Wednesday, September 19

@AuthorKristina's 50 Books Check-In

 I haven't been diligent about reporting in on my 50 books challenge this year - probably mostly because I've only made it through 4 books on that list. It isn't that I don't like the books, but I've had several recommendations from friends that pushed past it. Also, that some of the books haven't been available at our local branch library so I'm on a waiting list from a larger city branch.

I really do like this challenge, though, and so I'm going to keep going with the list of the 50 most famous books from each of the 50 states...I just think it's going to be a multi-year challenge for me! The four "states" I've read:

Arkansas: Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I think I've read this book at least 5 times now, but I always come away with something new. It's the first time I've read it since we adopted bebe, and what I learned from it this time was that I want to be better at helping her embrace the things about her that are "different". Whether that's her hair or the way she learns or her inquisitive nature or her need for independence.

Maine: Stephen King, On Writing
Okay, technically this book isn't on the list. It is on the list but that book is a no-go for me (clowns, y'all, clowns... shiver). And I thought about subbing Kujo or one of this other books (that I actually like) but I went with On Writing because I was in a bit of a writing funk and that book always helps bring me out of it. I like the conversational tone he takes, I like that his main advice isn't "write X words per day for X number of days in a row". King's point, to me, is to write. Write what interests and excites you. Write what scares you. Write the things that you question and that you know and that you want to learn. Write it all and see where it takes you. That's what I've been doing and I have to say, it's working pretty well.

North Carolina: Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
You guys know I'm not a huge Sparks fan. But I do actually like this specific book of his (we won't go into his on-going "I'm not a romance writer, I write Important Things" quotes when reporters call him a romance author). I think he does a really good job of drawing the character of Noah, specifically, and the depth of love that Noah feels. I think Noah is why I like this book, particularly, because I'm just a sappy, sucker for romantics. Noah saw all of the obstacles that life could throw at them (the differences in their upbringing, the fact that she came from money, the fact that they argued as much as they loved), and when life threw him a curveball he wasn't expecting (Alzheimers) he figured out a way to deal with that, too. That's what love is all about, don't you think?

Virginia: Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia

This was a re-read for me, and I'm so glad I didn't do a sub on it! I first read Terabithia in fourth grade and I adored it then. When bebe brought it home toward the end of last school year, I decided it would be fun to read it together (we literally alternated reading chapters) and then when RadioMan was off on a sports trip, we watched the movie. Anywho. What I loved about the book was the message for girls: that you don't have to slow down, that you can be strong but also forgiving...I mourned with Jess over Leslie's death, and I was filled with hope when he crowned May Belle the new Queen of Terabithia.

Those are some of my reads of 2018 - what are your favorites? 

Wednesday, September 12

Bird by Bird

My writer friend, Anne Stuart, often quotes Anne Lamott’s story about a time when her little brother was overwhelmed with a science project cataloguing birds that he’d put off. The night before it was due, he said to his father, “How will I ever get this all done?” His dad smiled and answered, “Bird by bird, Son, bird by bird.”

Words to live by—life is about to get really busy and I’m already overwhelmed. You see, we’re going to put our house—the one we’ve lived in for 35 years—up for sale. It’s a huge decision, one that’s been several years coming. I’m excited and ready for this, but I’m also looking at everything that needs to be done and wondering how we’ll ever accomplish it. We will, I know we will, because we must, but here, now at the beginning days, I’m cringing. But...bird by bird.

And yes, I can tie this in to writing because doesn’t everything come back to writing anyway? I’m not just looking at moving, but I’ve also got three more books to write in the Four Irish Brothers Winery series in the next eighteen months or so. I think the bird-by-bird applies here, too. Conor’s story is done and will be released on October 29. I’ll have lots of promo to do and blogs to visit and posts to write for that launch, but I also need to be working on the next book. What I don’t need to do is clutter my mind with the other two brothers’ stories.

I can’t tell you how much easier it was to begin Conor and Sam’s story when I stopped trying to sort out all four brothers’ stories in one go. Bird by bird . . . or in this case, brother by brother. I’m a pantser, so bird by bird is the only way this will work for me. The other brothers will necessarily appear in the second book just as they did in the first one—they must or this won’t be a series about four brothers. But it needs to happen naturally in this one, too, or the whole thing’s going to be a contrived mess that I’ll never dig out from.

I’m about 12K words into Sean’s story now and I know where I want it to go—we just need to get there. To that end, I’m back to my old standby of a writing method—getting up early in the morning and writing before Husband wakes up, before I check social media or email, before coffee even. That worked for A SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS. I’m counting on it working here as I write this second book. Bird by bird.

