Tipping the Hat

They say (you know, the mysterious “they” everyone’s always referring to) that reading is possibly the best practice for writing – that it’s something every good writer does without fail. It’s no wonder, then, certain styles and words and characters should stick with us readers. We all have our favorites, those types of stories that speak to us, those dog-eared books we keep around and pick up when we just want to visit a familiar friend for the umpteenth time. And it’s probably no wonder these influences spill over into our own attempts at putting words to the page. I’m not talking of typing verbatim what other authors have written (pretty sure that’s plagiarism; besides, where’s the fun in that?). I am talking of finding your own voice as a writer, and “trying on” various ways to use words to convey a certain moment.

Here are two of my own “nods” – things I wrote specifically into my book with a certain genre or character in mind. A tip of the hat, so to speak, to one particular writer (and his character) I’m consistently awed by, and another to the genre I devoured as a teen.

First up, there’s this sentence, found approximately halfway through the book:

A part of me tried to refuse what he said, but there was no mistaking the appreciative slant of his gaze and the lazy, approving curve of his lips.

Okay, this one may seem like an odd choice, but I like to think of it as a slight nod to all those bodice rippers I read in my youth. Cheesy confession time: I actually wrote this line with that in mind, thinking I could just hit the backspace button and make it disappear after I saw how silly it was in the story.  I thought of a “hero” in one of those trashy romances from years gone by (and hero can be stretching it; do you remember those things? It was often a love-hate relationship between the main couple, and the man the woman often pined after was a not-so-great option, in my opinion), and wrote this as Nick’s reaction to seeing Katie all dolled up for a date.  Silly or not, it stuck.

“No, there are no coincidences, Katie.”

This is Nick’s line, said somewhere in the last third of the book. It’s a bit of homage to one of my favorite writers, Michael Connelly. He’s been writing novels mainly centered around one character, Harry Bosch, for many years, and this is one of Harry’s philosophies – this notion that everything happens for a reason, that one action or decision is tied to another. I thought it appropriate for the story, thought it was something Nick would say at that particular moment in that particular conversation.

Words are fascinating, as are the choices we make with them.  If you’re a writer, what personal reading influences do you see within your own works?  And if you’re a reader, who do you find yourself reading over and over, and why?

About My Signing Venue

Not to sound like a broken record, but my signing’s coming up.  You know, the one where you all will come help me celebrate the release of my book.  The one I’ve been rambling on about for what seems like no less than twenty-seven years now.  The one that’s one week from today! (Yikes!) Today, I thought it fitting to highlight the place where this signing is going to happen: New Covenant Tabernacle.

Some of you have asked why I didn’t choose to do an event in a local bookstore.  Valid question.  Makes sense, a book signing in a place of books.  In short, NCT just felt like the right place to go, and so I reached out to the good people there for a few reasons.

First, I used to work in New Covenant’s office. For those of you who might not be familiar with New Covenant, it’s a church situated in the Kenmore/Tonawanda area.  They have two services on Sunday mornings, and a bunch of ministries; most importantly, they preach and teach straight from the Bible.  I kinda sorta stumbled into a job there right as my girls were turning one, and worked there for about six years (time flies!).  It was a great place to work – I always said it never felt like I was going to work when I went there – and I learned quite a bit from the ultra-talented staff during my years among them.

Next, I wrote All In while employed at New Covenant.  I had done some freelance writing here and there during my spare time, and got the notion that I should try writing a novel. So I did, and I used NCT as a loose basis for the church featured within it.

And last, because a church figures prominently into my story, I thought it fitting to officially debut the novel in the same kind of setting.  Really, what better choice was there than the inspiration behind the church in the book, and the same church I spent time at while writing it?

So, I end with a hearty shout-out and thank you to the pastors and staff of New Covenant for agreeing to let me host my book signing / launch / thing there!

“All In” – FAQ, Part II

Another rainy spring day, another blog post.  These posts seem to come about as often as a nice day around here (which, for Western New York, has been seldom of late). Such is life.  Anyway, here are some more Frequently Asked Questions about my book, All In.

Are you writing another book?

Why, yes. Yes I am. Well, I’m writing something. It’s long-ish. So I think it’s a book.

Are you writing a sequel?

I don’t know if I’d call it a sequel; at this time, follow-up seems to be a more appropriate term. Here’s what I can tell you: the main characters from the first book (Katie and Nick) appear in limited, supporting roles in the upcoming story. The second tale follows a new couple, involves a quirky mother and a fixer-upper house. It’s different than the first! And hard to write!

Are you really Katie? Is your hubby really Nick?

One of the highlights of this past Christmas was opening the present box from my brother and sister-in-law from Missouri and seeing a card addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Nick Sears” within it. Ha ha! That was the best!

But, no. I’m not Katie. My husband, Mike, is not Nick.

Really.

All In is a work of fiction, as are the characters within.  But . . . I’d be lying if I said there was none of me in her, or him in him. (Huh?) They say write what you know, so I did that – to an extent. I do know what it’s like to be far from home. I do know what it’s like to have a waiver in faith. I do know what it’s like to fall in love. Do I know anything about being a waitress? Nope – except that I’m thankful there are people who want to do that on those rare nights I don’t want to cook or order in. Did I ever want to move to New York City? Maybe once, in middle school.  In short, I wrote about some stuff I kinda know about, and made up the rest as I went along.

How long did it take you to write the book?

Off and on, over a year. I started in November 2011 (NaNoWriMo!), and finished the draft I turned in to Ellechor on December 31, 2012.

Do you have any formal training?

So back in February, the family and I had a chance to travel to Missouri and help celebrate my big brother’s fiftieth birthday. Over the course of the party, I had some theme and variation on this question no less than three times. No, no classes. No workshops. No training. Those who know me know I am and always have been an avid reader; I consider that the closest thing to training I’ve had. I can’t imagine not liking to read, and can’t imagine what it would be like to try to write without that love of reading.

