Book Signing a Success

Book Signing

My book signing this past Saturday was better than I had even expected. The highlight, however, was not the books sold, but the 11-year old who visited my table. She loves to write and I could see the light dance in her eyes as she talked about it. I saw myself in that little girl and it brought back so many memories of the countless hours sitting in my room or floating in the boat as it was tied to the dock, creating poetry and ideas that carried me to other worlds.

From the encounter with that little girl, I’ve decided to plan an 8-week class that meets once a week at our local recreation center for kids 7-17, to mentor them and work with them on all things writing. I’m so excited to tie together my love of words and writing and my passion for children to help make a difference.

So after the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference I’m attending this weekend, followed by a family vacation, my goal is to further develop this plan. My heart is bursting with joy and my head with ideas! 🙂

Have a great week writing and creating. 🙂

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. -Steven Spielberg

 

Productive Thinking

Running

When I’m running or biking is when ideas for new work, or my work in progress, flows. It’s then that life seems to teach me what it wants me to learn, and when my thoughts are somewhat productive. Not only does running and biking exercise my body, but my mind as well. This morning I was listening to the audio book of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Some of the words of wisdom that I heard while listening to this book I’ve heard before, but today I really heard them. And those words and thoughts took on a life of their own as I processed them. Here they are:

1.)  “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” -E.L. Doctorow

I’ve used that analogy for other aspects of life, but when it pertains to writing, it makes me realize the importance of writing in scenes. Beginning a new writing project, especially a long one like a novel, can be intimidating and daunting. Especially when you look at the blank screen/piece of paper, and realize all the work that has to be done to complete the novel. That can be paralyzing to the point of making one want to give up before getting started. If we think of taking it one small piece at a time, writing just one scene, no matter how small that scene is, and then the next after that and the next after that, pretty soon you have several scenes to work with. By only focusing on one scene at a time, you can make the whole trip to the end of your novel without fear.

2.)  “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” -Lou Holtz

How do you respond when things don’t go the way you want them to? When I spend a lot of time on a piece of writing, or if a lot of time goes by without seeing any fruits of my labor, I begin to question my ability to produce something worthwhile. Last month I only sold four books and I have to admit I was feeling a little down and out. This quote by Lou Holtz boosted my mentality into another stratosphere. Selling four books last month means I reached four people I wouldn’t have had I not published the book. That in itself makes me grateful. And the fact that I published a book is an amazing feeling of accomplishment. (More on that below.) The reminder that I don’t write to sell books or quite honestly, even to make a living from it, but because I can’t not write. It’s as much a part of my existence as breathing. I’m a much better person when I write because then the rest of the world makes more sense to me.

3.)  And though this next one didn’t come from what I was listening to, it snowballed from the others. As my thoughts and ideas frequently do when I’m running or biking. I realized the battle for writers, self publishing vs. traditional publishing, doesn’t have to be a battle at all. One of the books I read by James Scott Bell, and whose books on writing I would recommend to anyone and everyone, seemed to shame self-published books. What I know now is that his words held a ship load of truth, but the way I heard it at the time was a reflection of what I was feeling within myself. I self-published my first book, The Inheritance, and at the time was battling whether I was going to self-publish my Melanie Hogan Mystery Series or try the traditional route. How we perceive things is more often than not due to where we’re at within our own head, usually when we’re completely unaware of it. For instance, if everyone around you seems to be having a bad day it’s probably your perception based on the place you, yourself, are at in that moment. We hear what people say and how they react based on where we are in our own heart and mind.

That being said, when I read those parts in James Scott Bell’s book, I was insecure about self-publishing a book and if people would take that as a sign that I wasn’t successful at traditional publishing. That I wasn’t good enough. Good enough for whom or for what I didn’t even know and quite possibly it didn’t matter. Just plain ole’ writer’s insecurity of being good enough. The fact of the matter is, I had decided not to go the traditional route because I wanted my first novel to be done completely by me. I wanted to experience the entire process, and I have not a single regret. Not. One. In fact, I’ve decided to self-publish my Melanie Hogan Mystery Series as well, the first of which is expected to be released in July if all goes according to plan. The cover reveal will be coming in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

Now the revelation that came to me yesterday (drumroll….)

