Monthly Archives: November 2014

Middle of the night musings

Print by the ultra talented Amber of Hey Instigator (Click image to link to her site)

Print by the ultra talented Amber of Hey Instigator (Click image to link to her site)

Let me be honest: I never use the word “musing” in real life. Ever. But it feels good in the title (and we all know how much I love writing titles!) And…be warned…it’s the middle of the night, I should be sleeping, and instead I’m doing therapy blogging.

It’s nearly midnight. My entire family is asleep, and I will need to be up with them in approximately six hours. I was fine when I went up to go to bed, but now I’m at my dining room table, kind of freaking out. I can’t sleep.

Finding the Ruby Slippers releases in four/three days. Even though everything I know to do is done, I feel wholly unprepared.

Creating Finding was a very different beast than creating Stealing. Writing and publishing is (to me, anyway) very similar to having a baby. With the first one, you read all of the pregnancy books and plan out things like the nursery and the wardrobe. With the second (again, this was my experience) you’re busy taking care of the first one, and everything with the second one feels a little bit…natural. It’s a little more comfortable. And then, all of a sudden, it’s time and you’re like What? Wait! Where did all my prep time go? With the last one, I had prep time!

Which isn’t to say I haven’t prepared for this launch. In a lot of ways, (all of them, actually) I’ve done a ton more to prepare for this launch than I did for Stealing, simply because I knew what to do this time. I’ve got two signings scheduled already, I did both a physical and digital presale of the book, I have my red pen and all my mailing materials ready so when UPS delivers the package on Monday I will be able to sign them and ship them out. (See– if you preorder, you’ll get the book sooner than if you wait!)

I’m on my computer now because I was laying in bed, making a list of the few things I have left to do, and I had a sudden panic attack that the file I was getting printed maybe wasn’t my actual final book file. So I ran down here, pulled up the printer’s website, and checked.

Yep. It’s the right file.

No matter how I look, I can’t find anything wrong. Which isn’t to say this book is perfect. I’m human, all of my editors are also human. We’ve done our best. And, geez do I want our best is perfect. But I have vowed not to freak out if I find a typo in my copies. (Dozens of typos…well, that might be a different story.)

I think the reason I’m freaking out now is that I’ve been so calm this whole time. I had checklists and deadlines and calendars and I followed them. Also, rather than scrambling to get things done while taking care of two kids (one each for each half of the day) and being in full time grad school, I’ve had from 9:30-3:30 nearly every weekday (except for when I’m working the other job or at school) since the beginning of September to get sh!t done. All of that calm is culminating in this…a rambling blog post in the middle of the night.

There were people who didn’t like Stealing. The two big complaints were the language (yes, there is a lot of swearing. The main character is a criminal. I don’t talk like that.) and the ending (I had the ending in mind when I started writing. It got tweaked, but it had the exact effect I intended. I’m sorry that I’m not sorry.) I have read the bad reviews and felt like I was punched in the stomach. I’ve read the good reviews and wanted to hug the reviewer. I’m no different than anyone else—I want people to like me and it hurts when they don’t.

I write because I have to write. I know that is a complete cliche, but it’s real. Ask my family. After the holiday, and going on six days of not writing at all, stuff like this happens. The words spew. But I’m not going to lie, I like it when people like what I write. I can’t change anyone’s actual opinion of the story, but I can make sure I’ve done everything in my power to make actually reading the story the best experience possible.

I just hope I’m not missing anything.

I could have journaled this and kept it to myself (maybe you wish that I had!) But I am putting it out there because I’ve been reading Glennon Melton’s posts on the Momestary blog and Shauna Niquist’s posts on her blog. Both of them are extremely candid about big and small things, and, lately, have helped me feel like I’m not alone. It’s okay. I’m okay.

So, I’m putting this out there incase you are someone, or you know someone, who is about to put a huge part of themselves out for the whole world to see and judge and critique…

Book of the Week: The Fever by Megan Abbott

Book of the Week for November 24-November 30

The Fever by Megan Abbott


Why it’s interesting:

We all know how much I like fiction based on real life.  The Fever: A Novel was loosely inspired by a mysterious outbreak in LeRoy, New York. Megan write an article about it for Huffington Post and there’s more information about it on her website. After reading (and loving) Dare Me, I’ve had this book on my To-Read list for a while (I almost bought it based off this interview) and just got the email from the library on Saturday that my digital copy was waiting.

I haven’t done much else this weekend besides read.

It’s addicting. The pacing is phenomenal, the characters development is far beyond what Abbott did in Dare Me (and, again, I loved that book) but with very little exposition. It’s incredibly hard to put down. I usually read while I dry my hair in the mornings and I couldn’t today because I knew if I did I wouldn’t stop and I wouldn’t get anything done today. I’m looking forward to the kids’ bedtime tonight so I can finish it.


The blurb:

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, THE FEVER affirms Megan Abbott’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation.”*

*Laura Lippman


If you like this, you might also like:

Dare Me.  I don’t know how I heard about this book, or whether it’s inspired by anything real, but it was my first introduction to Abbott’s work and it’s also masterfully written.



