Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas Giveaway

If you're like me, these past few weeks have been crazy! As I get older, the more hectic the holiday season gets. I miss my college days when we were out of school for a month and there was lots of napping, shopping, and visiting.

But I'm headed to see my family for a few frenzied days and am so excited about it. Of course, on Monday I'll be back to the grind--with a book due in January, I can't afford much time off to play. the spirit of Christmas, let's do a fun giveaway!

I'll draw a random name on Monday, December 27. The winner will get a copy of my new book, Love is Grand. And to make it even more fun, the winner will also get to choose a friend--and I'll send their friend a copy of one of my books, too!

To enter, answer this question in the comments:

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Here's mine: My family gathers at my grandma's house on Christmas Eve. There is a lot of food, a lot of laughter--and a lot of gifts. There is usually a movie going in one room and at least 2 board or card games going. It is such a happy time--and as the years go by, I cherish those moments so much.

Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some Little Town in Pennsylvania Called Gettysburg

I've had Rhett Butler's voice in my head all day, saying that. "Some little town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg."

I have to say, it's a dream come true for me to be here. Some kids grow up wanting to go to Disney World. I grew up wanting to go to Gettysburg. :)

I'm not totally sure why I have always had such a fascination with the Civil War. I think it's a mixture of things. The human interest stories have always captivated me. The women who turned into nurses. The men who turned into heroes. The brothers who fought against each other. So many incredible stories of tragedy and triumph. And yes...someday, I hope to write a novel against the backdrop of the war. I've already done hour upon hour of research--just for fun.

My Gettysburg experience started out early this morning. I was so excited just walking into the huge visitor center--and even more so when I saw author Jeff Shaara signing copies of his books. I had him sign a book for me and told him about my ranger years at Shiloh. Come to find out, he's setting an upcoming novel there. Very cool.

After the movie and cyclorama (which were both totally worth the money), I spent a lot of time in the museum. Fantastic--but probably overkill for those who aren't really interested in the Civil War. I could've spent at least another hour in there, at least. After attending a ranger program in the National Cemetery, I set out on the 24 mile driving tour...

And I can't help but compare the experience to Shiloh. The battlefields themselves have a few similarities. But the outside stuff--way different. There is a lot more commercialization at Gettysburg. So many shops and hotels and things. In my opinion, all that outside stuff detracts a bit from the battlefield. Even the visitor center made me feel that way--it was so showy, so obviously high-tech and expensive...

But the battlefield itself was amazing. I would love to come back sometime and actually walk more on the actual field.The driving tour is nice and you get to see the high points, but just as with Shiloh--to really experience it, you need to be out on it, walking the same land that the soldiers did.

I left the field at dark, cold and exhausted. But happy. I'd seen a place that I've wanted to see for as long as I can remember. And tomorrow...on the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address...I'll be in the National Cemetery for a special program to remember.

And tomorrow night...I'm staying on a dairy farm in Lancaster County. Am a little afraid it will be like Schrute Farms...complete with Dwight and Mose!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On the Road...Again

So clearly I don't write for the money--and don't really know any authors who do. I mean, I still have a full time job besides writing that pays the rent and provides health insurance. Even so, I'm living my dream by being an author--even if I never reach JK Rowling's financial status. But one of the perks of writing is that I can justify traveling to places I've never been in the name of research.

This week, I'm exploring Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the surrounding area.

First of all, Lancaster isn't pronounced the way you'd think. Or at least the way those of you from the South like me would think. Just trust me on this. I've been corrected no less than 3 times.

But the area is lovely. I had lunch at the charming Bird-In-Hand Farmer's Market, where I bought some yummy banana bread and a red velvet whoopie pie with cream cheese filling. I am, at this very moment, sampling these and I assure you, they are delicious.

I also went to the Mennonite Visitor Center where I watched a very interesting movie about the Amish way of life. I have such respect and admiration for them.

Side note: I ran to Target to pick up a couple of things that I'd forgotten...and had to smile at the sign that said horse and buggy parking was available at the side of the store.

Then I drove to Lititz, which is SUCH a charming town. Neat little shops and beautiful homes. I stopped by the oldest pretzel factory in the United States...yum! And they actually have a restaurant called the Chocolate Cafe.

I realize this entire post seems to revolve around food. :) But sampling local specialties is one of my favorite things about traveling.

