The Release Day Plan

So what does one do on the day their very first book launches into the universe? Here’s a list so you can see how incredibly *unusual* today really is.

In order, I…

  1. Got kids up and ready for school.
  2. Picked up extra kid to take to school.
  3. Did the social media thing.
  4. Picked up older kid and another extra kid from 1/2 day of school.
  5. Cleaned multiple litter pans (we’re fostering, so it’s more than just my own cats).
  6. Cleaned yard of dog poop. (Exciting, right?)
  7. Mowed the lawn.
  8. Did the social media thing.
  9. Picked up younger kid from school.
  10. Took kids to dance class.
  11. Wrote words.
  12. Did the social media thing.
  13. Dinner. (Cooking? Not today, Satan.)

And if we’re really in the mood to celebrate this evening, we just might go for cupcakes… I’ll keep you posted.

My point? My dear friends, launch days aren’t really any different than any other day. There’s still plenty of poop to clean up and lots of words to write.

But am I celebrating anyway? Yes. Yes, I am.

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9:28 p.m. update: Celebratory gourmet cupcakes were had. They were prettier before they were accidentally smashed by 13 y.o. in the car. Tasted yummy anyway.

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Supporting Authors

***This post brought to you by: Anything to Procrastinate Opening my WIP***

With a book set to release in just over a week, I’ve fielded a lot of questions from friends and family, mostly along the lines of “How can we help?” or “What can we do?”

These are fantastic questions to ask any first-time author who’s seeking to build a longterm career in writing. The answers, however, are not nearly so straightforward.

So here’s a quick down and dirty list of things you can do to help an author at any stage of the game.

  1. (The Obvious) BUY THEIR BOOK(S).
  2. Buy a second copy of their book(s) to gift to a friend.
  3. Buy a copy to donate to a school library.
  4. Review their book(s) on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, BookDepository – anywhere you can think of. Reviews get books seen. Books that are seen are books that are purchased. And you don’t even have to do more than give it a few stars and say “I liked this one.” (I mean, more is better, of course, but “I liked this one.” is 100% legitimate!)
  5. Ask your local indie bookstore to carry their book(s). Amazon sales are good, but indie bookstores need our support now more than ever!
  6. Request the book from your library. Libraries rely on their patrons to request books for purchase. Ask your local library if they’ll buy a copy of your favorite author’s book(s).
  7. Come to local signings or meet & greets.
  8. Share your excitement on social media. Does this mean you have to retweet or share every post by your author friends? No. But getting in on the excitement of a new book gets others excited, too!
  9. Add their book to your Goodreads list.
  10. I really wanted to make this list a nice even 10, but I can’t think of a 10th item, so how about text or email or call your author friends and tell them how excited you are in order to keep them from jumping out of their skin with nerves?

Every one of these actions can help launch an author’s career, and at the very least, you’ll put a smile on an author’s face. So on behalf of authors everywhere, thank you to everyone who tackles any of the items on this list!

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Every single item on the list above provides a hand or foothold for a budding author. We can’t possibly climb without the help of family, friends, and readers! ❤

You can purchase A Thousand Years to Wait now. For a list of retailers, click HERE.

Who’s Who? Volume IV

Twitter is a blessing and a curse in one, but following the right people makes all the difference. Here’s a list of some of my favorites to follow. Get them on your list, too!

Maria Stout (@MariaStout) – I’m a writer, so I really enjoy following other writers, especially upbeat ones who give their all, cheer on others, and never let life get them down. Maria checks all three of those boxes. When I met Maria at the Philadelphia Writer’s Workshop two years ago, we blathered on about how excited we were to be there (‘blather’ is accurate for both of us, right Maria?), and we’ve stayed connected ever since. Also, I like to keep up on the buzz. No, not the gossip. The buzz. On top of being a teacher, a writer, a mom, and a wife, she’s also a beekeeper.

