My Debut Novel Release Date

Since I am my own publisher and marketing department and agent, I get to set my own release date for my first novel.  

Drum roll, please … 

My debut novel – Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: a love story will go on sale on Amazon as an e book on 

(Que the loud cheering.)

Now this is a doubly important date – Mardi Gras and my book drop!  Let the good times roll (and eat lots of fattening food.)

For anyone without a Kindle (or Kindle app) it will be available in hard copy and a format for all other e readers on June 4, 2014.  

I will also be offering it free, on Amazon, for a few days following the debut.  Mark your calendars to get your free copy.  It’s my way of getting the book in the hands of the public to generate (hopefully) lots of reviews – the golden ticket of e publishing.  

I will be telling you more about it as we get closer to the actual drop date.  For now, let me just say that it is a romance novel, specifically one about young adults (not kids) and it is set around 1999.  I can also tell you that it is funny and sweet and sexy and all my beta (prerelease) readers have given it rave reviews.  I can’t wait to share it with the world!  
This is where an organized real publisher with an in-house art department would post a picture of the cover.  My out-of-house, but totally cool, art department is currently working on my new cover, which will be another exciting reveal (hopefully next Friday). The one I posted last week did not fare well in a test market.  

So now I’ve done it … I’ve drawn my line in the sand and I will get there. (Just ask my kids and my boss, I don’t do late.)  Right now I am making it pretty: editing out mistakes, changing the font, getting a cool cover, for it’s big debut.  It’s keeping me busy, but happy in a way that is hard to describe.  Thanks to all of you who are along for the ride.  



Climbing Back on a Different Wagon

We’ve reached the point in January where many (or most) people who started a diet on January 1 have fallen off the wagon.  Plans to completely revamp their eating and/or exercise have proven to be too unrealistic and so they are dropped, completely.

I propose another plan.   This is one where you learn from the mistakes you made in your stringent New Year’s resolution and revamp it to something more realistic; as opposed to letting it all go.

When it comes to dieting or exercise, we tend to be all-or-nothing people (especially in America).  Either it’s kale and mung beans or half-pound fat burgers and onion rings.  Somewhere in the middle is the slow route to healthy and its the one most people overlook.  But it works, you will lose weight, just not as quickly as you once envisioned.  And you can maintain a healthy weight and still have all of the foods you love (just not all at once and in large quantities.)

The first step to getting on a realistic plan is resetting your expectations.  If you lose a pound a week, you are on the right course.  (I can hear the groaning now.)  “But I want to lose 40 or 50 lbs, in say 4 weeks.”  Not only is that unrealistic, it is dangerous.  Most of these unrealistic expectations come from the diet industry.  It is replete with lies and false ads.  Unfortunately we’ve all seen enough of them that we have started to believe them (and we want to.)

Once you wrap your brain around the idea that you should not, and will not lose 5-10 lbs. a week, its time to find the best way for you to slowly work your way to better eating.  If you like the power of the group, I can’t recommend Weight Watchers enough.  Yes, it costs more than a diet book, but it also has the highest success rate of any plan out there.  It is a long-term investment in yourself.  IF you follow it (and that is a big IF) it works and it will teach you how to eat in a way that is possible to use for the rest of your life.  

If you are not a group type person, then there are lots of apps (many free) that will help you track the foods you are eating and the amount of exercise you are getting.  (And that is the magic formula).  You will be accountable to no one, which can be both a blessing and a curse, but you will get a realistic picture of why you have gained weight and what you need to do to lose some of it.  These cost (alot) less than joining Weight Watchers and you pay in your learning curve.  You are on your own to figure out the right foods, the right amounts, the right exercise, etc.  But often that is the best way to find the plan that is absolutely custom designed for you although because its a hit and miss process the weight might come off even more slowly at first.

Today’s post is your late-January pep talk.  My time behind the scale taught me that this is the time when so many are on the verge of quitting.  Make today the day you pick yourself up, give yourself a pat on the back for the few pounds you have lost already or all the trips you did make to the gym (and if was freezing cold, give yourself extra credit).  Take another look at your motivation for starting in the first place then rewrite your plan.  It’s January 29th, time for plan B.

