Sunday, July 20, 2014

Our Little Bee's First Birthday Party!


So, I'm a month late, but...better late than never!   Our amazing little Bee celebrated his first birthday this year.  When I woke up that morning, I couldn't believe it. Had it really been a year since we met our little boy in the hospital? Had it been a year since we experienced our greatest joy?  Since a stranger gave us a gift beyond our greatest comprehension?

He used to be so little, and now...well, he's a little toddler boy.  Not quite a baby, not quite a kid. Somewhere in between.  That's fine with me, I'll take all the snuggles I can handle before he is pushing me away with an embarrased sigh.  Speaking of, this picture sums up a lot of pictures we take with LittleM, in which there are overly excited parents and a baby who tolerates them.

 We decided after a long talk (5 minutes) that it would be better to have LittleM's birthday party at the church rather than at home. Our home is a disaster right now. We are in the middle of 16,000 projects getting it ready to show, as well as a state that I can only call "Half-Packed", which is sort of like "Half-Baked" in that looking around our house makes me want to consume narcotics. Having his birthday party at the church was an easy choice. They have a great space both outside and in the narthex for entertaining, and church has always felt like our second home.  

So why not throw a small party there?

Our theme for his brithday was "Little Bee".  I call him Little Bee a lot, but also he is the bee's knees and I have about two years where I can do cute birthday parties before the boy obsessions take over. Bees for all!!















 Mmm...grapes.









My MIL Lynette made these adorable bee cookies for favors - they were so cute and yummy and had little bees ON the oreos, so it was like meta-bee, and she and also helped me get everything ready for the party, down to finding these little adorable bees to adorn the tent with!



 LittleM was so happy to be around both his grandma and his Nana. This little guy isn't loved at all, I tell you.



 Katie totally made helped me help her make two little hive birthday cakes, inspired by a couple of pictures on Pinterest.  Katie is the queen of cakes.



I absolutely loved the way they came out. She even piped some chocolate bees on the cake!  The candle was beeswax, my only souvenir from North Carolina (besides Erika's awesome accent ringing in my ear).  I couldn't have been happier with the cakes, and they were absolutely delicous.

 While it was tempting to do some sort of gluten-free, wheat-free, organic baby birthday cake recipe, Katie and I just decided that a made-from-scratch lemon cake was perfectly okay.



And NOMNOMNOM it was so good. Our friend Evan declared it "The best lemon cake I've ever had."  Quite a compliment coming from a pastry chef!




We all gathered inside (it was a bazillion degrees outside that day) and  sang happy birthday to a terrified child who had a look on his face like "Is this when I die?",

 

 LittleM dug into his cake. At first he was cautious, sticking his finger in the frosting again and again, but once I took his hand and ripped into the body of the cake he was like ....

WHAT IN THE GLORIOUS HEAVENSBEE NAME IS THIS???


His first taste of sugar, like a skyrocket to the moon.  It was a total cake mutilation, which is exactly what you want from a one year old's birthday party.  He had so much cake in his fist that he couldn't open his fist after awhile, which then led to epic cake-fist pictures with a couple of his godparents.


After totally laughing at my child attending to his needs with love and care, I pried open his cake fingers and then hosed him down in the sink, which was an epic fail in the family way: My mom: "The water is too cold!"  My sister:  "The water isn't very warm, it's too cold."  LittleM: "INSANECRYING"  Ryan's Mom: "I have a towel!"  Ryan: "Where do you want the rest of the cake?" Me: "AHHHH EVERYONE BE QUIET".  


It's not a birthday party without a little bit of loving chaos.


After the cake fiesta, it was time for presents and spending time with people we love.



 

 

 For the record, kids birthday parties are kind of insane.  I'm used to throwing adult parties, so a kids birthday with lots of mess, crying and well, kids, was a new experience that left me elated (It's my child's first birthday! How wonderful! I'm going to cry!) and exhausted (Is that lemon frosting inside my bra? Did he just eat a ribbon? I need a nap.).  LittleM got so many wonderful presents: Homemade bee bathtowels, an amazing winter coat, a reading whale, an elephant humidifier, so many cute clothes and swimsuits, books galore, blocks, & toys that were so thoughtful and nice, I felt downright spoiled.

