Time for another post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.
This month’s question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?
Sort of . . . 18 Things started out as another novel. Back then it was a stand-alone & nobody died. The main character had cancer though, and agents stated it sounded too much like a Bucket List Junior or A Walk to Remember. A few suggested I make it a trilogy and somehow throw in a paranormal twist because those were all the rage in YA at the time. The rest, they say, is history!
Speaking of 18 Things, I’ll be promoting it at an author panel & signing at the local Barnes & Noble Marketplace in Fort Myers in two weeks. As many of you will recall, I teach English and have organized author school visits for the past three years. This year is bigger and better with a huge festival featuring 15 authors! These are the authors that will join me at the bookstore in the evening. Most are from around the state, but we have one from Georgia, one from Ohio, and another from New York! If you’re in Southwest Florida, please come on out from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, March 16th! 15% of our author sales will be donated back to my school for next year’s literacy festival 🙂
Sometime during the Christmas season, you’ll probably be shopping for a young adult in your life (or if you’re like my husband, shopping for your wife who still acts like a young adult). You might be scratching your head at what to get someone between the ages of 13-19, but have no fear, Jamie is here! I scanned my Goodreads log and picked out 12 YA books I read across the genres this year, ones that I would for sure recommend to anyone age 13 and up!
On the 12th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . A Fractured Fairy Tale.
This is a great modern-day twist on a beloved story! You can’t buy one without buying the other because you’ll want to read the sequel right away!
On the 11th, 10th, and 9th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Historical Fiction.
A few picks on this one:
The Book Thief (World War II-era story . . . yeah, you’ve heard the story, but not from Death’s POV)
The Red Umbrella (Cuban politics and history . . . I know it sounds boring, but it’s totally not! EVERYONE should read this!)
The Infernal Devices (England during the Victorian era–this is an admixture of the real history and the unreal since it features paranormal elements. This trilogy is a prequel to The Mortal Instruments books, which if you didn’t read, you might’ve seen the movie this year!)
On the 8th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Paranormal Romance.
Ever and Evade are another two-for-one deal in the same series. Get your pot of coffee ready when reading this one because you’ll want to pull an all nighter, but so much more fun than studying for exams!
On the 7th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Inspirational Romance.
KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh. This book was put out by my publisher this year, and it was one of my favorite reads. It could also fall under historical fiction. What a fun way to learn! Book #2, KIYA: Mother of a King is sitting on my Kindle, waiting to be read over my Christmas vacation!
On the 6th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Mythological Fiction.
Tangled Tides. Love the tag line: Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters–until she becomes one. This book is so good, seriously one of my 13yo favs!
On the 5th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Magical Realism/Adventure Fiction.
Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game. Of course, if you’re feeling like winning the title, “Aunt of the Year” then go ahead and buy all 5 books in the series for your tween/teen, but all of the stories can also stand alone. Who doesn’t love the idea of Disney characters coming to life, no matter what age you are!
One the 4th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Fantasy Fiction.
Core. This is the debut novel by a talented writer and friend who attends the same church as me. I have one word for ya: Dragons. Really, what more do you need?
On the 3rd Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. . . Sci-Fi/Dystopian Fiction.
Under the Never Sky and Through the Ever Night. Yep, another two-for-one deal here. Can’t recommend these books enough. Out of 5 stars, I’d give them 10! If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, this is a must read! And since it’s told through dual narrative, the hero and heroine’s POV, it offers broad appeal.
On the 2nd and 1st Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Contemporary Coming of Age Fiction.
The Moon and More. I’m in love with Sarah Dessen. She is my literary girl crush. I could read nothing but her books for the rest of my life, and I’d be in heaven!
18 Things. I may be biased here, but this is one heck of a book! Hahaha . . . could also fit under Inspirational and Paranormal Romance, but the overall arc of the series is definitely first and foremost a coming of age tale.
I could go on and on . . . why did the song have to be the 12 Days of Christmas?! So many books, so little time. Some other honorable mentions are the 4 novels I’m reading with my Language Arts classes right now: The Girl Who Threw Butterflies, Legend, Janitors, and Cinder.
