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I am proud to announce the publication of my fourth novel, This Can’t Be Love, set in Edinburgh during the summer Fringe Festival.


What happens in Edinburgh, stays in Edinburgh — if Mike Argent has anything to say about it.

Not every woman drops into Mike Argent’s life the way Jakki Hunter has, at his feet straight from the passenger side of a roadster.

Every guy Jakki’s ever known has dumped her, but not usually with such drama or with as drastic consequences as in the rubbish of a construction site.

Something about her brings out the rescuer in lone wolf Mike.

Something about him brings out all Jakki’s protective quirks.

This Can’t Be Love is a Big City, Semi-Sweet Romance.

He’s put the past to the back of his mind. He has the freedom from entanglements he wants. Why does he need this ditzy dame and her troubles in his life?

What chance does love have to bloom and grow between Mike Argent, an itinerant construction worker, and Jakki Hunter, a quirky actress?


I so enjoyed writing this story. As I wrote in my Classic and Cozy blog, “Falling in Love, Time After Time,” earlier this week, I fell in love with Mike Argent. I hope he has the same affect on readers of this book. Other readers may feel the same about Jakki Hunter!

And, by the way, this novel is written entirely from the point of view of the hero, Mike Argent


This Can’t Be Love is now available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook ($2.99) and paperback ($9.95), Kobo and Smashwords as an EPUB digital book ($2.95).

This second book in my “Americans in Love” series, standalone novels about Americans fall in love in some of the most romantic cities in the world. The first novel in this series, Wait a Lonely Lifetime, set in Florence, Italy, appeared in April 2012 (Avalon Books) and was published in Kindle ebook  and paperback  formats by Amazon’s Montlake imprint in October of the same year.

Copies are available to Reviewers from Eres Books at eres (dot) publisher (at) gmail (dot) com.

This post first appeared a few months after the publication of my debut Romance, Wait a Lonely Lifetime. For those of us who are perpetual students, love researching for our books and lectures, the people who inspired us to love learning are the real heroes.

In my college days.

In my college days.

September 23, 2012

Students of all ages started back to school a little over three weeks ago, some as early as mid-August. Watching the kids riding the buses and streetcars, I remembered my own years of formal education – some more productive (and happier) than others. I’m also reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower – another nostalgic reminder of the people who inspired me to learn.

I think ‘teach’ is a misnomer. For most of what happens while we are in school, college and university – or actually what should happen – a better word is inspire. A teacher who inspires a love of learning does more than instruct. That teacher encourages an inquisitive mind, opening doors for the student that imparting of facts can never do.

I can remember so many teachers who captivated me with their love of their profession and their charges. Some were mysterious. Some were difficult. Some were cruel and some were saints.

I was never a particularly brilliant student. Competent in most subjects but with little commitment to the hard graft of getting good grades, particularly in Algebra. Girls were not supposed to be good at math or science. Equations evaded my grasp until my 7th grade math teacher, Miss Hughes, gave up her after school hours once a week to give four of us special tuition. When equations clicked for us, we had no idea then what her commitment to our understanding of a mathematical formula offered us and our futures.

If not for Miss Hughes, math would have continued to be my nemesis as it was for so many of my colleagues in community arts organizations. Miss Hughes’s few hours of tuition gave me a grounding in numbers that led to good jobs in the industry that most interested me as well as open opportunities in information technology that never occurred to me as a teenager.

A few years later, I sat in class and listened to Mr. Lombardi talk about language, particularly the English language. His love of language spoke to the heart of what I had always wanted to do, regardless of what job I might have to take. He also gave me the confidence to believe that a career in writing was a possibility for me, even if others urged me to be ‘practical’, be a teacher.

The day I  signed my first  publishing contract.

The day I signed my first publishing contract.

While in university, I detoured into Art and Theater Studies. While studying Art, I found inspiration for my heroine in Wait a Lonely Lifetime (now in paperback). I also took courses in Astronomy and Physics. Eventually, I returned my love of language, first and foremost. The detours provided ample fuel for stories. They also extended my schooling by several years!

