Updates

Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, December 30, 2011

And We're Back

We've had Christmas and family and sickness and more family.  And it's been so much fun, I almost forgot I have a blog.

But I didn't. I'm here, and I can hardly wait for the new year, with all the goals and expectations it brings with it!

This weekend is also your last chance to purchase my book for only $10!

Hope you had a merry Christmas! See you soon!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Placement is Everything

I had a book signing over the weekend that I was particularly excited about. The last time I signed at this store (a grocery store), I sold over 20 books. This being the week before Christmas, I hoped to sell twice that number.

When I got to the store, however, I knew things would be difficult. A newspaper lady guarded the entrance, stopping customers and soliciting them to take a free newspaper (and listen to her fifteen-minute speech). If you made it past her, an American Idol finalist had set up a table with his CD and a huge display.

I made my way to the customer service desk and told the store manager I was here. Well...turned out that headquarters forgot to tell the store I was coming, and he wasn't prepared for me. He was kind enough to try to accommodate me, though the front of the store location was pretty much taken up. He didn't want to set me up a table next to CD man because that would block the bakery. So he took me into the store and set me up in front of produce.

I was fine with this, really. I figured I'd snag everyone as they came to buy their fruits.

I neglected to estimate how many people buy fruits and veggies on a Friday evening. Or I should say, how few.

I packed it up after about 45 minutes. Only five people had walked past me so far. I couldn't leave my table and books behind to wander the front of the store, and I didn't see the point in sticking around another hour when it was like this. I was very disappointed because let's face it, I'd been seeing dollar signs. But I learned a few important things:

1) I need to be in the front of the store.
2) Don't trust headquarters to notify people.
3) Make sure no one else is doing something in the store the same time you are.

Oh well. Better luck next time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ripped off by Goodwill

Well, not really. It's my own fault.

I went to Goodwill yesterday because Mark and I have a Christmas party to go to tonight. And it's supposed to be fun and goofy, so we're all supposed to wear ugly sweaters. Well, really, who keeps ugly clothing? I don't. I figured the Goodwill would be a good place to buy something for us.

Goodwill is right next to my gym. So in between classes yesterday, I snuck out of the gym and ran to Goodwill. (Hey, the daycare was watching my kids. I couldn't beat a chance to shop without them.)

I picked out a sweater for Mark ($4) and a sweater for me ($4) and got in line. While in line, I spotted a middle aisle with an ugly Christmas sweater on it--much uglier than the one I'd picked out, which wasn't really ugly at all. Excited, I ran out of line, grabbed it, and got back in line. By the time I got to the check-out counter, I was already five minutes late for my next class at the gym.

So I did nothing but gape when the sweater rang up for $10.

$10??? Who buys clothes from Goodwill for $10???

I didn't have time to switch it, though. But I learned my lesson. Don't assume it's cheap just because it's at Goodwill.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Tis the season for cookies. Like last year, we're doing the twelve days of Christmas cookies.

Unlike last year, I don't have time to type up all the recipes and share them with you. Let me just say that I made Spice, Raisin and Walnut cookies on Monday and Almond and Toffee cookies yesterday. Yum.

If you need something more to read, I really like the post I made yesterday. Just saying... :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent to Christmas

I love the Christmas season. It starts right around Thanksgiving as the temperature gets cooler, and we put up the tree, then the lights start appearing on houses, the radios start with the Christmas music, and everything takes on a happy, surreal luster for me.

I love everything about it. From the shopping to the wrapping to the baking to the parties, but especially the reminders of Christ and the kindness that almost everyone seems to have.

I heard something on the radio the other day that made me pause and reflect, however. The guy talking said that we forget what this time period was actually like. In the days, months, and years leading up to the birth of Christ, people lived in a time of  fear, repression, and despair. There was little reason to rejoice.  It was a time of figurative darkness.

And then Christ was born, and with the appearance of that star in Bethlehem, a light came into the world. Both literally and figuratively.

To celebrate this, this used to be considered the advent season, or countdown to the birth of Christ. It wasn't a time of celebration, but a time of remembering the grave darkness that permeated the world. The days preceding Christmas were spent in quiet somberness with as little light as possible. And then on Christmas day, the lights came back, and the celebration began. For twelve days after Christmas, Christ's birth was celebrated.

Something about this felt so poignant to me. It shed a bit of a different "light" on my view of the Christmas season. While I'm not about to stop all my holiday festivities, we might "turn out the lights" for a few minutes with the children to help them really see what it meant when Christ was born. I get goosebumps when I think of the song "Silent Night." I'm glad we get an entire month to celebrate this occasion.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Funeral Scene

I can't remember for sure, but I think this scene got cut from Perilous, if not the entire scene, at least parts of it. The biggest reason was that we decided to remove most of the religious elements from the book and take it mainstream. This scene shows Detective Hamilton's indecision about God and religion. I did take out names so there's no spoilers. :)


September 24
Shelley, Idaho

Quite unlike the stereotypical day for a funeral. Carl squinted against the bright sunlight coming from the eastern side of the graveyard. A few colorful leaves drifted around the hole in the ground, indicating that fall was close behind.

It looked like the whole town of Shelley had showed up. Probably had, actually. Carl swallowed and worked hard to keep his face straight.

Kristin glanced at him and took his hand. She was one of the only people wearing a black dress. Didn’t Mormons wear black to funerals? Apparently not.

The pastor, or whoever, finished up his words, closing his Bible. Then he led them in a prayer. Carl tuned the words out. He didn’t want to hear. The tears still stung his eyes as he watched them lower the white casket into the ground. He knew that a young, beautiful girl lay in there, cut off before her time was done. How unfair.

Beside him Kristin wiped her eyes. Mrs. Nichols gathered her younger children around her and sobbed, her lower lip shaking as the tears rolled down her plump cheeks.

A line formed to pay their respects to the Nichols. Carl waited his turn. He had news from his trip to Canada. He hoped it would be some sort of condolence.

Kristin touched his arm. “I’ll wait at the car.”

He nodded, not looking at her. “Okay.”

The line dwindled down. He put on his best business face and approached the Nichols. He hesitated just shy of them.

Mr. Nichols saw him first. “Detective Hamilton.” He reached out and clasped Carl’s arm, then pulled him closer. “Thank you for coming.”

“Yes,” Mrs. Nichols said, her blue eyes shining like sapphires.

He sighed. “I’m sorry we couldn’t find her before this happened.” He hoped they knew how much he meant it. He took it personally every time they lost someone. Especially a youth.

Mr. Nichols inclined his head. “So are we.”

Carl followed them to the car. “I’ll be leaving for Canada in the afternoon.”

“Flying this time?” Mr. Nichols asked.

“Yes. The flier we found in Alberta had a Montreal phone number. Too far to drive.”

Mrs. Nichol’s eyes flicked ahead. Carl followed her gaze to see Mr. and Mrs. Murphy getting into their blue Toyota Camry. “Do you think the other girls are still alive?”

“If they are, we’ll find them. We know they were at the time the flier was printed, which was less than a week ago. Obviously they’d escaped. At this point they could be running, or someone may have turned them in. Hopefully Montreal will have some answers for me.”

Mr. Nichols began herding the children into the car. Mrs. Nichols stopped and looked at him, a sad smile on her face. “We can’t thank you enough, Detective. I hope you will stop by sometime.”