*What about you? What books would you recommend buying as gifts for the holiday season, YA or otherwise? Read any of these books? Yay or Nay to my picks?
Today I’m so excited to let one of my favorite publishing sistas from Curiosity Quills take over my blog to promote her new release!
Let me just say that I LOOOVED her first book, Fade, and recommended it to anyone looking for a paranormal read.
Let me also say that Ayden has been served a pretty large cup of suffering as of late, and she could really use our help promoting her new book right now. You can visit her blog if you’d like the full story. But as always, Ayden is keeping strong and carrying on . . . . so take it away, Ayden!
Songs of Destruction: FALL’s Playlist by @AKMorgen
Music is such a big source of inspiration for me. Nothing invokes a certain emotion, memory, or frame of mind quite like the perfect song. Naturally, one of the first things I do when I sit down to write is to create a playlist that reminds me of the story in some way.
In my new release, FALL (The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two), we see this struggle unfolding between Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews, our apocalypse stopping heroine and hero, where they both have their own ideas on what’s best for everyone. They end up clashing over those differences of opinion and reacting to this added element of angst in their relationship in some pretty intense ways at times. As a result, this created a sort of dark, melancholy tone for FALL in places.
I’m not exactly a dark and melancholy kind of person, so it was critical that I found music that captured that feeling or it simply wouldn’t have worked. But because FALL took over a year to write, I often reached this point where I literally could not listen to a specific song again without wanting to scream. I had to switch things up for my sanity, so the playlist for FALL evolved and changed a lot while I wrote.
Luckily, there is an endless supply of music out there that really captures the more angsty parts of FALL, so I had a lot of good choices. 🙂
Here are some of my favorite angst-ridden songs from FALL’s playlists:
- Letters From The Sky – The Civil Wars – This song so perfectly captures Ari and Dace’s relationship, and the whole hopeful yet melancholy apocalypse theme of the series, I added it to the list the first time I heard it.
- Closer – Burn Season – This song reminds me so much of Dace at times. He’s so screwed up, and yet so amazingly good at the same time, I always feel a little sad for him.
- Maybe Tomorrow – Stereophonics – I can’t think of any other song that says so much with so little. It’s sad, it’s hopeful, and just all around powerful.
- All Falls Down – Adelitas Way – This song was an early favorite. I love it for Ronan, who we see a lot more of in FALL, and really start getting to know. It also perfectly captures some of the darkest points of the entire Ragnarök series.
- Radioactive – Imagination Dragons – This song has such a great feel to it. There’s that apocalyptic vibe, and then that self-loathing vibe, and then underneath all of that is the story of an awakening or desire to change. We see a little of each in FALL.
- Always – Saliva – This is one of my all time favorite pissed off songs. It’s so spot on when it comes to that “breaking point” of relationship angst. I rocked it a time or five.
- One More Night – Maroon 5 – This is another great dysfunctional relationship song. Plus, I don’t know anyone who can make dysfunction sound as hot as Adam Levine does.
- Hold it Against Me – Sam Tsui – Speaking of hot, I love, love, love Sam Tsui’s cover of this song. It’s so raw and lovely at the same time. There’s a specific scene in FALL where this song fit perfectly.
- Tears of an Angel – Ryandan – If I had to pick a single song to listen to while writing the entire Ragnarök Prophesies series, this song would be it. It’s haunting, beautiful, sad, hopeful, and just all around amazing.
You can listen to this playlist, as well as a few bonus tracks, here.
About the Author:
A.K. Morgen lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband, three dogs, and demonic cat. She has a graduate degree in Criminal Justice and Law, and plans to save the world some day. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching her niece and nephews how to cause mischief. You can also find her dancing in the grocery store, building a spork army, and fundraising for nonprofits close to her heart.
FALL – The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two (summary)
How do you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?
Those called to stand guard against the end are broken, and Sköll and Hati run free. Now Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews face a threat unlike any before. Ragnarök is coming and they aren’t strong enough to stop it.
Arionna thought she understood sacrifice, but she never counted on her destiny tearing Dace apart. Ever since she nearly died, he has been consumed with guilt. Now it threatens to turn him into the monster he always feared.
