Tag Archives: womenwriters

Sharon C. Jenkins: Taking Ownership of Her Life as an Authorpreneur

Sharon Jenkins
Sharon Jenkins

Literary consultant Sharon C. Jenkins has helped hundreds of authors and writers get their messages out to the masses over the years. She has performed many tasks from hosting workshops and webinars to assisting new and established authors through the intricacies of self-publishing.  Her reputation as The Master Communicator has qualified her as one of the most in-demand writing and media professionals in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

There was just one thing. Sharon is also an author and when it was time to market her own books, she found it difficult to rely on the tried and true advice she’d given to her clients. “It’s hard to switch from consultant to client. In order to practice what I preached to others, I had to change my mind about my work,” says Jenkins.

The first shift was glaring. Jenkins decided that it wasn’t enough to think like a creative, but she had to embrace what she did as a business. Recognizing that publishing required her to budget, research, strategize and execute in the same manner as traditional publishers, she began to embrace her efforts as entrepreneurial.   shiftkey

“It was amazing. The revelation that I could either be one more struggling author with a book or take ownership of my publishing and strategize was mind-blowing.”

Jenkins saw almost immediate results. Once she fully embraced herself as an entrepreneur, she also embraced the concept of being an “authorpreneur.” She studied publishing house business models as well as changed her mind about expenses, and viewed them as investments into herself, the business.

Jenkins bookIn 2014, she published Authorpreneurship: The Business Start-Up Manual for Authors as a way of evangelizing the good news of being an authorpreneur. She states, “I wanted to make it easier for others who wished to take their self-publishing efforts seriously. The manual provides both information and encouragement.”

This year Jenkins is launching another authorpreneurship book, Will the R.E.A.L. Authorpreneur Please Stand Up? A Collection of Inspirational Stories Celebrating R.E.A.L. Authorpreneurs, an anthology featuring publishing superstars. She will also be releasing a companion guide, Will the R.E.A.L. Authorpreneur Please Stand Up? 81 Tips for the R.E.A.L. Successful Authorpreneur.
Sharon C. Jenkins is a cheerleader for women seeking their second act in life. “Some of the stories in my latest book are absolutely riveting and inspirational. There are women just like me who didn’t have time or money to waste, and in some cases, they needed a lifeline. Publishing gave them that lifeline.”

To learn more about Sharon, visit her site SharonCJenkins.com.

Other People’s Money by Elizabeth Russell: Who knew philanthropy could be so deadly?

Elizabeth Russell
Elizabeth Russell

My dear friend, Jennie Liu,  just finished  a book she wanted to share with oops50.  I  asked her to interview the author, Elizabeth Russell,  and voila,  here’s that interview.

Betsey, give us a brief synopsis of Other People’s Money please.

Sure! Other People’s Money is the story of Katie Nelson, a program officer in Atlanta’s largest foundation. She really wants the foundation to fund a Latina health clinic, but meets strong opposition from the board. She begins to work closely with one particular younger board member (yes, romantic interest) to help revamp the clinic’s proposal, but then the whole clinic burns to the ground, killing a woman who was trapped inside. Everyone thinks it was a hate crime, but Katie senses something different. The more she explores, the more she realizes that many of the people she trusts are not who they seem. Eventually, she finds her own life in danger.

I wonder about your protagonist, Katie. She’s 28 and seems very much 28 to me. How did you come to creating and developing her character?

I wanted Katie to be young enough so that I could understand both where she is in her life and how she might mature as she grows. The funny thing is, I didn’t really like her in my original draft. She was too goody-goody, too much like the façade that many foundation employees put forth in public situations. I needed her to be more real, so I began to give her some flaws and more emotion. After I finished, I realized that she now behaves and thinks like I probably would have if I had been a foundation program officer at 28.

I was interested in the foundation world in which the novel is set, and I know you are a communications consultant for foundations, but how did you get the idea to start a novel?