During my post-graduate years, I had an opportunity to explore teaching as a career.  Although I had a few triumphs and amazing, special moments of being credited with changing someone’s life, I realized I had none of the commitment to the profession that I had experienced. I was and still am a student.

A student can never be bored – there is always something new to discover. For this special gift, from those who are so gifted to inspire a love of learning, I am forever grateful. I would never have become a writer without you.

Every year that goes by since I first wrote this, I am more certain that the quotation that opens this post is increasingly important to remember.

August 23, 2012

“Never put in writing anything you don’t want people to read.”  V.V.Verrill (1913-2005)

That is not the only quotation from my mother indelibly enscribed onto my brain but it is most pertinent today and not just for writers. I almost missed my appointed blog date and with only a few hours to spare, I have found a topic worth writing about. (One of my cardinal rules – not from my mother: Write for yourself but don’t expect anyone to read it unless there is something of value for them.) So, until noon today, I had no topic. Therefore, no post ready for the midnight launch.

But at noon, I saw one of the scariest and most amazing things. I work in the financial district, many tall buildings, a few that qualify for skyscrapers status. I chose to have lunch on the roof of my building (small in stature compared to others in the area) and take time to work on my current work-in-progress. At a blurry juncture when my brain needed to sort through images and words to find the next step, I looked up and to the south.

On the ledge of a building twenty floors taller than mine, I saw a man washing the windows. He was balanced on his toes, his left hand gripping the top of the window while he scrubbed the panes of glass and wiped them dry with a cloth on his belt. I could see no visible sign of support and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. One, for fear he would fall. Two, in abject fascination that he could do this. (I have difficulty walking over grates in the sidewalk, along the pedestrian area of bridges, looking down the 13 floors in the stairwell of my building to the ground floor.) Yet, here was a man hanging on the vertical wall of a 24-story construction with seemingly no way to stop himself from falling.

This is earthquake country. Anything can happen at any time. At last, he went into the room and after a while I saw that he was attached to a webbed belt locked into an eye-hook in the ceiling of the room. Still! Not anything I could do.

I looked around the area and saw two men in a gondola hanging from another building, on two wires that lowered the gondola as they finished one window and moved down to the next. And, on the ornate frontage of another building, another gondola suspended on wires, two men swinging in the air. Whether these two pairs of workers were tethered to their equipment I wasn’t able to see. Brave? Foolhardy?

They trusted themselves, their ability and their equipment to keep them safe. (You may have seen photographs of skyscraper construction with men sitting on eye-beams and no visible sign of support – these photos make me weak in the knees!) All they had to trust were themselves and their co-workers. Were there safety nets out of sight of the camera lens?

And here we are, as writers, out on our own individual ledges, trusting ourselves, our ability and equipment to keep us from falling. My mother’s edict is even truer today than when I was confined to notebooks and scraps of paper. At least then, someone had to find the notebook, steal it and read it in secret. In today’s connected world, every word I put on the screen and upload to the cloud or the social media page, is available to hundreds of thousands of people. If I send my work in an email, I have no control over where that email will end its journey.

Some of us believe this is a grand thing. My mother would disagree. And I, for once, have to agree with her. There are some thoughts that are best kept in notebooks, locked away in drawers for which the keys have been lost. However, we also have to trust the recipients to respect our ownership as well as our freedom to write with honesty and integrity, according to our own beliefs and understanding.

During my tenure as director and editor for Honno: Welsh Women’s Press, I encouraged my mother to write her World War II memoirs. I presented my siblings and my sons with a privately published copy on her 90th birthday. These memoirs were subsequently published as an ebook, Following the Troops: Life for an Army Wife, 1941-1945. 

July 23, 2012

I read Andrew Galasetti’s guest blog at selfpublishingteam.com on Saturday morning (July 21, 2012) that resonated with me. Near the end of this post, Galasetti writes about his grandfather’s writing dreams and how they had nearly died with him. This was particularly moving to me because I spent many years as an editor for a women’s cooperative press in Wales, selecting material for three volumes of autobiographical writing by women that, had it not been for Honno, would not have been published or recorded for history.