The party was about two hours from beginning to end, but it was just the perfect amount. I'll propbably do something smaller next year - maybe just family - but after waiting so long for this incredible child, one of the two loves of my life, I thought why not do something really fun and special? Why not celebrate our little baby bee?

Happy birthday baby.  You're not quite a baby anymore, but I can still aim to give you a million kisses a day.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Marshmallows and Manuscripts: A Campfire Chat with Author EMILY KIEBEL





  Marshmallows and Manuscripts would like to welcome Emily Kiebel to the campfire chat. Not only is Emily an extremely talented author, classically trained singer, gourmet cook and Corgi-lover, but she is also one of my closest friends.  I'm so thrilled that she's joining us to share about Serenade, which is a fantastic book.

Tell us about your most recent novel. Why should a reader pick it off the shelf? (Or download it, as is probably the case.) 

My novel, Serenade, is about a young woman who discovers she’s a siren.  The heroine, Lorelei, struggles with her new found identity and ultimately makes a decision that puts her in harm’s way.  The book has a strong emphasis on music and has some romantic elements, but it’s mostly about a young woman who has lived a fairly sheltered life up until this point, and is suddenly thrust into an unknown world. I think both teens and adult women will enjoy it, especially if they like music or fantasy elements.




At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer, and at what point in your life did you actually become a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed reading, and English was one of my favorite subjects.   I was pretty adept at technical writing and I wrote short stories and poetry in college, but after I graduated, I didn’t write much.  I didn’t really start writing fiction until my late twenties.  I remember driving in the car one day and the idea came to me for a story about a misunderstood siren.  I had a lot of fun writing the novel with Colleen and having a writing buddy is really what kept me going throughout the whole writing process.  My job is very analytical, so it’s nice to have a creative outlet.

What is your favorite quote about writing, followed by the most discouraging thing anyone ever said to you about writing.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ~ William Wordsworth
Every writer puts a bit of themselves, of their life experiences, of their fears and dreams, into their writing.  The writing comes alive when the reader feels that the experiences are authentic, which can only be accomplished if the writer is emotionally invested in their writing.  I can’t really think of anything discouraging.  Most people were surprisingly supportive, although I’m sure some people wrote off the fact that I was writing a book to being a flight of fancy.  I did get told by one agent that my writing was “too workmanlike.”  To this day, I’m not really sure what that even means.



How did you end up publishing the way you did?  

After editing, and editing some more, I spent months looking for an agent the traditional way.  There was lots of interest, but the publishing world is going through some major changes, so it was difficult finding an agent to commit.  Ultimately I grew frustrated with the process, and so I started moving towards self-publishing.  I was just about ready to launch the novel when Colleen called and said that she had spoken to Crystal at BookSparks about my novel and they were interested in reading the manuscript.  The book is being published through BookSparks’ imprint, SparkPress, and I’m very excited to work with them.

There's a famous quote by George R.R. Martin. that says, "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one."  When a reader picks up your book, what life will they be living? 

My reader will be living the life of a girl who is discovering who she is.  Self-discovery is ultimately the journey all adolescents take, though usually not in the extreme manner that Lorelei faces.  I’ve tried to build a world within the world for my readers to inhabit that allows them to experience what it would be like to have an otherworldly power and whether or not they’d be able to deal with the consequences of that power.  

 What three books have inspired your writing the most and why?

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen – I loved this novel of an insecure teenage girl and her somewhat tumultuous relationship with her mother.  This book was both sweet and inspiring.
Homecoming and Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt – These novels hit real emotional chords and show how capable teenagers can be when they have no choice but to rise to the occasion.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – These books changed the landscape of young adult literature.  Rowling developed a complex world of whimsy and magic that was balanced with heartfelt emotion and well-developed characters.



