I’m a Real Writer!

I’m  tired of hearing people say, You’re a writer? What do you write? The  answer to that is obvious. I write all kinds of things–grocery lists, to do lists, synopses, pitches, and novels. Usually, my answer is, “I write romance novels in different sub-genres.”  So far so good. It’s the next question that gets me every time.

Really, what kind of romances? Is there a lot of sex in them like…? I give them the laundry list of my available books, explain I write romance, not erotica–not that there’s anything wrong with that– and then they come in for the kill. Where can I buy them?

“They’re available online from any of the e-book stores like Amazon and Kobo, or from my publisher’s site.”  And then they hit me with the line–Ohh, you write e-books. Their eyes glaze over and you realize you’ve lost them, and a potential sale. Gee, I’d have bought one if I could have gotten it at Coles, or Indigo, or wherever “real” books are sold. 

Why do so many people believe continue to believe that e-books aren’t real books? My novel, The Captain’s Promise, is now available in print,  but because it won’t be sold at the local bookstore, according to these gurus, it doesn’t qualify as a “real” book. How frustrating and how painful.

The hours of work that went into the books makes them as real as every other book, but how do you convince people of that? The funniest line I got was when someone suggested I donate a copy of the book to the library, but wasn’t sure the library would want it–they only have real books there. 

Writing the books has been easy. Getting people to buy, read, and review them not so much. I’m not a public relations/media savvy type of person. I’ve done the social venues, tried to push the book, but the sales aren’t there, and I’m at a loss as to how to improve them. I have everything in place except a reader following. It’s discouraging to say the least. 

Now, I’m on the brink of having another book released. This time it’s a simultaneous release of print and e-book, and I worry it won’t do well because of those who still believe real books only exist in bookstores.  

Well, I guess, this is where I believe in the power of positive thinking and Christmas magic. Okay friends, I’m tossing you the torch. Spread the word. Susanne Matthews writes real books–good books according to her editors and reviewers. Let’s see if I can build a following with your help.




What’s in a Promise?

ImageWelcome to the Front Porch Romance Tailgate Blog for the month of October. I’ll begin by saying hello to all of you who are reading my blog for the first time. Please take a moment to share your opinion on the topic of keeping promises. Please remember to check out all the other Front Porch Romance bloggers at http://fprbooks.wordpress.com/fpr-blog/  There is another chance to win one of several e-books written by myself and my  fellow Front Porch Romance authors at   http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/NTY5MWFjNWUwNDkyOGRlYWE3MDlmZjY1NmEyOWJiOjE=/

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What’s in a Promise?

How many times have you been asked to do something and answered, “Sure, I’ll be there” or “I’ll do that,” and added, “I promise,” without even thinking about it? Sometimes we keep those promises, but more often than not, we forget all about them. We promise to call; we promise to visit; we promise to get together soon. We promise to buy a particular item or to give to a charity, but sometimes things happen that force us to set those promises and others aside.

Sometimes, the promises you make are to yourself. In Coming Home, the book I co-wrote under the pseudonym, Misty Matthews, both Alana and Connor make promises to themselves that they inevitably can’t keep. Lana vows she’ll never return to Chance, and Connor swears he won’t get involved with anyone from Chance and yet, for reasons of their own, neither character can keep that promise. If you can’t keep a promise you make to yourself, how much harder is it to make a promise to others?

There was a time when people were more aware of what they said—a time when a promise was a sacred vow, not to be given or taken lightly. Take wedding vows for example. Marriage used to be forever—a life’s sentence if you will.

I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded wife/husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.

Thousands of people make similar vows each year, yet according to Stats Canada in 2010, 4 out of 10 first marriages ends in divorce! Broken promises. Why? Was it because the promises were made rashly? Was it because those making the promises didn’t really understand the pledges they were making? Was it because some of those making the vows knew they had no intention of keeping them from the get-go? Or was it that, like so many things in the twenty-first century, promises just can’t always be kept?

The words, “I promise”, don’t seem to have the same power today that they had in the past. At one time, a person’s word was their bond. If they said they’d do something, then you could be sure it would get done. They didn’t make promises or vows lightly and there were consequences to not keeping your word. Today, promises like so many other things, seem to be disposable.

In The Captain’s Promise, Etienne makes two vows, neither of which he takes lightly, but vows that he knows are conditional. There were forces at work in seventeenth century France, just as there are all around the world today, that made it impossible for him to keep his promises in the way those who exacted them expect, but when push comes to shove and circumstances demand action, Etienne stepped up to the plate. He put himself and others at risk to keep his promise, and the reward was everything he could have hoped for and more.  

Excerpt from The Captain’s Promise:

“Elle, my fortune lies across the sea in the New World. I wish you could see how beautiful it is. New France is a wild place of majestic splendour with wondrous plants and animals, but Martinique, where I have chosen to build my new life, is a green paradise, an Eden in a turquoise sea. I shall make my home there and grow rich on the profits from my ships. The Rose is the first of what we hope will be a fleet of specialized trade ships. She will carry goods between New France and the French colonies to the south and vice versa. Other ships will take those goods to France and bring French goods which I will convey to Hispaniola, Martinique, and Cayenne.”