He gave a short laughed, feeling a little uncomfortable. “Don’t put yourself out, Mrs. Nichols. I know you have a lot of things to deal with right now.”

“She was a good girl. I know she's with Jesus.” Her nostrils widened and tears filled her eyes again.

Carl didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to dispute her faith. Especially if it gave her peace.

“Don’t you believe in God, Detective?”

Carl looked up at the sky. God? “It’s not that I don’t believe in God, Mrs. Nichols. I believe in Him. But He doesn’t bother with my life and I don’t bother with His.”

She stared at him a good moment, her blue eyes intent on his. “Have you ever gone to church?”

He focused on her. “I was raised in the Baptist church, Ma’m,” he said, his Alabama accent slipping out at the mention of his upbringing. “But I haven’t stepped foot inside in years.”

She glanced at the van behind her. Mr. Nichols sat in the driver’s seat, waiting. “Well, I happen to know the pastor to a Baptist church on Main Street. I’m sure he’d love for you to visit.” She heaved a sigh. “Anyway, it was good talking to you, Detective. Don’t be a stranger. Please let us know what you find.”

Carl nodded. “Will do.”

He watched them drive away and stood a long time in the graveyard.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why I'm not Upset about Not Finishing Nano

I started out strong. I gave it a good go. And I've gotten 42,000 words written.



It's not over yet. I'll get some more writing in today and see if I can't top that off around 44,000 words.

But I won't get 50,000 written. Even more, over the weekend I realized I wasn't too concerned with it. I couldn't figure out why until I discovered that with this book, I've finished the important stuff.

This book is my non-fiction project about Joplin. So it doesn't need to be finished, and yet now it is 90% completed. So I feel ready to enter the next phase: writing up proposals and polishing my first chapter and querying. This is what I needed to accomplish, and I feel good about that.

Now I can also start my other projects. Like the revisions my editor requested for Altercation, or sending out Christmas cards. They still have to go out, you know.

And there's always next year for Nano. Always more books to write.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Plump it Up

'Tis the season for getting fat, and resistance is futile.

After Thanksgiving and the day of stuffing myself crazy, I told myself that I'd be really good and not eat junk on Friday. But then I woke up to pies and potatoes and gravy and cheese. So then I told myself that I needed to eat it and get it out of the house.


I guess the same applies to the candy bowls full of Hershey kisses and mint M&Ms.

The only solution, then, is to get to the gym more.

Which is a joke, because actually I'm so swamped right now that I've been thinking about going less. Just until January, anyway.

Which means I'm just going to get fat. And then I'll make a New Year's Resolution to lose the weight. Just like the rest of America.

Happy Feasting!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Exiled

Today I get to participate in my friend RaShelle Workman's blog tour for her book Exiled!


I have not read the book, but RaShelle's in my critique group, and she's an awesome writer.  And if this cover doesn't make you drool, I don't know what will:

Want a peak? Check out this 2 1/2 minute trailer!



I don't really even need to explain what the book's about now, because you watched the trailer. :) But, okay, yeah. Here's a brief description:

Stubborn, sixteen-year-old Princess Venus of Kelari wants one thing, to become immortal, that is, until someone exiles her to Earth, kills her irrihunter and takes her family.
Now she wants revenge. 
First she’s got to get home. But before she can return to Kelari, the Gods have commanded her to help an arrogant boy named Michael find his soul mate.
Only she doesn't know the first thing about love. 
Rather quickly, her inexperience with human emotion is obscured by other matters—alien-controlled psychotic teens that are out to kill her, and a government group that is set on capturing and dissecting her.
Worst of all, Venus will suffer a painful death-by-poisoning, thanks to Earth’s atmosphere, if she remains on the planet longer than one week.
Still, Venus is a Princess and she's got a plan. Surely, with her help, Michael will fall in love with a human.
But time is running out and Michael is falling for the wrong girl—her.

You can get the book here, or pretty much anywhere you want.

Go check it out! I'll be buying it for myself!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Crushed

The awesome awesome agent that I thought would be mine rejected me.

It's one thing to be rejected from a query. Yet another from a partial. But from a full?

In my head, I know writing is a subjective business and what one person likes another won't. But in my heart, I feel like they should've loved this book. I really wanted that agent. He also reps non-fiction, and it would be so nice to not have to get two different agents for each different project.

There is a problem with developing confidence. When you get rejected, it blows.

But we continue, right? Because until everyone's rejected us, there's still hope...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting More Commenters (and Killing CAPTHA)

A few months ago I lamented the fact that I had many followers, but few commenters. Quite appropriately, several days later I read a blog that gave a list of several things to do to increase your commenters. I decided to give it a whirl. And it worked! I wish I had the link to the blog, but I don't. So, let me just summarize what I learned from it.

1) Comment on other's blogs. Especially if they are already commenting on yours! When people comment on my blog, I feel validated, noticed, appreciated, cared about, and all the silly things that I thought only mattered to me in high school. Well, it's not just me. Everyone feels that way. So take the time to say hello to other people. Sometimes all we have time to do is read and walk away. But if you can say something, it will invite people to wander over to your blog and say something back.

2) Ask a question. Give your readers something to think about and respond to. It will help make them feel like they aren't just listening to you, but you are listening to them.

Along those lines...

3) Comment in your comments! Your commenters are talking to you. They don't really care if other bloggers read their comments, but they want to know you did. So say something back! Responding back in the comments will help it not be a one-sided conversation.

And finally, the biggest thing for me:

4) Make it easy to leave comments. Recognize this?

This little splattering of letters annoys the heck out of me. Are we really afraid of spammers, or do we just not know how to turn it off? I can't tell you how many times I've posted a comment on someone's blog and hit 'post,' then closed the screen--just in time to see a little box pop up wanting me to enter in those lovely letters. Oops. Too late. I closed it. Do you think I take the time to go back to that blog and retype my comment? I never have. I just groan, feel frustrated that my important thoughts won't be read, and move on.


So, in case you didn't know about those little letters, here's how to turn it off: Click "Customize" up at the top of your blog. Click "Setting". Click "comments". Where it says "Show word verification for comments", select 'no.' You might not even know you have it on, because it doesn't show up to the blog owner. (And readers, if mine ever defaults back somehow, please please tell me!) Don't forget to save your settings!


Well, now you're all set! Let the commenting begin!

Did I forget anything important? Maybe some of you read the blog I did. Anything else?


Nano count: missed about five days. playing catch-up. 29,801

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Cat Came Back

A few months ago we adopted a cat from the animal shelter.

While the kids and I loved this cat, who is very sweet, fat, and well-mannered, he and my husband didn't get along. So after several months, I tearfully and guiltily took the cat back. I felt like such a bad mom.

But my husband was happier, and that's all that really mattered.

Saturday morning at 5 a.m., the cat came back.

Either he escaped the animal shelter, or someone adopted him and he found his way back to our house.

Now I feel even worse because this cat thinks we are his family. He thinks this is his house. Today I get to do the fun task of taking the cat back--again.

Sigh.

Nano: Getting behind. Need a writing day. word count: 26,666.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jerk

I have found my favorite word.

I didn't realize how often I use this word in my writing until my friend pointed it while she read my WIP Shadows Keep. I was, at the time, doing final edits on Altercation.