I Read a Book All Day – In My PJ’s

Wow, I feel like my title is such a daring confession.  Let me expand on it.  This past Saturday I spent the entire day reading “Divergent.”  I wore my PJ’s and stayed in bed with my electric blanket.

Really, the heart of my confession lies in what I didn’t do.  I, a mom/writer/teacher/homemaker didn’t cook, or clean, or grade anything, or edit my manuscript, or tackle any of the hundred or so odd jobs there are to do around the house. 

I was a rebel and I actually had to push through some guilt to accomplish my day of reading.  My in-bred Catholic guilt sent up red flare waring signs throughout the day about the path to hell being paved by idleness.  (I ignored these since my path has already been paved in so many much more fun ways.)  I imagined a coalition against crappy mothers gathering to come by my house and burn a “didn’t engage her children in stimulating activities” or “didn’t feed her kids healthy food” brand into my skin.  I fought hard with my own demons for my day of idle joy, but it was really important to me that I did it.

It was less about what I did, and more about me taking control of my own time.  

The fact that many other people and my own sense of obligation controlled my time became glaringly apparent when I started writing.  Before the novel I just completed, I wrote a screen play.  An idea that had been brewing in my head sort of came together, and I wanted to get it out of my head and on paper ASAP.  I didn’t drop any of my other duties, but I spent any and all my spare time writing for a few weeks.  This did not sit well with a lot of people.  Even if I had done everything I needed to do, it still irritated them that I had the time (or the gall) to decide that writing was that important.  

Surprisingly, this included not only family, but friends too.  When I excitedly offered the screen play to some girlfriends to read, their response was,”wow, you must have a LOT of free time.”

How you use your time, whether or not you get to chose how you use your time, and whether you feel the need to justify how you use your time speaks volumes about how much you value yourself and the things that are important to you.  It is a lesson I am still learning and experimenting with.  

This past Saturday I did something that not every adult would admit to, but I think we all secretly want to do.  I owned my time and I did something with it that I knew the majority would not approve of.  I did something that might have no redeeming value in the eyes off all those around me, but it mattered to me.  


Confessions of an Introvert

I had a light-bulb moment when I found the above post on Pintrest.  The more I read it, and continue to reread it, the more I saw myself in it.  I’m not sure if I am becoming more introverted with time or if I am just becoming more OK with being an introvert.  Either way, I am embracing my introversion and, ironically, wanting to share a little of it with you.

First I want to note that introversion is on a continuum.  Most people have a little introvert and extrovert in their personality.  Some lean more toward one end or the other, or they might veer toward one side or the other at different times in their life.  

For me the biggest difference between me and my extroverted friends (and I tend to love extroverts) is that they get a spark out of being around lots of people.  After a night out with a group of friends they feel like their batteries have been recharged.  An introvert, like me, will feel the opposite.  It is actually exhausting to be with a bunch of people or in a loud place.  However, that does not mean introverts don’t want go out with a group of friends.  We just need time afterwards to recharge our batteries, which is usually accomplished with quiet and calm. 

This is due to the fact that introverts are tuned in to more of the things going on around us.  We have a hard time tuning out background sounds, flashing lights, strong smells, etc.  My day at Disney World is a perfect example.  I love the place.  It’s a blast.  But, I was the only one out of our group of six to notice that there was literally no place you could go in the park where there was not overly-perky music playing (even in the bathrooms!).  It is playing all day, every where, so most people tune it out.  I can’t, so by the end of the day I crave complete silence.  I would never avoid Disney World for this reason, but I know I can take about one day of it at a time.  

Taking in more information is both a curse and a blessing.  People watching is incredibly fun for me, so I actually like being stuck in an airport sometimes.  I go all Sherlock Holmes and take time to observe the minor details about people around me.  I can tell so much about how they are dressed, what they do with their waiting-for-the-plane time, how they interact (or try not to) with those around them, what they have brought with them, etc.  For me, these are fascinating character studies.  (Although its really embarrassing when I am caught staring.)  