Not sure, where I was going with this, so I’ll end on a question: Are you a story planner? Or do you just sit down and start writing? And if you’re writing a series, are all your character already formed when you start or do they develop as you write?

In the meantime, remember, mes amies, hold your face to the sun, be grateful in all things, and love well.


Monday, September 10

Fall Into Love Romance Giveaway!

All-Genres Romance Giveaway
September 10-30

Kindle Fire 7 • Ebook Prize Packs • Amazon Gift Cards

Between quaint country inns, falling leaves, and weather that invites snuggling, nothing tops Fall for sheer romance. And we’re holding an all-genres romance giveaway to celebrate the season. Enter now for your chance to win!

Plus, it’s reading season and we have the perfect books in every romance genre for you to snuggle up with on a chilly night or two or seven, falling in love with your new book boyfriend. Or should we say boyfriends? Browse our book fair and see how many you discover to make your own!

(Fall Into Love is sponsored by the 58 authors listed below)

Amanda Uhl • Amy Knupp • Andy Wayne • Aubrey Wynne • Ava Bradley • Candace Blevins • Cecilia Lane • Cecy Robson • Constance Bretes • Cynthia Cooke • Debbie White • E.B. Black • Elizabeth Rose • Elsie Davis • Heather Slade • Holly Cortelyou • Jan O’Hara • Jana Richards • Jenny Gardiner • Jessica Jayne • Joanne Dannon • Julieann Dove • Karyn Gerrard • Kris Michaels • Lane Hart • Lara Ward Cosio • Laura A. Barnes • Laurel Greer • Laurel O’Donnell • Lucy Lakestone • M.C. Cerny • Marie James • Marina Simcoe • Melissa Belle • N.D. Jones • Natalie Ann • PG Forte • PJ Friel • Rachel Everly • Ruth A. Casie • S.L. Sterling • Sabrina Kade • Sahara Roberts • Sandra Marie • Sarah Williams • Shelley Munro • Sherrie Lea Morgan • Simone Leigh • Soraya Naomi • Stacy Gold • Stephanie Queen • Susan Sheehey • Sylvia McDaniel • Tamara Ferguson • Teddy Hester • Theresa Paolo • TL Clark • Zoe Dawson

Wednesday, September 5

12 Days of Heartwarming Christmas

We're back in Christmas town in 2018! This year there's a wedding and a carousel and all kinds of fun. Our stories are longer and richer. As usual, we've had so much fun going back.

My story, The Dark Horse, started --predictably enough--from the sight of my husband's fingers on the strings of his guitar. Of my grandson in military uniform. Of teenage grandsons whose lives have been nothing like young Connor Michaud's in the story, but whose expressions when they don't know I'm looking can make me hurt for them. And from seeing a long, loose chestnut braid...somewhere...that became a part of Chloe Brewton. She was in last year's story, Miracle on Joyful Street, and showed up for her own this year. Complete with braid, heartbreak, and room in her house and heart for a family. And maybe for Row Welcome, too...

If you'll sign up for our mailing list, you'll get a free read of A Christmas Carol Proposal, the prologue of this year's shelf of stories. I hope you'll join us all there and that you enjoy your visit.

All the stories are available for pre-order. Stay tuned for more holiday fun from Christmas Town!

Wednesday, August 29

For the Love of Audiobooks @JanaRichards_

Two more of my books have been made into audiobooks and I’m thrilled with the results.

The Girl Most Likely on

Audio Sample
Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

Home Fires on

Audio Sample
Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiancĂ©’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son. 

Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg.  Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?

So, like I said, I’m thrilled with the results. What I’m not so thrilled with is trying to get reviews for my lovely new audiobooks. For my first three audiobooks, ACX/Amazon gave authors codes (25 for and 25 for Audible UK) which allowed reviewers to download an audiobook for free. I could give these codes to readers/reviewers in exchange for an honest review. I was fairly successful in getting some reviews, especially for CHILL OUT. But Audible/Amazon no longer gives out free codes for reviewers. And I feel really stuck.

There are some websites and Facebook groups that specialize in audiobooks I can turn to, and I have. But even with a group full of audiobook lovers, it will be difficult to find someone willing to fork over the price of an audiobook to write a review.

With an ebook, I can give away copies for review, I can gift a copy, or a reviewer can inexpensively purchase a copy themselves. But audiobooks are much more expensive so it's not like I can give them away.

So anyway, excuse the rant. I'll have to come up with creative ways to get the word out about my audiobooks. Got any ideas for me? And if anyone would like to review either of my new audiobooks, bless you!