Monday, November 24, 2014

Hefting a Grim Cup of Holiday Obligation

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
Ho, ho-ho! It's time to celebrate everyone's favorite holiday. Yes, that magical time of year when you plant a tree in the yard, put on your Guy Fawkes mask, and remember the sacrifices of organized labor to bring us the 8-hour workday, weekends, and child labor laws.  Such warm memories.  Such pleasant future memories to look forward to tomorrow.

How will you be celebrating this year? Traditionally, you're supposed to bring chocolate and flowers to a romantic, candlelit dinner with your sweetheart. But what about other traditions? Other cultures? Perhaps this year you'll play dreidl, or leave a sugarspun skull on the grave of your lost loved ones, or even heft a stein with dozens of sweaty Teutonic men down at the Biergarten.

What of me, you ask? I'll be celebrating as I do every year: by getting falldown drunk on green-tinted beer and Jameson's, then passing out in a gutter. Traditions are important you know.

But still, let's not forget the reason for the season. We all like to have fun and spend time with our families this time of year, barbecuing and setting off sometimes illicit fireworks, but it's also important to remember that if it wasn't for Washington, Lincoln, Columbus, and King, we wouldn't even have anything to celebrate. Let's try to keep that in mind as we're popping the champagne and kissing our sweethearts at midnight this week.

So, this is me, signing off. I know this is a religious holiday, and not everyone subscribes to the same faith. So just bear in mind that as I wish you all the traditional holiday greeting for this time of year, I mean it only with the warmest of hearts and most inclusive of intentions. And so I shall sign off as is customary with a cheerful: "RATS OFF TO YA!"

Rats off to ya, everyone.

(Note: In honor of...something or other, I can't quite remember what, Across the Board will not be updating this Thursday. We will, however, be back with a regular post next Monday, despite the sacred trust that is Cyber Monday. Oh, I remember now. HAPPY BLACK FRIDAY'S EVE, EVERYBODY! Lu lu lu lu lu lu lu...)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Qualities of a Highland Hero

~ by Amy Jarecki

Many people have asked me how I came up with the tag line “Adventure Kissed by Romance”. That’s an easy question to answer…My first published novel was a Native American Adventure (Boy Man Chief). After writing that book, I decided to focus on romance, first contemporary and then Scottish historical. Also, early on in my writing career, I tried different genres and found I love writing action/adventure. The most prominent common thread in all my books is that they have adventure and steamy romance.

So, what’s my ideal Scottish Highland hero? Though they probably have much in common with heroes of other genres, here are the key redeeming qualities in my fifteenth and sixteenth century heroes:
1.     Total alpha male. These rugged warriors cannot afford to be passive. They have a duty to protect their clans and their women and nothing will stop them from doing so.
2.     Honor. The Scottish Highlander’s honor is his most treasured attribute, guiding his every decision. No one could ever strip away his honor.
3.     Respect and Chivalry. Both his honor and the code of chivalry ensure the Highlander will treat the heroine reverently, respect her virtue, and when in a crowd, he will make her feel as if she’s the only and most beautiful woman in the room.
4.     Ruggedly good looking. These Highland heroes are generally tall and sturdy, and definitely not pretty. With firm jaws, broad foreheads and intense eyes, there is no question who is in command when you enter their lair.
5.     Did I mention powerful? Their sturdy build and constant training tones their solid frames. A Highlander would be a good contender for Mr. Universe, though he’s not conceited about it. His muscular build is necessary for the protection of his clan.
6.     Well trained warrior. These men must be trained in the use of all weapons, and expertly wield a claymore, shoot arrows, and know how to handle a deadly dirk.
7.     A sense of humor. They don’t take themselves too seriously and know when to laugh at their own mistakes…but not always.
8.     Practiced lover. Any woman will swoon in their arms and consider herself completely ravished in the morning.
9.     Finally, my Highland heroes have a fervent passion for the heroine that drives them to the ragged edge of madness.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with rugged warrior, who only has eyes for you, would protect you with his life, and speaks with a deep, lilting Scottish burr? *swoons*

Amy's books:

Coming January 1, 
To celebrate the release of KNIGHT IN HIGHLAND ARMOR, I'm running a GIVEAWAY! ENTER TO WIN!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 17, 2014

Distraction free writing a.k.a the Alphasmart post

If you're any sort of writer like me, then the internet is just one big, bright, shiny object and you can't look away. Something happened after I had kids and stopped working -- I got lonely. I love my kids but I can't have a deep conversation about publishing trends with my four-year-old, go figure. So I filled the absence of adult interaction with Facebook and Twitter and writer forums instead. Then, it got to the point where I couldn't even sit down to write and focus. I had to first check my email and then scroll through my Facebook feed and tweet my senator and then naptime was over and I got nothing done. In an effort to connect, I couldn't disconnect when I needed to.

