On Thursday night, I landed in Miami and met up with a Georgetown friend for dinner. The best steak at Graziano’s. We caught up for a few hours. I’m so glad we did. Great way to start my time in Miami!

Friday, I went to the book fair, but it was raining and windy. I met Lorrie and Wally and we walked around for a bit together. I tried to walk around until the rain went horizontal and then I called it a day.

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Saturday at The Readers’ Favorite Tent at the Miami Book Fair. The Six Train to Wisconsin was on display and for sale there!

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A shot of some of the award-winning books.

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The Miami Book Fair.

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Driving out to Miami Beach.

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Weird birds we encountered on the drive.

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Gorgeous house under construction.

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The Readers’ Favorite Award Ceremony. Loud music boomed. Everyone was so excited. I stayed in my seat and tried not to freak out about going on stage. Usually, I’d rather have dental work done than walk the stage in front of a huge group of people. Even awesome people that were my peers.

Dad asked me to get up on stage for a trial run before the ceremony. My answer: No! I’m doing it once, so be ready.

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Three award-winning paranormal authors in YA and Adult (Ronnie Stich, Elizabeth Kirke & me). We all coincidentally sat in a cluster. Woo-woo.

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Kelvin Kwa and I got to chat the night before at a mixer. He’s written an amazing sci-fi techno thriller.

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Getting the award was the most nerve-wracking part. Walk across the stage, remove glasses, kneel down, flip my hair out, pose with book and award medal and the President of Readers’ Favorite, Debra Gaynor, and get off the stage without falling.

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Me on stage for our second go around. Dad was not so ready the first time. ;)

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Verna Clay and me. Her book covers are gorgeous and she’s awesome to hang out with too!

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Dad accidentally videoed this the first time and it included me on my side when he flipped the camera. We needed a do-over here too. So we went back after the ceremony. And after I’d had a drink.

20141122_202237Lorrie Farrelly and I had a blast hanging out. Her husband Wally is a great book trailer creator. We met at the Readers’ Favorite tent on Friday and walked around the book fair. Then we hung out at a mixer on Friday. But it wasn’t until the award ceremony on Saturday that we realized we both won in the paranormal category for adults!

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I sold 32 books in November. Nine were audiobooks!

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I’m going to take a blog holiday for the holidays. So there won’t be any new post until January 5, 2015. I’ll try to catch up on a little blog reading and commenting on other blogs during that time.

Hope everyone has a happy holiday and see you in the New Year!

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I had planned to tell you all about my trip to Miami and the Readers’ Favorites International Book Awards Ceremony, but then an unexpected thing happened. The Six Train to Wisconsin’s audiobook went live!

So this week, I’m sharing an interview with my fabulous narrator/producer Christa Lewis and me! I thought it would be fun to have us answer three questions about the audiobook experience so you could get both sides of the process.

1) What was the biggest challenge in creating this audiobook?

CL: For me, the biggest challenge in creating this audiobook was time. Recording, editing, proof listening to an audiobook all takes time and not one step can be rushed… Kourtney put the audition up in March and I was booked solid through July.  Then a few life events happened and I could not carve out the time to record… Until finally, it all began to calm down in September and I could begin to narrate my growing backlog. Kourtney really was extremely patient with me – for which I am sincerely grateful.

KH: Letting go. I had no idea how different an audiobook is from the novel and it was really hard to step back and not be a micro-manager. To trust my narrator to bring the book to life in a new and completely unfamiliar media. I was terrified of what might happen. Luckily, I had an awesome narrator who helped me understand what our roles were and made me very comfy with how things would be. Christa did a lot of handholding and really helped me through the entire process.

2) What made you want to work on this novel / with this narrator?

CL: I wanted to work on this novel very much because the story is so unusual and I loved the complexities in the relationship between Kai and Oliver. I was fascinated by their negotiation of the pitfalls of her mind reading abilities and depressions as well as Oliver’s creepy kidnapping/ heroic intervention.  I thought the novel was edgy, interesting and genuinely fascinating.

KH: I went on ACX and hunted down narrators with versatile voices. I needed someone who could voice Oliver and Kai and a cast of supporting characters. I also wanted someone who didn’t make the obvious choices but got the subtlety of the characters. Christa blew me away with her samples and I asked her to audition for my novel. I loved where she went with it. She got the underlying emotion of the book so well. I immediately made an offer.