Once she pointed out how often I used "jerk," I paid more attention. And I was shocked at the sight of that four-letter word popping up all over my MS.

Sometimes it grew. I saw people who "jerked" their heads. I saw people "jerking" their bodies. "Jerking" other people.

I even saw people who were just plain "jerks."

There was even one time where it morphed into "jerky." I might even have seen a "jerkily."

After I did a "find and replace", removing most jerks, the word no longer made any sense to me. And I'm still trying to think up a better synonym than "yank."

What's your most abused word??? Is it easy to replace?

Don't forget to tell people about my Christmas sale if you want to win a free book! It's that easy! Details here.

Nano stats: 22,856

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jesus Took the Wheel

Not of our car, but of the car that almost hit us.

We were not where we were supposed to be. It would've been our fault. We were on our way home from Branson, Missouri, and due to more fun from Google Maps, we kept having to change our route.

It was late at night on a curvy country road. Fearing that once again we'd taken a wrong turn, my husband pulled a quick U-turn. Only as we got to the top of the U, we discovered a ditch on the other side of the road that prevented us from finishing out turn. My husband put the car into reverse, but before we could back up far enough, a large truck appeared at the top of the ridge, coming our direction.

At first we were not concerned. I said, "There's a car coming." But he didn't slow down.

In that moment, I knew he was going to slam right into my door. I knew the impact would throw our car into a free spin. "He's going to hit us!" I cried. Somehow, he hadn't seen us, taking up the entire road.

And then he did. At the last moment he swerved, barreling his truck through the ditch in front of us. He emerged unscathed on the other side, and I sat there gasping, unable to believe he hadn't hit us.

Honestly, when I thought he was going to hit us, I thought about the annoyance of dealing with insurance claims, fixing up the car. It wasn't until he was gone that it fully dawned on me what a collision would mean, especially if his grill rammed into my passenger side at 60 mph.

I cannot shake the feeling that we are blessed to be home. We are blessed to be alive. Someone was watching over us. I am so happy that the lives of my sweet little family were spared.

While you're here, enter my Christmas contest for a chance to win Talli's book. Get the details here!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Going Purple

My 3-year-old calls me Purple Mama.

That could be because I love the color purple.

Or it could be because I dressed up all in purple for Halloween, including a purple mask.

Or maybe it's because I dyed my hair purple yesterday.

Oh, yes, the hair's fun. It's kind of a black purple. Note to self: make sure you'll be able to get into the shower after the expected amount of time and not 30 minutes later.

I totally look like a purple-haired Goth girl.


Don't forget, for a chance to win a free book, tell people about my Christmas sale! Information here!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to Hang up on an Agent

You won't have many opportunities to practice this, so try and get it right the first time.

1) Look at the number. Identify the "New York, New York" area code and assume it's a telemarketer. Ignore the call.

2) Get curious. What telemarketer is in New York? Return the call.

3) Wait. You're expecting an automated recording, after all.

4) Hang up. A real voice answers, and you don't recognize the name. Definitely hang up.

5) Oh, a message! Listen. Verify that you just hung up on a real live New York agent.

6) Freak out. Then send an email apology and hope they still want your manuscript.

Don't forget to tell people about my Christmas sale. Every time you do, you get entered in my Christmas contest!  Check it out here!

Nano stats: 13,794

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Second Draft: Expanding

I always enjoy my second drafts. I'm nano-ing right now, which means first drafting. And I can't wait to revise. While my beginnings are usually rough, by the time I hit page 70, it's flowing. Okay, yes, that means I have a lot of work ahead of me.

But what it really means is that I have a skeleton beginning. That is how I write. My first draft is the bare bones, a slight expansion of the outline. For me, the first draft is the hardest part. Once I have that structure up, I can breathe a sigh of relief. The easy part is the insulation, the brick-laying, the roofing. I can expand. (Don't ask me about accessorizing. Again, not a strong point of mine.)

The second draft can have many purposes. For some people, it's strictly clean up. For some people, they are actually cutting. For me, it's adding. I can safely expect my manuscript to grow between 10-20k in the second and third drafts. I have the tendency to be sparse. To think my reader already understood that, or that I explained something enough. It's only when I read back over it that I go, "Huh? What happened there? We're missing something."

Ah, but I love those moments. When I realize I need a new paragraph. A new page. A new scene.

I just sent over (maybe) the final edits to Altercation, my sequel to Perilous. It is very different from the first book. The first novel took place over a course of six weeks. While it still had moments of being fast-paced, there was also a lot of general day descriptions.

Not this one. This whole novel happens in about two weeks. Which means each moment, each day, each hour must be described. There is something HAPPENING at all times. And since I have two major POVs (and one minor one), I can't spend too much time away from either one.

When I introduced the second POV, I didn't realize it was going to become major. But it has. I now find myself needing to introduce this character more, and in the beginning. I'm not sure how yet. More scenes.

I love it. It's refreshing to watch the novel grow.

Don't forget to enter my Christmas contest and get a chance to win Talli's new book!

Nano wordcount: 10,484

Friday, November 4, 2011

Perilous Christmas Sale

I love how the title of my book makes everything seem dangerous.

But, it's true! I've put Perilous on sale, just for Christmas, for $10.95. That INCLUDES shipping and handling!

You can only get this price through my website, http://tamarahartheiner.com. This is the best deal, and I'm really excited to offer it to you. So if you loved Perilous, now's your chance to buy it for your mom, your sister, your aunt, your daughter. And if you haven't bought if but have been wanting to, you won't get a better price than this!

There's no limit, but I might run out of inventory. So don't put it off. Order yours today!

Spread the word! Share this link via facebook, twitter, or your blog. Every share earns you an entry to win an ebook of Talli Roland's new book, Watching Willow Watts. I'll draw on January 2. Make sure you come back and comment ON THIS POST (even if you don't tweet about it until December or whatever) so I know what you did!

Nano status: Hard at work and loving it. word count: 5141.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making Halloween Ours

I remember Halloween quite fondly as a child. My mom had two or three boxes of Halloween decorations, and what fun it was to put them out. We had a book of short scary stories, and read one each night of the month of October. Then, of course, Halloween: Digging through the box of costumes, getting them on, running from door to door with out flashlights and mom and dad trailing behind us.

What fun!

Now that I'm a mom with my own young children, we're trying to establish traditions. My oldest, at 5, is fully aware of Halloween. This is the first year that's occurred. My youngest, at 1, won't really know what's going on, but she'll see the candy big brothers are getting, and she'll follow right along.

I don't have a house nicely decorated in Halloween themes. I would like to. So what I've started doing every year is wait until the holiday is over. Then I sneak out and buy decorations at 75% off. What a delight it was to open the Halloween box this year and find new decorations!

We didn't read a scary story a night this year. But for three years, I've taken the kids to a pumpkin patch, and we have carved pumpkins on the Monday before Halloween. This year, we also roasted the seeds, though they didn't turn out that great. Oh well. I have several years to perfect them.

On Monday evening we took the kids Trick-or-Treating. It's slim pickings these days, as it seems most people have forgotten that it's funner to knock on a door than walk around the mall or tap a car trunk. Either that, or they don't realize if the porch light is off, we think it means they don't want trick-or-treaters. But we were out there. Helping the kids get a loot. Then we came home, looked through the candy, and forgot to watch 'scary' movies because we were so tired.

