Thursday, May 10, 2012
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer: Happy Mother's Day Kindle Fire Giveaway!: Orangeberry Book Tours Happy Mother's Day Kindle Fire Giveaway May 10th to 17th A swirl of recipes from around the world, a love...
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
For the next six weeks I will be on a blog tour for Mrs. Tuesday's Departure, hosted by Pandora Poikilos of Orangeberry Virtual Book Tours. Pandora is an absolute profession and a pleasure to work with, so I know this month will be exciting. We kicked it off this past weekend with two days of KDP Freebies and had a terrific response.
Now we're going to slow things down a bit and take a tour of some friendly blogs and give away a lot of books. If you'd like to join us, please take a look at the schedule below, click on a link, and visit one of our new friends.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Check out where this author will be talking about her latest release!
8th May - She's being featured at Peace from Pieces
9th May - She's having a Twitter Blast with Pandora Poikilos
10th May - She's being featured at Writers & Authors
(A World Without Books)
11th May - She's having a Twitter View with Pandora Poikilos
12th May - She's being featured at Rachel Cotterill Book Reviews
13th May - She's being featured at Mommy Adventures
14th May - She's having a Twitter Blast with Pandora Poikilos
15th May- She's having a Twitter View with Pandora Poikilos
16th May - She's being featured at Another Author
(Guest Post & Author Interview)
17th May - She's being featured at Book Lovers Paradise
18th May - She's being featured at Mommy Adventures
19th May - She's having a Twitter Blast with Pandora Poikilos
20th May - She's being featured at Books Are Magic
(Guest Post & Book Feature & Author Interview)
21st May - She's being featured at We Fancy Books
22nd May - She's having a Twitter Blast with Pandora Poikilos
23rd May - She's having a Twitter View with Pandora Poikilos
24th May - She's being featured at Mommy's Reading Too
(Guest Post, Author Interview & Book Review)
25th May - She's being featured at John Zunski's blog
26th May - She's being featured at Book Spark
27th May - She's being featured at Cora Parks' blog
28th May - She's being featured at Smartypants Teacher
29th May - She's being featured at Libby's Book Blog
30th May- She's being featured at Dee's White
31st May - She's having a Twitter View with Pandora Poikilos
1st June - She's being featured at Super Single Mom & Her Kids
(Guest Post, Author Interview & Book Review)
2nd June - She's having a Twitter Blast with We Fancy Books
3rd June - She's being featured at Gimme the Scoop Reviews
(Guest Post & Book Feature)
4th June - She's being featured at Heather Huffman's blog
5th June- She's having a Twitter View with Pandora Poikilos
6th June - She's being featured at Pandora Poikilos' site
Monday, February 13, 2012
I first published Mrs. Tuesday's Departure as an ebook on Amazon's Kindle a little over a year ago. It went well. But as the year went on, I felt that the book was not as good as it could have been. Which inspired me to take advantage of an ebook's fluidity, to make some changes and plan it re-launch.
This post will give you an overview of the myriad events involved in this process. Later I'll delve into some of these areas in greater depth to provide you with more information, so you may be inspired.
Changing the Story...
Mrs. Tuesday's Departure, in its original form, was quite a bit different from the book I published in some important ways:
First it was written in the First Person Point of View, which gave it a much more intimate feel, which as it turns out, was the right POV for a story about a family experiencing the most terrifying moments of war.
Second, it was actually set in Budapest, Hungary during World War Two, not in the fictional other-world it was thinly disguised as.
And finally, it had a spiritual element that explored a particular element of religious faith that has always perplexed me....the challenge of believing in something we cannot see.
With that in mind, a few months ago, I resurrected the original manuscript and set to work dusting it off and making a few changes, hopefully clearing up things that in reviews of the first Mrs. Tuesday release had caused consternation for some readers.
Changing the Cover...
Then I decided to re-design the cover of the book. And with your help I finally decided on the cover you see at the top of this post. By the way, thank you for your invaluable input. It really did make a difference.
To create this cover I used the 'Cover Creator' on CreateSpace.com, which was part of the process of creating the new paperback version of Mrs. Tuesday which will also be launching in the next week or so....more on that later.
Formatting the Different Book Files...
I wanted to make sure my ebook read like a professionally produced book, and not something I tossed online from a Word file (which is pretty much what my first book looked like). So I hired Lani Rich Davis from Storywonk.com to handle the formatting of the different file formats for Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, as well as the paperback version for CreateSpace.
Lani and I had a wonderful time and quickly developed a terrific working relationship, made possible by her incredible patience when I went through my book cover melt down, which lasted about two weeks.
And the beautiful interior that she created for the paperback version of Mrs. Tuesday is truly special.
