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I write novels, eat dark chocolate, raise three children, love my husband, scrub toilets, ignore the laundry, and love a good story, but hardly ever in that order.



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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Book Signings, A Video Tutorial

I’m going to let you in on a secret in the glamorous life of an author: People tend to think authors have leprosy or at least want to sell them an Amway toaster. The reason I know this is because of the book signing phenomenon. Now, when I wrote my first book, Balancing Act, my publisher asked about book signings that I was planning and I thought, “Yes! Of course! Book signings!” Images danced in my literary head, pictures of long lines of people clamoring to see me, gushing their excitement about the book, maybe a few tears at the thrill of it, Marc shaking his head and saying,

Turns out, the only ones crying are usually my children, upset that Mommy’s Book has AGAIN ruined a perfectly good afternoon. People do come, but only if they’re blood relation or paid handsomely, and only my mother clamors to see me. And the thing is, I’M GUILTY OF THE SAME THING. Confession: A few years back, before I was in the bih-nuss, I walked by a book signing table at Barnes and Noble. The author was a local TV personality who had penned a spiritual memoir. He sat with a brave smile on his face, surrounded by stacks of books, while NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE was stopping by. I DID NOT STOP BY. Here I am, years later, and I would like to say, John Bachman of TV 13, wherever you are, I’m very sorry I didn’t stop. I know better now. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. You do not need to know the author of the book to stop by a signing event or table. You do not need to know her name, the title of any of her books, if she’s famous (probably not) or if she writes real stories or ones she makes up in her head. She does not expect that you’ve ever heard of her and will not think a thing of it if you haven’t.

2. You DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT need to feel guilty if you don’t buy a book. There you are, standing in a bookstore filled with hundreds of thousands of books, and you might find the book being hawked by this particular author is not up your alley. Not your cup of tea. Not a good fish for your fry pan. Simply smile and say something like this:

3. Finally, authors are people too. They work for their money and do so in a highly competitive business. While perfectly woman enough to know everyone will not want to buy her book, an author will still be sad if you say something like:

Now, in my opinion, in order to make a signing fun for everyone and worth a bookseller’s time and effort, I prefer to pile most of my eggs in one basket and invite the entire universe to one event. I send cards, advertise, beg, plead, and make a fool of myself in social settings, trying to avoid the Sit And Smile By a Stack of Books thing. In a couple weeks, for instance, we’ll have our grand soiree at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines. Big signing, big fun, champagne and chocolate, me wearing something that does not require Spanx but still, mysteriously, makes me look young, nubile and Heidi Klum-ish. (Any tips on this?) I’ll give a brief book chat and then set to having good conversation about books and anything else. The folks in Des Moines are always very good to me and we usually have a great, rollicking crowd of well wishers by night’s end. Eventually, my children will voice their protests about Mommy’s Book ruining a perfectly nice fall evening, Marc will clear his throat, and we’ll be off, home to collapse into bed after a really, really fun night.

So, for example, if you’re out and about in Des Moines, on the evening of Friday, September 11, starting at 6:30 p.m., and you want chocolate or some bubbly or a good read signed by a not-famous author, stop by. I’d love to see you. And John Bachman, if you show up, you get a free copy and a brave smile, from one author to another.

Book release signing! Beaverdale Books, Des Moines. Friday, September 11, from 6:30 p.m. until we get tired. Brief book talk at 6:45.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

It’s here! It’s here! No, no, no, not another baby. One uterus can only take so much, people. I’m talking about STRETCH MARKS! My fourth novel! The title based completely on second-hand information as I certainly know nothing of the sort! I’m looking to set a blog record for most exclamation points used per entry! How am I doing!

Yesterday, the sweet FedEx man brought my book to the front door and I found it difficult to keep from weeping. The better part of two years was spent on the creation of this puppy, so it was simply lovely to see the finished product face to face. I called Marc, who was enthusiastic and supportive, continuing his run as best-spouse-to-an-unstable-author. And then I called my parents. I realize I’m 33, but God-love-me, I still want to share my joys and sorrows with my mom and dad. Dad asked me to reserve a copy for him, and he’ll probably try to pay me for it. Mom squealed, breathless, and said she’d be right over.