New day, new challenges

I just sat down at my desk for the morning. Normally, right now, I write in my journal. It is sort of like the morning pages from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, but not, because it’s not the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and I don’t make myself write three pages (although after years of doing “real” morning pages, I usually do hit the three page mark.) Even as I’m walking down the stairs to my basement office I’m thinking about what I’m going to write. And as I was sitting down, I realized I wanted to write this one as a blog post rather than in my journal. So please forgive if this gets rambly…

Yesterday I ordered my first copies of Finding the Ruby Slippers. I’m still basking the glow of that accomplishment a little bit. I am in no way close to being “in a good place” or “done” with that project, but still, it feels good. I know I need to dive into the marketing for it. But the editing, the designing, the writing, that’s all done. It’s awesome.

A few weeks ago I read 168 Hours and did a time tracker for a week, then came up with an ideal daily schedule in order to get in all of the stuff I need to do each day. I followed that ideal schedule for exactly zero days before something came up and made me change it. But I do know this: my beta time is in the morning. I need to spend my mornings writing.

I need to spend my mornings writing.

Still, today, the day I can actually write again because I don’t need to read or edit or design, I’m thinking about all of the other things I need to do: Outreach for my job with NoiseTrade, marketing for Finding, prepping for an interview I’m conducting, which leads me to finding people to interview me about the new book, the kitchen counter literally has a mountain of papers on it that need to be sorted (I gathered them from all over the house and made one pile to make it easier to go through…four days ago) I should be at the gym, there’s a yoga class I could take this morning that would be awesome, I have a painting project i want to get started, Chris and I need to trade offices because the internet is so much better in mine (and I don’t need internet to write), I want to look for grants to maybe fund the publishing process for HomeI need to look for some contests to start submitting short stories to, and I have several pieces that need to be critiqued for my online writer’s group.

Oh…and I need to figure something else out for dinner tonight because it was supposed to be Chicken Caesar Pitas but we had chicken and rice last night that we ended up putting caesar dressing on (so very good!) so it would be basically the same meal. The real problem was I thought we had a roast in the freezer and we didn’t.

I also want to find a good day planner to help me organize my days. (Something like this.)

Or maybe I could just print the schedule I made for myself, blow it up to poster-size at kinkos, and hang it on my wall so I remember what I’ve determined would be the most productive use of my time.

Now, though, I’m going to Rdio to find some good writing music, and I’m going to dive back into the re-write I’m doing of Clouded. Because the one week I spent on it went really well, and I’m excited to be writing something new.

Here’s hoping the words come…my butt is in the seat. That’s all it really takes.

I thought about making this book of the week, but thought that was too self-promotional

Finding-the-Ruby-Slippers-ePub-CoverRight now, I am sitting in a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis on the first floor of the building where Lily has ballet, drinking a glass of wine and celebrating. I just ordered the preorder copies of Finding the Ruby Slippers. The process of publishing this book has been really different than Stealing the Ruby Slippers. For one thing, I learned a lot from Stealing.

Okay—I have to interrupt myself for a second— I’m listening to Imagine Dragons on Rdio and the song that’s on, “Amsterdam” has been one of my major inspirations for this entire process…I mean, writing in general: Leaving Whole Foods, going back to grad school, publishing Stealing, writing Finding, and working on Home. It’s just perfect. This is the chorus:

Your time will come/if you wait for it/if you wait for it/It’s hard, believe me/I’ve tried

So, anyway, lessons learned…it’s a whole other blog post. But this is much more of a group project than Stealing was and I couldn’t be more excited about how the finished product turned out.

The on-sale date for the book will be my birthday, December 3. I am running a bunch of preorder specials, including some sets at I’d love for you to check it out. Thanks for being a blog reader and bearing with the sporadic posts lately as I’ve gotten through the end of this project!


Life as it happens

A few weeks ago Chris and I attended the Storyline conference and I’m still feeling its effects.

One of the things that was discussed, and that, somehow, really resonated with both Chris and I, was the idea that we should abolish “somdeday” from our vocabularies. You’re either going to do something or you’re not, it’s as simple as that.


Of course.


Except…what about when your five year old wants to read you a book and you’re in the middle of editing your own book, or typing a work email, or talking on the phone. “Just a minute” becomes just as bad as “someday.”

I’ve been trying really really hard to not leave anything open ended since Storyline. If someone wants something from me and I can’t do it right that second, I put a time on it. I’ve gotten a bit better about stepping back and evaluating what is really the most necessary thing to be getting done in any particular moment, which has meant letting my kids interrupt me. ALOT.

I’m still trying to get used to it. And more than once I’ve had to stop myself from losing my temper. Because, seriously, who am I going to yell at? Myself? They’re just asking to spend time with me. I’m going to enjoy it. Work might not get done. Oh well. To be honest, I don’t make much money from my books right now anyway. It’s not like it’s going to be the difference between us buying groceries and not. And all of the important stuff seems to get done at some point anyway.

