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Beautiful, Complicated Family

I have a big announcement! On November 5, 2019 you can download my first collection of very short stories (also known as flash fiction).

It’s called Beautiful, Complicated Family. It’s a 2-volume set, and you can get both volumes FREE!

That’s right. TWO new releases, and you can get them both at no cost.

You’ll be able to download the first volume for free wherever ebooks are sold. The first volume will contain a link to access the second volume for free. Readers who prefer not to use the free link can buy it from their preferred ebook vendor instead.

If you’ve already subscribed to my website, you know that my writing style for these stories is pretty similar to what you might expect from a contemporary fiction novel. And that’s intentional. My plan has always been to write women’s fiction novels, but I started writing flash fiction because I know that women often have busy schedules that may only allow them short periods of time for reading. On average, each story in the collection takes about 6 minutes to read. So whether you’re a busy woman who can only read one story at a time or a voracious reader who can devour both volumes in a single sitting, this collection is filled with uplifting stories that will give your day a boost.

I hope that reading these books will bring you as much enjoyment as I experienced writing them. Make sure to follow me on social media and subscribe to my website for updates about the new releases, launch giveaways, and more. I’m @roseyleebooks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Rosey

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A Bunch of Firsts in New York City


New York City is one of my favorite places to visit. I usually look forward to seeing a Broadway show and splurging on cronuts. But a recent trip was different. It was filled with new experiences that have a special meaning. I planned the trip as a professional development retreat to strengthen my writing. I feel like my writing is going well overall, but I’m always searching for inspiration. And the trip delivered more than I could’ve imagined!

I hope you’ve been enjoying my flash fiction stories. I love writing short fiction, but I’m also working on a women’s fiction novel. My flash fiction stories give you a good idea of what my novel will be like, and I promise to share more about the novel when the time is right. In the meantime, let me tell you the first reason the New York trip was special—I took my first in-person writing class! I’ve done several online classes, including Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash© workshop (It’s fantastic!). But it was a treat to be in a room with other writers to talk about our novels and give each other feedback. The class was at Catapult, which made the experience even more exciting because Catapult also publishes bestselling fiction and nonfiction books. The class gave me a new perspective on how to structure my novel and how the story will unfold.

The trip was also special because it marked my first time attending a concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis serves as managing and artistic director. It’s always a joy seeing Marsalis perform. His artistry and storytelling never disappoint. Instead of the usual orchestra, The Future of Jazz Orchestra played during my visit. The concert was called Ellington Through the Ages, and the orchestra featured Marsalis, bassist Rodney Whitaker, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, and saxophonist Dan Block leading a group of young rising jazz stars. I was elated to see two incredibly talented women artists in the group—bassist Endea Owens and alto saxophonist Zoe Obadia. The concert took place in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. I’ve never seen a performance space quite like it. It feels so intimate because it was designed with the audience in mind. Its three tiers are designed so that the furthest seat is no more than 90 feet from the stage. And the acoustics are amazing. It was a delightful evening!

My mind is still blown by the final highlight—my first time at a Tribeca Film Festival screening. I’ve wanted to attend the festival for a long time. And I didn’t realize that it would be going on during my trip until I arrived at my hotel and noticed that a neighboring movie theater was a part of the festival. On my last day in town, I was able to fit in the award screening of “Burning Cane”, which won three awards at the festival—best U.S. narrative feature, best cinematography, and best actor for Wendell Pierce. At 19, the movie’s writer and director, Phillip Youmans, is the youngest filmmaker ever accepted to compete in the Tribeca Film Festival. But he was just 17 and finishing high school in New Orleans when he completed the film. I was surprised when a festival staffer announced that Youmans was at the screening and would briefly introduce the film. He also returned after the film for a Q&A session along with actor/producer Karen Kaia Livers and producer Ojo Akinlana. They shared background on the film as well as stories about casting decisions and how the film was financed. It was exhilarating! There’s nothing quite like Louisiana storytelling, whether on screen or in person. My soul was blessed!

The trip really boosted my writing. It helped me put some finishing touches on a project that I’ll be telling you about very soon. I’ll post it here first, but make sure to also follow me on social media so you don’t miss any updates. I’m @roseyleebooks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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The Traveling Storyteller

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

I’m back! It’s been a while since my last blog post. I hope you weren’t worried. I’ve been busy writing, but I’ve also done some traveling. And I’ve been looking forward to sharing some bookish highlights with you.

