Monday, May 30, 2011

Sisterly Love

Last week I was in New York City for BEA, Book Expo America, which is all about publishing and the newest books coming out in the fall. Basically, it's like Disneyland for book lovers. But leaving for a week always proves a challenge with a house full of kids and no significant other to help out. This trip was a hodge-podge of child care ranging from Ross and Julia tag-teaming during the week, Friday night at my brother's house and a baby sitter Saturday and Sunday.


Needless to say, my house was a freaking disaster when I came home.

As I was cleaning the entry way this morning, I found a wadded up napkin. Ewww. Gross. But I noticed the napkin had writing. It was trash from Jenna's lunch on Field Day which Julia had made for her.

My oldest girls, Julia 13 and Jenna 8, sometimes get along but more than half the time fight like the two gangs in West Side Story, only thankfully my girls don't use knives. (that I know of) So finding this napkin was reassuring that maybe there is hope for them after all.

Even though Mom couldn't be here she loves you! Have a FANTASTIC day! I hope your day is filled with sparkles!
Love you!
Your sister, Julia

Excuse me while I go find a tissue to wipe my eyes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Big News

After a year and a half of writing non-stop (I'm currently working on my SIXTH manuscript) I am THRILLED to announce that one of my books will be available to the masses! I'm self-publishing my quirky southern mystery, TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES.

And my release date is July 12.


TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES will be available as a soft cover book and as an eBook at Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook) and Smashwords (Sony, and other formats.)

This wasn't an easy decision. Many people in the writing world look down on self-publishing (or indie printing) and with justifiable reasons. There's a lot of junk out there. Lots of people think they can just write a book, slap on an image for a "cover", and put it up for sale. The truth is a lot of people don't spend much time on their book editing and revising after writing a first draft and it shows. There's a reason why those people couldn't get published in the traditional publishing world.

But sometimes, a book comes along that agents or editors aren't sure what to do with. Or they might like it but don't think it will sell. Traditional publishing likes neat genre packages and TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES doesn't fit that mold. Its part mystery, part paranormal, part romance, with a touch of woman's fiction. I sent out over fifty query letters to agents (rewriting my letter three times) and got only a handful of requests. And the ones who read part of it said it had a great "voice" but it wasn't for them.

So now you're saying "Isn't that a polite way of saying it sucks?" and I'd be inclined to think so if I hadn't won The Beacon 2010 Unpublished Division, Mainstream category. Obviously, the writing is good, the voice is good and I have about 30 beta readers and critique partners who tell me that the story is good. Some, who've read everything I've written, say it's their favorite of my manuscripts.

I had two choices. I could let TWENTY linger on my external hard drive for eternity or I could send it out into the world on my own, without the help of a traditional publisher.

Here's what finally pushed me over the edge: the world of publishing is changing since the birth of eBooks. I learned with financial investing that it's best to diversify. You spread your money out in several different investment areas. With the changing landscape of publishing, why not apply that same principle? I still want to be published with a traditional publisher. I still want an agent. But my writing career is just like financial investing. I'm investing in my career.

But all that aside, I believe in this story. I LOVE this story. It won't be for everyone and that's okay. NO book is for everyone.

So how is my book going to be better than a lot of the other self-published books out there?

1) I didn't write this book, immediately fit it into the proper eBook formatting and upload it all over the place. I've spent hours on this book. No, wait. That's an understatement. I spent hours, and hours and HOURS on this book. I spent more time editing and revising than I did writing it. A conservative estimate is approximately 700-800 hours. And yes, some of those hours were in VERY long days. During first draft, one day I started writing at 9 am and finished the next morning at 4 am. (Yes, that did include breaks for kids, eating, etc. but for those who are writers, it was a 10K day)

2) My book is being professionally edited. I don't want people to be distracted by typos or misplaced commas. It's my hope that readers won't be able to tell it didn't come from a legacy publisher.

3) My cover will be made by professionals. The saying people judge a book by its cover is true. Even my 13 year old daughter notices book covers and has on more than one occasion NOT bought a book based on its cover.

4) My characters are very well developed and real. I love Rose, the main character. She's sweet, innocent, funny and once she decides to live her life, she embraces it to the fullest.

