Photos that I took today around the farm of the ice storm. Experimenting with manual models on my camera. I love to capture the tiny details, contracts in color and texture.
All photos copyright 2018 Jeanne Grunert.
Interesting developments for writers at HubPages.
We are really excited to announce that we are joining Maven. Maven is an expert-driven group media network, whose innovative platform serves, by invitation-only, a coalition of professional, independent channel partners.
We just completed the most successful 4th quarter in our history with the highest ad CPMs we’ve ever seen. As we formed our ad strategy, Josh Jacobs from Maven consulted with us on which partners to use, how to think about unique demand, and how to help the passionate experts on HubPages present their inventory to premium programmatic buyers. The results have been outstanding.
From monetization synergies and shared technology to increased promotion of our sites, this is a great opportunity for us to continue what we do, but even better, and with more opportunity for Hubbers.
We greatly appreciate the dedication of the writers on HubPages and our niche sites and want to…
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My first book signing and reading event on October 28th was a success – thanks to YOU! A huge thank-you to all of the people who came to the event, and to those on social media who so generously shared the information with their friends and family about it. We had coverage in all the local newspapers, posters in the windows of the bookstore, and my very first book-on-the-shelf moment when I saw my books on a bookstore shelf and went, “Ah…yes…that’s it! Author!”
Here, a few pictures from the day’s fun and festivities. I read a brief excerpt from the prologue to my new Majek Family Mystery, “The Red Boy House”, and a short excerpt from “The Last Run of the 6:01.”
PROSPECT, VIRGINIA — Local author Jeanne Grunert will be signing copies of her novel, I Believe You, and her new novella, The Last Run of the 6:01 at Baines Books & Coffee, Main Street, Appomattox, on Saturday, October 28, 2017, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Copies will be available for purchase.
Last year, Grunert released her first novel, I Believe You, to considerable acclaim. Her work blends elements of traditional Gothic fiction, ghost stories, and the mystery genre. One reviewer called her writing “A cross between Flannery O’Connor and Edgar Allan Poe.” Her stories are tales of mystery and imagination akin to spooky tales such as those in the Twilight Zone and other supernatural tales.
Grunert grew up on Long Island, New York, in the shadows of the Gold Coast region made famous by authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nelson Demille. Working with the area’s rich and famous families while employed as a marketing manager at a local garden center inspired much of the setting for I Believe You. Her latest work, The Last Run of the 6:01, was partially inspired by the opening of the High Bridge Trail and the many train-related stories found locally.
Before moving to the Prospect area, Grunert worked in New York City as a marketing manager for publishing, retail, and financial services companies. She is the recipient of the Brockport Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s award and holds an M.A. in Writing from Queens College, New York City. In addition to her fiction works, she is also the author of several gardening books, writes marketing and sales materials for companies worldwide through her company, Seven Oaks Consulting, and writes the popular gardening blog, http://www.homegardenjoy.com.
For more information on the author’s works, visit her website at http://www.jeannegrunert.com. Her books will be available for purchase locally from Baines Books and Coffee starting October 28, 2017. You can meet the author in person at Baines on October 28 from noon to 3 p.m. Books will be available at a special event price.
Book Signing Event, Saturday, October 28, 2017, from 12 noon to 3 p.m.
Author Jeanne Grunert. Author website: http://www.jeannegrunert.com
Baines Books & Coffee, 205 Main Street, Appomattox, Virginia
The event is free to attend. Books may be purchased at the event. The author will be signing books and if time permits, reading from her works.
My latest work is now available in both print and e-book! The Last Run of the 6:01 features Gertrude Archer, an elderly sculptor with an obsession with trains. Why she has that obsession is something you’ll have to find out for yourself in this fast-paced page turner.
Readers are already sending me comments and photos…and greeting me in Wal-Mart to let me know they loved the book.
Here’s Jennifer Sneed’s picture of The Last Run of the 6:01 arriving at “her” station (home) from Amazon:
The Last Run of the 6:01 is available as an Amazon Kindle publication as well as a paperback book. I hope to ready it for release through Smashwords this weekend so that it will also be available in Barnes & Noble online.
