Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Recovering Charles already on Amazon?

What a hoot. A book that I'm still editing is already available for pre-order on Amazon.

The cover isn't up yet, but you can still get your copy ordered today! (hint hint) ;-)

Also, be sure to check back soon for a sneak peak of the Prologue and Chapter One. They should be up by the end of the week.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A rare Sunday at home and the rise of self-publishing

It seems I'm hardly home anymore on Sundays to attend church in my own branch (congregation). So despite some very unfortunate drama between primary and relief society today (don't you love church drama?), it was nice to be among friends and wake up this morning in my own bed.

I often get asked about self-publishing. In fact, it's one of the most common questions I get at signings, speeches, etc. What are the pros? Cons? Have I had any experience with it?

I've never self-published myself, but I know quite a bit about the process from my previous life when I worked in politics and my former think-tank published a couple of books with iUniverse, a very popular print-on-demand publisher.

Today I stumbled across this article in the NYT and I thought it might be worth passing along. It answers a lot of common questions about the process and offers some fascinating numbers on the growth of the industry.

Click here to read.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wow, who knew I loved Oklahoma?

I've just returned from another terrific Time Out for Women event, this one in Oklahoma City. What a great crowd! They were so receptive and kind. They even put up with me calling my wife, Kodi, on stage at the beginning of my presentation. She said a friendly "hello" to them as I held the mic up to the phone. They shouted back so enthusiastically, Kodi said her ears rang for an hour!

I can't say enough how much I loved meeting these incredible, inspiring women. It seemed every single one had a story to share with me of how a letter, or series of letters, impacted their lives.

On my way to the airport on Saturday we swung by the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. Yesterday was coincidentally the 13th anniversary of that tragic day. I saw people milling about, arms around one another, some with a personal connection, others with no connection other than memories from new coverage. The sights were powerful, but the spirit and resilience I felt from that amazing city will stick me longer than anything I saw with my eyes.

Sincere thanks, again, to the wonderful women who attended for making me (and the other presenters, I'm sure!) feel so welcome. Can't wait to come back!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thanks to the SVMFG

I just returned from speaking to the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival Guild. Great lunch, great people! Most of all, it was held at the Holiday Inn Express where I lived last week. Now that's good karma.

Many thanks to Melissa Price for twisting my arm and getting me there. For more information about the Festival and the fabulous show they put on each summer, click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thanks to Harpers Ferry!

Last night I drove to Harpers Ferry, WV to speak to the fabulous women (and a few brave men) of the Harpers Ferry Ward and Charles Town Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I've done more events like this than I can count over the last four years, but this was honestly one of my very favorite. They were so kind, so welcoming, so funny, so smart!

We talked about Christmas Jars, Wednesday Letters, where the books came from, and this crazy journey I've been on. They even got a sneak peek at the new novel, Recovering Charles, and asked some great questions.

So a big thanks to the gang that put it together, especially Amy and Heidi. It was worth every mile of the drive!

And yes, I'm the plumpish one in the middle between Amy (my right) and her twin sister, April (my left), who just happened to be visiting blustery Rexburg, ID. Thanks for coming all the way out to see me, April! ;-)

And yes, I found a few pounds during the last couple months that I intend to lose again, pronto!

Friday, April 11, 2008

We made it!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Have not slept since Wednesday night and I'm zonked.

My very favorite line of any book is the very last. It's a total thrill to write. What's the very last line of Recovering Charles?


See you when I wake up from hibernation.

8 hours? Can I get a recount?

Wow, so that's what an all-nighter feels like. A few quick notes on my last night at the HIE, Woodstock.

1. Someone, and I'm not naming names, dropped a gummy bear on the floor by the jacuzzi tub and I stepped on it early this morning. Not kidding. It frightened me and cost me 30 minutes of quality writing. I want that tacked on to my deadline this afternoon. Still not kidding.

(Yes, that's an actual photo of the room. No, gummi is not pictured. Yes, that's a tub in the kitchenette. Yes, much like you, I find that creepy.)

2. Even 7-11's in very small towns are scary at 1:30 in the morning. I walked to one (there's only one, it's Woodstock, hello) and was surprised to find I wasn't the only loser looking for some late-night action. (And by action I mean snack food and caffeine. Yes, I said it, caffeine. It's coursing through my veins like a testosterone in a 17-year-old version of myself. Just go with me on this.)

I met several people, including two employees, that looked like they could kill me with a stale Chocolate Zinger in one hand and a red coffee stirrer in the the other. Not kidding. It frightened me and cost me 30 minutes of quality writing. I want that tacked on to my deadline this afternoon. Still not kidding.

3. Some of the best writing thus far happened last night/this morning between the hours of 2-6. I laughed, I cried, I reread what I'd written and cried again because I saw how much editing it would need. The entire experience left me feeling very verklempt. Not kidding. It frightened me and cost me 30 minutes of...