So…that is my long excuse to tell you why there is no Book of the Week this week, and why I’m just now blogging on Wednesday. Lily was home sick Friday-Monday and I didn’t get much done, other than cuddling. About a third of the way through the day yesterday I realized I was coming down with what Lily had, so everything I’ve done today has been through the middle of a sudafed-induced fog. (Not complaining about the Sudafed. I love that stuff. I’m just saying.) I did get done the things that needed to happen, I finished my read-through of Finding the Ruby Slippers and updated the Shop page of to include preorder links and bundles. (It doesn’t sound like much, but I had to do a bunch of HTML coding, and I’m not super fast at that even without cold medicine.)

Instead, I’m going to send you over to Shauna Niequist’s blog. Her speech at Storyline, and this latest blog post, have really resonated with me. I can get a ton of stuff done. But is it the right stuff?



Book of the Week: Eleanor and Park

Book of the Week for November 3-November 9

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


Why it’s interesting:

I’ve been hearing about Eleanor & Park all year. I downloaded it (I think as part of a Kindle Daily Deal) on December 10, 2013 and it’s just sat there. Literally every single time I’ve gone into a bookstore since it’s caught my attention. But for whatever reason it just wasn’t what I was clicking on the Kindle. Then, Saturday, we were killing time at a Barnes and Nobel in Chicago and I saw it again. I reached into my bag, grabbed my Kindle, downloaded it, and started reading. Chris had to come get me to leave. I read it while we waited at the airport and on the whole flight home. It’s just such a perfect story of first love. Both of the main characters (all of them, actually) are perfectly believably written: honest, smart, stupid, shady, flawed… It’s just a really really beautiful story. Early on in the story they’re in English class discussing Romeo and Juliet and Eleanor tells the teacher the book is crap, but people like remembering what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. It set this book up perfectly.


The blurb:

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.


If you like this, you might also like:

The Fault in Our Stars. Yes, I realize it’s totally cliche to recommend this book at this point, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m also going to throw this out there in case you find yourself crying too hard: the likelihood of a girl her age dying from thyroid cancer is so small it’s crazy. Yes, I know the character was based on a real person, I don’t mean her any disrespect. But as a thyroid cancer survivor myself, I feel like I should throw that out there so none of you are going Oh my gosh, this could happen to Amanda! (The sickness part, not the falling in love. I’m happy with my husband thankyouverymuch.) But, again, such an awesome love story.





Titles for blogs are really hard

Cover PileSeriously…I hate titling these things. So much pressure. It becomes part of the URL and anything I misspell is permanently forever in internet world. (I misspelled “misspell” just now. I thought it only had one “s”)

Okay. Rant over.

Because, seriously, this week is crazy awesome.

Sort of.

Monday kind of sucked. We had so much fun in Chicago last weekend at the Storyline Conference, our flight home landed at 9:00pm on Saturday night and we made it to a 9:40 showing of The Judge (great movie, and a large popcorn and large drink was $9.75. It’s so cheap here! A year after moving here we’re still constantly going: holy cow! That would have been so expensive in Tennessee!) then met my parents Sunday morning for a fantastic breakfast at this little place in Onamia, had a fun afternoon looking at cats with the kids (we ended up not getting one) and then went to see Relient K Sunday night. Chris and I are friends with a few of the guys in Relient K, I worked at their management company right out of college, and this tour is for the tenth anniversary of MMHMM, an album that I worked a lot on. (By a lot, I mean I stuffed approximately 35,000 copies of it into bubble mailers, sorted them by zip code and took them to the post office.) It’s a fantastic album, and the show made me feel like I was 22 again. It was pretty awesome.

Then Monday came. We were exhausted. We didn’t get home until about 2:00am, and Lily woke up at 2:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I don’t remember what all happened during the day, but it wasn’t great. Then I sprained my ankle pretty bad on my way home from picking the kids up at school. I lost footing in four inches of leaves, the cement underneath was buckled. My ankles + buckled cement = extreme caution needed. Fun fact: buckled cement put me in the hospital once with a chipped bone. Stupid ankles.

But things are looking up now!

I sent out proof copies of Finding the Ruby Slippers to the final editors, got Between Stealing and Finding sent out and posted (and I made up a new word: epiprovella. It’s real. Start using it.) and Stealing the Ruby Slippers was featured today in NoiseTrade’s emailer which means IT’S FREE FOR A WEEK! Very very exciting.

And, possibly best of all, I read an AMAZING book, Eleanor & Park, which will be this week’s Book of the Week whenever I write the post, probably tomorrow. (It’s only $5 and took me literally less than a day to read. It’s amazing. Get it.)

Tonight I’m going to see Talking Volumes with Azar Nafisi, tomorrow night Garth Brooks (!), Friday is Switchfoot, Saturday I am participating in the Nokomis Urban Craft Fair and then going to Wits. Sunday I plan on being super lazy with the kids. Which means trips to playground and bike rides and going to the library. 🙂

Now I’m off to read my proof copy of FtRS and drink some good coffee. Grab yourself a book (or three or four– two of them are free!) and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week too.

Once I’m done with these edits I’m not sure what to read next. Leave me your suggestions in the comments.