It’s up to Arionna to stop him before it’s too late, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and Dace is hurtling toward self destruction. This time, Arionna isn’t sure she can save him from himself. Can she convince him to let the past go, or is her true destiny to sacrifice her heart in exchange for the lives of the people she loves?
You can read the official prologue to FALL here.
FALL – The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two will be available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble on October 5, 2013 from Curiosity Quills Press. FADE – The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book One is available now at Amazon US, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
*Thanks for visiting, Ayden! You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers! I loved your playlist! Maroon 5 and The Civil Wars are two of my favs!
What song is at the top of your playlist right now? I don’t know why, but I’m loving Royals by Lorde. I heard it for the first time on the way to my retreat last weekend when I was in the car with teenagers, and now it’s stuck in my head. Sooo catchy . . . .
This weekend, sites around the blogosphere have been revealing Evade‘s cover, so let’s take a look-see!
Also, this week I commented on the Head Ninja’s blog and asked him the million-dollar question for a chance to win a Cassa mug, mousepad, magnet, and swag! The last book in his trilogy is releasing this Tuesday, September 17th!
Q: Burger or steak?
A: Burger as long as it’s a turkey or chicken burger. I rarely do beef. Too unhealthy.
By Alex J Cavanaugh
From the Amazon Best Selling Series!
A storm gathers across the galaxy…
Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.
After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.
Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…
“Cavanaugh has created wonderfully moving moments of great poignancy… CassaStorm could have been a dark story full of hardship and angst, but instead it’s a cleverly balanced story about hope and triumph.” – Lynda R. Young, author of Make Believe
“Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together.” – Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes
“One thing Alex does really well is ‘sell’ the reader on his world building. …an enjoyable, fast-paced read that not only delivered on the final climax, but also managed to pleasantly surprise me.” – Bob Milne, Beauty in Ruins
$16.95 USA, 6×9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
*Are you excited about these things too? What other things are coming up that I should be excited about? I love to hear from you 🙂
P.S. Any advertisements you see at the end of this post are not from me . . . just another annoying perk of a free wordpress account!
Uh-oh! Guess what day it is? Huh? Anybody? Oh, come on! I know you can hear me! It’s . . . Happy*Over*The*Hump*Day! Are you happier than a camel on Wednesday, because I am . . . or I was until an hour ago . . . but more on that in a moment.
The first Wednesday of every month is also officially known as Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Our mission via Head Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh: Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer.
This past month I was feeling pretty encouraged with all the feedback I received from four of my Beta/CP’s over the sequel to 18 Things, 18 Truths (if you’ve read book one, I put a sneak preview up top ^ for book two, so go check it out and tell me what you think, if you’re so inclined). Here’s what some of them had to say in their email comments:
Beta Reader #1: “JAMIE! What are you doing to me! I already finished 18 Truths!!!! I got to read it all day long…best day ever! I have so many thoughts swirling through my brain about it, but I just want to say this…..I’m dying here! If I had book three, I would pick it up this instant and start reading! The ending was absolutely perfect! It made my “Nooo” moment in 18 Things all okay …. I just wanted to say another great read. And seriously, just as soon as you get book three done I’ll happily beta read for you again. You wrapped the second book up so well, in addition to leaving us hanging just enough that I’m salivating for the final book!!!!! You know I want you to send it JUST as soon as you write The End! I can’t wait to read it!!! ”
Beta Reader #2: “Truth: I LOVED 18 TRUTHS! 🙂 Now, I have to be honest with you, because A.) I consider you much more than “just” a writing friend, and B.) I really love your writing. 18 THINGS blew me away. The story was such an emotional journey for me, and I’m assuming anyone else who’s ever picked it up shares those feelings. My heart was wholly invested in Olga and the rest of the cast from the very first page. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that immense connection with 18 TRUTHS until I’d read a good chunk into it. So, what I think happened, is that some of the deep emotional connection we had to Olga in the first book, was lost in this second book. I think that in 18 THINGS, you concentrated on Olga’s emotional and spiritual journey, but you focused more on the story as a whole in 18
TRUTHS. . . 18 THINGS was powerful and profound . . . 18 TRUTHS was just a really good book. I guess I was missing that emotional and
spiritual journey aspect a little bit. But I am just one person, and my thoughts might be one among a million opposite perspectives, so take what you will, or don’t. 🙂 You truly have a gift, and I am so happy to be able to read such God-centered stories because at times, I really need the reminder.”
