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Big happenings

Hey, guys.

I just wanted to share with you that my book, Building Celebration House, is free during April because…(drum roll)…it’s being featured by Bookbub on Sunday, April 8th. Day after tomorrow, an email will go out to 1.8 million readers, telling them about Building Celebration House. The hope is they will buy the second book, Stay at Celebration House, and then the third.

Chris and Jack in OregonSpeaking of which, I’m finishing up Return to Celebration House. Thankfully, it’s pretty rainy here on the Oregon coast where my family and I are spending Spring Break. Staying inside our small trailer and working on the book is an easy task.

The manuscript goes to my editor on Monday, April 9th. My plan is to publish the book on Sunday, May 13th, also known as Mother’s Day!

Which brings me to share an idea. The theme of sisterhood and friendship is dominant in the third book. What if I offer readers a free copy of Return to Celebration House in exchange for a photograph of them with their sister or best friend? I will compose a collage of the photographs and publish it on my website on Mother’s Day.  I plan to send out an email, sharing all the details.

Thanks so much for your encouraging words. No doubt about it: readers – especially those who took the time to write to me – were the inspiration that helped me finish Return to Celebration House. Thank you.

Annette's blog

Remembering my priorities

Currently, I’m attending a romance writers conference in Seattle. I’ve wanted to go for several years, but I’ve never been able to get the time off from my day job or afford to go. This year, I’m lucky enough to have both.

Romance novels come in lots of different sizes and heat ratings. Friday, I sat in on a session and learned of a new sexual practice: edge play. Do you know what this is? I didn’t either, so I raised my hand and asked the editor to clarify the term. She said it’s when lovers use knives –  yes, knives – in their sexual foreplay. Okay. I did not know this. I felt really dumb until I overheard one of the conference keynote speakers, a New York Times bestselling romance writer, admit she didn’t know what it was either.

Yesterday, during another session, a very successful author shared her experiences with the biggest publisher of romance, Harlequin. She said she knew her relationship with the publisher was over when her editor asked her to rewrite her manuscript seven times and then said she realized she had taken the author’s voice completely out of the book. This author said she had a book published (for which Harlequin owns the rights for 30 years) that she is ashamed of. She apologizes to readers for the poor quality of this book. Wow.

I came to this conference to pitch my Celebration House Trilogy to a film scout. And I did that. Will anything come of the business card I palmed off on her? Hard to know. She doesn’t represent women’s fiction, stories that would be a perfect fit for the Hallmark Channel. Her connections at Universal Studios and Paramount Studios are looking for edgy, dark stories. Ones that probably involve knives.

So, I returned to my hotel room and stared out at the amazing view of Lake Washington and Bellevue from my room on the 15th floor. And I’ll be honest: I felt discouraged. It’s like I told my husband, “I don’t fit here.” I don’t write stories where men rape men or molest children or partners use knives to find sexual pleasure. I just don’t. And I will never, never publish a book I’m ashamed of. I’d rather work a day job.

I felt like I just don’t fit. And this made me sad, it really did, until I checked my email. There I found two questions/comments left on my website:

#1: From Pamela, on my Return to Celebration House page: “How in the world can I get this book? I have been looking for months for it.”

#2: From Bonnie, also on my Return to Celebration House page: “Looking forward to reading book 3. Hope you’re busy writing.”

I wish I could convey to these two women who threw me a lifeline of encouragement how much I appreciate them for taking the time to send me a message. Please trust me when I say: this was just what I needed at just the right time.

These two simple messages prompt me to remember my priorities:

  1. I will write and publish books I am proud of.
  2. “Readers are the only validation that really matters.” It’s not just a stolen phrase. It’s my mantra. I think I forgot for a short time.

CelebrationHouse_Book3As I finish writing Return to Celebration House, I’m confronted with the idea of legacy. Melanie will do whatever she needs to protect Carrie’s legacy. And I ask myself, as I’m sure many of us do at one time or another, what’s my legacy? I think it’s time to make peace with the idea that I may never sit in a dark theater and watch my stories come to life as only Hollywood can do. I may never sit on my couch and flip to the Hallmark Channel and watch Carrie’s story unfold before me. But I will always, always be proud of my work, the books I publish. The stories I share. And I will always be grateful for the emails from readers that keep me going. Always.

