Sunday, February 18, 2018

Life Lessons in The Reluctant Fortune-Teller @KeziahFrost



LUCY BURDETTE: You met debut author Keziah Frost in the fall when she wrote a terrific post for JRW on editing. But now her new book, THE RELUCTANT FORTUNE-TELLER, is almost out and I asked her to return and tell us more about it. Welcome Keziah!

 KEZIAH FROST: We all have more than one career in us.

That’s what my protagonist Norbert, a retired accountant, learns in his seventy-third year as he launches into an occupation he never could have predicted for himself: that of town fortune-teller.

My debut novel, The Reluctant Fortune-Teller, is said to be witty. I hope it is! We need laughter now more than ever. It is also about many things – among them, how people reinvent themselves – to their own delight and peril.

Norbert is having trouble making ends meet. He is a practical man, and doesn’t believe in card reading or anything to do with the psychic world. But when three forceful women he knows from his art league show up on his door step and insist that he can solve his financial crisis through telling fortunes—and that they can teach him how to read cards…, well, you’ll have to read the book to find out all about his delight and his peril.

And just maybe, Norbert’s journey to create a new version of himself will inspire you, as well. I hope so!

In elementary school, a kind teacher told Norbert’s class that each child has a special gift to share with the world. We all have heard this claim. It seems that some people know just what their gift is, while others wonder if they’ll ever find theirs, or if they even have one at all. Norbert was in the second category, wondering in his later years if he had any gift at all. He doesn’t feel special or gifted in any way. He certainly isn’t a person that anyone notices or listens to…. That is, until he goes into business reading cards for the tourists and residents in his quaint lakeside town. 






As “Norbert Z, the Amazing Psychic,” Norbert suddenly becomes interesting. People make appointments to listen to him and they press money into his hands to show their faith in his abilities.

As Norbert’s new career takes shape, his confidence grows; he comes into a new sense of himself; he changes.

We live in a time of continuing education, mid-life career changes, and post-retirement careers. In my own life, I’ve been a college English instructor, a painter of pet portraits, a bilingual teacher, a birth doula, a bilingual counselor and now: a psychotherapist and a novelist. Each new career identity has benefitted from lessons learned in all the previous ones.

And what about you? Have you had more than one career, or more than one identity in your life? Do you believe you have at least one more gift in you that is asking to be developed? Do you dare to open that gift?

The Reluctant Fortune-Teller will be released by HarperCollins/Harlequin/Park Row on March 6, 2018. It is Keziah Frost’s first novel. In the back of the book is a fortune-telling guide, so you can get together—perhaps with your book club—and read fortunes using Norbert’s method. There are also questions for discussion. And if your book club would like to
Skype with Keziah Frost to discuss The Reluctant Fortune-Teller, you can just contact her through her website.

Keziah Frost is a psychotherapist who has felt she was “supposed to” write novels since she was in fifth grade. That was five decades ago, and she is thrilled to see her first novel ready to go to print. She had so much fun writing this one, she hopes to write many, many more. (Says Lucy: And check out her blog, which includes Norbert's readings of various book people, including Lucy herself...)

34 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your first book, Keziah . . . Norbert sounds like a wonderful character and I’m looking forward to reading your book.

    Most of my professional career has been in education, although not always in the classroom. I taught both elementary children and preschoolers; I was a remedial reading teacher and I worked as a curriculum program specialist. But I’d like to think that there’s still some special thing for me to do . . . .

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    1. Joan, thank you! And yes, teachers develop so many skills over their professional lives that can be used in other ways. And then again, sometimes the gift inside that's calling to be used now has nothing to do with the previous career. Nonetheless, once you begin it, you see that what you have already learned comes into play to help you do this new thing--whatever it may be--even better!

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  2. I often speak to young people about finding a career, and in that speech I usually remind them that "career" can also mean to veer wildly from side to side, often with little control. They all have this notion that life is a smooth, linear path, and it's just not so.

    I started out with a BFA in Theatre, and plunged straight into writing political speeches and press releases. Over the years I've been in PR/Marketing, radio, journalism, and fundraising, all at the writing end of the spectrum. Then, in 2010, I got back to my roots and took a job managing a professional wind ensemble, no writing required--until my boss decided he hated our pre-packaged program notes, then wanted better grant proposals, and then . . . who knows what it will morph into next?

    When I needed to explain a year-long gap in my resume, I also added "failed novelist" to the list. If nothing else, it does make job interviews interesting, and I do have six un-bought manuscripts in the bag, although I did try mightily to sell them. I still hope to add "successful novelist" to my resume, so thank you, Keziah, for providing me with inspiration! Best of luck with your book. It sounds like fun.

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    1. I'm a veer-er too Gigi--you've had a wonderfully interesting path and fingers crossed you add published novelist to the list!

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    2. Thanks! I guess time will tell.

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    3. Hello Gigi! So you know the challenge and pleasure of re-inventing yourself! Please don't say "failed" novelist. You are a novelist-in-progress. Trying is not failing. Trying is getting closer! If your heart calls you back to writing novels, keep going for it. Lots of novels that don't get sold at first wind up being best sellers later on, as you know!

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    4. Thanks, Keziah! My late husband used to say, "That's just one 'no' closer to 'yes'." Here's hoping you're both right.

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  3. The book sounds like a lot of fun! I have had several careers - fixing cars, teaching conversational English in Japan, earning a PhD in linguistics, working in speech recognition, farming, teaching childbirth classes, writing technical manuals - but my last is my favorite: writing crime fiction full time.

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    1. Wow wow wow! That is a fun resume! And certainly, so much of what you have experienced can be tapped into for your crime fiction--even if indirectly! We have so much in us.

