Monday, November 30, 2015

Cyber Celebration

Today, I am the proud author of two novels. The first, Casting the First Stone, is actually half price this week at the LPC Storefront in honor of Cyber Monday.

The second, Chasing a Second Chance, became available for Kindle last week, and, as of today, is also available in paperback. I'd love to say I planned it that way, but I'm just not that good.

Today, my head is spinning. Classes resumed this morning and real-world responsibilities should be bringing me back to reality. I planned for and taught my class this morning, and then, as soon as I had the opportunity, started making book plans. Sharing the news. Planning another celebration at my favorite Starbucks. Figuring out where and how to share my excitement with the world without simultaneously annoying people.

I'm lucky. I enjoy the promoting and talking just as much as I enjoy the writing, and more than I enjoy revising or trying to figure out why I can't get a file to upload. I had great people helping me, and I am convinced that, if you want a quality product, "self"- publishing takes a village. I've been through this book launch process once before (three times, if you count the non-fiction books, which I don't, since that's completely different) and I have a list of people to contact, things to do and -- this time -- things NOT to do, all of which I'm looking forward to.

And, with each book, I feel more like the word "author" applies. While I firmly believe that all who write are writers, author -- to me -- has come to embody the whole process, from conception to publication and beyond as we simultaneously circle back to conception again.

On Saturday, as I was proofing the interior of the paperback, the what-ifs started to surface -- the ones that trigger a new project, only in this case, the what-ifs surrounded these same characters -- the ones I thought I was finished writing about. What if Marita did this? What if Charli did that? What if this happened and then caused that?

I dutifully jotted down my notes, all the while denying there was another book about these people yet to be written. After all, I have at least two more projects that have been clamoring for my attention, and they were supposed to take center stage once Chasing a Second Chance stepped aside and made room.

I'm not sure what will happen next, or which of my casts will step forward to claim center stage. For now, I'm just taking it all in, grateful to be part of the program.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Special: Holiday Hubbub
Perhaps you're one of those folks who Christmas shops all year long. Or maybe you're a serious Black Friday shopper and you spent yesterday making lists and checking them twice.

Maybe you're spending today patronizing local businesses in honor of Small Business Saturday. Or perhaps you're creating lists for Cyber Monday when you can shop from home in your pajamas.

No matter your shopping style, it's the time of year when tracking down gifts becomes a necessity for most of us. And shopping is just the tip of the holiday to-do iceberg.

Fortunately, although the holidays are creeping ever closer (as several of my Facebook friends enjoy pointing out on a regular basis), there's plenty of time to tackle things in an organized fashion. If the mere thought of getting ready for the holidays leaves you in a panic, check out this article by organizing guru Julie Morgenstern, who always manages to make planning seem not just possible, but palatable as well.

Not ready to tackle holiday planning yet? Just below Julie's article on holiday planning is one on organizing your mail.

Whatever you organize today, do it with STYLE. :-)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Freebie: Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday!

Yes, I know I wrote about this on Wednesday, but I did so because I think it's important. Check out this infographic.

Don't feel like going shopping? You can still be a supporter.
  • Buy a book from a local author.
  • Buy art from a local artisan.
  • Order dinner from a local restaurant (not a chain).
  • Hire a local contractor.
  • Attend a show at a local theatre.
  • Browse in an art gallery or antique store.
  • Go to the American Express website and find small businesses in your area.
  • Create a list of local businesses to visit and patronize in the new year.
Make this Small Business Saturday the start of something good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Where Are You Shopping this Weekend? 3 Reasons I Love Small Business Saturday
Black Friday looms. The ads are ubiquitous, and, this year, retailers seem to be proclaiming their fervor to stay closed on Thanksgiving with equal passion. Those ads make me smile.

I'm also seeing a new trend that makes me smile: Small Business Saturday ads. I love the concept of Small Business Saturday for a number of reasons.

