June 29, 2012

Nora Ephron Remembered: Fun Facts Friday

I was so sad to hear that Nora Ephron passed away this week at the age of 71. The same day, unaware of the news, I listed Nora Ephron as my dream director for the movie version of Depression Cookies in the post, Oprah Winfrey and Roger Ebert: Dreaming About Depression Cookies.
From Wikipedia

Although I loved her movies, I realized I knew very little about her. So today I'm dedicating my Fun Facts Fridays to Nora Ephron.

Born in 1941, she was a was an American filmmaker, director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, playwright, journalist, author, and blogger. She was best known for her romantic comedies, including Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, Julie and Julia, and You've Got Mail.

Interesting Facts

* She briefly interned for John F. Kennedy.
* She worked in the mailroom of Newsweek.
* Her first novel, Heartburn, inspired by the end of her second marriage, became a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep.
* She wrote a regular blog for the Huffington Post.

My Favorite Ephron Quotes

“I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive.”

“I try to w
rite parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.”

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”

What comes to mind when you think of Nora Ephron?

June 28, 2012

Words, Otherwise Beautiful, Can be So Harmful

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
 Jodi Picoult, Salem Falls

Words have power. They can inspire and destroy.

Last week, the lovely Callie Leuck wrote an amazing post, Some People Can't Mind Their Ps and Qs. She shares customers' comments while she performed in a living history museum, and also discusses how hateful people can be with negative book reviews.

It struck a chord with me.

Be Mindful of What You Say
My oldest daughter was given several gifts from her paternal Mexican great-grandfather. Like him, she has beautiful olive skin, black hair, and dark brown eyes. So many times as a teen I prayed for a tan. My skin knows two colors: red or white. I am quite fair with blue eyes and dark red/brown hair. My husband has the black hair and dark eyes, but fair skin (although he tans when he has time to soak up sun).

Twenty months after our first daughter, we welcomed another. She takes after me with insanely fair skin, green eyes, and golden brown hair (okay that's after my mother).

The comments have never stopped.

When I was obviously pregnant with baby #2, I can't tell you how many times women came up to me and said:

"Congratulations, you can get pregnant!"

I looked at the beautiful little girl in my arms and didn't try to mask my confusion. They would continue:

"You hear it all the time. You adopt a baby and then immediately get pregnant. So glad it worked for you."

Or, you don't want to know how often I've heard this question:

"Where did you get her?"

At first I didn't know how to respond. Now I say, "The doctor handed her to me after I pushed her out."

Now that my oldest is twelve, she fields a lot of these "what are you" questions. People have asked her if she's my foster child, people pull her sister aside and ask if she's adopted or from a different father. People assume she isn't mine. I'm astounded in this day and age that people are so perplexed by the color of her skin and details of her features.

Curiosity is Not an Excuse for Insensitivity
I understand curiosity. I do. But I don't understand how a moment of curiosity in the brain travels out from the mouth without any consideration. My daughter has cried about not fitting in. I tell her everyday how beautiful she is.

We cannot control our thoughts or even judgmental moments of weakness. But we can, and should, control the things that come out of our mouths. Or worse yet, get written in emails, texts, Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. I tell my preteen daughter... what you write in a moment of anger, hurt, sadness, meanness can and will live on in perpetuity.

Just last night at a swim meet, a woman said to me (quite loudly with my daughter standing right next to me), "Man she has dark skin." I could see the pain on my daughter's face. Kids her age were standing around. She doesn't want to feel different right now, but I hope she grows to love her beauty and individuality.

Beyond My Experience
I calm myself by blaming people's insensitivity on curiosity and poor manners. What I cannot understand is why some people get so heated when they review places and items online.

Specifically for book reviews, not everyone likes the same thing. There's a huge difference between pointing out what you didn't like about a book or offering constructive criticism and attacking an author personally. Maybe it's because I understand the blood, sweat, and tears most authors put into their books. Regardless, there's a person behind every book, restaurant, product, retail shop, and service reviewed online. The words left behind can be damaging to people's careers, livelihoods, and self-worth.