So I began browsing the web looking for ideas on how to write without distractions (is that irony?) when I came up upon an awesome thread on Kboards about the Alphasmart. Alphasmarts are old-school word processors that were popular in elementary schools. They have a calculator screen and an old clickety-clack keyboard and they only show a few lines of text at a time. They run on AA batteries and turn on within seconds. You can upload your work to any program with a click of a button. They're super portable too. Since two AA batteries can last a year, you can take these suckers anywhere. Not to mention, they're pretty durable. Best part: no wireless.

I bought this duo on Ebay for $30. A B1G1 free deal. Good thing I have two because they are no longer made. And many writers do buy a backup just in case.

Alphasmarts have a cult following, including a Flickr group. Writers also get jazzy with their Neos -- some dismantling them to paint and customize them. I bought a can of pink Rustoleum, but I haven't taken my Neo apart yet to paint it. And when I say me, I really mean my husband.

In the short time since getting my Alphasmart Neo, I have nearly doubled my drafting time, writing up to 2,000 words in 90 minutes. That's unheard of for me. That's the kicker -- I can only draft in the Neo. After I upload my draft to Scrivener and I revise and edit in there. But I'm a natural editor. Revisions are my favorite part of the writing process and I find I'm less likely to d^ck around online.

So, dear readers -- do you use an Alphasmart? Do you love it? Did you customize yours? How has it changed your writing?

For those who don't use Alphasmarts, how do you write without distractions?

Does anyone draft on a typewriter?

Thanks for checking in,

Saturday, November 15, 2014

If You're a Fantasy Fan...

Then you might want to check out Ron Collins' GLAMOUR OF THE GOD-TOUCHED, which just released today!

Garrick is a mage’s apprentice, soon to be a full-fledged sorcerer. The course of his life is clear—he will be an apprentice, a mage, and then a superior. But a tragic accident finds him wielding a god-like power over life and death, and as rumors of mage war grow stronger around him, he learns his future is not fated to be as simple as he dreamed. Glamour of the God-Touched follows Garrick as he discovers the forces behind his new magic. The lessons he learns and how he deals with them will threaten the very nature of who he is.

Amazon | B&N | Smashwords | Kobo

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In the blink of a post: Interview with Ashley from Forever Ashley

A few months ago I connected with Ashley, the woman behind the blog Forever Ashley, while promoting my first novel to book bloggers. I liked the honest approach that Ashley took when writing her reviews, so I sent her a review request. That turned into not only a review of my book, but also a request from Ashley that I write up a post for her Women at Work series. Since then, I’ve enjoyed following her blog posts. One of the things I admire is her willingness to share her personal experiences in an effort to inspire others. From what I could tell, her blog had a steady following of loyal readers who engaged regularly in comments.

In early October she posted Why Your Crush on My Husband is Not OK. Again, I had admired the way she opened herself up honestly. A few days later, I started seeing that same post being shared on my personal Facebook news feed by some of my friends. I became curious and went back to her site to have a look.

Wow. In the blink of that post, Forever Ashley experienced a tremendous surge in page views, shares, comments, and followers. I, along with others, viewed that post as the sharing of a personal experience to help other women understand why they should not express their crushes on married men. Others found support and encouragement from Ashley’s words after having been through similar experiences, and they were happy she put voice to their own feelings. Others used it as sounding board to voice their own stories, some much worse than what Ashley had experienced. Unfortunately, there were also those that took it as an opportunity to say some unpleasant things, about the post and about Ashley herself.

