Morphing The Christmas Letter
Since 1968 I’ve sent out a dutiful Christmas letter each December that had three major intentions. Touching base with friends and family was always a given, but exercising my writing skill and incorporating a historical timeline were ulterior motives. Each of our children will someday benefit from a Christmas binder of letters that includes a parallel view of the family in changing times, along with some family photos and greeting cards through the years.
When the nest thinned out, we opted to take Christmas photos of hub and I with one or more of the animals left in our domestic “zoo.” In my Pride and Prejudice phase, we rented costumes and posed as Darcy and Elizabeth with our favorite white Arabian. Another year, we posed in bathing suits on a snow-covered patio, enjoying summer drinks. “Greetings from tropical Minnesota” topped that year’s newsletter.
Keeping the letter witty, cheerful and held to one or two sides of a single page was often a challenge. Running an impromptu wildlife preserve on our woodsy Minnesota acreage the last few decades, however, provided a wealth of material. (I count four children and even their children among “wildlife” which included horses, deer, turkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels, birds, snakes, rodents and even a pygmy goat and a pelican.)
After the holidays, I always regretted time constraints that squelched focus on more than the occasional article or feature for a local paper or magazine. Somewhere deep inside those spurts of creativity the Great American Novel fluttered impatient wings. When I did carve out time in my busy life to freelance—that demanding novel raged and pouted over the put-off. Things began to pop when I joined a few National Writing Associations and began to attend their writer conferences.
After placing in a short story competition , the judge wrote a letter begging me to continue the story. An agent at a Las Vegas Writers Conference suggested I write a novella first, then pursue the longer novel I finally got around to pitching. I took their collective advice and my debut novel, “The Accidental Wife,” was scooped up by Wild Rose Press and released in 2015 to good reviews and several awards. Confidence surged into motivation. With an empty nest and only one dog left in our menagerie, I had no more excuses!
I write full time now, churning out ideas once suppressed by time. The vanity license plate on my hot little red car expresses it all. “Novel CJ” is finally in gear. Book Two, “The Accidental Stranger” will be released January 6th in my “Accidental” series. The annual Christmas letter is morphing into a newsletter put out bi-monthly for fans. It is no accident; there is never a time-stamp on creativity or new careers. Never too late to promote delayed dreams! And to think…it all began with one of those much maligned, dutiful Christmas letters.
NEW RELEASE: (1-6-17) BY Cj Fosdick: “THE ACCIDENTAL STRANGER” ~ A must read book!
Had he bridged time to find them? Could the power of love save 3 lives?
Jessica Brewster is being watched…and things go missing from the remote Wyoming home she shares with her toddler. In a freak accident, she shoots the grizzled thief stalking her before she
recognizes the mesmerizing green eyes that belong to the only man she ever loved. Has Mitch bridged time to find her? In a race to save his life and change hers forever, she takes him into her home and
heart. But his memory loss and puzzling clues curry doubt and danger.
Is he truly her son’s father or an irresistible stranger in her arms?
EXCERPT FROM THE ACCIDENTAL STRANGER:
I screamed as the gun exploded in my hand and fell to the ground. The bear moving toward Scout dropped, and I raced to scoop up my son before he toppled into the icy stream. Cradling my whimpering child, I ventured closer and could see at once that it was no bear I shot. A man in a bearskin poncho lay on his side. A mass of dark matted hair covered the side of his face that wasn’t blooming with blood,
running down his cheek, pooling in his ear and staining his thick beard.
“Is he, is he dead?” I whispered.
Chuck fumbled for a pulse and we all started when the man groaned and his eyes fluttered open.
Green! His eyes were green. The fear in them registered with me as he searched our faces. When his eyes met mine, his jaw twitched. A flash of memories washed over me and my heart began to thump wildly. I set Scout down when my knees began to buckle and I thought I was going to be sick as I reached out to staunch the blood.
So red against the white snow. His eyes, so…green. Every shade in a spectrum of emotion raced through me. I knew only one man who owned those eyes. Had he come back to me?
Did I shoot the only man I ever loved?
Q1) What was the beginning of your writing journey?
A1) My “genesis moment” began in 5th grade. I won a writing contest and was an instant celebrity in Show and Tell, especially after I shared the candy I bought with my $5 prize. Years later I was feature editor of my high school paper and also wrote a teen column for a community paper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Moving to Rochester, Minnesota as a young wife and new mother, I only had time to pursue writing freelance articles, short stories and the occasional newspaper feature for years. By the time our nest was empty, I was bursting with “novel” dreams.
