Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Taking A Break

I'm letting you all know that I'm going to be gone from here for a few weeks. I plan to return sometime in August. Between book promotion-type events and family vacation and our anniversary and 3 kids' birthdays, and the coming edits for my next book, and just the increased family time that comes with my kids being home from school, I've got to shift my focus a bit.
I'm not leaving entirely. I'll just be found elsewhere. Because The Guest Book is the She Reads July selection, I'm posting over there regularly. And I'll still be showing up each Wednesday over at Southern Belle View. And I will continue to tweet and post on Facebook. My Twitter feeds show up in the sidebar here, or you can just hop over there and follow me. And I'm sure I'll be posting stuff on Pinterest, because I just love finding neat stuff on there and sharing it. I just reorganized all my recipes into categories because a board called "Food" just wasn't getting it anymore.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, I hope you're enjoying your summer. I'll see you back here in a bit, ready to talk about-- sigh-- school starting. I can hardly bear to say it, I love summer so.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Events This Coming Weekend

This coming weekend is my own personal kickoff for my book, and what better place to do it than in the area where it's set. If you're going to be anywhere near the Sunset Beach NC area this coming weekend (or you're just looking for an excuse to get away to the beach), please come out and see me at one of my book events! Here's where I will be this Thursday through Monday:

Thursday July 12, 1-4: The Silver Coast Wine Shop, Southport NC, in conjunction with Pelican Books (Southport is where the new Nicholas Sparks movie, Safe Haven, is being filmed. If you come you can check out the filming! This town is C-U-T-E. And if you want a cool place to have dinner, try the Provision Company. I feel quite certain my family and I will eat there after. Their shrimp burgers are famous!)

Friday July 13, 11-1: The Salt Shaker Book Store, Wilmington NC. I'll be there during lunch so plan to have lunch at their delicious cafe while you're there! Also, word has it that the sculptor who created the real sculpture in the book will be there to meet as well!

Friday, July 13, 3-5: Quarter Moon Books, Topsail Beach, NC: Wander in off the beach and have a smoothie. (Their smoothies are delish!) Or come later and have a glass of wine at their new wine bar. I'm hopefully hitting both crowds.

Monday, July 16, 1-4: Pelican Books, Sunset Beach, NC: This is my favorite bookstore on earth. The women who work there have led me to more than a few of my all-time favorites for many years and it's always surreal to see one of my books on their shelves. I'll be signing in the store for anyone who's game to stop by.

Hope to see you at one of these locations. You might see me, and you might just see my family lurking around too, as we're turning this into a family getaway. I'm looking forward to it!
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Monday, July 09, 2012

The Tater Tot Casserole

A friend and I were having coffee and we got on the subject of the moms we used to be. Moms who wanted to be perfect, who still thought that if we followed some sort of prescribed formula we would create the ideal family, with the perfect offspring. We homeschooled and had elaborate charts for how to organize our households and signed up for all the right activities. We read all the how-to books, studying them as if we'd be tested on them later. We had heroes we looked up to, going to hear them at conferences, standing in line to say something inane to them about how inspired we were by their lives, wishing that just some of whatever they possessed would rub off on us. Both of us took turns confessing just how deep we'd gone in this pursuit of perfection.

She grinned and leaned forward. "I even emulated Michelle Duggar," she confessed. "I, like, studied her and tried to do what she did."

I nodded and grinned back. "Me too! I bought that first book they came out with."

And before I could say what was coming next, she did. "I even made that tater tot casserole!"

I doubled over in laughter. "I was just about to say I thought that the key had to be that tater tot casserole!"

Oh we had a good laugh over those moms we used to be. Now we know better. We know that, in spite of our best efforts and diligent studying of recipes and organizational techniques, our kids are as imperfect as we are, our spouses are not going to be robots, and all the formulas in the world don't guarantee a perfect existence. My friend and I haven't given up as in we don't try at all. But we have let go of our pursuit of perfection, of holding ourselves up to some self-created unreasonable standard. We've stopped seeking out other people as role models and stopped looking around for validation or permission.

I dare say we're happier for it. Some of you might like that tater tot casserole, but my family? They wouldn't eat it. Turns out, that's just not who we are. And for that I am very, very glad.
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Friday, July 06, 2012

Great Value In Disaster

A few Sundays ago, I heard this story about a fire that destroyed much of Thomas Edison's life's work. Some of you may know it, but for those of you who don't, I think it will inspire you. I love Thomas Edison's quote:

“There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”

In my life this past year I've been seeing the value in loss. I've not gone into it here, but have alluded to the range of emotions I've felt as I've faced changes I didn't expect. Yes, the losses have been painful, but as I move forward I also see what Edison said as holding true. When life goes up in flames-- whatever that looks like for each of us-- we lose our successes but we also lose our failures. And in the ashes, there is the chance for a fresh start.