One of my proudest publishing moments was working with historian, Dierdre Beddoe, on Parachutes and Petticoats and Iancs, Conshis a Spam, two volumes of women’s writing about their experiences in World War II. Many of these accounts were harrowing, tragic or triumphant. All were about the indomitable human spirit and our willingness to sacrifice our lives for strangers.

The stimulus for both of these volumes was the stories my mother told me about her experiences during World War II and her childhood. Twenty years before her death, I asked her to write these stories down, intending to include them in one of the volumes. In the end, I edited and published them independently for my family and her grandchildren.

Several of my friends have created similar publications, so that their own personal journeys aren’t lost and forgotten. During the latter part of the 20thC, there were hundreds of volumes of diaries and oral history projects undertaken to capture these stories for posterity. Until they were written, recorded or published, these experiences were stories passed on from one generation to another but often not. Now they are history, available to us all.

That is, as long as our smartphones, laptops, ereaders and tablets keep working. Galasetti’s book, To Breathe Free, incorporates his grandfather’s poetry and will be published in Fall 2012.

If you want a really good yarn, talk to your elders.

Shortly after Avalon Books published my debut novel, the sale of Avalon to Amazon’s imprints was announced and finalized. This was my short farewell to my editor, Lia Brown. For most of us, losing an editor is one trauma we don’t anticipate. In my case, I found an editor and a publisher in one year and lost them both in the next. Amazon’s Montlake published Wait a Lonely Lifetime as an ebook and paperback in October 2012.


 

June 23, 2012

We here at Avalon Books have been in transition for a few months as my colleague, Kent Conwell, has mentioned in his blog this month. I’ve only been with Avalon for a little over a year but I’ve felt welcome and at home from the beginning.

My editor for Wait a Lonely Lifetime, Lia Brown, was the first person to read my novel and I will be forever in her debt for seeing the story as ‘a terrific romance’, and doing what editors do to get books they have enjoyed published.

Lia’s departure late last year was a blow, as losing editors has been for Kent. He has years of publishing experience to sustain him, as do all of the Avalon authors who’ve been with Avalon Books for a lot longer than I have.

I take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone here at the Avalon Authors Blog and the community established to help and support one another as writers, through transitions and uncertainties.

And to think, we’ve been called ‘jealous creatures’ (a line from the film, Midnight in Paris, attributed to Ernest Hemingway).

For a list of Avalon Books and all their authors, start at the publisher’s website and go on to their full list of all Avalon authors. Find out what makes them all so special.

This post first appeared two months after my debut novel debuted in April 2012.

I hope you don’t mind that I’m including the interview that my colleague, Rebecca L. Boschee, did for the Avalon Authors Blog. I haven’t changed a word! 

June 20, 2012

Today we’re talking to Avalon author Leigh Verrill-Rhys about her novel Wait a Lonely Lifetime. Join us to learn what makes this novel special…

 

Wait a Lonely Lifetime (Avalon Books, 2012)

Sylviana Langdon’s marriage went bad from the start. She married the wrong guy, and there was no chance of ever making him right — not for her. Divorced and dating again, she can’t stop thinking about a smart guy she met a few weeks before Steve came into her life. Eric Wasserman walked away from her with no explanation back then. What would he want with an airhead artist’s model now, fifteen years and two little girls later?

Captain Wasserman’s best buddy, Steve Langdon, saved his life and stole his girl. The career Army officer’s second-in-command drops a pretty blue envelope on his desk. The handwriting isn’t familiar, but the name pulls the pin on the grenade that has been in Eric’s mind since he walked away from the green-eyed girl his buddy wanted.
When he doesn’t reply to either of the two letters and a third arrives, his ungentlemanly behavior threatens the morale of his combat support unit. For the sake of his unit, Eric takes the hit from his best buddy’s wife, wondering why Steve has put her up to writing to a man she doesn’t know.

Welcome, Leigh! We’ve read the synopsis, but please take a minute to tell us in your own words what your latest novel is about.