She smiled ruefully. This was the youth she remembered—the one with all the grand plans for adventure—but back then, she had thought those plans had included her. It had broken her heart to know that she had never really been a part of those dreams, just as she was not part of them now. While she had loved him, wanted to marry him, she had simply been the young tomboy who had shadowed him during his teenage years. When she thought of how she had thrown herself at him that night, her cheeks flamed. Elle wondered fleetingly how he would react if she begged him to take her away from here and let her join in his adventures. He would be mortified!

Etienne stood, and paced a few feet away from her. His face had grown solemn, as if he were about to broach a serious matter, one she suspected from the frown he wore that he found distasteful. His posture made her uncomfortable.

“Elle, I came here today for two reasons, the first was to see you and offer my condolences on the death of your husband. The second was to honor a promise I made to your father on your sixteenth birthday.” He cleared his throat.

Confused, she watched him pace. She had not known that he had made a promise to her father. What promise could her father have asked that he had kept even from her? And why would such a promise disturb him? She could tell by the way he held himself so rigidly, that this was not what he wanted to do.

“The last time I was here, before I left to fight the Turks, your father had me promise to watch out for you and help you should the need arise. I understand that your husband’s death has left you in a precarious financial condition. I would like to help you, if you will let me. I have a lot of my wealth invested in my ship, but whatever else I have is at your disposal. You only need to ask.”

How stiff and formal he is, she thought sadly. He sees me as an obligation, a debt he must honor to my father. He does not even remember the promise he made to me.

Etienne’s clipped words stabbed her as she let them sink in. She had misunderstood. He had not come back for her; he had come out of obligation to her father. He was still talking, and she forced herself to listen to his words.


The Captain’s Promise and Coming Home  are  available at: https://www.frontporchromance.com 

The End of an Era: Goodbye Mom.

As some of you are aware, I have been married, to the same man, for forty-two years. During that time, his family has become as important to me as my own flesh and blood family. This week, my mother-in-law passed away, and although I should have expected it, she was 97, I feel as if a light has gone out in my life. A woman of grace and gentility has passed, never to come again, and the world is a sadder place because she’s no longer in it. 

Ever gracious, Mom always had a smile for everyone. She never scolded or complained, never made you feel badly if it had been a while since your last visit, and was genuinely happy to see you. I will always remember her smile, her twinkling blue eyes, and her hair that stayed red, although faded from the vibrant shade of her youth, right up to the last minute. Six and a half years ago, she moved from the condo where she’d been more or less self-sufficient, into a retirement home. There, she blossomed again, and was often heard to say that moving to Southbrook  had extended her life. At 91, she was still playing bridge, doing Tai-Chi exercises, and participating in a number of other activities offered in the retirement facility. Latterly, her hearing and vision forced changes in her life, but she did what she wanted to as long as she could. 

Mom was a one-of-a-kind person, a lady in every sense of the word. She never said anything negative about anyone and never complained. I remember years ago when we were attending the same formal function, I  tried my hand at making a dress. I’ll never forget it. It was peach colored with a keyhole in the front and tied around the neck. It came with a small cape that had a lettuce-stitched edge so that it didn’t lay flat. The dress was risque to say the least. Mom looked at it, pursed her lips and said”Well, at least you won’t be too warm.” To this day, whenever I shop, I look at the dresses I buy with that comment in mind. 

I remember Mom’s kindness when all three of my children were born, but more specifically the time I miscarried in my sixth month. She flew in from Hamilton to stay with us for a couple of weeks and watch my sons while I recovered from the loss. She lived to make her family happy and comfortable. Whenever we talked to the kids about going for a visit, it was always–let’s go see Grandma and let her spoil you a bit.  She always had tea or coffee ready and would jump at the chance to do something for you. My children adored their grandmother, and I have hoped to emulate her attitude and behavior with my grandchildren.

Mom was also an excellent cook. I’ve never tasted date squares as good as hers. She made a mustard sauce to go with ham that is as yet unparalleled. I’ve tried to repeat it, but there is a magic something missing in my version. I remember delectable scalloped potatoes, delicious trifle,  a phenomenal layered salad, and of course the multicolored gelatin salads with the fruit inside. No matter how many times I tried to make those, I always ended up with a mess. She taught me that a dash of white vinegar cuts the fishy taste in canned salmon and lemon does the same for tuna. No matter what she cooked, it was always delicious–cooking with love does that to food.

Of all the things I remember about mom, the one thing that stands out is the love and acceptance she showed me right from the start. I know both she and Dad would be proud of my accomplishments to date as a writer, and that will motivate me to keep at it as long as I can. I can only aspire to be half the great lady she was. Jean Matthews, you will always live in my heart.