Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twas the Night Before A Book Release...

This is kind of a big week for me.

Tomorrow kicks off a year full of book releases. A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina officially hits the shelves tomorrow.

While it is totally a dream come true, each book release also brings a certain amount of angst. You may remember that I liken a book release to a first date. I still stand by that theory. (although I have been writing so much lately, I haven't had much time for many first dates--ha!)

Even though this is my sixth release, I'm still as nervous and as excited as I was for the very first one. Nervous because I want readers to like it--love it, even! And I know from past experience that some will...and some will not. Excited because this story finally gets to be read. Hopefully by many.

In a lot of ways, A Wedding to Remember in Charleston is VERY different from any of my other books. It's about a marriage that's in the process of falling apart. Whoa.

My other books have been about people finding love for the first time. Boy meets girl. Sparks fly. Conflict happens. They make up and live happily ever after.

This one is a little different. 

Summer and Luke are in a very dark place. Strangers sharing a last name. And a home. And a dog. But not much of anything else.

So writing their story was sometimes quite hard for me. It made me sad. It made me stop and think about all of the things that tear apart people who've vowed to love one another forever.

In fact, there were times I would call my friends and whine. I'd say things like "Why did I think writing a romance about an estranged married couple was a good idea? Why didn't you tell me I was crazy?"  

And my friends would talk me down from the ledge. They'd tell me to go back to work and not call/text/Facebook them until I'd written more.

I'd pray about it and come away realizing that it was a story that needed to be told. That there was a way to add in some light moments to a dark subject. That even in the hard times, there were still moments of humor. Because that's the way life is.

So I created some secondary characters, Ashley and Justin, who helped add some fun. Then I brought back two of my favorite characters from Love is Grand--Mary and Mavis, the elderly sisters from Alabama.

And when it was all said and done, I wound up with a book that I love and one I hope readers can relate to. There's only been one review so far--4 Stars from Romantic Times:
"This book is about a marriage that's on the rocks, not from any major event, but from erosion of commitment and lack of communication over time. It's a story that readers can relate to, and a reminder that marriage takes work and dedication. The author does a wonderful job of weaving the story together along with infusing a little romance."
I am thrilled with their take on the book and am anxiously awaiting seeing it on the shelf for the first time--something that never gets old!

So tomorrow if you see a bleary-eyed girl doing a happy dance on the book aisle at Walmart...it might be me. :) 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Peace is the Word...

There's been a lot of talk lately in several groups I belong to about finding your "one" word for the new year. I knew my word would become clear to me if I really thought/prayed about it.

And it did. It was right there on my Christmas tree.


This year I am seeking peace. Because honestly if 2011 had a word, it may as well have been Chaos or Turmoil. So Peace is sounding pretty perfect to me. :)

2011 saw me return full time to my day job and write 4 books and 1 novella. Which basically means I worked in one way or the other pretty much non-stop. I turned in the last of those books 2 weeks ago and am taking a few days off to renew my creativity. MUCH NEEDED time off!

2011 also saw a major milestone for me: I bought my first home and moved back to my hometown. Which was a whole other set of adjustments, which I'm still getting used to. My house is presently under renovation--and I'm trying to do as much of it myself as possible.

Obviously 2011 was a busy year! Some of the wonderful highlights:

1. The aforementioned book contracts! Writing is a blessing and something I feel called to do. I'm so thankful for the opportunities I've been given and look forward to making some fun announcements soon about upcoming projects.

2. The release of Love Finds You in Lancaster County--and learning it had reached the ECPA Bestseller List.

3. Traveling to Chicago with some of my best friends to see U2 in concert. What an amazing night!

4. Signing the paperwork and officially becoming a homeowner. It has been a long journey and I'm so thankful to have a place to call my own.

5. Traveling to Charleston to do research for an upcoming book. I absolutely fell in love with the city and can't wait to return.

6. Spending time with my friends and family--as I get older, those relationships become so much more meaningful. I'm truly blessed.

But back to my word. PEACE.

How will I instill Peace into my life in 2012?

Here are a few things I hope will help:

1. Read the Bible all the way through. I sheepishly admit I've never attempted this. I read bits and pieces as I'm studying different topics, but I know there are plenty of verses I've never read--particularly in the Old Testament.

2. Pray with a purpose. Once upon a time I kept a prayer journal. I think it's time to go back to that.

3. Exercise. Oh man. This was the first thing to fall by the wayside when my life got all crazy-busy this year, and I think that was a huge mistake. Back when I was running on an almost daily basis, I think my life was much more peaceful. So I'm back to training and am aiming for several 5Ks and the ultimate (for me) goal: a half-marathon. I signed up to do one in 2011, but wasn't ready. 2012 will be the year.

4. Relax. Somewhere along the past few years of working and deadlines and being a grownup, I think I forgot how to relax. In 2012 I'm planning a spa vacation with some of my best friends and WILL make it to a beach where the only thing on my agenda is sleeping and reading.

5. Get my house organized. This includes finishing the kitchen and living room renovations!

6. Plant a garden. There is nothing as therapeutic for me as digging in the ground. Now that I have a couple of acres, I'm going to make use of them! I hope to have a vegetable garden and also plan a flower garden. 

7. Manage my time better. Juggling 2 full time jobs and a home renovation is a challenge. But I don't want my life to revolve around working all the time. My very wise grandmother cautioned me recently that she worried I was writing about life and not living it. 2012 will be the year that changes and I think that change starts with being a better steward of the time I have--and also of choosing my projects (both work and home) wisely.

And there you have it. The 7 things I hope will bring some much-needed PEACE into my life.

How about you? Do you have a word for 2012?


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