3) What is the best piece of advice you can share about creating audiobooks?

CL: An audiobook can be a wonderful listening experience, a brilliant way to exponentially increase the reach of a book for an author and a fabulous gig for a narrator.  It is, however, labor intensive in ways that can only be experienced in the doing of them – so my advice is, for your first audiobook, no matter what part you play in the creation of it, give yourself at least a few months and don’t expect the book out on a certain date.  Don’t need it by a certain date.  Do the first audiobook as a training exercise to run into all the pitfalls and figure out all the how-to’s so that the next one will be easier, faster and you’ll know what needs to be organised going in.

KH: Find someone who gets the soul of your book and trust them. Christa did an amazing job creating the audiobook. She brought scenes to life in ways I never imagined. It was awesome to get to work with her.

You can check out Christa’s tracks at:  www.cglewis.com and tweets: @LiquidBelles

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Six Train’s audiobook is now available from: Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. You can listen to a free sample too!

 

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Emerson and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

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I’ve laid down the rough draft of Six Train’s sequel. The beginning has gone through 6 rounds of revisions as I work. The end is clunky. It’s only been through 1 round. The hardest part is the emotional arc. I’ve got to feel my way through it all. That’s how I write. It’s me down on the ground in the muck with my characters. Every thing they say and do has to come from their inner struggles.

And if it doesn’t feel authentic to me, I rework it. Sometimes I spend days asking myself what is really going on. Because there is so much unsaid in each scene. I have to dig deeper. Even if it doesn’t end up splashed across the page, I have to know the inner inner workings of my characters.

So that every action makes sense. It’s not me thinking this would be cool, but me knowing this is what Kai would do next. And so the book evolves. Changes. Becomes something of it’s own.

I should have the first draft revised by mid December. Then it’s a couple months away from it to let it breathe. Allow things to percolate. And then a serious round of major revisions before it goes to betas in May.

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October was a good month for sales. I sold 76 copies online and at events. One of the best months I’ve had all year. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy!

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I’m off to Miami this week. I’ll post to Facebook while I’m at the Miami Book Fair and the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Ceremony!

 

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I’ve been offline a lot the past week. I wish I could say I was at that relaxing spot above. Nope.

I’ve been proofing my audiobook. It took about 16 hours to do it. The audiobook is only 11 hours long, but I have to listen to it and be reading the book line by line at the same time to make sure no sentences were missed or words changed. That the narrator used the right voice for the dialogue (used her Kai voice when Kai is speaking), that there were no weird background noises and such.

Anytime I noticed anything, I rewound and gave a second listen to make sure. Then I jotted down the chapter, the time stamp, and what the possible issue was.

I sent my list to my narrator/producer on Friday. She will take a listen and make corrections. Right now there’s something weird going on with the tracks and they are open to me and locked for her so I have to get help from ACX on that today.

Hoping to have that for sale in late November/early December on Amazon from Audible.com.

I’ve also been very busy keeping up my 1500 words/5 days a week schedule on Six Train’s sequel. I’m at 75,000 words right now. I should have a bad rough draft completed by the end of next week.

Then I need to take a couple weeks to go over the whole manuscript and make sure it flows decently.

I should have that done in mid-December.

Then I’m going to switch off to another project for a couple months and let that breathe so I can come back and tear it apart during revision in March.

I’m starting a part time job November 18th. It’s two nights a week teaching adults. My classes are English and Keyboarding.

Having one book isn’t enough to live on and I still don’t have my rights back on the other book. I’m trying the traditional route with DM, so that’s probably a while for anything to happen too.

I am going to be curtailing time online while I adjust to the new job. I’ll be here on my blog and on Facebook, but I will probably fall behind in my blog reading for a few weeks.

The day after I start the new job, I am leaving for Miami. I’m going to be in Miami Thursday afternoon. Meeting up with a college friend for dinner and doing the Readers’ Favorite cocktail events on Thursday and Friday night.

I’ll be at the Miami Book Fair on Friday and Saturday and the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Ceremony on Saturday to get my medal!

 

 

 

 

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Sunday was an awesome birthday. I went on a hike with Mom. Spent oodles of time petting Emerson. And had delicious hibachi with my parents. It was a nice break from the promoting and writing.

It also got me thinking about birthday wishes.

You know how I make annual New Year’s Resolutions?

Well this year, I am going to make 3 birthday wishes for the coming year of my life.