Remember that what you say or write travels quickly past a person's mind to their heart. Before you commit your thoughts to words and actions, take a few seconds to consider how you would feel if someone said that about you or someone you loved.

Last November, I wrote a post about bullying and the power of words: The Power of Words: Adult Bullying. A man my sister worked with was chastised for his weight all his life. He considered, on several occasions, committing suicide. It's a powerful reminder of the weight of our words.

Do you think "attacking" reviews should be removed from online sites?

June 27, 2012

Momentum and Friendships: Author Blog Challenge Wrapping Up

Although this Friday officially wraps up the Author Blog Challenge, I am tackling the last two prompts today.

DAY 27 What has been the best part of participating in the Author Blog Challenge? What are your suggestions for improving the next Author Blog Challenge?

Meeting other writers and becoming more familiar with Laura Orsini, aka Marcie Brock, Book Marketing Maven. I found her post yesterday, Are You Employing the 8 Components of a Successful Book Business?, particularly enlightening and useful. Plus, I've added some books to my to-be-read pile.

I also enjoyed the prompts. I didn't use them every day or follow the schedule, but it was nice to have the idea spark. There were some great questions. Thanks to this challenge, I started planning the movie version of our book, Depression Cookies. The post: Oprah Winfrey and Roger Ebert: Dreaming about Depression Cookies.

Note: In that post, I named Nora Ephron as my dream director. Sadly, she passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Goodbye, Nora. Thanks for all the wonderful memories and my favorite Meg Ryan films. I plan to do a post this week on her.

DAY 28 What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants?

I've been blogging pretty much every day since May 2011, so it's actually time for me to pull back and finish two novels that have suffered in the meantime.

My new blog schedule will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Friday is a theme day: Fun Facts Friday. Wednesday and Sundays are for A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80)  posts/updates. Mondays are a free-for-all. With three kids home for summer (12, 10 & 7) and two novels staring me down, I need to refocus for the next few months.

My last three months have been daily blogging challenges: April was the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, May was Michelle Rafter's WordCount Blogathon, and June was the Author Blog Challenge. I completed each one, but now I'm challenged out. Because of the insanity, I did not interact on as many blogs as I would have liked. I hope to remedy that in July and August.

For my fellow Author Blog Challenge participants: what has been your favorite part?

June 26, 2012

The Heart of a Business

Since the Author Blog Challenge is coming to an end, I wanted to answer a few more of the prompts. My goal is for people who read this blog to get a feeling for me as a writer and a person. I hope some of the answers below accomplish that.

Day 24 If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?

My two favorite subjects growing up: Math and English. It confounded my teachers and guidance counselors. You would have thought I was the first person in history who was creative but pragmatic, who equally loved dreaming and reality/facts. I love Math for its consistency, 2 + 2 will equal 4 from now until the end of time. I love writing and reading for both its rules (grammar/punctuation/structure) and its limitless freedom.

When I went to college, I finally felt free to choose my own path: Business/Finance major with an English minor. My first “real” job was writing an IBM corporate newsletter while also working in their finance department. Heaven. Now I combine my two loves by writing novels and running my own business. Who knew publishing a book meant running your own business? I didn't until I did it.

I file my own tax returns, created my own Limited Partnership, file quarterly sales tax returns, set up and run a business checking account, visit local bookstores to request they carry my book (with good success), schedule media coverage and press releases (which I write), handle all aspects of marketing… oh, and I write.

If it was in my budget, I’d bring on a publicist and/or marketing professional. Sales puts me the farthest out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to be “the person” people avoid because they think I’ve always got a sales pitch.

Day 25 Time for some shout-outs. This may mimic your acknowledgement page, but whom would you like to publicly thank for their help in creating your book or completing it to the point where it is presently?

I am a very blessed woman. Without the love and support of my family, I would not be the woman I am today. My mom gifted me with the love of language (reading and writing), while my dad taught me to respect language (he’s the grammar, usage guy). They both taught me that anything was possible, with hard work and determination.