ADDENDUM: Later in the morning after I published this blog post, I attended a session entitled, “Sexy but Sweet: The Art of the PG13 Bedroom Scene Done Just Right” by author Brooke Moss. Have you heard of her? I had not either. Brooke just released her 10th novel, some traditionally published and some indie published. None of her books contain graphic sex. She doesn’t write it. It’s uncomfortable for her. She doesn’t want her daughters embarrassed to read her books, just as I don’t want my Aunt Mary Rose to be embarrassed to read my books.  During this 60-minute session, Brooke and other members of the audience talked about the very reasons why they don’t want sex scenes in their books. I looked around at the 30+ members of the audience, and I thought, “Hmm. Maybe I do fit.”

Here’s where to find Brooke: Brooke-Moss

Hands and arms inside the cart: finding a way to get the work done.

 

 

 

Annette's blog

What’s my legacy?

Last week, as I was leaving my day job after a particularly difficult shift, I shared an elevator with a fellow nurse. She asked me how my day went, and I told her it had been a rough one. I queried her in return, and she told me hers had been challenging too: one of her favorite patients died at the age of 48. I’ll be 48 on my next birthday.

Her simple words quickly reminded me of how lucky I am to have my health, a good-paying job and a clean, safe home where my small family waits for me.

I thought a lot about that elevator conversation, and it spurred me to think more about my legacy as a writer. Recently, I stumbled upon a website about Victoria Holt, a romance writer who died in 1993 and wrote more than 200 books. Her fans built the website as a tribute to her after her death. Can there be any higher praise?

As a writer, I spend a lot of time – dare I say waste? – looking for validation by either selling lots of books or collecting five-star reviews. But, really, is that what matters?

I write because I have stories I want to tell. I have characters whose voices I hear loud and clear, and if I don’t share their stories, then those characters wane and fade away. And I believe each of my books has one reader it’s meant for – either to entertain or to reassure that they are not alone in their struggle. I don’t write about popular girls; I never was one. I don’t write about wealth; I’ve never known it. I write about working-class heroines who struggle to make ends meet and build a home for themselves and those they love. Not a lot of glamour in that.

There are certain things I can control on this journey. I control the quality of my storytelling. As an indie author, I choose my cover art and hire an editor and proofreader. I choose the actors who record my audiobooks, and I schedule the date my books publish.

But there are certain things I cannot control. I’ve queried numerous agents and editors and received many no-thank-yous. I’ve submitted my books time and time again to the biggest promotion site available, and I hear no. I refuse to pay for reviews, so my books will never be featured in Publishers Weekly or RT Magazine. None of that matters.

What matters to me is this: I want to be known as a writer who helps other writers. I want to be known not for the bucket loads of books I sell but for the encouragement and boost-up I give to my fellow wordsmiths.

So, with that goal in mind, I signed up to host other writers on Great Escapes Book Tours. On Friday, I share a post by Janice Peacock, who writes A Glass Bead Mystery series. She talks about romance and her newest book, A Bead in the Hand. On Sunday, I host Joyce and Jim Lavene, a husband-and-wife team who wrote Gone by Midnight, a collection of short mystery stories. If my meager efforts help these authors sell a few books, that’s great. If those sales encourage them to keep writing, that’s even better.

I can’t think of a better legacy.

Hands and arms inside the cart: Welcome, Janice Peacock.

 

Annette's blog

Remembering why I write

A few months after my debut novel, Celebration House, was published in August of 2013, I received an email from my older brother, Kevin. He and I had lost touch over the years and hadn’t seen one another since the late 1990s. Kevin said that he and his wife, Kathy, had purchased my ebook and would like to have a print version. Where could they buy one?

