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Friday
Aug282015

Masters of Minimization

I've been thinking. (Did you smell the smoke?) No, seriously. I've been thinking. Which is always an interesting proposition and sometimes leads to some deep thoughts. Or just-below-the-surface thoughts, which is deep enough. Anyway. I recently saw this post on Author Rachel Hollis's Facebook page, and it made me say, "Right on!" Then I shared it to my own Facebook page (because I'm a pirate that way) and went about my day. But people kept "liking" the post, and I kept receiving notifications related to the post, which would make me think about it all over again. And her point about the word, "just," brought to mind several experiences I've had since publishing books. Let's discuss, shall we, the Masters of Minimization.

No, I'm not referring to people who are really good at hiding program windows on their computers and keeping them out of sight. I'm talking about certain acquaintances of mine--and probably yours, too--who really enjoy downplaying the hard work you put into the things that you do. Perhaps in an effort to justify their own perceived shortcomings; perhaps to convince themselves that what you've accomplished is easily attainable for them, too; or perhaps simply to be a small jerkface of a person who doesn't want anyone to feel good. Take your pick. Or maybe all three.

But they're a lot more creative about it than using the word "just" in their efforts to minimize your hard work. Because they don't want to come off like a-holes. As a matter of fact, sometimes what they say initially sounds downright flattering... until you think about it a little more. Then, if you're like me, hours later, you say, "Hey! I think that might have been an insult. Noooo... I'm sure I'm being overly sensitive. But wait... Yep, they really did mean it that way! Huh. Well. Lah-dee-dah."

"Examples!" you say. "We must have examples, so we can judge for ourselves if you're a paranoid lunatic."

Okay. Here's one of the most egregious examples I've experienced. I'll give you the CliffsNotes version.

A freelance writer once told me that I wrote my novels from an"ivory tower," since I had a husband and lived in a two-income household and didn't rely on my books to put food on the table and a roof over my head and clothes on my kids' backs. At the time, I was incensed. Now, I laugh about it. Because if this is what living in an ivory tower entails, it's one of the most overrated existences... EVER.

Here's what I typically envision when I hear "ivory tower."

Pretty! Even better, remote! Far away from douchey people who make assumptions about one's life during jealous fits based not even remotely on facts.

Let me tell you what my "ivory tower" actually entails. And I'm going to be painfully honest here so you can get an accurate picture, not so you can pity me or so I can say, "Woe is me!" These are just the facts, and they're part of life, and I'm sure you have a similar story to tell, because we're all in this adulting thing together, and unless you're independently wealthy (and if you are, good for you!), adulting generally stinks. So here goes...

With my full-time day job (which I am very thankful to have, I'd like to state right away), I am the primary breadwinner of my household. I work forty-plus hours a week outside of my home at a job that--while very nice--isn't exactly what I imagined myself doing when I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Join the club, right? My husband works upwards of sixty hours per week at a job that he's also thankful to have but that is very physical and exhausting. In order to pay the bills and support our family, we suck it up on a daily basis and get it done. Because that's what you do. Like many Americans, we carry considerable debt, with that debt dating back to the first years of our marriage, when we had a baby, and I was going to college and holding down a part-time job. We have plenty of money to pay our bills (most months, as long as nobody gets sick or hurt or needs a tux... ahem... college kid... or has car trouble or any of the other 5,000 unexpected, yet very possible, things that can go wrong on any given day), but if we were to miss just one paycheck, we'd be in deep doo doo. That's called "living paycheck to paycheck," folks, and it'll keep you up at night if you think too much about it.

At the time this person claimed I was sitting in my cozy tower, penning my silly books, I had just given birth to a baby who was quite an unexpected addition to our family, the result of my body and my birth control getting their wires crossed with the anti-seizure medication I was promised wouldn't have any interactions with said birth control. (Side note: in case you're worried, more permanent measures have since been taken to ensure no future Browns emerge from this household. We get that the world is overpopulated.) Babies are grand. I'd already had two of them I loved very much. And I loved the new one very much. Still... things did not seem all that ivory tower-ish to me.

