Friday, December 8, 2017

A Writer's Christmas Wish List

It's the most wonderful time of year. At least that's what Andy Williams says. Last night I drove home through a blizzard. I wasn't thinking it was the most wonderful time of year, I was thinking, 'all I want for Christmas is to be home, warm and safe by my crackling fire.' But...then I got home and I was safe, so I thought, 'yeah...there are a few other things I would like.'

Being an independent author comes with its share of burdens. Rewards? Yes! (Like this and this.) But definite burdens. Without the networking power of a flashy publishing house, all the weight of promotion falls to me, and promotion is not what I want to spend my days doing. What I want is to spend my days writing more stories for you!

At work this week I sat at my desk reflecting on how lucky I am to have the job I do have. I have grown tremendously as a person through the ups and downs of office politics. I've learned to advocate for myself and others. I've been pushed to push myself. I've learned important, transferable skills like graphic arts and web design - all this within a number of hours that buys groceries for my family but still allows room for other pursuits. What a blessing!

But in my reflecting, I also camped out on this beautiful idea of someday, instead of saying, "I'm going to work," I'll be saying, "I'm going to write."

And yes, writing is work, but it's not 'work'. Do you see?

Every journey comes with trials and obstacles. Remember when Tom Cruise was red in the face, veins popping on his forehead, yelling "Show me the money" into the phone, while on the other end, Cuba Gooding Jr. bounced around in his kitchen? Cuba is my heart and Tom is my head and they're both fully me and someday, I will stand at the door of my writing room, in my fuzzy socks, with my endless coffee, and with every ounce of romance I can muster, I will say, "You complete me."

So, it's about money. Like most things, unfortunately. But happily, my Christmas wish list is not. What it is, is a list of ways you can help me get closer to my goal of being a full time author/editor/publisher. It's really a list of actions. Think of them as challenges. I dare you.


Buy my book. Yeah, so I lied. Some of these cost a little money. But only a little. And I've been told the story's pretty good, so it's not like you're buying something that won't give you something back. Purchasing an author's book is the single greatest compliment you can give them - especially an indie author like myself. No royalties get pocketed by a top-skimming scrooge publisher or agent. All royalties go to the doer of the deed, giving me a few bucks to add to the coffers that will someday allow me to be fully who I want to be.

(click the banner below to see my christmas sale)

Have you already bought my book? Thank you! I love you! You are the peach in my pie and the sugar in my coffee. Consider buying one for a friend, or as a gift for your child's school teacher or bus driver. How about for the staff at the town hall? (Seriously, you guys, I'm doing whatever I can to get this book in as many places as I can!)

Don't have time for a novel? Believe me, I know about being busy. I get it! Why not try out my little short story, Eve Undone, sharing creation from the perspective of Eve. OR, consider grabbing a subscription to my indie lit magazine.

Write a review. A review is the second greatest compliment you can give an author. Unless it's a mean review, then maybe keep your opinions to yourself...Just kidding! Even a negative review is helpful. Because good or bad, the main thing is, it's got people talking. That said, don't be mean for the sake of being mean. Be constructive and honest. I would be so grateful (if you have read one of my books) if you'd take just a few minutes to share your thoughts on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Nobel, Chapters/Indigo, even your personal social media pages or blogs.

Nominate The Church in the Wildwood for a CBC Book of 2017. All it takes is a comment, tweet, post, or email, and you'll add my book to this list! You've got until December 15 to make recommendations!

Request a copy at your library. Not everyone has a book budget, and that's no reason why they shouldn't get a chance to try my book. Recommendations are free and helps me widen my exposure. It's a beautiful gift!

Encourage your book club to tackle The Church in the Wildwood. The discussions that have been spawned out of this story have amazed me. There are deep questions of ethics, family, choices, and relationships. If you're looking for a book that isn't long, but draws on some powerful themes and will take you on a little emotional journey - this is the one! Book club questions are available from the Wildwood website, plus if you're interested, I'd love to come to your meeting and be part of the conversation!

Keep pestering me about that sequel. You are never being annoying when you ask me when the next book is coming out. Every time I hear that, it further affirms my desire to keep plowing ahead. (I wish the same could be said for the plows around here. Not one out on the road as I crawled my way home last night!) I have a lot of projects in the works and am slowly, slowly, slowly, learning how to better manage my time in order to produce another finished product.

🎁 🎁 🎁

This all felt very self-indulgent. I'm sorry.

When I was a child, I would write superfluous letters to Santa Claus, asking about the elves and the reindeer and the weather and what kind of cookies Mrs. Claus was baking, and whether he was afraid of heights, and how in the world was he brave enough to ride in that sleigh...and then, at the end I'd throw in an 'oh, I almost forgot...I guess you'd like to know what I want for Christmas'. As if Santa didn't know exactly what I was doing; as if I cared more about the reindeer than what would be in my stocking come Christmas morning.