Making a difference

There are a lot of crappy traditionally published books out there, with missed typos and loose ends that were never tied up, with plot holes and poor character development, as well as with self-published books. The difference being that since e-books have become such a huge development and will only grow as time goes on, it makes it incredibly easy to self-publish work, and many are doing it without any editing, the goal being to just to get their work out there. What I’ve realized is as long as you’ve taken the time to make your work the best it can possibly be, without doubt, self publishing or traditional publishing is irrelevant. Whichever method you choose, you can hold your head up as the amazing author you are, regardless of what anyone else thinks. That, my friends, set me free from the insecurity that plagued me. And what a feeling that is. 🙂 If you’re out to please people, it will only lead to disappointment. If you’re out to touch people’s lives, to simply make a difference, by doing what you love to do, you can’t go wrong.

See you after Camp NaNo. I’m almost to the finish line.

Bonfire-Brainerd

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads

I’ve decided to become more active with Goodreads, “the” social networking site for bibliophiles. I’ve had an author page since my book was published last June, but I never took the time to do anything with it. In taking a tour of all Goodreads has to offer, I am so impressed! What a beautiful way to support other authors, connect with other writers and readers, join in on book clubs, find new books by exploring the pages and bookshelves of other readers with similar tastes, receive notifications of new releases and author events in the area, and enter book giveaways. Who wouldn’t want a free book? I’m just kicking myself for not taking advantage of this amazing opportunity earlier. I think in part it was due to Goodreads having so many possibilities that it was a bit intimidating at first. But once I took a little time to work my way around, what’s not to love about it? Afterall, “Risk” is one of my words for 2015. 🙂

So in the spirit of getting more involved with Goodreads, I’ve decided to host a book giveaway for my book, The Inheritance, from Monday February 16th – Thursday February 26th. Hop on over if you want to enter for a chance to win.

Helpful Tips

Do any of you have any experiences or helpful tips you would like to share about being a Goodreads user, whether author or reader? I would love to hear what you have to say.

The Inheritance – Prologue

The Inheritance

I want to share the prologue to my novel, The Inheritance. If interested, it can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Old Firehouse Books.

*********************************************************************

The stars shone brilliantly above, sparkling through the moon roof of the Mercedes, the countryside speeding by as the car hugged the road’s twists and curves neatly and tightly. The benefit event Victor and Vivian had attended, and hosted, had been a huge success, and they were both reflecting upon the amount of money they had raised for the cause of feeding the poor.  A cause they both cherished and held near to their hearts.  The outpouring of kindness from the hearts of so many strangers wanting to give to something other than their own bank account had astonished them.

Victor’s mind traveled to his beloved wife of 36 years.  The way she gracefully made her way through the crowd of those eager to get their chance to speak with her.  The way she so eloquently spoke at the podium, moving the hearts of everyone in the room as she spoke from her heart, creating a visual for them of her trips to third world countries to work with so many children living in such devastating poverty.

He had never seen her look more beautiful than she had that night in her simple black dress that fit her curves so perfectly, her shining black hair cut to a length just below her chin, shining radiantly in a halo of soft hues beneath the overhead lights that had been dimmed to create the perfect ambiance.

Vivian had been the love of his life since high school, and when she finally agreed to go to a movie with him in their junior year, it was based on the condition that her best friend and beau could go with them.  He had agreed, happy to have any opportunity to spend time with her.  He recalled how nervous he had been on his way to pick her up, the movie and dinner he had been saving for in anticipation of this event a distant thought.

His thoughts traveled to how far they had come from that day.  The journey their love had taken.  The private practice that had netted him more money than was even fair for one person to earn, Vivian’s love for art and her pieces she was able to sell for a handsome amount, their travels to other countries, visiting those so much less fortunate than they, placing into perspective what life is really about.  An experience that changed the entire way they lived their own lives.  They had managed to put away a considerable amount of money for each of their three children, but it was there that his thoughts became more clouded.  Stormy clouds after the brilliant sunshine.

Vivian studied the lines of her husband’s handsome face, noticed his furrowed brow, the seriousness, almost sadness that seemed to settle there.  She suspected he was thinking of their children and her heart ached for him.  She knew Victor assumed it as his personal failure that their children had become so estranged from them, from each other, and from God, each so lost in life, on a road that would surely carry them through so much heartache.

She placed a warm hand on his leg, simple, yet solid, assurance they were in this thing called life together.  Though it looked more like a deep valley than a mountaintop at times, especially lately, they were still in it together.  Good times and in bad.  Sickness and in health.  They had weathered a lot of storms throughout the years, and this is one they would survive as well.  As long as they had each other.

