New Beginnings — Often Come From Something Difficult

New beginnings often come from an event that was difficult. How has this played out in one of your books? How did it impact your protagonist and those around her?

Barb: In some ways this is a cozy trope, the heroine’s life goes into the dumpster and as a result she moves to a small town and starts a business. In the Maine Clambake Mysteries, it’s Sealed Off covernot so much Julia Snowden’s life that goes bad, but her family’s back in Busman’s Harbor, Maine. As the series starts, the Snowden Family Clambake is on the brink of bankruptcy due to Julia’s father’s death, a bad bank loan, the mismanagement of her brother-in-law, Sonny, and the lingering effects of the recession. Julia’s sister Livvie calls and begs her to come home to run the clambake. Julia does so with some resentment, although it turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to her.

Sherry: Barb, I always loved how you gave the trope of going home a new twist. It felt fresh to me. In my Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries Sarah has to start life over after her divorce, but instead of going home to California she decides to stay in Ellington, Massachusetts the small town close to the Air Force base she was living on. She didn’t want to go home as a perceived failure and that forces her to cobble together a new life.

Barb: Sherry, what I’ve always admired about Sarah’s origin story is how in losing her marriage she also loses her place in her community and her lifestyle. It’s a complete ground zero, yet she grows where she is planted.

Edith: And what a success Sarah has made of her new life, Sherry! As has Julia Snowden, Barb. In my Cozy Capers Book Group series, Mac Almeida goes home again after a couple of disappointments while traveling, but the investments she previously made in the banking industry and the smarts she acquired give her the means and the savvy to open her own business down the street from her family on Cape Cod. In my Country Store series, Robbie is already living in Indiana, happily working as a chef after a divorce in California, when her beloved mother dies suddenly. She’s devastated, but Robbie’s inheritance from her mother enables her to buy and renovate the country store where she opens her restaurant.

Julie: I do love the varied and robust ways our protagonists prevail! In the Garden Squad series Lilly is a fairly recent (within 2 years) widow who is just starting to come back to life to tend her gardens, and her town. She’s been there forever, but has been buried in grief so she is able to tell readers how it used to be while she notices all that has gone wrong.

Liz: I agree, Julie – I think we’ve all done a good job of making new starts fresh and different. In my Cat Cafe series, Maddie comes home for a funeral and has no intent on sticking around, until it becomes apparent that her grandfather is going to lose his house unless she steps in. Which leads to a whole new life for her back home that she never expected. And much like Julia, Barb, she doesn’t really know if she is going to stick around for all that long at first.

Sherry: Maybe we should have title this blog “you can go home again or create a new one.”

Readers: How has a new beginning played out in your life?

12 Thoughts

  1. What an interesting topic!

    For me (and here we’re talking about the writer, not the plot), making a commitment to writing has been a huge new beginning. All my life I’ve fantasized about writing something and getting it published, but the fear … no, not fear, terror that I couldn’t come up with anything better than third-rate kept me paralyzed to the point that I could never finish anything, and showing my work to anyone else was completely out of the question.

    In this past year, some wonderful writers who have become friends have offered some words of encouragement that have gotten me beyond the decades of paralysis. I suspect they weren’t aware just how important their relatively casual comments were, but their impact was huge compared to their significance at the moment, but I actually started thinking of myself as a writer and began to talk about things I was writing.

    I started to believe that I could actually write something that would be of interest and enjoyment to others.

    And literally this week, I submitted a story for possible publication. I have no idea whether it will be included in the publication to which I’ve submitted it. And, in fact, it really doesn’t matter that much whether or not its actually published. (Okay, that’s probably not true, I care a lot. How could I not?) But the point is that I got to the point of showing it to others. And even more to the point, “I” think my story is really good. No doubt the committee that chooses the Nobel Prize for Literature is preparing a press release even as we speak!

    But it’s the first piece of fiction I’ve ever written that I haven’t thrown away without letting anyone else read it, so that’s a massive new beginning for me.