I continue to follow the blog and have been inspired by the way Ashley handled the situation. That inspiration prompted me to reach out to her for this interview. It’s something that can happen to any blogger—a dramatic change in the blink of a post—and I thought it would be great to hear about the experience through Ashley’s perspective.

Hi, Ashley! Thanks for spending some time with me today on Across the Board. I think it would be great if you could first tell everyone about what inspired you to start your blog, Forever Ashley.

Hi Carrie!  Thanks for inviting me to Across the Board.  I'm so excited!  So, what inspired me to begin Forever Ashley?  If I'm being honest I'm not sure what inspired me.  I've always been a writer, at least for as long as I can remember, but I'm not a novelist like you and I couldn't write something like Kingston's Project.  I'm a storyteller but not in the fictional sense.  I had a public diary when I was in high school and I've had various blogs before this one but nothing personal.  When I started Forever Ashley (in June, 2014) I just needed a new place to write.  I was going through a lot of major life changes (a new career, moving to a new city in a new state, we had just lost our first pregnancy) and I needed an outlet.  I thought to myself, "So much is changing.  Everything feels so different.  I'm not even the same person I was a year ago." As I reflected on who I had been and who I am now I realized one thing - that no matter how much changes around me I am still ME.  I'm still Ashley.  I may be a different version of Ashley but I'm always Ashley.  Forever Ashley.  So I bought a domain name and began to blog. 

In your post Why Your Crush on My Husband is Not OK you comment that you debated for a while whether or not to share the experience on your blog. What ultimately tipped the scales and prompted you to write the post?

Oh, I did debate with myself!  I thought about it for weeks before I wrote it.  I wanted to write about it but it just didn't feel "right."  I didn't feel like I was able to tell the story properly and, honestly, I felt like I was over-reacting.  When her crush on my husband first came out I brushed it off but it didn't stop there.  The messages continued (and were ignored) but then one night she was inappropriate in a message to him and I lost it.  I was really upset that night and I said quite a few things out of anger that I really regret now.  Then I felt bad.  I felt bad that it had escalated to that point.  My anger was never directed toward my husband but he saw me in that negative light and I regretted that too.  I said to him, "This is why she shouldn't have even expressed the crush.  This is why it shouldn't have come up.  This is why that's best kept to herself.  Nothing good comes of it, surely she knew that, right?  What was she trying to accomplish anyway?"  That's when I realized how I could tell the story.  When I understood I could explain why it's inappropriate and speak from a place where I felt in control of my emotions I decided to share it, and so I did.

As the post when viral, did you see it coming gradually over the course of a few days, or was it kind of like waking up one day and looking out your window to see OZ rather than Kansas?

It was a little bit of both.  My traffic has steadily increased every week since I first began in June so I was used to seeing little increases.  I've had a few posts get more attention than normal so when I noticed the traffic doubled in a day I just smiled feeling happy it had resonated with some people.  Then that traffic doubled.  Then the next day it was about 10 times normal and I realized something really crazy was happening.  Then I started having trouble even getting into the backend of my site to write new posts because it was beginning to crash.  I called my host and they said my traffic was exceeding my allowance and I had to upgrade to a new package that could handle a 6-figure number of visitors per day.  That's when I realized I wasn't in Kansas anymore.  After I upgraded to a new package the traffic went really crazy and I assume that's because it wasn't crashing anymore and people could finally read it.  Even now, a month later, every single day it's my most visited post.

What has been the most rewarding thing for you as a result of publishing that post?

This is kind of hard because there are three possible answers to this but since the other two also fit in the next two questions I'm going to talk about the Pastor.  I had a Pastor message me and tell me that he volunteers and councils couples who are going through troubled marriages.  He said that these couples are often facing troubles because of infidelity (physical or emotional) and it's hard to explain to one spouse how the other may be feeling.  Apparently he felt like I put those feelings into words well because he wanted permission to print, and copy, my article to use as a handout during his sessions to provide perspective into the feelings that accompany infidelity.  While my husband did not cheat, the feelings are similar. I was overjoyed at the idea of my words helping others gain perspective into their spouse’s feelings and potentially help save marriages.  It's amazing to me to think of that post going so far beyond the boundaries of my little blog.  He asked if I would grant rights for reproduction without compensation and of course I agreed.  It's not about the money and I'd feel ridiculous asking for payment over that.  