  • I grew up in a small town, with a beautiful little downtown that provided me with all of my shopping experiences between the time I moved there when I was twelve until the time I got my driver's license at seventeen...and beyond. I felt free to roam and wander fearlessly.  I bought school supplies, Christmas presents and the best cream donuts ever.  I went to college in a small town, too, and lived there for two more years as a graduate student, subsisting on grinders from the local pizza shop.
  • I am a small business. Not only do I sell Thirty-One Gifts, but I'm also an author who does the lion's share of her own promotional work. And do you know who was most willing to offer me signings and opportunities? Small, indie bookstores. 
  • Small business Saturday encourages community. In a world that's growing increasingly scary, the thought of preserving community seems more important than ever.
True, Small Business Saturday was launched by a decidedly big business: American Express. True, AmEx has skin in the game, but its big business presence and equally big pockets helped spread the word, making the concept grow faster than it would have with merely a grassroots effort. In 2011, the United States Senate officially recognized Small Business Saturday, and in 2012, American Express used its substantial resources to provide free web ads for small businesses, giving them exposure beyond what their budgets made possible. Rather than trying to eat the little guys alive, American Express sees the mutual benefit of working together.

I don't work for American Express. I don't have an AmEx card, and I have no plans to get one.  

But I know a good idea when I see one, and I appreciate the value of cooperation, especially in a time when it feels as though camaraderie and mutual respect are in short supply.

What small business will you patronize this Saturday?  

Feel free to promote your favorite local business by leaving its name and location in the comments.

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's Here!!

My new book is out and I couldn't be more excited! For a variety of reasons, I chose to self-publish this one, so in addition to being excited, I'm also exhausted. As I gear up for the creation of the paperback version, I am, once again, grateful to have friends who are both knowledgeable and supportive, and it's clear to me that "self-publishing," if it's done right, isn't a one-person job.

At least not this one person.

I owe more debts of gratitude than I can possibly enumerate -- from my sister, who copyedited, to my friend Laurie J. Edwards who did the cover art and formatting, to my friend Karen who came up with the log line for the cover (all the way from Paris!), to those who wrote reviews of Casting the First Stone, thus providing back cover copy -- this book would not be a reality without them. I now know how people who accept awards feel. There's no way you'll ever be able to thank everyone who played a role in the process.

If you're interested in reading an excerpt, click here. And if you do read the book, I hope you'll consider writing a review.

Have a wonderful week! If you're looking for me, check Cloud Nine :-)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday Special: Kid Organization Tips from the Experts

Photo: Jessica Gale via Morguefile

As I write this, the detritus of a rapidly dwindling semester surrounds me, with a fine layer of book launch panic sitting on top like a layer of gooey frosting. Meanwhile, my teenage daughter is celebrating her first Saturday off from work by cleaning her room.

Since the big kid in this equation (that would be me) has given up on doing anything more strenuous that treading water in the organizational pool, today seemed like a good day to focus on organization for kids, especially with the holidays coming. The impending influx of material goods is often a big motivator for sorting and taking advantage of the Three Rs that make up the L (Let it Go!) in STYLE.

Though I rarely watch HGTV these days, a show that was on when my daughter was small (Mission: Organization) was a large part of the inspiration for the way I view organizing. Regardless of what is -- or isn't -- on the air, their website remains a great resource, so I wasn't surprised to find that their article, "Get Your Kids Organized at All Ages" offered some great ideas, packaged into an age-by-age  format.

So, while I sit down in my definitely not organized workspace with a large portion of humble pie, enjoy some tips from the experts, whose offices most likely look better than mine does today.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Freebie: Why Be Grateful?
As Thanksgiving approaches, I'm finding it easy to be grateful. Though I love my job, three days (plus a weekend) without classes will give me a chance to catch my breath and spend some time with family without feeling as though I should be doing something else. I could just as easily focus on this break as the calm before the storm that is December -- a time when semester conclusions and holiday beginnings collide in a frenzy of opposing forces -- but that would suck the joy out of not only the break itself, but also the anticipation of fun, food and relaxation. No one wants that.

Please understand -- I don't mean to be preachy. I realize that I'm lucky. I don't have to plow through a field of terrible circumstances to find the one grain of happiness that remains. I have nothing but admiration for those who have the fortitude to do just that. Far from being insincere, they know something that many of us don't.

Gratitude reaps rewards of its own. Not only does it make us feel better, even if only temporarily, it carries health benefits as well.

But don't take my word for it. Click here to read about the benefits of gratitude, take a gratitude quiz and find out how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

'Tis the season, after all.