My response to my brother was something along the lines of, “So, you’re the one who bought my book,” and that there was not currently a print version available. For my brother and I, my small success in writing was the catalyst, I think, for us to reconnect. A few months later, as 2013 came to a close, my brother wrote to me again to tell me that he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and was fighting for his life. He died July 30th.

And so began my journey into grief. It’s a private trip into one of the darkest places I’ve ever known. Unlike other struggles, like my divorces or child-custody battles, there’s no villain for me to attack. No one person against whom I can wage war. My mother died 12 years ago, but losing a sibling is a different genre of grief. Please forgive me if this sounds cold, but most of us expect to lose a parent. We don’t expect to lose a 51-year-old brother.

In August, I began working on the sequel to Celebration House. If you know my novel, you know how it ends. You also know that the heroine of the second book, Beth, walks a similar path to mine. Like me, or perhaps because of me, Beth feels overshadowed by sadness, remorse and perhaps guilt. She has little patience with the bridezillas who rent out Carrie’s house – she still thinks of it as Carrie’s – and doesn’t always know what to do with the tidal waves of emotions that pummel her daily. One of my favorite scenes is when Beth relates to a friend that her sadness has sat outside in the hot summer sun and rotted, turning into anger she can barely contain.

I stopped writing Beth’s story. Who would want to read it? Instead, I began working on a cozy mystery called Death Comes to the Ogallala Fair. My reasons for doing this are, I’ll be honest, a little financial. Cozy mysteries sell. They’re fun. They’re lighthearted. They’re not, well, sad.

I wasn’t sure I could do this. I mean, the death of my brother moved the foundation of my mental health a good three feet. So how could I kill people?

It was easier than I thought! Because to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie, True Lies, I only kill bad people.

Something happened as I struggled to write my 1,000 words each day and piece together characters and a setting for the mystery. I began to have fun. Real fun! I would laugh out loud at the outrageous things happening in the small town of Ogallala, Missouri. (Yes. I know there is no such place, but I just love saying it: Ogallala. Ogallala. Say it with me. Ogallala.

The town itself is based on Pleasant Hill, Missouri, where I had the privilege of being a newspaper reporter for a year before taking a job with The Sedalia Democrat. Oh, did I mention I set it in 1988? Yep. No cellphones. No internet. Somebody break out the George Michael cassette tapes.

The novel is complete fiction, but like my other books, the people who live on the pages are based on people I know, including my former bosses and co-workers at The Pleasant Hill Times. I’ve elaborated on the sheriff because, well, I wanted to. And the ultimate villain? It’s…wait. I intend to finish this book and hawk it for $2.99. I better keep that to myself.

I am reading the Amazon bestselling books in this genre, and I purchased two e-books about how to write a cozy mystery. Right now, I’m crafting the characters. I want to create a protagonist who the reader cares enough about to stay up until 2 a.m. to see what happens to her. I want to intricately plot this book. I want to whittle my storytelling with my sharpest-edged knife. And I want to laugh, or rather, keep laughing at the things these new people in my life say and do.

The few pages I’ve shared with my critique group have been well received. They like the idea of this small town where a killer is loose and the sole reporter for The Ogallala (See! Isn’t it fun to say?) Gazette stays just one step ahead of the murderer. Or perhaps, murderess?!? Oh, this is going to be fun. One of my critique partners compared it to the Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. I would never go that far, but I will say this: it helps.

Kevin and PoppyWriting dilutes and on a really good day, dispels my sadness. And sitting on the desk next to my computer is my favorite picture of my brother, Kevin. He is with me still.

Hands and arms inside the cart: Next, have I gone too commercial?

Annette's blog

Let’s talk about sex

Please sit down. This heart-to-heart is long overdue. We need to talk about sex.

In fiction, and especially romance, there’s a smorgasbord available for you, the reader. Like at a Chinese buffet, some of the selections are hotter than others, which is to say, they contain more explicit sexual content.