What has been the most difficult?

The people, definitely.  In total I've received over 620 e-mails and Facebook messages from women responding to that post.  I replied to each and every single one of them.  Some asked for prayers and I recorded them in my prayer journal to pray for nightly before bed.  Some I still e-mail and message with as they give me updates on their lives and their marriages.  Some poured out their hearts talking about the brokenness and worthlessness they feel after watching their marriages destruct because of another person.  It was heartbreaking to hear about the childhood sweethearts torn apart, the children who've suffered because of the infidelity, or the loss of trust in a marriage because of someone's deceit.  Even in the marriages that were saved, things aren't the same and it's been hard to read sad story after sad story.  I just pray continuously for these hurting people.  I try to remind myself that even though it's hard on me, emotionally, to hear these stories, God is using me to be there to share encouragement and show love when they need it.

How about the most surprising?

The most surprising was finding my blog being discussed on My Fox DC!  I had a comment from a reader that started off with, "I first heard about this on the news..." and I was convinced he was mistaken.  Then I saw a tweet from a reporter out of Washington DC that said she had done a story about my post and hoped I liked it.  She had included a link and I was terrified to click it.  Turns out she had gone on the streets asking people if they felt it was ok for a woman to express a crush on a married man, then back in the studio they talked about it.  Hearing my name, and my blog's name, said out loud on a Washington DC news station was absolutely shocking.  I would have never imagined that. 

If you had known that the post would receive this level of response, would you have done anything differently?

I don't know.  Sometimes I think yes and other times I think no, it all depends on the day.  Right now I'm thinking that no, I wouldn't have done anything differently.  I wrote the truth and expressed my feelings which is really all I can do.  Changing something would mean either holding back the truth or hiding my feelings and neither of those are good things.  I once said if I had known it would get this kind of response I wouldn't have even written it.  I said that after reading 60+ sad story e-mails and shedding tears over each one of them.  I immediately regretted that too.  Obviously that post touched a lot of people and affected a lot of women.  I repeatedly heard (or read) that they finally felt like someone understood their feelings and me being sad over e-mails is worth them feeling validated.  I'm glad I wrote it.  I'm glad it's out there.

Has the response to that post shifted what you share on your blog, or how you share it?

It did at first.  I was full of anxiety because I suddenly felt like I was in competition with myself, as though I had to top that post.  If something new didn't get the same kind of traffic I felt like I was failing or if it didn't get a lot of comments I felt like people didn't like it.  There was suddenly this pressure that hadn't been there before and it was overwhelming.  I usually write every day but I didn't publish anything for 4-5 days because I just felt like nothing was good enough anymore.  It was just like, "Where do you go from here?"  Then very suddenly I just realized that post resonated because it was written from my heart.  I realized people connected with that post because they had connected with me so I went back to writing like I write, sharing my heart, and hoping that people continue to like it.  If they don't, there's nothing I can do.  If that is the only post of mine that they ever read I hope it resonated with them in some small way. 

How do you push past the negativity you’ve received and stay focused on the positive aspects of what you do?

How do I push past it?  Who says I push past it?  It affects me greatly and it's really hard on me, that's a curse of being a sensitive person.  I'm in a few blogging groups and I've asked them for advice.  I'll re-read positive comments or thank you e-mails.  I'll read a book, watch a funny movie or just let it out in one big cry if I feel like I need to do that.  I try to consciously think about the positive things and force myself to focus on writing about that.  It's tough though because if I receive 100 positive e-mails and 1 negative e-mail it is the negative e-mail that will stay with me and bother me.  As I said, it's a curse of the sensitive but I just try to pray and move forward.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a blogger facing this same type of situation?

Connect with your new readers!  If someone takes the time to e-mail you, Facebook message you, tweet you, or comment on the post then take the time to respond.  It means a great deal to them and these are the people who will become followers, who will return, who will connect on social media so make sure they know they are important and valuable to you.  That's the big thing although there is the other stuff...make sure your server can handle the traffic, don't let it change your blog, don't try to duplicate it, etc.   

