Guest Post: Poetry Tea-Time!

I’m guest-posting over on be, mama. be about a ritual we have in our house called Poetry Tea-Time.

For those of you who are intimidated by poetry and fearful I’m about to break out some Emily Dickinson on you, breathe easy. Although at one time I thought I’d pursue poetry, and not fiction, it became all too clear that I am far better at works with a higher page count!

No, my guest post is about a ritual I share with my children when our day is getting out of hand. And although we might read poems about love, a topic Emily Dickinson might have written about, fair maidens are nowhere to be found. Instead, the love poem we’d be likely to read might be about scaring the babysitter with a pet snake. Or perhaps an ode to Star Wars. The kind of love that appeals to my three sons.

Now doesn’t that sound like poetry which would appeal to the masses? Add tea and a sweet snack and who wouldn’t be eager to participate in poetry tea-time?

Head over to the LAST guest post of 2015 (at least on Cara’s blog) and show us some love. Be sure to leave a comment and share about rituals you have!

Thank you, Cara, for hosting me!

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Book Club: Wilsonville, AL

In the past I’ve posted about attending book clubs on Facebook, but it occurred to me that I should take a moment and post here, too! And this past week I was lucky enough to attend a book club as “The Author.” (Put that way it sounds a bit pretentious, doesn’t it?)

Book clubs really are the best of inventions. How fun is it to sit around and talk about books with other book lovers? Plus, there is the delicious food and drinks to add to the whole experience!

The book club I visited this week has been meeting for about thirteen years! Isn’t that impressive? And Bree, this month’s host, and I met through the Mom’s Club when I first moved to Birmingham.  It was a lot of fun and we talked about a wide variety of subjects, from high school football to politics to kitten antics to Trespassers, of course. We even touched on my new work-in-progress and they weighed in on my tentative title. (Sorry, I can’t reveal it here. It’s a book club secret!)

A few members of the Wilsonville, AL book club

A few members of the book club

Thanks for having me to your book club, Ladies!

Celebrating an Accomplishment!

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Can you guess what this is, dear friends?

That’s right! It’s the finished draft of the novel I’ve been working on! Longer than my first novel Trespassers, it is over 400 pages and about 90,000 words. There was about a month when I was certain it was the very worst book ever written, but then I got over the hump and things started falling into place. (However, I’m not willing to share specific details about the book yet; what if it really is the worst book ever?!)

Typing finished is a great feeling, but with finished comes draft, which means the book isn’t done, just ready for revision. The pages are printed and now I’ll write all over it, crossing out entire pages, adding scenes, removing repetitive words…And once I’ve typed in all my changes, I’ll print it out again, go back through it for another revision and start thinking about the people I’ll ask to read it (scary thought!) for feedback. Will you be one of the lucky readers?

But until then I’ll just celebrate this accomplishment!

Launch Party of Trespassers: Hometown Style

Remember November 2014? Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? Six months!

Where has the time gone?

I cannot believe I am just now posting about my launch party in Maryland. I have no excuse. Unless you think Thanksgiving, Christmas, homeschooling three boys, transportation of said boys to TKD, Bible study, music class, etc, feeding those three bottomless pit of boys (which actually may take up most of my time if I really thought about it!), three birthdays, and working on my next [three] book(s) are all valid excuses. Even at this very moment, all three kids are attempting to distract me with requests to:

  1. help count money from his wallet (my youngest)
  2. build a robot out of recyclables (my middle son)
  3. untangle power cords (my oldest), which is really helping his father.

No wonder I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts! Of course I’m not only tardy with blog posts. Birthday cards, thank you cards, any time I need to get to the post office to mail something can all be expected late!

DSC_2122But really I have no excuse because the hometown launch party, held at the library I cherished as a kid,  went so very well!

Don’t get me wrong. I was nervous. As in so nervous, I went and hid in the meeting room of the library. I thought I knew what I was going to say, that I was prepared. It all sounded so good when I envisioned it in my head as I drove to Maryland from Alabama. But then I was there at the library. And people were arriving. And suddenly, I was hiding out and wondering how in the world I was going to do this.