Just to review, here’s the rating system that’s widely used:

Level 1 – Sweet (kissing and petting)
Level 2 – Sensual (kissing and at least one sexual encounter)
Level 3- Spicy (one or more ramped-up sexual encounters)
Level 4 – Hot (lots of sex, language)
Level 5 – Scorching (kink, raunch, language)

So, the question is, what level of heat do I write? I can’t predict what my future self will publish, but for now, I write books that stay at level 1.

I do this for a couple of reasons. As a reader, I flip past the pages with the sex scenes. I’m sorry, but what intrigues me most, what keeps me reading until 2 in the morning, is the connection between the characters: the banter, the conflict, the silliness. Sex? Not so much. Also, and perhaps more importantly, my family members read my books, and frankly, I don’t want to publish a novel I would feel embarrassed for my Aunt Mary Rose of Rogers, Arkansas, to read.

Now, does this mean I look down on authors who write romance novels with a heat factor of 5? Absolutely not. Do I snub erotica authors? Nope. It’s just not what I write.

Folks who follow my blog know that every Sunday, I offer my website to other authors to talk about their writing journey and showcase one of their books. I don’t limit that website to any specific genre. I recently featured Sabrina York, who writes erotic romance and sells a lot of books. I congratulate her and wish her every success! It’s just not what I write.

So why has all of this come up, you ask? A few weeks ago in one of my blog posts, I mentioned that I used the word “vibrator” in a scene. I also confessed that I had to look it up because I didn’t know how to spell it. This comment has come back to haunt me. So, I offer to you the scene I was referring to.

Here’s the set-up: Caroline, our heroine, has just come home after attending a disastrous Valentine’s Day party to find her slutty neighbor, Kelly, aggressively courting Geno.

WARNING: THIS IS A LONG SCENE

“…Once upstairs, she saw Kelly pressed up against Geno against the kitchen cabinets. Kelly giggled, and seemed to be trying to kiss him, pressing her weight against him. He moved his head away from her, as though to avoid her kisses. He held her arms at the wrist, but she squirmed and got loose.

Caroline cleared her throat, and Geno looked up, startled. The expression on his face changed from surprise to pure relief.

“Hello. Hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Caroline said.

“You’re not,” he said. His eyes shifted between the two women, and he frowned. “Kelly was just leaving actually.”

“Oh, Geno, you’re no fun,” she said, faking a pout. Her bright red lipstick reminded Caroline of a circus clown’s makeup. She narrowed her eyes and glared at Caroline. Kelly inspected her from head to toe. “Look what the cat dragged in.”

“Hello to you too, Kelly,” she said, stepping into the kitchen. She grabbed microwave popcorn out of one of the cabinets. “Excuse me,” she said, gesturing at the microwave behind the entwined pair.

“Oh, sure. I’ll just walk you out, Kelly,” he said, pulling himself out of her embrace and bolting to the front door.

“Did Caroline just get home?” Caroline heard Chris ask, and his dad told him she was.

Kelly sauntered over to Caroline and hissed, “You think you’re so smart, but I know men like Geno. You’re a little too vanilla for their taste.”

Caroline said nothing. She put the popcorn bag in the microwave and turned it on. Then she looked at Kelly and asked loudly, “How’s your boyfriend, Kelly? Miss him much?”

The younger woman smirked at Caroline. “Tom is gone, and I’m a firm believer that if you can’t be near the one you love, you love the one you’re near.”

“Oh, that’s so profound. Did you think that up all by yourself or did you read it in Cosmo Magazine? Can I get that embroidered on a pillow?”

“We’ll see what happens here,” Kelly said, sneering at Caroline.

“I know what’s going to happen here. You’re gonna take your size two ass out of this kitchen, and I’m going downstairs to be with my sons. Now good-night. Happy Valentine’s Day,” Caroline said sarcastically, waving good-bye with her fingers.

“Hi, Caroline,” Chris said, coming into the kitchen a few minutes later. The microwave dinged, and Caroline took out the hot buttery popcorn. She poured it into a large bowl, then offered it to Chris. Anthony surfaced as soon as the smell of the popcorn wafted down the hallway.