Yikes. I've just wasted 12 minutes writing about how much time I lost last night. I've got 8 hours or so to wrap this thing up. It's going to be tight!

Note to my editor, EBS: I know you're reading this. Don't panic. This is going to be the best short story you've ever read!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

34 hours to go, but who's counting?

I'm waaaaay behind schedule today. I awoke in my hotel room after a late night of writing with guilt because I had Idol Gives Back on the television in the background. (But not so guilty I didn't hoot and holler for Miley, mind you.)

Yesterday I'd promised my girls I'd sneak them into the hotel for the freebie breakfast and take them to school. So I raced home. (Yeah yeah, I know, that still sounds weird, raced home from a hotel room 1.5 miles from my front door.) They were eagerly awaiting me.

We drove back to the hotel, did a Mission Impossible entrance into the lobby and ate breakfast together. Laughs were had, cinnamon rolls were eaten, milk was spilled. Good times.

Then I dropped them off at school and returned to my home away-from-home for my last full day of writing.

Manuscript is due by email tomorrow by 7:00 PM, EST. And that, my friends, is why I picked a publisher out west. Every hour counts!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

3 days to deadline and I seriously need a massage

I've never sat still for so long in my life. My neck, back and fannie are killing me!

Yesterday was productive, but in a different way. I did a fair amount of editing and fine tuning plot elements from Part I of the novel. I wish I'd moved forward more, but it's a better book now than 24 hours ago, and that's always the goal.

This morning at breakfast I was chatting with one of the employees who'd begun to wonder why I'd been in the hotel for three days but hadn't left to sightsee, go to a meeting, etc. I briefly explained why I was there and he said, "You're an author?"

What I actually said next: "Yes."

What I should have said next: No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

4 days to deadline. Where's Waldo?

I am so glad my parents didn't name me Waldo. Nothing against the Waldo's of the world, but I can't imagine the teasing. It was bad enough that my middle name was Fletcher and I hit adolescence during the raging popularity of the two Fletch! movies starring Chevy Chase. (not the bank, the actor)

With 4 days to go I've checked into a hotel about a mile from my house. Strange, I know. My family came and brought me dinner last night and the kids ran around the lobby while I ate a taco salad with my uber-patient wife.

I feel very good about what I've produced in the last 48 hours and I'm anxious to know what you all think. I expect to post a teaser sometime over the weekend.

A funny side note: I needed a snack late yesterday to get me through my last hour of writing at the end of a 16-hour day. So I bought a Snicker's bar (approved as a tasty treat by 4 out of 5 writers) and took it out of the package. Printed on the inside of the wrapper was this terrific quote:

Nougatocity (noun). A heightened yet fleeting state of accomplishment that makes you realize how unbelievably unmotivated you normally are.

Classic :)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Please tell me it's not Friday night!

OK, more like early Saturday morning. I'm taking a short break to check email and let all seven of my loyal fans know I'm still alive.

Only 6 days to go! (Actually 6.5 if you predict that I'll be writing until Friday afternoon when the manuscript must be delivered. I think they call that an "even money" bet.)

Perhaps one day I'll expain the reasons I'm pushing right up to the deadline for Recovering Charles. Suffice it to say, for now, that I've been under a ridiculous amount of stress with another matter. (Not writing related.)

I'm working hard to push those distractions from my mind and concentrate. (Not my strong suit, trust me.) Wait, was I saying something?

So a quick anecdote: I'm staying for a couple days at a hotel in Winchester, VA, about 40 miles from home. Believe it or not it's the only way to ensure peace and quiet. (Love those four kids!) I can really focus for hours-on-end in hotels. Several of my writer-friends do this from time-to-time.

Earlier today I took a quick break to hit the vending machines at the end of my hallway. As I walked back carrying $5 worth of totally healthy snacks, and generally feeling sorry for myself, one of the housekeepers said "hello" and asked me how I was. I said I was "surviving," one of my standard lines, and then returned the courtesy.

"And how are you?"

"Oh, OK, I just had to flip a mattress because someone wet the bed." She said it with the biggest, most sincere smile. I couldn't help but think she really loves her job. She must be grateful for it to have such a positive attitude.

After making a goofy looking face I wished her well and walked on.

"Hope your day gets better," she called out to me.

I returned to my room and felt about as worthless as the empty sugar I was about to ingest from a pack of gummy bears. Am I sufficiently grateful for my job?

Sometimes I forget how much the Lord has blessed me to do what I do. At every opportunity I've tried to submarine my own success and He has stepped in and said, "Not so fast, my friend, I am with you."

I have no idea why the Lord has blessed me in spite of so many shortcomings. But it's probably time I do a better job of recognizing his presence in my life and count my blessings.

One by one.