 

1) More time to myself.

As an introvert, I need my alone time. So I will be scheduling time to be alone to read, to think, to curl up in bed and cuddle with my dog. It’s a new priority. I am taking at least one full day off each week. Disconnecting and relaxing.

And since I’m starting a part time job this fall, I’ll be pulling back on social media. I’ll be here on the blog and once a day on Facebook. But that’s probably it for a while.

Writing has to come first.

2) Better eating.

I went on a sugar bender this weekend. And my body feels blucky. My skin looks yucky. And my belly is all sorts of bloated.

3) More fun.

I don’t feel like I have enough fun. It feels like I work more now than I ever did before. And the fun that was so easy to find in my 20s, has been eluding me in my mid and now late 30s.

 

What wishes would you make for your birthday?

 

 

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My best friend from NYC, Brett, came to visit last weekend. Since fall is here, it’s the perfect time to take a hike. Which is what we did last weekend at Ragged Peak in Berlin. We also managed to somehow hike onto the unmarked trails. Luckily, a kind bicyclist gave us directions back to the route.

 

It’s also the season of Halloween Parties. Brett and I coordinated costumes for the extravaganza at Dan’s Saturday night.

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Saturday day,  I was at Alcott School (what was my old middle school) at the 33rd annual Arts and Crafts Fair sponsored by the Farmingbury Woman’s Club.  I sold a bunch of books and helped raise some money for the Club too!

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I saw my old kindergarten teachers there. And they both bought book–big thanks to Miss Pam and Miss Diane!

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In September, I sold 25 books.

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Upcoming Author Event

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I’m going to be at Mulberry Gardens of Southington’s Craft Fair this Saturday November 1 from 10 am to 3 pm selling autographed copies of my novel and my original photography from the novel. And Emerson would like to invite you to stop by and get a jump on holiday shopping!

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As I was driving home from coffee with a writing friend on Wednesday, this happened. The dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. And the speedometer and RPMs both dropped to zero while the car was going 30ish.

(Note: I took the picture after I parked in my driveway to illustrate what was happening with the dash. I never use my phone will driving.)

It means I probably won’t have a car for a month or so. We’ve still got to get it up to the dealership and get it looked at.

And my upper eyelids have been swollen for 3 weeks. I thought it was stress. Then maybe pink eye. Then allergies. Possibly a sinus infection. I’ve got a doctor appointment this week to find out. Thank goodness for tea bags–they are the only reason I can see. They bring down the swelling and pull the gunk out.

 

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What the First Week Feels Like

 

Sometimes everything falls apart. In a way that all your accomplishments disappear. Like it never even happened.

 

When my agent quit the business in January, I thought that was the worst thing I’d face this year.

 

I was wrong.

 

I got an email from the subrights agent. Harlequin was shutting down the imprint that was going to publish my YA gothic mystery, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts. They won’t be publishing my book.

 

The contract we spent 10 months negotiating. The editorial revisions I worked so hard on. None of it mattered. It was all for nothing.

 

The book won’t be published.

 

I wait for a termination letter. I wait to find out what happens next with my agency. I wait to find out what I can do with this book. This book I’ve never given up on. Not in the eight years it took me to revise it and shop it and get it an agent and a publisher.
Uncertainty. It’s all uncertainty. What comes next. And do I want a next?

 

Why work so hard when it can all be gone in the blink of an eye? Why do this?

 

Today, I don’t know.

 

I’ve been trying to make sense of it. But it doesn’t make sense. None of this makes any sense to me.

 

Today, I hurt. And I don’t have the energy to pretending everything is fine. It’s really not. And I don’t know when it will be again.

 

All I can do is keep working on my indie career. That’s the only thing I have that I can hold onto.

 

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What Week Two Feels Like

 

Okay, this wallowing is sucking me in too deeply.

 

I tried staying busy. Too busy to think about what this meant. Then curling up in bed for a day.

 

Next I kicked the standing bag so much it moved too close to Mom’s keyboard.

 

I can’t seem to get it out. The anger. The frustration. The sadness. The hopelessness. And the longer I think about it, the worse it feels.

 

Perspective. I need perspective. It’s my interpretation of things that is making me spiral. Reassess. Reassess.

 

Let’s think of the last two years as an experiment. An attempt at traditional publishing. A way to dip my toe in that pool. And a trial run of indie publishing.

