The Road From There to Here

The long and Winding Road

Life really never goes as planned. Well, it doesn’t go the way I plan it, that is. I’ve spoken before about my overall publishing journey and learning to let God be in control. I mean he is already right? A friend once said to me, “I just need to let Jesus take the wheel.” I commented back to her that he already had it, she just needed to let go. I’m one that likes to grip that wheel, so I speak from experience.

Today, I want to share the publishing journey of The Lemonade Year.  My agent, Julie Gwinn, had actually signed me on a different novel, but in the course of shopping that one around, she asked if I had anything else.  I did. The Lemonade Year. I dusted it off and sent it out. Then I went back to life as I lived it. (Writer’s tip: work while you’re waiting. Live while you’re waiting. You’re going to do a lot of waiting.)

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The Call

Then one day, Julie called.

Called unscheduled.

Hmm, I thought, this could be news. It was.  Shadow Mountain Publishing had made an offer on The Lemonade Year! This was the call I had dreamed about. My first novel was about to be bought. I was elated. I was also alone. No one was home. So, after I jumped around in my bedroom for a minute, I finished the laundry and waited for people to come home.  ( Writer’s tip: Remember that you’re in the passenger seat for much of the ride. You can’t reach the gas pedal from there. That’s ok! The controls on this vehicle are sometimes beyond your scope of experience. That’s why you’re with a publisher. Let them drive. They know what they’re doing.)

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Life keep rolling, and while I was waiting on the contract to get finalized and sent to my agent, I went camping at Lake Michigan with my family. A campsite with no cell service, no internet, no nothing. (Then again, you’re camping, you don’t need those things.) Of course, that’s when the contract came through. I happened to see the message when I went out for supplies. So my daughters and I set off in an and unfamiliar town to find anywhere that had a printer and a scanner. We got lost, turned around, lost again, laughed a bunch and then found a Staples. I got the contract, printed, signed, and sent in.

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I had been waiting for my turn to post one of those “contract signing” pictures that I saw other writers share. They always looked so professional: Them at their dinning room table, or on their patio, or surrounded by friends at their writers group. I was at Staples rocking some “camp hair’… and it was fantastic!

Well, then, it got real. There were notes and edits and deadlines, of my! There were scenes to change and adjustments to make. Suddenly, I was “on deadline”—another thing I had longed for. I always wanted to say, “I’m so sorry, I can’t do lunch today, I’m on deadline.”

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Everyone brings their laptop camping, right?

So, I packed my laptop up (yes, I had brought it camping, of course) and went off in search of somewhere to work. It might not have seemed ideal on the face of it, but I loved every minute. I loved going to the bagel place to put In a couple hours of work and then going back to the camp site with my family. They were happily playing with cousins (annual week-long, extended family reunion), swimming in the lake, taking naps in the tent and riding bikes around the park, and I was getting some needed alone time and meeting my brand-new deadline. (Writer’s tip: Be open to suggestions from your editor. He or she has done this a time or two after all. You’re a team now and your best novel is everyone’s goal.)

Flash forward, the book came out the following April and that following August, I found myself back the campsite. It felt like I’d come full circle as that summer I had the actual book in hand and was even back at the bagel shop, writing again in the same city where I had signed my contract and my dream had started on a new leg of its journey to reality.

I am often asked if there were changes I had to make to the novel that I was not happy with. I happily say, not a one.  I loved my publishing journey from start to finish. I have the best agent (Julie Gwinn), the most amazing editor (Lisa Mangum) who totally gets my style and who made all the right calls on changes and edits, and a wonderful publishing house (Shadow Mountain Publishing) that has been so supportive. It’s been an honor.

Then there was you! Thank you so very much to everyone who has read this novel and been so encouraging. I love to hear people tell me that they have fallen in love with this story.  All my love to you! It’s been a wonderful ride so far!

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The Lemonade Year Turns 1

I am so grateful, honored and happy today. One year ago, my first novel, The Lemonade Year released into the world. It has been a journey of epic proportions (well, epic enough for this small town girl). I hope you’ll join me here and on social media this month as I celebrate the anniversary of this release with memories, features, and thank yous from the journey.

I have been blessed to work with so many wonderful people along the way, to attend some really awesome events, to read in some of the regions best bookstores, to speak to some fantastic book clubs, and most importantly to make some amazing new friends.

I’ll be sharing photos, videos, behind the scenes clips and tips, and so much more. I’ll be hoping to hear from you all as well. Let’s share pictures, recipes, and memories. I’ll post some new writing and let you in on all the scoop. Life is sweet!

Happy Birthday Month!

 


Pairs Well with Book Club

Is it your turn to pick the book this month? Might I humbly suggest this one?

