Monday, November 20, 2023

SO Much to be Thankful For—Especially You!

 This has been a wild and wonderful year, and it is becoming more and more clear to me each day how much I owe to all of my followers and friends—not in that order!

I hope you will join me over at my Honeymoon at Sea Substack site and subscribe to my free newsletter so we can continue the conversation we began in 2010 when this eclectic monthly blog of mine began. 

I hate to have this site simply forward to my Substack, as this site has such history for me, not to mention being a quick way to get in touch with me and learn more about me, my work, and my editing clients.

So, for now, I will keep them both alive and kicking, and try to remember to come on once in a while and say hi to the JennyRedbug faithful, and of course, say thank you for coming along with me on this wonderful journey of life, books, and writing.

If you haven't already seen the excellent reviews that my memoir is getting, please jump over to the book's Amazon page here and check them out. My friends all have a way with words, so these 5-star reviews read like poetry.

Here's hoping you all have a wonderful holiday season and that we get a chance to meet up in person very soon in the new year. I'll be posting my upcoming events on my Substack page as well as here, as we get closer to the start of my Southern California Book Tour.

hasta pronto!

Monday, September 25, 2023

Honeymoon at Sea is Launched; the Reviews are Starting to Come in

Hola and Ahoy! 

My memoir Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat is out from Re:books of Toronto and there's plenty of buzz.

 Check out this excellent review written by Joel Dennstedt on the Medium platform. 

There are also plenty of editorial reviews on the book's Amazon page and some reader reviews are coming in, too. 

Follow my book marketing journey, including links to the podcasts and interviews I have done so far on my Substack page Honeymoon at Sea—it is free to join!

I hope to see you on my Substack page or meet you at a conference or a book talk in the near future.

hasta pronto!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Big Cover Reveal Post is Here!

Click this link to visit my new Substack newsletter site, Honeymoon at Sea, where you can see the full book cover, read all the archived posts from this website, plus see new posts each week. 

Friday, June 30, 2023

I've moved to Substack, please join me there!

Here is the link to my Substack newsletter and site, Honeymoon at Sea, where you can read all the archived posts from this website, plus see new posts each week. 

It is free to subscribe, so I hope you will join me there, so I can welcome you aboard on this new voyage!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

What We All Lose When We Ban Books

 Recently, I was writing the Acknowledgements for my upcoming memoir, Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat. Before I got into the myriad people and groups who helped me, I wrote this: "My first and last gratitude is to my parents, who taught me to love reading and writing. They read a lot. They read widely. Most important, they never forbid us to read any book." I wasn't expecting that last sentence when I started typing. Sometimes, we don't actually know how important something is to us, until we start writing about it. 

    In the last few years, I've been appalled to see how large swaths of our country have been slipping backwards in terms of human rights, by limiting the personal rights and freedoms of certain citizens. One way this is happening is through banning books. Let's face it, banning books is basically banning thought. As someone wisely said, "If you're afraid that books might change someone's thinking, you're not afraid of books, you're afraid of thinking."  


    Looking back, I can't imagine my childhood without books. Certain books I read helped me to deal with issues in my own life, like Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. I would have hated to have that book be unavailable, deemed too adult for my ten-year-old self. Or Blume's book Forever, for that matter, which I read a few years later. I've always believed that shielding children from reading books on controversial subjects is like bleeping out "bad" words; it makes no sense, since kids who already know the word won't be harmed by hearing it, and neither will those youngsters who don't know the word—though it might trouble the parent who has to deal with the question of what that word means, when they are asked. And of course, troubled parents are the people who most often start these book bans, often backing up their fears with religion.

    I was so moved by reading the book Melissa (previously published as George), and I kept thinking, as I read it, of the immense good it could do to some scared, lonely child who read it and figured out why they were always so confused and unsure about their gender. I cannot imagine that any book could make someone confused and unsure about their gender, but reading about the subject might engender some empathy for other people, or it might raise questions about gender, and aren't caring and curiosity still considered good things?

    The strange thing about all the fear people have about everything from "dirty" books to the supposed "grooming" and "sexualization" of children is that untold generations of people have grown up surrounded by nothing but heterosexual role models and a significant percentage of those generations of people have grown up to realize (and some have realized long before they were grown) that they were different, that their life was going to diverge from the lives of their parents and their peers. No one knows why, but what does that matter? It is clear that, over many many years, most LGBTQIA+ people were raised by people who were heterosexual, or at least behaved as if they were.

