Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Blog Break Break

This is what my week started out looking like. For those of you in Canada, you may be laughing that something this benign would completely shut down a city, but for those of us in the south, 20 inches of snow is a lot of snow.

Just ask the 15 inch tall dog.

Had I any sort of foresight, I would have at least gone out a couple times during the storm to clear away a path in front of the house for the poor puppy to pee. You should have seen the look on his face when we opened the door in the morning and shoved him out to empty his bladder and he disappeared. When his head popped above the snow, he gave us those "you've got to be kidding me" eyes.

There were not enough plow trucks in all of Virginia to get rid of that snow fast enough to get everything moving again. And to make it worse, because they couldn't plow it fast enough, the snow near the bottom melted a tad, then refroze when the sun went down, leaving large, tectonic-like plates of two-inch ice.  Like so:

(and why is that photo not centered?? I have no idea. Blogger says it's centered, but clearly they are deluded. I'm convinced there are blogger gremlins... but I digress...)

That's a heck of an ice chunk my husband's holding, eh? We chipped off dozens of these from our driveway in order for our 14 guests for Christmas to not have to slip and slide their way up the 300 foot driveway.  We're so hospitable that way.

Here is Scout looking at us like, "You'll clear the driveway so someone can drive a car up it but not so your dearest pup can pee??"

Yeah. It took a while, but he learned to love it. Just in time for the 10 degree below freezing weather to settle in. So now I stand around seeing how big a cloud I can blow with my breath while he sniffs every flake and climbs every drift.

But life isn't all snow and dog during this blog break. There was Christmas. And lots of family. And some ice skating. And some breathless waiting as people read my book for the first time. I tell you, it's scary sending it out into the world. You have to know, as an author, not everyone will love your book. It's just the subjectiveness of the business. I know this. But when family and close friends with high hopes and expectations buy it, I can't help but really hope at least they like it. 

And so far, unless everyone is lying, the feedback has been amazing. And to top it off with a huge cherry, I've had a few fantastic 5-star reviews on Amazon - and not one of them is related to me!  :)

So while I've not been blogging, I have been cooking turkeys and ham, doing dishes endlessly, chipping ice plates and shoveling snow, housebreaking a puppy and keeping him from chewing everything in the house and digesting his weight worth of kleenexes, mailing out autographed books, calling tow-trucks to pull the truck from the mud, cleaning bathrooms and floors that are constantly being tracked through with snow, entertaining children, running the dryer 24 hours a day to keep everyone stocked in gloves, hats, scarves, snowpants and coats.

And today – reading. In front of a fire. In a quiet house. With the puppy asleep at my feet.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

This is a repost from last Christmas. I unexpectedly unplugged this week, but I still plan to unplug over the next week. If I find time I hope to go back and read the last weeks worth of your blogs that I've missed. Because I really have missed you. For now - I'm so thankful for all of you - for this blogging community and for your friendships and for the successes many of you have had this year despite it being a really tough year in the publishing industry. And for those of you still plugging away on the journey - may 2010 be your year!

We have a nativity set my children love to arrange, the wise men coming with their gifts, camel following. The shepherds in the fields watching over their sheep and the angel who arrives to tell them a Savior is born. A stable: an ugly, dirty, hay-strewn stable with a cow and a trough, and a mom and dad with a newborn baby.

They love Christmas because of that little baby. Because God is huge and unseeable and hard to comprehend, but Jesus - he's a baby. They understand a baby.

Yet when we lay him in the feeding trough, I think that the baby is harder to understand than God. He was before the world, he helped make the world with his own hands, and then came as a baby to live in it. He was all God, yet all man. He who flung the stars in space, who separated the light from the dark and the water from the land, came as a baby completely dependent on two very human, fallible parents. Parents young enough to be my children.

How much did Mary really understand? As she lay exhausted and tired and scared and mostly alone in that stable, holding a baby no different looking than any other, how much did she know? Could she even begin to imagine what life held in store? Could she even begin to imagine that the baby boy she kissed was God?

This Christmas one particular song keeps playing in my head over and over. Words to ponder this day as you celebrate the day:

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know

That your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you've delivered

Will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

Did you know

That your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know

That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little boy
You've kissed the face of God

Mary, did you know?
The blind will see

The deaf will hear

And the dead will live again

The lame will leap
The dumb will speak

The praises of the lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rules the nations?

Did you know

That your baby boy is heavens perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding

Is the great I am

To all of you from me: Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Launch Hangover, and my first unofficial review

I'm trying to find my balance between the book launch and the impending holidays, and I'm afraid I'm not doing it well. Still, everytime I turn around I see something else that reminds me of the amazingness of this time:

An incredible (and completely unexpected) bouquet of flowers that a crit partner sent me that totally floored me (and about sent me into tears when it arrived on my doorstep on Monday)

A silver bookmark another dear friend gave me this weekend (saying, "If anyone's had a year, it's been you.")