I think I was more nervous then than I was for the launch party in Birmingham. Which is weird I think because the Birmingham party was my first appearance as an author. Ever.

Side note: How cool is it that I just typed “my first appearance as an author!” I’m still over the moon about that and a little disbelieving, if you must know.

And we could discuss the possible reasons for this increase in nerves – B’ham had a smaller number of people; the people in Maryland have known me if not all of my life, then close to it…Maybe we shouldn’t dwell on the reasons.

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Cheryl introducing me

Then it was time. My dear Cheryl, the polished public speaker that she is, who I’ve known just about my entire life, introduced me. And my first thought as I stood and looked at the crowd was how grateful I was that the library had a podium!

You know how celebrities are rumored to have specific requests for their handlers as they travel from town to town, specific things they demand from the brand of bottled water to snack food to … well, you name it. For my handler…in the future…my request is going to be a podium. I think I really need it!

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Cheryl & I at the signing table!

But then I started talking and I realized that I was surrounded by people who all wanted me to succeed. And so I relaxed and enjoyed myself. Now, was I polished? Eloquent? Did I sound intellectual and literary (whatever that means)? Was my posture perfect? No. But I was completely me and I’m happy about that.

So to my dearest friends and family who came out, who helped by bringing snacks and refreshments, who helped in setting up and cleaning up, who came out on a Saturday morning and bought a copy of my book, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I could not have pursued this dream of mine without your support and encouragement.

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A family shot

And now for my version of the fine print/legal mumbo jumbo/disclaimers: For anyone who’d like to support/encourage me, the following are some ideas:

  1. Buy my book! If you already have a print version, forgo a couple of pricey coffees one week and instead buy the ebook! Just for kicks. You don’t actually have to reread it.
  2. Tell your friends to buy it! Even those thousand friends you don’t really know on FB and Twitter.
  3. Post reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads. I probably don’t need to mention these should be (ahem) positive reviews. Remember what your mother taught you: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything! 🙂
  4. Like my Author Page. Sign up for my newsletter. (You can probably guess based on the tardiness of this post that I don’t send one out very often!)
  5. And finally, just be encouraging when I lament about how awful my current WIP is going (the reason I’m currently working on three) and when I allow my gift of procrastination to interfere with finishing aforementioned WIPs!

The Launch Party of Trespassers – 11.1.14

About the time I first learned to read is about the time I knew I wanted to be a writer. But if I’d known at the age of five that to be a writer I can’t just write books, but I must also promote myself and speak in public, I might have looked a little further into alternate potential career choices.

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The sign!

So it was with much trepidation that I approached my launch party for Trespassers. It didn’t matter that the majority of people there would be people who love me and wish me to be successful. I was still nervous. And then I discovered Barnes & Noble had not yet received my books. Funnily enough, that little bit of news was much less stressful than one would expect because my publisher had drilled into our heads that we must always have books on hand. Of course in the scenario she painted, the bookstores sold out of books, not that they had zero books to sell! Nevertheless, I had a box of books sitting in my closet just waiting to save the day.

Amanda and Robyn, the folks at Barnes & Noble, felt pretty awful for not having the books. But they were extremely kind and encouraging, assuring me I would be great. Amanda even told me that she’d read my book the day before and liked it! Now, if she was lying, I don’t want to know about it. It was exactly the kind of encouragement I needed. They also had placed a paper rose on every seat and filled a mug full of them for display on the signing table. In my book there are paper roses that are pretty important to the main character so I was really touched that they did that for me. Of course they didn’t know how to actually make paper roses so they put out a call over the loudspeaker asking if anyone in the store knew how to make them. One gentleman came up and offered his help. He ended up making a bunch of them and got a B&N gift card for his efforts!

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The signing table with books displayed and a mug full of paper roses!

There was a good crowd that turned out: my dad, who was in town visiting; my husband and kids of course; my dearest friends who have supported and encouraged me through this process; many of my friends from the book club I participate in; and quite a few of my husband’s employees, too! (You may think they were trying to earn brownie points from their boss; I appreciated their kindness and was so touched that they came.)