Which brings up the other idea in the post.  Introverts love to interact with other people, we just prefer a one-on-one conversation.  I love to learn about other people’s lives; really learn about them.  I have no problem with the chatty person next to me on a plane, as long as they are OK with my probing questions.  I not only want to know where they are from, I also want to know what it is like there.  What are the primary ethnic groups, what is the weather like, how long have they lived there, and how do all those things effect their day to day lives.  

Maybe being an introvert is synonymous with being a writer.  I observe a lot.  I remember a lot (sometimes things my friends and family wish I would forget!)  But when I started writing, all those character studies, all those memories, helped me create a rich make-believe world for my story.  

So, I’m sharing my story, my introversion with you today, because I have learned that it is important to open up and share with other too.  That is part two (the sequel) of being a writer.  You can’t live alone in the world you created (well, you can, but it’s not nearly as fun).  When you share your story you get the most amazing battery-charging feeling of all, connecting with others.  

TFS Wednesday: It’s All in Your Mind, or Not

“Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink, PhD.,  is one of the few ‘diet’ books that I would recommend; and I do recommend it, to everyone.  Because it really isn’t a book about which foods to eat when in order to reach some food nirvana, thus producing a weight nirvana.  

Two Covers for the same book.

“Mindless Eating” is about the psychology and sociology of eating.  It is about all the factors that go into influencing how much we eat, what we eat and most importantly, how satisfied we are with our food.  Overeating is often the result of under satisfaction with our food.

Dr. Wansink is a professor at Cornell University where he directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.  He studies food (what a dream job!).  In this lab they have conducted surprising and fun studies about the way we eat.  For example, they created a soup bowl for a study that had a hidden tube in the bottom of the bowl.  As the subjects were eating soup, the bowl was very slowly refilling so that it never emptied.  The researchers questioned the soup eaters about when they felt full.  For most, it took a long time.  They massively over-ate, because they were using their eyes as cues to when they should be full and finished eating.

By using the lab they can control so many elements:  lighting, air temperature, plate size, presentation of food (making it pretty), serving utensil size, names of food, etc.

The findings are presented in the book in a way that is easy to read and fascinating.  It can truly change the way you eat, even if you don’t change what you eat.  Whether your goal is weight loss or just better eating habits, the insights from this book can help you see your blind spots (and it is also makes for great cocktail party conversation!)  

Check your local library, mine has a copy that I’ll be picking up later today.  I first read it a few years ago, and in researching for this post, I realized how much I had forgotten.  It merits a reread.  It is also available electronically (Kindle) and there is a website: with videos and resources.  

Thought for a Busy Day

My kids are home today, my spouse is not.  I’m working two jobs and wanting to post something on this blog today.  I thought I would let the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak for me.


My Public Self

My idea for my post today came from the fabulous girls at the “That’s Normal” blog.  One of their 20-something writers is struggling with the fun, silly identity she created online bleeding into the new, serious work identity she is just starting on.  
Although I am far from the beginning of my career, I can feel her pain.  Online identity management is new to all of us.  The only benefit of being closer to 50 than 20 is that there is very little video and photo evidence of all the less-than-stellar moments from my youth.  It is very unlikely that anyone from my real job will stumble upon a picture of me at my first college kegger.  
When I started blogging I wanted to keep my personal life as separate as possible from the information I put out for the general public.  Little by little, the line of separation has blurred.  I have posted pictures of myself, noted my children’s names and noted what city I live in.  I don’t feel like any of these choices were mistakes, but I am glad I eased into them slowly and took the time to think through each choice.  
As I am working on bringing my book to the public, the situation becomes even more muddled.  I want as many people as possible to know about my book.  That is generally the best way for more people to buy and hopefully love it.  As an author, I am looking at creating a web page and profiles about myself on Amazon, Goodreads and a few other very public places.  I am consciously putting myself out there, on the internet, full force.  I want these profiles and web pages to be far-reaching and last a long time, so I want to carefully consider what information I put in them.  