And my editor sent me a link to a blog post she wrote on our publisher blog. The jist of it is this:

Our recently released title Some Kind of Normal showcases that kind of writing--where you get so pulled into the story that you don't even notice the words.

This was one of the most difficult books I've ever edited--NOT because the manuscript was poorly written--but BECAUSE of the way the author, Heidi Willis, strings her words together. I'd get so immersed in the story that I'd forget about editing and just read to enjoy her character's voice...

This one is a "must read" for anyone who loves to get lost in a story.

 Too bad I can't put that on the cover!  :)

So the cards might be late this Christmas, the cookies might be last minute, the house might be less than stellar for the company, but there is only one debut book, and this is mine. And I'm determined to enjoy it.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I've officially now gone from contracted author to published author.... It's true! I have a box of printed books with covers and title pages and a whole story I actually wrote!  So I'm celebrating this huge JOY with a party here on the blog... and where better to have a virtual signing party than the Maine Beach Chalet??

Isn't it idyllic? And since it's virtual, you don't even have to go out in the cold to get there!  So come on in and grab something warm to drink.  I've got hot cocoa with lots of marshmallows if you'd like... I made it extra chocolatey!!


Or, if you prefer, you can grab a seasonal cup of blog nog. It's one of my favorites!


It looks a lot like the hot chocolate, don't you think?

While considering a theme for this party, I decided it would only be natural to make it a bit of a fiesta Tex Mex theme, which is a bit contrary to the cold outside...

  ...but is so fitting for the book, because Some Kind of Normal takes place in Texas, and I think the characters would like a party that caters a bit to them.  I even hung up a neon sign in the foyer in honor of them:

(Don't say anything to the main characters, but I think this might have come out of some bar.)

I also hung a pinata if we find we're in need of some entertainment:


So now that you're warm and toasty, lets break out the food, shall we?

Appetizers, anyone? Those things are cherry tomatoes, but I'm not sure what they're filled with. Since the main characters might show up, we'll pretend those olive filled drinks behind them are glasses of water, okay?  It does kind of look that way, right? But why would someone put olives in water? Hmmm...


Let's move on... the water with olives is started to weird me out. A nice guac dip, perhaps? I made it fresh myself with avacados that came from somewhere south of the equator. It's kinda chilly right now to get these in the markets here. I did fry up those chips myself those. They're still warm!


If you're in need a something more filling, you can fix your own appetizers.

 Watch out for the chicken on the left... it's quite spicy. And there might be some habanero peppers hidden under there somewhere if you're really daring! I'm pretty sure blog peppers don't give you heartburn, but proceed with caution!

If you want something a bit healthier (and in honor of the diabetic aspects of the book), here's some veggies and dip. These are fresh from the beach chalet garden... I harvested them right before the snow storm hit.

Or maybe you'd like something heartier? Some tacos?

Or a taco salad? If you're counting carbs, don't forget to calculate the black beans in there.

 I really love mexican food, but that blog nog just isn't cutting the heat of the jalapenos. Perhaps a nice sangria?

Or maybe Bab's favorite... sweetened iced tea:


I know, I know... you really came just for the food, but this IS about a book... so I've got my pen out and I'm so ready to get this book signing going!!

I thought I'd set things up in the library. Does that sound good?

I know it's just been released and it's a small, unheard of book, but I really can't believe the crowds that are already cramming in to get one of my scrawled signatures!! Seriously, have you seen any thing like this short of a Stephanie Meyers/J.K. Rowling signing??

(I'm most baffled by the amount of teenage boys.  Really, I'm pretty sure the character of Ashley is hot, but she's got a boyfriend already, guys, and she spends most of the book in a hospital bed. And her mom... well, let's just say her mom isn't the kind a teenage boy wants to hang around with for the fun of it...)

So let's get on with it... Here's the book:

If you're just here to celebrate with me and eat the food, this is the time you slink out into the living room and sink into one of my big comfy leather sofas beside the roaring fire and chat in the comment section with all the other friends who have gathered. Go ahead! I'm so glad you came by!!  Thank you so much for making this such a special day for me! I've been dreaming of this, and working towards it, for such a long time.

If you want to buy a book, there are a few ways you can go about it.

1. You can go to and buy it directly from the publisher.

2. You can go to Amazon and buy it there.


You can buy it here and I will sign it for you and get it in the mail this week! If you look over on the sidebar over there, you'll see the book and underneath it a paypal button. The book is 15.95 and if you don't have a paypal account, you can set one up really easily with a credit card. This link is only going to be over there for a short time (a week or so), and then, after that you'll have to buy it through a traditional book seller.