My captive audience!

My captive audience!

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My dad, me, my husband, my three sons. The mustache on my 7 yr old was in anticipation of the toast he intended to make.

Members of the Mt. Laurel book club

Members of the Mt. Laurel book club

But the rest of the details are completely fuzzy. My friend Julie introduced me (she was also my photographer for the day) and I remember being so touched with what she said, but I couldn’t have repeated it. I talked, but I have no idea what I talked about. Was I loud enough? I don’t know. Did my answers to the Q&A make any sense? I couldn’t tell you. Mary helped me at the signing table, which was a good thing because who knows what I would’ve signed without her post-its. I don’t remember what I signed. I hope I spelled everything right.

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Here is Julie introducing me.

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Here I am with Mary who is helping to ensure I get everyone’s names right!

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Reading from TRESPASSERS

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Wouldn’t you like to know what was said here? I sure do! 🙂

All in all I think it went well. I have asked my friends, my husband and they all said I did great. And I must rely on their word because I really have no idea.

Here are my two favorite pictures from the day:

He found a dollar bill on one of the bookshelves!

My 4 yr old found a dollar bill on one of the bookshelves!

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I love this picture. I don’t look nervous at all, but as if I’ve autographed books for years.

Guest Post: The Little Things

Brenda, a friend from my time spent in Seattle cyber-introduced me to Cara Meredith and I’ve loved getting to know Cara through her blog. And today I have a guest post over on Cara’s blog celebrating the little things. In “She Called Out to Me” I write about a woman I met while I was in college in Chicago.  Here’s a snippet:

She Called Out To Me

“Dearie, are you going across the street? Dearie, do you think you could help me cross the street?”

I turned to the woman who’d called out for help. She wore a red striped scarf wrapped around her head, only a thatch of white hair at her forehead visible. The collar of her black fur coat, knee-length and quite shaggy, was buttoned and hid her neck from the blustery Chicago wind. She was standing on the corner, holding onto the blue mailbox with one hand and clutching a cane with the other. I had intended to hurry past her as I mentally reviewed my recent ups and downs as a college student. “Of course,” I said, stepping over to her and putting my arms through hers, preparing us to walk down the aisle painted like a crosswalk.

To read more, visit me over on Cara’s blog and while you’re there you should check out some of her other posts!

Thanks for having me, Cara!

 

First Review on NetGalley!

My publisher forwarded my first review posted on NetGalley today and it is a good one! (To put it simply, NetGalley is a site publishers use to give booksellers, librarians, reviewers digital access to books.)

I know not everyone will like Trespassers – I’m trying to remind myself of that all the time – because no book can be liked by all people. Everyone has different tastes so it is inevitable that I’ll get some bad reviews.

But today it is good! I just wished the reviewer worked for Oprah. 🙂

I don’t even know if I’m allowed to share the review since it won’t be posted until closer to pub day (October 27th!), but a few quotes couldn’t hurt, right?

“…This book broke my heart…the writing is so real and deep…I have been waiting for a character like this since I read all of Gillian Flynn’s books…it was a perfect ending…This is a masterpiece that shows a new side of troubled that we haven’t seen in a while.”

If you aren’t familiar with Gillian Flynn, she wrote Gone Girl, which was a bestseller and is being made into a movie. I’ve only read that one of hers, but it was good!

This was exactly what I needed to hear. Some of the things the reviewer mentioned as positives (like the ending) were the very things I’d been second-guessing lately. I’m going to take this as a sign to let it go. The book is written; it’s too late to change it anyway. It is what it is. I could kiss that reviewer because now I can breathe.

The Size of the Effort

IMG_6807Last month I opened a box that had just been delivered expecting a gift for my youngest who turned four. Instead, I was quite surprised to see it was a box of books. MY books, or more specifically, my Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) which I, or a publicist, send out to reviewers.

I wish I could say I became teary-eyed at the sight of them. Or that I jumped up and down and screamed. But I didn’t.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t excited or happy because I was. This should have happened years ago and I’m disappointed in myself that I took this long to make it happen.

