things like no toilet paper in the store or photos of people flaunting being out and about disregarding medical advice.   I know how she feels... going out for groceries is a big deal now - I take my mask and gloves, my list and enter the closed foreign environment.  I clean the carriage handle and begin my adventure following the arrows, making sure to stop or turn if someone passes, hating the feel of the mask over my face and mouth fogging up my glasses, knowing I have to do this now.  I make my shopping venture quick, precise, and once every two weeks if I can.  I've taken to rationing how much news I watch, the stories of loved ones dying without the touch of a family member's hand; a new baby entering the world without Dad there to hold him/her moments after they begin their journey through life; Dad not being able to hug his wife and tell her how beautifully she did during the birth and how much he loves her; grandparents and soldiers being taken from us just because they are living in a place that their family thought was safe for them - the agony on the faces and in the voices of those family members; the protests that we all hope will bring real change not just die away... I agree that all of these stories are important and need to be told, but some days, I'm overwhelmed by the shear volume of them all.   And then, family and friends are going through their own tough days on top of all this and all I can do is support them long distance.


But in spite of all that I have said, I take solace in walks, in gardening, and of course in my writing and painting.  It gives me joy to think that maybe when someone reads one of my books, it will take them away for a few hours from the pressures and sorrows of today's world. My paintings seem to reflect the solitude that we all feel...

© painting by Judi Getch Brodman "Freedom"

But we know that these days will pass; eventually we'll laugh and love again... it's only a matter of time, but until then, stay safe, stay well, and keep writing.  


Till,
Judi

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Still in Survival Mode...


Although we are still in a "shelter-in-place", I feel so much safer here in my home - maybe a false sense, but reality to me.  I can roam around without thinking that I have to wash my hands constantly, although I do clean surfaces and doorknobs, etc quite a bit.  But I can work outside in my garden which still needs a lot of wedding.  And in spite of all this sickness and death that COVID-19 has brought upon us, spring has still arrived.  To tell you the truth, I think this is one of the prettiest springs I've seen here or maybe it seems that way because I appreciate it so much more this year.


I've been writing - or trying to since I've returned.  I had wanted my latest manuscript to be finished and into the publisher by the end of this month, but not to be.  At first, the words and the story came slowly, but this last week, I hit my stride.  The characters are truly unveiling the mystery in this book.  Even I was surprised.   So I'm hoping for June.


In the meantime, I was asked to read my children's book, Fiona the Lighthouse Firefly, on video so that it can be shared with children at home.   I'm thrilled and did a trial video on my iPhone, but most of the clips are too long to send to the tech team.  So, back to the drawing board - I might try recording it on my Surface Pro and see if I can zip the files.  The path is never easy, is it.  But I'm thrilled to do it.  I love that story and love more the reason behind it.  You can find it on Amazon :   https://www.amazon.com/Fiona-Lighthouse-Judi-Getch-Brodman/dp/1518721621


In addition, I'm building a new website for my Gallery.  The old one used virb, but they seemed to have gone underground so I'm trying WIX.  Again, a task taking much time away from my writing.  Not easy, but I'm getting a good look to the site.


Other than that, I have nothing to do.  I'm glad that I'm busy now because it keeps me from hearing the news playing constantly in my head.  It's also nice to be transported to a story that has wonderful characters building, a romance brewing, and a mystery evolving that even I find intriguing.  


Stay safe, busy and well.  And keep writing.  I'll be back with more about my next two novels :-)   Stay tuned!


Till,
Judi