At what point in your books did you connect with a character on a deeper level? Where did it take that character?

I think it actually happened pretty early on.  My character is a singer and so am I, so I draw upon my own experience in music, I just take it to a bit of a higher level in the book.  Early in the book, my character experiences a loss, and I think the pain she feels as she’s grieving is something I tried to imagine experiencing myself, and I think it really set the tone for her struggle with her own identity throughout the novel.

What were the logistical and emotional challenges in writing your book (s)?

I think the logistical challenges are those turning points when I need the character to have the motivation to take action.  I found in those times when I just couldn’t figure out the next steps, if I moved on and wrote another scene later on, often the inspiration for the transition would come to me later.  

Your book is made into a movie. What do the opening credits look like?

The shot pans across the water, the ocean under a moonlight sky.  Haunting instrumental music plays as the shot captures a rocky coastline and a lighthouse.  The camera dives into the deeps of the sea.  There’s ocean life and behind a reef a green light starts to glow, gradually growing brighter.  We follow the light back up through the water and back to the shore panning upwards until we see the silhouette of a woman on a cliff, back-lit by the moon.  The instrumental music now features an ethereal voice.  Fade to black and then the title comes up on the screen.

If you could claim any other book as your own, what book would it be?

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger.  It’s romantic, a little sad, but most of all, awesome.  She’s able to piece together a non-chronological story with two different points of view, but it still works.

When distraction is calling, how do you stick to your writing process? What does that look like?

I have to set a lot of small goals for myself when writing.  I definitely plan out my chapters before writing them and then I usually try to set some word count goals for myself.  I have a love/hate relationship with the internet when it comes to writing.  I love that I can find so much information, in this case, shipwrecks, information about various locales, and history.  I hate that when I start researching I head down the rabbit hole of distraction.  Sometimes it takes me a while to actually delve into writing, but once I get on a roll, I love letting my imagination take over.

Where can readers find out more about you and buy this fantastic book?

Facebook Author Page:  www.facebook.com/authoremilykiebel
Twitter:  @TheEmilyKiebel
Blog:  www.emilykiebel.com
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8200807.Emily_Kiebel
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Serenade-Emily-Kiebel/dp/1940716047/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405293333&sr=1-1

And, just for kicks, here is a bonus picture of Emily and I in North Carolina about a month ago:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Elly in Love Playlist



With each of my books, I've been known to become obsessed with a handful of songs that really bind and inspire the feelings and tone in each individual novel.

- For Elly in Bloom, there was a lot of Kelly Clarkson's My December on the playlist as Elly worked through her feelings of jealously, despair and then finally rising to meet herself.

-For Queen, there was a lot of dramatic music playlists. You can read about both soundtracks here.

-For Elly in Love, I worked to a number of pretty bouncy songs: the book takes place (originally) when Elly is the prime of her life. She's in love, the store is doing great, and nothing can get in her way. Or so she thinks.  As the things within her control begin to spiral, so does Elly's heart and mind.

Here are the songs that inspired Elly in Love.

 Each one had it's little moment, and it would fun if someone wanted to guess which song went where. (No pressure though.)

 These are all fantastic songs, so if you are looking to load up your Ipod, look no further!


1. Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine

2. Jackie's Strength by Tori Amos

3. Love is Blindness by Jack White

4. Just Give Me a Reason by Pink and Nate Ruess

5. Cut by Plumb

6. Turning Page by Sleeping at Last

7. If I'm Honest by Missy Higgins

8. 9 Crimes by Damien Rice

9. Tip of My Tongue by the Civil Wars

10. The Dress Looks Nice on You by Sufjan Stevens

11. What Have I Done by Joshua Hyslop

12. Bleeding Out by the Lone Bellow

13. The Wasn't Me by Brandi Carslie

14. Sleeping by Myself by Eddie Vedder

15.  One Foot by Fun.

Thanks for listening! Thanks for reading!