    I wasn’t sure I was going to actually hit “Post Comment” and run my insecurities up on a public flagpole, but it looks like I’m going to do it. The Wickeds has always felt like a safe harbor for me, crammed with positive energy from both the hosts and visitors. If I’ve gone a bit too far here and made any of you squirm a little, I apologize. But I’ve been feeling the need to share how high turning loose my literary first-born has made me feel.

    And as long as we’re talking about plot, Mary, the protagonist of my cozy-series-in-progress (which, because of the above, is now actually likely to be shown to someone who might publish it) has been devastated by her diagnosis of diabetes. And after a period of terrible despair and self-pity has pulled herself together, dealt with her disease, and decided she wants to help others on the same journey by opening a store selling tools for coping and thriving despite the disease. All of this happens about two years before the start of the first book in the series, and is gradually revealed over the first few books.

    And yes, there are probably some analogies between Mary’s positive journey and her creator’s.

    Whew. I’m really glad I got all that off my chest. It’s been sitting there for a while, and I’m feeling lots more functional without all that weighing me down.

    Uh oh! Sherry, am I going to get a bill for therapy from the bunch of you? If I do, I’ll pay it. I think my session is up, now.

    1. Confession is good for the soul. So is getting rid of all the baggage in your head. You are on your way to being the great writer you have always really known you can be. Best of luck, Lee.

    2. No squirming here! First, congratulations on sending out a story. Let’s us know what happens! Second, if there is a writer out there who doesn’t feel that terror I’d love to talk to them. Third, I love hearing about your WIP. I’m so happy you are writing, letting people read your writing, and putting yourself out there. Finally, I have stacks of rejection letters that I consider badges of honor.

      1. Thank you Sherry. I promise to share the outcome, for good or ill. I went through over thirty drafts of the doggone thing. I still have that first draft and it’s TERRIBLE. I mean it really stinks. But I know it kept getting better and better with each draft. I got some expert advice on police procedure and read Jane Cleland’s wonderful books on structure and plotting of mysteries. And as I said, now even I think it’s pretty good. (Doubtless that particular bit of hubris is destined to bite me in the rear before too long.)

        And I have no doubt whatsoever that soon I will have my own collection of badges of honor. I probably won’t frame them and mount them on the wall (I doubt that I’ll have enough wall space), but I will treasure them as mileposts on the journey.

        And I hope it doesn’t come as a surprise to you to learn that you were one of those early, early voices of encouragement to me. Thank you, most sincerely. I hope I’ll be able to pass it forward.

    3. I should do a blog with the first terrible pages of the first book I wrote that’s still unsold. It’s so bad and I read it in front of forty strangers at a small writers conference years ago. Thank heavens they were kind and pointed out the good things otherwise I might have given up.

  2. As with many people, my new beginning came after a divorce from a disastrous marriage (46 years ago). My life couldn’t be more different and I’m still in love with my “new” husband of 44 years.

  3. I definitely appreciate the fresh spin you have all put on the old trope. I once saw a tongue in cheek outline of the first book in a cozy mystery series (this was close to 10 years ago) and it was so spot on it was funny. Yet you have found ways to tweek it and make it fresh, which I really appreciate.

  4. Positive thoughts for a leesauer’s book!!! I’ve had to start my life over from scratch several times. Along my journey’s I have helped others start over, be it from a death, or loss of everything due to hurricanes. There are many reasons to have to start over, to have to reassess, reinvent yourself and your life, It’s a hard process! Hampering factors, thinking below ones self worth, abilities and one’s insecurities. I have tons of insecurities, but I had dependents, I had to trudge on The overwhelming taunts came only when I tried to I do love cozies where they are faced with a life altering event and trudge through to start anew

    1. Good for you, Sheryl, for accepting what you couldn’t change and keeping on the keeping on. You are much to be admired. No wonder you have so much empathy for others.

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