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Writing While Living

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Loveys, it’s August. The month that gets overly crazy at my house. We’re not even halfway through and so far we’ve bought school supplies, had close friends (and kids) over for a quick get together before school starts, had neighbors (and kids) over for drinks one evening (no worries, only parents get the grown-up drinks! Ha!) to catch up before we start hanging out at the bus stop every morning, we had my nephew come visit from Louisiana, the Jeffster went back to NYC for work, Ashtyn and I went to her 6th grade orientation, we had one successful birthday party and sleepover, and . . . it’s only August 11th.

We’ve got another school orientation Monday. School starts midweek. Then preschool starts the next. Then another birthday celebration. Then my trip to LONDON!

Good grief. It’s a lot. And we arrive home from England the day before this girl turns forty. I feel like this month could cause even more gray hair! (Tragedy.)

But really, despite how busy and chaotic our schedule gets this month, there’s something incredibly joyful about family life. We loved getting some time with our nephew while he was out here for track camp. And nights with friends are my favorite.

Truthfully, I love planning parties, so while it can be tiring, I love celebrating my kids’ birthdays. We had nine girls running through our house yesterday and it was a blast.

With all that busyness, the one thing it’s very hard to find time for is writing. Normally, after a book of mine releases, I’m happy to have a break from writing. I need space to live and breathe without fictional characters running amok in my head. But always . . . always, there comes a point where my fingers itch to type and when stories start swirling in my thoughts.

I’m just about there now.

Some writers feel so excited at the start of a new work-in-progress. It’s daunting for me, honestly. It always feels like a huge undertaking and I wonder if I can finish what I’m beginning.

It’s worth it to try.

I read a hilarious and so-accurate meme on Instagram the other day about how being a grown up is basically reaching a point where we say year after year that we’ll do _____ (fill in the blank) once things slow down. I’m so guilty of this! But things never slow down, do they?

I keep thinking I’ll clean up my email–you know, unsubscribe from all the million pizza and retail places I’m somehow subscribed to–when I have a quiet, slow morning. What is that and will it ever happen? I’m beginning to think that the only way to have even an hour like that is to pencil it in and schedule childcare.

Maybe that’s true.

Again, I think it’s worth it to try.

Here’s a confession: I’m really hoping my trip to England this month sparks some serious inspiration for me. I write best (and fastest) when I’m truly inspired, when a story hits me that I’ve just got to tell. That’s the way After the Rain came to me. For years I’d had bits and pieces of scenes that might work for Debra’s story. When I finished The Last Summer (for the last time), the rest of Debra’s story came to me, almost all at once. It took about six months to write a full draft and once I finished, I just loved it. I still do. I’ll flip it open and read that last line and my heart is so full, I can’t describe it.

I love books. I’ve loved to read ever since I was able to. And there are certain fiction characters I’ll carry with me forever.

2D8E73A8-7F6C-4CD6-9804-CDEDAFE3804AIt’s time to write again. Luckily, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey and the Jane Austen Center are all in my very near future and, for a girl like me, just saying those words starts filling me with excitement.

I sense new stories to tell.

The truth is that things probably won’t slow down much this fall, and that’s okay. Because I don’t want to miss all the moments that make our lives busy. I don’t want to miss birthdays and school events and nights with friends and dinner with family and the chance to work on great projects.

So I’ll find time here and there, and I’ll write. We’ll do all the living because it’s what’s real and what matters most. The people in my life. And we’ll mix in some writing, too, because it’s who I am and it’s part of what I’m meant to leave behind when I’m gone.

Maybe I’m a little more aware of those things than I used to be. Last year and this year–with both my parents fighting cancer–have changed my family (and brought changes) in some ways. That’s life too, of course. Change. Illness. Age.

It comes down to love, life experiences, our people, and moments we’ll hold on to forever.

A storyteller wants to capture pieces of those things and create a story with them that will reach someone’s heart.

I’m many things, as we all are. (I’ve contemplated this lately as my birthday is nearing!) Editor. Mother. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Sinner. Believer.

And storyteller.

I can’t wait to share my next story with you.