Beta Reader #3: “Brilliant! That’s all I have to say, love. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My comments are very, very few. Take them or leave them. Thank you for letting me be a part of this incredible read. This was an un-put-downable book, filled with twists and turns and while I was hoping for the ending you gave us, I didn’t really think you’d go there. I am thrilled you did. I love the way you weaved the stories, linking them all together in unexpected ways. The complicated relationships between the characters were expertly told with just the right about of passion, sizzle, and pure love. I have chosen my one and only for Olga, but I will gladly wait until book three to find out if my wishes come true or if God has other plans. Beautifully told story, strong characters, well-thought out plot, expertly written. A true storyteller. Bravo.”
My other beta reader also sung praises for 18 Truths, but she’s totally old school and printed out my entire novel and left comments all over it, and I’m too lazy to hunt through my pages and retype comments at this late hour (anyone else usually still up around 1:30am?). I always take the path of least resistance (A.K.A. letting my computer do most of the work), so I’m in awe of her ways!
So anyhoo, I was thinking I may not need any of that encouragement stuff this month, until I read an email tonight from Curiosity Quills, my publisher, that said Barnes and Noble turned down their pitch to stock 18 Things in stores nationwide 😦
Hear that sound? That was the SOUND OF MY HOPES AND DREAMS BEING CRUSHED!!! Anyone else ever feel like they can’t be too happy over something because bad news is just around the corner? *raises hand* Truth is, there are sooo many events in our lives which we have no control. It’s all up to chance, luck, and timing. However, we do have control over whether we press on or give up. The secret of survival is in fact trusting in God’s perfect timing for our lives (yup, you may recognize a line like that in 18 Things). I can sit here and question and whine about why other novels got chosen over mine, or I can trust in God’s plan for my life. Maybe he’s taking me in a different direction . . .maybe the whole nation isn’t ready 18 Things yet . . . maybe my writing just isn’t good enough. All I know is I’ve had the longing to be an author from a very young age, and I believe with my whole heart that it was divine inspiration.
So yeah, I got knocked down tonight, a dramatic power-bomb slam that put my lights out for a good hour while I cried on the couch. Then I blew my nose, took a deep breath, and remembered that it’s all in God’s hands, not mine. Even in this small room, sitting still, I am moving closer to the plan he has for me by holding onto faith.
Anyway, before I go, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to another fellow author in need of some help. My dear friend, Jessa Russo, re-launched her debut novel this week. If you haven’t read Ever yet, you seriously need to! And stop by Jessa’s website because she’s giving away some totally A*W*E*S*O*M*E prize packs!
What about you? Do you find it hard to surrender things to the universe? How do you find your peace when things don’t go your way? Have you ever had a setback that ended up being a blessing in disguise? I could still use some encouragement after all . . . . ❤ Jamie
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Paperback, 236 pages
Intended Audience: Young Adult
Blurb: Hopeless he’ll never be more than the boy who didn’t save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables. And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.His shape-shifting brethren feed off the auras of humans, and Jeslyn’s golden hue is exactly what Lucino needs to increase his power. The longer it takes Avikar to reach her, the more entranced she becomes with Lucino’s world, and the harder it will be for Avikar to set her free.
He failed his family once. He won’t fail again.
Review: I want to say in full disclosure that Eliza and I share the same publisher. I was given her book in exchange for an honest review. I wouldn’t have accepted the offer if I didn’t think it sounded like a book I’d enjoy, and I wasn’t disappointed! It had my four favorite things in a book: love, adventure, fantasy, and a twisted ending!