My editing photo: shared on Twitter and FB. Safe or too safe?

That said, there is nothing more dull and uninspiring than someone who is introducing themselves by giving only the most basic statistical information.  Writing is very personal, blogging is very personal.  If you want to be successful, you have to let your readers get to know you.  They question is, how much do I or should I share?
As I write this, I got an email from Target letting me know that hacking thieves may have stolen my name, address and e-mail address while they were pilfering my credit card info.
There are clearly those I want to share my world with, and those I do not.  Unfortunately, the internet does not let me discriminate.  
I have no easy answer, only a note to my readers that whether you are 20 or 50, internet identity management is new to all of us.  Mistakes will be made.  Hopefully I will not have too many face-plant moments where I regret not thinking things through.  Hopefully my sorority sisters will hold back on posting too many of my completely un-professional moments from college on flashback Thursdays.  Hopefully, I will hold back from posting too many of my own kids’ totally cute and totally embarrassing moments, in deference to their internet identities. 


I hate it when I am completely dressed and ready to walk out the door and someone lets me know that the pants I am wearing make my butt look big, or my shirt sleeves are too short or that the color I am wearing really doesn’t look good on me.  
My standard response is, “helpful?”
If it is obviously too late to change whatever you see as a flaw and it is, quite possibly, only a flaw in your eyes, it is anything but helpful to let me know about it.  I bring this up this morning because of the completely unhelpful comments I keep seeing posted on the internet.  
I’ve been having a lot of fun following along with the production of the “Outlander” series that will premier on Starz this summer.  The cast and crew have been fantastic about including those of us who love the books in the process of bringing this story to life.  They tweet and post on Facebook and Instagram.  They actually take the time out of their very busy days to include those of us who will probably never get be part of a TV or movie production crew.  
They vast majority of people following the show post encouraging, funny or excited responses.  Then there are those who believe that the cast and crew are in need of an unhelpful nagging parent to let them know of any and all mistakes (or what they perceive as mistakes).  
When a picture was posted this morning of the two main characters at a Golden Globes event someone thought it would be a good idea to tell the stunning Caitriona Balfe that they didn’t like her dress and she looked better in another one.  Helpful?  Hurtful?  
Caitriona Balfe. I wish I looked like that in any dress!
If someone we know posts a picture of themselves at a dressy event, would we ever be so incredibly rude?  “Hey, Miranda, loved your wedding, but your dress, not so much,” or “Judy, happy 30th birthday, too bad you didn’t wear the jeans that make you look skinny.”  
Even more rude and ridiculous are the comments about things that can never be changed.  Letting someone know that you think they are not tall enough is NEVER helpful.  
Because of this blog, my upcoming novel, and the Starz series I am now connected to social media daily.  I have “met” some incredibly funny, clever people whose comments add to both a conversation and my day.  Because I work in an office of 1, these people are now like my coworkers who I check in with everyday (OK, every couple of hours.)  
This morning, I’m dropping a heavy hint to a few in our virtual office who may have forgotten that comments posted on the internet cannot be erased and that celebrities are actual people, just like your family and friends.  I sincerely hope that my advice is helpful. 

