It’s hard to imagine, but we are almost at the end of January. Time goes too fast, doesn’t it? I’ve been spending a lot of time accomplishing–nothing?? It’s true and now it’s time to get serious. First step–I have to keep up with this website and increase my followers. And get down to writing on a regular basis. And come up with some new ways to promote/sell my books. That’s a lot!! But, I’m determined to keep plugging away. So, watch for new giveaways and updates on how my determination is coming along.
I want to thank those who take the time to leave a review of my books on Amazon or Goodreads. I appreciate the fact that you do and your honesty. I would like to comment on a few things. My books are edited professionally and proofread by several people. I know mistakes happen–as we all know, when books are published professionally, we find errors as far as grammar, punctuation, and perhaps a name that shouldn’t be there. But it happens because there is no such thing as perfection in this world. When you find this in my books, please accept my apology. My goal in writing is to present a story that is inspirational and memorable–and with a message. Hopefully that is being passed on to my readers.
“My Joe: A Reflection” is a story about an elderly woman reflecting on her long marriage to her late husband. The story is about love that survives family issues, cultural changes, wars, and illness. My second story, “Willow Falls,” is about the strength of love and how it endures in spite of changes that can occur. Both stories have been published in Edify Fiction, an online magazine.
My Joe: A Reflection
As I lie in bed listening to the battering of hail on the roof, I wonder how the years passed by so quickly. Here I am, eighty-three years old with the spot next to me empty, as it has been for too long. I’ve been alone and lonely for such a long time that I’ve lost track of how long Joe has been gone.
Joe and I got married young, like people did back in those days. I was nineteen and he was twenty-two. I may not recall how long he’s been gone, but I can see as clear as day the way Joe looked the first time I saw him.
It was Valentine’s Day in 1946 and our soldiers had returned from the war. The USO was having a dance in Milwaukee for the veterans and I went with my best friend. It was a bitter cold afternoon, with temperatures in the twenties; inside, the hall was warm and cozy, filled with people laughing and talking. Large pink and red hearts, along with carnations, transformed the room into an enormous valentine card. Sitting on the sidelines and watching couples dance, I hadn’t noticed anyone approach. Turning around to look for my friend, the best looking man I had ever seen was sitting next to me. Tall and thin with brown hair and twinkling blue eyes, Joe introduced himself and thus began a lifelong relationship. We talked and danced as though the world had stopped with just the two of us in it. Joe took my name and phone number, promising to call me.
I thought about Joe constantly until he called me two days later. We made arrangements to meet at Monument Square in downtown Racine that afternoon. Over hot coffee, Joe and I shared stories about ourselves, feeling as though we’d always known each other. After that, we saw each other every day for the next two months until he proposed. And, of course, I said yes.
Mama and Papa were against me marrying Joe. Oh sure, they said they liked him well enough and that he was a good guy, but insisted he had no future and they wanted better for me. I knew what they really meant. They didn’t like the fact that Joe practiced a different religion. I didn’t care what they said. Joe and I were in love, and we were going to get married whether they liked it or not. So, we eloped. That’s exactly what we did. We went to Milwaukee and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony. After all, it was 1946 and we could darn well do what we wanted.
When we told our parents that we were married, they threw a fit, especially mine. They told me to pack my stuff and get out, that I had disobeyed them, and they were done with me. So I did. Joe’s parents did the same thing, so he packed his stuff, too. We had a little money and went to the train station, since we didn’t have a car at the time. After all, Joe had just gotten back from the war. We sat on a bench trying to decide where we would go, and finally decided on Chicago. I can’t tell you why, except that it was far enough away from Racine, and our families wouldn’t be able to bother us. And since it was a big city, Joe figured it would be easy to find jobs and a place to live.
I sure don’t recall how much money it cost to take the train, but I do know that we didn’t have very much. Between us, we probably had about $1,500 from my job and the money Joe came home with from the army. It was a lot in those days, but still wouldn’t last for too long. We stayed in a hotel the first night we were in Chicago. The next day we found a cute little furnished apartment for forty-five dollars a month and then figured we’d better find jobs. And we did. I found one in an insurance office as a receptionist (I had typing experience) and Joe found one working in a grocery store.