(I hear that author is happy to Skype in or maybe even visit!)

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Please feel free to contact me! I’d love to share this story with your book club!

(You can read the first chapter on my website as well as take a look at the reading guide questions.)

Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.

Thanks for reading!

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T-Rex Finds a new Favorite

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Don’t you love it when you find a new author, and then you fall in love with their writing and you hope they have something else out, and WOW you find out they have TONS of books!

T-Rex would like to share one of his new favs! Jon Agee.

T-Rex has a pretty sly sense of humor and he expects much from him children’s literature. Jon Agee definitely delivers.

His books are clever and unexpected. Funny and so fun to read out loud.

Not your usual subject matter either: a kid who retires and spends his days with the elderly, Santa before he was famous, a flying rhinoceros, a dog that makes home repairs and a martian who likes cupcakes. Those are just a few of the outrageously awesome Jon Agee stories.

Go to the library pronto (well, during business hours) and ask for Jon Agee! T-Rex and I would love to hear which one is your favorite!

Thanks for reading. Roar!

T-rex

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Writer’s World Wednesday

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On today’s “A Writer’s Desk” I’m thrilled to introduce you to Spencer Hyde. His first novel, Waiting for Fitz, comes out March 5th from Shadow Mountain Publishing.

Spencer has this to say about his writing space.

 

I’m lucky enough to write at the office—it’s called “working” while I’m there. I honestly prefer noise as I write, so I keep my door open. The hallway is always filled with different voices and conversations, and that keeps me focused. Seems counterintuitive, right? But it works. And I can’t get enough of the mountain view.

The Blue Chair

At home, I like to sit in the small blue chair while my four children crawl all over me. I don’t know why the chaos helps, but it’s like I find myself in the eye of the storm and all is peaceful in my writing mind while all else is flying by at 200 mph. Cleaning up around the chair happens once a month, maybe. So, enjoy the picture. It won’t last long. There’s also something magical about that chair. I’ve held every child in that chair. I took my PhD written exams sitting there. I watched my first Marvel movie in that chair–maybe that doesn’t fit with the rest! Seems to be it’s a talisman, of sorts.

I try to save the afternoon for writing. I like to get in at least one hour of writing each day, and then I’m off to pick up another book and read someone else’s beautiful stories. Reading the “hope machines” of others, their well-crafted and intricate stories, gives me hope.

Thank you, Spencer, for giving us a peek into your writing world! Y’all, get this book! I am so pleased to share this release and this author with you! I’m a fan of Spencer’s for many reasons (we share a publisher and an agent, how cool is that) but more importantly (because it’s a cause near to my heart) is Spencer’s commitment to bringing mental health issues out of the darkness and into important conversations that will make a difference. Thank you for that, Spencer. 

Find Spencer online at:

https://spencer-hyde.com/

https://twitter.com/Spencer_Hyde

https://www.facebook.com/spencerdavidhyde

 


When One Good Book Leads to More

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Let’s go back to the start. Story time with T-Rex (and one frazzled mom): Bedtime was a battlefield and  Gen. Mom was losing hope fast. The Little Army of Two was winning and it was getting ugly. All measures had been exhausted… then one last idea occurred to Gen. Mom. It was a total turn around of strategy. It was a complete restructure of tactical agenda. It was…. the Library.

General Mom wasn’t sure how she had forgotten about this simple technique: reading.

So, off she and Lt. T-Rex (that’s me) went searching for new weapons, I mean books. One of the first randomly chosen was called Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem.

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It was a  well crafted. It was funny. It was intelligently written. It was her last hope, and it worked. The Army of Two sat, and listened. They laughed. They asked her to read it forward and  backwards–which she did, no, really.

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They were lulled into a new state of mind. They asked for another book, so she read another.

Over the next few night, she exhausted the small arsenal she had collected from the library. The battlefield grew quiet and the Little Army fought less. It wasn’t always a peaceful surrender, but the new weapon, sorry books, helped a great deal.

Billy Twitters had saved the day, I mean night. But he had set quite a precedent and Gen. Mom would find herself back at the Library requesting a meeting with the Commander in desperate search for more books of such quality.

When she mentioned Billy Twitters to the Commander, her eyes lit up and she waved Gen. Mom over to the stacks. “Yes, I know just what you’re looking for,” she said.

And so began the brave new battle of the books! What would they read next….

Stay tuned for a favorite… does the name Jon Agee mean anything to you. Oh, it should. Come back next week for a T-Rex favorite.

See you on the battlefield,

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Lt. T-Rex

Check out. Mac Barnett, the author of Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem. Authors are my rockstars.