Ah, Halloween! It's so much fun!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nano-Nano-Nano

This year, I'm participating in NanoWrimo.



It's my first time, and I'm quite intimidated by it. For those who don't know what it is, Nano is National Novel Writing Month, and it's November. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. It'll be a little different for me, since I won't be writing a novel (the definition of novel being fiction). But I will be trying to get out a 50,000 word book.

Nano requires preparation and planning. I have spent the month of October researching so I can write in November. I've also worked on other projects, trying to get them done and out of the way so that in November I can concentrate only on one. I won't be doing any critiques (for free--I'll still be doing copy-edits), very little emailing, and hardly any blogging. You can expect a word count update and probably some recycled posts from a few years back. :)

Besides the preparation, I'm also signing up on nanowrimo.org. This will allow me to plan my novel, meet with other people, receive encouragement, and provide accountability.

Along those lines, my critique group decided that we'll still get together this month, but instead of critiquing, we'll just write. Which I just love the idea of dedicated alone time to write.

So. I'll see you all in about a month. Happy writing!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Value of an In-Person Critique group

I'm a member of three online critique groups. While they work great for me, I always envied people who have live critique groups. I couldn't even imagine how it world work in person. But I never knew how to go about finding people willing to commit to critique meetings, people interested in writing and reviewing and being reviewed.

And then it happened. While we were at the writer's conference in Eureka Springs, we met two lovely ladies who live in the next city over from us. We kept in contact after the conference, and the next thing I know, we have an in-person critique group.

It's only been a month since the conference, so we've just met twice. But let me tell you, it's awesome. There are some great advantages to meeting in person vs. through email.

1) Social time! I get to leave my house and have fun.

2) Speed. In half an hour, we go over the same amount of stuff that takes a week for my online critique group to do.

3) Immediate feedback. As soon as I finish reading, they're ready to give me feedback. Right away, while it's fresh on our minds, I learn what worked and didn't.

4) Learning. While I listen to the other critiquers give their feedback, I learn something. It helps me be a better critiquer and a better writer.

5) Food. We meet at a frozen yogurt place. It's a great way to start the evening.

I know it's hard to get a real live critique group going, but it's worth the effort. Part of the trouble is finding other people serious enough about their writing to commit to meeting with you. But if you find them, take the time. It's necessary.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tips from a housewife

A broken dishwasher makes a great drying rack.

Brownies aren't bad for you in the morning.

The internet is the enemy.

Laundry folds better during an exciting movie.

House cleaning is best left for another day.

The car will not run on fumes.

Groceries need to be purchased before dinner.

Check your husband's pockets before you wash the pens and bullets with the laundry.

If the neighbor's cat has fleas, yours probably does too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dealing with Guilt

Yesterday I had a situation that left me feeling incredibly guilty. I couldn't eat and went to bed with a pounding headache, the kind that hurts so bad you can't sleep. And I knew, I knew it was something I should just let go of. But knowing something is easy. Doing it is something else entirely.

The interesting thing about guilt is, it's a safety mechanism. It's the equivalent of putting the hand on the stove and feeling the burn. The pain keeps you from doing it again. Guilt is meant to keep us from doing something harmful or bad again.

However, guilt sometimes becomes a problem of its own. Sometimes we feel guilty when it's not our fault. Sometimes we feel guilty for something we've already apologized for, something the other party has forgotten. Sometimes we feel guilty for being happy or having good things in our lives.

 I'm not talking about when we still  need to take he steps of apologizing, righting wrongs, and all that stuff. I'm talking about when that has been done or doesn't apply, yet we still feel guilty. This is not a healthy guilt, and we need to be able to let it go. The consequences of not letting go can be short-term, like a bad taste in your mouth, or long-term, like health problems. So we know it's something we need to do. The question is, how?

First: Understand what's causing these feelings. Pinpoint the exact action/moment that caused the stress. For me it helps to reason it out with a friend. Talk to people about your feelings. You want people who will help you understand why you feel this way and move past it.

Second: Stop feeding the negative energy. If you're having a hard time getting the actions surrounding the guilt out of your head, start thinking about positive actions you've done. Watch an uplifting movie.

Third: Make a plan for the future. Often the guilt is caused by something that could've been avoided. What's done is done. Going over how you will react differently in the future may be enough to alleviate the pains you have now.

Fourth: Forgive yourself. Recognize that you're not perfect, that you don't have to be, and sometimes you're going to make mistakes. It's okay.

I found this quote on aspirenow.blogspot.com:
Another form of guilt happens when someone was overbearing with us. In that situation, we may feel guilty that we didn't do what they wanted. More likely, we might feel guilt over allowing them to dominate us. After all, we have our own inner voice. Can't we listen to that and heed the call? We think these thoughts, and they create guilt within us. This guilt will also built up pain in your body. Let it go. You cannot control what other people do. You did what you did, the past is the past. Leave it there. Some people want to be dominated, others like dominating, and it isn't the end of the world. Just reclaim who you are, let your shoulders be strong and back again, and let your guilt go free. You'll feel better when you do.
I like this quote because it is pretty much exactly what happened with me last night. I felt pressured into doing something, and I felt guilty for saying no. And then I felt guilty for giving in and saying I would do it. How's that for confusion? But apparently this is normal. And I love what it says. So, for number five.

Fifth: Reclaim who you are, let your shoulders be strong and back again, and let your guilt go free.
The bottom line is: Let it go.

Any other advice for dealing with guilt?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting Credible Sources

I've had a breakthrough with my Joplin book, and I'm so terribly excited about it.

For those of you who don't know, I recently started tackling a nonfiction project about the Joplin tornado. I've spent a lot of time this month interviewing survivors. But I also wanted some factual, scientific information to include in the book.

I wasn't sure how to do this. I've done research for fiction, but nonfiction is a whole different beast. I knew I could find most of the information on the internet, but how credible is that? So last night I googled "tornado experts" and started searching out their emails. The first email I sent out was to the National Weather Service, asking them to put me in touch with anyone who could help.

Within 30 minutes I had a reply from the representative over Joplin. A very positive reply. I explained a little more about the project, and I got back this EXCITED response:
I TRULY wish you a best seller!  Your framework largely covers what sociologist have said is necessary for people to respond to warnings.  It would be my hope that your work would encourage families to respond proactively without being prompted by a horrific situation that touches their lives first. 

He then went on to tell me all the data and information he has available and wants to know how he can help.

I'm so excited I can hardly sit. I can't believe I'll be able to get all of this from the source!

This is all new to me, nonfiction, but what I've learned is, ask. If you need sources, go to the person in charge. They might be very willing to work with you.

Oh, and if you're googling people, be aware they are probably going to google you...he did. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Uniqueness

I had a poster hanging on my bedroom wall through my childhood years. This is what it looked like:



Somewhere along the way of my childhood, I realized that I didn't like doing what everyone else was doing. I wanted to be different. When I was in first grade, I received an award as the "most original" girl in my class. At the time, I took that to mean "most creative." However, as I've grown and realized my talents don't like in creativity, I understand that I'm original. As in unique. Or weird.

And I enjoy it.