Joe’s plan was to go to school under the GI Bill, something the government started for servicemen to help them get an education. The government would pay for Joe to go to school, pay our living expenses, and give him unemployment benefits for a year. Joe signed up for classes at the university to become a teacher; I kept working while Joe worked and went to school. We stayed in our little apartment. Life was good—we were in love, doing okay with money, and had everything we needed or wanted. We could even go out to a movie and to dinner on the weekend if we wanted to, but most of the time we stayed home.
I got sick six months before Joe was supposed to graduate. Just as things were going well for us, something hit me. After it lasted about a week, I went to the doctor without telling Joe. He was so busy working and studying that I didn’t want to bother him. Women sure were a lot tougher in those days. Anyway, the ‘something that hit’ me was the news when the doctor told me I was two months pregnant. At first, I didn’t believe him because we had been careful. Well, we thought we had been careful. After I got my thoughts together and stopped crying, I remember thinking that maybe it was a good thing. We both had talked about having children but just not quite yet. But it was okay. Things don’t have to go exactly like we plan, do they?
Annie was born a month after Joe got his teaching degree. With his new salary and the GI bill helping veterans get houses, we were able to buy a three-bedroom ranch style house in Elmhurst. Joe got a job teaching in the high school and life was good. Three years later little Jimmy came along, and two years after that came Paula. Our family was complete.
The years went by and all three children were in school before we knew it. Joe’s job was good, and he was happy. I was bored and ready to go back to work, so I got a job in the local library. The hours were perfect because I worked while the kids were in school. During the summers, we went on camping trips and to national parks. We loved to visit different states and learn about the history of our country. One year we even drove to Canada and spent a month traveling to historic sites.
I remember that the world changed in the early 1960s. The music became loud and wild; there was talk about people smoking marijuana and using drugs that caused hallucinations. Protests were taking place in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago so that people could have equal rights for housing and jobs.
It was on November 22, 1963 that the most shocking thing that could possibly happen did when President John Kennedy was assassinated. The whole country watched his young family in mourning and cried for their loss and ours. We were all shocked that something so tragic could take place in the United States. By the end of the 1960s, it seemed as though everything was out of control all over the place. In April of 1968, a man by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Tennessee. Dr. King, thirty-nine years old, was a leader in The Civil Rights Movement and he also left a wife and young children. Two months later, in June, Robert Kennedy was assassinated in California. A presidential candidate and the brother of John Kennedy, he was only forty-two years old and left behind a family.
The Vietnam War had started in 1955 and was still going strong in 1970. Demonstrations were taking place on college campuses across the country to protest the war. I’ll never forget the day that Jimmy got his draft notice in the mail. Although we had been expecting it since his eighteenth birthday, it was still a shock to actually see it in writing. After all of the anxiety about my child going off to war, it turned out they wouldn’t take him because he had poor vision. The draft ended in 1973 and the war ended in 1975.
It was in the ‘80s that Joe got sick with cancer. He hadn’t been feeling well but thought it was from stress at work. I kept thinking it was his age because, after all, he was almost sixty years old. But when the doctor came back with the news that it was prostate cancer, I almost passed out. But my Joe was brave, just like he had always been. The doctor said it was in the early stages and he was going to remove the prostate. He didn’t think Joe would even need any treatment, which he didn’t. Joe recovered quickly and was able to dance at Annie’s wedding four months later.
I never regretted marrying Joe or giving up my family because they rejected him. We had a wonderful marriage, raised a good family and taught them not to judge people because of what race they are or where they worship. We taught them to believe in God and practice religion the way they wanted to. The kids had done well. Annie married a doctor and gave us four grandchildren, two boys and two girls. Jimmy became a teacher like his dad, got married and had two beautiful girls; and Paula decided to become a lawyer and not get married. Our children have always been good to us. Like Joe always said, we were lucky to have such a wonderful family.
