Monday, December 31, 2012

In Anticipation Of A New Year

It's the last day of 2012 ... New Years Eve, and I can't help but think this year went by like the flash of my old Kodak Instamatic. And the problem is ... we can't get a second of it back. Or maybe that's a good thing depending on how you look at it.

All the things we wish we would've said, could've done, should've prioritized ... to late now.

I spent the first part of the year deep in the final few edits of Televenge and working with my publisher and publicist to launch my debut novel. And it feels like the year was absorbed with Televenge. The launch, the book tour, the blog tour, facebook, twitter, blogging, and talking to hundreds of people ... the publicity train never stops for me. I won't be getting off this sucker for quite a while.

In the meantime, I'm nearly finished with final edits of the third book, and I've already researched and outlined the fourth. Where it's heading is a guess, I just know I'm writing and loving these new stories. Funny, how you think the book you just published was the "book I was born to write" when the one you're working on is every bit as absorbing. I'm thrilled with the process, once again, and feel myself changing as a writer. In a good way ... at least I hope so. At least you never stop learning.

Many things happened this year with family and friends, good, bad, and not so good ... but the one thing my body continually reminds me of is that ... I'm another year older. Having fought the good fight with my husband's breast cancer, we endured three surgeries this year. And yet I have to say, it was still a great year. We beat the breast cancer, and after two cataract surgeries, Michael can now see again. "Magic eyes," we call them. Having great friends to support us, we couldn't have been more blessed.

I'm looking forward to 2013. Thirteen is my lucky number. I was born on the 13th. So, we shall see what the new year brings ... I'm hoping for specifics this year. I have a battle plan. I have a list, in fact.

But right now ... at this moment ... I just want to say thank you. To my readers, to all those who stood behind Michael and I during 2012. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. God only knows where I'd be without your love and support.

So, however you bring in the new year, drinking cheap champagne, rocking out in front of the TV and imagining you're in Times Square, or sleeping in a warm bed ... just know I'm wishing you the best year ever. And I mean it. I've said it a thousand times, and I'll say it again ...


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why It's Hard For An Author To Give An Honest Book Review


I don't give book reviews unless it's a four or five-star review. I don't even like to give four-star reviews. For obvious reasons.

As an author myself, to give anything less than a great review is ludicrous. I mean, who the hell do I think I am?  ...

But c'mon ... writers are constantly reading. When we aren't writing, we're reading. And lately, I've read some pretty awful stuff. But can I say what? Of course not. I'm not that stupid.

You can be sure when I review a book, it's because it's fabulous. In my review, I'm sincere, meaning every word.

I love a great read, stuff you haven't seen before, the kind of book that roots in my soul, creating great vines of tangled prose I will never escape from. Godamighty, it's the stuff legends are made of ... great stories to soothe the mind of the tormented and stir the rage of the stoic. There's nothing better than a life-changing story. I've read a few in my life that remain close to me to this day.

But back to the "terrible-awful". (Love those words from Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help) ... I recently spent a couple days with my nose in a novel that was heralded as one of the top five of 2012. And I'm not talking about 50 Shades of Gray. That's the one exception I made earlier this year, and I won't waste another breath on it. The novel I'm talking about was recommended to me by numerous friends and so, I bought it and could not for the life of me, get through the first 100 pages. I gave it 100 pages and stopped. Ugh. I was so disappointed and figured it's just me. Me. Everybody loves this. There's something wrong with me.

So I read ten more pages, stopped, took out my book marker, and put it back on my shelf. I wish I could say why I didn't like it, but it would give it away ... so I'll just leave it at that.

Writers, authors -  we cannot give honest book reviews. Not of the books we don't like. It's makes us look haughty. Prideful. Like a Kardashian at a country club. Nose in the air know-it-all.

And I'm not so ignorant to think everyone will love everything I write. That's the beauty of books. There's something for everybody.

As an author, it's just not a good idea to be anything other than humble. If I don't have something nice to say about another author's work, I don't say anything at all. Raised by a southern mother, it was the code she lived by. A code I've passed down to my own daughter.

If I'm asked to critique a manuscript, that's between me and the writer ... but once the book is published, then as an author myself, it's best left to the readers to judge. Not me. I live in a glass house. I never throw stones.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Oh, To Change The World With Love!

It's been a rough week. One day after I was on Fox News Radio, the nation was suddenly thrown into mourning over the loss of innocent children. My mind has been burdened with this tragedy, and I'm finding it hard to concentrate on little else. Christmas has taken a different turn for me. As a grandmother of three, ages 5, 3, and 2 ... I can't seem to wrap my mind around what has happened and the questions are raging.

Nevertheless ... I've decided to post the podcast today, because the message behind it is about love. And kindness. And decency. And loving our neighbors.

