Saturday, February 27, 2010


It's Saturday, so my blog will be personal. The snowstorm last night brought my daughter and granddaughter (14) to our doorstep. Their car had slid off the icy road not far from our house. They were okay, but pretty shook up. If the car had slid six inches farther, the vehicle would've rolled down an embankment. They safely got out of the car and walked to a nearby nursing home and stayed there in the warmth until the tow truck arrived. While at the nursing home, my daughter talked to some of the residents in the lobby, all expressing delight at having visitors so late at night. One elderly woman took hold of my daughter's hand and claimed her as her own daughter. All in all, everything worked out fine. Instead of driving the 80 miles back to Columbus, they stayed the night with us. This morning my daughter woke up in her old room, and before ten o'clock was on the road again. Leia had big plans with her friends; Jake (10) had hockey; Tori (4) had Celtic dance. Or maybe it's called clogging. Anyway, such is life. I'm a lucky woman!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010


I got up this morning, poured my coffee, worked through a couple of chapters, and now I'm here on my blog. And please take the time to press the "Follow" button so I know you have found me. It only takes a minute. Thank you.

In an earlier blog, I wrote about a writer's voice and how for years I've tried to pin the rascal down and properly define it. Imagination is just as elusive. Someone once wrote that every writer has a central core to their writing. My core is women's fiction - books about women and what we universally feel as sisters in a world of diverse, yet common, communities. My imaginaton has a hard time following any other road. I love the friendships and bonding women share, be it that first best friend, immediate best friends, or friendships between sisters. Creating stories about women is as comfortable for me as sliding into a pair of worn shoes that have formed to the bones in my own feet. Imagination is a place where writers feel at home, where they feel comfortable enough to be exactly who they are on the inside wihout risk of being judged as being (nuts?). Just kidding. It's hard to believe some people say they have no imagination, whatsoever. To me, this is like saying to Peter Pan, "Hey there, you in the green tights and funny cap, there's no such thing as fairy dust." A world without imagination would indeed be a very dull world. Yes, Peter, I do believe in Tinkerbell.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Yesterday, I made a wheat bread to go with veggie soup I had in the freezer. For those of you who make bread, I don't have to explain how spiritual it is to go through the process of kneading dough and watching it raise in a warm place, then punching it back down and forming loaves that miraculously raise again for baking. My first attempts at making bread were laughable. My friend, Jenny, told me I wasn't "loving" the dough enough. The first loaves of bread that came out of my oven were deformed, the texture like eating a piece of cardboard. My dog even turned up his nose at it. But I didn't give up. I practiced until finally becoming almost one with the dough, taking a sort of primitive delight in watching the yeast bubble up before mixing it with the flour mixture. A deli owner from Cleveland told me to add a tsp. of sugar to the yeast granules and warm water. The result was an overflow of yeast, as if, by itself, it could jump into the flour mixture and start "working." There are meditative values in making bread, a sense of letting go and becoming lost in the preparation process. The intoxicating smell of fermentation (escaping alcohol and carbon dioxide), and then the wholesome baking smell of bread makes me feel humble and appreciative of the all the little things in my life. Do you suppose if we gathered all the world leaders in one big kitchen and made them bake bread together, we might have a better world for it? Maybe. (I took this photo in a colonial kitchen in Williamsburg, Virginia)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Catchy title, huh? Well, at least it got you here!

I've been a thrift store addict for over twenty years. Love the people, love the clothes, love inspecting what other people have thrown into cardboard boxes and dumped into one of those metal containers found in mall parking lots. Thrifters know these second-hand stores have no fancy frills, often concrete floors, and NO COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT. You buy it, you own it. The majority of "stuff" in thrift stores is dented, scratched, broken, or NEW (wedding, birthday, Christmas gifts someone didn't like). Hmmm, wonder if they've thought about re-gifting? Anyway, a thrifter knows it's all about separating through the really bad stuff and getting to the treasures. Ahhhh, yes, by now you've probably guessed where I'm going with this morning blog.