The opening page immediately drew me in and from the very start, I could tell Tilton had a gift for storytelling. There’s danger, there’s desire, and there’s decision. You won’t read the first few chapters of this book asking yourself, “Who gives a crap?” I’m a middle school Language Arts teacher, so I can testify that kids have short attention spans. They inhale violent video games. They think life can be encapsulated in a text message. I can say with conviction that my students would enjoy this book because there’s something for everyone here and because the story moved along at a good pace. Her plot and characterization were spot on. Every scene was manipulated for maximum impact. This was Tilton’s fantasy world, but I felt like I was a part of it (and who wouldn’t want to be . . . did you see that beautiful cover? Seriously one of my favorite book covers of the year!)
The *BONUS* is the characters are inspiring. My favorite character remained Avikar throughout the book, but the other secondary characters were enjoyable too. As the plot unfolded, I was interested in what happened next for everybody. Needless to say, I can’t wait for Book Two in The Daath Chronicles, and I’ll be purchasing the print copy for my classroom!
Kudos to Eliza Tilton. Here’s more on the author if you want to
stalk learn more about her:
Eliza Tilton is the author of the YA Fantasy, Broken Forest, published by Curiosity Quills Press. You can find her blogging about video games and writing on her blog and doing bi-weekly posts on author media over at YAStands.
She graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.
*How about you? Read any good books lately?
Today I’m pleased to welcome another CQ Author to my blog, Jason King! Who is Jason King and what does he write? I’m glad you asked!
“Adventure is the lure of fools, and excitement glamour to the gullible. The siren song of the world is as music to the wanderer’s feet, but that dance leads only to the soul-less grave.” So Jekaran’s uncle has warned him. But that doesn’t stop him from leaping at the exhilarating chance to single-handedly rescue a beautiful woman from a gang of lecherous thieves.
But the bored farm boy quickly finds that he is no match for the group of angry street thugs, and only escapes death by bonding a magical sword that grants him the strength and skill of a master swordsman. Unfortunately, a peasant wielding such magic is forbidden and punishable by death.
Thus Jekaran finds himself a fugitive with his fate tied to that of the exotic and mysterious, Kairah; a fey woman who must deliver a dire warning to the king that, if heeded, could prevent the very extinction of humanity.
“A deep and intriguing magic brings a fresh feel to fantasy in this visually stunning journey. Jason King weaves powerful stories that grip the reader to the last word with a perfect blend of amazement, fear, love, and destiny. Anybody drawn to dangerous adventure won’t be able to resist The Lure of Fools. It’s Lloyd Alexander for a new millennium.” -James Wymore
HA! Toooo funny he mentions Lloyd Alexander . . . I just read his short story, The Stone, with my class today!
And now, a word from our sponsor (or Jason giving a short introduction;-)
This is a promotional reading of the first chapter of my new book, THE LURE OF FOOLS, from Curiosity Quills Press. It’s an action/fantasy adventure in the same vein as books by Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, or Jim Butcher.
My friend Mark Hanson is an actor and was a great sport doing the reading with next to no prior notice. Right now Lure of Fools is available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, but the paperback will be available before the end of the month. I will also be signing at Salt Lake Comic Con in September, so if you’re in the area come say hello. Enjoy!
Anyone can read the first three chapters by going here.
The rest of the book’s info can be found on Curiosity Quill’s website. And please share! If you’ve ever been a debut author, you know the exciting feeling of sharing your
baby novel with your millions of rabid fans . . . but we can’t deliver to those fans if they don’t know we exist yet!
Congratulations on your debut, Jason, and I hope your release is as magical as your book:-) I pity the fool who doesn’t check out this great story! (Sorry, was I the only one hearing Mr. T’s voice through this entire post because of the title? Hmm, probably!)
You might be facing a decision forcing you to choose between the easy and the adventurous. If so, this blog post is for you!
Sooo, a few months ago my pastor posted a pic on Facebook holding up my novel, 18 Things. Someone from my church, who I didn’t know, commented, “Who is this? I keep hearing about this book!” He responded, “It’s a local teacher who got a book published, who happens to attend our church and volunteer with the youth ministry.” She commented back she was going to read it, I thanked her, & that was the end of it . . . or so I thought.