We'll discuss why it's important to work with a formatter, or how you can tackle this project yourself in an upcoming post.
Creating a Book Trailer....
Then I began to think about marketing the new book and decided that what I'd really love is to have a book trailer that would provide a quick visual story of the new Mrs. Tuesday.
I read a few posts online and was inspired to try it myself. I got as far as finding music and video images. And then stopped when I realized that I had no idea of how to operate 'imovie' and even less desire to learn how.
Then I remembered that my friend Mariellen, had recently embarked upon a new career in video and film making. I contacted her to find out if she would have an interest in creating a book trailer.
Thankfully she said yes....and I was able to work with her and Ed, her partner atThreeMoonBay.com to create the video you see below.
I highly recommend Mariellen and Ed, for their incredible attention to detail, their desire to exceed the goals of their clients, and in my case, for their infinite patience in working with a client who stares off into space and then asks, 'but,what if?' about one hundred times.
The good news is that they are wonderfully patient and produce beautiful work. Check out their website for more videos and stay tuned for another post, in the coming week, about their process of working with clients.
In the meantime, enjoy the video...and if you haven't read the book, please download a copy or order a paperback from Createspace.
This is just the beginning.....stay tuned!
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Help Me Choose a Book Cover
I have completely revised my first novel, MRS. TUESDAY'S DEPARTURE. Turns out that was the easy part. I've spent the last few days tormenting my friends and family trying to decide on a new cover for the book which will be coming out as an ebook and in paperback.
Now I'm appealing to you.
Which is your favorite?
And just in case you're one of those sticklers who actually want to know what the book is about before deciding...here's a brief synopsis:
Faith is the evidence of things not seen...
Hungary's fragile alliance with Germany kept Natalie and her family out of harm's way for most of the war, but as the Führer's desperation grows during the waning years of the conflict, so does the threat to anyone in its path. Natalie's sister, Ilona, married a Jewish man, putting both her and her young daughter, Mila, in peril. Natalie is hiding all of them, including her schizophrenic twin, Anna, under her roof, and now, as the streets of Budapest thrum with the pounding boots of Nazi soldiers, they are all at risk.
It is time to run.
Then Ilona and her husband betray them by taking the only two tickets to safety for themselves, abandoning Natalie to shelter Anna and Mila from the encroaching horror alone. As the danger seeps ever nearer to her door, Natalie is forced to reach down into the core of her faith to believe in what she must and save what she can, no matter what the sacrifice.
An inspirational story of faith and family, strength and weakness, and the ultimate victory of love over hate, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure shows the power faith has to light even the most imposing darkness.
So, which is it going to be???
Please leave a comment below and let me know your favorite.
I can't wait to see the results!
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I've been reading Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber. Originally, I checked this book out from the library for Mom, who has become an avid reader since we moved to Evergreen. However, after she raved about how much she enjoyed the novel, I decided to read it before returning it to the library.
"A gentle and uplifting story . . . It's impossible not to cheer for Macomber's characters, and there's a story in this book for a woman of every age. When it comes to creating a special place and memorable, honorable characters, nobody does it better than Macomber." —Book Page
Ironically, I became a fan of Debbie Macomber not from reading her extensive fiction collection, but from a non-fiction book she wrote in 2007 called Knit Together: Discover God's Pattern for Your Life. In this inspiring book, Debbie outlines her long journey to becoming a published author, how it took writing seven books over the course of five years before she was finally published. Now more than 70 million of her books have been published and she continues to write new ones each year, most recently focusing on her Blossom Street and Cedar Cove series.
What really resonated with me in Knit Together, and which she touches upon again in Twenty Wishes, was her belief in the power of setting goals, and writing down those goals as a means to focus our attention on their attainment.
Which, of course, got me thinking...what would my twenty wishes be? Sure the first few are easy: job, house. But after that? That's where the fun comes in as I dig deeper into the secret dreams and desires I've buried deep inside. So this weekend I'm going to work on that list and see where it leads.
Now it's you're turn. Do you think you could come up with a list of twenty wishes? In Twenty Wishes, Anne Marie the main character, goes so far as creating a scrapbook that dedicates a page to illustrating each of her twenty wishes. Do you think it would make a difference if you wrote out your wishes?
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
When I was gainfully employed I got into the habit of tithing, or giving ten percent of what I earned. It made me feel good to share what I'd earned and I enjoyed directing money to charities that I believed in. Over the past year, when I've been looking for work rather than earning I haven't been able to give as much since I'm not earning a significant income (or some months, nothing at all).
However, thanks to the example of my mother, I've learned that giving can achieved in other ways. For instance, Mom volunteers for two hours each Tuesday at our local thrift store and two hours at the Senior Resource Center. Lately, she's gotten into the habit of bringing a special treat with her, usually something I've baked, to share with the ladies at the Senior Resource Center.