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    2. You can bet I have tapped into all sides of that resume for my fiction!

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    3. So all those years count as research!

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  4. I love the sound of this book and congrats as it's published, Keziah! I completely believe in several careers. I'm an avid reader, of course, and always have been. I wanted to be a librarian, but my Dad wanted me to be an accountant. I listened to him and got my degree in accounting. It was fine and I was a state auditor for a number of years. Since that time, I've worked in an administrative capacity at our church, managed a charity thrift shop and worked at the Austin Public Library for a number of years. I still volunteer with the library and also at a charity thrift shop (I work with the books - naturally). I never thought about being a fortune teller though. Hmmm....LOL!

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    1. Sure, a fortune-teller next! Why not? LOL It seems the library has been the thread that has really persisted throughout for you. And why not? It's the best place in town. After the independent bookshop, of course!

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  5. I promised myself a copy of this book when you visited the first time. Now I'll get to keep that promise!

    Wow, I've had so many careers that changing careers could be my career. Writer is the one I love and the one I was meant to have.

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    1. Thank you, Kait!
      Ha! Changing careers could be your career? You're a Professional Career-Changer? That sounds exciting. Yes, but being a writer feels the most authentic for you?

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  6. I think there are people for whom there is only ONE career, a calling that they are avid about. And others who treat their career more like serendipity, going were it takes them. One of my daughters is an architect. Could do nothing else but be on, drew elevations and built massive block cities since she was 3 years old. I'm much more serendipitous. I started as an elementary-school teacher (which is my TRUE calling if I had one) and from there to a college professor and from there to writing for high tech companies and... eventually... to writing fiction. Didn't try seriously writing fiction until I was in my 40s.

    And congratulations, Keziah! The book sounds like great fun. I love the idea of a reluctant fortune teller.

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    1. Great point, Hallie. Some people--and you recognize them when you see them--are doing just exactly what they are supposed to be doing, and perhaps there is nothing better than what they already have.

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  7. I loved this book, Keziah. It left me with such a warm feeling of basic human goodness

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    1. Thank you Rhys, and thank you for writing the blurb which will be on the back of the book when it comes out on March 6. I love your books so much, your compliment warms my heart.

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  8. Keziah, thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving the world a protagonist who isn't a yet another young whippersnapper! That alone makes me want to read this book.

    My husband always says I've had a varied, but not checkered, past. To wit: retail store manager (drug, then maternity), dress buyer for a chain of petite women's clothing stores, employment office recruiter, sales assistant to stockbrokers, insurance agent, seamstress, published nonfiction writer, sewing teacher, national sewing business lecturer/writer, kitchen designer, bookkeeper.

    It makes me tired just writing all that, and I'm sure I've forgotten something.

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    1. Dear Karen in Ohio,
      You are welcome. The young whippersnappers aren't the only ones having adventures!

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  9. Yay on the publication of your first novel, Keziah! I hope you're able to soak in the excitement!

    I think writing as a career is often arrived at after a certain amount of experience doing other things; there's no straight career path out of college to become a novelist! I read a book once that categorized people as "divers" or scanners." The divers like to learn one subject deeply, and scanners like to learn many subjects more superficially.

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    1. Interesting observation!
      I wonder if a person can be a scanner for a number of years, until he finds that one true thing--and then become a diver?

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  10. I love the idea behind THE RELUCTANT FORTUNE-TELLER, and I also love reading about an older protagonist. As I get older myself, I get a little weary of reading nothing but the adventures of twenty- and thirty- somethings. So many of the people I know in the sixty-and-older range lead dynamic, rich, interesting lives (including several of our own Jungle Reds!)

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    1. So true! The characters that came forward in my mind to volunteer for parts in The Reluctant Fortune-Teller just happened to be 73 and up. I didn't plan it that way. And I was delighted as the story unfolded to see that they were very active and engaged in learning, developing and, in Carlotta's case, plotting. Thank you, Julia!

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  12. Oh, I love fortune-telling..it's just enough possible, you know? And me and careers? My parents were in FEAR that I would never come up with something: but! I can make a curly-cue dipped cone at Dairy Queen--that's a skill, isn't it? Let's see: after DQ, I worked in a dime store, a record store, in a publishing company as a proofreader. A radio reporter, a political campaign staffer, an aide in the US Senate, an editor/reporter at Rolling Stone, a TV reporter. And starting at age 55--an author!
    Cannot wait to read this--congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, Hank! What an interesting path you've traveled! And aren't we lucky that we can keep on trying new roles in life?

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  13. Keziah, what a charming idea for a book! I would have been intrigued even without Rhys's endorsement, but that really sold me. I love reading about older characters, and I'm all for anything that gives me faith in human nature. And fortune-telling! I've been fascinated by fortune-telling ever since I visited Lucy's fortune teller friend in Key West!

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    1. Ooh! Do tell! Was she accurate?
      And thanks, Deborah, for your interest in The Reluctant Fortune-Teller.
      I wanted to write a book that makes people laugh, gives them hope, and a little something to think about.

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  14. I love stories about people reinventing themselves, be it biographical or fictional, and I think we all have the ability to do that at any age. I'm working on it a bit myself. Of course, it's rather a natural thing to do, as we do change through the years, adding interests and talents as we go. What might have seemed impossible or uninteresting in our twenties could be the attainable and passionate in our 60s.

    Keziah, the whole idea of a 73 year old man becoming a fortune teller after such a practical career as an accountant just rings of wit and humor. The title is itself a draw. The Reluctant Fortune-Teller guarantees it's going to be a great read. Congratulations, Keziah on your debut book, and I'm looking forward to this entertaining tale.

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    1. Kathy, thank you so much for your welcoming words for Norbert's tale! I do hope it makes you laugh!

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