I began writing at age 12. I remember reading a dreadful science fiction novel that I’d checked out of the library. It was a ‘children’s sci-fi’ book that talked down to kids and acted as if we were morons. I chucked it across the basement playroom where it hit the wood paneling with a resounding thud.
“I can write better than that!” I shouted into the empty basement.
And suddenly, I realized – I can.
I took out my sister’s green pen, a marble-topped notebook like the kind I used in school, and began writing. But that wasn’t fast enough. I had a story to tell. I needed a better way. So I dragged out a rickety card table from the hall closet upstairs and my mother’s portable Royal typewriter. I walked the half mile to Grand Value, the five and dime story on Covert Avenue, and used my precious $3 a week allowance to buy a $2 ream of typing paper.
I sat down and began to type.
My first novel was called “Caroline” and was about a princess who lived in a castle and was in love with the villain. It was dreadful, filled with typos, and 200 pages long. I gave it to a few friends to read.
My second novel was called “A Child of Wind and Sea.” I had been reading Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonquest series and was in love with the thought of riding a dragon through the skies. My heroine rode a dragon named Yahavana and went on a quest to save the love of her life. It was actually fairly well written and was entered into a young author storytelling contest through my eighth grade English class. The teacher said that the judges were impressed by it.
Then, in my freshman year of high school, everything changes. My English teacher, Dr. Patricia Gross, gave us an assignment to write a short story for a science fiction competition. I did not want to write it, and she had to lower the boom on me to get me to finish the story. That story, “Runaway Boys”, won the Brockport Science Fiction and Fantasy competition. There were 70 entries. I was fourteen years old. I was invited to attend a summer workshop taught by Nancy Kress and Stephen Donaldson. My sister came with me to chaperone the experience. It was an amazing experience and fueled my desire to one day become a professional writer.
Life, however, intruded. I won’t go into details, but I will say that over time, I ended up feeling as if I’d never achieve my dreams. Even after becoming a professional copywriter – a writer focused on business, marketing, and professional writing for corporate and agency clients – I still thought my fiction writing wasn’t good enough. I listened to professors in graduate school who called my writing “old-fashioned” and “sickly sweet” and who wondered why I didn’t write about gritty, realistic topics filled with sex and violence. I listened to the editors who said my work was never quite what they were looking for – and I gave up.
Until the internet happened.
Suddenly, I realized that I could publish ANYthing I wanted. Anything. Anything at all. I could write a poem and chuck it up on my blog and it was there for people to read. Amazon, Lulu, and the self-publishing revolution meant that the stigma of ‘vanity presses’ was gone. I didn’t need the blessing of an editor to get my book published or the approval of a committee. All I needed was ME.
If I could step into Dr. Who’s TARDIS and visit that angry 12 year old who picked up a green pen and a marble notebook to write her first words, I would tell her to keep writing. I would tell her to trust her instincts about what makes a good story. I would tell her to avoid writer’s workshops at all cost and especially degree programs in which a bunch of wanna be writers rip your story to shreds without telling you how to fix it.
I would tell her to read, read everything in sight but especially the classics – Dickens, master of characterization, Hemingway, master of precision prose, and the modern novelists in the genre I love: Rickman, Koontz, Barclay, others.
I would tell her that she doesn’t need fame and fortune, she needs to write, because to write is to create, and she is made to create.
And I would tell her that Mrs. Meinster’s 10th grade typing class, which taught her how to touch type and avoid the hunt-and-peck method, was the best elective high school course she’d ever take.
FOR A FRIEND – Virtual Book Signing for Author Mary Ann Poll
COME ON DOWN! Virtual Book Signing for Dullahan, An Alaska Iconoclast Thriller. Meet other authors, receive personalized copies of 1 or all of the Iconoclast series, and have some fun with us. If you love thrillers, this event is for you. https://www.facebook.com/events/812982835521052/
I’ll be popping by to support Mary Ann Poll, author of Dullahan, and I hope you can join us on Saturday, April 29, 2017 on her Facebook live event.
Literary pilgrimages…the name conjures images of Canterbury Tales, of men and women in brown pilgrims’ robes and sandals crossing the rocky mountains of Europe.
I’ve had two unique experiences that I suppose count as a literary pilgrimage. This particular “literary pilgrimage” involved us staying in one of the plantations that had inspired Margaret Mitchell’s “Tara” from Gone with the Wind.