If you do buy from here, can you leave me a note in the comment section with your email, or send me an email to let me know? I just like having my bases covered to make sure I can contact you if there's a question about something!

(For those of you living out of the US, I'm only set up to sell internationally to Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom. I apologize if you live somewhere else, but you can still get it from Amazon!)

It will look something like this:

Only I'll try to be neater. And if you want me to write something specific, let me know that, too.

So I guess that's it. I'll be hanging around eating some of this cake while waiting for the writer's cramp to settle in.

And staring out the window at this:

And wishing you all the best for a happy holiday season, and a new year where all your dreams come true!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mysteries Revealed (or: Why I'm Not On Amazon Yet)

Remember: Monday is the BLOG PARTY!!! 

Some of you have asked why my novel isn't available on Amazon yet, and wondered if it would be in bookstores near you. These are great questions; questions which I had no answer to. And so I went to the one who had the answers: my publisher.

This blog post is partly to answer those of you who were asking, and partly just to inform anyone interested in the process. Seriously, isn't it a bit of a mystery? We writers know we should write, query, obtain agent, get book contract, go through edits, then WA-LA! The book is on the bookshelves of every major (and minor) bookstore on earth, right? Right???

Well, no.

And if you skip the obtaining an agent part and go with a small publisher, the answer is even less no. 

The reason for this is timing.

With a larger publisher things move slowly. There are lots of hands in the process, and once the writer is done with their part, there are still lots of hands working towards the looming release date. There are marketers and printers and TIME. Time to put out ARCs (Advance Reader Copies). Time to include the book in the publisher catalog. Time for the bookstores to see the catalogs and order the books and have them waiting in the back for the date to stock them on the shelves. Time for notices to be sent to online retailers. Time for the book to be put into e-book format. It's built into the process, so that when an author signs and gets a release date, that date may be a year in the future: plenty of time to get all the details worked out.

With a smaller press, things move much more quickly, because in general there isn't a huge staff of people working their end. There aren't huge marketing blitzes to be done. They don't wait to put out ARCs and then wait for the readers of those to read and write praises for the cover. They make the book available to the public as fast as the printer can print it. And so, though I only finished edits a month ago, the book is now being printed and my publisher can make it available to you.

The timing issue is when it comes down to getting the book through someone else. Despite what some people might think, my book's entire first run isn't sitting in stacks of boxes in my publisher's garage waiting for them to ship it out to every bookstore in the world. It's sitting in a warehouse of a major book distributor, whose sole purpose is to supply people with books.

My publisher uses Ingram Book Company, the largest book distributer in the world. They will stock my book, enter it into their database, and then make it available for 90% of bookstores worldwide. So while my publisher might have some boxes of books to send out to individuals, it's actually Ingram that's responsible for getting it everywhere else. And that takes time. It takes time to put the information in it's database. It takes time for bookstores to find the book and order it - because a bookstore doesn't get every book that's published.... they only get what they ask for.

Once it's in the database, though, it should show up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and it should be available, if not in your local bookstore, at least in the computer so that your local bookstore can order it. I've been told that should be about three weeks from the time it's printed.

Which won't stop me from checking Amazon everyday. :) 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


It's official! Some Kind of Normal has been printed and bound and packed into boxes for shipping!!  Supposedly it should ship on Monday, which will make Monday my release day!! (I know, it's a little less climactic than a big publisher who sets the date in stone months - or even years - ahead of time, but this way we actually DO get the book hot off the press... no sitting around waiting for the date to come when the bookstores can open the boxes and set them up!)(and, in fact, I'm pretty sure the bookstores won't have it yet...)

So Monday I'm throwing a party on the blog!!  Come by! It'll be like a Christmas party, with blog nog, and brightly colored decorations, and food and drink and lively music - and lots and lots of fellow writers. It's going to be awesome! Well, I hope it is, anyway. It will be if YOU show up!

And best of all, you can order a signed copy right here on the blog!   I know some people have already ordered it, and for that a HUGE thanks!!!  You can still come by and drink some blog nog and brag that you'll get your copy first. But if you don't have one, or you want to order another to give away to a friend, this is the happening place.

Or even if you have no money or don't think you'll like the book, come by anyway to say hi and eat some tasty virtual appetizers. :)

I can't guarantee you'll get it by Christmas, though, the post office being... you know... the post office.

So anyway, to sum up:

Blog party Monday.

Books available.

Fun times in the comment section.

Stop by!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Authory Stuff

Some big - but short - news today.

First off, my book is now available for pre-ordering. Which means, if you want to saunter on over to, you can see the book blurb, the cover, etc., and then actually buy it so that you will be one of the first to get it when it rolls hot off the press.