This morning when I dropped her off, I watched her walk up the pathway to the entrance with a package of brownies that I'd made the day before. She stopped to speak with two ladies who attended the daily 'senior daycare' at the center. After a moment, she handed one of the ladies one of the packages of browies she was carrying, she touched the woman's cheek, and then continued on her way.
Now I know two things:
1) those brownies were intended for someone else, but there must have been something said that inspired Mom to give them to that particular woman.
2) Mom wasn't feeling 100% this morning, her legs are weak, which means it's difficult for her to walk.
And here's what I learned:
Giving comes in all forms and these random acts of kindness can have just as great an impact as all the money I used to give away. I think I need to find more ways to give back, and I believe my mother's example has provided some wonderful inspiration.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
In the comments section of my last post, my friend and fellow blogger, Larramie, asked how my brother John changed my mind about choosing this house. I thought I'd share that process with you because it taught me an important lesson about getting unstuck.
I first saw this house, my new house, back in September. I rejected it because I thought the ceilings were too low compared to the very high ceilings of the house I was renting at the time. However, I also sent my brother John an email brochure of the property since he was interested in our house hunt. He immediately liked the house and encouraged me to give it further consideration. So over the following months of October and November I went back to the house about five times, each time convincing myself that this was not the house for me. In particular, I didn't like the small room off of the living room that was being used as a dining area, because of its low sloping ceiling.
By mid-November, John was calling almost daily for house hunting updates, since the landlord of the house we were renting had informed us that he was going to move back into the house by mid-December, which meant that we needed somewhere to move. Finally, John suggested that he come out to Evergreen from Tampa for a couple days to look at the house with me. I accepted his offer, certain that if he saw the house in person he would see things my way (John and I have a looong history of sibling rivalry that makes Cain and Abel look like Laurel and Hardy).
So on a Sunday morning in late-November, the week before Thanksgiving and three weeks before we had to move from our former home, John flew into Denver and I drove him straight to the house. After he looked around for ten minutes, he sat down on the steps and said, "I don't want to influence you, but I'd buy this house." He then proceeded to go through my list of objections one by one and offered actual solutions that would fix the problems (Don't like a sloping ceiling? Build a gabled roof! Don't like the master bath? Put in those pebbled floors you've always dreamed of!). Did I mention that John is also a building contractor with a great deal of experience with home remodels?
Suddenly, instead of seeing that house as a source of frustration, I was giddy with ideas to create a place I would really love. Yes, it will take time and money...and it may be years before I am able to accomplish everything. But instead of frustration, I have new projects to dream and plan! Suddenly, something clicked in my mind and I was able to shift my perspective and see the house differently. Instead of focusing on its perceived faults, I was able to see its real beauty. That's probably why I feel so at home here now.
Two days later, as I was driving John to the airport for his flight home, I received the call that my offer on the house had been accepted. Which is why I was able to write that cryptic post in November, thanking John for his help with that 'un-named' project.
While on one level, this is a post about what a great brother I have (and I do) and how my family offered wonderful advice and support during a very stressful time (which they did, thank you Kathy!).... it's also a post about how to get unstuck.
It occurred to me that at times we can get so enamored of our opinion, of our need to be right, that we can become mired in a situation, when simply shifting our perspective would allow us to move forward. After the dust had settled, I asked John how he had known what to say to me. He said that he listened to my objections to the house as he would listen to a client. Then, when he saw the house in person, he was able to counter my 'feelings' about the house with concrete solutions. Luckily, because I respect my brother's superior knowledge of houses, I was able to allow myself to look at things differently and thus move forward, from a limited belief to excitement about new possibilities. The irony is that of course the house hadn't changed a bit in the two months I'd been looking at it, only my perspective.
So that's my most important lesson...When I face what seems like an insurmountable problem, or when I feel myself getting stuck by one view of a situation, I will remember that if I am willing to open my mind, the solution will appear from another perspective.
As to that dining area that caused me such frustration? Until some future day when I raise the roofline, I've redefined the space, from dining area to 'reading room,' and it's now one of my favorite places in the house.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I've been unpacking the last of the boxes that were in storage in Florida and today I came across one that was filled with pictures taken ten years ago. The pictures actually made me laugh as I looked at myself posed in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy, looking so earnest and trying so hard to appear fashionable because I’d recently lost fifty pounds and thought the new skinny me in my new wardrobe would be my key to happiness. And it was in some respects, I had a great time. Yet it was still the same old me inside, with all of the same old insecurities.
As I looked at those pictures, I wondered: do we ever grow up? Do we ever really change over the years?
