Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

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


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 
 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.


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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