I’ve been writing for foundations for 25 years, but always in the nonfiction/professional communications vein. It got to be kind of frustrating having to put the squeaky-clean, perfect image out there all the time when the stories behind the veils are sometimes so much more fun. I got my first taste of foundation fiction when I wrote some hypothetical ethics case studies for one of my clients, probably about 10 years ago. One reader complained that the case studies read too much like a novel, and that sparked the idea for Other People’s Money.

Russell

Had you ever had it in your mind before then to write a novel? And how did you go about actually getting it done?

I’ve always loved reading fiction, and ever since I was a girl the idea of “someday I’ll write a book” was in my head. This one took me 10 years from start to finish – a lot of coffee shop hours here and there, and sneaking time away from my paying jobs. My husband and kids cut me a lot of slack when I needed it. The process itself is rather jerky for me. A lot of time thinking, then a clump of very intense hours getting words on the page, then back to a big block of thinking. I really got serious once I turned 48, because I wanted it published before I turned 50. I worked with Mark Bloom, a fabulous editor in Asheville, to polish it up. Once that was done, I sent it to indie publishers and had a contract within 3 months.

What have you learned about the publishing world? Anything you would have done differently?

When I was shopping for agents and publishers, I told myself all I needed was an imprint and I would take care of everything else. I got exactly what I asked for. Publishing fiction nowadays seems to be all about getting someone to give you a stamp of approval and then doing all the marketing work yourself. My little indie publisher gave me much needed entry into the market, but their print-on-demand business model is not very friendly for indie bookstores. Next time around, I’d like to find a slightly bigger house that will accommodate store-based sales more easily.

Will there be more murder in your future?

Absolutely! I actually thought there might be some over the recent holidays, but then my relatives went home. But seriously, Other People’s Money is the first installment in a three-part series, and I’m working on the second book now. I know it won’t take me nearly as long the second time around, so stay tuned and visit my website and blog at elizabethrussellfiction.com for updates.

Elizabeth Russell has been telling the stories of foundation and nonprofit clients for twenty years as a marketing and communications consultant dedicated to the field of philanthropy. Her fiction is drawn from her insider’s knowledge of the good and the bad of the foundation world, and woven with a creativity that makes the field intriguing and engaging to all.

Jennie Liu is an Occupational Therapist, struggling writer, and dedicated member of a novel writing group. She is not yet fifty but has been long debating herself as to whether or not to color her fast graying hair.

Promises, a new novel by Casey Curry

Casey Curry, author
Casey Curry, author

Let me introduce you to, Casey Curry, wife, mother, and educator who has just published her first novel, Promises.  Curry is a master at weaving together fragile family alliances and with four aspiring African American daughters growing up in a military family all over the world, Curry has tons of material to not disappoint her readers.  Like her protagonist, Pamela Sloan, Curry is a woman over 50, and the wife of a naval officer who takes us on a thirty year journey full of family secrets and promises.

I mention that the daughters are African American because it was that one fact alone that piqued my interest enough to read the book.  It made me realize how little I knew about Black families in our military.  Truth is, I had not read much about military families in general, and must confess, had only seen films about families coping with war and death as a young adult – starting with WWII, Viet-Nam, and now Iraq.  Films or TV series that stand out are: Coming Home (1978); MASH (the 70’s); even Hogan’s Heroes from the 60’s and all those had an all white cast – or at least that’s how I remember it.  It wasn’t really until Glory (1989) and Red Tails in 2012 that Hollywood portrayed African American families in the military.

Casey Promises CoverSo, Curry’s book allowed me to enter a world I knew very little about.  What did I find?  Having grown up with two sisters, I found the relationship between the siblings to be not all that different from my own EXCEPT mine didn’t involve military espionage, family sacrifices, or vacationing on the Vineyard.  Interwoven between the daughters’ stories is Pamela’s story, their mother whose past is nothing like her daughters.  Raised by a father because her mother was either absent or should’ve been, Pam managed to marry well while her half-sister struggled as a poor single mother with an ungrateful and selfish daughter.  The contrast between Pamela’s tight knit family and her sister’s rather sad existence with her spoiled daughter is significant and what stories are made of.