We have an exciting two months ahead of us! I'll have some giveaways. TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES will be part of a book blog tour. I'll be revealing the cover in about a month. Those of you who were readers and followers of my blog before I abandoned you all will get a chance to see what I ran off to write. And hopefully you'll love it too.

So what's this book about? How about I show you the blurb on the back of the book?


“It all started when I saw myself dead.”

For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: There isn't enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect.

Rose realizes she’s wasted twenty-four years of living and makes a list on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt: twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before her vision comes true. She’s well on her way with the help of her next door neighbor Joe, who has no trouble teaching Rose the rules of drinking, but won’t help with number fifteen-- do more with a man. Joe’s new to town, but it doesn't take a vision for Rose to realize he’s got plenty secrets of his own.

Somebody thinks Rose has something they want and they’ll do anything to get it. Her house is broken into, someone else she knows is murdered, and suddenly, dying a virgin in the Fenton County jail isn’t her biggest worry after all.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Just Because I'm Mean...

I wanted to tell you that I have an exciting announcement!

Which I will make on Monday!

Told you that I was mean!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I've gone a little flower crazy.

I love flowers and I used to love to garden. In an attempt to put a little more balance in my life, I decided to create a giant flower bed. It previously ended right in front of those bushes to the right. I took it to the tree. (I foresee a water feature of some kind in that bare spot.)

I also built this landscape wall, which if you're friends with me on Facebook, you saw me brag about share my pride. Lots of flowers here too, and a pink dogwood tree.

And my front porch, several pots of flowers, surely to be joined by more after my trip next week.

So now my house looks like a greenhouse nursery, which makes me really happy. I can look out my office window and see all those blooms between the bushes and the trees. But with this change in the landscape, we've learned something new about Emma.

Emma loves flowers.

I guess I knew this already. I always have to plan an extra five minutes into our walk to pick up Jenna from school so Emma can stop and pick clover flowers and dandelions. Who knew all that innocent flower picking could cause widespread devastation?

>>cue ominous music<<

Where have all the flowers gone?

What did this poor plant do to loose all it's MULTIPLE blooms?

To be fair, how was Emma to know? I didn't specifically tell her not to pick the flowers and how is it any different than our daily, every other day, a couple of times a week walks?

After a minor freak out (one of my finer moments, to be sure) I explained to her that these flowers were supposed to be looked at and not picked. If we picked them, we wouldn't have lots of pretty flowers in our yard. It took a couple of times outside for the rule to sink in, a rule that she now helps enforce with neighbor kids.

Next Tuesday is Ryan and Emma's last day of preschool. This is actually on the radar of my attention because I'm going to New York City next week and I won't be here for it. Big brother Ross is in charge of the kids part of the week, a babysitter over the weekend. In any case, I'm trying to figure out who needs to be where and when while I'm gone so I can make a detailed list. Ross already feels a bit overwhelmed by his responsibilities, I figured I'd save him an item and send the teacher's gifts on Thursday.

Which meant I had to get their presents before 2:00 Thursday afternoon when I picked Emma and Ryan up. (You think I jest. Trust me, I've been known to be that late to the game.) You can only imagine the immense pride and satisfaction I felt realizing the need for gifts on Wednesday morning. (Go me!) But what to get? Gift cards would have been easy but less personal and I wanted their teachers to know how much we'll miss them. I mean, obviously you only have to look at my children's mugshots to see how happy they've been this year.*

*Not an accurate representation.

Since Ryan and Emma loved helping me plant flowers and we needed a morning activity, I decided we'd make pots of flowers for their teachers. I'd let the kids pick out which flowers they wanted then we'd come home and plant.

We got Jenna off to school and I was checking email when I told Emma that we were going to go pick out some flowers for her teachers.

"No, Mommy. You said I couldn't get my teachers flowers."

"No, it's okay. We're going to go get some after Ryan gets dressed."

Five minutes later, Ross who'd just emerged from his cave (also know as his room in the basement) said, "Uh oh."

Any parent knows those two nonsense syllables will instantly stop your heart.

I looked up and there was Emma holding these.