I guess the reason this is on my mind is because I just turned 49, which is one of those momentous numbers. It means that for the next 364 days, I will be obsessing about turning 50, which seems so much older than my forties ever did.
When I was younger I always looked to the future and thought of the things I would accomplish and how different I would be at some future date. Like when I ‘grew up’. As I looked at those pictures of me, then considered the row of journals that sit on my bookshelf spanning the course of twenty five years of my life, and as I unpacked that beautiful white lingerie that I bought fifteen years ago to wear on the wedding night that never happened (It's a stunning white silk gown and robe with sleeves trimmed with white boa feathers.) I realized that really, despite all the milestones that come with age, we don’t actually change the core of who we are. Like, when I run into college friends on Facebook, no matter how I think I’ve changed, to them I'm still the goofy girl I was back in university.
When I lived in New York and worked on Wall Street, I imagined the pinnacle of my life would be when I turned 45 and I pictured myself riding to the office each morning in the back of a limousine, wearing a full-length mink. Today, that would be my idea of Hell. Well, maybe I’d still take the full-length fur in all of its inappropriate glory, but I’d wear it with with a pair of jeans and the beautiful black cowboy boots I bought in the men’s department of our local thrift store.
I never became that woman I thought I wanted to be. Instead, I did something completely different. While I have finally realized many of the things I hoped for and still fallen short on others that remain elusive, what I find the most disconcerting is that inside, I am still the uncertain young girl I thought I'd eventually outgrow. I always thought that with time and accomplishing my goals, all those fears and insecurities would somehow melt away and with age I would become more confident. But I haven’t evolved into something different than I was back then. I’m still Suzanne, with all my over blown self-doubt, my fear that no one likes me, that I’ll always fall short no matter how hard I try, that I am neither talented nor feminine enough to be the popular girl. And I wonder what's the point of the journey if we can never escape that person we wanted to change: no matter how much we accomplish or how far we travel from where we first began?
Just when I think I’ve found a great truth, and decided that the best course is to simply aim a little lower, I instead discover something that turns my conclusion on its head.
Recently my mother has begun to cook, something she never exhibited the patience or interest in for the first eighty-three years of her life. Then this past weekend she picked up my old battered copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and decided she was going to try a few recipes. And she, who has been willingly displaced from her home like Naomi from the Biblical book of Ruth, who chugs along on a heart that operates at fifty percent of its capacity, has created a new life for herself here and found a grace and contentment that she never had before. What she seems to know instinctively (she's always been a woman of action, rather than the self-absorbed navel gazing that I excel in) is how to make the most of where you are geographically and spiritually. And as a result, her life is much richer.
While I toss and turn at night, wracked with insomnia over my worries about the friends who won't come to dinner, the snow that didn't fall in Evergreen, the book that I will rewrite again though it’s already ten years in the making, she has found peace in who she is now. While I still doubt that I will ever grow up or become the person I thought I'd be, I hope that I will eventually know her contentment with who I've always been.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I've written a lot about productivity lately because it's something I've struggled with and because I know how much better I feel when I've actually gotten work done.
Today was a wonderful example. Before I got up this morning, I made a mental list of the most important things I wanted to work on today. Then I started with the item that offered the biggest pay-off in feelings of accomplishment. For me, this would be to spend an hour editing my second novel MAP.
Funny enough, two hours later I finally got up from my desk with a wonderful sense of satisfaction. Not only had I doubled the amount of time I'd set out to work on my new project, I got further along than I thought and now have a much better sense of the novel in its entirety. Best of all, I can't wait to get back to it tomorrow.
This positive feeling provided me with the energy to tackle some less glamorous tasks for the rest of the afternoon, such as vacuuming and mopping, clearing out a planter in the front of the house, and taking the dogs for a mile walk.
Now I'm looking forward to the rest of the week!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
WEEK OF 6/6
WEEK OF 6/13
As I've documented in many, many posts, I have more clever ways to procrastinate than just about anyone. Which means that if I want to get anything done, consistently, I need to figure out a way to hold myself accountable.
Which is when I came up with this Excel spreadsheet.
Yes, it's crude and lacking both in sophistication and beauty. But it gets the job done. Since I began using it last month, my productivity has increased in every area. And when I slack off, I can see where and how long it's lasted.
Creating the spreadsheet was simple. On one axis I listed the days of the week. On the other, I listed the activities that currently meant the most to me, things that would improve my life if practiced consistently. These included: exercise, writing, and reading. Each day, as I spend time on a different task, I color in that activity.
As you can see, last week I did a better job of working on MAP than this week. On the other hand, I've gotten more exercise in this week. Either way, the spreadsheet is a convenient way for me to hold myself accountable and to see, over time, where I spend my time and where I need to focus if I want to meet my goals.
How do you keep track of your progress on important projects?