Of course I went through the adolescent stage where I wanted to be a carbon copy of my friends. I wanted their bangs, their purse, their clothing, I wanted to talk like them, giggle like them, write like them. How very lame. I grew out of that, luckily. And now I find myself constantly resisting the pull of the trend. Not always, but in a lot of instances. 

For example, when I was in college, everyone talked about these "awesome books" that "everyone was reading." Well, that right there turned me off. I wasn't getting on that bandwagon. No way. Then I befriended a girl in my apartment complex who seemed to be very lonely and isolated. When she found out I hadn't read these books, she loaned me the first one. How could I say no? I didn't want to be rude. (The end of that story is that I hadn't even finished the first book before I went out and bought all four. That was Harry Potter, and resistance was futile.) 

About a year ago I went to the hair salon to get blue streaks put into my hair. My beautician tried her best to convince me that red or gold would be so much more natural. Obviously, I wasn't going for natural. I wanted to be different.

I love singing soprano, and the higher, the better. And yet, when the majority of women also jump into the soprano section, I often will join the altos. The soprano melody tugs at me, pulls at me, but what would a choir be if everyone sang soprano? We need the harmonies. The first time I remember this happening was in fifth grade. (When we sang "Angels We Have Heard on High," however, I asked to switch back.) 

I've been known to sign up for classes because nobody else has.

I resented my major all through college. I majored in English, and so did 50% of the rest of the student body. The unfortunate part for me was, I really couldn't think of anything more interesting or unique that fit for me. I resented EVERYONE ELSE for daring to sign up for my major. Yeah, my uniqueness can be sort of a complex. :)

I love to do things nobody else is doing, go places nobody else has gone, eat things nobody else eats. That's not to say I'm a total rebel trying to stand out. I just don't want to be the same. 

I know I'm not the only one. What do you do that helps you feel unique?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Those Three Little Words

BFF.

Or in other words, best friends forever.

There's something very intimidating about the phrase. It seems to indicate some sort of commitment, some sort of mutual affection. Saying the words too soon can bring an early death to a relationship.

Last year I met a really fun girl who seemed to just love hanging out with me. After several weeks of hanging out all the time, she pronounced me her BFF.

I remember feeling like, "Whoa. I guess I better start being a BFF."

But it turned out that she was really just infatuated with me. After a few more weeks, she disowned me. As in, she quit answering my phone calls, wouldn't make eye contact with me at church, and even defriended me from Facebook.

Now that's low.

It stung me pretty bad. Those words mean something to me, and I was committed to the friendship. I seriously went through the whole mental processing of "what did I do wrong?" and "why did this happen?"

But anyway, that's a story for another day (or never). What's interesting is that now I have a new BFF. And what's cool is the way this relationship developed. We've known each other for over a year. We've always been friends, but over the months, as we've hung out together and gotten to know each other more, we've built connections. We've discovered things we have in common that we didn't notice at first. We've learned each others flaws and we've learned to laugh at them (okay, so she's usually laughing at me).

This is a friendship that began with no expectations, and grew very naturally from there.

Besides building slowly (which is quite different from the previously mentioned friendship), I don't feel like I have to be the leader/coordinator/instigator in this friendship. Which is really really nice. She's ambitious, responsible, and positive. I'm not trying to pull her out of her shell.

And she makes me want to be a better person. She's inspiring and admirable and amazing. The other girl was so much fun, but she didn't push me to improve myself.

It's so easy to put all this into a blog post. I can tell the whole world she's my best friend. And yet, for some reason, saying that to her is frightening and panic-inducing. It makes my palms sweat and my heart race. What if it changes the friendship? What if she's not ready for that? What if it scares her off? What if (gasp) she doesn't feel the same?

Silly, right?

And funny too.

What do you think? Do those three little words mean anything anymore? Or is it just me?

Oh, and chances are, she'll be reading this blog post...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Stake-out

This is another scene from Perilous that got cut because the villain's POV was cut. In this scene from The Hand (or Truman)'s POV, we see his strategies to find the girls after they narrowly evaded him in Canada. We also get to know a little more about his henchmen, names and characters that don't really appear in Perilous. (I think The Hand deserves his own book, don't you?)

Grey and Sanders entered Truman’s office, their faces glistening with a sheen of sweat. Truman glanced at Claber, whose mouth twitched and a vein on his neck pulsed.
Truman tapped his fingers on the wooden desk in a solemn staccato, letting the silence draw out. The men shifted and kept their eyes on the floor.
“Well?” Truman said. “What are your projections? Where are they now?”
Sanders cleared his throat and straightened his shoulders. “We followed the tip to a gas station in Victoriaville. The girls were gone, but we followed their path. They ditched the vehicle on the side of the road. They either have a new one, or they're walking.
“We’re monitoring all routes to the American consulate, the RCMP, and the border. Our agents are looking for any vehicle with a blond woman driving and three or more girls in the car.”
Truman's mind conjured up things he would do to get past his agents. Dye the blond’s hair. Get a different driver. Divide the girls. Head different directions. He shook his head. They wouldn’t think to do those things. “If our agents don’t find them, then what?”
Grey answered. “They only have two options: hide out in Canada or head for the States. The girls want to get out of here. I think they’ll try and hike it out. There’s plenty of unguarded land between here and the border, especially by Vermont.”
Truman nodded. His agents were going to be stretched thin, looking for these girls. He couldn’t pay them, either, not unless they found the girls. “I want people in that forest. Keep a satellite phone and any gear necessary to sedate them until back up arrives. I want people patrolling the border. I want men staking out the suburbs around possible points of entry.” He swiveled his head to Claber. “Get me a list of our agents in America. We need to get them on this, fast. If the girls make it to the States, they’ll find allies at every turn. We have to make sure we find them before someone else does.” His head pounded at the thought of all the effort going into this. He only had a handful of agents stateside, and they weren't fully embedded in his circle. He'd have to make certain of their loyalties before trusting them with this.
“On it.” Claber strode from the room. 
 "Grey, get men into those border cities. Here are their orders: First, I want that necklace. Second, I want the blond. Third, I want the Latin girl. Alive. Sanders, I want someone patrolling the border.”
Sander's round blue eyes widened. “How many men can I use? The border is quite long.”
How many men. How many more men did he have? “Get with the police. See how many they can spare. Get your camping gear together and get into that forest.”
Sanders and Grey still stood there. What were they waiting for? "You have your plan of action. Move!”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Agents and Hillbillies

This past weekend was the Ozark Creative Writer's Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Talk about a town in the hills! It's an amazing little artsy town, with its own shopping strip, eclectic tastes, and expensive high-calorie bistros.

I convinced my friend Hillary, a budding author, to come along to this conference with me. That 3-day girl weekend rocked, but I'll leave out the details of the candy shop and the ghost tour and the corvette convention.

When I arrived at the conference last year and saw the board, I giggled: most had on jeans, big buckles, boots, and cowboy hats. Even the women. I was one of 2 people under the age of 30. I thought, "Well, this will be fun, even if it's mostly about westerns." And while there were plenty of classes on westerns and poetry, there were plenty of things for me to learn too.

Fast forward to this year. While the board remained the same, the crowd had changed. Several other younger authors milled about in attendance. And Gordon Warnock, an awesome agent from Andrea Hurst, was there. (Everyone ignorantly assumed he was from New York, which he quickly cleared up for us.)