And please don't forget you can buy and review Elly in Love here:
 http://www.amazon.com/Elly-In-Love-Colleen-Oakes/dp/1940716195


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why We Decided to Downsize Our Home




Ryan and I are preparing to sell our home.   It wasn't our intention to head into this summer with a sale pending. It was something we had talked about, but it wasn't something we had decided on, what or when or how. It was really the market that decided for us. It's a great time right now to sell a home. It's a great time right now to sell our home, which was bought during the crash for a very low price.  We paid for our home what people are paying now for one bedroom condos in shady areas where people may or may not sell cats on your porch.

When we talked about selling, we did something radical: we actually sat down with a pen and paper and listed out what we wanted in a new home  - and what we didn't.  We each individually listed out the top ten things we wanted in a new home. Then we consolidated our lists into five tops things that we shared. Our list ended up looking like this:

1. Location, location, location. We both want to live in a more wide open, less traffic-filled part of where we live.  We want to move north, more towards the church. Ryan wants to be able to ride his bike to work without crossing major through-fares.  Everything we do is north from where we live - shopping, work, doctor's offices.  We also really want to be on the West side of I-25. We live in a beautiful state, and the mountains are so close.  However, there is a major highway between us and them. Once you cross over, you can't believe the difference in the view (and the resale values). Once you cross more north and west, there are trails and much more open-space.



2. A Bathroom in the master bedroom. I can't tell you how much I loath having OUR main bathroom be also the guest bathroom. I can't get ready in there. There is no place to be leaving our hairdryers and make-up bottles and all the general things it takes to make a modern woman go from a troll to a princess.  I don't need all my husbands friends seeing lotions and potions! The bathroom must be kept clean(ish) all the time, because who knows when a guest might pop by.  It feels exposed and there's a definite lack of privacy there. We hate it.

3. Outdoor Living Space. Ryan and I love to have parties and entertain, and I need a space where I can string up some mason jar lights and have outdoor furniture with comfy chairs and bright pillows, and Ryan can grill.

4. A Basement. Having both grown up in Ranch houses, both Ryan and I very particular to basement entertaining rooms, where you can have your TV and be a little messy, but it's also cooler in the summer and (I am the only one to care about this), it's where you hide from tornados.



5.  Little to no yard work required. This was something that both of us had a very hard time admitting to each other, and ourselves. There is a sort of yard-machismo that happens in America, and we aren't interested anymore. We pretended that we were interested for a loooonnnnng time. And don't get me wrong, I LOVE a gorgeous yard. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to beautiful backyards. The problem is, we are not the people to do that.  I love flowers, but I don't love gardening. I wish I did. I have so much admiration for those who can garden. (Ahem, Erika.)  If we want a beautiful yard, we will have to wait until we can pay someone to do it, which actually ties into our downsizing plan.   Ryan already has a stressful job as a pastor- the last thing he needs is to come home and feel like he has more work to do at home rather than be able to come home, kick off his shoes and be with his family.  A high maintenance yard is just that, to both of us - a stressor. I don't like gardening, he doesn't like yard-work.  Now that we've admitted that to ourselves and others, we can move forward.

Once we had these five priorities in order, we were struck by what we had basically outlined: a town-home.   Moving from a house to a town-home might seem like madness, and for awhile we thought "Would that be like the craziest thing ever? It seems backwards."   Then we looked at the finances of it.  This led to another conversation about what we want in the future, and what we want our life to look like.

- For a house in our ideal, desired location, we were about 500,000 dollars short. (We live in expensive Colorado) But, we can afford a very nice town-home in those areas without a problem.

-If we sold our home and bought a town-home with the same square footage as our home now, we would be able to pay off all our debt with the equity gained. This includes both of our student loans. Ryan has doctor-sized student loans with a pastor-sized paycheck.

- We want to adopt again, and without a grant or a large equity chunk, this won't be possible. 



Our goals became clear. By selling our home for a town-home of the same size and in the location we desire:

1. Become completely debt free. We feel like this is a good foundation for LittleM to start with.
2. We can afford to finance another adoption without having to wait years to save up.  They are so cheap, after all. :) 
3.  By freeing up our finances each month from debt, we will have more flexible spending in all areas, and an ability to start saving to put LittleM through private Lutheran schools, something that is very important to us.
4. We will have more money for travel, a true passion for both of us.