I didn't want to do that here. I've grown up a bit since then. You get results when you face something head on rather than beat around the bush.

So yes, this was all very self-indulgent. And I'm not sorry. This is who I am now. I have to ask for help. I have to plug my wares. Maybe I'm no better than the snake oil salesman, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Thank you for reading this to the end. You had me at hello. You're a good friend. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Book Club, Take Two

I tried to explain a book club to a friend. He didn't get it. Because why get together to discuss books? What's the point?

But I'll ask this: why discuss anything? What about all those talks we have—sometimes with perfect strangers—about our favourite Netflix show? Or what about the way we dissect music, discern lyrics, argue meanings, and go to concerts hoping for a chance to get the bass player to sign our album?

There's a beautiful value in community. That's why it's thrilling to sit in a stadium and feel the rhythm and excitement of a crowd vying for victory. Books do that for readers. And all an author really wants is to invoke some kind of emotion—something that stirs someone enough that they want to, need to, talk about it. Okay, maybe we're not keeping our fingers crossed for someone to paint our cover art on their naked chest and scream from the bleachers while they slop beer on the person in front of them, (though actually, that might help sales a little bit) but we do want to make something happen.

The idea of someone curled up quietly with my book, sipping their tea or glass of wine, ceratinly creates a beautiful image for me. But I want more. Because a personal quest is lovely, but a journey taken with friends is divine. It would be like Cheryl Strayed going on her Pacific Crest Trail hike and then not telling anyone about it. Stories are not meant to be hoarded (like my secret stash of candy), they are meant to be shared. All we are is story. Why keep your cards so close to your chest? clubs are a thing, and they should be celebrated. And if I wasn't so busy I would definitely be part of one myself. BUT happily, one great (unexpected) joy of getting a title out in the world is that BOOK CLUBS ARE READING IT and some of them even invite me to hang out with them!

Last Sunday found me in the Jeep... [PAUSE!]

So my husband hit a deer with our minivan and it did enough damage to the front end (he's fine, by the way) that we're waiting on the insurance company to decide between a repair or a write-off. In the meantime, we've been given a brand new Jeep Wrangler to drive, and I have never been more in love with a vehicle in my life. It is strong and sexy and so fun to drive, and the idea of ever going back to a minivan hurts my feelings (though the idea of paying for a Jeep hurts my stomach...)


...going to the booming metropolis of Barrie where I was scheduled to visit a book club who had just read The Church in the Wildwood.

I was nervous, but the host had assured me that they were "literally seven of the chillest laid back ladies you’ll meet". She was right! Everyone was warm and welcoming. It's wildly weird to be the centre of attention, but so affirming to hear how people connected to the story.

After a time of introduction and settling in, I read a chapter to them. I chose the church bell scene towards the end of the book because it was one of my favourite scenes to write. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Buy my book! It's on sale right now!!)

When I finished, one of the ladies said, "You guys...the author of our book club book just read to us." And I felt embarrassed. But also a little like Margaret Atwood.

They asked great questions, both about the story and about my process. There was interesting discussion about what happened to characters after the book ended, and I loved hearing all the theories. Just the fact that they cared enough to even wonder was a tremendous compliment.

At one point, I was talking about Iris Carver and one of the ladies stopped me and said, "You made her up, but you speak of her like she's a real person you actually know."

And friends, that right there kind of says it all, doesn't it?!

"She is like a real person to me! I love her."

I'm such a nerd.

They asked me who my favourite author is. (Anne Rice) And asked me what my favourite book is. (Book of Mercy by Leonard Cohen) And then what I thought about the Twilight series. (I love them, for the record, and anyone who doesn't has let their inner teenage girl disappear into the dark abyss of grownupedness and should immediately take a week off work, buy a carton of wine gums, and dive into the delicious chaos that is Bella Swan's life... #TeamEdward... Also: see aforementioned 'nerd' statement.)

And before I completely let this post get away from me, it must be mentioned that Kim, the hostess of this make-me-blush gathering, had the book soundtrack playing in the background the whole time AND she had special ordered out-of-season irises in honour of the character Iris Carver. I amazing is that??!!

This club keeps a memory box into which they put a memento of every book they read together. For The Church in the Wildwood, they had me sign one of the cover pages, which they tore out to include, and a rusty nail. Why a nail? BUY MY BOOK AND FIND OUT!!

They sent me off with a thoughtfully curated gift that I will cherish...(well, not the chocolate...that I will savour...) and a happy little bubble of joy in my belly knowing that my pretty little book has made a pretty little dent in the lives of seven lovely women.


Do you want me to come to your book club too??! I'd love to—just pay for my gas if I have to travel any distance. I also accept plane tickets 😜 (I'm especially interested in a European book tour!) 

Send an email to and we'll make it happen! (I can offer a 15% discount on bulk orders if you need copies for your group members. Just contact me and we can work it out!)

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