Thursday, July 21, 2016

We've Just Landed!

In early March of 2014, my parents moved to Cali, Colombia. Dad found a retirement home there where he and Mom could live together, even with her Alzheimer's. The adventure worked out surprisingly well -- for a while.
Looking back, I remember how emotional it felt to have them go. I won't forget the panic that gripped me when Mom turned to me with fear in her eyes as they wheeled her into the airport security checkpoint. What were we doing?! But Mom in her fragile state and Dad in his characteristic confidence sailed safely off into a completely unknown situation, and not for the first time. If they had gone to any other city, I doubt if I could have accepted the move. Cali, though, was where I grew up. I loved this city and never dreamed I'd get to see it again. I knew I would love visiting my parents in Cali, and sharing the country with my husband and daughters proved deeply rewarding.
The home my parents stayed in was beautiful and the people could not have been more kind and attentive.  But in the end, two and a half years later, it was just time for Mom and Dad to come home.
My brother John and his wife Karin flew down to escort them back to Atlanta, and at 5:09 pm yesterday I received a text that said, "We've just landed." I didn't realize until that moment how much I missed having them in the same country again. Relief doesn't begin to cover it.
I know I'm not the only one who will miss being able to say, "My parents live in Colombia," but living in Atlanta will be pretty cool, too. My brother Dan and his wife Michele found an amazing place for them to live called Southside Personal Care Home. This licensed facility has a team of three people who take care of five residents in a large, comfortable house. I foresee homes like these becoming the favorite choice for those in need of care. This link has a few pictures.
It's doubtful I'll grow to love Atlanta as much as Cali, but my family plans to visit my parents soon, and no international travel will be required.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cover Reveal!

Cover by Streetlight Graphics
Here's my cover! The book won't be out until the fall, but here's my cover! Thanks Red Adept Publishing and Streetlight Graphics! This process has been exciting and scary and exhilarating -- exactly like a roller coaster. I've gone through the first ups and downs, and now I'm on that long, slow chug up to the very top. My heart's pounding, I've got a bird's eye view of the world below, and I'm willing my stomach to calm down. Almost there, soon, very soon!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cartagena Revisited

La Sonesta Hotel
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
It wasn't easy, but we managed to pull it off. My parents  and Mom's nurse flew north to Cartagena, Colombia while we four kids and our families flew south. We met at a beautiful hotel on the beach and for four days we swam in the Caribbean and in the pool, drank delicious coffee and exotic fruit juices, and saw the sights. Cartagena has an amazingly rich history dating back to the 1500s. The mountain-sized fort, the 17th century monastery on a hill, the walled city with a French Quarter feel, were fascinating to share with the kids. But this wasn't my first trip here. Twenty-two years ago Chris and I saw the same sights. And though some things haven't changed in centuries, two decades completely altered others, like the dear family surrounding me. I can only hope all of us will have the opportunity to vacation together again.   (Photos by Chris Zokan)

Walled City at Night
 To read more about Cartagena, click on this link. What a world we live in!

Cartagena de Indias

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bittersweetness and Big News

Olivia on the jumbotron
My daughter graduated from high school last weekend. HAPPY! In less than a month she'll go to college seven hours away.  sad. Chris and I are excited for her future. HAPPY! We will miss her terribly.  sad.
A family of cardinals who visits our birdfeeder seem to be going through something similar. Not long ago we watched from the kitchen window as the bright red daddy cardinal fed his brown baby girl one seed at a time, fussing at her as she wobbled on matchstick legs. Today I notice she's already on her own. She's swoops in and makes a smooth landing on the feeder, her bright orange beak flashing as she takes a seed. In the blink of an eye she's gone again, leaving me thinking of my Olivia and wondering how to live with this bittersweetness.
Friend and fellow writer Diane Skelton's excellent advice was to focus on the sweet, not the bitter, the excitement of this stage in life, not the heartache. With that in mind, I'm grateful to have my soon-to-be-published book to keep me busy. The manuscript has made it though content editing and is now in the queue for cover design and line editing. And I have big news! It's been decided that my title will remain The Existence of Pity. I remember the shiver of recognition that came over me when I thought of it five and a half years ago. I knew that title would be right and I still feel the same. Not everything has to change!
I look to our backyard in time to see the daddy cardinal land on the fence. He watches his baby, who is snacking at the feeder again. After a while she hops over to perch beside him, and they sit together. Then, in the blink of an eye, she spreads her beautiful wings, lifts off, and flies away.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

So You Want to Publish That Novel!