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions for Across the Board! I wish you the best of luck with Forever Ashley and look forward to your future posts.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Reading & Reviewing

As the new resident reader here, I figured I could blog about something that’s pretty important to readers and authors- reviewing. I had been distantly following a recent blowup in which an author stalked a blogger who left a one star review of her book and then blogged about it. This incident led to a blogger blackout. For one week, many book blogs refused to showcase new reviews in a demonstration against this sort of author behavior, as well as the publisher, who confirmed the address of the blogger in question and didn't acknowledge the author’s wrongdoing in any way. Of course, this blackout had a backlash of its own, with bloggers pitting against other bloggers and any author who spoke out against the protest.

Even with incidents like this, book reviews are important, especially to new authors. Negative book reviews, too. Although painful, they help give credibility to all reviews (really, who else thinks it’s fishy when every single person gives a book five-stars?). And while the Kathleen Hale debacle wasn't the first of its kind (remember the UK author who attacked a reviewer?), she’s more the exception than the rule when it comes to authors and their appreciation--or lack thereof--toward reviewers.

For reviewing, I know we've all heard of Goodreads. I’ll be one to admit that Goodreads can be frustrating for reviews. People include spoilers without checking the spoiler box, just so their review will be more visible. Others use it as a forum to rip a book or author apart. And Goodreads has a policy for authors. The author can flag a review for attacking an author, but the policy states it doesn't mean the review will be removed or modified. Personally, Goodreads is my least favorite place to review (and I’m sure you’ll notice I star my ‘read’ list without always elaborating with a written review). I find it more helpful to review on Amazon. Since I read with the Kindle app, there’s a handy prompt when you reach the end of a book that asks you to take a moment to post your review. Also, I just joined BookLikes, thanks to Kimberly for mentioning it! Once I figure it out, I’ll blog about that.

So, what about you? Where do you review? What do you think of incidents like the above mentioned that stir up the book blogosphere?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Indiana Writing Workshop Experience

On Nov. 1st, I printed out directions from Google Maps, dropped the kidlet off at the baby-sitter, and headed north to the Nora Indianapolis Public Library.

Nora Branch

The Indiana Writing Workshop was given by none other than Chuck Sambuchino, on the topic of 'How To Get Published'. I figured some of it wouldn't be all that new to me, as I've been chasing this dream for over six years now. And a lot of what was said did feel as if it were for those a bit more 'new' to the dream of becoming published.


Even if I were a published author with five books under my belt, I would go to another of Chuck's workshops. Because this guy is hilarious. He had the room in stitches all throughout the day, and it was a pleasure to listen to him speak, even if I already knew what agents do for you, as well as most of the pros & cons of traditional publishing vs. self publishing. Though don't get me wrong, I did come away with some new, helpful information, plus a renewed determination to keep chasing my dream. 

Plus, there was another draw for me as well... there were going to be agents there. Dah-dum-dum!!! I'd signed up for a 10 minute pitch session and as the time drew closer, my heart was pounding. I tried the wisdom of taking deep breaths(I also have many of my characters do this) and found it was complete rubbish. My heart was still pounding and deep breaths were not helping. 

I'm pretty sure I also looked like a crazy person as I sat at a table a few minutes before my pitch time, muttering frantically under my breath, trying to get the pitch I'd been practicing just right(I'd also practiced in my car on lunch, and the interior of my car had never heard so many curse words in an hour's time). 


Despite all my nerves, it went lovely! The agent was amazing and so much fun to talk to. Plus, she requested a full, so yay! It was a great day, and I had breadsticks for lunch with marinara and cheese sauce. So. Like I said, great day.

I also got to see Jody Sparks again, whom I met at a SCBWI event earlier this summer. She's a great gal and I had the privilege of beta reading her most recent book, IF I WERE ME. And oh, man. I cried at the end. You know the saying about being mean to your characters? This lady gets it. When you get to read IIWM someday, you'll understand!

 And, of course, no visit to a library isn't complete without swinging by the kid's section where Curious George happened to be hanging out in a castle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG: In Taking Our Time, Having the Smarts, & Not Giving Up

Founder: Alex J. Cavanaugh

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. {This has been taken from the IWSG site, where a full list of participants can be found}

Jonathan: So… I’m a proud member of the Decade Club. Anyone know what that is? It’s an elite organization reserved for us writers who have spent 10 or more years writing a book. Members of the Decade Club include, but are not limited to, Margaret Mitchell who finishedGone with the Wind in exactly 10 years, J.R.R. Tolkien who completed The Lord of the Rings in 16 years, and Michael Crichton who just missed the decade mark with Jurassic Park, which only took him 8 years to write, but who finally got his member card with Sphere, which took him a whopping 20 years to finish!