Fast forward five years, and not much has changed. Am I living and dying by my writing? Nope. I've made other arrangements to ensure that isn't the case. A responsible parent doesn't let her children starve for her "art." But it's actually a huge frustration that I don't make enough money doing what I love to support my family with it. If that makes my writing a luxury, so be it. Let's be really, really, really clear here. I'm not raking in the royalties. But those royalties, however paltry, ARE a factor in my family's income. They give us a little more breathing room and make those unexpected dead car batteries a little less stressful. They mean my husband nor I have to seek a part-time weekend job outside the house.

My publication journey and current aggressive schedule haven't "just" happened. I don't have two books handed to me every year to publish. I birth them, from concept to publication. And with the exception of a few tasks, like cover art, I do it all (with the support, of course, of friends, family, and a great community of like-minded writers). I get up at 4:30 a.m. daily to carve out two hours of uninterrupted writing time before I get the kids up for school. 

Probably the worst thing you can say or imply when someone's worked hard at something is that the person has had their success handed to them. Especially when that success is as modest as mine. I mean... throw me a bone and give me credit for the couple hundred books I sell every year.

Here are a few of my other favorite minimizing statements:

  • "If I had the time, I could write a book."
    Or eleven. Or thirteen. But who's counting?
  • "I could write as fast as you do if I weren't such a perfectionist."
    Haha. Oh, boy. Ask my husband my perfectionism level. Try being fast AND picky. It's fun.
  • "I'd have a more aggressive publishing schedule, but I'm really involved with my kids."
    Wow. Yeah, I'm lucky I don't give a crap about my offspring. Clears up a lot of time in my day.
  • "It's nice that you have a such a fun hobby that you love."
    Gosh, yes. What are your hobbies so I can condescend to you about them? That's neat.

What's the takeaway here? We--all of us--need to learn to keep our envy-fueled comments to ourselves. Because we never know what someone else goes through every single day, behind the scenes, in order to present his or her public face to the world. Don't be a master of minimization. Nobody likes you.

 

When you buy my books, you're not only getting hours of entertainment, you're supporting a worthy cause. My ivory tower desperately needs repainting!

 

Saturday
Aug082015

Shame Overload

Remember this lady in The Princess Bride?

If your answer is, "No, I've never seen The Princess Bride," stop what you're doing right now (trust me; this blog's not that important) and go watch it. It's a cult classic. But it's a delightful piece of my childhood that I will cherish forever and quote endlessly, and--maybe I shouldn't admit this--taught me a lot about life before I could even grasp the lessons it contained. So get on with you. Don't tarry. You must watch it now. Or whenever. (I feel like I'm building it up too much now, and you'll watch it and say, "What the eff was she going on and on about? This movie's cheesy." It is cheesy. That's the point.)

This post isn't about life lessons I learned from The Princess Bride, although that would be an awesome blog post [pauses to write down that idea to save for later]. This post is about shame. Not this Shame, either.

(However, I hear if you want to see Michael Fassbender in all his--ahem--considerable glory [and really, who doesn't?], there are a few scenes that might interest you in that movie.)

No! This post isn't supposed to be about movies at all, but I'm all over the place, trying to reach my point. Which is... we are bombared by shame and guilt every day. There! Geez. Is it so hard to write a topic sentence? Apparently so. And I call myself a writer... I should be ashamed.

Ah-ha!

It's everywhere. And you know what? We're addicted to it.

"I'm most certainly NOT." Said every addict ever.

Shame is so entrenched in our lives that we don't even notice it half the time.

Sure, it's obvious when rich people with more money than brains and ethics participate in what amounts to shooting fish in a barrel and display their "trophies" online for everyone to see--and shame. Shaming other people--especially those who do icky things we don't agree with--is an international pasttime. We're all over that. It makes us feel good and righteous. It gives us an outlet for the rage we harbor for every injustice ever committed in the history of mankind. Plus, it directs our attention away from ourselves for a while, which is such a relief, because let me tell you... as much time as we spend shaming strangers, it doesn't even compare to how much time we spend shaming ourselves and those closest to us. For everything.