Now I have to tell you a little bit about Gordon. This guy is amazing. (And he doesn't rep what I was pitching, which is too bad.) Gordon is the senior agent at Andrea Hurst, and HE'S YOUNGER THAN I AM. I consider that pretty amazing. Most people applaud me for being published at such a "young age" (though I suspect they think I'm younger than I am!). Gordon fast-tracked it to where he is, and he seems ambitious and knowledgeable. (If you want to query him, check out the Andrea Hurst website to see what he reps.)

Not only that, but he is so funny. He sat at our dinner table during the banquet, and I couldn't stop laughing. Of course that might have been because the fire alarm went off, we were worried about the sprinklers going off, and we got to spend fifteen minutes of our banquet outside waiting for the alarms to stop.

I did find it funny that this big name agent was sitting among us hillbillies. I had to ask him what he thought when he was invited to a conference in Arkansas. Gordon replied that he knew the author inviting him, and he trusted that it would be a good conference (and not a hoedown). And apparently he found some promising projects. (I still wonder what he thought of that 1 1/2 hour drive from the airport through the Ozarks, but I didn't ask.)

Bottom line is, the conference was awesome. And talent exists everywhere. And Gordon's a fan of Star Trek and Q, but that won't help you in a query letter because he doesn't represent sci-fi.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. My WIP SHADOWS KEEP won an honorable mention, and a short story from my WIP WHITE MAGIC won second place. So. I left happy. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

All About Deep Blue Secret

So Deep Blue Secret by Christie Anderson released earlier this month.


Never heard of it? Deep Blue Secret is a young adult romance with elements of science fiction and the paranormal. California teen, Sadie James, thinks her life can't get any better. She has great friends, an energetic mother she adores, and the beach practically in her own backyard. But her carefree life is turned upside down when she’s rescued by a mysterious and strangely familiar boy who won’t even tell her his name.

Each time the boy appears, Sadie’s unexplainable attraction to him deepens along with her need to unravel his secrets. The boy is there to protect her. But as wonderful and exciting as it might be to have an irresistible boy with crystal green eyes protecting her every move, every minute of the day...why does Sadie need one?

To be perfectly honest, I haven't finished the book yet. I would say it's more for the young adult audience than adult audience; I found the romance to be a bit over-the-top so far and the heroine's internal thoughts to be a bit distracting. It's not sucking me in like I like a book to. But that may be because I'm not the target audience. And by all means I intend to finish it. There are too many mysteries going on and I have to know the answers. This book is a clean romance, though, very good for teens.

You can check out the Amazon page here and buy the book or see other reviews. Definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Finalist

So remember that time in July when I had a video interview? Yeah, you might not. It only ran for three days. I tried to get the word out, but this is the internet. Not everyone is on here 24/7. Okay, most of us are, but not all of us.

The point being that apparently, this company, The Author Show, prints a book every year including 50 authors they interviewed, either on the radio or the camera. Well...I'm a finalist. Yep, it's official. Go me!

The Authors Show has posted all of the bios and final essays of the finalists. People are supposed to go over there and vote for their favorite author. But here's the thing: There's 113 of them. And since each bio/essay is about a page, that's about 113 pages of reading just to vote for an author. Yikes! So...in reality I suspect this will be nothing more than a popularity contest.

Not to be cynical or anything. Just saying.

But if you want to see it for yourself, head over here. Read the bios, find your favorite author, and vote!

And congrats to Emily for winning Clockwise!! I'll get that out to you!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Character Quirks

We all know that for our characters to be life-like, they have to have funny quirks, little ticks that set them apart from other people. The hard part is that most people have dozens of these, while if we give our characters more than 3 or 4, the little quirky things become more noticeable than the plot.

Thinking about this makes me think of my dozens of character quirks. Some I might not be aware of. But in a heartbeat, I can easily come up with ten:

1) I'm obsessed with lotion. I have pump bottles everywhere and in every bag because I hate to have dry hands. I always have to put on lotion after washing my hands.

2) I love eyeliner and mascara. Rare is the day when I don't layer up.

3) I watch my reflection when I talk and make exaggerated facial expressions. No reason.

4) My favorite expression is "Oh my word." Anyone else? Hands up. Who else says that?

5) I have to do things in order. My cookbooks, wardrobe, and ingredients all have an order to them.

6) I get really really annoyed if someone calls me by something other than my first name (there are exceptions to this).

7) I speak in Portuguese with my kids and prefer it over English.

8) I have aspirations to travel the globe.

9) I don't like eating the same thing twice unless it's really really good.

10) I don't like electric kitchen gadgets. Of course I have some, but I'd rather kneed and beat by hand than w/ a mixer/machine.

So there you have it. I'm pretty quirky. What about your characters? Is there something about them that really stands out as unique? Or are they all pretty much the same? Sometimes I don't know what makes my character unique until a later draft, and then all of the sudden, bam, it's there.

What are some of your quirks?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Signing Gone Wrong

Wait, I know what you're thinking: "I already read this post." Nope, sorry. That was a different book signing gone wrong. I just have all the greatest stories.

So, let me tell you about this one. Saturday I had a big day planned at two book signings in Missouri. I plotted them on Google maps the night before and got ready. Since it showed a five hour drive from my house to the first signing, I left at 5am. I was feeling quite good at this time, happy that I'd gotten up on time, styled my hair, even put on make-up.

The first three hours went smoothly. I headed east on I-44, then north on MO-5, on my way to Cameron, Missouri. I chatted on the phone, listened to books, and sang to the radio.

Following my directions, I got onto MO-54 and headed east again. About an hour into this, I started getting suspicious. Why was I still going east? At some point I needed to go west. I started to feel that nervous pitter-patter in my heart--you know the one, right? Where something might be wrong but you're not sure yet?--and I pulled out my map again. This time I flipped over to the second page, where my destination was printed.

And it said Cameron, all right-- Cameron STREET, Columbia, Missouri.

My body went into panic mode. Sweat streamed down my face, my hands shook, my head spun. I turned the radio off. Where the heck was I? I called my brother and told him to get Cameron on the map (I think I woke him). And he said, "It doesn't exist!" And I screamed, "Yes it does! Find it!"

Yeah, I'm laughing now.

So he found it for me, good guy. Then I had to figure out where I was. I kept going east--even though I KNEW I was going the wrong way--because I didn't know what else to do. Finally I found a green sign. "Jefferson City is in front of me," I told him.

So he put in the coordinates and said, "I hope you don't need to be there soon. You're three and a half hours away."

Since my book signing started in 30 minutes and ended in 2 1/2 hours, this was not a good thing to hear. Even worse, I had to get to Jefferson City before I could find a correct interstate and turn around.

And then, my phone started beeping. It was dying.

Not knowing what else to do, I started on the correct route and turned my phone off (after calling and saying I'd be, um, late for the book signing). I sat there driving, fuming at Googlemaps and myself and my lack of phone charger. I needed a miracle. I had my Kindle and my Kindle charger, but not--

Wait. My Kindle charger.

Inspired, excited for the first time, I dragged out the Kindle charger and hooked it up to my phone. Well, I don't know if it's supposed to, but it charged my phone! This small little miracle made me feel in control again. At least now I could chat on the phone for the next three hours.