I'm on Chapter 12 of ISLAND PASSAGE, going through the manuscript again. Still picking through the "bad stuff" and getting to the "treasures." Let me give you some advice: forget the frills, fancy words, and trying to write like Toni Morrison. Remember this. Toni Morrison writes like Toni Morrison. Get the point? The more you dress up a sentence and call it literary, the more you look like a ten-year-old girl wearing Marilyn Monroe's bra. Go through and tighten your sentences, pick out the flowery words that trip the reader's concentration and makes him/her stop reading mid-sentence. After a few times of stopping-and-starting, the reader loses interest and drops YOUR BOOK into the return slot of the library. Or, if your reader actually bought the book, it might end up at a thrift shop, making the rounds of drab, metal shelving and keeping company with a hodge-podge of other books. No worries, I've found some wonderful "stuff" on those shelves! KEEP WRITING!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I'm laughing, because I went on my follow blogger (Debra@Life is a Stitch and other random thoughts) Deb has watched so much of the Olympics, she's not getting enough sleep. If you get a chance, go on her blog. We all need a laugh this time of year. Actually, her last photo on the blog looks exactly like me at the moment. I've been editing my manuscript so much that the dark circles under my eyes are beginning to have dark circles. Good job, Deb. You hit my laugh nerve this morning.

Debra is a serious quilter. When she talks about the process of creating a new quilt, I know exactly what she is talking about (I'm not a quilter - I can barely thread a needle). But it always amazes me that the creative process is the same for everyone, whether it be writing novels, quilting, throwing clay, even making bread. It's all about finding the right materials or ingredients and putting lots of love into the PROCESS of creation. Fiction needs characters, plot, and setting. A writer's materials consist of computers, reams of paper, pencils, and a brain that can focus on stringing (or in quilter's language: piecing) words together into paragraphs and paragraphs into chapters. What is that old saying: Nothing worth doing right, comes easy. So I'll wear my racoon eyes with pride and continue editing. Thank you Debra for the inspiration this morning.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Okay, I'm late getting my blog on today. I've been working on editing, a chore, an unrelenting adventure, all starting at Chapter One AGAIN! But, it's all part of the process of writing. What I love most about editing is seeing the progress of the written story. On the other hand, it's aggravating to find mistakes that didn't pop out at me last time I went through this manuscript. ALL PART OF THE PROCESS, including all the second-guessing (ego.)I have to remind myself, TELL THE STORY, the rest will take care of itself. Sometimes you just have to tell the ego to take a vacation; otherwise, it just keeps getting under your feet. Trust that third-eye observation!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I had dinner with friends last night. The subject of family reunions came up. Deb mentioned how family reunions just aren't the same anymore. There was a time when you looked forward to gatherings of family where mom brought the homemade noodles, Aunt Julie brought the scratch chocolate cake, and sister Barb brought her yummy mashed potatoes. My friend Jenny then laughed, saying how family reunions now gather around big buckets of store-bought chicken, cakes from the frozen food section of the grocery, and overcooked vegetables from the deli.  Ah, the good old days when we shared homemade foods and recipes. But in this economy there lurks a glimmer of hope. When I came home from the dinner with my friends, there was a note on Facebook from my workaholic daughter. She was talking about putting a garden in this spring, growing vegetables and learning how to can and freeze them. My goodness! I was thrilled beyond belief. Maybe this is one of those "What goes around, comes around" sort of things. A kind of Less is More thing where our children will bring back the art of cooking and loving the preparation of foods to be shared with family.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


In group discussions with other writers, I love the question: “What is “voice?” Always, there’s a quick turn of the head to the person sitting next to them, to see if they have an answer. Over the years, I’ve read articles on “voice,” listened to workshops on “voice,” and have had debates with my critique partner about “voice.” In the end, I’ve concluded the whole issue is complicated - and totally subjective. If we could put a rope around “voice” and wrangle it to the ground, look it straight in the eye, no doubt the slippery sucker still wouldn’t give up the secret.

Although may not be able to adequately define “voice,” I can tell you what I love about the “voice” of an author I connect with: Elizabeth Berg. She is by far one of my favorites. In her books, her characters touch me deeply, because they are about ordinary people, living ordinary lives, dealing with ordinary problems. Her characters say and do things I often find myself saying and doing. (Hmmm Do you suppose I love her books because they validate some inner need in myself? Definitely worth some thought). While some readers are drawn to mysteries, sci-fi, or romance, I’m drawn to books that celebrate family, food and friendships. And if an author has that special, magical “voice,” I usually can’t put the book down until after I’ve read every chapter.

Please feel free to comment!!