The pre-ordering means the book is done, is at the printer, the printer has looked at it and said, Yeah, looks like all the ducks are in a row and we can make it into a real looking book. And then they put it in the queue with the rest of the books. And when it reaches the front of the line, they print it and ship it out. This is the way a small press works. It's a little less all TA-DA!! than a larger publishing house, but it's faster. :)

I'm also considering having a release day blog party in which I will sell  signed copies if you want one of those. And of course offer virtual food and drink and entertainment. What do you think?

The last bit of news is that I have had my first blog author interview! So exciting! It's like actually being a real author! Fellow writer Kristi Faith and I have been emailing back and forth for a few weeks, and it has been so fun getting to know her and chatting endlessly about this whole process.  She's put together an amazing post so if you have time, head over to Kristi Faith's blog and say hi and read my dorky answers and find out a little about my journey as an author with a small press.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Give Away Over at Kim's Place!!

You know what I love about debut authors?  They're excited! And they give really cool things away... like their books (among other very cool stuff)!  And I feel so lucky to "know" so many really great authors with amazing books here in the blogosphere.

One of those amazing authors is Kimberly Derting, who is only 100 days away from her book, The Body Finder,  landing on a bookstore shelf near you. How cool is that??  But you know what?  She's celebrating by giving away one of the ARCs, along with some other really cool stuff! 

Head over to her blog post and enter!  Quick! Because it looks like the comment section is filling up!

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Friday; It's a Good Thing

What's a good thing?  This.

The Christmas decorations are finally up. The pooch is happily curled on the floor sleeping.  Little by little, things are getting done. I'm learning to stop looking at all the things I need to do and only look at one at a time and get that done. I'm less panicky that way.

Kristi over at R.A.W. has done an interview with me (my first author interview!!), so head over there on Monday to read it. Or heck, head over there now just to read her blog!  :)

Well, it's Friday and it's supposed to snow tomorrow for the first time this season. My plans for this weekend are a roaring fire in the pellet stove, twinkling Christmas lights, writing cards, and a Christmas concert.

Oh, and this little guy warming my lap.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How Did Your NaN - Oh! Look! Something Shiny!

As you can tell by the title, I feel a bit distracted lately. By everything. When did America become such a over-stimulated, multi-tasking, short attention spanned place to live?  Not that I blame America. The blame is all on me. I can barely focus on anything these days long enough to finish it.  As a result, my Christmas decorations are only a third up, my gym hasn't seen me in three weeks, my newest novel is hanging out waiting for me to get back to it... along with the other two novels I started this year and then stopped.

Jessica Faust over at BookEnds had a great post today about the writing process... about all the different ways authors attack writing and the self-doubt we seem to fall into every time. And then Mark Terry commented about the Eureka moment he gets to in writing... that moment in which the story gets a little tough to write and suddenly you have this really great idea for another book, which he mentions that Erica Orloff calls her Bright Shiny Moment. as in, this plot is getting a little hard to figure out - hey! look! another bright shiny idea!

I shamefully admit this is where I am. I have three novels started... all exceptional ideas in theory. And another popped into my head yesterday, complete with title, rough outline and characters, and suddenly I was like HOLD ON! I can't keep up!! And it reminded me of all the people who have said to me, since finding out I am being published, Oh! I have some great ideas for books! To which I want to say, Yeah, me too.

The ideas aren't the hard thing. The hard thing is writing them down, each and every word, start to finish. All stinking 90,000 words of them. Because really, sometimes only the first 10,000 are the fun and easy part. And then it all starts to look like crap, and I wonder why in the world anyone would want to read them, and I imagine all the awful reviews they would get on amazon and blogs (How in the world did this piece of garbage get published when I know so many people who write better that can't even find an agent??).

And now, even worse, I have a puppy in the house that, if you don't watch him every single second something might get chewed or peed on - or toppled, like the Christmas tree which I swear is cowering in the corner shaking at the double threat of being mistaken for an inside toilet and being wrestled to the ground by tiny teeth.

And Christmas cards... don't even get me started on this one. I bought the cards. Do I get partial credit for that?

And shopping - I'm doing good that we haven't run out of puppy food or milk at this point. Please don't tell me how many days I have left to figure out what to buy for people for Christmas.

Yesterday there were four loads of laundry cleaned and waiting to be folded. Have you folded clothes with a puppy around? Every article of clothing becomes an opportunity for tug of war.

I haven't even filled in our activities on the calendar this month because it is just too overwhelming. If I close my eyes, will it all just magically happen?

So my latest WIP is waiting... sitting patiently (unlike the puppy). And I'm just trying to figure out how to fit in a shower...

does walking the dog in the rain count?

(and when I started this post, I meant to ask: How did your NaNo writing go? Did you finish? Did you survive? Did you push through even when it felt like crap? And are you so proud of yourself for doing it - even if you didn't grab the final prize?)