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Behind the Scenes of After the Rain

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Happy March, loveys! I can’t believe it’s been a month already since the release of After the RainI’m so thrilled for the book to make its way to the hands of readers. I feel like I poured my heart and soul into this story. For all my readers, please be sure to leave reviews online so I can hear your feedback.

The blog tour has ended but I so enjoyed the interviews and snippets and behind-the-scene details that were shared that I thought I’d post some of them. I’m going to share the playlist and book facts here for you!

10 Behind-the-Scene Facts from After the Rain

  1. I love all the connections to rain throughout this book. As a girl from Texas who lived in Colorado for years, I know well the sense of missing the rain, needing the rain. I missed the thunderstorms in Texas while I lived in Colorado. I wanted to share that with Debra, especially for the season of life she’s in—this sense of missing what we don’t have.
  2. One of the best sources of inspiration when I was working on this book was the song Never Gonna Love Again by Lykke Li. Find it on Spotify or Pandora or Amazon music and turn it up loud. If After the Rain had a soundtrack, this song would be number one.
  3. I tend to set my books in places that I’m familiar with. Several of the places mentioned in After the Rain are places I have connections to/memories of. The Sixteenth Street Mall in Denver, the rock at Castle Rock, the Denver Zoo, Breckenridge—these are all great Colorado locations where I’ve spent time.
  4. Debra’s love for theater stems from my own experience of watching musicals with my grandmother. She introduced me to movies with Fred Astaire. A few years ago, I went to the theater district in Denver to see Wicked with my sister, and it was so fun that I knew I wanted to include that setting into a book somehow. Including the quotes for every chapter was one of the most fun aspects of writing this book!
  5. There’s a crossover character in this book from another series! He’s not actually in the book, but he’s mentioned. Readers of the Romano Family Collection will recognize the name Leonardo Romano. (If you haven’t read that series, I hope you’ll check it out too!)
  6. I love music so much, but honestly, I’m not very musical. (I think I might be tone deaf. Sad!) I definitely needed help with the musical terms/pieces in this story. A friend of mine, Kollette Decker of Renegade Road, is an amazing singer and the lead singer of a band that’s making a name for itself in the Denver area, and her help with reviewing and offering advice for After the Rain was invaluable.
  7. One cool thing about writing is drawing from our own life experiences and then creating scenes and even dialog from moments you’ve lived. My own experiences are weaved throughout all my books. Even something as small as a dish I tried at a café. There are too many cases of this to share them all, but one example from After the Rain is the name of the bar/café called Percival’s Island. There was a Percival’s Island bar/café in the town where I went to college, and in my mind, I was recreating that same kind of fun, hipster-but-still-gritty, raucous kind of place, perfect for live music.
  8. I knew I wanted Debra to see a counselor, and I also knew I wanted that to be as authentic as possible to what that might have looked like. Lucky for me, I’ve got several friends who are amazing counselors! One of them reviewed the book for me early on, specifically looking at the counseling sessions. I didn’t want to move forward until I had her ‘okay’ on the material. I think counseling can make such a difference in people’s lives.
  9. When I first saw the cover of After the Rain, I had this huge sigh of relief. Because it was perfect. Maybe more perfect than the designer realized! I love the fact that the girl on the cover is dressed all in black. I love that she’s running, because I think of Debra as someone who’s running from life disappointment and also someone who’s started literally running in her life as a good outlet for stress. And I love that the umbrella is off to the side. It’s this sense that she’s already soaked, the umbrella can’t help her now. And it also captures the idea of a woman wanting to feel the rain, needing to feel something.
  10. The name “Logan Fox” is mentioned in the book. That’s the name of the grandson of some special friends of ours. I remember when I saw that name posted in the baby announcement on Facebook, I loved it and knew I’d use it at some point!

 

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A “Happy Hearts” Month Giveaway!

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“I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the days when I’m not eating chocolate cake. But I particularly enjoy the days when I am eating chocolate cake.” –Trisha Yearwood 

Every Valentine’s Day, I expect one thing: a heart-shaped box of chocolates. I’ll be honest, I start thinking about those chocolates before February 1st! By this point in our relationship, Jeff knows–I don’t ask for a lot, but having chocolate on Valentine’s Day is a must for me. (In fact, confession: I bought a big box of chocolates to share during book club the other night!)