But when I held it in my hand, I was surprised to see it wasn’t very big. It is a normal size book, of course, but it is so much slimmer than I’d anticipated. Two hundred and fifty-two pages don’t exactly make a phone book, but still I thought it’d be heftier.

Turns out the size of the effort is not always represented by the width of the spine.

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My Writing Process Blog Tour: June 2014

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This is my second writing process blog hop in as many weeks, but Tracy Guzeman, author of The Gravity of Birds: A Novel, asked me if I’d like to participate and how could I turn her down? She is a great writer and I am quite honored she asked! (Have you seen her book? It is gorgeous!) Plus, I do have another book I’m working on so the answers will be a bit different even if the questions are the same. See for yourself…

What am I working on/writing?

I have always refused to talk specifics about whatever book I am working on, feeling that talking about it alleviates the urgency to write it, but in May I wrote about a book I’m writing that deals with the trafficking of teenaged girls. And this month I’m eager to share I’m working on another book that is completely different. It asks the question: is the grass really greener on the other side? It explores marriage and friendship, small town mentality and the pursuit of dreams. I actually secretly call this “my break-out book” because I love it so, which I’m guessing is a bit nutty because I should expect my first book to put me on the map, not my third – or possibly second as it might beat the trafficking book to the bookstores. I could argue that I’m just being a realist, but no one has ever accused me of being realistic!

How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?

This seems like such a marketing question to me and I’ve come to realize with the publication of Trespassers that marketing is not in my skill set. I hope the book will be better than what’s out there, that the perspective is fresh and the details are compelling. I hope that people are left with the understanding that everyone has hard choices in life and those choices are often handled differently that what others may perceive as the right way to live life.

Yeah, maybe we should just move on…Next question!

Why do I write what I do?

Many years ago, I got to experience an inside glimpse of a family where the parents divorced and the mother left the children with the father and moved to Paris. I didn’t know the family well enough to know the reasons behind this new family dynamic, nor could I ask. But the question really stuck with me. What would make the mother leave her children with the husband? Why did she give up custody? This novel tries to answer the questions I couldn’t ask.

How does my writing process work?

I started this novel years ago and I got about 125 pages in and stopped. I’ve picked it back up and tried to start again, but I’ve been so enamored of the beginning that I haven’t wanted to change it, which has made it hard to get anything new down on paper. But I think I’ve finally found a way to make it work and so I’m anxious to get started on it again. Part of my problem has also been that because I think of it as “my break-out book” I’m fearful that what I put on paper can not live up to how great it is in my brain. Talk about putting pressure on oneself! Of course there is that catch-22: if I don’t put it on paper, how will it ever live up to its nickname?

I used to think I could only write late at night because that’s what I did before I had a husband and kids. But this past November I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and wrote 50,000 words during the month of November. And I learned that I no longer need to have quiet and solitude. I learned that I can write while the kids are sitting next to me watching a movie or while my oldest is in his Tae Kwon Do class. This revelation has been a relief because I knew that by the end of the day when the kids are finally in bed, I wasn’t really at my most creative. And if I couldn’t find the energy at night, then logically I’d have to find it in the morning, but the kids are often up at 6 and I’m not exactly a morning person.

Also, I should probably mention that although I love the look of typewriters like the one pictured above, I write on a MacBookPro. So no need to start a crowd-sourcing event to keep me supplied with typewriter ribbon! However, crowd-sourcing to keep me in chocolate (and perhaps ice cream) is always an option!

Next week’s writer: Cara Meredith

CaraMeredithCara Meredith is a writer, speaker and musician from in the greater San Francisco area. She is currently writing her first book, tentatively titled, A Hundred Times an Hour: A Memoir of Belief and Disbelief, when she’s not on a hunt for the world’s greatest chips and guacamole. She loves people, food, reading, the great outdoors and her family. She and her husband, James, currently live in Pacifica, California, with their almost two-year old son, Canon, and a second little boy set to make his appearance in August.

Website: http://www.carameredith.com
FB: http://www.facebook.com/bemamabecarameredith
Twitter: @caramac54