Like most writers, I don't want to write, I must write. I feel compelled. Often I'm uneasy in my skin until I've had a chance to put my thoughts on paper. Writing gives me relief, clarity, and new ideas for more to write about. And when I do set my journal aside, or call it quits on my computer, I come away feeling lighter, happier. Like the awesome Gloria Steinem, "Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else."
But why publish? That's simple. After putting so much time into my novel, I had to try! And boy did I try. At first I queried agents. Fellow author Shawn Keenan has an agent, and he writes a very insightful blog about what that's like. 
Many people suggested I self-publish, and friends Diane Skelton and Rebecca Pappas followed that path. Diane's beautiful memoir is The Gumbo Diaries: Mississippi and Beyond.  Rebecca's fun cozy mystery is Homicide at Harmony Bed & Breakfast. Check them out on Amazon!
I'm happy for my friends and what they've done. I'm also glad Red Adept Publishing and I found each other. I will get into "print" as part of a small publishing team, a remarkably organized team, with fifty or so fellow writers from all over the country who support each other and have fun along the way.
It doesn't really matter how people get their work published. It all ends the same way. When the fun's been had, we all go back to our desks and write some more, because there's really nothing we'd rather be doing.
Visit for some great books by some wonderful authors!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...
The content edit for my book has begun! An editor at Red Adept Publishing is going over the arc of my story to make sure it's the best it can be. She will dismantle it and together we will reassemble it. I'm steeling myself -- and clearing my calendar -- for the work that lies ahead. But don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled! It's an honor to have her professional help.
It's a little nerve-wracking, though, so to keep myself entertained I've been thinking about the one page in my book that won't be edited: the Acknowledgements Page. There are so many people to thank! There are the critique group members who helped me strengthen my writing, and the friends who watched my kids so I could go to the critique groups. There's my dear family, who put up with a ridiculous amount of talk about a bunch of non-existent characters, and there's the wonderful Red Adept Publishing who took a chance on me. There's the content editor shining up my little story, and then there's you, dear reader. I can't wait to thank you all.
The link for "The 25 Best Author Acknowledgements Ever Written" is here:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jeannie Zokan Signs With Red Adept Publishing!

Image courtesy of Tumblr, sydneyjoto
Well it finally happened. After querying approximately thirty-five agents and publishing houses, The Existence of Pity will be published!On Friday the 13th of November, Red Adept Publishing sent an email saying, "Congratulations. Your book has advanced to the second stage of our acquisitions process." The next morning, Lynn McNamee, owner of RAP, called and asked if I would consider switching genres from Young Adult to Women's Fiction. Of course! She also wanted to know why I had the book professionally edited. "I didn't," I told her. "The book just went through a few years of critique groups." Thank you thank you thank you West Florida Literary Federation!Chris and the girls were headed off to school on the following Monday morning when Lynn called again. This time she told me her team had read my manuscript, "and it was unanimous...(loooong pause for dramatic effect)... we want to publish your book."
Squealing? Cavorting? Sheer gleefilled laughter? Lynn told me I just might be the most enthusiastic author she's ever signed!
So my picture has been taken, my bio written, and my website is up and running.  Visit it and sign up for my newsletter! Here's the link:
I suppose I'm most excited about being in a "stable" of authors. Check it out here:!/Browse-by-Author/c/12029045/offset=0&sort=normal
And now we wait. The content editor will edit my book in February and we will go from there. I'll keep you posted!