Sneek Peek at Burnouts, Geeks and Freaks

This is my second to last post before my book becomes available on Amazon on Tuesday (3/4/14).  Today I am passing out a free sample. 

First, a little synopsis to introduce you to the key players:

They’re burnouts – a little short on parents, money and plans for the future, but they’ve got each other and a whole lot of fun.  With a world of crazy at home, Carrie Gould needs them to keep her sanity.  To stay in their world she needs to keep dating the guy with the party house, which would be fine, if she hadn’t fallen in love with someone else.

He’s such a geek.  Ben Gorman is obsessive, smart, strong-willed and on the fast track to his dream of becoming an Army Ranger.  He’s also the only geek with a girl.  Joelle Welker is perfect for him; a self-proclaimed Jesus freak, who is dedicated to her beliefs and to building a future with Ben.  But those plans don’t include his neighbor, Carrie, or Ben’s dedication to her.

Their friendship started by chance.  Their love started with trust. 
And your sample:

          The first meeting of the Homecoming decorating committee wasn’t so bad. The theme was castles, which Carrie thought was sort of lame, but considering the school mascot was a knight and there was a bunch of castle decorating stuff left over from other events, it made sense. 
By the third meeting, Carrie wanted to bail. Joelle and her friends were also on the committee, and Ben must have told her Carrie went with him to Dutzow, because they went out of their way to talk bad about her and her friends anytime she was within earshot. Michelle Wagner noticed the tension and assigned Carrie to work with her and the preppy girls on decorating the stage. She assigned the Jesus freaks to the refreshment area, at the other end of the gym. 
Michelle turned out to be really fun to work with. She was nice to everyone and knew a lot about paint and fabric and decorating in general. Carrie felt kind of bad that she still didn’t want to hang out with her. She had her friends, and they would be mad if she did anything more than help with decorating. She didn’t want to rock the boat. 
The dance was on a Saturday night and set-up was the night before. Michelle told Carrie they would be working from after school till 9 or 10 p.m., so she asked MG to pick her up at 10 and bring her some clothes she could wear to Chuck’s. What she hadn’t planned on was Ben and his friends showing up to help. 
It was mind-boggling how unaware Ben could be of the tension between Joelle and Carrie. When he got to the gym and saw Carrie, he came over to say hi immediately. Out of the corner of her eye, Carrie could see Jesus freak #2, Laura, go running to make sure Joelle knew. Shit. Carrie hated drama.
“It’s crooked, you know.” 
“Doesn’t matter,” Carried shot back, “it’s not a real castle wall, Ben, no one is going to storm it.”
“It should still be straight.” 
Carrie backed up a few steps to see how crooked it looked. “You do realize you are the only one who will notice.” 
“I’d notice.” Pat, Ben’s best friend added. 
Carrie rolled her eyes. “Thanks for the help.” She turned Ben away from her wall and pushed him in the direction of Joelle. 
“Happy to be of service,” he yelled back over his shoulder as he walked away. 
Joelle’s reaction to seeing Ben was as sappy as a Hallmark commercial. She ran to him and jumped into his arms, squealing with delight. He gave her a big hug, then let go and turned his attention to the refreshment table decorations. Carrie turned back to her crooked wall. It was already 8:40 and she needed to hurry up if she was going to finish by 10 and be waiting for MG in front of the school. 
She had finished everything but hanging the big puffy purple and white things from the top of the archways. It was slow going because she had Pat and Wayne, Ben’s other friend, following her around, possibly flirting with her, but they were so bad at it, she couldn’t be sure. 
“Wayne, move.” Carrie needed to put the step stool exactly where Wayne was standing. He moved only slightly to the right, still too close in her space. For the sake of speed, she ignored him. With a big fluffy ball of tulle in her hand she climbed up on the stool then on her tip toes to try and reach the top of the wall. Wayne reached over to hold her in place, and her irritation at running late only compounded how much it bugged her that he was touching her waist. She still couldn’t reach the top of the wall. 
“I got it, Wayne. You can let go.” 
He still held on, so she climbed off the stool and stepped away from him.
“I didn’t want you to fall.” OK, he meant well, but he needed to go find Ben and leave her alone. 
That gave her an idea, one that would stir an already boiling-over pot, but she needed to both get rid of Wayne and finish. “Do me a favor,” she turned her attention to Wayne, “Go get Ben for me.” 
He was obviously disappointed, but he did it. 
“Still crooked,” Ben yelled as he walked toward her. 
She beat her head against the wall, almost knocking it over. Ben laughed. It really wasn’t that bad, but he knew his precision drove her nuts. “What’s up?”
“You,” she answered as she pulled him into place next to the step stool facing the wall. As she climbed back on the stool, she pulled him close to her. “Put your hand out for my foot. I’m going to get on your shoulders.” He looked at her like she was crazy, but did as he was told. She was always bossy when she was decorating, and he was used to it. 
She effortlessly perched on his shoulders and wrapped her feet around his back for stability. “Pat, hand me one of those purple thingies.” 
“This one?” Pat held up one of the puff balls.
“No, the other one,” Ben teased. Pat looked down at the pile of them, then realized they were all the same and laughed along with Ben.
“Gorman, you are holding up the show. Pat, purple thing.” Pat tossed one up to Carrie.
“You are so bossy when you decorate,” Ben teased.
“Well, if I wasn’t we’d spend all day getting the imaginary crooked out of the fake wall.” Carrie tied the ribbon that held the tulle in place. “Pat, another one. Ben, move down.” 