It was at that moment that Vivian and Victor looked at each other.  And it was at that moment Victor saw Vivian smile warmly at him and look forward, the headlights from an oncoming car illuminating her face.  He didn’t see the car itself that came careening around the corner, taking that corner entirely too fast.  Too fast to be able to stop.  What he did see was the look of surprise on Vivian’s face as she looked ahead, saw her reach for the dashboard in front of her, and as if in slow motion, turned his head to see the oncoming car right before it crashed into his.  The sound was deafening, metal on metal, screeching, sliding, Vivian’s screams and the feel of her hand grabbing his arm in panic, then a pain beyond anything he had ever known as his life broke into a million pieces realizing what was happening.  And just like that, there was nothing.  Nothing but silence in the dead of night.  The ink black that covered the night sky was now overtaking his mind and body, as he drifted away toward the most penetrating, whitest light he had ever imagined.  Something so beautiful it couldn’t possibly be real.  And he couldn’t possibly resist it.  Especially when he saw his beloved Vivian standing there, holding out her hand, beckoning gently, for him to join her.

 

 

Wrapping up 2014

rearview mirror

It’s hard to believe that in just two short days we’ll be viewing 2014 and all of its cherished memories and experiences through the rear view mirror. While there are numerous quotes about the dangers of, and time wasted from, looking in the rear view mirror, I’m of the belief that it has its time and place. As long as we don’t keep our focus there for a prolonged period of time, lest we crash into our future rather than enter gracefully, looking back to review our successes and highlights of the year can serve us well. For that matter, remembering the not-so-happy moments aren’t a bad thing either. It reminds us that things can–and do–get better and the most important thing is to learn the lesson and find the golden nugget in the heap of mud. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, “Always know where it is you want to go and have a plan to get there, but never, ever, forget where you came from.”

Here are my top take-aways from 2014–and I still have two more full days to fully live  in 2014… 🙂

  • I crossed off a major item from my Bucket List–one that has been on it for 30+ years…I published a book, The Inheritance.

 

The Inheritance

  • My son got married and bought his first house. So many memories I’ll cherish forever, especially the mother-son dance to the song Watercolor Ponies. For any of you with sons, it’s guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips.

photo (7)

  • Hours upon hours of running, biking, and spending time in the great outdoors, the wind on my back, the sun on my face, my spirit lifted high.

MN 2013 061

  • Priceless time spent with family–my husband, my sons, my granddaughter–how blessed am I!
  • Completing two first drafts of a cozy mystery series.
  • The first time hearing my granddaughter say “Grammy!” with so much enthusiasm. Oh, the sweetness!
  • Connecting with so many other writers in this blogging community who I am proud to call my friends.
  • The loss of Maya Angelou that reminds me to always be grateful and to truly live life to the fullest. Her spirit will live on forever.
  • The tragic loss of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, both a heart-breaking, yet critical reminder of the importance of taking whatever steps necessary to cultivate my sober life.
  • Adopting the phrase “Carpe diem” as my mantra, because it sums up so much in so few words.

Seize the day, my friends, and I’ll see you in 2015.

Have a happy and blessed journey into the New Year.

Carpe Diem

 

 

Drumroll…

My novel, The Inheritance, is now out in softcover, as well as Kindle, at Amazon.  I would be immensely grateful to anyone who feels led to share this on their blog to help spread the word. Thank you so much! It’s this writing community of amazing bloggers that has given me the courage and inspiration to keep walking the journey to completion of this baby. 🙂

The Inheritance

When Victor and Vivian Forrester meet their unexpected fate on their way home from hosting a charity dinner, it leaves their three estranged adult children with an unexpected fate of their own. Madison has the perfectly planned life of which her two young children are the center, leaving no room for anything or anyone else, including her husband. Her career as a psychiatrist enables her to validate her self-worth and give her children everything they need. She has made a promise to herself that her children will never be without, vowing to give them the best childhood anyone could ever have. Maxwell is a successful partner of a law firm, who is as skilled at playing the ladies as he is in the courtroom. He has long since written off his family in order to avoid having to answer to anyone. Molly is a writer and free spirit who has lost herself in the miry pit of self-pity, claiming her title as black sheep of the family. She tries to drown and numb the pain from years of being misunderstood by her family. What none of them expect after the shock of their parents’ death is the shock of learning what is in the will their parents carefully constructed, listing what is required of each of them before they can claim their substantial inheritance. Those requirements take them on a journey of self-discovery and change that leads to a much greater wealth than any of them had ever expected.

Peace.