“Hey, guys. Happy Valentine’s Day. My boys are downstairs watching movies. Want to join us?”

“Sure,” Chris said. She handed the bowl to Chris and both he and Anthony disappeared downstairs.

She heard the front door close. Caroline grabbed an armful of plastic cups from the counter. Geno walked into the kitchen.

“Sorry to interrupt your… whatever,” she said, taking ice cubes out of the freezer.

He leaned up against the counter. “I don’t understand women. Tom has been gone less than two months, and she comes onto me like that.”

“Yeah, looked like you were really struggling. Must have been awful for you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Caroline shrugged. “It’s none of my business. Do what you want. I just think you could be a little more discreet when your boys are home. And by the way, wear a condom. That’s the best example of ‘rode hard and put away wet’ I think I’ve ever met.”

He studied Caroline. She practically threw the ice cubes into the red plastic cups now.

“What’s wrong with you tonight? I couldn’t care less about Kelly, and you know that.”

“Really? Then why did I find the two of you in such a compromising position? Part of your anatomy cared about her.”

“No. Not really.”

Caroline set the ice cube tray down on the countertop. She turned to face him. She stepped close to him, half a foot away and placed her hands on either side of him. She looked up at him, her green eyes studying his face. She leaned forward and smelt his aftershave, but did not touch him. She lowered her voice to mimic Kelly’s whisper. “So you’re telling me that despite being entangled in her, you felt nothing. Not the slightest stir of desire? Is that the load of bullshit you’re trying to sell me?”

Geno looked down at her and grinned, then stepped closer to Caroline, the slightest contact of his jeans against the front of her. She stood up straight and stepped a foot back. He pursued her until she was backed up against the countertop. He leaned in and whispered back, “Men like to do the chasing, Caroline. And we like it even more if we have to work for it.”

From downstairs, Caroline heard a long “Mom, we need more popcorn…”

Geno jumped back. He looked guilty, like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He leaned back on the opposing counter.

“Why do you care about Kelly? She doesn’t usually get this much of a reaction from you.”

“I don’t. Do whatever you want,” she said, looking away from him. She pulled another bag of popcorn out of the counter and plopped it in the microwave. She punched the buttons on the keyboard. The microwave turned on. “I went to this single parent potluck tonight. Yuck! The men I met there make Earl look good.”

“Really?”

“Well, not that good. It’s…” her words faltered, and she sighed. “Sometimes I miss being married. Valentine’s Day seems to bring home the fact that in a world of couples, I’m single. Do you ever miss being married?”

“I miss the sex.”

“Spoken like a true man.”

“Okay. Do I miss being married? Sometimes. I miss having someone to come home to talk to, to tell about my day. But towards the end, Cheryl-Anne and I didn’t talk much, just long periods of silence interrupted with screaming matches, followed by more silence.”

He was quiet for a minute, lost in his memories.

“And of course, my guys were always right there to see – the screaming, the door slamming, dishes breaking against the walls.”

“Really? You threw dishes?”

“Not me. Cheryl-Anne. She thought I was having an affair with someone at work.”

“Were you?”

“Are we still being honest? Because I wanted to, but I have to look at myself in the mirror every morning. I don’t think I could if I added adultery to my weekly confession. Plus, she and I worked together. It would have ended my career,” Geno said.

He looked at Caroline. “What about you? What’s your story?” he asked.

Caroline shrugged. “A bad relationship that got worse. I think we packed our problems in the boxes along with our dishes when we moved to Alaska. When he started working out of town, things got worse. Then he met Mindy. That’s all she wrote.”

“Do you hate her?”

“God no. I felt relieved it was finally over. Mindy is what Earl needs – a young, adoring woman. I was too at one time, but just so many disappointments over the years. During the last year of our marriage, we slept in separate bedrooms. I played the ‘nightlight game.’”

“The what?” he asked.

