Category Archives: Life

Oh, tumblr, how I love thee!

PJ here, and I’ve finally found a form of social media I love! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy checking in with friends and readers on Facebook, but many of those folks are writers, friends, family, high school alumni, and adults who enjoy reading YA fiction, and it can often take up a lot of time getting caught up on everyone’s happenings. I engage in twitter on a regular basis, but as with FB, most of my twitter followers are other writers. After taking a Publicity 101 workshop with Heather Riccio recently, I was prompted to reach out more directly to my audience (namely teens), through tumblr. It turns out, tumblr is easy and really fun!tumblr icon 2 (2013_06_02 00_59_02 UTC)

I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to how I can reach readers and looking at where I’ve had my focus in terms of marketing and social media. Recognizing that I have to expand that all-important sphere of influence and try to connect with readers wherever they may be, tumblr was on the no-brainer list. It was highly recommended by my YA writing peers that tumblr and Instagram are the go-to locations for teens. For sanity’s sake, I chose only one.

I’m just getting started and I still have to work out a few kinks, but I really like tumblr. You can check out my new page here: http://pjsharonbooks.tumblr.com/ I will have to add my books to my page so readers will know where to find them, but I’ll add a little at a time as I figure out how to find teen followers. As with FB and twitter, it’s a slow build.

Tumblr is where I can post a cool pic right from my phone or computer, with a short blurb about the photo, about life, or about any number of things I think are awesome.

Basically, I’ll share snapshots of life as I see it—another way to share my message of hope with teens. I’ll post about my books as well, but 80% of my communication here is going to be about sharing pieces of me with teen readers.  You can add  a custom background, change fonts, and even connect your posts to FB and twitter, a great way for me to contribute to my brand on my FB PJSharonBooks page.

I realized a long time ago that blogging every day on a static website page was nearly impossible, despite the encouragement of publicity specialists who insist that consistent, frequent posts will garner attention and gain you an audience. Frankly, I don’t have the time or enough interesting, informative, or entertaining things to talk about every day. As it is, I currently use my web site’s home page as a way to keep readers updated monthly about sales, contests, and news about appearances. Keeping your content fresh and making your posts “value added” for readers is a challenge.  Blogs such as the one you’re reading now take significant time and effort and weekly blog posting is more than enough for most of us.

I figured a daily blog that literally only takes me two minutes to post would be a great way to start making a shift in the right direction. It’s kind of addictive and oh, so simple, I think I’ll be very happy there and don’t feel the need to explore Instagram at this point. I hope you’ll follow me or share with any teens you think might enjoy some clean, fun entertainment.

What about you? Have you tried tumblr? What’s your favorite mode of social media and why?

Additional announcements:

1.) The winner of last weeks audio book of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES is Brenda Maxfield! Congratulations, Brenda! I’ll be contacting you to collect your FREE audiobook download.

2.) Readers have until September 11th to enter to win a FREE signed copy of WESTERN DESERT, book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. You can enter to win herehttp://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/61971-western-desert

Curve Balls by Katy Lee

My #1Kid recently suffered an accident that left her with a concussion. Now for those of you who know my daughter, you know she’s got goals. (She blogs about her “Road to Gold” here if you want to trail in her wake.) And when she says “Road to Gold” she’s not kidding. To say she is driven doesn’t come close. She’s a plow with an Olympic torch as her guide.

As a writer I totally understand that drive. I saw my name up there as “Published Author,” and I went after it much in the same way as she does a record-breaking swim time. Because of this I have encouraged her every step of the way. Who am I to tell her she can’t have her goal, even if the stats and competition say otherwise? I’ve cheered her on and shared in her victories. I’ve hugged her and commiserated in her losses. Each and every time telling her it’s all part of the journey whatever the outcome. The losses can even make her stronger than the wins if she uses them as tools. (Every rejection I ever received were the tools I needed to make my writing better. And I tell her to let no rejection take the dream away.)

But then this summer happened.

In an accident in the pool, #1Kid came up against something stronger than a loss or rejection. #1Kid came up against a head injury that benched her. And not only benched her but put her on the couch in sunglasses and earplugs. All goals for the summer screeched to a halt. All dreams darkened like the rooms in my house. (On a side note, my electric bill should be pretty low this month.)

But as her tears flowed, I found myself at a loss for words and encouragement. Saying “life stinks sometimes” wouldn’t cut it. And not only that, I wanted to do more than validate her pain. Instead, I wanted to give her another goal. I wanted to give her something to look forward to. But most importantly, I wanted to make sure knew she wasn’t alone through it all.

I will be honest and say I have always included God on my journey to publication, and with every victory and contract, I thank Him for His favor. On the other side, for every rejection, I thank Him for his protection and guidance. No matter what, though, I take Him along with me.