It could have been worse. She could have cut down the dogwood tree.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Little Ryan is five now. He's come a long way in the almost three short years he's been in our family. He's gone from a very quiet, shy, fearful child to a vivacious, talkative, friendly boy. But still, there's situations he'll get a little quieter, a little shyer until he's comfortable.

Ryan has been in three preschools. His first was a small church run preschool he went to until we learned he qualified for the school district preschool for speech and language therapy. But this year, he graduated from speech therapy and his school district preschool schedule was a killer. (Monday-Thursday 12:20-4:50, including bus pick up and drop off) After a lot of soul searching and prayer, I decided to move Ryan to Emma's preschool at the start of the new year.

I worried. Was this too much change for a little guy who likes structure? But he was very excited to go to Emma's school and I breathed a sigh of relief at getting two days with four straight hours to myself. The first day he was eager to start his new class, until he got there. Then he clammed up and plastered on the stoic expression he wears when he's scared. I sent him into his classroom, more than slightly worried but when I picked him up he was all smiles and mad he had to wait two days to go back.

The school year is ending and the remaining preschool days are pretty much field days and picnics so the teachers are cleaning out cubbies and file boxes. It was like a blast to the past when Ryan brought home a folder with this picture on the front:

Is it just me, or does this look like a police mug shot you'd see on TMZ?

This photo was taken the morning he walked in and while it tugs at my heart that my baby was scared and shy, I have to laugh a little at this photo.

Yeah, mother of the year.

Since I've already incriminated myself, why stop there? Because, let's be honest. Isn't that part of what you've missed about my blog posts, my lack of self-filtering?

Emma and Ryan's preschool takes school pictures in the fall just like the big kids. Ryan was still at his other school, so on picture day, I sent Emma to school in a cute little outfit and a hair bow (gah, she hates those and outright refuses to wear them now.) A week or so later I got back her proofs.

Her hair bow is missing and Emma isn't all that excited to be there.

I'm not sure what goes on at preschool, but it looks like it couldn't be much worse than waterboarding.

Most mother's would probably see these proofs and say "oh, my poor baby was traumatized." What did I do?

I burst out into hysterical laughter, right there in the preschool hallway.


The question was which pose to order? I couldn't limit it to just one. If money were no object (and when someone discovers that magical land, you be sure to come back and let me know where it is, okay?) I would have gotten all four. Instead, I settled on two. Poses 2 and 4, 'cause you just never know when these photos might come in handy. Emma's still my wild child. I'm smart enough to know I might be able to use these some day.

Friday, May 13, 2011

One of the Many Reasons I Have Trouble Finding Time to Blog

Once again, I dropped off the face of the earth. But no worries, I've been writing, just not blog posts. My most recent project completed is a young adult science fiction novel titled TORN, which I'm currently querying.*

If interested, you can read about TORN here.
You can see photos of what I envision the characters to look like here.

But surely, you say, surely you aren't writing novels all the time. You're right. I not. I'm dealing with things like this:

Today was a busy, fun filled day that required everyone be up, ready and out of the house earlier than usual** so I could go on a field trip with Jenna. I found this nice little surprise when I stumbled came down the stairs to make a cup of coffee.

I rounded the corner of the stairs and did a double take. "Oh no," I said to myself, "please tell me I didn't see something on the floor." As you can see above, I did. What it was happened to be was the first question. The second question was what was behind the hall closet door, because obviously, that was the true source.

Pencil shavings

Why are there pencil shavings in my hall closet? And where is the pencil sharpener that produced the mess? I'm sure it will turn up in a week or so.

Oh, and for the record, those pencil shavings are still there. I didn't have time to clean them this morning before I left and I told myself (and Facebook) I was going to make a blog post. I lived up to my end of the bargain, who's going to volunteer to clean up that mess?

*A query letter is how an author tries to get an agent interested. They send a short letter telling the agent what the book is about. If the agent is interested, then they'll request the author to send them them manuscript.

**You notice I don't mention the time we had to be out the door. Many of you would laugh at me and say you were up and out ten hours earlier, but everyone knows, ten minutes or ten hours, earlier than usual in a morning schedule is a killer.