    Naturally, not all book banning has to do with sex. Lately, books have also been challenged due to the inclusion of what some people call "woke ideology." Often this means simply that the subject of the book —perhaps an unvarnished aspect of actual history, such as slavery and genocide in America—makes an adult uncomfortable, or guilty, and they want to spare their child the same feelings. But isn't the ability to experience the trials and woes of someone who is not like you one of the wonders of reading? I remember crying as I read The Diary of Anne Frank, and I wouldn't want to have grown up without that experience. I also cried when I read Sounder as a child, and, in my teens, when I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Roots.

    How will we move forward as a society if we are unwilling to accept that all of our history, good, awful, and tragic, was a part of what led us to the present day? If being awakened to that is considered a bad thing, then what are we, as a people, to celebrate—staying asleep under a comforting blanket of ignorance? That is not a society that I want to be a part of, and I am willing to fight to keep future generations from growing up uneducated, unconscious, and unaware. I hope you will join me.

One way we can fight back is by joining groups who are actively resisting censorship and book bans. One of those groups is Pen America, others are Unite Against Book Bans and EveryLibrary. There are many others, both local and national; please search out a group in your community and support them in whatever ways you can. I will be grateful, and so will future readers.

I'll be posting more about my book's upcoming publication, along with a couple more book reviews, very soon. Hope your summer is going swimmingly.

Hasta pronto!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Perfect Summer (Beach-and-Poolside) Read: "Most Hated" by Kara Alloway

For those of you who want to reconsider what a "summer read" really is, and what it might also be or become in our changing times, check out this great LitHub article by my friend and client Jasmin Iolani Hakes, author of the debut novel Hula. You know from my last post here that I am a big fan of Hula; I highly recommend the article, which really resonated with me.

For those of you who just want me to recommend a fun, light, catty summer book for reading by the pool or ocean (or lounging by the fire, if you're in New Zealand or Australia), you are in luck, since the debut novel by Kara Alloway, Most Hated will fit the bill perfectly. Alloway, the self proclaimed "villain protagonist of the Real Housewives of Toronto" is also a former fashion and beauty editor, television and radio host, and most important in the context of Most Hated, a reality TV show producer.  

Clearly, the woman knows her stuff. The book has all the drama—and melodrama—of a reality TV show, but with plenty of insight into what makes someone choose to air their dirty laundry (and clean lingerie!) on air for the whole world to dissect their actions and reactions. So, if you like your beach books to be full of intrigue, and to keep you guessing until the last few pages, pre-order Most Hated  right now; it hits the streets May 30.

I have to add that this fast and funny read is as timely and perfect for the zeitgeist as some much more serious (and truly boring) books out there. The moment we are in might just be the perfect time to examine our society's obsession with not just reality TV and influencers, but the pursuit of perfection in our bodies and in life, as it is viewed/judged by an audience. And the price we all risk paying, as far as our mental and physical health.

In case you wonder what else I've been up to, when I am not reading books for review, it is quite a lot, which is why you didn't see a post in April (was there an April this year?). This soon-to-be published author has been hard at work with Deanna, my editor—who I thankfully respect and admire—doing the final content edits and rewrites to my memoir, currently titled Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself on a Small Sailboat (get the double entendre?). 

The manuscript is going off to the copyeditor this week to correct all the little errors my final content corrections have no doubt introduced, and also has been sent to my first pre-production reviewers. Now I wait...for the next pass, for some feedback, and hopefully for some positive blurbs for the book cover. Waiting is something I am very good at. NOT!

Stay tuned for more on my book's progress, and perhaps next time a blurb or two. And then there's the fun of seeing the book cover. Needless to say, I'm very proud and excited, and I hope you'll be here with me for all of it.

Hasta pronto!

In the interests of full disclosure, Most Hated is the next book coming out from my fabulous publisher re:books, a woman-owned small press based in Toronto, Canada. Re:books is the brain child of Rebecca Eckler, a prolific author who has a great sense of humor, which is one of my prerequisites for any team I join, in any pursuit. She's also a dynamic book coach, so for those of you who need an extra push to help you get that darn book out there, check the link on the re:books home page.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Two Book Reviews and a Bit More News from Me

Years ago, at SCWC, I met agent Jennifer Herrera and gave her some very positive feedback about her writing. We definitely clicked and have remained friends since then, and the main reason I remember about the feedback I gave her is because she told me recently. She credits me as being one of the first professionals to give her encouragement as a writer. All I can say is that was very perceptive of me!