The story includes a ghost.
It happened like this…
Back when I was in the corporate workforce, my husband and I took a journey each summer to a new destination. My husband planned the entire vacation. My job was to sit in the passenger seat of the car and navigate. We saw much of the United States this way tooling down the highways and byways, crisscrossing the back roads and staying in small towns to look for America.
On this particular trip, we journeyed to Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, the Bayou country. I touched Spanish moss dripping from old oak trees in an arboretum in Louisiana and almost fainted like a real Southern Belle in Mississippi when the temperature soared to 105 degrees with 100% humidity. I ate alligator meat for the first time and can vouch that no, it doesn’t taste like chicken, and do not, under any circumstances, try to eat cold alligator meat leftovers. It’s like chewing on an old rubber boot.
I love bed and breakfasts so my husband arranged for a room at one in Natchez, Mississippi. This particular house had quite the history. The original home had been built in the late 1700s, with additions up until the Civil War. The exterior photographs of the front of the house had been used on the cover of the soundtrack album to “Gone with the Wind” for the home resembled Tara, the plantation in Gone with the Wind, to an astonishing degree.
Our room in the B & B was in the oldest section of the house. It was an L-shaped room with a brick fireplace and an en suite bath. I felt as soon as I walked into the room an odd energy near the fireplace. In front of the fireplace was a small twin bed which the hotel owner said was often used when parents stayed in the room with children; the parents had the queen-sized bed while the child took the twin. We slept in the four-poster queen bed on the opposite side of the room.
Around 2 a.m. on our first night in the hotel, I awoke abruptly. The room was pitch black. My husband slept on. As I lay in bed, I heard the floor creak. It wasn’t the simple sound of old oak boards expanding and contracting – I know that sound well from living in many older homes. No, this was the clear creak-creak-creak of footsteps across the floor.
I held my breath. Was someone in the room? I couldn’t see anything. Creak-creak-creak. I realized that the steps weren’t coming near the bed, but seemed to be near the fireplace.
The footsteps stopped at 2:10 a.m. I screwed up my courage to creep to the bathroom. I checked the door to the room. It was closed and locked from the inside. No one had entered or left the room.
The next night, I was again awaked near 2:10 a.m. Creak-creak-creak. The same tread, as if someone paced in front of the brick fireplace.
We were leaving the next morning, and our hostess came up to our room to present the bill. Casually, I asked her, “Was this fireplace always here?”
“Yes,” she said. She walked over to the narrow, L-shaped bumpout that contained the twin bed, fireplace, and bathroom. She pointed to the wall behind the bed. “But this wall wasn’t always here. You see, this was actually the kitchen in the original 1700s house. This was the original cooking hearth. It’s bricked up now, but this is where the woman of the house would prepare the meals, dry the clothing, and probably spend much of her time.”
I looked at the area where I swear I heard footsteps two nights in a row and sensed an energy change when we had entered the room. It was the area where I imagine a woman, carrying a child red-faced with crying, might pace in front of a flickering fire in the wee hours of the night, comforting an infant with colic or trying to hush a baby with scarlet fever back into a fitful sleep. Or perhaps a woman had paced here once, worrying about a loved one away on a trip.
I never ‘saw’ my ghost, but I heard and felt her just as surely as I heard my husband’s rhymic breathing and felt his warm, steady, comforting presence in the bed behind me. My literary pilgrimage to one of the many mansions that inspired Margaret Mitchell’s “Tara” also inspired me to write more ghost stories, since ghosts can, and do, walk among us.
(Thank you to The John Fox website for the great author prompts that inspired this post!)
My latest novel is I Believe You, a thriller novel.
It’s available in paperback and Kindle e-book on Amazon.
“Ice,” the girl panted, leaning over the diner’s green marble countertop. “I need ice -“
“Sorry, lady, we’re closed.” Paul didn’t even bother to stand up. He continued stacking clean glasses under the counter for the morning rush.
And with that, an entire story bloomed in my mind’s eye on Sunday night.
On Point is the second draft of a novel I worked on for last year’s NaNoWriMo. Sounds familiar? That’s also how I Believe You, my five-star debut novel, began. One horrible first draft, a limping-but-better second draft, and a third draft that proceeded rapidly to publication.