The cancer was more serious when Joe got sick the second time. The doctor said that it was in his pancreas and even I knew that there was no cure. Joe had retired ten years or so before, so I guess he was about seventy-five when he got sick. All we could do was support his decision to not undergo treatments, and to make him comfortable for the time that he had left. I never left Joe’s side while he was sick. We didn’t need nurses or anyone else to help. Joe and I had always taken care of each other and had promised that we would until the end. And we did.
Now I remember. It’s been about ten or eleven years since Joe was taken from me. It was a day just like this one, in the middle of winter, with hail hammering the roof. Joe opened his eyes, looked at me and told me he would always love me. And then he was gone; my Joe was gone.
I’m looking out of the window now, from my bed. The hail has stopped and snow is falling gently from the gray sky. The tree outside of my window is bare but soon the snow will cover it. I’m still in the house that Joe bought with the VA loan; the one our babies came home to from the hospital; the one where Joe and I laughed and loved; and the one in which Joe died in my arms. I’ve had plenty of arguments from Annie and Jimmy about living with them, but Paula has stayed here with me. Maybe that’s why she hasn’t gotten married; who knows.
I keep wondering when Joe and I will be together again. It probably won’t be long now. I must have dozed off for a few minutes because the sun is shining and I feel warmth that I haven’t felt in ten or eleven years. But now I see why. Joe is standing at the foot of our bed smiling at me. I call his name, but he doesn’t answer. It’s been so long since I have seen him or we have talked. Holding his hand out to me, I sit up and put my hand in his. Holding me closely, he whispers that it’s time for us to be together. I whisper back that we have never been apart.
Edify Fiction June 2017
Yesterday was the big day. “Books and Bowls” made its debut at the Sunrise Arts & Crafts Festival. My husband had the bowls, vases, and snowmen that he makes on his lathe; I had my books. As you can see–it looked nice. The sign and posters were perfect (thanks to Chris Holme, the wonderful person that creates my book covers. (And oh00she designed a wonderful pamphlet!). So, Friday night we set up the canopy tent–with the help of two people who took pity on us as we were struggling. Early yesterday morning we unloaded the car, put up the banner–etc. Was it successful? Yes and no. Some of our family members came out and bought books and a few things. David sold a snowman and a book. So, the successful part was that family came out to support us (I don’t mean by buying things.) They visited, encouraged–you know what I mean. So, yes–that’s success. As promised, two dollars of each item sold for the month of December will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital–and so far that’s twenty-eight dollars. Success isn’t measured in how many books a person sells–but it sure would be nice to sell some!!
Please sign up for my newsletters. If you haven’t–here is December’s issue.
Do you belong to goodreads? If not, check it out. It’s an online book club and a wealth of information. There are different reading groups, book recommendations, giveaways–it’s fun place. You can meet people who like the same books that you do. And oh yes, it’s free. Go to goodreads.com and sign up.
Have you read my short stories that were published in Edify Fiction, an online magazine? Here they are–I hope you enjoy them. Let me know what you think.
It’s been a frustrating week since my book event on Saturday. I’ve spent hours trying to deal with the “loss” of success that I had hoped for. Of course, it was a learning experience because I know what mistakes I made–not in the promotion but in the venue. But–it was a learning experience. And isn’t that what life is–a learning experience? My generation was brought up not to be quitters–we saw things through to the end and kept trying (unlike today’s children–“you don’t have to keep playing football if you don’t like it.” So, it was easy enough to think of giving up on my writing–not because of the disaster on Saturday, but because books aren’t selling and people don’t even take advantage of a free book. But right now my biggest frustration is a lack of reviews–from buyers, people who have won books, or just giveaways. Will I quit doing something that has become a passion of mine? Not yet, because I’m not a quitter.
Do you like historical fiction? I have free copies of the kindle format of my first historical fiction (a novelette) to gift. “My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette” started as a tribute to my mother’s family who came to America in the early 1900s. As I wrote it, I realized it’s a tribute to all who came here for a better life. To get a code, send me your email address through a private message or my email: email@example.com . (Please put “gift code” on the subject line) I also have gift codes for my newest novel, “The Primrose Garden.” https://www.amazon.com/Phyllis-Babrove/e/B072PYDLT6?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1570200557&sr=8-1
My next event–a big one I hope–is going to be on October 19th. I reserved a conference room at a Dunkin Donuts in Davie. I had the best book cover designer do posters and flyers for me. (Chris Holmes is wonderful–I have her information if anyone wants it. My new book covers were done by Chris.) Anyway, I have different things in mind for the event–and I’m going to tell you about it step-by-step as I put it together. To start with, here’s the poster that I’ll be picking up next week. What do you think?