 

Piper Drake (@PiperJDrake) – I started following Piper because of her role on Writing Excuses, a writing-related podcast I enjoy immensely. Piper was a guest host for a year and I really related to some of the insight she shared on the show. Plus, her romance books are full of heroes with dogs, and everyone knows the way to my heart is with dog hair and drool. Piper doles out tons of great advice when it comes to balancing a day job with writing, the roles of agents and editors, really beautiful and mouth-watering food, and of course – all things Corbin J. Drake. And who wouldn’t love to follow that?

 

Geraldine DeRuiter (@everywhereist) – Because every good Twitter account needs a healthy dose of feminism, Geraldine should top your list. She’s smart, quick, and covers a range of topics from travel and politics to television and current events. Journalism, feminism, and opinionism at its finest! (I desperately wanted to share one of her wittiest moments, but I think this one already says it all.)

 

Jennifer Lane (@Metal_and_Earth) –  Jennifer is a fellow eastern Pennsylvanian and Indie Author who recently released her second novel, Stick Figures from Rockport. (Yes, I wrote about that one just recently.) She’s fun to follow and when she posts things like this, she makes me feel so much more normal inside…

 

E.K. Thiede (@ethiedee) – A writer after my own heart, Emily is a blast to follow on Twitter. Much like the other ladies on my Very Female list today, Emily’s Twitter will give you a hearty does of feminism. (Insert cheer! We all need more of this.) There’s rarely a tweet of hers that I don’t instantly ‘heart’ and if I manage to refrain, it’s only because I don’t want her thinking I’m a creepy stalker.

 


Don’t see yourself listed here? Don’t despair. There are so many amazing people to follow on Twitter. Hang around! You might be in my next issue of Who’s Who!

Also, if you missed my last Who’s Who? and you want to discover more great people to follow, click here!

A Hundred Breaths

It’s time to celebrate another lovely author’s book release! Please join me in congratulating author Jean M. Grant on the release of A Hundred Breaths, a historical 13th century romance featuring Scots, Vikings, and the paranormal. The book is a prequel to her debut historical romance A Hundred Kisses. So since we’re celebrating another fabulous historical romance, I thought now would be a great time to get some answers on Jean’s creative process and how she came up with the concept for her Hundred series books. (She anticipates the release of book 3 in 2020!)

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LRS: Congratulations on the release of A Hundred Breaths! What made you decide to write a prequel to A Hundred Kisses and not a sequel?

JMG: When I wrote A Hundred Kisses it was set to be a standalone book. In fact, I had been writing stories set in 12th century Scotland for over a decade. After three practice novels, and much learning of the craft and business, I decided to leap forward to the 13th century and sprinkle in paranormal/mystical elements. Therein I found the magic! From that exploration arose Deirdre and Alasdair’s story in A Hundred Kisses: a ruthless baron, a dark past, a curse, deep secrets, and the mystical power of the Ancients. Not bad for a first book! (A little plug for Rosalind Ashford who narrated the audio book — her voice swept me away.)

I felt compelled to dig deeper into the mystical Silver Veil because Deirdre’s mother, Gwyn, also had a story to tell. And it so happened to be a pivotal time period for the [end of the] Norse (Viking) reign. The stars aligned and what came forth was a story about a merciful Healer, a scarred man hellbent on vengeance, and several unrelenting Nordmen. 

What next? I’m writing the final book in the trilogy (hint: it’s about Deirdre and Alasdair’s child). Each story in my hundred series explores the powers of the Ancients: Healing (water), Feeling (fire), Seeing (Wind), and the grounding force of Earth. Each book is steeped in Scottish-Norse-English history. I’m looking forward to wrapping up my medieval Scotland adventure and excited to see where the next inkling takes me!

LRS: This sounds awesome! (And since I’m one of your beta readers and critique partners, I know just how awesome it really is…) Tell me more about this Silver Veil.