Of course, the last thing my brother said to me was, "Hope you enjoyed your tour of Missouri."

Ha ha.

The rest of the day wasn't so bad. But I learned a lesson: always always always double check your Googlemaps map.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clockwise!



Elle Strauss's debut book is here!

“A teen time traveler accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward.”

Awkward. That perfectly sums up this fun, easy teen read. I enjoyed this a lot! I giggled at the hilarious situations, and the romance was so fun! I cheered for our heroine. She's likable and believable...as far as time-traveling goes, anyway. 

 CLOCKWISE is launching electronically this week and it’s only 2.99 on Amazon, £2.17 on Amazon.co.uk!

To celebrate, Elle Strauss is giving away five debut books by authors that you can meet on her blog tour which is happening *now*. Check out her blog here

 LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden 
 THE CLEARING by Anne Riley 
THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL by Heather McCorkle 
 PERILOUS by Tamara Hart Heiner 
 THE HATING GAME by Talli Roland 

 How to win? Sign up for Elle’s newsletter to enter. For extra entries, just comment on any blog in the tour. The more blogs you visit and comment on the more chances you have to win. Five books, five days, five winners!

This book is great for any reader, but especially the female teenager. Not sold yet? Comment on my blog for a chance to win Elle's ebook. For free! (I know, I'm so generous. A whole $3 bucks!) You have ONE WEEK. I'll pick a winner next Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Good luck!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Project Joplin

Saturday I drove up to Missouri for a few book signings (more on that in a later post). On the way up there, I drove through Joplin. Joplin is about forty-five minutes from my house, so it doesn't feel very far at all.

As I drove, I remembered the tornado devastation in May. I remembered all the help and aid that people gave. But mostly, I remembered the pleas from newscasters and residents to remember Joplin in six weeks, in four months, in a year.

And I wondered how many of us still remember Joplin.

On Sunday, May 22, an EF tornado blew through Joplin, Missouri. More than 150 people were killed. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. The school district closed for the year because of the devastation and destruction.

Recovery from this doesn't happen in a few days, weeks, months. It takes years.

Then I got an idea. It's just an idea, and its ability to see the light of day depends on public interest. But I want to write a book featuring Joplin residents and share their story. This won't be a novel or a dramatization, but a factual narrative about what happened that day, and what's happening today in the lives of these people. If this project becomes a reality, I want to get it into print as soon as possible.

I have four reasons for wanting to do this:
1) So the nation can know and remember what happened in Joplin.
2) So people can see ways that they can still help.
3) Because proceeds from each book sold will go to help rebuild Joplin.
4) So that those still suffering can have their voices heard.

I am a writer. I hope that this is a way I can use my ability to help. If you live in Joplin or have friends in Joplin, please contact me. I hope to include the stories of dozens of people. But this will only happen if I feel like there's an interest.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taking back naptime

Lately I've felt like time got away from me. My day starts around 5:30am with online teaching, followed by school prep, then it's care for teeny kiddos all day long until school ends, at which point my day is over and dinner and evening prep begin.

By the time kids are in bed and house is cleaned, we're looking at 9pm. Which means I get about between 1-2 hours of private time, which I can use to a) meditate b) watch movies w/ hubby c) write or d) a combination of the above. It's usually a combination. I get as much done as I can before exhaustion sweeps in and rushes me away.

Well, it's just not enough time. I haven't tried to get any writing time in. I've spent time with my children, gotten house projects done, and not stressed about my books. That is, until a few weeks went by and I hadn't even finished CHAPTER ONE OF MY SECOND BOOK in my trilogy. And then I realized I hadn't finished revisions to book one. And then my editor emailed me asking for a copy to my sequel to Perilous, and I realized we're about to start edits.

I need another hour in the day for writing. So, I'm stealing it from naptime. Usually during naptime, I'm, well, napping. But this use to be prime time for me to write, and I need it again. I'll get my blogging done in the early AM and be done with it. We must do all possible to be home by noon so my kids can be sleeping by 1pm. Then I'm turning my internet off (huge goal!) and writing for an hour. And then, if my evenings are too busy, I will know I got something accomplished.

I feel much better about things when I take control of my life and schedule.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Be Creme Brulee

There's a scene from a Julia Roberts movie, My Best Friend's Wedding, in which Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz have an interesting conversation. In the movie, Julia is trying to still Cameron's fiance for herself. In her self-assured way, Julia tells a tear-filled Cameron that she's "creme brulee." And all the fiance wants is Jell-O.

Cameron's heartsick character sobs out, "But I can be Jell-O."

The bigger question is, why would you want to be?

I remembered a moment in high school when I really liked a boy who always treated me like a great friend. He moved in a different crowd and was friends with people who participated in all the activities I didn't: drinking, partying, sex, probably other stuff that I don't want to know about.

One time his mom, who was an awesome person, said to me, "He's just not ready for someone like you."

What I heard was, "He doesn't want creme brulee."

And for a moment, the thought that went through me was, "Then why do I want to be creme brulee? It's awfully lonely."

I think, unfortunately, we feel this way often, especially teenagers. Being Jell-O doesn't sound so bad. Why should we take the higher ground? Why can't we just be like everyone else?

Because we're better than that.

Happily, I didn't pull a Sandy from Grease and lower my standards. I didn't make an attempt to join the other crowd and be another smiling gummy bear. However lonely it was in high school, I stuck it out. And I was rewarded for it with a great college education, a wonderful husband, and a peace of mind and spirit that I know I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Don't be afraid to be better. Don't be afraid to take the higher road. Be creme brulee.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Unexpected Benefits of a Book Signing

So we all know the most obvious benefit of a book signing: Selling books. Yay! (Let me also point out that I easily sell three times as many books at the grocery store as I do at a bookstore. Go figure.) But having just finished an 8-week tour of grocery store book signings, I've discovered some other less likely benefits. Some are extremely helpful; others are merely hilarious.

1) Photographs. There have actually been several excited people who wanted their picture taken with me. I hope I didn't preen too much.

2) Job offers. Yep. Someone thought I was doing such a great job behind my table that he offered me a job behind his table, selling jewelry at a store.

3) Speaking opportunities. I cannot tell you how many teachers came in that grew very excited to know I was local. Now I just sit here waiting for them to contact me...

4) Newspaper attention. And not from press releases, either. One woman came through that runs a serial column in a statewide newspaper. She offered to serialize a book of mine that's not under contract to help me get a bigger fan-base. (And I'd get paid for it, too.) Way cool. I know just what book I want her to do that to, also. I just haven't written it yet.

5) More book signings. People are so helpful. They all come in and give me contact information for someone they know who has an indie or used bookstore and would love for me to come do a signing. Isn't that nice? :)

6) Library appearances. Librarians are always excited to meet me, too.

7) Free products. Mary Kay ladies and Avon ladies have handed over free samples in exchange for a bookmark. Yay! Except...they didn't buy my book. So...I'll keep buying Mary Kay from my mom (who had a website here if anyone needs a Mary Kay lady).

Not to mention that I'm learning
7) Temperance. It's really rude when you say hi to someone and they look away and walk off without a word. Seriously. Would a "hello" kill ya??? Or even a smile?? After the twentieth time this happens in a day, people are lucky I don't run after them yelling, "Excuse me, I said hi to you! Didn't you hear me?" Breathe deeply. Calm down. It's okay.