My husband of 17 years is the calm to my storm. He believes in me and supports my dreams. Our three beautiful girls (12, 10 & 7) bring me immeasurable joy. They’ve taught me to better appreciate people’s unique talents. I love each of my children the same, and they couldn’t be more different.

Thank you to our early readers: Dad, my sisters, Lane Schroeder, Nancy Clark, Stacey Hartmann, Beth Rice. And a special thank you to our original publisher and editor, Steven Horvath. You left us too soon. All of your encouragement and advice were crucial.

Thank you to every reader who has read and enjoyed our book and passed it on to others. We are grateful. I'd also like to thank all the authors (and bloggers) who paved the way.

A special shout out to Shannon Knobel and Dean Smith. Shannon, without your marketing and book distribution efforts, 200 copies would still be in boxes. Dean, you taught me about press releases and marketing avenues. One of these days, I’ll hire you both!

To Dana, my baby sister… without you there would be no blog and website or a cover for our book.

Finally, to my lovely mother: I can’t put into words how blessed I feel to call you Mom. You didn't just form my body, you cultivated my spirit and grew my heart.

Day 26 What is/will be the subject of your next book?

Mom and I are writing the follow up to Depression Cookies. This time Abby and Krista are facing life apart, as Krista heads to college. The hardest part about being a mother: your job is to prepare your children to leave you. You have to teach your children to fly away, but always let them know they can return to the nest when needed. Sometimes finding our own way leads us down some scary and life-altering paths.

I’m also working on a young adult novel about obsession and dealing with loss. I don’t want to say much more, but it’s a departure for me. Family and women are still at the heart of my story, as I think will always be the case.

Who would you thank for the person you are today?

June 25, 2012

Oprah Winfrey and Roger Ebert: Dreaming About Depression Cookies

Thanks to the Author Blog Challenge, today's a day to dream. And dream big.

In the world of Depression Cookies as a New York Times bestseller, a world I quite like, I get a book signing and movie deal.

DAY 22 Describe your first book signing – real or imagined.


My mom and I signed books at a lovely bookstore in Washington, NC (one that has now sadly gone out of business). The local media showed up, and we had both fans of the book and newcomers stop by to talk to us. Such a proud moment, a special kind of blessing because I was with Mom (we co-authored Depression Cookies).


Oprah Winfrey still has her talk show and has us on as guests. We talk about our novel and mother-daughter relationships. From there, we head to three or four of the best bookstores in Chicago, focusing on independent bookstores. Women are lined up with their daughters to talk to us and buy our book. We make sure to conserve our voices since the next day we are flying to New York City to tape some morning talk shows and hit more bookstores. (Dream big, I say.)

DAY 23 If a Hollywood agent were to come knocking on your door with an offer to turn your book into a movie and told you that you could call all the shots, who would you have direct and star in it? Write the first paragraph of Roger Ebert’s review of your film.


Nora Ephron. The director of Sleepless in Seattle, Julie & Julia, and When Harry Met Sally knows women and what they love. She could handle the nuisances of the mother-daughter relationship in our book.

Diane Lane
Elizabeth Olsen
Lily Collins
Topping my list, Diane Lane would play Abby, the mother and heart of the story. Diane Lane has grace, beauty, and an amazing emotional range.  

I would want Elizabeth Olsen (after she dyed her hair darker) or Lily Collins (from Mirror Mirror) to play the part of Krista, the teenager. I would have loved Jennifer Lawrence of Hunger Games fame, but I bet she’s a bit too busy. The part requires spunk and vulnerability.

The “mean girls” in the book could be played by Ali Lohan, Lindsay Lohan’s sister (since Lindsay is a bit too aged, not by years but by lifestyle), and Anna Kendrick (Bella’s friend, Jessica, in Twilight). Both could embody the “pretty on the outside” teenagers who make Krista’s life so miserable.