Now, I never set out to write a book in over ten years. I mean, who ever heard of NaNoWriDe (National Novel Writing Decade)? It just sort of happened. In addition to numerous external factors, like moving five times and starting four different jobs in the same period, I recently discovered that there were some internal things going on as well. Shocker! I think the major thing holding me back from finishing my book was a totally unrealistic expectation of myself and my writing. This is the first time I’ve ever attempted to write a book and expecting it to be the next best seller, or comparing myself to authors (like Tolkien or Crichton) who have been doing this forever, is a little crazy, honestly.

Clinically speaking, I’m a perfectionist (or at least I was). Thanks to some books I’ve read on the subject (and there are a lot of them out there, my favorite being The Seven Secrets of the Prolific), I’ve learned that perfectionism leads to procrastination, and procrastination leads to feeling like crap about yourself, and feeling like crap about yourself is just not conducive to a productive writing life. It’s a vicious cycle. So, if you find yourself sitting down at the keyboard, thinking that every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter need to be perfect or you’re a complete and total failure, you might want to look into this perfectionism thing. It really helped me, and I hope it helps you. Back to writing! It’s NaNoWriDe after all…

Leandra: One of the things I worry about is not being smart enough to get published. When it comes to things like grammar and punctuation, I'm... not so great. I graduated from high school at sixteen and I'm the type of person that if I don't use it I lose it. So what can I remember from English classes that I took fourteen years ago? That if I answer the phone and someone says, "Is Leandra there?" that I say, "This is she.", and not, "This is her.". So, yeah, that's helpful with writing! =) But I continue on(battling prepositions and run-on sentences) thankful for things like SpellChecker and critique partners.

Stephen:  Ask my wife what I was like before I got published.

Go ahead. Ask her. I'll wait.

Back already? She just laughed at you? Well, I guess that's answer enough.

Before my debut novel BRAINEATER JONES got picked up by Red Adept Publishing, a small publisher out of Raleigh, NC, I was a sullen, despondent mess. I'm not a religious person, but the Bible tells a story about not burying your "talents" - in the literal sense, make sure you invest your money instead of sitting on it, but in a metaphorical sense, make sure you show the world what you're capable of.

What I could do was write. It was all I could ever do, the only thing that could make me special. I have a tin ear, no eye for color, and even at peak physical condition I'm not much to write home about. Painting, music, sports, I was always mediocre at these at best.

But writing? Oh, I could write. I could paint you a picture with words, conduct a symphony of letters, even make you jump for joy with a well-turned phrase. But for years and years all of that just sat in my trunk, or, more accurately, on my hard drive. My talents were buried. I was a mess.

How could it be that no one was interested in reading what I wrote? How was that even possible? Why would God or Providence or fate or chance or whatever give me a skill and never let me show it to the world? My story might have ended right there. But there's another Bible verse (I know, you'd think from reading this short passage that I'm super-religious, but I swear I'm not) that says "cast not your pearls before swine." In other words, make sure the right people are appreciating your talents.

So I kept trying. I kept querying agents and publishers and when one wasn't interested in my book, I just reminded myself that they were probably a "swine" from the metaphor, someone who didn't appreciate objects of great worth. And finally I found Red Adept.

You would think I'd be good now. You would think I'd be happy to finally be published, but you know what? There's always another mountain to climb, always another obstacle to overcome, always another doubt in my mind:

"Why are sales poor?"

"Why am I not getting reviews?"

"Where are the awards and accolades?"

But when things like that get me down, I'm reminded of another great thinker (I can't remember if she was in the Bible or not) but she said, "Keep on swimming...Keep on swimming."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Writerly Anxieties: Author Photos

I'm so happy to be here posting my very first blog for Across the Board! I'm Beth, and like all of us here, writing is my happy place.