I think Casey’s story will resonate not only with readers who have struggled with an empty nest or who are military wives but with women of all ages who have struggled to protect their family.  The whole time I was reading Promises, I kept thinking this would make the perfect Lifetime channel movie – one of my guilty late night pleasures.

Casey Curry is the Director of Creative Writing at a fine arts magnet school in Tampa, Florida where she teaches poetry and fiction to high school students. She holds a B.A. from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and M.Ed. from Norfolk State University in Virginia. She is a 2012-2013 National Arts Teachers Fellowship (NATF) winner. The novel, Promises is her second book, and was born out of the NATF project, formerly funded by The Surdna Foundation. Ms. Curry is married to a retired Naval Officer and is the mother of three adult daughters. Her youngest daughter, Tori Rose, was the inspiration for her first book, I Remember You Today, and died of a brainstem tumor at the age of three.

The End of My Writer’s Retreat

ANNICE
ANNICE

I never expected to finish the revision of 25 chapters in five days.  Of course, I must admit I’ve been revising for ten years so I guess it’s not all that surprising.  But who cares?  It’s done – 311 pages.  Now, all I have to do is make copies and give it to my devoted writer’s group for one last look.  I can tell you they’re probably sick of it but they’ve never had all the chapters together to actually read it through like a real book.  I know there will be changes, albeit minimal ones.  I’m terrible with comas and sometimes I get mixed up when to use italics for newspaper quotes and when I should just use quotation marks.  I used to know those things but have learned to rely on my group for that.  As for commas, Peggy is the comma Queen so she’s got that covered.

bird eggsIf you recall, there was a dove nesting on a planter on the steps of the condo where I’m staying.  Yesterday evening, when I was leaving, I was delighted to see the dove resting on its nest.  I tried to be quiet when I closed the door behind me but apparently I scared her off, and she flew away leaving behind two perfect white eggs.  I don’t know much about birds but prayed she wouldn’t view me as a predator and abandon the nest.

The next morning (Day 5) when I arrived, I was a little apprehensive about what I’d find.  Thankfully, the dove was back on its nest incubating her eggs.  While she still has a ways to go, I couldn’t help but see the symbolism in this bird’s nest and the finishing of my book.  So, here’s to hatching birds or books or whatever else that needs hatching.

The End
The End

Day 2 of My Writer’s Retreat

Annice
Annice

Day two of my writer’s retreat.  Well, that’s what I’m calling it even though it’s not exactly what I planned.  I was supposed to go to Bowers House, a Writers Retreat and Literary Center in Georgia, but given that my husband is still recovering from major back surgery, I felt uncomfortable being so far away – just in case.  So, feeling deprived and sorry for myself, I decided to take the week off anyway and just write at home.

It’s not that I can’t write at home, I do it all the time, but I also do the laundry, organize drawers, clean the closets, clip my dog’s nails – you get the drift.  Did I say I also check my kitchen cupboards to see if all my exotic spices are still in the house just in case I get inspired to make an amazing Indian dish?

While I was gearing up for my make-do “retreat,” my writing mentor and dear friend, Peggy, was going out of town to visit her children the exact week I had to cancel Bowers House.  I know Peggy’s place because my writer’s group meets there every other Tuesday.  It’s only ten minutes from my house but it feels like miles and miles away.  It’s quiet, serene, with cream colored furniture, and best of all there is Gracie,  her pure white cat who thinks she’s a dog.

Gracie
Gracie

Wouldn’t Gracie need someone to take care of her?  Yes she would.  What an amazing swap.  I get to write at Peggy’s place all day and leave when I’m ready.  So far, I’ve been going around 10:00 and returning around 7:00. Gracie is happy and I’m ecstatic.  In two days, I’ve revised 12 chapters, and hopefully, I can finish all 25 of them by the end of the week.

In addition, I have given up all household chores, including cooking, so we’re either eating out or bringing in, and the only thing I do in the morning before I leave is walk Terra, our dog.

Oh yeah, look at this little jewel I see in the morning.  A dove has decided to build a nest in a planter near Peggy’s front door.  I’ve watched it grow in just two days.  What a perfect metaphor for my writer’s retreat!

Creating a Nest
Creating a Nest