Roger Ebert’s Review

Not since Steel Magnolias has a movie so honestly captured female relationships. In Depression Cookies, Abby is a mom buckling under the weight of her husband’s corporate relocations, three daughters’ needs, her own mother’s transformation, and health crises. Krista, her thirteen-year-old daughter, is struggling to define herself in the midst of insecurity and teenage cruelty. What neither expects to find is the true essence of magic in the strength, friendship, power and energy of the female spirit. Entertaining and poignant, it’ll inspire you to pick up the phone and call your mom, best friend, sister… any female who has touched your life. You’ll find yourself laughing one moment and reaching for your Kleenex the next.


Wow, that was hard. I write reviews all the time (on Mom in Love with Fiction), but it's so hard to write a review of your own material. How did I do?

I loved Steel Magnolias, but I guess I (or should I say Roger?) set myself up to turn away people who did not like it. There's so much to consider.

If you could make a movie of your own life, who would play you?

June 24, 2012

Strong Women: A Recipe for Success

Today, my family and I saw Brave. We have been looking forward to this movie for so long that I had started wondering if it was ever going to be released. It did not disappoint. I will have a more dedicated review on Mom in Love with Fiction this week.

I have three daughters, so I love "princess" movies that empower women. Mulan will always be one of my favorites as well as Tangled and Shrek. I want my girls to see that women can be strong and self-sufficient and still fall in love and embrace femininity when sthey choose. What I loved most about these titles: the main female characters were not dainty in their beauty. Their beauty was so much deeper.

There's nothing about the "damsel in distress" that I find interesting. Never did.

One of my biggest issues with the popularity of Twilight... Bella seemed so weak and whiny to me. I almost gave up on the series during Book Two. I couldn't understand why two hot men would fight over her, much less a vampire and a wolf-turner (he's not a werewolf, right, so what is he called?!). I didn't see any strength in Bella until she became pregnant in Breaking Dawn, the fourth book of the series.

Compare that to Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen is an amazing character. She's loving and fiercely protective, going to what seems like certain death for her sister, and quite capable of defending herself. But she also struggles to find love and meaning in the world around her. I found her flaws as interesting as her strengths. One of the best female characters I read in the last year.

Just a few weeks ago, I saw Snow White and the Huntsman. I found myself more intrigued by the queen. I would have loved more of her story: what made her the beauty-obsessed, insecure woman she became.

Please share your favorite female character in the last few years, either book or movie. What made her memorable?

Now that I've opened up this can of worms, I'm going to give some thought to my top five favorite female characters for a future post. Hmmmm...

June 23, 2012

Are You Listening, Judy Blume?

More Author Blog Challenge prompts for your Saturday amusement.

DAY 18 Who did/could you ask to write a blurb for your book? Why that person/people? How did/will you go about reaching them?
For our novel, Depression Cookies, Mom asked two of her writer’s group friends while I asked a journalist friend. All three received advanced copies and helped us with editing both story and grammar.

In my dreams, I would want a blurb from Judy Blume. Her books so influenced my teen years, and I’ve often described Depression Cookies as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. with the mother’s perspective added.

Are you listening, Judy Blume?

DAY 19 What are the three most important things you are doing to grow your platform?
I don’t know. That’s sad to say, but it’s the most honest answer. I think I’m building an amazing author network, but I don’t know how to translate my blog and marketing efforts into building a reader network. As much as I love my writer friends, we can’t just buy each other’s books. We need to attract readers.

Prior to publishing, I never searched for author sites or attended author events or book signings. I’m the very reader authors don’t like. I love books and movies, but I never get wrapped up in the “celebrities” behind the works. I’m the mom who doesn’t get why my kids want to stand in line for an hour to get a signature from a 20-something college student dressed up as Mickey Mouse or a Disney Princess. I was always more enchanted by the work than the artist.

Now that I’ve published a book, I have a greater appreciation for writers (and artists). I would stand in line for hours to meet an author, so I could pick his/her brain on the process.

Although I loved Judy Blume books when I was growing up, I only researched her once I started writing my own novel. It was a special kind of thrill to follow her on Twitter.