Start paying attention to it in your life, and you'll see I'm--sadly--correct. Ready for one of my awesome lists? If not, too bad. Cuz here it comes.

Everyday Shames:

  1. Not eating healthy foods.
  2. Not exercising.
  3. Being overweight.
  4. Being underweight.
  5. Judging those who are over- or underweight.
  6. Not keeping up with regular checkups with dentists, doctors, eye doctors, gynos, etc.
  7. Not doing enough to help people in need.
  8. Judging people in need for being in need (it MUST be their fault).
  9. Being a bad parent.
  10. Beating yourself up for being a bad parent when really, you're just a human parent.
  11. Judging others for being bad parents, in your ever-so-humble opinion.
  12. Spending too much time at work.
  13. Not spending enough time at work.
  14. Not being productive enough while at work.
  15. Not spending enough time doing what you love.
  16. Spending too much time doing what you love and neglecting the people you love.
  17. Not appreciating the blessings in your life.
  18. Being jealous of other people's blessings (based on your outside view of their lives).
  19. Spending too much time on social media.
  20. Spending too much time looking at screens (phones, computers, tablets, etc.).
  21. Not reading or learning enough.
  22. Reading too much.
  23. Not going to church.
  24. Judging others for not going to church.
  25. Not speaking your mind and standing up for yourself.
  26. Speaking your mind too freely.
  27. Shrugging off other people's feelings and needs.
  28. Putting other people's feelings and needs ahead of your own too often.
  29. Caring too little about "important" causes.
  30. Caring too much about every cause that crosses your path.
  31. Not spending enough face-to-face, physical time with friends.
  32. Spending too much time with friends and neglecting family.
  33. Neglecting housework/yardwork.
  34. Spending so much time on housework/yardwork that you don't enjoy the house/yard or the people in it.
  35. Not saving for retirement/the future.
  36. Failing to live in the moment.
  37. Failing, in general.
  38. Not even trying.
  39. Succeeding while others who try just as hard and are just as--if not more--deserving fail.
  40. NOT BEING PERFECT.

You get the idea. And I'm sure you can add just as many or more to the list or drill down and get more specific on some of the items. But all day, every day we do this to ourselves. And you may be thinking, "Geez. Not me! This chick has some serious issues! She needs to speak for herself." But how many times a day do you say or think something that starts with these two words:

"I should..."

Should.

"I should stop pushing the snooze button."

"I should eat a healthy breakfast."

"I should be a more patient driver."

"I should work harder/faster/longer."

"I should volunteer more."

"I should want to spend more time playing with my kids."

"I should save more money."

"I should dress better."

"I should be more grateful for the blessings in my life."

"I should tell the people in my life I love them."

"I should be less judgmental."

"I should be doing the kids' back-to-school shopping, not writing a blog post." (Just for example.)

And when we don't do all the things we should?

"I know, I know... I'm horrible."

I actually witnessed someone say that about herself recently because she hadn't made more time for her writing lately.

I know this is shocking, but writers are the BEST at the "I should... I suck" game. Our failures are immediately quantifiable--word counts, number of books published... or not--and we LOVE to compare ourselves to each other. "You wrote 10,000 words today? I wrote zero. I suck. Hey, good luck with that raging carpal tunnel syndrome. I wish I had carpal tunnel syndrome from being so awesome. Man..."