And now...I'm in a place I've wanted to visit since I was a little girl: Gettysburg! I can see the monuments from my hotel and can't wait to tour the battlefield tomorrow. I'm hoping for lots of sunshine and dry weather.

One more thing--for those of you who haven't read "Love is Grand" here for your chance to win a copy.

Hoping that I'll have some fun adventures to report tomorrow!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another weekend of book signings!

I'm thrilled to be a part of Freed-Hardeman University's Homecoming again this year. On Friday, I had the honor of speaking in chapel. And on Saturday (November 13) I'll be signing books from 11 - 1 in front of the Sports Center.

Following my signing at FHU, I'll travel to nearby Jackson, Tennessee, where I'll be at LifeWay Christian Store from 4 - 5:30. It's located on the campus of Union University, next to BanCorp South. They'll be running specials on all three books in the Walk in the Park series--and you can purchase my recent release, Love is Grand!

If you live in the Henderson/Jackson area, I'd love to see you at one of these events!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Arkansas Book Signings

Just one more reminder! I'm headed to Arkansas today for two days of book signings! Tonight (Friday, November 5) I'll be at the LifeWay Christian Store in Little Rock. I'll be there from 5:30 - 7:30. If you live near Little Rock, I'd love to see you there! They'll be running specials on all three books in the Walk in the Park series--and you can purchase my recent release, Love is Grand!

And tomorrow (Saturday, November 6) I'll be signing books as part of Harding University's Homecoming. It's a multi-author signing that will last from 11 - 1 in Ganus Athletic Center. It will be a great event and I'm really looking forward to visiting with attendees.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Thursday...and an Upcoming Book Signing

First of all...if you live near Little Rock, Arkansas, please consider coming to the LifeWay on Chenal Parkway next Friday evening, November 5. I'll be signing books there from 5:30 - 7:30 and would LOVE to see you!

Let me say that things haven't gone exactly like I'd planned lately. (do they ever?)

So this is going to be one of those random, rambling blog posts where I get to share the things that have been on my mind....

1. Strep throat is awful. Seriously. It struck me down out of nowhere. But I'm finally (almost) well.

2. Wicked is wicked awesome. (side note: I have always wanted to use "wicked" in a sentence that way...and just FYI, according to the Urban Dictionary, you must always use an adjective after wicked for proper use: "that car is wicked" and "that car is wicked awesome" do not carry the same meaning. Just trying to keep you cool. ha) But honestly, I'm kind of considering going to see it again. I haven't felt that way about a show since the time I saw Les Mis in London and promptly went out and bought the soundtrack. Just LOVED it.

3. I am completely bored by Dancing with the Stars this season. Because...WHERE are the STARS? Honestly. Because I'm not seeing the star power. And since it seems that being an actual star is no longer a requirement, my secret dream is that next season the casting people at DWTS will think "hey, let's invite an author of inspirational fiction to be on the show..." Because I would probably be willing to participate. :)

4. I'm already easing into the Christmas season. Judge me all you want. Christmas songs make me happy...and I declare it officially okay to full out listen starting next week. And yes, I've already busted out my favorite Christmas coffee mug. Here's the way I see it: Christmas is a lot of trouble. The decorations. The special Christmasy dishes. So why not enjoy it longer than just a couple of weeks? I say, if you have to get things out of should be able to enjoy them for at least a month and a half--possibly 2 months. So I will continue to ease into the season bit by bit until I'm fully decorated by mid-November. Because it MAKES ME HAPPY. (this is the perk of living alone with only dogs to see my secret holiday behavior, and let's face it, as long as I feed them and walk them, they would be fine if the tree stayed up all year...)

5. One more and I'm done. I've been reading a lot lately about juicing and "green" drinks. I've been intrigued by this for awhile--ever since I read a book about how bad processed foods are for us and the importance of fruits and vegetables. So I'm kind of considering giving it a shot. Like maybe starting Monday, November 1. That's my plan anyway. I'm not going to go on a diet, just incorporate a juiced drink into my day. Seems like there are lots of health benefits to the extra veggies/fruits that you get. We shall see...

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Halloween weekend!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Love is Grand has officially released!

The "official" release day for Love is Grand was Friday, October 1! I'm SO excited for this book to reach the hands of readers. When my last book released, I shared with you that a book release is like a first date...and I still feel that way! I'm always so nervous when my book starts shipping--and when I see it on the shelf for the first time, it makes me want to do the Snoopy Dance right there in the aisle. :) 

And I'm thrilled to say that Romantic Times gave Love is Grand 4 stars! (out of 4 1/2 stars) I love what they had to say about it:

Daughety has created a story full of strong characters, incredible visuals and a well-plotted storyline mixed with humor, friendship and biblical truths. The love triangle creates a twist to the romance; real moments make the characters feel like people you already know.