My friend, Valerie Berry, is one of her travel agency’s most successful agents, and she invited me to join her at the agency’s Top Producer’s Retreat – over a weeklong river cruise on Europe’s Danube River. The retreat took place aboard the AmaViola, AmaWaterways’ luxury ship as well as on tours in six cities along the Danube River. We visited Germany (Passua), Austria (Linz, Weissenkirchen, and Vienna), Slovakia (Bratislava), and Hungary (Budapest). So while Valerie worked, I was able to see Europe and get some writerly inspiration. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how much I love to save money, so tagging along with Valerie was a great way to see Europe at a substantial bargain. She’s a fantastic travel agent, so be sure to check out her website and reach out to her to plan a dream vacation for you.

Okay, so here are a few highlights:

But before I reached Germany, I stumbled across a surprise in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam – a library! I’d never seen anything like it before. It features 500 translated books from Dutch authors, in 41 languages.

From Linz, Austria, we took a tour of nearby Salzburg, a filming location for The Sound of Music and onetime home of the real von Trapp family. Outside of the Salzburg Cathedral, I noticed another surprise, a familiar looking advertisement for “sext in the city”. But instead of a screening of the TV series or Candace Bushnell’s book on which the series was based, it was an attention-getting sign for lunchtime prayer in the Salzburg Cathedral. I learned that noon was called “Sext” or “Sixth hour” in the Bible, referring to the sixth hour of the day after dawn.

In Salzburg, Austria, I was moved by a monument called “Book Skeleton”, which was built to commemorate the burning of about 1200 books by the Nazi regime on Residenzplatz Square in 1938. According to the city of Salzburg’s website, “The black book sculpture made of metal is set against a white backdrop, just as pictures and texts would be found on paper. The actual framework of the book is intended to symbolize the burning, while the fact that it stands there as an “empty” book symbolizes all those works that had been burned. The book skeleton is illuminated around the clock, meaning that it is also clearly visible at night.”

In Bratislava, Slovakia, I had a little fun with a huge statue of Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote thousands of stories including “The Princess and the Pea”, “Thumbelina”, “The Little Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. I like to say that he is declaring me a writer in the photo below.

I am grateful for this inspiring trip, and I promise you that I will have a big announcement in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned. You don’t want to miss it.

Rosey Lee

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5 Things You Didn’t Know about Me

You’re probably already getting to know me pretty well through my blog posts and Twitter, but I thought it would be fun to share 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Me. So, here we go…

1. I love to travel. Visiting a new place is an adventure. But you won’t find me zip lining in a rain forest or hiking ancient rock fortresses. For me, the adventure is in experiencing a different culture or getting to know a community that is new to me.

2. I’m somewhat of a logophile (a person who love words). Someone used the word onomatopoeia the other day, and it made me a little giddy. I remember learning it in an English class in elementary school, and it’s been one of my favorite words since then. It’s not a word that commonly comes up in conversation, so it’s a special treat when I hear it used. When I was a kid, my parents used to make me look up the meaning of words I didn’t know, and it’s something I still do regularly. It helps with my writing, even though editors usually prefer that writers use the simplest word possible.

3. Judy Blume was my favorite writer when I was a kid. Her books offered an escape, but she writes about real issues that made me feel like the things I was going through mattered.

4. I wish I could sing. I’ve always admired singers, especially those who make it look effortless. I have to really focus on singing, and it still usually doesn’t come out too well. Even when I was a kid, I knew singing wasn’t my strength. So I joined the junior usher board at my church instead of the youth choir, which was the more popular of the two service options for kids at my church. But it worked out. I liked being a junior usher because it gave me an opportunity to develop my leadership skills (in other words, I secretly liked being able to tell adults in our congregation where the could or could not sit).

5. Public health is important to me. National Public Health Week is first full week of April in the US, so now is the perfect time to share about public health. Everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life in a safe environment. To make that possible, we need to address the causes of poor health and disease risk among individuals and within our communities. Where we live, learn, work, worship and play affects each of us and can determine our health and life expectancy. We need to partner across public and private sectors to make sure decisions are made with the public’s health in mind. Within our communities, we need to start new conversations with our neighbors and become advocates for positive change. Working together, we can build healthier communities. (Adapted from the American Public Health Association)

Did any of these things surprise you? Did you already have some idea? I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to share your thoughts with me on Twitter.