Friday, February 19, 2010


As you can see, I've changed my feature photo to a bedroom scene. I took this photograph while touring one of the colonial houses in Williamsburg, Virginia. I believe that every woman needs a cozy, private place to curl up and read the books of her heart.

Today, I want to talk about character development, more particularly female characters. My manuscripts always seem to begin with a "third eye" observation, or a particular scene that plays out in my head, a scene that for the most part becomes the pivitol point in the story. Next, I choose my protagonist, give her a dilemma, sprinkle in a few flaws, a dash of fear, and then let her simmer until I find a best friend who, for the most part, is misunderstood and totally underestimated by my protagonist. My belief is that women choose best friends, not for similarities in personalities, but for attributes they feel are missing in themselves. Women are complicated creatures, often not realizing their own individual strength and purpose until suffering through sorrow, rejection and loss. Women are survivors, able to pick up the small pieces of life and make them useful.

I once watched a quilting group as they worked over a quilt fashioned from bits of fabrics pulled from separate lives. Women understand the strength of community and the need to stitch together the small pieces, pieces that could've been easily tossed away and considered to be of no value. Watching this group of quilters gave me a sense of solidarity and such a rush of pride to be a woman. My characters will always be a patchwork of such beautiful women as this group.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Okay, this morning I've been trying to become friendly with this "blog" thing. I admit I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, especially when it comes to omputers. BUT I'll give myself this, I've managed to at least put a snowy photo in the heading box. Tried to put my book cover, THREE MOONS OVER SEDONA in the heading, unfortunately, it turned out gigantic. So, back to the learning curve.

Anyway, today, I'm editing clear through to the Epilogue on ISLAND PASSAGE. Then, I'll start again at Chapter One, line editing with a ruler to the end, searching for those little errors, or rearranging sentences like some people constantly rearrange their furniture. My biggest fear is that errors will show up in the finished book, mistakes that seem to crawl out of the wordwork like slum cockroaches whenever I go through the proofing process. This is the point in my creativity where I start denying myself a little credit for how far I've come with the book and usually end up spouting things like: I THOUGHT I CORRECTED THAT!  HOW DID I LEAVE THAT WORD OUT? HOW DID THAT LINE JUMP DOWN ANOTHER LINE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SENTENCE? Ah shucks, I'm only human. I'll cut myself some slack. Besides, I love my story,  I love writing, I love my characters. AND most of all, I  love when readers fall in love with my characters and feel a kinship with them.  Besides, I love coming to the end of a book and knowing I have a new beginning ready to hop onto page one!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



Forty-year-old Francine Durrett discovers receipts for jewelry and a room at the Blue Moon Motel at the bottom of her husband’s underwear drawer. She thinks he’s amazingly stupid. Or . . . maybe, he wanted to get caught.

Devastated by her husband’s infidelity, Francine flees her upscale suburban home with her angry fifteen-year-old daughter. Francine returns to the summer house on the Lake Erie island of Middle Bass, where she spent childhood summers with her family and best friend, Claudia Angelo. Francine hopes to heal a broken heart, re-connect with her daughter, and attempt to rediscover the simple, uncomplicated love she had once known as a child.

Not long after Francine’s return to the island, her best friend, Claudia, arrives unannounced on the doorstep of the island house. Francine has not seen Claudia for over five years. Claudia is rich, brash and stunningly beautiful, but unlike Francine, her childhood memories recall nothing but lies, poverty and neglect. For Claudia, the subject of her past is a dead issue. She comes to the island to repay a long-standing debt rooted in deception.

Alan Bromsley grew up on the island, a free-spirited boy who once challenged the world with little fear of the consequences. He now operates a small island flight service. No stranger to grief, Alan is a loner, a man at war with himself. In this tender-hearted story, Alan is confronted by the two women he'd once loved and lost twenty years ago.

Island Passage brings to life the reuniting of three estranged friends, torn apart by unforeseen circumstances, and then brought together in a tragedy that inadvertently unravels a sorrowful secret, a secret that could ultimately destroy them all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I'm "shoveling" through my editing to the end of the book! ISLAND PASSAGE. Another run-through and then off to my critque partner for one last reading. Barb is a patient soul. If you get a chance, go to her blog As you can see from the photo, we're snowed in here in Hocking hills. Darn, this stuff is pretty, but not easy to maneuver around in. Did get into the library today to get a good dose of "library smell" into my lungs and go to the grocery.