What I hope is slowly building a platform: blogging consistently and honestly; being active on various social media; and attending conferences, book fairs, and book clubs.

As a reader, do you research authors you love? Especially with the popularity of online shopping, what attracts you to a new author's book?

June 22, 2012

Summertime: Fun Facts Friday

Since yesterday was the first official day of summer, it seemed appropriate to find some interesting facts on summertime for my Fun Facts Friday.

(Plus, I'm encouraging my kids to do research projects this summer on interesting topics. Gotta keep those brains stimulated! Summer seemed an easy pick.)

Summer is my favorite time of year. Time to enjoy my kids (most days!), soak in some sun, visit friends and family, appreciate slower schedules, and take time to smell the roses.

How the summer months got their names: June is named after the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter; Marc Antony named July after Julius Caesar; and August is named after Caesar's nephew, Augustus. So Rome can be thanked for influencing our summer months.

I grew up throwing a Frisbee with my dad, especially in the summertime. Fun fact: they were originally designed as pie plates in the 1870s. Students started throwing them in the 1940s.

I found this fact online, and thought it was a juicy detail for authors who love to write stories from back in the day: in ancient times, most people swam in the nude; laws about decent swimming attire were created progressively from the 17th century onwards.

I've always heard of the "dog days of summer" and wondered where the title originated. The hot, sticky days get their name from the rising of the Sirius, the Dog Star. The Sirius rises around the hottest time of the year. (Source: Bright Hub Education)

All day today I complained about our 100 degree heat. It left me wondering about the hottest day ever recorded... on September 13, 1922, the temperature in the shade in the Libyan Desert reached 136 degrees Fahrenheit (hot enough to fry an egg on a rock). (Source also Bright Hub)

What's your favorite part of summer?

June 21, 2012

It's All About the Writing: ROW80 Round 2 Wrap-up

I struggled in Round 2. Life took a swing, and my battle to get back on my feet was draining. I am looking forward to Round 3, because I need to prioritize my writing life. To do so, I have to focus on my editing jobs and writing my two novels. Other things will have to take a back seat. And above all these... I am a wife and mother.  

In all honesty, without the wonderful writers (and family) in my life I would have given up this round. But whenever life attacked or I doubted myself, the writing and blogging communities, particularly A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80), brought me back.

Thanks to the wonderful people who commented on my post about insecurity, My Monster Rises, I'm facing down my monster and opening my heart to my muse.

♫♫♫♫ I get by with a little help from my friends ♫♫♫♫

Some of the lovely and inspiring comments...

Melissa Maygrove said... Isn't THAT the truth! No matter what, don't let the monster win. ;) Are you part of Alex's Insecure Writer's Support Group? (They post the first Wed. of every month. And I'm still making my way down his list.)

Somewhere, at some time, I had heard about Alex's group. I need to check it out for those low moments.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell said... Right now I'm doing a 15-day "workshop" with Jeff Goins which is aimed at making one believe in oneself--and boy do I need that! The closet was so much more comfortable, but I need to get out there, no matter how scary it is :) Shall we all hold hands and jump together?

So bummed I missed joining this workshop. But I'll be checking out Jeff's book.
Annette Gendler said... I'd say it's part of the writing life! That twinge of jealousy creeps up on me as well when I hear of a friend signing with an agent, or finally publishing that book. But then again, I think that jealousy helps us figure out our priorities. If we feel that jealousy, clearly this is something we want. Insecurity, I think, behooves every artist. Otherwise, we wouldn't work continuously to improve our craft.
Lisa Cherry said... Use the monster as a friend rather than a destructive enemy. As a monster, its damaging your confidence and self esteem and self belief, as a friend, it's asking you to just check that you are on course and that you must demand that you give your best of yourself (which it very much sounds like you do). Re frame the monster! There are many different routes to the mountain and many different mountains.