Besides girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back? I began with that basic framework and built in betrayal, loyalty, self-sacrifice, hope and determination. Sylviana is a wide-eyed innocent looking for direction. When she meets Eric, he’s a bit roughed up by four years in combat zones but still has a strong commitment to doing right. Their natural connection is torn apart by Eric’s best friend, who is also attracted to Sylviana. Steve is smarter and meaner. When all his lies come to the surface, Sylviana ends her marriage to him and turns back in search of the man she believes she was meant to marry.

There’s lots to like about that set up. I understand a big part of Wait a Lonely Lifetime is written in letters and emails. What inspired you to take that approach? 

Epistolary novels have a long, respectable history especially in the Romance genre. If you remember the film You’ve Got Mail based on the eastern European story The Letter (also made into a film in the 1930/40s with James Stewart) as well as a musical, He Said, She Said, you’ll recognize the device. I didn’t really plan the book that way; it seemed the only way Sylviana could communicate with Eric, not knowing how to reach him once he had re-enlisted. A letter is a monologue. Until it receives an answer, it’s just one person, one-sided. A letter demands and expects an answer. Once it’s written, the writer is at the mercy of the recipient. A lot like writing a book. Writing Wait a Lonely Lifetime in letter and emails seemed the natural way to bring Sylviana and Eric back together, much safer than a phone call. No matter how dependent we are on electronic communication, nothing replaces a handwritten letter to send a heartfelt message, most especially a love letter.

I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s something inherently romantic about letters. And speaking of romantic…your novel is set partly in Firenze. You’ve been there and have described it as one of the most enchanting places you have even visited. Was there anything in your book based on real life experiences? 


The moment I arrived in Firenze, I knew I was going to write about it but I didn’t make notes or keep a travel diary. I had a camera but took no pictures. I observed and absorbed. What I wrote about the city is distilled from all I remembered. Quite a lot! I made mental notes of some details like the high water mark and the monument to the victims of the Mafia bombing. I wove those into the story because they were unique. I kept the tourist map so I could find my way around once I was back in Wales.
 

It sounds like a great place to fall in love. Your heroine, Sylviana, falls in love with Eric at first sight. I’m a big believer in this, but how does she know?

I believe this happens for many people. The moment doesn’t always lead to everlasting love but I think we know when we’ve met someone we will never forget. That chemistry is instantaneous – ignore it at your peril! A lot of that sense is hopeful. Some of it is intuition and instinct. I’ve only felt that way about one person. I married him pronto.
 

Smart move! Let’s talk about your writing. What was your favorite scene to write and why? 

I’m particularly fond of the plaid pajamas with piping around the collar scene. The most dramatic scenes are when Sylviana escapes with her daughters from her house and they can’t reach Eric on Thanksgiving Day. I also loved writing about Eva’s first school dance. The whole book was fun and challenging. I couldn’t stop writing. Part of the joy of writing for me is discovery. I don’t plot beyond a basic outline, feeling my way through the boxes and barriers that these persnickety characters put in the way.
 

Based on your discovery writing style, you must have learned something from writing your book. What was it? 

The most amazing thing I learned was that I could actually write a novel, from beginning to end. I learned the essential ingredient of discipline and more discipline. When Lia Brown asked to read the first chapters, I had half of the book still in draft. A month later, when she asked to see the full manuscript, I was ready! I had the feeling I had to be prepared. 
 

Good thing you followed that instinct! Was there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? 

The list of authors I’ve read and been influenced by is pretty long. I studied Victorian literature and was enamored of George Eliot. I’ve read every book she wrote and put Daniel Deronda as my #1 of all time. Also Middlemarch but that is lower on my list. I’m reading a lot of more contemporary writers at the moment: Frank Waters, Chinua Achebe, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Isabel Allende’s short stories, Eva Luna and In the House of the Spirits are stunning. I’m a fan of Anne Tyler and enjoyed Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News. I just bought a copy of Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite A Husband after I heard her speak at the San Francisco Area RWA chapter meeting. I’m reading as many of the Avalon authors’ books as I can find. I guess you don’t want to hear about things like Milton Freidman’s books on economics!
 