JMG: The Silver Veil is my primary paranormal element in the series. Loosely based on ancient Scottish culture and lore books, I delved into the world of The Silver Folk, or Ancients. I created a culture that could have very well existed, that utilized natural powers accessed across a veil between this world and the next. Healers harnessed their ability by their conduit of water. Feelers heightened their aura-sensing and emotion-feeling through fire. Seers experienced visions whispered on the wind. All three gifts found root in Mother Earth.

The Ancients of the isles are written as having been present in the isles for centuries. They pray at the circles of stones, but who or what built them is still a mystery. Heavily influenced by the Norse raiders, over time they have assigned Norse god names to their powers of Water, Fire, Wind, and Earth. Who has these abilities? Some, but not all. How strong are their powers? It depends on the person. The abilities are inherited, but who, what, and how intense the power is up to the gods.

In all three of the books of the soon-to-be trilogy, there is a clash and blend of cultures and religion: Christianity in the Scots (along with a hefty dose of superstition), the gods of the Norse culture, and lastly, the spirituality of the Ancients.

With any special ability, there are those who wish to do harm, though all the Ancients I’ve written (so far) use their gifts for good. However, there are drawbacks to these abilities —curses and “side effects.” You’ll need to read on in each of the books to see how our protagonists overcome these deficits and harness the inner power within them…


And of course, what kind of blog post would this be without a teaser? Here’s a bit of interaction between the hero and heroine…see if you don’t get swept away.

EXCERPT FROM A HUNDRED BREATHS

“I’m your wife, and still I am guarded?”

Simon shrugged though she couldn’t see. He’d given up on excuses. “What must I do to prove I won’t flee? I signed your marriage contract. I said my vows.” Her voice broke on those words. 

Was she crying? He laid the tray of food on her table and approached. He didn’t touch her, as much as he wanted to link his arm within hers as they’d done during their walks. He reached inside his ganache and withdrew her small, simple dagger. Unadorned with jewels or carvings, it possessed a bone hilt and a blade worn from use. Likely from tree limbs, flowers, and household use. His smith had sharpened it and cleaned the hilt. 

“Here,” he said, placing it in her lap. Gildy had retrieved the sheath from Gwyn’s laundered gown. 

Gwyn stared at it, her fingertips dancing butterfly wings hovering over the hilt. After a moment, she drew her hand around it and pulled it from its leather sheath. She rose and whirled on him, the dagger pointed out before her, barely pressing into his chest. 

He didn’t retreat as he met her fiery, misty gaze. 

She made no move to remove the dagger’s tip.

“A smidge to the center, Gwyn, and you’ll be square over my blackened heart.” He held her glower. The heat blazed in her entrancing blue eyes like the devil. He fought a smile.


Ready to order your own copy of A Hundred Breaths? You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Wild Rose Press, iTunes, Kobo, or Google Play.

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Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

A Thousand Years to Wait Cover Reveal

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here!

One of the most highly anticipated moments in any author’s journey is getting to see their cover art. My story is no different. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this beauty for months and I am not disappointed.

So without further ado, I present to you…my cover.

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Like what you see? Me, too! I love, love, love it! A huge THANK YOU to my cover artist, Jess Bieber!

Now, squeal with me! Eeeeeeiiiiieeee! Stay tuned for info on when you can preorder a copy and promotional giveaways. I’ve got tons of fun stuff coming up soon.

Who’s Who? Volume III

It’s time for another Who’s Who! Here’s a list of people I love to follow on Twitter, and if you’re a writer, a reader, or just enjoy ramblings by intelligent, fun people, you should follow them, too!

T.S. Bazelli (@tsbazelli) – She’s super fun, great at tweeting and quote-tweeting, and posts the best literary advice! I often find myself clicking that little heart below her posts. Plus…her food photos make me drool a little. I long for a personal chef to prepare meals for me (as I hate cooking) and when I see her images…well it makes me just a little sadder that I don’t have a chef in my house. And yet, I can’t look away.