4. We will have a smaller mortgage, bills, maintenance costs and utility bills.
5. We will have less housework, no yard-work and less to insure. In addition, with so much money freed up every month, we will probably be able to budget a cleaning person to come once a month, so that we are able to spend more time together, I can spend more time writing and less time worrying about the house.
6. Since we will be in (sort of, not really) a more condensed space, it will force us to really go through our possessions and take only the things we love.  I'm becoming more and more convinced that most of our stuff is trash and not treasure. (See linked blog post below). I want to own our stuff, not have our stuff own us. It gets in the way of many things.
7. We can live and work in an area that we absolutely love.  We will be close to church.
8. Our community will most likely have trails, playgrounds and a pool. With these simple pleasures  to enjoy the outdoors, we will not miss having a yard, which we never use. We can take the dogs for walks instead, which means happier dogs and happier us.
9. By becoming debt free and getting our finances into a really strong place (I don't want to give the opinion that we are in trouble financially or something, we aren't, but like everyone on the planet, we feel that our finances could be in better shape for the future) that we can begin looking towards the future, when we can buy our dream home and - our ultimate dream - a vacation share in Kauai.

I can't tell you how much these decisions have freed us.

For so long we believed that the American Dream and 30-something trajectory could only look one way: first, you have an apartment. Then a town-home, then a home. Then a bigger home. Then a bigger, bigger home.  So many that we know are going into bigger and bigger and bigger homes. This plan is fine for those who want those things because that's part of their dreams and goals, but we've found that the things we want are not necessarily related to square footage.

  We want to have freedom in our finances, and in our time.
 We want more time to be creative.
 We want more family time and less time worrying about yard-work or housecleaning (two things no one talks about at your funeral), and more time with each other, friends we adore and family we are blessed with. 
We want to see the world.  
And we want to live where we love.

It's really about the quality of our life and the quality of our child's life, and where we as a family put our importance.

And that, my friends, is why we are downsizing.

*Takes deep breath*  I've posted some blogs below that I found very inspiring on this subject (and some barely related others.)

 Feel free to browse.

http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2014/02/28/afford-private-school-budget/
http://club31women.com/2014/06/the-big-difference-between-treasure-and-just-plain-stuff/
http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/48396/reasons-to-downsize-family-home#sthash.9Km1PHoS.qjtu
http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicaprobus/ways-to-make-a-small-space-feel-so-much-bigger?sub=3208638_3005707
http://comfyandcozyho.me/2014/06/02/this-has-been-my-mantra-for-the-last-month-as-i-move-into-a-new-house-house-purging-feels-great-though-its-not-easy/
http://theinspiredroom.net/2013/01/12/small-house-organization-ideas/


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Marshmallows and Manuscripts: A Campfire Chat with Author Susie Orman Schnall




A preface: I know Susie though Booksparks, our publisher. Her novel On Grace was one of my favorite reads last year, and I have found corresponding with her over the last year to be absolutely delightful. She has a great blog feature that MAY have inspired this ongoing interview series called "On Balance".  You can check out my interview for that series here.

In the meantime, pull up a camping chair, have a smores and kick back for a chat with this amazing author.

