Saturday, November 29, 2014

Home... and Thankful


I have spent the last week driving all over the Southeast so I missed getting in a Thanksgiving post. Which is fine, because Thanksgiving is pretty much my least favorite holiday. For a gluten-free vegetarian, the food isn't all that exciting (yay! more salad!), and although the past few years haven't been a problem, I have plenty of stressful memories of Thanksgiving (and Christmas...) as a child. It always rains on Thanksgiving, the color scheme is awful, the social-political implications, etc. etc. I'm more of a Fourth of July kind of girl. You know, summer, fireworks.... fun stuff.
That doesn't mean that I'm not a thankful person, though. Some days the gratitude welling up inside me almost hurts. There are times when I'm so thankful that I'm alive, that people I know are alive, that it seems almost unbearable to think about. (I know, I'm weird- this is why I don't write about emotional things here)
But in the spirit of thankfulness (and in being extremely thankful that I, and the dogs, are all home now) I'd like to make a few mentions-
I am thankful for dogs. (could you guess?) But seriously. There have been times when I'm pretty sure Vito and Lucy have been responsible for saving my life. (again, dispensing with the emotional bullshit) I don't understand how people can not share their lives with dogs. Having dogs is the most natural thing in the world to me. More natural than having children. Although picking them all up from the kennel today, by myself, in my little Suzuki, was not the most fun. Still, they are home now. And happy. Asleep and curled up around me, apparently having forgiven me for leaving them. Dogs are pretty much the greatest thing ever. Ever. So I'm thankful.
I am thankful for my husband, Ryan Holt, who puts up with me. (see, he even has to deal with being listed After the dogs..... though if he reads this, he won't he surprised) I am not easy to deal with at times. I'm a writer, for Christ's sake. If you are one, or have ever loved one, then you know what I'm talking about.
I am thankful for my family, who is equally as crazy as I am. (this incudes my in-laws, who are also nuts and most likely the best in-laws on the planet)
I am thankful for the readers who support me in buying my books, reading my work and giving me reason to keep writing.
I am thankful for my fellow writer friends (most of whom I've just met recently), who keep me motivated, stable and able to keep the roller-coaster ride of being published in perspective.
I am thankful for my students, who keep it fresh, and my faculty, who keep it real.
I am also thankful for nachos and cheese fries. Because otherwise, there would be no joy in the food world for me.
I am thankful for books, ideas, art, compassion, television shows and films that stretch my mind and inspire jealously (which inspires motivation), mentors, being healthy, friends and the choices and chances that have allowed me to have the life that I do.
So thank you.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Tree Born Crooked is Free Today!

Don't miss out- Right now you can download a Kindle copy of A Tree Born Crooked for free. This deal is for today only. If you've been wanting to check out it out- here's your chance!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Morgen Bailey's Author Spotlight

This week I was Author Spotlight no. 387 on Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog. Check it out to learn more about me, A Tree Born Crooked and to read my guest post on advice for making it as a novelist (it's all about love and mistakes). When you're done reading my post, check out the rest of Morgen's fantastic blog which hosts tons of resources for writers including prompts, tips, submission and contest information and more.

Miami Book Fair International!

I just wanted to say thanks to all of the wonderful peeps that came out to the Miami Book Fair International on Friday. I met so many fellow writers, readers, publishers, professors... it was a whirlwind. (almost literally, considering how rainy and windy it was)
The entire Miami event goes on for almost two weeks, ending with the outdoor Fair this past weekend. And when I say Fair, I mean six city blocks of tents full of authors, publishing companies-everything from McSweeny's to Harper Collins- book sellers, indie presses, writing groups, publicity companies and more. We're talking food trucks, balloon animals and shoulder to shoulder people. The incessant wind and rain didn't seem to hold anyone back and I was amazed at how many people came out.
The best moments of the Fair for me were talking to students. Friday offered many writing workshops for kids of all ages and the chance to meet some prominent young adult authors, so the streets were full of students, who were unabashedly full of questions. Instead of the usual "what's your book" about questions, I fielded a lot of "what's it like to be an author" or "how do you become a writer" questions. Student after student told me about the short stories and poems they wrote and I hope that I was able to offer both encouragement and practical advice. They wanted to take pictures with me and have me sign postcards for them and I was even interviewed for a school report. I would have given anything to meet a real author when I was their age (I'm pretty sure I didn't meet any authors until I was in college) and so I hope that I was able to pass on a little inspiration.
My one regret is that I wasn't able to stay at the Fair longer. Some of my favorite authors, including Smith Henderson, Wiley Cash and Rick Bragg were set to speak on Saturday and Sunday,  but the rest of this crazy road trip I'm on was calling. Next year I will definitely plan better and be sure to attend many more events.
In a nutshell, Miami was a blast.                                   

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Back in the Saddle and Writing

This past weekend I finally got back in the saddle and began writing the first draft of my new novel.

I'd be lying if I didn't say it wasn't intimidating/frustrating/terrifying/euphoric and strangely familiar. This will be the fifth time I've written a novel. The first, written right out of undergrad, was more of a training ground than anything and will never see the light of day. The second was my (no longer in print) self-published novel and the third, of course, was A Tree Born Crooked. At this point last year I was deep in the trenches with my fourth novel and now here we go again.

I always find it strange to begin writing again. While I've spent the last four months researching, I haven't actually written too much.  A few short stories over the summer and some personal essays, many book reviews and author interviews and promotional work for A Tree Born Crooked. But I've been off the steady writing track since May and it's been a year since I was recklessly plowing through a first draft.

And being reckless is necessary. Everyone has a different writing process, and mine changes subtly with each new work, but when I'm writing a first draft all fear has to be thrown aside and all caution trampled underfoot. I can't think about the final product. I can't worry about the language, or about the reader (too much anyway)-  I have to write selfishly and with abandon. I have to only let myself think about the characters and the story. All of the craft elements will come later. The first draft is all about getting it down, maybe not fast, but definitely dirty.

And getting myself back into this mindset is not easy. Especially with everything else writing related (editing, teaching, promoting, etc.) happening all at the same time. Is this stressful? Absolutely. Is it daunting? Possibly. Will it hold me back in the slightest? Hell no.

Here we go again. See you on the flipside.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Covered with Harry Marks (a podcast interview)

Just in case you missed it- my first podcast interview aired on Friday. It was fantastic fun and great conversation! Harry and I talk influences, the writing process and what it means to be an author. Enjoy. :)

Covered: A Conversation About Books with the People Who Write Them

Friday, November 7, 2014


Today only, download the Kindle version of A Tree Born Crooked for free. Here's your chance to see what everyone is talking about..... Enjoy! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review: Where Alligators Sleep by Sheldon Lee Compton

Sheldon Lee Compton's collection of flash fiction pieces, Where Alligators Sleep, is one of the best story collections I've read all year. It's the sort of book that reaches inside you, grabs your guts and twists. Read my review of Where Alligators Sleep over on Heavy Feather Review and stay to check out all of the other fantastic reviews!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Writing Under Fire" Guest Post on Read Her Like An Open Book

Today I'm over on the killer book website Read Her Like An Open Book talking about the multi-tasking life of an author. Read about how I'm trying to manage writing, selling and promoting 3 separate books at one time. And how it feels like doing so puts me right smack in the middle of a war zone....