Open Windows

I’m happy to welcome author Liese Sherwood-Fabre. Today, Liese shares her writing adventures and books.

Here’s Liese!

liesesherwood-1600-2My excursion into fiction writing began a little more than twenty years ago. While living in Mexico and after reading several issues of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, I thought, “I can do that,” and labored for several weeks to produce a 20-page short story quickly rejected by the publication. Regardless, I learned two things from that experience: it was possible for me to complete a story, and that I needed to learn more about how to write if I were to ever be published (not so easy when living abroad and before the Internet came into its current form).

Shortly after the rejection letter came, my husband was transferred to Moscow, Russia. Once the dust settled in our new location, the children were in school, and I took a job at the embassy, I tackled my next project, using my experience in a bi-cultural marriage as the backdrop for the story. It, too, never garnered much attention, and I started another book—this time set in Russia and inspired by a New Yorker article by Richard Preston: “Annals of Warfare: The Bioweaponeers.” He described the plight of Russian scientists following the fall of the Soviet Union and the Iranians’ efforts to recruit them for their own laboratories and weapons programs. What, I wondered, would push a scientist to agree to develop biological agents for a foreign, radical government? I gave my main character no job, a sick child, and friends with underworld connections—and Saving Hope was born.

Musa Publishing published the novel in 2012, hitting the market the same day as my oldest grandchild was born. Less than three years later, the organization folded and returned the book’s rights to me. I am finally at a stage where it will soon be in print (and digits) once again.

Any writer will tell you, as soon as you finish one book, start on the next. Shortly after Saving Hope came out, I moved on to another project: a novel involving Sherlock Holmes at age 13. This book landed me an agent. I recently completed its sequel, but so far, I haven’t found a publisher for these stories. But I have connected with a very organized Sherlock Holmes fan-base and have been sharing essays on Victorian England for publication in their newsletters. Through one contact, I heard of a call for alternate universe Sherlock Holmes stories, and submitted a story about a world inhabited by vampires, and Holmes must discover who is murdering them.

So far, 2017 has been an exceptional year for me with the release of one new book (a collection of the first two years’ of Victorian England essays), the imminent release of a second (Saving Hope) and a story appearing in the anthology Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures. And I just learned of plans by our local Sherlock Holmes society to publish their own anthology (sign up for my newsletter if you want to learn more about that as events develop!)

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If I were to identify one key word of advice for any writer, it would be perseverance. My mother always said, “When a door closes, a window opens.” When you get that rejection or learn that your publisher is no more, seek out the window. I’ve crawled through quite a few on my journey and know they always lead to new opportunities.

What about you? Have you face some difficulty, only to find opportunities opening as a result?

Where to find Liese…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon


Movie Review: Queen of Katwe

When I first heard of this movie, I assumed it would receive several Oscar nominations. That buzz was apparent at the Toronto International Film Festival this past fall. Unfortunately, the Academy chose to bypass the movie.

Disappointing but not discouraging enough to prevent millions of people worldwide from seeing the movie on the big screen and now on DVD.

Set in Africa, the movie has an entirely black-speaking cast and focuses on a five-year period in the life of Phiona Mutesi (brilliantly played by Madina Nalwanga), an illiterate Ugandan girl living a hardscrabble life in a Kampala slum.

The trajectory of Phiona’s life changes when she walks into a small classroom, enticed by an offer of free porridge. There, she discovers the game of chess and a mentor in Robert Katende (played by David Oyelowo). She demonstrates an extraordinary talent for the game and easily learns the rules and strategies.

Throughout the film, many life lessons are imparted, some from Katende, others from the colorful cast of characters.

In his first encounter with Phiona, Katende watches the newcomer physically attack the chess kids who mock her. Instead of reprimanding her, he comments, “This is a place for fighters.” Other chess/life lessons include believing in yourself, accepting challenges, “resetting the pieces,” and overcoming defeat.

The tiny girl assigned to teach Phiona the basics shares her love of the game: “In chess, the small one can become the big one. That’s why I like it.”

In five short years, Phiona achieves what many consider an impossible dream for an impoverished African child: Flying to international chess tournaments, enrolling in higher education, and buying a house for her mother (played by Lupita Nyong’o).

Director Mira Nair has succeeded in recreating Phiona Mutesi’s empowering journey while skillfully capturing the intensity of life in Katwe.

A must-see film that will inspire and motivate.


Spotlight on I Love You More

I’m happy to feature USA Today bestselling author Josie Riviera and her Valentine-themed novella, I Love You More.

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Blurb

A billionaire and a single mother have more in common than they know.

He’s a billionaire businessman …

Luciano Donati, entrepreneur and eligible bachelor, lost his first wife to cancer. So though he lives in romantic Charleston, SC, he has every intention of ignoring the upcoming holiday for lovers … at least until he sets eyes again on his younger sister’s best friend.

He remembers Anastasia as a teenager who idolized him, not this lovely, fragile woman with heartbreak in her eyes. Heartbreak that he finds himself wanting to cure. Her smile warms his soul, her touch ignites his desire, and her little girl Soo-Min melts his frozen heart. Adopted internationally himself at a young age, Luciano understands all too well the strong need to belong somewhere.