“When Earl was out of town, I’d sleep upstairs in the master bedroom, and I’d plug in a nightlight by that room so the boys could find me in the middle of the night. When he was home, I’d sleep downstairs in the guest room, and I’d plug the nightlight in the outlet at the bottom of the stairs so the boys would know to go downstairs to find me. Kind of pathetic, huh?”

“Maybe we’re both a little pathetic,” he said, smiling at her.

“Mom, are you coming? We’re starving,” Bobby yelled. The microwave dinged.

She tucked a two liter of soda under her arm and started to grab the stacked cups of ice. “Gotta go. I got a hot date downstairs.”

“Can I join you?”

“Sure. But just don’t let my landlord know. He gets nasty when I entertain male guests.”

“Sounds like a real asshole.”

“Oh, God yes. He is,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Here. Give me some of those cups,” he said, before taking them from her.

“By the way, how did you and Kelly wind up in the kitchen tonight?” Caroline asked.

“She came over here and asked me to change the battery in her…”

“Vibrator?”

“Smoke alarm, thank you. Why? Are you jealous?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

“I think nauseated is a better adjective.”

“Ouch! That’s hurts. During your marriage, did Earl ever call you a shrew?”

“You know, suddenly, I feel the urge to throw something.”

“Good thing these are plastic cups,” he said. He opened the microwave door and grabbed the hot bag of popcorn. In the other hand, he picked up two cups of ice.

Together they headed downstairs where their four boys waited for them.

Hands and arms inside the cart. Next: redefining success one reader at a time.

Annette's blog

Writing from a man’s point of view.

I was stuck. I didn’t know what to write. I didn’t know how to finish A Year with Geno.

So, I called in an expert. I called Geno, the male lead in my novel.

I’ve written most of the scenes in my current work-in-progress, A Year with Geno, from the viewpoint of the female protagonist, Caroline. If you’ve read my other two novels, thank you. You probably realized that Celebration House, and my most recent release, Bone Girl, were mostly written from the prospective of the female main character. So far, that seemed to work out.

But last week, my writing screeched to a sudden halt; Caroline didn’t have anything more to say.

So I decided to go around her. I sat down at my computer two days ago with the sole intention of writing from Geno’s perspective. Wow. Now that character had a lot to say. To begin with, he admitted to me that he cared for Caroline way before she realized her feelings for him. In fact, for much of the book, she overlooked him, or at least, that’s how he saw things.

This was huge for me. Because to be honest, I’m much more comfortable with my gender than the other one. It’s that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” thing. Growing up with two brothers and four male cousins, you think I wouldn’t have this blind spot, but I do. I’m just more comfortable around women.

But I heard Geno’s voice loud and clear near the end of the book. I don’t want to give too much away. No spoiler alerts for those three of you that read this blog, so I’ll keep my show and tell at a minimum.

In the third-to-last scene, Geno hits his stride when Caroline spouts my favorite Emerson quote: “I cannot hear you words, sir, for so loudly do your actions speak.”

Here’s what Geno said back to her:

“‘You’re real proud of that quote, Caroline. My actions? My actions speak? Okay. Lets take a minute and listen to what they have to say. I move you into my house. I treat your sons like they’re my own. I make your problems my problems. I can’t keep my hands off you even when you make it pretty damn clear you don’t want them on you. I beg you to date me, but you tell me no. I do whatever I can to make life better for you, but you don’t see that. Because you don’t want to see that. So I watch as you date Alaska’s finest and find them wanting. Even then, you overlook me, and I put up with it because I think maybe, just maybe, there will come a day when you will see what’s right in front of you…’

At this, his voice broke and Caroline watched as Geno struggled to hold back tears. ‘I’m just sorry Trevor beat you to it.’

Geno let go of her arm and stomped down the hallway. He slammed his bedroom door so hard the molding broke.”

Wow. Okay. Note to self: spend more time listening to my male characters, especially you, Geno.

Hands and arms inside the cart: Next, the beauty of failure.

Annette's blog

Hi, ho. Hi, ho. It’s off to work I go…

On Tuesday night, when I sat down with members of my critique group, I secured my goggles and executed a perfect swan dive into a pity pool. Thankfully, my fellow writers grabbed my arms and fished me out.