You’ve just made me add about a half dozen books to my reading list (with the exception of the one on economics). What about more books from you? What are your current works in progress? 

My current work is another contemporary novel but I’d call it women’s fiction with strong romantic elements rather than Romance. Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls is set in the financial district of San Francisco (hence the Milton Freidman!). This is another book I couldn’t stop writing but, like Michaelangelo, I am “finding the story in the words”, so to speak. 


I love the title—intriguing! What would you say has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

The toughest criticism is always a rejection. When I was just starting out, I kept all the polite notes from short story magazines. Nowadays they come in emails. I keep those too. There’s no honest criticism that you can’t learn from. I keep in mind it’s a lot easier to criticize than it is to create.

I’m sure many of us can relate to that. On the flip side, what has been the best compliment? 

The best compliments I’ve received are about Wait a Lonely Lifetime and my historical novel (written under my pen name) when people have told me they couldn’t put it down or that they were brought to tears, laughed out loud, are still thinking about the characters. When I read a book like that, it’s a lifelong treasure. 

And that’s what makes it all worthwhile. In closing, do yo have any advice you’d like to give to aspiring writers? 

I considered myself an aspiring writer until I was mortified to hear myself say, “I always wanted to be a writer.” We’re only aspiring if we’re not writing. Once you write, you are a writer. My best advice is: Write the best book you can and then make it better.

Great advice. Thank you so much for your time today, Leigh and congratulations on your new Avalon release!

About the Author:

A native of Paris Hill, Maine, Leigh Verrill-Rhys spent most of her childhood and early adult years in San Francisco before emigrating to Wales to marry and raise three sons. She has been a writer, editor, and lecturer for most of her life, intermingled with career portfolios in marketing, finance, and community arts projects.
Wait a Lonely Lifetime is her first published novel. Leigh admits to running with scissors and leaping before she looks.

Follow Leigh at www.leighverrillrhys.com, her blog: http://www.everwrting.wordpress.com, onTwitter: @EverWriting9, or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeighVerrillRhysAuthor

This article appeared a few weeks before Wait a Lonely Lifetime, my debut novel, hit the libraries and online booksellers. Amazon Publishing had already purchased Avalon and my career as a published author was already on shaky ground.

March 23, 2012

Cover art for Wait a Lonely LifetimeThe forthcoming publication of my debut novel, Wait a Lonely Lifetime, with Avalon Books calls for some attention to the hero of this book:  U.S. Army officer, Eric E. Wasserman, who doesn’t feel comfortable in civilian clothes.

I admit, when I see a man in uniform, I look twice. I don’t know if this is a genetic anomaly or a primordial instinct but there is something about a human male impeccably dressed, starched, buttoned and tied that unleashes a basic response from me: instant & rarely unjustified trust, a sense of security and protection as well as a recognition of pride and courage.

Medal of Valor presented to US soldierThis could be because so many of the most trustworthy, dependable men I have known have been the uniformed kind. This could also be the reason I have made my hero, Eric Wasserman, uncomfortable out of uniform when he first meets the love of his life and why he chooses to wear only military garb when they next meet.

His choice to return to Army life after a brief stint as a civilian has as much to do with the story development as with my own military-philia, having a long, proud history of U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force family members. Eric came to life when I saw him as a gawky, ex-GI out of his element among art college students.

 Readers of Wait a Lonely Lifetime will recognize this scene.


Readers of Wait a Lonely Lifetime will recognize this scene.

Eric Wasserman is a fictional character who embodies all I can imagine of the best of the male of our species: characteristics I have observed throughout my life; characteristics that are embedded in their genetic coding. My first novel for Avalon is my way of saying thank to people who have been important in my life – both familiar and unknown.Feeling out of our element is something we all share at one time or another. Eric’s second-in-command, Lt. Cleonina Jones, forces him to face his desertion of the only woman he has ever loved, Sylviana Innocenti, and take responsibility for his part in the unhappy outcome.

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