 

So far the only bad thing about indie is people’s reaction to it. Everything else has been hard work, but it’s all mine. The awards, the reviews, the sales. They can’t disappear on me.

 

I’m good at being in charge. I like being the captain of my soul.

 

The most rewarding and stable part of my career has been the indie track.

 

Traditional publishing didn’t work out. I’ve learned to trust warning signs and gut feelings. Trust them more than you trust anyone or anything.

 

I still have DM. Right now I’m making that jump through the traditional hoops. See what happens.

 

And there are more books in me.

 

Something will find traction in the traditional world. Maybe it won’t be soon. Maybe it won’t be the next book or the next book.

 

But I can still build a career. I can keep writing. I can keep working on my craft. I can bring novels to market myself.

 

This isn’t over. I’m not over.

 

It’s just another crater in the road.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sharing My Craft

On October 18th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in Wolcott, CT at Alcott School (1490 Woodtick Rd) I will have a table at the 33rd Annual Arts and Crafts Fair  where I will be selling signed books and signed photography from my novel and donating 30% of the profits to the Farmingbury Woman’s Club of Wolcott.

There will be tons of crafters there. It’s the perfect place to start your holiday shopping!

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On November 1st from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, in Plantsville, CT at Mulberry Gardens of Southington’s Craft Fair (58 Mulberry Street), I will be selling autographed copies of my novel and my original autographed photography from my novel.

It’s a great community to support by making a few holiday purchases!

 

Drafting Update

I’m at 51,000 words in the draft of Six Train’s sequel. I’m hoping to have the first draft done by early January. It’s only a first draft so it will need several rounds of revisions and editing before it’s ready. I’m hoping to publish in the Fall/Winter of 2016.

 

Query Wars

I’m 8 weeks into querying DM. Upside is I’ve gotten the most requests ever on a manuscript. So the query is doing it’s job. I’m waiting to hear on several requests.

I continue to query because I am a very risk adverse person. I’d rather have other options out there than be blow away when one doesn’t pan out. Also, I know how rare it is for an agent to fall in love with my work. It only happened once before. So I don’t expect it to happen quickly.

 

Website Update

We had a website crisis last week when my web host decided to seamlessly change servers and took my entire site down for a day. My web designer, Jian Chan, worked tirelessly to get most of it back up. It took 3 calls to customer services (roughly 3 hours of our lives) to finally find a solution. Now the site is 100% up again. Phew.

We made some changes there. Jian branded Six Train’s page. We added my pseudonym to the top of every page. And we changed the News page to make it more reader friendly. And the table is easy to use so now I can update it myself!

We also moved sections of the site around so there were less sublevels to the site.

It was about 20 hours of work for both of us.

But I love how it looks.

 

Book Reviews

I haven’t been posting book reviews on the blog because I’m only posting 4 times a month. But I am still doing book reviews. If you want to check them out, they’re on Amazon and Goodreads. If you want me to make them one of my weekly posts, let me know.

 

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I haven’t looked at photos of me and my old travel buddy in a few years. Ever since we parted ways actually.

It was too hard to remember all those good times. To see how close we were and be reminded that it was over.

So I didn’t.

I left the photos on  my iPad and computer but never flipped through them.

Distance always makes things better.

And it did.

Until this weekend when my iPad memory got full and I needed to erase photos to make space for a software update.

Then I tiptoed down memory lane. Revisited Thailand and Shanghai. All these memories flooded back.

Life was different 3 years ago…

It was a time when I thought we’d be friends for life. I never expected it to only last 4 years. But that’s what happened.

It’s all over now.

 

Photos are so powerful. They summon a moment back into reality.

And it hurt to go there and realize that it’s over. And it can never be again.

That I’m not the same and he’s not the same and we had these amazing moments that can never happen again.

I think sometimes it’s better to not have mementos. To let things slip gently into boxes in the basement of your mind.

For a moment, I thought I should delete all my photos. Wipe them out of existence. Make the forgetting come faster.

But then I saw this gorgeous shot of the ocean. And I was right back there on the beach.

And I found myself smiling. Because those were good moments. Moments I want to hold onto.

Pictures can give you a moment back. They can let you revisit a good time even if it’s long gone.

And I’ll be keeping my photo library. Just not on my iPad.

 

Blog Schedule

New posts will appear on Mondays, except from December 15th-January 5th when I'm on a blog break for the holidays.

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