When it comes to “Happy Hearts” month, along with eating chocolate, I always want to watch sweet rom-coms and read Happily-Ever-After kinds of love stories. So a few friends and I decided to put together a Valentine-y giveaway for our readers! Eek! I’m so excited about this bundle giveaway. Four paperbacks and two e-books and something sweet! Quick! Enter the drawing to win these books (with a side of romance) and a little chocolate to go with them this Valentine’s Day. Click on the Rafflecopter for more information. Do not miss out on this! You could be our lucky winner.

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At book club the other night, a handful of women and I sat around a table, talking about characters and plot and likes and dislikes of our most recent book choice. Sometimes we can get so passionate that you’d think these are real people! That’s one of the great things about books, right? We can feel so connected to the story or characters that we feel very invested in what happens. Those are the stories that stay with us for a long time. And it’s our hope that these stories of ours will stay with readers for a long time.

There are a couple of very fun things coming up! Click here to sign up for the online Facebook launch party for After the Rain on February 4th. There will be a fun giveaway package you’ll enter to win (as well as a runner-up gift of a free e-book). Also, beginning February 11th, there will be a blog and bookstagram book tour! I’m so excited about this. And those bloggers/Instagrammers will be hosting another awesome giveaway, with some very fun book swag! There will be author interviews and behind-the-scene facts about the book and more.

Another important reminder is that After the Rain is currently discounted on Amazon for a special pre-order price. But the price will go up after release date in the three days, so pre-order your copy now!

Confession: I’ve got champagne already in the fridge, waiting. I have a feeling I’ll be having a mimosa first thing on February 4th. I’ve been trying to organize ARC copies and bookmarks, find reviewers, post updates on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, and get the word out. After all the waiting, it’s finally time for After the Rain to make its way into the hands (and hopefully hearts!) of readers. It seems appropriate that we’ve had such a rainy winter season over here in Virginia. (And I can tell you now as a sneak peek, the giveaway packages coming up soon will include fun umbrellas!)

Have any of you read the book Chocolate, or actually, seen the movie Chocolate? I’ve done both and I just love the story. But one thing I really loved is how the main character Vienne has a knack for guessing people’s favorites when it comes to chocolates. What’s your favorite, loveys? I know mine. I love the orange-cream-filled chocolates. (Hurry up, Valentine’s Day!) Romance is great–but so is chocolate, am I right??

I’ve spent the morning over here making strawberry cheesecake truffles (and remembering how much easier it is to just buy these things!). But it’s Friday night and that’s how we’re celebrating February 1st at my house. And I’m hoping for an awesome February for you! First things first . . . sign up for the giveaway! See below.

 

Click here for the giveaway:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

One Week Till After the Rain Book Release!

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We’re 7 days out from After the Rain’s book launch! I can’t even believe it. For so long it feels like this day will never come–writing and rewriting and editing and more editing. And then it finally gets here and I don’t feel ready. (If you haven’t read The Last Summer yet, there’s still time! Click here!)

There was this moment years ago, when I’d first moved out to Colorado. My family came to visit Jeff and me, and we went white water rafting out in Buena Vista. The day was perfect. My favorite people in the world were all in one raft together. The mountains, the water, the sky–it was this picturesque scene. White rapids crashing over the rocks, the sounds of excited screams as our raft raced down the river. You couldn’t help but feel like this, this was what people loved about Colorado. We bought one of those pictures they take at some point mid-river and I still love it. I’m screaming (everyone else looks like they are laughing and smiling, but I’m screaming), water’s splashing. Toward the end of the trip, we stopped and the guide jumped out of the raft with a whoop! (None of us followed him.) And I sat there (literally drenched) and thought, I wish I could capture this moment.