They continued down the line till there were only two tulle balls left. She couldn’t see her, but Carrie could feel Joelle’s stare burning a hole in her back.  Jealous waves rolled in from the refreshment end of the gym.

More to come starting Tuesday, March 4th!

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Are you My Audience?

Yesterday I saw my book as it would appear on a kindle for the first time.  There are a few places where an indent is in the wrong place or there is one too many spaces, but in general, it is almost ready to make it’s debut into the wide world of publishing.

And it is a wide world.  While filling out the forms to put the book on Amazon I was reminded that it will be available literally all over the world.  I had to look over the pricing and returns for books sold in Japan and throughout Europe.  I’m feeling challenged by marketing my book in my hometown, it’s way too huge to think of who might be my audience in Tokyo.

So far my audience has consisted of friends from high school, friends who teach writing (and were willing to help me edit), a few family members and neighbors, and some sweet, willing readers from Goodreads (for a less biased opinion).  With one exception, I have had great feedback. I feel like I have something to offer that readers will truly enjoy … if I can find those readers.  

I saw a comedy sketch by a 20-something comedian about marketing his show.  He has developed a big following that is growing on its own through teenage word-of-mouth marketing (very powerful stuff, that is).  An older, stuffy sounding voice from off stage prods him to follow a formula and do things that are out of character, possibly even change his show some, to expand his audience.  It reminded me of the difficult and sometimes frustrating game that creative people are playing in the media-saturated world of today.  The one I am about to play.  

I already have tweets and emails arriving daily from sources who (for a fee) will help self-published authors market their book.  The funny thing about these is the ‘one size fits all’ mentality they are selling.  The idea that marketing a science textbook can or should use the same sources and techniques as marketing a romance novel.  

Social media is flooded with tweets, blurbs, posts, photos, and videos from self-published authors.  Many are writers who have jumped on a bandwagon and quickly churned out something that is close to (but just far enough to avoid that pesky plagiarism problem) the latest hot selling novel.  Marginal erotica is flooding the market in the wake of 50 Shades of Grey.  Most of these are bad … really bad.  The type of bad that will make sure the author only sells one book.  My challenge is to find a way to stand out in that sea.  My other challenge is patience.  

The comedian is really doing it right.  By doing what he does best (being funny to a specific audience) he is allowing word of mouth to slowly build him up.  It takes more patience, but in the end he (and I) get more of a loyal audience and fewer bad reviews.  His style of comedy is not for everyone as my book is not for everyone.  By patiently searching out the specific audience who will love your work and letting them sell you to others, you build an audience who looks forward to your next book (or show), then they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on …


The Greek Key of Life

There are days and weeks where almost everything seems to go right.  Things that I put into motion finally start to show results, my hair stays exactly where I want it to, and clothes fit that I thought were too small.  When those times happen I wonder what lucky star I am sitting under or what planets aligned or who in heaven is scrambling things in my favor.  I pay attention to my lucky days and appreciate them.  

When my parents went to Greece they bought me a bracelet with the Greek key of life design.  My mom explained that the pattern was a reminder of the ups, downs and middle ground of life.  I loved that ancient wisdom.  It reminded me of the universality and timelessness of good times and bad.  This past week I’ve been in a down trend and I’ve needed that reminder.  

Some of you may know (because I posted some super pissy posts on Facebook) that my car was broken into last weekend.  While far from a major tragedy, it is a major pain in the butt.  It brought people into my life who I would normally not be around; like the cop who may have failed victim relations classes and the criminals who temporarily reminded me that uncaring people like them exist.  They took a bunch of my stuff, but that can all be replaced.  What has been much harder to replace has been some sense of order.  From the first day I felt off kilter and although it is diminishing, I still feel some today.  