For those of you who haven't read the first 2 books in the series yet...don't worry! These books stand alone so you won't feel lost if you read this one first.

I'm going to have some fun giveaways and contests on here very keep checking back! And in the meantime, click here to read a preview of Love is Grand--and consider ordering your own copy! :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ACFW Conference Recap

I was in Indianapolis recently for the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference. Such a great time visiting with fellow writers and meeting with editors and agents. This was my 4th year to attend and I honestly think it gets better each year.

Highlights from Indy:

1. Visiting with friends I only get to see in person once a year. My editors are in this number. Emails and phone calls are great--but visiting face-to-face can't be beat!

2. Being surrounded by people who understand how it feels to have a story inside, wanting out! These people get it! They know the madness of writing around the clock, the friendship of a character, and the way turning in a finished manuscript before your deadline (okay, at midnight on the day of your deadline...) makes you feel a thousand pounds lighter.

with fabulous author and friend Rachel Hauck
3. This year is the first year I've had multiple books out. And the first year I've had the honor of having budding writers ask me for advice--or tell me they read (and liked) one of my books!

4. Having my love of writing renewed. I walked out of a couple of sessions with a fire to write. After a year of deadlines and uncertainty, it was nice to feel that "this is what I'm supposed to be doing" feeling wash over me.

5. Not writing related, but I found a crazy-amazing bargain at the mall that was attached to my hotel. I hadn't intended to wear a "fancy" dress to the awards banquet. I've worn formals in the past. But this year, I was just going to wear a plain old dress. Nothing special. But as I wandered through the mall, I went to a department store that I'd never heard of. And in the back of the store, there was a rack marked "85% off the sale price." So, bargain hunter that I am, I flipped through the rack. Believe me there was a REASON that stuff was on the rack! But then...I came across the most beautiful dress. A formal. Slate blue. In MY size. You can guess the rest. Now normally I think telling how much stuff costs is tacky...but believe me when I say that my sharing this with the world is just me bragging about my savvy shopping. The dress--tax and all--was $19. Amazing.

Me and my bargain rack dress!
And as with anything, there were also some lowlights....(is that even a word?) Some of these I'm not particularly proud of, but in the spirit of sharing, I am going to tell them anyway...

1.   People kept asking me if they could buy my books in the bookstore. Sadly, I was the loser who missed the deadline for filling out the required paperwork to get my books in there.

2. At dinner the opening night of the conference, I found myself seated at a table with the keynote speaker, Tim Downs, as well as the president of ACFW, one of my editors, and several authors. I had a great time chatting and talking to all of them. Until I got back to my room to see that there was something stuck in my front teeth. Classy. I think it was asparagus--which we seriously had at every meal...

3. I admit that I missed breakfast all but 1 day. It is SO early. I'm not in a networking mode at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. Memphis time).

4. I also admit that I had my iPhone set to send me ESPN alerts during the Arkansas/Georgia game. And when Georgia tied the game with 2 minutes left...I left the session I was in and went to my room to watch. Judge me all you want to...but honestly by that point in the day my brain was fried anyway. And Arkansas won...

5. To show you just how fried my brain was...the following afternoon, I taped an interview with Christian Retailing. Where I was asked what 3 books--besides The Bible--that I would recommend everyone should read. My choices: Gone with the Wind, What a Girl Wants, and Eat, Pray, Love. Now, I'm not sure what everyone else said. But in hindsight, I'm betting their choices were probably things by Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Max Lucado, or Beth Moore. Clearly, I'm all about girly books. But you know, I wouldn't change my answer even if I could. Because those are 3 books I love and that I can read over and over.

Overall, it was an awesome week. Full of friends, old and new. And although all the sessions left me with information overload, they left me excited. I'm ready to get to work on my next book...okay, books! :)

Home of the Colts!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ahh, Fall

Fall colors in Charm, Ohio
My mind is going in a million different directions these days. I'm still processing my grandpa's death. Working full time at the office. Jotting down ideas for future books and trying to finish a proposal. Trying to come up with creative ways to promote and market my October release. Getting ready to go to Indianapolis next week for a writing conference. Those are just a few of the things I have going on right now!