I'm not necessarily the type of person who needs a happy place. I'm not overly stressed out. That being said, there are two surefire ways to freak me out.

The first thing is to take my blood pressure. I see that stupid cuff and instinctively go into fight or flight mode. My BP is technically fine, but I have horrendous White Coat Syndrome, and my doctor has to take it five or six times, and/or give me ten minute meditation time while he goes to his office to do some paperwork. It always goes down to normal after deep-breathing, but it's a process.

The other thing is being photographed. Unfortunately, this is something that's not so easily fixed. I really don't want to think about what would happen if someone ever tried to snap a picture of me having my blood pressure taken...

Anyway, I've had people tell me my issue with cameras can't be that bad. Well, I assure you, it is. In case you're wondering just how bad, this is me, having my picture taken:

And this is me, opting to forgo the smile, and instead trying to appear deep in thought:

And this is my reaction when the photographer tells me to "just relax" and "act natural.":

You get the idea.

I try not to let it consume me since being an author is so exciting, and each and every step along the journey should be celebrated. But I will admit that once the overall euphoria of signing with my agent died down a bit, my first thought was: "Holy mother of God, I'll have to take an author photo at some point."

So many things are involved in achieving The Perfect Author Photo. It has to capture me as an individual, but also needs to reflect my author brand, personal style, and my overall whimsy. It somehow needs to encompass so many sides of myself all in one teeny tiny click of a button.

Well, what if my whimsy is unavailable that day? What if the camera is too good, the lighting is WAY too good, and every insecurity emanates from my overly magnified pores?

Even worse, what if the photographer tells me to rest my chin in my hand and look pensive? There is nothing natural about that position, unless of course you're Dobie Gillis chilling beside The Thinker statue.

(Side note: anyone remember when Dobie Gillis aired on Nick at Nite?! Such an underrated show.)

Anyway, nobody can deny that Dobie rocked that pose. I, however, know I could not.

Then there's the part I can control but presents me with too many options, therefore overwhelming me: Atmosphere. I write light, girly YA. Which means my surroundings must scream "I'M LIGHT AND GIRLY AND SUPER FUN."

So where do I take this all-important breezy pic? A bookstore? A field of sunflowers? Sephora?

I have discovered that when I'm taking selfies holding my kitten I'm happy, and my face does not express a great deal of emotional distress. So there's a good chance that when the incredible day comes and my book is sitting on a shelf, on the back cover there will be a selfie of me and my cat, and, really, I'm okay with it.

Now, tell me your author photo story! Is it something that ominously looms over your head, torturing your very soul on a daily basis too? Or have you had one taken already and do you have some tips for me? Please share!

xoxo Beth

Sunday, November 2, 2014

PROMOTION: Kingston's Project ebook sale and Kingston's Promise giveaway!

October 2014 Promotion

Take advantage of this limited time promotion!

Kingston's Project only $0.99 on ebook!


How do you find the strength to embrace a future that’s different than the one you planned?

For Sarah Mitchell, the answer is simple—you don’t. For two years, Sarah has shut herself off from most of the world around her. She needs to move on, but doesn’t know how to begin.

Unexpectedly, Sarah is presented with an opportunity that could change everything. Elijah Kingston, her firm’s largest client, wants her to lead a highly confidential assignment. When Sarah learns the shocking nature of Kingston’s project, she is torn between Elijah’s promise of healing and her fear of falling deeper into despair.

Kingston’s Project is a poignant story about the effects of grief and the loss of hope. Can Sarah find happiness again, or is the hold from her fear and guilt too strong to break free?

~ Buy Links ~

Kingston's Promise Giveaway!

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“I promise.”

Two words meant to inspire trust and hope. When kept, a promise can be powerful. When broken, it can shatter just about everything around it.

Marcus Kingston spent twenty years searching for the woman he was meant to be with forever. The day he found her, he made a promise. He would spend the rest of his life trying to ease her pain and give her happiness. Her past wouldn't make it easy, but he was determined.

He thought the difficult part was getting her to give him a chance. He told her she couldn't predict the future—that she needed to take a leap of faith. What he didn't anticipate was the one unavoidable obstacle to every promise—life. Now, he’s the one who needs to take the leap.

~ Enter to win one of 5 signed copies ~

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