Rosey Lee

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

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My Secret Super Power

My secret is out! My super power is bargain shopping. Well, I guess it wasn’t actually a secret since I mention on my “Meet Rosey Lee” page that I enjoy “occasional bursts of fanatical bargain shopping.” But just how successful am I?

My guest blog post at Kate on Thin Ice (available here) lists the basic strategies I use to find amazing deals. Check out the blog post for a discussion of my strategies, because this post will show some examples from my conquests.

Okay, let’s get right to it. I recently found myself in a popular discount department store. As I walked past the kids’ section, I remembered to scan it for clearance signs. I quickly noticed that one rack was marked “$1” and another was marked “$3”. I selected the following items:

  • 9 toddler Sherpa pullovers ($3 each; regular price $11 each)
  • 6 sets of Disney toddler pajamas (featuring Minnie Mouse, Doc McStuffins, and Dumbo; $3 each; regular price $7.50 each)
  • 2 baby onesies ($1 each; regular price $3 each)
  • 2 pairs of toddler winter mittens ($1 each; regular price $5 each)

Great deals, right? I bet you’re wondering what I plan to do with all of this. Keep reading to find out.

I also love saving money by taking advantage of rebates offered through my credit cards. Some credit cards partner with merchants, who provide a rebate when you spend a certain amount at their stores. I choose merchants for everyday needs based on these offers. I scan the rebates offered through my credit card and load them to my account. This must be done prior to purchase, as the rebates are triggered with the purchase. I have received discounts on mobile phone services, printing services, travel accommodations, spirits, office supplies, shipping services, restaurants, and wedding gifts.

When possible, I use multiple offers and promotions at the same time. For example, I once needed a hotel for a 2-night stay. My credit card company had an offer for a $70 rebate after spending $350 or more at a particular hotel (which happened to be a 5-star hotel). I booked a promotion on the hotel’s website for a queen room at $186/night, which included a $50 hotel credit for each night ($100 total). After taxes and fees, the hotel cost $433. I used the $100 hotel credit to purchase a gift card from the hotel spa, which can be used in the future at all properties in the hotel’s portfolio (and not just at the hotel spa). To summarize, I paid the hotel $433, and I received a $70 rebate on my credit card statement and a $100 gift card, so the 2-night luxury hotel stay essentially cost $263 ($433 – $70 – $100). Because of my status with the hotel’s rewards program, I also received a $30 food and beverage credit for each night of my stay ($60 total). I used it to purchase a light dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and breakfast and lunch in its café.

As much as I enjoy shopping, I never want to give into excessive consumerism. I balance this by collecting discounted items over the course of the year and donating them to a local church that adopts low-income families for Christmas. Last year, I donated 5 Madden Girl toddler coats ($8 each/ regular price $90 each), 21 thermal underwear sets ($1/ regular price $15 each), 8 pajama sets (featuring DreamWorks Trolls characters and Dora the Explorer; ($3 each/ regular price $12 each), costume jewelry for teen girls, books, and toys. I plan to do the same things with the Sherpa pullovers, pajamas, and mittens discussed earlier in this article. I also purchased Peppa Pig tooth care sets for this purpose during an after-Christmas sale ($1.50 each; regular price $5 each).

Are you a bargain shopper? I’d love to hear about your success stories. If you want to share, reach out to me on Twitter (@roseyleebooks) about your buys!

Rosey Lee

 

 

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A Quick Check in

This is going to be brief update. I’ve been trying to write it for a couple weeks, but I’ve been pulled in lots of directions. Don’t worry; good stuff is happening!

– My flash fiction story, “Gran’s Return”, was published earlier this month in Bending Genres! “Gran’s Return” is the first flash fiction story that I wrote, so it’s dear to my heart. I wanted it to appear in a special journal, and Bending Genres is the perfect fit. You can find the story here: https://bendinggenres.com/2019/02/08/grans-return/

– I’m on Pinterest! You’ll find boards inspired by my flash fiction stories and boards on other topics that are important to me. Visit my Pinterest page –https://www.pinterest.com/roseyleebooks/

– I’ve been working on some new flash fiction stories, and I may have some exciting news to share in the upcoming months. So stay tuned!