Mads Bertasio (@MadsBertasio) – Mads prefers they/them pronouns and they are an inspiration. I was thrilled to get to spend time with Mads in NYC this past summer, and they’ve taught me so much about what it means to be true to yourself. They’re a whole lot wiser than I was at 26 for sure. Mads is incredibly open about their experience as a queer #ownvoices writer. Their honesty and willingness to share stories about their journey makes me smile every time. Plus, Mads is 99% of the reason that hedgehogs show up regularly in my TL. And who doesn’t need that?


Ralph Walker (@RW_Igloo) – Ralph is a SUPER-writer. Yes, that’s like Superman, but with words. He can do it all. Short stories, full-length novels, screenplays—you name it, he’s done it. Even better? He’s a SUPER-motivator. With his #5amwritersclub tweets, he’s up and tackling words before the sun rises every day. (Which is completely and totally, 100% opposite of my late night writing strategy, but somehow we see eye-to-eye when it comes to putting in the work!)


Angela Caldwell (@AngelaMCaldwell) – I’m not really sure there’s anything Angela can’t do. She’s a teacher, a photographer, an author, a mother, a caretaker, and I’m sure there’s about eight other titles I must be missing… She’s been a wealth of knowledge when it comes to self-publishing and she’s eager to help! And…she’s another super-optimistic writing friend who’s really good at cheerleading!


Yas (@TheWritinStylz) – I love Yas’s Twitter. She’s so much fun to follow, has an amazing personality, and I enjoyed celebrating with her online when she just attained agent representation as a writer! (Say it with me – WOOOHOOOOOO!) Yas is a tremendous and much needed voice when it comes to writing and to life and I only realized as I’m typing this that she just celebrated her 1-year anniversary last month! Congrats on the celebration of a lovely union, Yas!


Mariely Lares (@laresmar) – Aside from the fact that Mariely has a great sense of humor and frequently makes me laugh with some of her tweets, she’s also an amazing writer! Mariely is an incredibly talented Latinx writer who left me hanging (and crying) as a beta reader…because her work is SO intense and I only got to read the first 30 pages. Yes, she’s really THAT talented. I’m not exaggerating. I read the start of her story over a year ago and I’m still thinking about it. The intensity of those first few pages rivaled published authors I’ve read, and I look forward to the day that Mariely’s work is on the shelves of the bookstores. You can bet I’ll be first in line to buy one!


Don’t see yourself listed here? Don’t despair. There are so many amazing people to follow on Twitter. Hang around! You might be in my next issue of Who’s Who!

Also, if you missed my last Who’s Who? and you want to discover more great people to follow, click here!

Of Careers and Life Paths (But What Should I Be?)

When I was in sixth grade, I, like the rest of the students in my class, was sent to the guidance counselor’s office to take a computerized test to help decide what I might want to do with my life—what careers were a match for my personality, my likes and dislikes, my strengths and weaknesses. 

I clearly remember the anticipation of sitting down in front of the computer, of excitedly clicking answers to each question, practically bouncing in my seat as I imagined what magical career choice was my destiny. Then the test was over, and the dot-matrix printer screamed and screeched as it printed my results. Mr. Albright tore the sheets from the printer, looked them over, handed them to me, and sent me back to class. I accepted my results with near-trembling hands and reviewed them as I walked the halls to return to science class. This was it. A list of all the things I could do with my life, a piece of paper that would tell me how I would succeed in the future.

And then I read the words.

Sanitation worker? Sanitation worker? SANITATION WORKER? 

Before I go further, I’ll make a statement for the record. I have utmost respect for the sanitation workers in my life. I am so very grateful that there are people willing to do this job and that they work year-round in all sorts of weather to ensure my trash is removed from my property each week and that we live in clean and sanitary conditions in our little corner of the world. I cannot stress this enough. I am grateful.

But this is not what an eleven-year-old girl with an imagination the size of the Andromeda Galaxy wants to envision for her life. Of all the careers I’d ever imagined, sanitation worker was not one. Teacher? Sure. Every kid probably considers that one at one point or another. Teachers play such an important role in our early years. Doctor, veterinarian, marine biologist, archeologist, author, singer, actor? All of those were futures I dreamed of, careers I longed to follow. But sanitation worker?