Almost two weeks ago, I returned to the grind of a Monday through Friday job. It’s work I’ve done before, so it’s familiar. I enjoy immensely the people I work with – they laugh at my jokes, which is always a good thing. Thank you, Emily and Sean. And I enjoy my patients. I work as a triage RN at a local cardiac practice.

The thing is, my heart’s just not in it. I know. I know. This is the real world, not the fantasy I create in my novels. And it’s pretty darn hard to be a writer when the electricity has been turned off because you couldn’t pay your light bill. But, still, if I had my druthers, I’d write full-time.

So when I sat down to share these sentiments with my critique group, I was quickly met with skepticism. One of the writers, Bill, is a police detective. When I said I didn’t know how I would find the time to write, he related the story of Frank Zafiro, a fellow police detective, who has written and published numerous novels, all while working full-time. Show off.

But I know there are others. Writers like Anthony Trollope, who wrote 47 novels, three times as many as Charles Dickens. He wrote from 5 to 8 each morning and then marched off to his job as postmaster.

Or a fellow children’s writer: Deborah Hopkinson. I met her at an writing conference several years back. Then, she worked full-time at a university. I’ll never forget her words: “You’ve got to want it more than sleep.”

The trouble is, I love to sleep.

But there are others things I love too. I love the idea of my dad reading my novel. I love the idea that someday, a kid will stumble onto my book, Bone Girl, and realizes it’s okay to be a band geek who plays a hand-me-down instrument. Or every writer’s fantasy: sitting in a darkened theater while the images that have inhabited my mind for so many years play across a movie screen.

Okay. These things, I love more than sleep. I’m heading to bed now; 5 a.m. comes early.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: rediscovering the joy of reading romance.

Annette's blog

Why I blog

Last night, on my way home from a local writers meeting, my husband told me that our daughter asked why I wasted my time blogging. Could I really support us by blogging?

The answer is no. I can’t pay any of our bills with this blog. But writing these 500 words or so at least three to four times a week was never intended to do that. I started a blog because I wanted to introduce myself to future readers, to build a platform so that when I did publish a book, I might have a few booklovers who already knew me.

But over the last month, this blog transformed into far more than just a way to introduce myself.

It’s become a writing treadmill. I build storytelling muscle by writing these 500 words or so a couple of times a week. And it’s a source of unexpected affirmation. Caitlin, my daughter’s best friend, told her how good my banana bread looked when she saw a picture of it on this blog. The trainer at an IT class told me she follows my blog. A friend in Willow, Alaska, sends encouraging words. All because of this blog.

Blogging builds new connections and strengthens those already in place. For example, a member of my critique group saw my blog and started one of her own, the occasional meatcleaver. That inspired her dad to start a blog. He read his first entry last night at the writers meeting. It was hilarious!

I stumbled onto other blogs because of my own and from these, I learned things I otherwise wouldn’t know. I learned about AuthorHouse, the scourge of the publishing world, from a blog posting. I also learned about a website for women writers: SheWrites.

Yesterday was a rough day for my little family. We’re feeling the financial squeeze from the loss of my income. My husband is the voice of reason. I’m the voice of hysteria. Mine is not a helpful voice. I said things to him that I wish I could take back. But in all fairness, he said things too, like “I’m just trying to be supportive of you,” and “We’ll get through this.” See? See what I have to put up with?

After our “discussion,” I marched up to my office, slammed the door shut and began revising The Celebration House. As I did, a calm came over me, and I realized, after a few minutes or so, that I felt happy. Genuinely happy. I made good progress. I revised 64 pages. Only 100 more or so to go. Woo hoo!

I know that today, this blog has no monetary value. Nor do my novels. Right now, they’re stored away on the hard drive of this computer (and in that amazing place called DropBox). They have no importance to anyone but me. Not yet. But I hope one day my stories will support my family. And this blog is an important step toward that goal.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: what I learned from SCORE.