In the meantime, I thought I'd post a few of the things about the impending arrival of Fall that I'm excited about--even though I'm a self-proclaimed Summer Girl, I do love the Fall! Here's a short list:

1. Football season! Oh, how I love football. Particularly SEC football. The rivalries. The fans. The coaches I love to hate. (Nick Saban & Les Miles...) I'm hopeful the Razorbacks will do well this year. And yes, I will miss Tim Tebow every Saturday. :)

2. Mums for my porch and patio. These signify fall to me.

3. Fall scented candles. I went to Bath and Body Works yesterday and went a little crazy! Autumn Apple is my favorite. I also got Creamy Pumpkin and just plain old Autumn. My house smells awesome!

4. Driving with the windows down. Although you can do this any time of year, there is a small time span in the fall and in the spring that is just perfect.

5. Fall inspired coffees at Starbucks. Enough said.

How about you? What are your favorite things about fall? Any fun traditions? I've always wanted to go to a corn maze. Maybe this will be the year for that!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Muddling Through Grief

If you know me or follow me on Facebook, you know that my grandpa was killed last week in a tragic car accident. I'll admit that up until now, it's been as if a giant bubble has surrounded my family, protecting us from accidents and disease. As a result, I haven't had to deal with the kind of grief that comes from the sudden death of a loved one. My family has been working through grief for the past week and as we have, I've been struck by several thoughts on the grieving process: 
  • During extreme tragedy, time stands still. Most weeks seem to fly by, but last week, I believe I felt each second. I lost track of days, was unaware of day/night, and time blurred.
  • Knowing that others are thinking of you and praying for you really does help. I'd always wondered if it mattered when I would tell those who'd lost loved ones that I was praying for them. Now I know that it does. A well-timed phone call, text, or email can lift the spirit.
  • Flowers are comforting. When I walked into the viewing room for the first time on Friday night at the visitation, the first thing I saw was a spray of beautiful flowers from my co-workers. At that very difficult moment, those flowers brought me comfort.
  • I can't imagine going through something like we've gone through without having a strong faith in God.
  • Sometimes, Taps being played is the saddest sound in the whole world--but seeing that flag folded and handed to my grandmother was a special moment.
I had the honor of speaking at Grandpa's funeral. If you knew him, you know he was a great orator. I tried my best to do him proud. Here are a few points I made:
  • This week, many people have tried to describe Grandpa, and it seems that the best description is he was one-of-a-kind. He was like Superman, Davy Crockett and the Dog Whisperer, all rolled into one. If I can find a man like Grandpa, I’ll marry him on the spot.
  • As we’ve been together this week, we’ve all remarked that people who know us have heard us tell tales of him, even if they never met him. A man who hunted barefoot and played sports as well as any professional. My grandpa is a legend.
  • For those of us blessed enough to be part of his family, he helped define us. I’ve spent my life being “Pudge Pearle’s Oldest Granddaughter”—and proud of it.
Through all of this, I have come to understand that grieving is a process. It is difficult to speak of him in past tense, and the sight of his empty recliner brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. But at the same time, I am so thankful for the time we had with him. Two days before his accident, I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to drive to Arkansas for the day. I stayed at my grandparents' house until nearly 8 that night. Grandpa and I talked about the 5K race I'd just run, my upcoming book signing, and what was going on in my life. He was so proud. The hug, kiss, and "I love you" that we shared before I walked out the door is one I will never forget and I am so thankful for it.

And now I am struck by the thought that there are others in my life who I need to make sure know how I feel about them. Because you never know when a goodbye might be your last one. I resolve to make them count and hope you'll do the same.

Please continue to pray for my family--we so appreciate it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Giveaways and Signings!

I promise to do a post soon on the wonder that was the Elvis 5K. But first, I have a few odds and ends to share!

First of all, I'm doing a book signing on Saturday, August 21, from 11 - 1 at one of the LifeWay Stores here in Memphis. I'll be at the one across from the Wolfchase Galleria, in the Commons. If you're familiar with Memphis, the Commons is the shopping center that has Old Navy. If you live near Memphis, I would LOVE for you to come by! And if you have friends in Memphis, please help me spread the word--you can direct them to my author page on Facebook for more information.

Now for some book giveaway information:

I did an interview last week on Barb's Author Interviews and if you'll go check out the interview and leave a comment on her blog, you'll be entered to win a copy of Love is Monumental. Check it out here, and I think you have until the end of August to comment.