Sonja Haller said... I agree with Annette, the highs and lows and jealousies are part of the writing life. And I sure relate to this: "I'm left wondering, who the hell do I think I am?" My guess is that so many other writers believe that to. You're inspiring just because you continue to write on!
Rebecca J Fleming said... I think all writers suffer a bit of envy at some point, but it just motivates us to make our own writing better. Good work on the progress, every bit counts :)
Eloise said... I know this feeling even though I just started. Send story into contest and poof, nothing. Mine must end up on the editor's floor/recycle bin. It's even more mystifying to read the winning story and wonder what about it was special. I know that sounds like sour grapes, but I don't mean it that way.

Kim Switzer said... Hug your monster and bring her some tea. She's just trying to protect you. But then, after you give her some tea, send her to a movie or something. Talk back. Tell her "thank you, but I don't need to hear from you right now." (You don't necessarily have to be so polite, of course.) It's not what the monster says to us that's the problem, it's what we do with those words. Talk back to them, refute them, see them as the smokescreen they are, the thing keeping you from your writing love. You *are* a writer. So tell the monster to hush up and leave you to your words!

Thank you! Sure, the insecurity monster will rise again, but knowing I'm one post away from support and encouragement is all I need.

I hope these words will inspire others to keep moving forward, no matter what.

One more piece of encouragement before I go. I recently read and reviewed Michael J. Fox's book, Always Looking Up. In the following passage, Fox is talking about Parkinson's, but it can apply to so many things:

I feared it most when I least understood it… Respecting it, however, doesn’t mean tolerating it. And you can only vanquish an enemy you respect, have fully sized up, and weighed by every possible measure.

My journey, with all its bumps, has taught me so much. I'm ready to vanquish the enemy of insecurity and fear and focus on what I know I love... writing. Sometimes building my author platform has gotten in the way of writing my next book. Round 3 will be about finding the right balance with a focus on writing novels.

Thanks again to those who take the time to encourage others.

June 20, 2012

Making the Most of Time

I'm always complaining about time, or more specifically, lack of time. But one thing can be said of time... it's fair. Every day we get 24 hours. It's up to us to use it in the most efficient way possible.

This week, two of my fellow bloggers referenced Laura Vanderkam and her book, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Both Michelle Rafter and Mikaela at La Belle Dame de Merci discussed Vanderkam's thoughts on time management.

One thing I know about myself... I'm most efficient in the beginning of any day. As each hour passes, more distractions and unexpected issues arise. The more things I can accomplish before the emails start dinging and the phone starts ringing, the better.

But, similar to Mikaela's musings, I am not always at my wittiest and most inspired first thing in the morning.

What to do. What to do.

In her post What Successful Writers Do Before Breakfast, Michelle Rafter took it a step farther and interviewed successful writers to find out what they try to accomplish before breakfast. I found the answers further inspired me to buy Vanderkam's book and consider a new morning routine.

I just downloaded the book to my Kindle. As soon as I read it, I will write a post on my thoughts and share my new morning routine.

Do you ever get to the point where you know what you ARE doing isn't working, but you aren't sure what to change to make real improvements? I'm there. But I usually make things worse by trying too many new things at once.

My new focus, thanks to some excellent advice by my wonderful ROW80 friend, Kim Switzer, is to take things in small chunks. As small as ten minute increments. I hope to combine this concept with Vanderkam's morning ideas. Wish me luck.

What do you accomplish before breakfast?

For some quick guidelines from Vanderkam's book, please visit her post on Fast Company: What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.

June 19, 2012

Evolution of Book Covers

Yesterday on my Mom in Love with Fiction site, my blog devoted to good reads, I discussed the evolution of book covers in an eBook-focused world. I wanted to run the post here today to get additional feedback, since I find the subject so fascinating.

My thoughts were prompted by a Musing Mondays question on Should be Reading: Do you think the book cover is “dead”? Do you care whether the “covers” on digital books exist or not?

I've been pondering this subject for awhile. Should be Reading referenced Craig Mod's article, Hack the Cover: Covers, Covers--Everywhere. It offered some amazing insight on how the popularity of eBooks has affected the marketing importance of book covers.