As someone with either a major case of bunny-brain or possibly ADD, I rely on a series of calendars, notebooks and computer files to keep my life moving forward.  All of those things were in my stolen briefcase.  They are completely without value to the thieves, but, I’ve discovered, they are the anchor and compass of my days.  Without those things I wasn’t sure when I had appointments, when my kids’ school projects were due, which blog reviewers I had contacted about my book, and what information I needed to tell my students to keep them on track.

The break-in started what feels like a Greek key downturn that I am currently riding out while looking for some bright lights ahead.  Maybe its just perception, but in addition to the frustrations of replacing so many stolen things, my hair seems to have taken a turn for the worse and I am feeling anything but light and healthy on my cleanse.  All this has made me short on patience, agitated and pissy.  Which sounds horrible, but I am starting to see that it is just as important to notice and feel the downturn days as it is the upturn ones.  I may feel down right now, but that will serve as a contrast when the key turns and I’m on the upswing again.  

I love the idea of finding joie in my vivre (hence the name of the blog), but there is also value in some sadness, frustration and even anger in life because you can’t know one without the other.  Light doesn’t exist without dark.  

 

TFS Wednesday: Water

No matter what diet plan (or cleanse) you do, you will be asked to drink water … lots of water.  It’s a good habit to pick up and one where most people fall way short of the ideal amount.  

One question I always got while working at Weight Watchers was, why water?  Can’t you drink 64 oz. of diet soda? What about 64 oz. of Crystal Light?  The short answer is, it all comes down to chemicals and how your body reacts to them. Since we all have different chemical make-ups we will all react differently to the chemicals in diet soda or water add in’s.  Some will tolerate LARGE amounts of the chemicals better than others.  Generally, however, drinking anything but water when you are dieting or trying to be healthier, sends you in the opposite direction.  


The reason every (good) diet plan has you drink at least 64 oz. of water a day is to flush your system and help you feel full.  Drinking water will actually support and strengthen your kidneys where processing a lot more chemicals will tax them more.  One promotes health, one reduces it.

Other issues cause people to start, then stop, drinking enough water before it becomes a habit.  The number of times you have to go to the bathroom is complaint number one.  This gets better with time.  During the first week of dieting and drinking more water than you ever have, your body will let go of a lot of retained water (hence that first week BIG loss).  Once your body adjusts to the idea that it will get 64 oz. of water a day, it will equalize and you will have to go less.  It is also a great idea to drink more earlier in the day.  It should go without saying (especially if you have little kids) that you should not down 8 oz. of water right before bed.  Start each morning with 16 oz. right off the bat, before breakfast.  

Keeping track of the water you drink is another challenge.  This isn’t rocket science, so you don’t have to be ‘to the ounce’ precise.  One of the most clever ways I learned from a client was using rubber bands to keep track of the number of glasses or bottles of water you have had each day.  Take your water bottle or glass and figure out how many times you need to finish it each day.  If it’s four times, put four rubber bands around it.  Each time you finish one, remove a rubber band.  It’s a simple solution and a way to make sure you don’t short yourself.  

My final tip is getting a glass or bottle that really works for you.  When I first saw the Tervis glasses and cups at Bed, Bath and Beyond I thought they were ridiculously expensive when I have a whole pile of free big plastic cups at home.  I have since changed my mind.  The fact that they are double-walled allows me to use them for hot or cold drinks and they almost never sweat a pool of water into my cup holder.  Their lids can open like a coffee lid or use a straw.  And they have a lid, so they are much less likely to spill.  They fit in the cup holders in the car and each person can have their own design on the cup, which cuts down on the horror of one of my kids drinking from the other one’s cup. 

22 Days, Count Down Progress

 
I finished my final edit last night.  I have spent the past two weeks painstakingly going through all 36 chapters, changing the font and fixing (hopefully) all the errors.  One of the chief complaints (and deservedly so) about self-published books is the number of typos and grammatical errors in them. Hiring an editor can easily cost around $1000, which a lot of money for a first time author to invest in something that may fly or may tank.  I was extremely lucky to have several friends who are teachers and who are trained to look for copy errors.  I was also blessed with a volunteer beta reader who has a passion for helping self-published authors create the best story possible.  