On Point welcomes a new family into my stories, the Russo brothers. Brothers Paul and Ray are originally from Long Island, New York, and have relocated to rural Fayetteville, Virginia, a tiny fictitious town in Bedford County (which is real, and near the Blue Ridge Mountains). Paul owns the Timepiece Cafe, a historic diner along the town’s touristy Main Street.
One snowy, bitterly cold night just after Christmas, a beautiful woman blows in with the wind, demanding ice. Ice on a freezing cold December night? It turns out she is Sandra Martinez, a ballerina with the visiting dance troupe scheduled to perform the following day. The ice maker at the Best Western Hotel in town is broken. She needs to soak her aching feet after a full day’s rehearsal for the Nutcracker.
Paul is smitten. Despite swearing that he’ll never see a ballet, he promises Sandra Martinez he will see her perform the following evening.
But Sandra won’t be dancing that night. She won’t dance, ever again.
Paul is thrust into a mystery that swirls around the town of Fayetteville like the snow tumbling from the sky on that bitterly cold evening. With his older brother, construction company owner Ray, Sheriff Charlie Lutz, and the diner’s quirky cast of characters, On Point will keep you on your toes as the hunt for Sandra’s killer commences – and leads right back into the heart of Fayetteville.
As I’m working on the next draft of On Point, I haven’t forgotten The Red Boy House, the next Majek Family mystery. I originally started that story from the perspective of Joshua (Josh), the middle child of the Majek family, but found myself faltering as I attempted to think and write from the perspective of a 17-year old boy. I’m just not that familiar with modern teens, and felt I wasn’t really getting his character perspective ‘right.’ I shifted the second draft to a mixture of David/Josh, alternating chapters, and that still didn’t feel right. And darned if Tibor didn’t come charging back into the story like a runaway stallion, snorting and tossing that mane of hair of his and demanding that the family host Christmas Eve dinner with the traditional Czech Christmas carp. (It’s a real thing. Trust me. I verified it with my Czech neighbor).
I’m finding more and more that the story in the Red Boy House is starting to turn into a story about Tibor and Josh, just as I Believe You was more a story of David and Eddie. When I felt I couldn’t write any more on the Red Boy House, I set it aside, took a ‘writer’s retreat’ day on Saturday, bought a cappuccino at Baines Bookstore in Appomattox (and an excellent cappuccino it was), and sat with my German shepherd dog on a park bench people watching for an hour. You may laugh at this, but it’s that quiet, contemplative time outside of my normal routine that tends to get my creative juices flowing, and when I returned home, I felt the strange inner prompting to write again that drives a writer’s days. The following Sunday, I pulled out my laptop and decide to just let a story evolve. The results became On Point, which I quickly realized was the second draft of the original Salt + Light (which has now been renamed – but I may still use that title elsewhere. I just love that metaphor).
Creative writing isn’t linear. I use my linear writing skills daily as I craft marketing copy for my clients and write business reports, website copy, and all types of professional sales and marketing documents.
But when it comes time to craft a story, the inner prompting to write comes after a long, sustained period of inactivity when I step outside my normal boundaries. It can be as simple as walking my dog along a quaint Main Street, watching people enter and leave a florist’s shop, and suddenly see a work in progress coalesce before my eyes.
I hope you enjoy the book when it finally reaches publication. In the meantime, I’ll share updates on its progress and on all things Chez Grunert.
P.S. I know that “point” as in “pointe shoes” is spelled with an “e” on the end. There’s a reason the title is spelled On Point and not On Pointe. Trust me on this one.
I have a thing for old buildings. I love their mysterious dark interiors, the haunted quality they wear like a shroud. I love the dance of dust motes in the history-laden air. I love the scent of old wood floors, wood smoke clinging to whitewashed walls, hearth ashes long gone cold.
It’s an obsession with me, these old houses. I stumble over them in the woods near our Virginia farm. I cross backroads and stop to photograph them. Tobacco barns. Railroad stations. Farm houses. All gone, their histories lost in time, their stories crumbling in the splinters and sticks of their timber.
A few of these old beauties I have photographed along the roads in Virginia:
Old tobacco barn, Prospect, Virginia.