Now, to my blog of the day about finishing up projects, or "Shoveling through to the End." I'm of the opinion that the majority of creative people have the same problem, whether it be writing, sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, or whatever. We procrastinate. Admittedly, I'm one of the biggest put-this-off-until-the-next-day gals. With the winter blahs and wanting to pull the covers over my head and hibernate until April, it's so much easier to let things slide by the wayside. Always tomorrow. Unfortunately, after a few days of free-range brain cell activity, I get irritated at myself for being, yes, I'll say the word, LAZY. Okay, so this morning I got up, and made myself do something FOR myself, first thing. I felt so good after my half hour of yoga that the next project of the day came much easier. I felt so much better about my work and myself. True, it does sound super simplistic, but believe me. Try it. Tomorrow morning when you wake up, do something for yourself, first!!! Whatever pleases you, do it!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday, February 15th

Good morning all. Today, I'm editing my new book, ISLAND PASSAGE, that will come out in May, 2010. I'm really excited about this book, because two old friends meet again in an atmosphere of childhood resentments and a secret that could devastate two families. It's been a long winter, and I'm suffering from severe cabin fever. Then . . . I look at the news and think, ah, shucks this "ain't" so bad. I'm warm, my stomach's full, and I don't have any immediate complaints. If anything, the economy and world catastrophes teach me to stop grumbling about the small stuff and get on with ordinary day-to-day living.

Okay, my plan is to finish up with the editing on ISLAND PASSAGE by the end of February. The front cover of the book has been started and is looking great! I have a great artist, Suzanne Karshner, who does a brilliant job making the story come alive on the front cover.

Barb Whittington, my critique partner and really wonderful friend, has been an inspiration and has given many thoughts and suggestions regarding my books. Writing is a tough and sometimes self-defeating job. The writing process constantly makes us question question question, and oftentimes, it's our own gut feelings that turn out to be the best answer. The core of my writing is women's fiction, love of family, friends and, yes, pets! I have a chocoloate lab (Brutus) and a cat (Mickey). And a wonderful husband, Tom. We all live together in a log cabin, built the old-fashioned way: one log at a time. My one true belief is LIFE IS WHAT WE MAKE IT!!!


Available at The Well Red Coyote in the virtual bookstore; Antigone Books in Tucson, AZ; Old Livery in Wickenburg, Arizona; Beehive Books in Delaware, Ohio; Great Expectations bookstore in Logan, Ohio; Scenic Way Gifts, Logan, Ohio; Windchime Shop, Logan, Ohio; Inn at Cedar Falls, Logan, Ohio;


Georgia Mae Brown has always lived an ordinary life. That is, until her husband dies in the arms of a younger woman. Six weeks after his death, Georgia slides behind the wheel of her husband’s beloved 1976 Fleetwood convertible, starts the engine and just keeps driving. Empowered by a volatile mix of freedom and retribution, Georgia begins a journey of a lifetime.

Traveling two thousand-miles to Sedona, Arizona, Georgia finds work in a café managed by the kooky proprietor, Trish Martin. Next door, the Moon Tide Gift Shop is owned by the exotic Zoe Atwater, the daughter of screen legend, Gloria Atwater. Befriended by these two flamboyant characters, Georgia finds new life in Sedona, an artisan town surrounded by the magnificent red rock scenery of Oak Creek Canyon. This energizing landscape of mysterious vortexes and new-age spiritualism revitalizes her soul. However, her two new friends have their own agendas, generating a major crisis that takes the three women to LA and a media Hollywood funeral. Georgia is suddenly thrust into the surreal world of A-list movie stars, glamorous Rodeo Drive, and tabloid hell.
Three Moons Over Sedona is an odyssey of the human heart, filled with secrets, regrets and finally forgiveness. Georgia is a survivor who learns that although you can never run away from yourself, you can—through pure determination—become the person you were always meant to be.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writing doesn't come easy

Big sigh! Well, day one of blogging. My name is Sherry Hartzler and I write women's fiction. I write novels about women, for women. I'm passionate about books relating to family, friends and relationships. I'm hoping this blog will attract not only women who write in the genre of women's fiction, but women who love to curl up with a good book with a cup of coffee, tea, or a glass of wine.