She’s a single mom …

Anastasia Markow, cancer survivor and divorced mother, didn’t come to Charleston, SC, for romance. She’s here to make sure she has custody of her adopted daughter, Soo-Min. But when she encounters the first man she ever loved, here in the city of horse-drawn carriages and candlelight, her battered heart can’t help but bloom again. And when Luciano and Soo-Min take to each other, resisting his charm becomes even harder.

Handsome, self-assured, every inch the successful billionaire, Luciano is out of Anastasia’s reach. But when a hurricane strands them together and they must trust each other to survive … things heat up despite the driving rain and gale winds.

Can Valentine’s Day bring this unlikely pair together … this time for good?

Don’t miss this poignant story of love, loss and renewed hope—get your copy of the novella today!


Trailer


Buy Links

Amazon (ebook) | Amazon (paperback) | Universal Buy Link (iTunes, Nook, etc.)


Bio

josierivieraJosie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.


Author’s Note

Thousands of families around the world have opened their homes and hearts through international adoption. Soo-Min is the embodiment of many, many fortunate adoptive children and parents who’ve together created forever families. This book is close to my heart as my husband and I adopted our daughter from South Career 22 years ago.


Where to find Josie…


Website | Facebook (Author Page) | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube


Honoring President Abraham Lincoln

Born this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He led the country through its Civil War and preserved the Union. He also abolished slavery, strengthened the Federal Government, and modernized the economy.

An extraordinary man and leader, he is consistently ranked among the greatest American presidents.

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I’m honoring his birthday by sharing 10 favorite quotes:

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then… find the way.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.


Life Lessons from Hidden Figures

Several weeks have passed, but I can still vividly recall scenes from Hidden Figures. The movie has left an impression, one that will linger in my consciousness. And I’m not only thinking of the Oscar-worthy performances delivered by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

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Instead, my thoughts gravitate toward Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three brilliant African-American women who helped launch John Glenn into orbit. In the 1960s, this visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines, and in 2017, they continue to inspire generations of women to dream bigger dreams.

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.


Honoring Mary Tyler Moore

marytylermoore1Visionary. Groundbreaking Actress. Producer. TV Legend. Passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. So many accolades come to mind whenever Mary Tyler Moore’s name is mentioned.

Yesterday, Mary died at the age of eighty.

While I have only vague recollections of the Dick Van Dyke show, I was addicted to the Mary Tyler Moore show and looked forward to each week’s episode. Impressed and inspired by Mary Richards, television’s first single career woman, I would often ask myself–What would Mary do?–whenever I encountered a workplace challenge. I was saddened when the series ended in 1977, but I continued to watch the reruns for several years afterward.

Short Clips from MTM Show…

Mary Richards: I’m an experienced woman. I’ve been around… Well, all right, I might not have been around, but I’ve been… nearby.

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Lou Grant: You know, Mary, you’ve got spunk.
Mary Richards: Why, thank you, Mr. Grant.
Lou Grant: I hate spunk.

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Mary Richards: Oh Rhoda, chocolate doesn’t solve anything.
Rhoda Morgenstern: No Mare, cottage cheese solves nothing; chocolate can do it all!

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Mary Richards: Well, what’s the cut-off point Mr. Grant? I mean, is… is there some number? You know, I’d really like to know. How many men is a woman allowed to have before she becomes *that* sort of woman?
Lou Grant: Six.

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Mary Richards: A woman doesn’t have to have a baby if she doesn’t want to.
Lou Grant: Well, I say a man’s entitled to have a baby if he wants to.
Mary Richards: [Chuckles] Well, Mr. Grant, on behalf of women everywhere let me say we’d sure like to be there when he has it.
Ted Baxter: She got you there, Lou.

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Mary Richards: Mr. Grant? Could I say what I wanted to say now? Please?
Lou Grant: Okay, Mary.
Mary Richards: Well I just wanted to let you know that sometimes I get concerned about being a career woman. I get to thinking that my job is too important to me. And I tell myself that the people I work with are just the people I work with. But last night I thought what is family anyway? It’s the people who make you feel less alone and really loved.
[she sobs]
Mary Richards: And that’s what you’ve done for me. Thank you for being MY family.

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Favorite Quotes from Mary Tyler Moore…

You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.

Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.

I’m not just a survivor…I’m a flourisher.

Having a dream is what keeps you alive. Overcoming the challenges makes life worth living.

Chronic disease like a troublesome relative is something you can learn to manage but never quite escape.

I live in a kind of controlled awareness. I wouldn’t call it fear, but it’s an awareness. I know I have a responsibility to behave in a certain way. I’m able to do that.

There are certain things about me that I will never tell to anyone because I am a very private person. But basically, what you see is who I am. I’m independent, I do like to be liked, I do look for the good side of life and people. I’m positive, I’m disciplined, I like my life in order, and I’m neat as a pin.

I’ve had the fame and the joy of getting laughter – those are gifts.