I was nearly inconsolable, convinced that perhaps I wasn’t as smart as I previously thought, that my A’s and B’s didn’t really mean anything after all, that my talents were nonexistent, that I wasn’t really going to have a career in science or the arts.

Fast-forward twenty-eight years later and laugh with me. Laugh and laugh and laugh. Because that test was complete and utter bullshit. Rubbish through and through. I’m almost angry that a school administration would dare to crush a child’s dreams in such a manner. Is it worth guiding children toward careers they might enjoy and in which they would likely excel? Of course! But at what cost? A computer is a poor substitute for human interaction, and if I’d sat down and talked with a teacher or guidance counselor at that time instead, I’m willing to bet that sanitation worker would never have been brought up as a possibility. Anyone who knows me knows, while I enjoy routine to an extent, I utterly crave the new, the unfamiliar, maybe even the unattainable. I’m not wired for routine.

Ironic, since I cope with chronic anxiety when faced with change. But life enjoys nothing if not being ironic.

And so far in my life? So far I have been a marine biology graduate, a pharmaceutical microbiologist, a technical writer, an animal welfare administrator, and a marketing director. It seems it took me a while to decide what I should really “be.” (Or maybe I’m just intent on working through ALL of those careers I once hoped for?)

So I’m cautious when my own kids consider their futures. I’m careful to nurture their dreams and encourage them to dive deep into the things they love. No one should settle for doing what someone else says is right for them. I often wonder if I would have made author as a career sooner had I really, truly believed it was a viable option.

Make no mistake. I’m eternally grateful to have had the opportunities I had in my life. How many people can say they’ve worked on a wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphin project in college? How many can say they’ve spent a summer on a boat just feet from entire families of joyful, leaping marine mammals? That they could extend a hand outward and easily touch one? (I didn’t. That’s not legal. But I could have.) I cherish that experience, as I cherish so many others.

I still have that piece of paper—the results from the sixth-grade “aptitude test” to help me determine what I should be. I keep it as a reminder. No one in the world can tell me what I should be, or what I should do with my life, with my time on this earth.

I, alone, have that power.

So what about you? Are you doing what you dreamed you might? Are you helping others to reach the path that will take them where they want to go? Let’s have this conversation because, all too often, I fear we’re pushed into a path we’re never meant to be on—stuck in a circle, forever asking “But what should I be?”

When what we really should be asking is, “What do I want to be?”

So what do you want to be?

Indie Author Storms

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I’m no Indiana Jones.

Maybe it doesn’t quite have the ring of Indiana Jones, but I think Indie Author Storms has a nice sound to it. So why did I decide to go indie and what’s next?

I’ve been writing seriously for seven years, querying for four, and have four completed manuscripts—some of them with quite wonderful feedback from agents and editors. And until the last year, I really wanted to take the traditional route to publishing.

So what changed?

Cancer.

Cancer is one hell of an eye-opener. And when my husband was diagnosed in April of 2017, it didn’t just change the rules; it changed the entire game. He’s doing well now—a year and a half cancer-free. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t celebrate this. (Insert happy dance emoji right here!)

But his diagnosis wasn’t all.

At the beginning of my foray into Writer Twitter, I made friends with a wonderful professor and writer who had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She documented her journey in life, and through diagnosis, and I had the pleasure of beta-reading for her about a year and a half ago. As with most interactions on social media, we dipped in and out of each other’s profiles here and there, commenting and leaving digital hearts in our wake. I learned only recently that she passed away in June.

 

Before she succumbed to the terrible disease, she followed her dream and published Blooming Out of Darkness: A Memoir about Cancer, Spirits, and Joy. The book, which sits on the bookshelf beside my piano, is a stark reminder each and every day—a reminder that we don’t always have the time we think we have. Between Alicia’s story and my husband’s ordeal over the last year, I’ve decided that it’s time to take the next step in the journey to authorhood. 