She contacted me the following month (we still hadn’t met) & said her entire book club read 18 Things, loved it, & invited me to attend their meeting. All the book club members were teachers at a middle school, which happened to be the same one I attended & even won the Language Arts award for our graduating class . . . which earned me the right to have my picture on the wall, and it was still there several years ago when I attended an event there. I’m curious to know if it’s still hanging now, and I’ll be able to check soon, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In May, Kelly (the lady from my church) asked me if I’d be interested in applying for a 7th grade Language Arts position opening up at the middle school. My initial reaction was YESSS! That quickly got overshadowed by all the potential dilemmas . . . I’ve taught elementary school for 12 years. I know the curriculum and the standards and everyone at my school family . . . my youngest kid still has 2 years left there & I’d have to pay for after school care for her if I switched . . . my oldest volunteers in my classroom & she’ll be sad she has to volunteer somewhere else (she goes next door to the middle school but volunteers for 2 hours in the morning first). So I sighed heavily, said teaching my favorite subject at a new school to older students sounded nice, but I’ll just stay where I am for now. After all, it’s what I know. It’s where I’m comfortable.
So I let my feet tread easily on the well-worn path the rest of the school year, but the thought of teaching middle school kept nagging me in the back of my mind. But I had a sequel to finish. As soon as school ended at the end of May, I was writing 18 Truths. I gave myself a deadline of June 30th and by the 29th I’d emailed it to four Beta readers (Kelly included). Anyone who knows me well knows I can’t sit still for long. So of course, I immediately thought of that middle school job and looked at the county’s website for job openings and didn’t see it posted. I didn’t expect it to be since 6 weeks had passed, but I did see some other middle and high school Language Arts/English postings. By the time I went in for a school meeting the next morning, I made up my mind. I told my principal (who I also LOVE so much, which was another reason leaving my school was so difficult) I was going to seek another position, so she might get some calls. She said she understood, knew I wanted a change, and had a feeling I might switch schools after interviewing to take over the media specialist position at our school and not getting it *more on this later*
When I left school, I sent Kelly a text saying I was kicking myself for not saying yes earlier b/c I was now looking for a middle school job. She immediately called and said they hadn’t filled the spot yet b/c the school was in the middle of changing principal’s, and the interviews were being done the next day (Friday) and Monday morning. She called to see if they could fit me in, and the interview was soon set for Monday at 11:15a.m.
You want to know the COOLEST part?! I’m actually taking over for MY 7th grade Language Arts teacher! Mrs. Williams had a profound influence on me. I’m kinda back to being scared again b/c I have such HUGE shoes to fill.
What’s funny is I’m doing a Bible study with some of my elementary school co-workers titled The Power of a Positive Mom. You may recall this blog post where God used the book to speak to me while succumbing to depression over my book sales (which I’m happy to report have been up for some reason . . . trending in the top 100 for Coming of Age category for the past 2 weeks). Anyway, one of the assignments for the study was to read the story of Ruth in the Bible. Basically, the story boils down to choosing safety or surrendering to something different, trusting God has something better in mind for us if we’ll simply step out in faith. Staying where we are for too long brings very little fruitfulness in our lives. If you’re feeling vaguely depressed with life, then it may be you haven’t “gone” anywhere in a while.
Yesterday I packed up twelve years of elementary school stuff. I was crushed in April when I didn’t get the media specialist position at my school. Everyone thought for sure I was a shoo-in for the job. Funny thing is, when I went for my middle school interview, they were excited I had recently gotten my media specialist certification. It’s a position they’d cut and are very interested in bringing it back! Oh, and they’re also thinking of making 18 Things a required read for their “One Book One School” program this year, which I’ll also add was started by a dear lady named Polly who attended my church, but sadly passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. Interesting how God tied that all together, isn’t it?
“Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”–Philip Yancey
So, what about you, dear friends? Have you ever encountered a divine intervention in a new plan for your life? Where it seemed like one looong string of coincidences was actually God leading you to a bold adventure?
Also, who do you think my friend is talking to on the phone in my awkward middle school photo? I think she’s probably saying, “HELP! There’s a tiger and bear in the room and my friend showed up for picture day with a hairdo that totally says D-O-R-K!!!”