This book, like all that I’ve written, is really an outgrowth of their kindness. Dad bought me my first laptop, taking me seriously as a writer when I had not one word to show for it and not one penny to devote to the craft. Mom forced me on an airplane in 2005, clucking about how brilliant I was and that famous literary people would be THRILLED to meet me at that writers’ conference. So when Mom came over yesterday, we both cried a bit. She knows what it means to finish the book amid three children, a busy house, annoying fits of perfectionism, endless distractions, nagging addictions to chocolate and sleep. She takes care of my kids on short notice, not minding that I have greasy hair and haven’t exactly brushed my teeth that particular morning. She, too, is a reader, a girl who loves a good story, and she, too, likes the feel of a new book in hand. That her daughter wrote the book is just too much. So she cried, we cried, we thanked God for His immeasurable gifts of grace, and then we asked Ana to take this photo:

Admittedly, we look a bit wonky because it took about 16 minutes for Ana to actually press the button and by then, our facial muscles were twitching. Also, the angle of the camera had us convinced Ana was photographing our navels, so we kept scrunching our bodies lower and lower toward the floor. Turns out, there was little to fear. Our heads, eyebrows, the book—all in the photo.

So STRETCH MARKS is on its way to bookstores even as I type. Might I humbly ask that you consider buying it? I think you’ll really like it! Here come more exclamation points! And it’s stinking cheap! Just a smidge over ten dollars today on Amazon! Cheaper than a movie ticket and it can sit pretty on your shelf forever, way past your buttered popcorn and Twizzlers! Buy it, like it, and spread the word to other people who like stories that are sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, always a kick in the pants! Thanks for reading! Thanks, Mom and Dad! It’s here!

p.s. Stay tuned. Lots of book fun, freebies, and embarrassing PR moves in the weeks ahead….

Monday, August 10, 2009

Train Them Up

Do you have moments when you fear for your children? I’m not talking about kidnapping or tornadoes or bad skin in high school, though I think about those things too. The looming fear today is that my children will turn out like me and I have a problem keeping my mouth shut. Seriously. I don’t really appreciate the eye rolling some of you are doing right now because you already KNEW I am mouthy. Just pretend this is news, all right? I’m suffering here.

Mitchell is in the throes of developing this unfortunate personality trait. It’s the inner censor that he’s just a bit slow in embracing. Last week we were visiting a church on a Sunday out of town. The pastor, bless his heart, was doing his darndest to involve the children for a children’s sermon. Now, any parent with young children could have told him to get them to scream “Jesus loves me!”, lead them in a rousing chorus of “Father Abraham,” and bribe them with a Tootsie Pop. Then pray a quickie, release them all sugared up to their unsuspecting parents, and call yourself a genius.

This man, though, was far more conscientious than I and wanted the children to understand something about the value of stillness. You know, stillness. SECOND NATURE to twenty-five children under six. Does this look like a child ready for that particular spiritual discipline?

Poor, poor, well-intentioned pastor. The finale involved sending the children to all parts of the sanctuary in order for them to practice stillness in our presence. They weren’t very good at it. But this brings me to my censor-free son. In the most quiet moment of the Stillness Rehearsal, Mitch said, FULL VOICE:

“Okay, this is weird.”

He drew out the last word to be about four syllables: “weeeeiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrd.” I shriveled, though inwardly agreeing, and had to smile apologetically for the rest of the sermon whenever I caught the eye of a local parishoner. “Sorry,” my eyes said. “He’s just like me. Here’s his dad.” I’d nudge Marc with my elbow. “He’s TOTALLY socially appropriate! You’d really like him and probably ask him to be an usher!”

I try telling my mother these stories, looking for empathy, some cooing about the trials and travails of parenting kids who talk too much. All I get from her, though, is lots of giddy giggling. Sometimes she erupts into a cackle, whooping, slapping her knee and saying things like, “I knew you’d get it all back,” and “Hee hee, ho ho, I’m done! Your turn!”

Ah, a mother’s love.

I’m off to practice stillness, but watch for the next post around here. I have a very fun way for you to get a FREE copy of Stretch Marks. You don’t want to miss out! In the meantime, read a sample chapter of the book here. See you soon…