I picked up my posters and flyers yesterday for my “Meet the Author” event. So let’s see–I have the conference room reserved, I have the materials I need, and I ordered copies of “The Primrose Garden.” Refreshments will be easy–donuts and coffee?? Next will be some bags, since I plan on selling out of everything I take. (THINK BIG PHYLLIS!) . Promotional products are also ready–personalized pens, business cards, and memo pads will go into a little organza bag. Around Oct. 1st, I’ll put out some flyers and posters near the event. Stay tuned–and don’t forget–mark the date. If you don’t live in the area, or can’t make it, contact me via email to receive a special gift. firstname.lastname@example.org
I did my second book event at a local Hadassah meeting–the first Hadassah event was in April. The women of the organization are caring, lovely people. The organization was founded in 1912 and is stronger than ever. They are dedicated to improving health in Israel and around the world. It was my pleasure to present them with a copy of “My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette” and to tell them about my writing. I hope they enjoyed listening to me as much as I enjoyed talking to them. I posted some photos on the gallery.
As I write this, hurricane Dorian is hitting North and South Carolina. After seeing pictures of the Bahamas, it makes me wonder why a storm would cause such devastation in one place and pass others. Obviously I’m grateful that nothing happened in Florida–but it makes you wonder. I often say that it’s a reminder to all of us that, while we want to have control over our lives, there are certain things that we have no control over–such as the weather. The lesson that should always be learned is to be prepared for the worst possible scenario.
I’ve never been a patient person, so why at my age would I start now? And I’ve never liked living in Florida (48 years!!) so why would I start now? Well, the answer to both is–I’m not going to start now. I always have to explain why I’ve lived here for so long, so I may as well tell you now–my husband’s job kept us here. As far as patience goes–it’s gone for now as we wait for hurricane updates. It’s true–Dorian is wreaking havoc on our lives and we don’t even know where it’s going to hit. So, we buy water to have on hand; and enough food to get buy; and make sure there’s gas in the cars. And then there’s the decision of whether or not to put up shutters. And will we lose electricity and if we do for how long? And if shutters are up and we lose electricity, well then how on earth are we supposed to open a window after the storm leaves to get some air? Bottom line is–I HATE IT! So, yes, I would rather have this than live where there are earthquakes or tornadoes. But I would take a blizzard any day of the week–I really would. This all explains why my stories are set in New England and the fall and winter are perfectly described. See, that’s how I “live”where I want to live. If you haven’t read “When Shadows Linger,” check it out and you’ll think that you are there, too. (Available on Amazon, by the way.) . Good luck to anyone who is in the state of Florida. Stay safe and dry.
The big question is–how do indie authors promote their books? Facebook, websites, book clubs, instagram, join organizations, do giveaways. But what else works? Book signings, meet the author events–sure. But how do we do that ourselves? It takes creativity–which we have or we wouldn’t write, right? (That was intentional!) With the little experience I’ve had in the past year, including a luncheon and signing at Hallmark, I’ve decided to put on my own “Meet the Author” event. Of course the first step was to find an affordable venue. That took a great deal of thought and then I remembered that I’ve been in some Dunkin Donuts that have small conference rooms. Perfect!! After making a couple of calls, I was excited–even I can afford to use one at $9.00 an hour. Then which one? Well, of course, one with a lot of traffic. Found the perfect one. Next step–email the wonderful lady who did my book covers– Chris Holmes (and she’s great–contact me if you want her information) and she’ll do my poster and flyers. And next contact–someone who is going to allow me to put up a poster and flyers in the area of the event. Yesterday I booked the room for October 19th. And now the fun starts–planning the event to make it a success. As I work on it, I’ll keep you updated. And if you have suggestions, please share them with me–just as I’m sharing with you. I guess when we were little and taught to share–it was a lifelong lesson. Sharing ideas is another step in being successful throughout life.