Yep, some things never stay the same 😉
*Happy*FoURth*of*July*Eve* Am I the only one hearing constant explosions in my neighborhood this week? Don’t get me wrong, I love explosions just as much as the Little Blue Lady on Jennifer Eaton’s blog, but not between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. I imagine this is what it feels like to live in Syria. Thank God for our freedom! Sure, it’s annoying when I’m trying to fall asleep at 2a.m. and the fireworks are still going off, but I just pretend the teenagers have just finished 18 Things and it was sooo good, they had to celebrate. Hahaha . . . yep, a “vain” attempt to sleep.
Sorry, that joke was lame, wasn’t it?
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so it’s time for Head Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh’s . . . .
Last month, I wrote about my latest pathetic royalty statement. The good news? I was back on Amazon’s top 100 for coming-of-age fiction one day last week, something that hadn’t happened in 3 months! And it seems I had at least one fan, because the very kind Sandy sent me this email after reading my post (and gave her permission for me to share):
“I just read your latest posting regarding lack of sales for 18 Things. I just wanted to mention that I bought 18 Things as soon as it came out and read it in 2 days. I was so emotionally invested in all of the characters and their relationships. I laughed, cried and smiled a lot those 2 days. Please don’t give up writing and don’t change your style. You really have a gift and I am really looking forward to 18 Truths. On top of the many messages I got from reading 18 Things, you also taught me how important it is for me to write reviews for exceptional work, so the author has some idea how well they are being received. I promise to be a more responsible reader in the future. Good luck in your future endeavors and know that I bought a hard copy of 18 Things so I could read it over and over and hopefully give it to my child to read one day.”
How awesome is that? One thing Sandy mentioned was writing reviews. Those certainly are crucial. I have 40 Reviews on Amazon and 22 Reviews on Goodreads. As my publisher submits my book to B&N for nationwide distribution in their brick-and-mortar stores, I certainly hope for newer reviews. I hear that B&N usually likes to see near 100 reviews before deciding to carry a book in their store.
So, I was thrilled when one of my blogger buddies sent me an email saying she was going to post a review for my book. Then I read the review. The review didn’t make me angry, even though it focused solely on the sad parts and didn’t highlight any of the fun *that’s a reviewer’s prerogative*, but it did make me even more interested in a blog I read by Kristen Lamb that same day, Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews? The blog was in response to a post she did the previous day about The Three NEVERs of Social Media, one being never write bad book reviews. To quote Kristen: “If I can’t give a book a five-star rave review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.”
There was so much discussion surrounding this topic, she did a THIRD post, Is it FAIR for Authors to Review Other Authors? I should note that the review my blogger buddy emailed me (she gave me the option of asking her not to post it, which I thought was really sweet) gave me 4 stars and I didn’t think it was a ‘bad’ review. She thought 18 Things was a brilliant piece of Christian fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again, but felt cheated by my ending so she deducted a star. I’m fine with that . . . I knew not everybody would like my ending when I wrote it.
I still consider 4 stars a good review, and have starred the books I read with 4 or 5. But ever since I became an author, I haven’t reviewed a book if I felt like I couldn’t give it a 4 or 5. I tend to agree with Kristen. I know the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into writing a book now, and writing is sooo subjective, I don’t want to publicly flog a book just because I didn’t agree with that author’s creative work. I think you can still mark it as “read” on your Goodreads page and just not star it. Silence can be very loud.
What about you? Do you leave ‘bad’ reviews? Do you think a 4 star review should still be considered ‘good’ or should I throw virtual eggs at my buddy? Hahaha . . . kidding! Although that leads me to another thought. Has anyone seen the movie that was released last month, The Purge ? It’s an interesting premise where one day a year for 12 hrs, people can vent their negative emotions by making all crime, including murder, legal. Of course, I don’t agree with going that far, but it did make me long for the same concept, but with egging and toilet papering houses and cars instead. That could just be the foreclosure notice I was served Monday night talking though . . . really makes me mad that there’s no bailout that works for the American homeowner struggling to make their mortgage payment. But that’s a rant for another time. I still love America despite it’s politics–enjoy your BBQ’s and freedom tomorrow, even if that does entail posting a bad review 😉