Her book The Hunter came out in January, and it is a absolute winner. It grabbed me on page one and never let my interest flag to the very end. And the book's main character proved a point I made recently on this blog about contradictory characters. I didn't use the title when I posted some of these comments before, as I didn't yet have a link to the book to share; now my review is here in its entirety.

Reading about a detective who wants to solve a crime but also understands that the person she is interviewing has a deep need to keep secrets—a need the detective shares—means I am hooked. If this same detective considers fidelity to her husband to be the most important promise she has made in her life, but she finds herself attracted to another man, almost against her will, then you will keep turning pages, even late into the night.

The author skillfully weaves place and plot, along with the above contradictions, in a way that feels real and grounded. The small town in this book came alive through its inhabitant's words and actions in a way that Stephan King's small towns do. The book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout, and in places it actually scared me, without ever being exploitative or gruesome.

Another great read that you can pre-order here is Hula by Jasmine Iolani Hakes, who I also "discovered" at SCWC. And yes, I meant discovered to be tongue-in-cheek since she didn't need me to point out or validate her talent. Anyway, I just read an advance digital review copy from Net Galley, and agreed to review the book, but just so you know, I would definitely have reviewed it anyway.

Brilliant, captivating, immersive and illuminating, Hula is the novel we have all been waiting for about Hawai'i, whether we knew it or not. Members of my haole family spent many years living on the islands, so I knew a little about the history and culture. Most of what I thought I knew was way more fictional than this steeped-in-history novel about a matriarchal family based in Hilo.

Weaving her plot together with myths, stories, and recent history, the author gave me a comprehensive education but it never felt like homework because I cared so much about these women. I cannot recommended this book highly enough. Just jump in, the water's fine.

You can preorder Hula now on Amazon, and buy The Hunter anywhere fine books are sold.

As to my own news, I've signed a contract to publish my memoir of the first year Russel and I spent in Baja on our little sailboat, Honeymoon at Sea. More on that, including a pub date, very soon.

hasta pronto!

Thursday, February 9, 2023

It's Almost Conference Time—and Almost Time for Some Big News!

The Southern California Writers Conference begins in San Diego on Friday, Feb 17.  I love this conference and always look forward to it with "anticipatory glee" as Russel would say, and that is even more true this time. I am anxious to be with my tribe as as I celebrate a big milestone in my life—I have big news which I will be sharing very soon, but not today. Sorry to tease but I have a very good (legal) reason not to share too soon...I can give you a big hint, though, and say that I am waiting to have a contract in my hand before I give you all any more info.

I am also excited to teach a new workshop on spotting and eliminating sexist and racist writing, and my new favorite 3-part workshop on on writing compelling nonfiction. In fact, this year's conference is going to be full of new workshops, from our amazing industry leaders. And we are going to be back at the Marriott Mission Valley which was so nice last year and will no doubt be again. 

I am super busy with all of my advance submissions, plus the rest of my writing life (more on that soon as I said before!). So, I hope you'll pardon me if I repeat something I feel quite strongly about...

Here are my top reasons to attend SCWC:

1. To find your “tribe.” This is the key way in which this conference changed my writing life—we all need people in our life that "get" us and our writing...You will have plenty of opportunities to find those folks who resonate with you, and vice-versa, at SCWC.

2. To meet industry professionals. Where else can you chat with agents and editors and successful authors in an informal setting like after workshop and panel discussions, small read-and-critique groups, plus meeting over coffee or drinks? At too many conferences all the pros and workshop leaders hang out together and you never actually meet anyone except other first-timers.

3. To get eyes on your work. Your manuscript isn’t done just because you are tired of working on it. Whether you take pages to read and critique meetings or go to late night “rogues” (or early ones like the one at 7am on Sunday) you'll learn what works—and what doesn't.

4. To learn more about craft and story in hands-on workshops like my new classes, and to learn what's new in the industry. From workshops on craft and creation, to marketing, & promotion for your published book—all from great speakers who have a wealth of experience to share with you.

5. Because it's so dang fun! We all need to get out and meet other writers and socialize once in a while. And who doesn't want to hang out with a talented, inspiring, upbeat group of creative souls? So, show yourself some love and take yourself to SCWC—your work is worth it and so are you!

Don’t wait to register, though you can do it as late as Friday; I hope to see you there next week—hasta pronto!