– I’ve made an update to my Lagniappe page. You’ll see that I’ve added information about two amazing recording artists – Genensia and Victory Boyd. I’ve also included links to their music. If these artists aren’t already on your radar, you’ve been missing out.

– There’s been a lot going on, but I’ve still made time to stop and smell the roses. I arranged the flowers above in celebration of Valentine’s Day. I smile every time I see them.

See, I told you I’ve been busy. See you next time! I’ll try not to stay away so long.

Rosey Lee

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Riding the Hamilton High

January has been a demanding month. I’ve been on a quest to find a home for three more flash fiction stories, becoming more involved on Twitter (follow me @roseyleebooks), and taking two writing classes. My last post highlighted my commitment to engage in more fun, energizing activities this year. But the busyness of the past few weeks already started to drain me. Thankfully, I found a great way to refuel – Hamilton in Puerto Rico!

It was a quick trip. I was only in Puerto Rico for about 40 hours, but it was worth it. First of all, temperatures were in the 30s when I left Atlanta. Puerto Rico’s 80-degree climate was a welcomed reprieve, but the musical was still the absolute star of the weekend. As a writer, it was an opportunity of a lifetime to see the musical’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, in the title role. But there was a personal component to the trip as well. As a native New Orleanian, the arts and sports were key in helping New Orleanians heal after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (e.g., Treme TV series and the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl win in 2010). So I relished the opportunity to support Lin-Manuel Miranda’s efforts to raise funds for Puerto Rico’s arts organizations and garner attention for the hurricane-ravaged island.

The energy was palpable even before the show began. Bright gold signage stood out among the people already waiting outside. People seemed happy to be in line. Inside the theater, a woman on my row squealed joyfully when she took her seat. I’d never seen the musical before, and I’d tried to no avail over the past couple years to get friends and family members to explain its appeal. Even the writer among them struggled. They all said some version of “you have to see it for yourself to fully understand”. But they were right. It was indeed delightful. The story was intriguing, the music engaging, and performances superb. But I most enjoyed seeing Hamilton in Puerto Rico because it reminded me of the power of creativity and its potential to bring comfort, healing, breakthrough, and power. After all, what greater contribution could writers/artists offer?

I left the theater on a natural high, dreaming of the possibilities for the characters in my head and hopeful that readers will one day see something through my characters that helps them to make their lives and our world a better place. Martin Luther once said “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” In response, I will paraphrase the lyrics of “Non-Stop” from Hamilton – I’m ready to write like it’s going out of style. Write day and night like it’s going out of style. Okay, maybe not literally day and night, but you get the point.

Rosey Lee

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Recharged and Ready

We’re just over a week into 2019, and I’ve begun to see early benefits from the promise I made to myself to do things a little differently this year. I don’t so much make resolutions, but I set goals. I’ve been trying to tackle work-life balance for years with limited success. I tend to focus on rest and relaxation, but I’ve decided to engage in more activities this year that leave me feeling recharged. And I started on New Year’s Eve.

It’s counterintuitive for me to spend New Year’s Eve outside the walls of my house or a Watch Night service, but I did something totally out of the box. I went to see The Roots in concert. Few things energize me like live music. While I can’t play an instrument and can just barely carry a tune, somehow I still feel like music is in my blood. And I could almost feel the music going through my veins at the concert.

The first gift of the night was Victory Boyd, one of the artists that opened for The Roots. Her voice is ethereal. If you rolled Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, and Tracy Chapman into one and made them a singer-songwriter in her early 20s, you’ve got Victory. She performed a couple songs from It’s a New Dawn and The Broken Instrument, her albums released on Roc Nation. Victory also sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and “I Say a Little Prayer” , so maybe it was okay that I missed church after all. And yes I know “I Say a Little Prayer” is not a church song, but she gets extra credit for it anyway. Her sister, MoMo, who shares Victory’s amazing vocal and acoustic guitar skills, joined her on stage. I had a chance to briefly talk with them and their brother, Israel, after the concert. Apparently the whole family is talented but humble. They’re definitely ones to watch.