There’s a beautiful change in perception that occurs when you reach your forties. (Okay, I’m not quite there, but I’ve got less than a year, so…) You begin to care less about what other people think or what other people would do in any given situation, and so much more about what you feel and how you can be good to yourself.

Indie authorhood is me being good to myself. I’m ready to have the fun, to release a book baby into the world, to take the next step and grow as an author. A Thousand Years to Wait is my gift to the world, yes. But it’s also a gift to me. And I hope we can enjoy it together.


A Thousand Years to Wait will be released on April 30th, 2019. You can add A Thousand Years to Wait to your Goodreads list here. Check back for excerpts, teasers, a cover reveal, and more! I’ll be updating regularly over the next six months.

The BIG Announcement

A few months ago, I posted about two very exciting things. The first, I elaborated in my post—I got to see my name in print in the byline of an article on the front page. The second? Well, I kept the second a secret. But it’s been long enough and I’m ready to share. Without further ado, I give you…

…my release date.

Banner for A Thousand Years to Wait

My debut Young Adult Fantasy titled A THOUSAND YEARS TO WAIT is scheduled for publication in April. That’s right. On April 30th, 2019, you’ll be able to purchase a copy of my book.

And now we squeal. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkk!

Stay tuned for additional teasers, including reviews, excerpts, and cover art in the coming months!


Summary for A THOUSAND YEARS TO WAIT

Prophecies are meant to unfold on their own—they can’t be forced into fruition. Or can they? When a war-torn kingdom is on the cusp of falling to a usurping general, a young healer who doesn’t believe in magic is called upon to help a prophecy transpire. She must embrace the magic…or lose the ones she loves.

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A few years ago, a good friend got me this set of greeting cards. There is no more perfect a gift than this.

Who’s Who? Volume II

It’s time for another Who’s Who? (Also known as Who to Follow on Twitter!) These are just a few of the people I love following for all different reasons. For your best tweeting experience, you should follow them, too!

S.M. Roffey (@songmaiden) – Being a writer can be tough, especially when you face rejection after rejection after rejection, but following S.M. Roffey will take any negative outlook and turn it upside-down. I live for her #teamoptimism posts.


Tamoja (@tammy_oja) – Co-creator of #ontheporch, Tammy has such great insight to the writing process and is a true writing-cheerleader. She’s one of the people who turns up again and again in writing threads and she always has something eye-opening or encouraging to say! She’s worth a follow for sure.


Shanah (@bionicbookworm) – My favorite Canadian also happens to be a book blogger and one of her most-loved genres is YA fantasy. Imagine that! So when Shanah and I talk books, it’s usually a conversation filled with lots of exclamation points. I always turn to Shanah for a new book recommendation if I’m at a loss for what to read. (To be clear, I’m never at a loss for good titles, I just don’t know which books to pick up first. Shanah is my go-to!) You can also find her blog here.


Jess Keating (@Jess_Keating) – There are tons of authors to follow, but not all of them post amazing illustrations just for the heck of it. It would be worth following Jess for her illustrations alone. Add in her wonderful penchant for biology and you’ve got a winning combination. Jess’s posts make me smile!


Jean Grant (@JeanGrant05) – Jean has been my writing buddy since our college days. (That’s longer ago than I care to mention.) Her debut historical romance, A Hundred Kisses came out in May of 2017 and the prequel will be out this coming spring. Even more exciting? She’s got a contemporary Women’s Fiction also coming out this spring. And, she’s got a contemporary novella lined up for 2019! This is an author on fire! (This is also a good time for me to rub in the fact that I get to read all these before you, but maybe that’s not so nice of me, so…) Jean is an avid #5amwritersclub writer and her tweets are a mix of optimism and realism (hello, parenting). Follow her!

 

Also, if you missed my last Who’s Who? and you want to discover more great people to follow, click here!