And so for my daughter, I told her God loves that she is so driven. He made her so. He loves that she has dreams, and the truth is He wants to give them to her. He promises that all things are possible for those who love Him. But, He doesn’t want to be left in her wake. I asked her to be honest with herself. Was she taking Him along with her? Or was she leaving Him behind?

And after some soul searching? I think I can speak for her and say the real curve ball wasn’t only the head injury, but also the realization that she had her sights set on the wrong torch.

The Unlocked Secret and Outcome: I’m so proud of #1. She had her time of tears for a few days, then just as I had wanted, she formed a new goal to strive for. Making sure Jesus became her torch to plow toward instead. And five weeks later, here she is at the state games. Still not able to dive, still struggling with barriers, but knowing full well she’s not alone on her “Road to Gold.” In fact, she’s got the greatest champion before her, beside her and behind her.

SAMSUNG

Question: #Curveballs….we’ve all been thrown them. How do you cope?

My Favorite Melon: Honey Do by Vivienne Lynge

Good Saturday Morning Scribblers!  Vivienne Lynge here.   I went strawberry picking this week with my buds Katie and Suz.  Have you ever picked those little balls of lusciousness?  It’s a back-breaking, hamstring-stretching, over-bending, pain in the butt!  Literally.  My butt is sore.  You have to hunt through rotting, slightly gnawed, unripe fruit blanketed by leaves and shoots to find the goods.  Of course, the goods are very, very good.  Red all the way through, with so much more flavor than you can find at the grocery store, even this time of year.  Yum.  And worth the pain.

Whilst I was bending, stretching and breaking, I was thinking that there was likely a writing metaphor in there somewhere to be explored here today, but when I got up this morning, thinking about those berries got me thinking about my other favorite fruit: Honey Do.  No, that’s not a typo.  My household has a very long honey-do list. 

Hubby deLuxe works for an insurance company doing some kind of technical computer-y thing that makes my eyes glaze over (love you, babe!) and spends LOTS of time playing with Princess Second Grader, Jester and Minx.  That doesn’t leave much time for things like repairs, yard work and other crap like that. 

About 7 years ago (no joke!) we undertook the crazy notion to rebuild our deck.  It was necessary – the one that came with the house was very faulty.  Rusty nails and screws protruded at all angles and Princess Second Grader had just learned to walk.  Seriously.  I didn’t want her to fall and gauge herself on the rusty sharp things.  And it was improperly build and rotting.

So here we are S. E. V. E. N! years later and the deck, while functional, isn’t yet complete.  At the tippity-top of Hubby deLuxe’s to do list this weekend is to build stairs from the deck to the pool deck.  We have an above ground pool with a small deck attached for cannon-balling etc.  These last SEVEN years, we have accessed the pool via a variety of methods including standing on chairs, and risking death by using a poorly-balanced fold out ladder. 

Why have I drawn a line in the dirt on this?  Why, after seven years, am I demanding that this project be completed today and if absolutely necessary, tomorrow?  (Well – we still won’t have a railing, but the deck is only a foot off the ground.  The railing can wait.  And likely will.)  Because I’ve waited long enough and I’m not willing to wait any longer.  Hopefully by the time he reads this post on Monday, the stairs will be complete.  They’d better be…  Love you, honey!

And just to ensure that the work happens, I have scheduled play dates for Thursday and Friday of next week.  Jester and Minx’s friends have been invited over to play in the pool, along with their moms.  I will not have those mom’s defying gravity on a ladder!  And we’d better get those last couple of chemical into that giant vat of water and slide the solar cover on.  It’s pretty cold in that pool right now.

Today’s secret: My favorite fruit is not actually edible.  Watermelon might be a close second, though.  🙂 

Do you have a Honey Do list or are you more of a do-it-yourself-er?  Or, what’s your favorite fruit and why?

Hang up the cape!

Hello Tuesday’s Scribe readers! PJ here, talking about some serious stuff today. Do any of you remember running around as a kid with a bath towel draped over your shoulders and tied around your neck, pretending to be a superhero in a cape? I would even straddle a broom and gallop all over the house and yard acting as if my trusty steed and I could save the world by my sheer desire to have such power. I became Wonder Woman and threw my “javelin” at make-believe bad guys and played Army and GI Joe with my brother and his friends because it seemed so cool to be part of some elite fighting squad that could take on any foe and always “win”.