Q2) Tell me about your published books:
A2) My new novel, The Accidental Stranger, will be released worldwide January 6, 2017. It is part of the Accidental Series that began with an award-winning debut, The Accidental Wife. With a grant, I did manage to edit, contribute to, and publish an anthology of Minnesota writers many years prior. Blossoms & Blizzards was a local success, still available on Amazon and I have also written a short novella called, Hot Stuff which is part of The Candy Hearts Series.
Q3) What is your favorite book so far?
A3) My favorite Book so far…might always be the last one I write. The Accidental Stranger was a particular challenge to meet with two POV’s, dual continent settings, two eras and a strong current of suspense. I’m loving the feedback on it so far. This novel is really about finding a place in life…and time, and how the transforming power of love is the greatest agent of all.
Q4) What you enjoy most about writing?
A4) Besides traveling to the sites I write about, I love the play and dialog between characters, and twisting the plot in unexpected knots. I also LOVE basking in the sunshine of great reviews and awards.
Q5) Have you ever had a character twist that surprises you?
A5) I often have open discussions with my characters. My hubby thinks I’m talking to myself. I love unique plotting, but great characters drive stories.
Q6) Do you have a personal favorite character?
A6) I relate to my opinionated red-haired heroine and her green-eyed heroes. I am a redhead, my hubby has green eyes. Any novelist who denies projecting themselves in some of their work is not being honest. Attempting to steer clear of stereotypes, my least favorite characters are the hardest to write.
Q7) Do you have any favorite scenes to write, so far?
A7) Most often I sweat over all the scenes with conflict and romance, hoping to maximize dialog, tone, setting. I’m the fly on the wall in these scenes, absorbing emotion that hopefully infects my readers.
Q8) What book would you recommend to a stranger?
A8) Though each book in this series will stand alone, the lead characters will form a chain linking subsequent characters to subsequent stories. The Accidental Wife is the first link that starts the saga, but each novel will have scattered “refreshers” to clarify the genealogy. For instance, two of the characters in The Accidental Stranger will spin off as protagonists in book 3, The Accidental Heiress which takes place in Ireland.
Q9) What is your favorite books to read?
A9) I was a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, even before I met her at two writer conferences in Florida and Colorado. I’ve always loved reading great historical romances and mysteries: the late Kathleen Woodiwiss for romance, Michener and John Jakes for historical rides, Sue Grafton for mystery. When I’m not reading for research, I enjoy the late Winston Graham’s Poldark series which I started reading after viewing the beautiful Masterpiece series on TV. Graham combines it all with a special ear for character dialog and family twists.
Q10) Which TV shows & movies do you enjoy?
A10) All my favorite movies are visually huge in scenery, scope of history, adventure, romance and characterization. Think Gone With the Wind, Pride and Prejudice, Dances With Wolves. Current TV faves are Outlander, Poldark and The Vikings.
Q11) Do you have any lessons learned or tips to offer other writers?
A11) I took a survey at the Denver Conference of the U.S. Historical Novel Society and agreed with a lot of sound advice I collected. Read what you want to write. Join critique groups, workshops, writing classes. Write because you must, not because you think you can earn a living at it. Polish your work. Edit and re-edit. Develop a thick skin. The only way to fail is to quit. I might add that success will depend heavily on marketing skills and networking. Navigating online opportunities can be challenging. Bestselling authors usually ratio their time to 50% writing, 50% marketing.
Q12) Discribe life as a writer in 10 words:
A12) Persistent tapping into novel dreams can spark high voltage success!
Q12) Do you have any FREEBIES to Readers?
A13) My short bi-monthly newsletter contains giveaways, holiday news, excerpts, even the Jessica cookie recipes featured in the series from another era. (Alter-ego Jessica has a mischievous sweet tooth—e.g. Chocolate Kisses in The Accidental Stranger.) Subscribe at www.cjfosdick.com
Barnes and Noble: https://goo.gl/26dbCP
The Wild Rose Press: https://goo.gl/aP70W4
Click HERE to order The Accidental Stranger on Amazon.
Your order will be received—AND--pushes the novel UP the Amazon BEST SELLER CHART on Release Day—JANUARY 6th
Prefer a print? Click on www.cjfosdick.com for BEST price!