Vipp Jaswal has honored me by asking me to once again appear on his highly-rated radio show from New York City, along with Robin Whitley, a pastor who wrote In a Southern Closet. Vipp is an amazing man whom I've grown to know and respect as one of the top men in the media. His soothing voice is like being comforted by a good parent. I can't express enough how appreciative I am that he has requested me to return to his show.

I hope you enjoy this podcast. A subject that will stir the emotion. God Loves You Just The Way You Are.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is Love A Basic Human Right?

A quote by a great woman. A quote near and dear to my heart.

Today I'm about to go on the Vipp Jaswal Show for the second time, Fox News Radio in New York City. I'm honored to be asked back, to say the least. But this time it's an extremely controversial subject. One that seems to hit many Christians smack between the eyes. Unless they avoid talking about it altogether, they're growing more militant regarding this subject by the day, it seems. I have decided to be a voice crying in the wilderness, taking the road less traveled. Such has been my life.

But it also seems that God has given me a podium. Handed me a microphone and said, "I'm giving you the opportunity to speak to the world." Opportunities like this come along but few times in one's lifetime.

Courage. A word I find that follows me like a shadow.

I’m not out to convert or convince, however. What you believe is your right. I don’t care what you believe, frankly. My message is one of decency, kindness, and of moral courage. I believe Christ’s message was about love, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion. Basic human rights. Sometimes, we just have to be reminded.

So, stay tuned. I'll post the link in the next couple days.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

For The Love Of The Book

I heard an interesting conversation the other day. An independent bookstore owner said he was sick and tired of folks coming into his store just to check out what they can buy on Amazon.

Really. Who does that?

Why do people use the bookstore as a showroom for Amazon? Well, the answer is simple. Price. And unfortunately, the "look inside" feature on Amazon is not enough for some folk. They like to see the book first. Sounds crazy, but it's true.

Unless, of course, you buy e-books. But that's another story.

Just like everything else, the cost of a book has gone up. I had to sympathize with the store owner, and yet we all know it's a dying business. Personally, I love the bookstore experience. Browsing, taking my time to leaf through books, the smell of coffee, the soft chair to sit and read a chapter or two. Discovering a new author and buying that debut novel! I love it. And I've begun to use Amazon as a place to find books I want to buy in bookstores. It's my own personal fight to keep the brick and mortar stores alive as long as possible.

I remember when my publisher was debating on whether or not to make my novel, Televenge, a hardback or trade. Hardback novels, especially for debut novels, are "prestigious" and supposed to show a certain amount of "class" for the author. It's been said that some of the bigger book reviewers won't even review a trade. But these times ... they are a-changin'.

Televenge in hardback would've cost upward to around $35.00. It's 580 pages, after all. My concern ... I wanted people to buy it! Some readers only have so much money in their book budget. So we decided on trade paperback, at the low cost of $19.95. What a deal. And I still got reviewed by The Library Journal and Publishers Weekly.

You've heard me say it before, but I love the feel and smell of paper and ink. A book you can hold in your hands, whether old or new, is a wondrous thing. That's not to say that e-books aren't great, because they are. They've got their place and lots of folks love them. But the entire bookstore experience is what I'm talking about today. Before it all goes away, like Blockbuster video and Woolworth's, enjoy your time in your nearest independent bookstore. Buy birthday, Christmas, and Mother's Day gifts from your local book merchant. Browse the store, notice the little things, the smells, the feel of the books, the light in the room, burn it into your memory. Because one day, that's all it will be. A memory.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Who Is He, Really?


Last night the family attended the 69th Annual performance of Handel's Messiah in a town about an hour from where we live. My brother-in-law, Gordon, has sung in this event since 1963. Since he was in the 8th grade. He's now 62. You do the math. The other amazing thing is that he still uses his original music book. He's never missed a performance. I was so moved by the entire evening, I thought to myself ... why is this my first time here?

The orchestra, the soloists, the choir ... many of these men and women return year after year, donating their time to uplift the community with Handel's musical score, now centuries old.

Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father ... The Prince of Peace ... how can anyone not feel the spirit of God in these words? And I got to thinking ... I'm so tired of religion, so tired of everyone telling me, for years, how to find favor with God. It was in that dark auditorium the tears came. Not the warm fuzzies either. There's a difference between getting your insides tickled a little and the warmth of knowing when you're being surrounded by the love of your Savior.

I know this is a bit off for me, but you see ... I've never left my faith. Never let go of my beliefs. Oh, I've lost my way many times. But was always found. Always found.

And last night ... I realized that even with this 200 year-old music, I can still hear His voice. Still feel the warmth of His presence. Thousands of years have past, and He is still waiting for us to accept Him. Still here. Despite how we feel about Him. How we've turned Him away. How the world views Him. He will always be wonderful, a counsellor, a mighty God, our everlasting Father ... He remains our Prince of Peace. And nothing you or I say or do will ever change that.

Blessings to you and yours this season.