Do you do anything else?

Again, another question I received many times over during the course of the birthday bash. Here’s what I do: I work part-time at a physical  therapy office here in Western New York (though ask a select few of my co-workers there, and they’d tell you “work” is a strong word for what I do). I wrangle my kids. And, occasionally, I sit down at the keyboard, studiously ignoring the mess that is my house, and I write.

Can I get a signed copy of your book?

Okay, maybe I added this question in again; I’m pretty sure it was on my first FAQ post. Here’s the reason: I’ll be signing books and having a book launch thing on Sunday, April 19, at New Covenant Tabernacle from 3 – 6 PM. Come get your copy, get it signed, and have some cake while you’re at it!

Save The Date!

I love to write.  Really I do.  So why is it these blog posts are so few and far between? Why does it seem so hard for me to sit down in front of the computer, finish one of these puppies, and post it?

I wish I knew.

Sigh.

Lament temporarily over, let’s move forward. Today, I have a quick post with one main thought: save the date. Spring’s around the corner (that corner still covered with a mound of increasingly dirty snow), and my book launch is coming. Many of you know the release date for All In is March. This month. (Or maybe you didn’t know.  Probably not, because I’m absolutely, profoundly horrible at keeping up with my blog.)

Yes, I know you can readily find / buy / download said book. I get that it might seem strange the book release date is set for March 2015. But that’s the official, drum roll please, release date.

With that being said, and because I naturally seem to run behind on everything in life, I’m planning a book launch / signing / early birthday bash thing for April 19, 2015.

Mark that down, people. I’ll wait. Got that?

A few more details you might want to pencil in as well:

Mindy’s Book Thing (Awful title. Can anyone come up with anything snazzier?)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

New Covenant Tabernacle

345 McConkey Drive

Buffalo, NY 14223

Don’t let the three hour time frame scare you; this is strictly a drop in, say hi, grab a snack and let me sign your book kind of thing. And I want to sign it! And I want to see you! C’mon in, mingle a bit. That’s it. Not fancy (because if you know me at all, I’m pretty laid back. Fancy wouldn’t work, ya know?). I’m thinking there will be some kind of giveaway, too (note to self: figure out what to give away!).

Anyway, I’m so looking forward to this . . . but I need y’all to make it happen. Please save the date. Please. Please?

FAQ’s for All In

So now that I have a book coming out, I’ve been getting a few questions here and there. And, if you’ve happened to be one that’s asked me something in person, my response has probably been a variation on the theme of: deer-caught-in-headlights-look followed by a blank stare and a drawn out “ummm,” or “weeellll . . .” With that being said, I’ve tried to put together a list of those FAQ’s I’ve been hearing in the past week or so.

A book? Great! Where can I get a copy?

Y’all are really so sweet. Seriously. So first off, I never ever thought this thing I was writing would see the light of day. And then, somehow, I won this contest, and it’s being published? Craziness. And now that it’s to be had in print and in e-book format, people actually want to get their hands on a copy? Surreal!

There are two ways you can get your own copy of All In. First: visit my publisher’s website. This will nab you a physical, hold-it-in-your-hands copy of my book. (And, shameless plug, while you’re there, check out some of the other offerings. Ellechor offers up some nice Christian reads from some of the nicest authors you could hope to interact with!)

Your other option to procure All In is through Amazon, which is selling the Kindle version.

Can I find it at a bookstore?

Stroll into Barnes & Noble and ask for my book, and they’ll probably look at you like you’ve grown a third eye. So, no. Not as of yet. See above question.

Can I get a signed copy?

I am beyond thrilled anyone wants to purchase a copy (and even more thrilled that anyone wants to read the words I’ve penned). Of course, I am happy to sign your copy! If you have said copy in hand already, stay tuned, because I’m kinda sorta planning some kind of book launch event for the near future. I know, I know. That’s vague. Can’t be helped. That’s all I’ve got at this point. If you haven’t ordered, and want a signed copy, I have a very limited number of physical books at this time that I could sign and send to you; I anticipate more in the future (around the time of this in-the-works book launch event). If you feel like you absolutely have to have a signed copy, like, yesterday, let me know.

You have a blog?

Yeah, well.  Kinda.  You don’t have to be Harry Bosch to figure out it’s suffering from some major neglect.  It happens.  Hopefully I won’t be so long in between postings from here on out.

You have an author Facebook page?

Yeah, well.  Kinda.  I started it way back when like a good little author who has a book coming out should . . . and then never did anything with it.  Do me a favor.  Find it.  Like it.  I hope to move all my book-related stuff to that page and out of my personal page.

That’s it for today, my friends.  I have more FAQ (really.  I do.) for the future; here’s hoping I have the answers!

Still Here . . .

Hello, all you two-point-seven viewers out here in blogosphereland. I’m still here. I know, I know. The place is more than a little dusty. Could be there’s a cobweb or eight in the corners. Blog neglect. Happens to the best of us.

cobwebs

Here’s to a new look and a new, ahem, schedule. And . . . to kick things off (again), some exciting news! About my upcoming book! My publisher,Ellechor Publishing House, is gearing up to do a first look at All In. My book.

Here’s what I’ve heard we can expect: a sample of the book, a Q & A with yours truly, a live Facebook party (yes! I love parties! And I love FB!), and – drumroll, please – a cover reveal. And, if that weren’t enough, I hear there’s going to be a contest with a chance to win an Amazon gift card.

So, stay tuned. Please. And ignore the mess. I’ll busy myself sweeping it under the rug – I mean, writing more blog posts. Yeah, that’s it.