Also, I noticed through Google alerts that my Amish book, Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio, is being offered in a giveaway by another blogger. Looks like on that one, you'll have the chance to win a copy of Carla Stewart's Chasing Lilacs as well. Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

At Least I Have My Writing

Life as a writer definitely has ups and downs. But when you're living your dream, it is hard to be down for too long. Right now, I'm working on new projects in the hopes of having a new contract very soon. My next book releases in October...and hopefully there will be more after that.

I'm working on a variety of things right now. Another contemporary romance series, this one set in Memphis. A couple of very southern women's fiction stand alones. Another Amish stand alone. A romantic suspense series. And the list goes on.

I'm plotting and thinking and constantly writing down new ideas. This is part of the process that I really enjoy. Although once I have a new contract, I will enjoy it with a little more security. :)

I'm often asked to give advice for aspiring writers. One of the things I always say is that I think to be good writers, we need to be well read. And as someone who spent the past year and a half on tight deadlines, I'm kind of enjoying getting to read a little bit more. My "to be read" pile grew by leaps and bounds this past year, and I'm trying to work through it.

On my short list though: Love Remains by Kaye Dacus, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Passage by Justin Cronin, Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner, and The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb.

Right now, though, I'm re-reading Eat, Pray, Love before I see the movie. This is one of the few books I've ever actually highlighted passages in. Some favorite quotes:

"I'm lucky that at least I have my writing."

"There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? and Who's in charge? Everything else is somehow manageable."

“In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding that they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place”

"I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism."

"Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit."
"...traveling is the great true love of my life."
And there are so many more. I highly recommend reading this one! I'm hoping the movie will be just as good, but experience tells me the book will be better. :)
How about you? What are you reading these days? Any recommendations?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Becoming a Runner

I'm one of those people--you know the type--who tends to run from conflict. When there are tough things that need to be dealt with, I'd rather ignore them in hopes that they'll go away. In other words, I internalize everything.

This can cause problems sometimes. :)

A few years ago, everyone in my workplace had to take personality tests to find out how we related to one another. My type was "most likely to go postal" because we let things build up and didn't tell people when things bothered us. (don't worry...I don't really think I'm going to be going postal anytime soon!)

But these days, I'm doing a different kind of running. The actual put-on-my-running-shoes-and-go kind of running. And I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I'm about to start my fifth week of training in the couch to 5K program. If it weren't for this program--and the get running iPhone app that I'm using, there is no way I'd have made it this far.

There are days when it is really hard. All I can think about is stopping. But I don't. I keep going, because I know how good it feels when I'm done. There is a very honest kind of satisfaction that comes from completing the training runs.

The 5K I'm training for is coming up in September...but I'm actually going to run in one just for fun in 2 weeks. The Elvis Presley Run, Walk, Rock & Roll that starts and ends at the gates of Graceland. Ha ha! Even if I end up walking more than I run in that one, it's okay. I've heard that some people dress up like Elvis for the race--that's reason enough for me to run--just to see a bunch of Elvis lookalikes running around. Perhaps I can work that into a book somehow...

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Girl and Her Dog

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my dogs. I won't bore you with the story of how Arnie came to be mine, but I will say that I've been his owner for the past decade. I rescued Buster from the middle of the road when he was a tiny puppy--and my mom raised him for the first three years. He came to live with me and Arnie about a year and a half ago.

But this post is really all about Arnie. He's getting on up there in doggy years--he was grown when I got him, and the best veterinarian guess is that he's about 13. He's begun to slow down these past months and has lost his hearing. He's still active, but he doesn't move as quickly as he used to. I'm trying to prepare myself for life without him, but honestly I have no idea what that looks like.

You see, Arnie has been with me for all of what I consider my "grown up" life. He came to live with me when I still lived in a house with roommates and when I moved out on my own, he went with me. So for as long as I've been "on my own"--Arnie has been by my side. Even in the awful rental house that my mom called the "shack"--the one that only had a tiny wall heater in the front room. During the winter, Arnie and I would curl up on the couch with lots of blankets because the living room was the only room warm enough to sleep in.

We've lived in 7 houses in 3 states. He's seen me through 8 different jobs at 4 different companies--and watched me embark on a career in writing, where I would not name just a dog after him--but an actual character: Park Superintendent Arnie Bramblett in Love is a Battlefield. (My favorite line: "Arnie barked the order like a drill sergeant." ha!)