Welcome to  Marshmallows and Manuscripts, featuring Author Susie Orman Schnall



Tell us about your most recent novel. Why should a reader pick it off the shelf? (Or download it, as is probably the case.) 
 On Grace is a story about figuring out to do when everything in your life turns upside down. It’s about a woman trying to decide who she wants to be. And it’s about learning to stop being who you think you’re “supposed” to be and doing what you think you’re “supposed” to do and become authentically you. A reader should pick it up if she wants a light read that she will relate to, engage with, smile and cry at, and ultimately find quite satisfying. At least that’s what my readers tell me!
At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer, and at what point in your life did you actually become a writer?
I’ve always written (as a child I wrote poems and stories and as a young woman I wrote for my career – but more corporate communications) but it wasn’t until I had my first article published 7 years ago that I felt comfortable calling myself a writer. It was a glorious feeling when I finally gave myself permission to do so! And what a day when On Grace was published and I finally got to call myself an author!
What is your favorite quote about writing, followed by the most discouraging thing anyone ever said to you about writing.
"Drama is anticipation mixed with uncertainty." --by William Archer from Andrew Stanton’s TED talk on “The Clues to a Great Story.” I’ve surprisingly found myself not that discouraged by the very things that should entirely slay me, namely rejection letters from agents and poor reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. I realize that On Grace is not for everyone. It’s not trying to be serious literary fiction and I will never please those readers who are looking for that. And the agents that rejected me all did so in a very kind, lovely, positive way. I take it all as a lesson for how to be better next time. At least I try.

How did you end up publishing the way you did? 
My dream was to get an agent and be published traditionally by a Big 5. I thought that would be the only way I would feel like a real published author. But I struck out at getting an agent (long story), so I decided to self publish which I did in June 2013. Then (another long story) I got picked up and signed by SparkPress, and they relaunched On Grace in April 2014. I never would have chosen the route I ended up taking, nor did I even know it was a possibility when I started on my journey, but I feel like I’m in the right place and that On Grace found the most perfect, supportive, and appropriate home. I know I will always have regrets that I didn’t get to have a “real agent and publisher” but I’m getting over it! 
There's a famous quote by George R.R. Martin. that says, "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one."  When a reader picks up your book, what life will they be living?
An everywoman in suburban Rye, NY who is trying to figure out work/life balance and all aspects of her life as she becomes her authentic self.



 What three books have inspired your writing the most and why?
This is always such a hard question for me to answer because there are just too many. But if I must narrow it down, I’d actually change it to what three authors have inspired me and I’ll say: Nora Ephron, Kelly Corrigan, and Emily Giffin.
At what point in your books did you connect with a character on a deeper level? Where did it take that character?
When Grace realizes (at lunch with her mom in L.A.) that the child she was is dictating the personality of the woman she is, it was very personal. And then she has a breakthrough that she doesn’t have to be that woman anymore. That she can be who the adult Grace wants to be, free of who she was growing up. That thought process actually happened to me around my 40th birthday too. Very very liberating.

What were the logistical and emotional challenges in writing your book (s)?
Logistical: finding the time while being the mom I want to be to my three young boys and taking care of myself in the way that makes me feel well and balanced.
Emotional: Believing in myself that I can do it. A friend of mine told me, “You mustn’t doubt.” I printed that out and taped it to my computer monitor. It’s still there.
Your book is made into a movie. What do the opening credits look like?
Last day of summer in suburban America. Green lawns. Kids on bikes eating ice-cream. Frazzled mama in the kitchen trying to keep it all together.
If you could claim any other book as your own, what book would it be?
The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

When distraction is calling, how do you stick to your writing process? What does that look like?
I haven’t been very good at that because I finished my book in 2011 and haven’t written another one yet. But to be fair, my distractions (besides taking care of my three kids, myself, my family’s every aspect of being) have been getting On Grace published, promoting it, and creating The Balance Project (http://www.susieschnall.com/the-balance-project/). But, I’m planning on starting book #2 this summer and I’m excited to clear my plate and get into it. There will always be distractions, but I will try not to be so hard on myself and write when I can.  


Where can readers find out more about you? (Social Media Links)


Thank you Susie!

Friday, June 27, 2014

That One Time I Screamed in a Book Store




 Elly in Love came out this Tuesday, and I'm happy to say it's doing awesome!  I'm so glad that readers of Elly in Bloom are finally seeing what Elly has been up to all this time. (Not becoming a super hero in a post-dystopian future).

I decided not to have any sort of party to release Elly in Love.  The Queen launch was not so long ago, and I felt like that was a big, fun deal, and guess what? Queen Part Two is right on it's heels with a late July launch date, which feels like tomorrow.   The idea of organizing any sort of party or anything is like....