When I became a teenager and gave up my magical thinking, I was forced to face the harsh realities of life. With my mother’s cancer and ultimately her death when I was sixteen, it became clear that any illusion I had of control or of being a savior of any kind was just that…an illusion. Yet I still clung to my “cape”—that dream of being someone special—someone others could depend on, look up to, and admire. Essentially, I kept trying to be what others needed or wanted me to be. I hoped that by taking control of all the little things in life, like schedules and micromanaging a family, that the big things—like life and death—would somehow bend to my will. Of course that didn’t happen. But instead of hanging up the cape and accepting my imperfection and my mortality, I worked more, tried harder, and sacrificed my own feelings for the benefit of everyone else’s. Over time, that cape became more and more attached to my identity and others expected the same level of perfection that I expected of myself.

As a mother, a wife, a healer, a teacher, and as an athlete, perfectionism was my creed. I was Superwoman! Of course I didn’t know it at the time, and I certainly didn’t consciously believe that I could or should strive for perfection, but my need for control in a life filled with chaos and fear, was as natural as breathing for me. By the time I reached my thirties, the cape had been pretty much tattooed into my skin. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive for excellence in all that we do. We are definitely happiest when we are feeling successful in our lives (whatever that means for you). What I am saying is that perfection is unattainable and that learning to accept and love ourselves for who we are is an essential ingredient in finding what we all crave far more than control—peace of mind.

So when you start to come down on yourself about not “measuring up” or feel as if you can’t get out of your own way to save your life because life is—let’s face it—kicking your ass, just remember, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Learn whatever lessons you can learn in your current circumstance and do yourself a favor; hang up the cape. Maybe you ask for help, maybe you take a day off, maybe you even crawl under the covers and avoid dealing with an out of control inbox, a persnickety computer, and looming deadlines. Or maybe you do what every Superhero should do—take off the cape and let the world see how amazing and awesome you really are all by yourself.

Today’s Unlocked Secret: Be true to yourself, strive to be the best you can be, and know that you are amazing just the way you are.

Any Superheroes out there looking to shed their capes? Have you been trying to “do it all and feeling like you’re coming up short?”

Country of the Mind

Thea Devine today. On this past Monday morning, around 11am, we drove into town for the annual Memorial Day parade. Perfect day: bright sun, blue sky, warm weather, fresh breeze — and people. Town was jam-packed with people all along Main Street, two, three, five deep, and there wasn’t a place to park anywhere near. We finally got a spot in a little field about a quarter mile from Main Street and joined a crowd hiking toward to the main event.

It hadn’t started yet, but the staggering number of people lining the street was an event in itself. Kids, parents, teens, tweens, boyfriends, girlfriends, dogs, grandparents, town officials all merging and mingling, looking for friends, space, refreshments, for the parade to begin.

This, I thought, was the essence of why hearth and home books resonate so vibrantly in romance. This is the country of the mind; it is a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, a place that exists in the imagination, in the heart, and sometimes in life.

A place, perhaps, one has been seeking without even knowing it. The place you know is home in a deep visceral way, even if you don’t want to admit it.

In fiction, it takes a good three hundred pages for the heroine to come to terms and admit it. The reader is already there, because those tropes tap into our deepest desire for community and acceptance in a place where everybody knows who you are. Your family, as it were.

Standing on the sidelines and watching the parade — the bands, the old timey cars, the re-enactors, the antique fire trucks, the members of the Service clubs, the staff of the Library, everyone who marched — I turned to John and whispered, I love this place.

I do … love this place. I feel like the heroine who has finally found her home. I’ve had deep yearnings to gather my cousins here, in my place, so we can be as close as our families were when I was growing up in Brooklyn and Sunday was mandatory visit grandma day.

But a visit or an email isn’t quite the same as noisy family dinner on a Saturday night. Like any beleaguered heroine, I never thought I’d miss that after all these years, or wish I could recreate those times. I’m sad my sons will never experience them too.

After the parade was over, everyone poured into the street which had turned into a traffic-free plaza — either to meet friends, or see who was there, or to wend their way to where they’d parked, stopping to chat with neighbors, friends, parade participants, along the way.

I took lots of pictures, grateful this wasn’t the small town of my imagination, or a small fictional town in a future novel I might write. It was my town, here and now, my place, my home.

Did you go to your Memorial Day Parade? Do you feel like you’ve found your place, your home? Is it what or where you thought it would be?

PS re: RT. I’m pleased to say I was one of the thirty- year “pioneer” authors honored by RT at this year’s convention in Kansas City. It was a well attended convention, I heard estimates of as many as 1500-2000 attendees, and there was a spectacular number of workshops to suit every taste, every genre and every level of experience, plus receptions, parties, meet and greets and a special fan event.

The big booksigning was HUGE and swarming with avid readers. The hotel was lovely with lots of places to sit and chat. The 30th Anniversary Gala was fun; we were all asked to say a few words to the attendees after Kathryn Falk spoke about the thirty years that Romantic Times had been a force in the industry.. You might have heard EL James was there — she was, but I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her. I had a wonderful time.