When I'm upset over any number of things--bad hair days, bad break ups, the occasional bad review--Arnie senses it. He'll come over and rest his head on my leg and look up at me with his big eyes as if to say "Tomorrow will be better." 

When I've sat up all night, writing--trying to meet deadlines, Arnie has sat up too--me in the recliner and him curled up at my feet, refusing to go to bed until I did. Such sweet loyalty.

He's scared away at least 2 intruders over the years.

The 3 times I evacuated from the Gulf Coast because of Hurricanes Ivan, Dennis, and Katrina--Arnie was with me. Each time, traffic was awful and the trip easily took double the time it should have--but Arnie was there to keep me company. 

So as you can imagine, we've been through a lot, he and I. I remember when I moved into my first place without a roommate--and Arnie was such a blessing. I was never scared, never lonely. He's always been content to be wherever I am.

And there you have it. I know I'll deal with it when the time comes. But until then, I'm enjoying every day--every bark, every lick, every time he puts his head in my lap.

How about you? Did you ever have--or do you have a pet that became part of your family?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dedicated to the One I Love...

I'm working on final edits for my October release, Love is Grand. I know some authors don't enjoy edits, but I do. This is my final chance to make sure I have chosen the right words to tell my story.

And I love this story. For those of you who've read the other books in the Walk in the Park series, you're familiar with Ainsley and everything she's gone through. Here's the tentative back cover copy:

Ainsley Davis had it all. . .

. . .a job she loved
. . .a husband she adored
. . .a baby on the way

But after her husband’s unexpected death, she left her job and retreated to the safety of her parents’ home. Two years later, Ainsley is still there, raising the baby alone and envisioning danger around every corner. When her position as a park ranger at the Grand Canyon reopens, she realizes God may be trying to tell her to return—if she can face the fears that hold her captive.

Fellow ranger Dustin Cooper is thrilled to have his old friend back. But Ainsley isn’t the fearless girl he remembers. Even so, Dustin pushes her to put her trust in God and jump back into her life.

Policeman Jake McGuire fled to the Grand Canyon after an on-the-job mistake. He’s determined to live a stress-free, anonymous life. Until he meets Ainsley. Suddenly he realizes he’d like to be a hero again—if only in her eyes.

Can Ainsley regain her zest for life—despite the risks—and find the right man to walk alongside her? If so, she may be surprised to find that even the second time around, Love is Grand.

Well? What do you think? Sound like a book you want to read? I hope so!

In addition to edits, it's also time to pen the dedication. I find dedicating the book to be very difficult. I read somewhere that a book dedication was kind of like a tattoo--once it was inked, there was no turning back.

So far, I've dedicated books to both of my parents, both sets of grandparents and three of my best friends. I have a couple more days to settle on the dedication for Love is Grand. I have an idea for the dedication, but I'm not sure yet.

How about you? If you wrote a book, who would you dedicate it to?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Letters to own version

At Juliet's tomb in Verona, Italy (I'm back row on the right)

I went to see Letters to Juliet a couple of weeks ago and was hit with nostalgia.

Why? Because once upon a time, I spent three months traveling through Europe. During that time, I visited so many amazing places. One of them...Verona, Italy. And you guessed it, I penned my own letter to Juliet while I was there!

So you can imagine my delight at seeing the movie. I love Italy. Love it. (I secretly consider putting all of my belongings in storage and bumming around Italy--writing, eating yummy food, and talking to cute Italian guys...)

And to get to revisit Verona on the big screen was cool. Honestly...I had all but forgotten writing my own letter to Juliet until I saw the movie. It all came back to me as I watched, and sure enough--when I got home and found the battered journal I filled that summer...

"Saturday, June 14, 1997...I am on a train headed back to Florence via Bologna. We visited Verona today, the city of Romeo and Juliet. We walked to Juliet's tomb from the train station and it was so cool. There were a ton of letters and flowers and we were the only ones there. I wrote a 'Dear Juliet' letter and left it at the tomb. We walked to her house and saw the balcony and her statue..."

I won't bore you with the rest of the entry, but will say that there was a pressed flower stuck in that page that I'd taken from one of the bouquets left at the tomb.

I only have a vague recollection of my letter to Juliet. If I remember correctly, it spoke of true love and soul mates--and was written on a piece of purple notebook paper I borrowed from one of the other girls traveling with me.