Some of you are facing loss of varying kinds. The loss of a marriage. The loss of a career. The loss of a friendship. The loss of a home. The loss of a role. And in that loss there is the pang of losing what you held dear. But there is also the glimmer of hope that comes with knowing that, while the good stuff is gone, the bad stuff is too. Maybe today all we need to say is "Thank God we can start anew."

So I'll leave you with a song I love called Start Again by a group I love, The Blue Nile. The recording is not the best, but it's the song that was running through my head as I wrote this post. I hope that we can all find the strength to start again, the hope amidst the ashes.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

You Can Help Spread The Word!

The Guest Book releases today officially!

As always, I need your help to spread the word about this book. I'm still relatively new in the fiction world, so you guys talking about the book is more helpful than you know.

In the past I've posted this comprehensive list of things you can do in your neck of the woods to help make The Guest Book a success. I know some of you won't feel inspired to do any of these things. But some of you will, and that is what makes all the difference. You never know how that one little thing you do will ripple outwards and lead to. Truly. I've been amazed at the things that have happened just because someone I knew dared to talk about my books to someone else. That's why word of mouth is so powerful and why I value you guys so much.

This list was written by Deb Raney, a successful novelist who's written some great books you might want to check out. I am so thankful to her for creating this and making it available.

•Write a review for the book on online bookstores such as:

•Write a review at one of the many online book review sites, including:

•As soon as you start reading the book, post a comment and/or link to your facebook profile page, or send a tweet on Twitter letting friends and followers know you're reading (and enjoying!) the book.

•At you can recommend books via an e-mail link that will take your friends right to the page of the book you’re promoting.

•Recommend the book as a featured title for an area book discussion group (or start your own bookclub!). This is especially appropriate if the book has discussion questions in the back.

•Start a discussion about the book on your blog or on e-mail loops you’re a part of.

•If you have a website or write a newsletter, consider featuring novels you’ve read and enjoyed.

•Add the book to your list of favorites on myspace, facebook, shoutlife, or other online communities.

•After reading and reviewing the book, give it away as a prize in a drawing on your website or blog.

•If you have a unique perspective—for instance, personal experience with the book’s topic, a man offering a male perspective for a women’s fiction book, etc.—offer your insights in venues that might not ordinarily hear about the book.

•Donate your influencer copy to your public library or church library when you’re finished reading it. Better yet, share your copy in other ways and buy a second copy for the library.

•Print out a review you’ve written, or other reviews of the book and give them to your public or church librarians for consideration.

•Offer to distribute bookmarks and/or postcards for the author or publisher. Public libraries, church libraries, bookstores and gift shops are usually happy to have giveaways on their counters.

•Ask your church if you could tuck postcards or bookmarks in the morning service bulletin some Sunday.

•Place bookmarks or postcards about the book at each place setting as favors for a luncheon or banquet.

•Hang out in your local bookstore and “hand sell” the book by talking it up to customers shopping in the fiction department.

•Talk to the clerks in any bookstores and libraries you visit and ask if they carry the book. If not give them a short book report and recommend they order a few copies.

•When visiting bookstores, do a little creative rearranging to turn the book face out on the shelves. Use good judgment and don’t hide one book to promote another. Also keep in mind that in some stores front-table space is paid for by the publisher, so don’t “steal.”

•Offer to write a book review for your church newsletter, neighborhood newspaper or any other printed source that might reach readers.

•At your next women’s retreat, volunteer to organize a book table, where you will feature the book.

•Offer to organize a blog tour for the author, setting up a week when numerous blogs will feature the book and interviews with the author.

•When you’re finished with the book, tuck it into a gift basket for someone who is ill or in the hospital; or take it to your next dinner party as a hostess gift.

•Leave the book in a waiting room where someone with a few extra minutes might start reading it.

•Prison ministries are always looking for wholesome books to distribute. Check out groups like Prison Book Project.

•Word-of-mouth is still probably the number one way books hit bestseller lists, so simply start conversations about the book. Tell your friends and family what you’ve been reading and why you enjoyed it so much.

•Drop leaflets as you parachute out of a plane.
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