Whew.

What about your book signings? Have you had any unexpected benefits? 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Big Missouri Signing

I don't know if I have any followers from Missouri or Kansas, but if I do, I'm doing a multi-author event on Saturday, Sept. 24. Here are the details:

Saturday, Sept, 24th   10-12 noon
Far West Country Store
2650 NW State Route D
Cameron, MO
Website: http://farwesthistorical.org

Saturday Sept 24th   2-4 pm
Eden Bookshop
118A North Main St.
Liberty, MO
Website: http://edenbookshop.com/EBS/



There are five authors who will be there and it should be AWESOME.

Not to mention food, contests, and fundraisers. The cool part is meeting the authors, right? :) Help me spread the word! Post the event button on your blog. We're hoping this will be a huge event!

Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Honey I Think I've Fallen

So today I'm participating in a blog tour. The book is Fall by Jennifer Hurst.


I thought this paranormal thriller, loaded with angels and demons and cute cowboys, was a fun and engaging read. JD, a 20-something young woman, is assigned to manage the renovation of an old school. Since this is her first project, she's quite excited. But turns out the old school houses has a portal to the demon world, and JD accidentally opens it. Oops.

This book is an easy read, easy to get into, and JD's reactions are quite realistic. My biggest hang up is technical; the book is marketed as YA, but it is NOT YA. The age of the main character pretty much gives that away. Not only that, but the situations are pretty adult. Not saying there aren't some teens that won't enjoy it, but generally an adult will relate to this novel more.

Jennifer is hosting a big contest in conjunction with the release of this book. It will close on December 31st, 2011, and involves all of the blogs on the blog tour (link on Jennifer's name above).

First, you have to post a link to Jennifer's website on your Twitter, Facebook, or blog and email the link to Jennifer.

Second, you must read her book.

Third, you must answer these three questions (as proof that you've read the book):
What kind of ring did JD purchase?
What "free-range" animal did Matthew eat?
What was the name of the county building inspector?
When you have your answers, e-mail them to Jennifer along with your links. fall.jenniferhurst@gmail.com

And the prizes are:

The names will be entered in a random name picker generator and announced on Jennifer's website(www.jenniferhurst.com)on January 31st, 2012. The winner will receive a gift certificate for a night’s stay at the actual bed and breakfast where the story takes place.

Other prizes include an autographed copy of FALL, and she will randomly select 3 contestants’ names to use in the sequel to FALL. Plus, they will receive a free copy of that book when it is published.

So... you've got your work cut out for you. Good luck!

Click here to purchase!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Best Part of the Day

Well, I can't really say it's the best part of the day, because there are lots of parts of the day that I enjoy. But I'm really loving my morning time with my five-year-old.

I get him up at 6am, and it's just us. I'm usually exhausted, even if I've been awake for awhile teaching a class, and all I can think about is going back to bed. We stumble upstairs and I help him get dressed. Then I comb his hair and make him hot chocolate. We read our scriptures and say a prayer. Then we gather up his gear: jacket, backpack, etc. I grab a blanket for while we wait for the bus.

We are still having 90 degree days, but nights are chilly. We cuddle up on the concrete steps under a blanket while he sips his hot chocolate and we wait.

And I love it.

It's a wonderful, beautiful time of day, and I love having those moments to sit and chat with him. He's a very sweet little boy, though of course still learning how to behave and what's appropriate. It makes me happy to start my day with him.

They grow up, don't they. How very sad. :(

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Phony Resolution

A friend of mine told me I need to cultivate the art of talking on the phone. I told her it's a dying art and that texting has taken over. She told me that totally depends on the person.

I don't have much use for chatting on the phone. If I have something to say, I can usually say it in six characters or less. Time saved.

But perhaps the point isn't to save time. Perhaps it's to cultivate friendships. She made me wonder if I'm missing out on something.

It used to be when my cell phone had limited minutes, I kept my talking to a minimum. What started out as a necessity has become a habit. My cell phone minutes are no longer limited, so I don't have to avoid talking. But I'm not sure how to suddenly start chatting again.

So, I've made a resolution. Before I text someone, I will call them. I will try to hold phone conversations. I will deepen my friendships.

Yikes. The very thought makes me nervous.

Anyway...if you wonder why I'm suddenly calling to chat...now you know why.

Monday, September 5, 2011

In Good Company

Today I took my boys out to run the annual Fun Run. Being 5 and 3 years old, I expected them to give up a minute into the 1K, so I stayed in the back pushing the baby in the stroller.

They never gave up. I should've stayed at the finish line. They got there way before me.

Then we stood in line with friends and neighbors to have an awesome pancake breakfast. And I just thought, I love it here.We've lived in Bella Vista for just over a year, but I've never felt so welcomed and accepted. This is the best place on earth. Having an opportunity to gather with so many people I know and love just made me feel wonderfully happy today.

What a great way to start Labor Day.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Underhanded Compliments

So last week I was doing a book signing at a local grocery store, and a kid comes in that I've known since elementary school. (Kid being relative, since we're :::ahem::: in our thirties now.) I recognized him immediately. I'd know that head anywhere. With his last name being Green and mine being Hart, he was always in front of me in the alphabetical line-up. We tormented each other endlessly. Somewhere in the tormenting, around grade six, I think, we ended up becoming rather fond of the other, when we weren't annoyed with each other. It wasn't anything romantic. We were just friends.

Flash back to a week ago, and I called out to him by name. He heard me, turned around, looked at me, came closer, looked at me...and I knew he didn't have any idea who I was. Don't you feel stupid when that happens? It's true, our friendship pretty much died by the time we got to high school...but I knew who he was!

I told him my name (groan! the re-introduction) and the light bulb flashed on. He remembered me. So we stood around, talking about family and kids for nearly half an hour when he said the oddest thing. He said, "Boy, you've changed a lot. I hardly recognized you."

Well, that's funny, most people think I look just the same, except I do my eyebrows differently now. So I laughed and said, "Really?"

And he said, "Yeah. You're really pretty now. I mean, like really pretty."

Wow. Um, thanks?


That's about all you can say to a comment like that, but it rubbed me wrong. I don't mind being prettier now, that's not the problem. The issue for me, I don't think I am. I was pretty dang cute in high school. Judge for yourselves. Here are two of my senior pictures. (Yeah, I had to take photos of photos...you know how it goes!)


What it did was flash me back to those miserable years of high school when ALL I WANTED was for somebody to notice me, somebody to think I was pretty, somebody to think I was special.

There was not a single boy from my high school who ever asked me out on a date.
And I wanted to say, "What was wrong with you? With all of you boys? How could you not see that I was pretty? How could you not SEE ME?" Because I didn't feel seen. I felt invisible. I didn't have the confidence I have today, and I wasn't outgoing. And I didn't hang out with the right crowds because I was a good girl, through and through.

But here's the thing: that invisibility probably saved me. High school was awful on the social scene, sure, but I got great grades. I got a scholarship to an excellent school. There was nothing to distract me from keeping my sights on God and the future. I saw a lot of girls get in trouble from too much attention. There's no way of knowing if I would've been one of those. So in the end, even though it still smarts that I was so completely ignored, I think it was for the better.

Anyway. Just my two cents.
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