Thirteen years have passed since I penned my letter to Juliet. During that time I've had some really bad dates. And some really good ones. Along the way I've met Mr. Almost Right, Mr. WRONG, and Mr. Could Be...If He'd Get His Act Together. (LOL)  But like I told a group of students recently...the path I'm on is the one for me. I look back and those times I thought I was flailing around aimlessly, I was really gathering the experiences that I would someday write about. The experiences that would add up and make me who I am supposed to be.

And I'm thankful that one of those experiences was traveling through Europe and writing a letter to Shakespeare's most famous heroine. :)

Photos of the trip below: (and yes, these are pre-digital camera pictures that I had to the quality isn't all that great!)
On the train on our way to Verona...yes, that is a Yoda figurine with us. He was sort of our mascot that summer...

Plaque at Juliet's tomb, quoting Shakespeare

Statue of Juliet, outside her house

At Castleveccio in Verona (mentioned in the movie)
And how about you? Have you ever visited a place that later showed up in a movie or in a book? Or is there an experience you wish you could "do over" because it was so cool?

Monday, May 17, 2010

5 Things...and a Giveaway

Signing at LifeWay Christian Store's Fiction Day!

I've been on the road lately, doing lots of book signings and meeting lots of readers! Such fun! Although, I have to admit, several hours at a book signing and by the end I feel like I've been hit by a truck! It's tough for introverts to feign extroversion, even for a few hours! :)

In lieu of a "real" blog post today, I decided to do one of my favorite things. Make a list!

Here are 5 random things you probably didn't know about me...

1. I know how to fire a Civil War era cannon. Seriously.

2. Once when I was in London, a representative from Vidal Sassoon asked me to be a hair model--but I couldn't because I was leaving to come back to the States. She gave me her card and told me if I ever returned to London to give her a call. (I personally think this encounter happened because my hair looked so awful that day that she felt sorry for me...)

3. I hate cottage cheese, olives, and mushrooms. Those are about the only things I absolutely WILL NOT eat.

4. I rarely ever see a movie in the theater. Like I average about 1 per year. Not sure why, exactly. I prefer to just get them on NetFlix. And while some people think dinner and a movie constitutes a good date--I do not. I think that's a dating cop out because of the lack of conversation during a movie. :)

5. I'm a little bit addicted to my iPhone. Especially the "Words with Friends" app--it's like always having someone to play Scrabble with, no matter where you are! for the giveaway portion of this post!

I'm going to give away a copy of my new release, Love is Monumental! To enter, just answer the following question and include your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. A winner will be chosen randomly on Saturday.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

I'll answer first. :) I'm most looking forward to having a few lazy summer days at the lake with my family. I missed every trip last year because I was on a couple of tight deadlines. This summer, I can't wait to swim, sit in the sun & read a good book, and eat yummy food from the grill. Perfect summery fun!

Remember--leave your answer by Saturday for your chance to win Love is Monumental!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Love is Monumental has officially released!!

Discover how the Washington Monument attracts more than tourists when a shy park ranger serves as guide to a handsome professor. Love is Monumental is the second installment in the Walk in the Park series.

The official release date of Love is Monumental was May 1, but with all the tornadoes/floods/etc., I'm just now posting about it!

I'm so excited for this book to get into the hands of readers--I love the characters, flaws and all! So far, the book is getting a good response from reviewers too!

I'm hopeful that readers will enjoy a little glimpse at Washington DC and all the monuments along the National Mall. It was fun to pick out interesting bits of information about some of them to include.

I'm scheduled to do a few blog interviews/giveaways over the next few weeks, and one of the questions I often get is about the characters--who would play them if the book were ever (dare to dream) made into a movie.

So here's a sneak peek at my choices for the main characters:

First, park ranger Vickie Harris. Vickie is always well put together. She's a bit of an over-achiever and the epitome of a perfectionist. Her quest for perfection causes trouble in her personal life--because no one can ever live up to her expectations. Despite being a park ranger, Vickie is not very outdoorsy--and knows nothing about sports! She loves fashion and has an affinity for 80's movies. We meet Vickie on the cusp of her thirtieth birthday--an age she's always dreaded. I think Ginnifer Goodwin would be perfect to play Vickie.