No.

  I'll probably do an in-town signing for the Elly books sometime soon, but there are no plans yet. Instead of a party, Sarah and I decided to go to Rio, which is THE place to get Mexican food in Downtown Denver.  We had a feast of chips and my new-found love, Guacamole - how did I never understand guacamole until this last month?  I kept trying it and finding it bleh until all the sudden I dipped a chip in and was like HOLY CRAP THIS IS AMAZING WHAT IS THIS MAGIC?



Sarah had the world's largest tostada and I had a green chili chicken burrito and Mmmmm...Rio. It's the place. It has a beautiful outdoor patio, great music and the bar across the street that serves the famous Moscow Mules in the copper cups. There was a Rockies game downtown and the entire atmosphere of downtown was buzzy with that summertime thirst. It was a perfect night with an awesome friend.

(Who has super fun rainbow hair for the summer.  Kids: you have the coolest principal around.)



 After our dinner, I convinced Sarah to walk over to the famous Tattered Cover bookstore because nothing says party like walking around a bookstore.   We meandered through the shelves, looking at the new releases. I always feel this twinge of longing in bookstores. Even though I have books out, physical books, most of them are on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. That will change, probably very soon here, but I figured that it would be another few months before I would see Queen on the shelves at airports.  Sarah disappeared and I found myself wandering into the YA section. I looked on the shelves where my book should have been alphabetically....Meyer, Nix....No Oakes.  As I trailed my fingers over the covers because I'm a creepy book weirdo, I thought about the day where seeing my books in stores will be normal.

I just happened to turn and look at another section of the small room, where "Notable YA" books were stacked.  That's when I saw Queen of Hearts.  It almost didn't register. I just blinked and stared.  That cover, so familiar. Where had I seen it before?  Somewhere in my brain, neurons were missing each other by a mile.  I wonder who put that there. Did I put that there?  I blinked.  Finally, it connected.



THAT IS MY BOOK. THAT IS MY BOOK IN A BOOKSTORE.  THAT IS MY BOOK IN THIS BOOKSTORE THAT I AM STANDING IN. QUEEN OF HEARTS IS IN THIS BOOKSTORE. MY BOOK IS IN A BOOKSTORE.

Then I screamed. I actually screamed.  Erika can attest to my total losing of myself when pleasantly surprised.  There were two workers in the YA section who were putting away books who gasped and turned to me. "Are you alright?"    I couldn't breathe. Finally I sputtered out, "That is my book. That is my book on that shelf RIGHT THERE. I've never seen my book on a shelf before!"

(This technically isn't true, since the Bookbar, the place I had my Queen signing, had my book on the shelf. But that didn't count.)

Then I clapped and jumped around like a deranged, intoxicated seal.  I touched them.  I jumped some more.  I took pictures. The ladies were laughing and clapping for me and then one of them bought the book!   Of course Sarah was gone.  I actually worried about leaving the section for fear that I would find Sarah, bring her back and then the books would be gone, all a figment of my imagination.

I found her in the corner, sneakily reading my copy of Elly in Love.  "Sarah, MY BOOK IS HERE!" She looks at Elly in Love in her hand.



"Uh, yeah."  "NO! QUEEN IS HERE!" I drag her over and then make her take a million pictures of me next to the book.



Then I secretly sign the books in the corner, which for sure was a felony and maybe vandalism an author being fun and cheeky.



As we walked out of the bookstore, I felt euphoric and giddy. It was a big moment for me.  ONE GIANT CAREER MILESTONE PASSED.  I kept just clapping as I walked. Sarah was probably like "This is what I get for going to a bookstore with her."  About an hour later I remembered, "Oh yeah, Elly in Love came out today!"


It was a good day to be an author. There are times when I secretly wonder if I'm crazy to attempt this career.  Today was not one of those days.

Today it felt just right, or maybe that was the guacamole talking. Either way, I'll take it.

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