I want to thank everyone who takes the time to leave a review of my books. I know how busy we all are but getting your opinion means a lot to me. My goal in writing is not only to provide a story that is interesting and meaningful, but one that also gives hope and inspiration. I hope that I am achieving that.
While writing is a major challenge–and very rewarding, I might add–promoting one’s work is even more of a challenge. Social media, ads, giveaways, word-of-mouth, book clubs–I’ve been trying them all. So, what works? I guess I just have to keep pushing. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining. When I check my stats and see that books have been claimed on a giveaway I’m thrilled. No, I really am thrilled that someone wants to read my book. I just keep telling myself that patience is an important trait to have!!
“When Shadows Linger,” my first novel, is my pride and joy. It is set in Vermont and I’ll tell you why. We had just visited the state for the first time and I fell in love with its beauty. Having been born and raised in Wisconsin and living in Florida for over forty-seven years–I remember telling my husband that God must have put all of the beauty in Vermont. Anyway, it’s the story of a young woman who becomes widowed when her husband dies in a car accident in Wisconsin and she relocates to Vermont. Anyone who reads the story can picture themselves walking down Main Street in a small New England town. And I captured winter and holidays–I do pretty well with descriptions. Then I wrote the sequel, “The Primrose Garden.” With that book, I decided to try my hand at writing a mystery. Formulating the plan for the book, I decided that I wanted to divide it into “Book One and Book Two.” And I wanted to make it more diverse than Shadows was. So, I did–in several ways. As in any of my writing, I addressed issues that are prevalent in our society today–that’t my social work background kicking in. I hope you’ll read the books and let me know what you think.
Since I finished my new novel, “The Primrose Garden,” I have found myself not being able to focus on writing. Instead, I work on my website, Face Book, Instagram—and promoting the book. Oh—and reading, too. But while I’m doing all of it, I keep telling myself to work on my new book. To me, that’s the exciting part of writing—everything that I’m doing with the social media, this website, and reading—is part of what makes me a “writer.” But I have to admit to myself, that it’s time to get back on track if I ever want this new novel to take shape. It’s historical fiction, which requires research, being organized (not my best trait) and patience with putting it together. But I’ll do it—I’m ready to get back to my book. I’ll keep you informed!!
As a child, my mother encouraged us to read–she said that it would take us on adventures. And she was right. I’ve always been an avid reader, which led to me wanting to write. What girls didn’t like to read about the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew? Of course, my reading tastes have changed over the years. I love mysteries, legal thrillers, women’s fiction, and novels about social issues. Like everyone else, I have my favorite authors–Jodi Piccoult, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Lisa Gardner, Harlan Coben, Barbara Delinsky, Lisa Scottoline,–and others. Sometimes someone recommends something new and I wander out of my usual choices and am so happy that I did. The most recent recommendation ended up being a great book–“The Silent Patient,” by Alex Michaelides. It was fantastic–for those who enjoy psychological thrillers. If someone hadn’t told me about Jodi Piccoult a few years ago, I would have missed her wonderful books. So, how about you?– would you like to share your favorites? After all, how else can we learn about new reading experiences if not from each other?
When I published my first novelette, “Envelopes of Hope,” I did the cover myself (actually, my daughter-in-law did the illustration). And she did the same for “When Shadows Linger.” I thought that it would be expensive to have it done professionally. But I recently found someone who is professional and not expensive. And she does a fabulous job . Chris created the cover for my new book, “The Primrose Garden,” and a new cover for “When Shadows Linger.” I am so excited about the differences of the covers that I keep looking at them. I want to share my good fortune with anyone who needs a cover done–or the other products she has. This is her information: Chris Holmes. Her email is: email@example.com and her website is: http://whiterabbitgraphix.com/ . Chris answers emails quickly and does a beautiful job.