Let's be honest, covers were an important marketing tool in bookstores. When readers browsed, the cover was their first impression of a book. A striking cover could compel me to pick up any book, taking away any preconceived notions I had about what I liked and didn't like in story or genre. A great cover backed up by a wonderful back cover summary was all I needed.

Fast forward to the Amazon world of eBooks and online shopping. Now I browse by genres and authors I like. Then I go to the book's page and notice the cover. Sure, I'm still influenced by the cover's allure, but it's not my first impression anymore unless I'm standing in Barnes & Noble or my favorite independent bookstore,
Novel Places, close to my house.

Once I purchase an eBook, the cover is gone. I choose the title on my home page and go right to the first page of the book. The cover is gone from my memory and has little influence on my imagination. Every time I pick up an actual book to read, I see the cover and its images affect my mental picture of the characters and/or scenery.

But like all things, does the cover just need to catch up to technology? Jump over to
Craig's article for some amazing pictures on old-style, possibly future-style, book covers. We just need the hardware to catch up so that digital covers are still what we see and part of the reading experience.

I say... long live covers. I hope they stay around but evolve with the books they so lovingly adorn. Otherwise, we might as well go back to Kinko's-printed manuscripts or Microsoft Word documents and read words without the beauty and visual.

And who wants that?

How do you imagine the future of book covers?

June 18, 2012

The Moment of Reentering Reality

I saw this on the The Reader's Nook Facebook page. This has happened to me so many times, but only with really good books.

Before children (affectionately known as BC in my house), my husband and I lived in a northern suburb of Chicago and commuted into the city every day for work. For this very non-city gal, it was heaven because I had 45 dedicated minutes to read twice a day. I read so many books during that time.

I'd become so engrossed in my read that I'd almost miss my stop. One time I did. Thanks to having three children, and the brain cells they have destroyed my subsequent memory loss, I can't remember which book caused that. Wish I could.

Even when I'm reading at night, the only one in the house not sleeping, I will get to a part in the story and want to wake someone up to tell them. When I finish a great book late at night, I feel thrust back into reality and sleep becomes an impossibility.

Recently, I bought Fifty Shades of Grey. Pure curiosity got the best of me. There's a book I definitely wouldn't want to be reading on public transportation! What a great benefit to having a Kindle... nobody knows what you are reading.

The best books take us so far out of our own reality that it's an adjustment coming back.

When's the last time this happened to you?

June 17, 2012

The Gold Thread of Fathers & ROW80 Update

There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself.
John Gregory Brown

This is how I started my Father's Day post last year: A Day to Celebrate Dads. Please take a moment to hop over and read it. It's quite sweet, if I do say so myself.

Dad with my first baby
I love this quote. My writing centers around women... their issues, relationships, communications. I find figuring out women a lifetime task, especially since I am one of three sisters and now mom to three daughters.

There haven't been many important men in my life. I met my husband at 18, and I don't have brothers. I credit my dad and husband with opening my eyes to the beauty of men, especially as fathers to girls.

I credit my dad for finding humor in the world around me, such an important part of making it through life's ups and downs. He also taught me a strong work ethic. My dad never lessened his expectations for us just because we were girls. He always told us we could be anything we wanted. Those threads are such a part of who I am. He is now a wonderful Papa to my girls, and adds to their tapestry like he added to mine.

My amazing hubby with our girls
My husband has taught me patience and calm, okay he is still teaching me. He is a rock and supports my dreams while downplaying my failures. When I said I wanted to write, he said to write. When I said I wanted baby #3, he bought me a puppy but was thrilled when baby #3 was announced a month later. When I wanted to publish a book, he asked how he could help. He reminds me to put the work down and play... to never forget how short life is.

My girls are blessed to already have two wonderful male influences. This generation of men beware: you have a lot to prove to impress my girls!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Never forget the importance of your role!


OMG! Is it possible that Round 2 ends next week. How did that happen?!

Sorry I missed Wednesday's check in. I rarely miss one, but we were at the beach and fun times were the only progress I was making!