And right then, I had this glimpse of a scene for a story. I knew I’d use it one day. That was at least fourteen years ago. And that small glimpse in my mind that day stayed with me until I decided to write this book. That’s how it goes sometimes. Bits and pieces of a story stay with you for as long as it takes. Like bits and pieces of our lives, right? We don’t get to keep them all, but some of them stay with us forever. I can tell you, there are other glimpses I’ve had, for stories not yet told. I hope one day they find their way into books.

But at this moment, we’re days away from After the Rain making its way into the world. I have loved the time I’ve gotten to spend with these characters and I’m thrilled to share this new story with you. I hope you’ll read it and email me or leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads and tell me what you think! Please know I’m so grateful for every reader.

Right now the pre-order price for After the Rain is discounted, but it will go up after release day so hop over to Amazon and grab your copy now.

I am so excited to invite you to the Facebook online launch party for After the Rain. It’s on release day (Feb 4th) and you can see all the details below. Put it on your calendar and click over to sign up here! Be sure to come party with us!

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Later in February there will be a blog/bookstagram tour with fun posts and a super-fun giveaway. And not only does After the Rain release in February, but on the 8th, the Jeffster and I will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary, just days before all the love (and chocolate) on the 14th! February is basically a fabulous month. You might want to visit my website and sign up for my newsletter to stay tuned for all the fun things coming up!

This winter has been so rainy where I live. The other day I opened the garage door and stood for a minute, watching the rain fall. Of course I can’t help but think of the book. My dad has always told me that he thinks of rain showers as a blessing. Sometimes we need the rain. And I hope After the Rain reaches you right where you are.

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Countdown to After the Rain

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Guys, we’re getting so close to the release of After the Rain! I’m so excited (and terrified!). I wanted to chat about the book today. This is the follow-up novel to my 2017 release The Last Summer (if you haven’t read that one, lickety-split read it before February! The print version is only $7.95 on Amazon right now, kindle is $2.99).

This new story is an honest, unflinching look at dealing with life disappointment. It’s a picture of what it looks like to desperately need change, to want to rediscover yourself, but to feel so stuck that maybe you can’t move without help. It’s for everyone who’s ever asked themselves, Where do I go from here?  

I’ll be real with you, I’ve loved The Last Summer and it’s been in my heart for so long that I wasn’t sure I would love this second novel the same. But I do. I love this story.  It’s different from the first book in lots of ways. We’ve got a new setting and some new characters. There’s a little bit of a different feel this time around.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve gone through difficult times, often music helps me. Sad songs. Angry songs. Girl power songs. Peppy songs. Worship songs. You know what I mean. Sometimes music reaches us when nothing else can. There are a lot of music ties in After the Rain, which, to me, is one of my favorite aspects of the novel. I think this happened because music helped me along with the writing.

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I’m super excited to share my “After the Rain” playlist as we get closer. There will be a Facebook launch party on the 4th and I want you to put that on your calendar! I can’t wait to talk about the book, characters, music, inspiration, everything! You can keep up with that through my Facebook author page here.

The countdown has begun and I can’t wait!

I’m going to leave you with a good example of a girl recovering through music. Enjoy!

 

Cover Reveal for Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations

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I’m so excited to join in on the cover reveal for my friend V. Joy Palmer’s next book, Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations. Isn’t that title ah-dorable?! The title for Joy’s last book was Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations. Equally adorable! This new book is based off characters introduced in Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations, but the story can standalone.

Details!

Genre – Inspirational Romantic Comedy

Release Date – February 14th, 2019

Publisher – WhiteFire Publishing

Bio:

V. Joy Palmer is the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional Chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

Book Blurb ~ 
Seventeen years after being orphaned, Apryl Burns and her twin sister Courtney have their own expectations for life. While Courtney continues to shine at everything, Apryl holds fast to the mantra that as long as her potato chip stash remains intact, then she’ll be fine.
But when their beloved grandmother ends up injured and unable to manage her struggling antique store, Courtney makes it their mission to revamp the business and save what’s left of their family’s legacy. Despite rampant doubts in her abilities, Apryl finds herself trapped under the weight of family loyalty as they transition to a wedding venue decorating service. Soon she’s forced to ask (translation: blackmail) their grandmother’s renter/handyman, Chance McFarland, for help, an arrangement that is made even worse by the fact that Chance is her former (ahem, and current) crush.