Victory Boyd and her siblings, Israel and MoMo

The Roots has been called “Hip-hop’s first legitimate band”. Their masterful approach of integrating live music into hip-hop has earned them the reputation of being the best live show in the genre. And they did not disappoint on New Year’s Eve. They played all of their classics as well as a variety of covers such as “So Fresh, So Clean” by OutKast, “Knocks Me Off My Feet” by Stevie Wonder, “Flava in Ya Ear” by Craig Mack, “The Sweetest Taboo” by Sade, “Hotel California” by the Eagles, and “Luchini AKA This Is It” by Camp Lo. They even threw in the best rendition I’ve ever heard of the Christmas classic “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen”. The night was better than I could’ve imagined.



This is the closest I came to getting a photo with
Black Thought, co-founder and lead MC/Singer of The Roots.

More than a week later, I’m still gliding from the energy I got from the concert. And the publication of my first flash fiction story, “Hiding Spots”, has buoyed my high. The story is published in the 2018-2019 issue of Literary AMWA. You can also find it and the accompanying audio version on my Stories page. 2019 is off to a glowing start. I’m recharged and ready to make it the best year ever!

Rosey Lee

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In a Flash

The Christmas season went by so quickly. It’s my favorite time of the year. I treasure it because of my faith, but I also can’t get enough of Christmas carols, nog, and people doing nice things for each other. I try to plan ahead, but I never seem to have adequate time to enjoy the season as much as I’d like. Before it’s over, I’m already planning for the next Christmas. I’m trying to live in the moment more. (Did someone say New Year’s resolution?) But I constantly feel like life is on fast forward.

We’re all pulled in so many different directions, and we’ve come to expect everything to happen fast. That’s a big part of what led me to start writing flash fiction about 7 months ago. I’d begun to plan this website and wanted to generate stories in a short time period that people could read quickly.

Most people are looking for a “quick read”, regularly engaging with short-form writing via social media and text messages. Texts are frequently limited to 160 characters. Instagram and Twitter posts are limited to 2,200 characters and 280 characters, respectively. Yet, people frequently skim through versions they deem too long. Definitions vary, but flash fiction is typically a complete fiction story of 1500 words or less, usually under 1000 words. It seems perfect for people who enjoy reading a good story but who may find it hard to commit to a story beyond one sitting.

Since I aspire to publish novels, I’m hopeful that the flash fiction stories on my website will whet your appetite for my longer works. If you haven’t already, check out my Stories page. I plan to add a new flash fiction story soon called “Hiding Spots”, so stay tuned.

Rosey Lee

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My Theme Song

When I was about five years old, I used to sing in the Tot’s Choir at my church. Even as a kid, I could barely carry a tune, so I was never chosen to lead a song. But I was frequently asked to recite poems or fulfill some other brief speaking role. When the former director of our choir passed away recently at the age of 95, I remembered my favorite song and speaking opportunity from childhood. The song is called “I Am A Promise.” Our director adapted our choir’s version from the song written by Gloria Gaither. Maybe you’ve heard the song before or perhaps you even sang it when you were a kid. If you don’t know the song, check out the YouTube video below.

The choir sang the opening part:

  • I am a promise; I am a possibility.
  • I am a promise with a capital P;
  • I am a great big bundle of potentiality.
  • And I am learnin’ to hear God’s voice and I am tryin’ to make the right choices;
  • I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be.

And then I came in with the spoken piece:

Hey, you know what? It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you live, or who your daddy is, or what you look like! What do you look like? Are you tall, short? Are you fat, skinny? Got holes in your tennis shoes? Freckles on your face? It doesn’t matter one bit! You can be anything God wants you to be! And He has something very special in mind for you! It might be climbing mountains, crossing the sea, helping the sick get well, or singing! Whatever it is, you can do it!

This song was often in the back of my mind as I was growing up. I drew upon it when I felt insecure or doubted myself. It supported me through family crises, encouraged me through adolescent weight struggles, and pushed me when I failed physics tests in college. (I am still a little traumatized by memories of my professor, Dr. Vincent.)

The challenges of adulthood have sometimes made it difficult to remember the song’s message when I need it most, but the song still plays in my head. Today I’m committing to turning up the volume and pushing harder to internalize the words. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. As I struggle to find the time to write and cultivate opportunities to share my creativity with the world, I tell myself…

  • I am a promise; I am a possibility.
  • I am a promise with a capital P;
  • I am a great big bundle of potentiality.
  • I can do it!

My guess is I’m not the only one who needs this reminder, so feel free to borrow my theme song anytime you like.

Rosey Lee