Why I am Choosing to Self Publish

In a word; gate-keeping, but let me expand on that.
I loved the movie “The Help.”  I admit I didn’t read the book but the story told in both is inspiring and fresh.  Kathryn Stockett, the author, was rejected by over 60 literary agents before she found one who would help her get her book published.  She spent years, after her book was written, writing letters of inquiry to agents and fielding rejection letters in return.  What a frustrating, demoralizing process.  I have to give her huge kudos for tenacity.  I’d like to tell you that I wouldn’t give up; that I would continue to research agents, send out letters and pick myself up again after each rejection, but I would be lying.  
Kathryn Stockett inspired me to self publish.  The fact that wonderful novels are lying around under piles of rejection letters inspires me.  I can’t say I have a huge amount of faith in the gate-keepers of the publishing industry (or any industry for that matter).  My novel may be wonderful or it may be crap, but I want to let the public decide and the best news is that I can.  
There is an entire exciting industry that is growing up to serve those who want to bring their own writing to market.  It is relatively new, so it’s a little wonky and constantly changing, but it is also exciting and just so wonderfully democratic and creative. 
While I took a break from blog writing I did a lot of research into self publishing.  It was overwhelming and confusing at first (and kind of still is).  There is no clear path or best way to go about it, which is scary, and exciting at the same time.  I now have charts and notes on book aggregators, direct publishing routes, copyrights, editing, marketing, artwork.  All of these things could be taken care of by an agent.  On some days, that sounds fantastic.  I would love to have someone hold my hand through all this.  But more often, I keep reading and researching and find my own answers and feel that much more competent and confident for having done it.  I will make some mistakes in doing this, but they will be mine and I get to learn from them.  (Not unlike creating this blog.  I’m still trying to figure out Adsense.)
My novel is finished.  It is currently being copy edited by some awesome teacher friends of mine and beta read for story by more awesome friends (shout out of love to all my readers!!).  So far the reviews have been generally positive and I am encouraged to keep going.  Which is great, because the next step is really nose-to-the-grindstone dull.  I will make all the editing changes necessary then I will have to convert it to the correct format for e-publishing.  (It looks like this might involve taking out one of the spaces after every period in the entire 87,000 word document.)  Once I have the formatting complete, it will be available electronically through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Itunes, Sony, and even some foreign outlets.  I will also be able to order single hard copies (as will anyone who wants one, including bookstores).  
My Cover!  Created by me and my Art Director, Digi Phreak (aka Beau Gordon)
Then the really creative fun starts – marketing!  It will be up to me to get the word out that I have a novel available.  And that is another post for another day.  
For now I am just happy to be able to share my progress and lessons with you.  Writing is a lonely business.  Most days my office is only populated by me, my dog and the characters who live in my head.  Posts like these are my form of a staff meeting; where I update those who care on my progress.  And I say thank you for all your support and caring (which I would do with like a Starbucks for each of you, if you were here.) 

Who is the Whore Here

I was more than a little shocked when I overheard my oldest son refer to Marilyn Monroe as a whore.  
 He was telling a story about someone in his class quoting her and he wanted to invalidate what Marilyn said by calling her a whore.  This raised so many red flags for me that I stopped our already-crazed morning routine to have a little talk with (or more like, at) him.  

My first question – why would he think she was a whore?  
His answer – because she had affairs with married men.  
Me – jaw drop with record scratch sound effect and a forlorn “what?”  This was just getting worse by the minute.  I had a lot of bad information to unravel for him in a very short time.  
I started by pointing out that she was not married when she dated JFK and RFK, they were.  She was not cheating on anyone, the men were.  Not that I condone affairs, but my point is that it is amazingly crazy to make the woman the evil one when it is the men who were betraying their wives and families.  If anyone deserves a whore label in relation to these affairs, I would have to put it on the Kennedy boys. 
Which led to point number two – IF you are going to invalidate anything someone says based on their past sexual behavior, then, in this particular case, you should scratch everything said by these two men from the record.  Now he is starting to see how ridiculous this idea is.  JFK, in particular, has delivered some truly inspiring political speeches.  Should we ignore all his wisdom because of his lack of sexual morality?  Sadly, this is done way too often to women (which just pisses me off!  In case you can’t tell).
Which led to my summation – drop the double standard.  Join us in the 21 century.  Shed that Neanderthal suit you are wearing under your concert tee.  It takes two to tango.  IF you are going to judge, check who was hurting others with their behavior before pointing fingers. 
Side bar – I’m still trying to figure out how this whole misogynistic idea works:  these men are so stupid that they are conned?  forced?  into an affair by the woman?  What kind of box of rocks can’t say the word NO.  
Which led to my post script – (as he is trying to run out the door) Other people’s sex lives are really none of our business.  Focus your massive brain and teenage energy on something productive; like world peace, ending violence against women, helping your mother more often.  
I fought the urge to follow him out to the bus stop in my jammies, robe and slippers to rest my case.