Chance knows a few dozen things about family loyalty, which is why he begrudgingly agrees to Apryl’s insane plan. While Apryl claims they’re archenemies, the girl Chance only glimpsed in their teens starts to emerge, stealing what remains of his heart.

But expectations are a powerful thing. Amidst the glamorous weddings and swaying willows, can those old expectations be revised into something new?

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Sounds so good! I love stories that weave family loyalty through the storyline. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the cover!

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Wait for it…

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Tada!

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Gorgeous, right? I love it. Here’s the pre-order link: https://www.amazon.com/Weddings-Willows-Revised-Expectations-Palmer/dp/1946531146/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1544706945&sr=8-2&keywords=v.+joy+palmer.

 

P.S. I highly recommend you check out Joy on Instagram. I’m obsessed with her book posts!https://www.instagram.com/vjoypalmer_author/!

Autumn Reading and Rainstorms

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I love reading in the fall, don’t you? Cozy weather. Spiced chai. Throw blankets. Maybe a spooky read for book club. Plenty of snack-sized chocolate around. All good things. I’ve got books on the brain today because, guys, we’re almost to that three-month mark before the release of After the Rain! (Squeals with happiness!) I can’t believe it. I’ve been looking at the final proofs this morning and falling in love with this story all over again. We’ll be doing a cover reveal in early December so stay tuned for that. (FYI, the cover is perfect and I can’t wait to share it with you.)

As a little behind-the-scenes on After the Rain, the story picks up very shortly after the ending of The Last Summer. While the story can stand on its own, I highly recommend reading The Last Summer first–for a little more depth and context. You can go to Amazon to check it out if you haven’t already. I love that The Last Summer released during the heat of June, and After the Rain will be releasing in the chilly month of February. Because if The Last Summer is that novel you should read by the pool, while wearing sunglasses and drinking a spiked iced tea, then After the Rain is the novel you should read while curled up on a comfy chair, a warm apple cider or peppermint mocha near at hand.

When I write, I like to listen to music. It inspires me. For The Last Summer, I had a long playlist (that I still like to listen to) that brought to mind warm days and nights, lakeside barbecues, and the feeling of freedom that comes with summer. For After the Rain, music has been so important to the story itself, and to the writing of it. I’ve needed that inspiration.

I wish I was more musical myself (I’m pretty sure I’m tone deaf!), but while my rhythm might be lacking at times, I have a strong appreciation and love for music. When I was younger especially, I liked getting the soundtracks to my favorite movies. Why? Because a great soundtrack captures the vibe and pulse of the story. One year for Valentine’s Day, I made a mixed playlist for Jeff and called it the soundtrack to our relationship. Songs from when we were dating, songs from our wedding, songs we love to turn up loud every time they come on the radio.

I love when writers include their playlist for their novel–it’s the soundtrack to our stories. I’ll be sharing mine as we get closer to the release of After the Rain. And you can be sure that music will be part of the giveaways that come with the promotion during release.

Music plays such an important role during certain moments of our lives. Songs on repeat that we love. Songs that make us cry or give us hope. Songs that become an anthem with our friends. Or songs that we associate with certain memories. I think I like soundtracks because they connect music to experience, and you end up with all the feels from both. (I mean, how many songs from the Grey’s Anatomy series have I absolutely loved? So many.)

During an interview for a job once, the director asked me how I handle stress. Looking back, I realize now that he was hoping I’d give him an example of how I respond and react to stressful situations with people or projects. But my answer that day was: “I listen to Christmas music! It always calms me down.” Ha! Probably not was he was looking for but absolutely true. Christmas music is calming to me.

What kind of music speaks to you? What songs are etched on your heart forever? To me, music feels woven through this new novel and that’s just one reason I’m so eager to share it with you.

It’s been a rainy, cool fall season here in Virginia. And as I’m going through proofs, I can’t help thinking that this weather takes me right into the story.

The rain is coming, guys. February 2019. I’m starting the countdown.

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