Today I shift gears.  I stop creating and start marketing.  I have found 47 blogs that review NA (New Adult) books like mine.  As far as I am concerned, they all need to know about mine, and hopefully review it.  I’ve also created some flyers to post locally and I’ve created a FB page.  Starting today I’m trolling for people to like my new FB page.  If you search Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: a love story on Facebook, you will find my new page.  PLEASE LIKE IT!  This is where I will be directing anyone interested in finding out more about the book.  I will be posting things like photos that tie into the story, updates on getting it to market and sales (fingers crossed), when it will be available free for a few days, glowing reviews, and some excerpts (the first of which I will post next week.)

Right now I am planning to continue to blog here as well as promote my book.  The two will cross sometimes, especially now as I am preparing to publish, but I will still post on other subjects, like TFS Wednesdays, jumping out an airplane next month, getting my first tattoo.

I questioned writing about my book again today.  I feel like I am starting to sound like some sort of crazy Mary Kay sales woman, turning every conversation into a sales pitch.  But, I reasoned, it is my blog, my way to communicate with others who are interested in my words of wisdom(?) and my trials and errors. I also reasoned that I am doing something different, something others might be interested in trying themselves.  I’m truly glad each and every one of you is here.  If you want to come along with me, I am more than happy to have you along for the ride.  

 

Cover Reveal and Countdown

It’s tough, it’s pink and it’s perfect.   It’s the (reworked) cover of my first novel.  

The lovely Kim and Kitten at Deranged Doctor Designs spent hours upon hours learning about the characters and the story and then translating them into a cover that will hopefully stand out in the wide literary sea that is Amazon. 

It’s becoming a little more real everyday.  I’m almost finished with the final edit, which is good, because I need something to go with the cool cover.  And I’m making plans to tell the world (or as many people as I can) about it.  Which is strange for an introverted writer.  At the coffee shop where I had lunch yesterday I worked up the nerve to ask to put a flyer advertising my book on their bulletin board.  They not only agreed, but started talking about a possible book signing event – a very unnerving, but very exciting idea.  Luckily, I can put that on the back burner for now.  I have so much to do before I can even make a signed hard copy real.  

My countdown calendar hangs on the wall above my desk.  At twenty-five days out I have a cover and a novel, this is good.  Now for that crucial final element, readers.

  I realize that this story isn’t for everyone, so now I need to find as many of the people who will love it as possible and tell them about it.  

Who is it for?  It’s for those who love a love story, a happy ending.  It’s for those who like their love stories a little more gritty and real.  It’s for those who what a different love story, where the girl is not so sweet and the guy is.  It’s for those who want to remember high school, doing things you probably shouldn’t have, making the friends who will last a lifetime and for some, first love.  

In a nutshell, it’s sweet, it’s silly, and it’s smexy (smart-sexy) . . . and it’s almost here.

Available and an E Book March 4th on Amazon.  

A Clean Slate

I don’t know if its the weeks of cold weather and freezing rain or my recent steady diet of cheese pizza, but I definitely have a case of the late winter blah’s.  Mentally I am energized and excited while working on getting my book to market, but my body is in major slug mode.  I’m ready to try something new.  This weekend I am starting my first cleanse.  

Generally I believe that the human body is a highly efficient organism that, given a generally healthy diet, will function just fine. However, my half-healthy eating lifestyle may have accumulated some residue and toxins in my body that I could do without.  The idea of feeling lighter and more energized sounds like just the thing I need to get me through the February blah’s.  

I looked into several options.  There are 3-day, 5-day, 10-day juice cleanses, and almost every nutrition store has a combination of vitamins and minerals packaged as a cleanse.  For my first one I want a package deal.  I want someone to lay it all out for me and offer me support.  If I have to spend too much time planning and organizing and calculating, I will be tempted to bail on my first busy day.

A friend of mine has done two cleanses using Advocare.  She always was a bundle of

energy, but she seems even more energetic now and she can’t stop talking about how great she feels.  She is going to be my go-to girl as I work my way through one of their 24-days cleanses.  Besides having a personal coach, the other reason I chose this plan was the logical and organized combination of cleaning you out, then building your digestive system back up to a healthy level.  A lot of cleanse programs focus on cleaning all the toxins and build-up from your system, but they fail to note that you will clean the good out with the bad.  Replacing the good (probiotics) after cleansing sounds like a pretty crucial second step to me.  

My results might be hard to show you.  I image I will lose a few pounds (and I won’t cry when they are gone) but my main goal is more energy, feeling lighter, less sluggish, and healthier.  So in the spirit of trying new things and taking better care of my mid-century body, I am off on a new adventure.  Without getting too graphic, I will update you along the way.  By mid-March I will post my results.  Here’s hoping for more spring in my step this spring.