Writing: Back on track. I printed out the 150 pages... yes, I did say 150 pages, it felt so good to see it all printed... so I could reread and reconnect to my WIP (after taking some time off, both planned and unplanned). I'm happy to say, I like it! I'm excited to sink my teeth back in this week and spend some time thinking about my writing goals for Round 3 ROW80.

Blogging: Daily. In July and August, I'm going back to a 3-4 days a week schedule so I can focus on writing. I posted twice last week on Mom in Love with Fiction.

Reading: I give myself at least 30 minutes a night to read. I need to start earlier or set a timer. The books I've been reading have been good and are keeping me up way too late.

Editing: Spending a minimum of an hour a day on editing projects. Sometimes I break it up, especially if I hit a couple of spots that stump me.

Social Media: Here's where I need a real schedule. I'm so far behind, especially now that I have so many blogs I like to read. I haven't found the solution for staying on top of it.

I hope all my ROW80 friends kick it this week as we cross the Round 2 finish line.

June 16, 2012

Surprises, Challenges, and Marketing

Catching up with some more Author Blog Challenge prompts.

The prompt process has been therapeutic for me as Mom and I are working on the follow up to Depression Cookies.

I have learned so much about publishing, marketing, author platforms, editing, book covers, story strengths, etc. I can't wait to put all this newfound knowledge to use in our second book (and the young adult book I'm working on).

Day 13 Prompt: What has been the most challenging part of your book process: writing, building the book, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.? What do you wish you'd known before you began?
Marketing, because it’s been such a learning curve and I don’t consider myself a salesperson. Early on in my mommy career, I tried my hand at selling Pampered Chef. I enjoyed the products, but I quickly realized sales was not my future. Fast forward ten years, and I was faced with selling my book. I knew nothing about social media, building an author platform, or any other marketing trick. I threw myself into the world of marketing, but I wish I had done it all at least six months BEFORE the book came out instead of waiting until publication.

I also wish I had known how easily I could access a writing community. It never ceases to amaze me how open and encouraging writers can be.

DAY 14 What has been the biggest surprise about writing/publishing your book? What has been the most enjoyable or most memorable aspect?
Meeting so many other wonderful writers and feeling like I am part of their circle. I was a closet writer before publishing, and now I have so many resources for my next book. I have also really enjoyed reader reactions. I’m still amazed by readers who take the time to contact us and tell us how much they loved the book. It’ll never get old.

Day 16 Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, or both? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing and distribution? How did you select them?

Our book is available in paperback, Kindle, Nook, and soon on Smashwords. Originally, we were picked up by a small publisher. Unfortunately, the owner passed away suddenly before our book could be published. We were ready to go, and chose to publish with Xlibris. Thankfully, we had already been professionally edited and had a lot of great advice, because that company was little to no help (other than the actual publishing). I would not go with them again, especially knowing all I know now.

We now have our books printed through a wonderful company, Market Source, in Atlanta. And soon we’ll be on Smashwords.

DAY 17 Describe the market for your book – to the tiniest detail (e.g., childless divorced women past age 50 who want to remarry). Why that demographic? How do you connect with them to market to them?

Mothers and daughters, but specifically moms who have daughters. Since our story is a mother-daughter tale written by a mother and daughter, it makes the most sense. But really any woman, since they’ve been a daughter, whether they are a mother or not. We hope the book will open up a dialogue between women about the way we deal with relationships, how we process loving our bodies, how we deal with each other, and why we need other women.

We really love the idea of mothers and their preteen and up daughters reading it together and discussing how we can walk the same path and still view it so differently. Again, it's the idea of opening up a dialogue. As the mom of three girls, the oldest of which is 12, I know how important it is to have open and honest relationships with our children.

If you ask agents, and we did, this isn't the most ideal market to be in. We don't have vampires (or other paranormal elements), we miss the 20s crowd (they don't want to remember being teenagers or quite consider themselves "women"), and it's not a Danielle Steel-esque romance. But we wouldn't change a thing.

What has surprised you about the writing/blogging community?