I find that writing is comprised of numerous steps–which is not a new discovery, I’m sure. Of course, first there has to be an idea for the story. And a genre–fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction. What will the length be–short story, novel, novella, flash. And the title–I, for one, find that I need a title right in the beginning. I may end up changing it, but probably not. For me, it’s almost like having an outline. Thoughts come easier when I have my title. Strange? Maybe–but it works for me. I’ve been fortunate (knock on wood) that my ideas flow; meaning that they just come to me as I write. Do I get stuck? Of course, but then I seem to get past it quickly. How about the setting? My novels are set in Vermont because that’s where I picture myself to be. Hey–it works for me. If you have read “When Shadows Linger,” and I hope you do if you haven’t, you’ll be able to picture yourself walking down Main Street in any New England town. I’ve been told that my descriptions are vivid. I can see as I continue writing that the depth of my characters has improved. The hardest part? Promoting my work–getting sales and reviews. But, I have no doubt that as time goes on, it will get better and better.
“Envelopes of Hope” is the first book that I wrote. It was inspired by a family member who had an addiction problem for many years. When she decided to change her life. she sent me a letter and thanked me for not giving up on her. The story is about a young girl who becomes lost in the dark world of drugs. With the love and support of her family, she finds her way out. The story was written with the hope of providing inspiration to those who have family members or other loved ones who may be involved with drugs or other issues. With our support, they can find their way to a successful life. The book is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle formats.
I not only finished, “The Primrose Garden,” but I spent many frustrating hours getting the ebook and paperback published–only to find that I somehow neglected to put page numbers in the paperback!! So, that has to be fixed. Aww–the world of the indie author is not an easy one. I’m really happy with the book, though. It’s longer than I thought it would be-almost 500 pages. But I think it is a good read–if you don’t mind me bragging a little. It’s available on Amazon–and will be on a goodreads giveaway. So, stay tuned for more news and please share with your friends.
I’m excited! My first book club meeting is on Tuesday at a Hadassah luncheon. “My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette” will be the star of the day. Busy getting all of this ready and I’ll keep you posted. Wish me good luck!
If you have read “About Me,” you know a little bit of my background. Sometimes, as we all know, pictures tell a story without words. That’s why, in my new Gallery posts, I’ve decided to post photos from years gone by. I hope you will visit that page–it’s a work in progress. I hope you enjoy my new Gallery–and would love to have comments.
I have recently joined two groups. One is the Florida Writer’s Association. I am looking forward to meeting people in my state who share the love of writing. The second group is Hadassah, the chapter in Weston, Florida. I am extremely proud to be a part of both groups and will keep you updated on activities.
Many articles that I have read state that a person cannot be a good author if they don’t read a lot. That makes sense to me, so I have been increasing my reading (even though I have always been an avid reader) and the genres that I read. I tend to stay with one genre at a time–some years back it became mysteries. I love legal mysteries–I think it has something to do with my childhood goal of wanting to be a lawyer. (I chose social work instead.) Anyway, I also read novels that address social issues, some romance, women’s fiction. I don’t have “one” favorite author–I have many. There are some books that I absolutely HAVE to preorder as soon as they are listed. Some of those are: Harlan Coben, Jodi Piccoult, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Scottoline, Barbara Delinsky, John Grisham. These are just a few. Would you like to share your favorites with me?
Happy First Day of Spring!! I am happy to say that it has been “chilly” here in South Florida–and I love it!! The more cool days we get before the relentless heat and humidity set in, the better. I’m at the final stage of perfecting “The Primrose Garden” before I publish it next month. I can’t wait to do the formatting and cover–just put it together. Self-publishing is a challenge all in itself. I’ll definitely keep you updated!!
Well, I may have met my deadline for finishing my book but, as any writer knows, it’s far from finished. I’ve proofread, edited, proofread, etc. and that’s all before I even give it to the editor. It’s a process–and a fascinating one. As I go through the book over and over, my mind is on the project that I started months ago. “My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette” was a challenge and I took great pride in it. I decided at that time to write more historical fiction, but a full length novel. Now I can dedicate more time to it–since I had started writing it months ago. The new book, “The Primrose Garden,” is a sequel to my first novel, “When Shadows Linger.” If you like to read mysteries, romance, and stories that deal with social issues and mental health concerns, you will love this book. Watch for a release date.