Dr. Thatcher Torrey, a college history professor, is in his late thirties. He is a classic workaholic--never giving any thought to his personal life--or lack thereof. Thatcher is content to focus on his classes and spend his weekends tucked away at his fishing cabin. He'd rather be outdoors than anywhere else. Thatcher despises technology--he doesn't own a cell phone and thinks social networking is the downfall of society. His past is a bit of a mystery, but let's just say he's been hurt one too many times and is determined not to let himself become attached to anyone ever again. I'd cast Noah Wyle for the role of Thatcher. I think he can pull off the right mixture of studious and masculine.

Finally, Katherine Wyatt is the third point-of-view character. I suspect the addition of Katherine's point of view will be a surprise to most readers, as they will wonder how Katherine's story connects with the main storyline. Rest assured that she is an important character. Twenty-year-old Katherine deals with her mother's terminal illness for much of the book. She's seeking her place in the world with the unsettling knowledge that soon she'll be facing life alone. I struggled with the right actress to portray Katherine and finally settled on Miley Cyrus.

So there you have it! My cast of characters for Love is Monumental. If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on who you would cast! And if you haven't read the book, you can purchase a copy here! (shameless plug, I know, but a writer has to eat...and pay rent...ha!)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Book Release is like a First Date...Seriously

I know. You think I'm crazy.

But it hit me yesterday that having a new book release is sort of like going out on a first date with a new guy you really like. Hear me out on this. :) And if it doesn't make sense to any of you, I blame it on the Benadryl I'm taking for these awful allergies!

Here is my theory:

First Date: When his name pops up on your phone/e-mail, your heart pounds.
Book Release: When you get the e-mail from Amazon saying they've shipped your book, your heart pounds.

First Date: You stress about what to wear. You want him to think you're good looking and interesting.
Book Release: You hope your book cover is good looking and interesting enough for people to pick it up and buy it.

First Date: You hope he finds you witty and charming.
Book Release: You hope readers find it witty and charming.

First Date: You worry about the impression you're making. You try to read his expression and body language so you can gauge how much he likes you, but men can be confusing.
Book Release. When you see that people are "currently reading" your book on Good Reads or Library Thing, you worry about the impression it's making. You try and gauge how well they like it by what page they're on. (sites like Good Reads allows readers to log what page they're on and give immediate feedback

First Date: If you had a good time, you hope he'll ask you out again.
Book Release: You hope readers had a good time with your book and that they'll read your next release.

First Date: You wonder what he'll tell his friends/family about you.
Book Release: You scour the Internet for reviews, hoping readers found something nice to say about the book you lost sleep and shed tears over.

There you have it. :) Make sense? It's like this: going on a date with a guy you like equals putting yourself out there. Likewise, when your book releases, there's no stopping it. A piece of yourself is in that book and suddenly, what was once your private, made up world, becomes public. People may bash it and say ugly things about it. And you'll have to sit by and watch. (I can already see a future post: "How break ups are like bad book reviews"...haha!)

Although Love is Monumental doesn't officially release until May 1, some online outlets have already shipped copies. (hence my initial heart pounding when I saw the "your order has shipped" e-mail)

And speaking of Love is Monumental, I'm looking for a few more influencers*. If you have a blog or website and are interested in being an influencer, please send me an e-mail. In the e-mail, please include your name (first and last) and your blog or website address. Here's the back cover copy for Love is Monumental so you can see if it looks like a book you'd be interested in being an influencer for:

Finding love has become a feat of monumental proportions for a shy park ranger.

Park ranger Vickie Harris loves living in the nation's capitol. She loves working at the Washington Monument. But she's never been in love. In fact, her personal life is non-existent. On her thirtieth birthday, shy Vickie impulsively promises her friends that she’ll ask out the next eligible man she meets.

Professor Thatcher Torrey has had enough heartache to last forever. Through with love, he’s spent years building his life around work. So when his longtime rival sets out to make a historic find, Thatcher is hot on his heels. But he can’t do the research alone. Intellectual Vickie is the perfect research partner and he'll stop at nothing to convince her to help him with his quest.

Just as these polar opposites form a bond, a secret from Thatcher’s past pulls them apart. Will they go their separate ways? Or will they come to realize that when it’s with the right person, Love is Monumental?

You can contact me by visiting my website and clicking the "contact Annalisa" tab:

*An influencer writes a review and posts on multiple online bookstores (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.) and online book review sites (Good Reads, Library Thing, etc.). An influencer might also post a review on their personal blog or site. Word of mouth is very important, so an influencer might tell friends and family about the book if it's one they might enjoy.


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