Parents are super-great this game, too. "You built a blanket fort nicer than my house, baked a [gluten-free] cake, put dinner in the crockpot, worked out, packed the kids' healthy--yet delicious--school lunches, cleaned your entire house, signed up to chaperon every field trip this year and work the concession stand at school-sponsored sporting events, all before leaving for work at your not-for-profit, world-saving job? I threw a Pop Tart at my kid's head as he was running out the door, late for the bus, as usual, wearing mismatched clothes--and I think his shorts were on backwards. I suck. I think I'll go stand in the shower and cry before putting on some wrinkled clothes and going to my soul-sucking desk job, where later I'll remember that I never signed that permission slip for today's field trip, so my kid will have to sit in a classroom with all the other kids whose parents can't get it together. See you later."

I'd love to find a way to eradicate "I suck" or "I'm horrible," even said jokingly, from normal people's vocabularies, especially when the guilt is so grossly misplaced. "I suck" and "I'm horrible" and any variation on those statements should be reserved for politicians... and maybe criminals. Okay, definitely criminals. Especially murderers and rapists and the really bad baddies. But mostly politicians. Because they're the WORST.

You're horrible because you didn't reach a daily word-count goal in your writing, probably because you were baking gluten-free (or worse... gluten-FULL [*gasp!*) cakes for a church cake walk? Puh-lease. You suck because you have a hard time staying organized when a thousand people are pulling you in a thousand different directions and expecting every one of those thousand things to be your number one priority? Not even close. And anyone who tells you you are or even implies it with their self-righteous shaming to make themselves feel superior is a douchecanoe.

Shame on the shamers! Don't be one.

 

I'm ashamed to say I wrote this post when I was supposed to be doing a lot of other things, namely working on the next book in my Nurse Nate Triology, Let's Be Friends, which I work on when I should be spending time with family, cleaning my house, reading all the books, volunteering at worthy causes, caring about all the injustices of the world, and generally being a better person than I am or ever will be. Now that you know who you're dealing with, read my books and help fund my worthless existence. You can find buy links here.

 

Thanks for reading! This post is part of Julie Valerie's FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP. To return to Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-aug-2015

GIF sources:
"Boo" Lady: jezebel.com
Fabulous Fassy: allmoviegifs.tumblr.com

Monday
Jul202015

Change of Scenery

We all get in ruts, right? And what's the best way to get out of a rut? Change your view. Literally.

Recently, I traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin. It was for work (day job), but while I was there, you better believe I did some Nurse Nate stalking.

"How do you stalk a fictional person?" you might wonder. Oh, please don't underestimate my "crazy." Let me show you how it's done.

First, after a hellacious day of traveling (that will have to be the topic for another blog post... or purged altogether from my memory so I don't suffer from PTSD as a result of the events), I arrived at my destination after midnight to find that my rental car for the week was this:

That's right. It's a Toyota Prius. Just like the one Nate Bingham drives in the Nurse Nate Trilogy. The one pictured above is obviously not the exact one I drove. This was the best picture I could get of it... in the rain... after midnight... in the very dark car rental lot that would be the perfect hangout for rapists... if people in Green Bay weren't too nice for that kind of thing.

I did get some interior shots, though, in the light of day. I needed proof that it had more buttons, bells, whistles, and doohickeys than the Starship Enterprise bridge.

 

I drive an older car, so this thing was like learning how to drive a spaceship. About halfway through my trip, I discovered a quick-start learning guide in the glove compartment. It would have been super-nice of the rental car agent to tell me that thing existed when she gave me the keys--or what passes for keys in a push-button car--but whatever. I guess she looked at me and thought, "This one's adventurous. She's going to want to fumble her way through learning how to drive that car in an unfamiliar city in the middle of a rainy night. I'd hate to spoil her fun." Actually, she was probably thinking, "I can't believe I had to work late for this frazzled weirdo." So anyway. I eventually made it out of the rental car parking lot with a much better appreciation for Nate's car and his driving skills. And I may or may not have thought the following weird and nerdy things throughout my week of driving the hybrid:

"This is how Nate turns on his wipers."

"I wonder if Nate ever forgets to turn off the car... must write that into next book." (Because I did that one day at work. And through some miracle of technology, the thing still started at the end of the day. Must have gone into hybernation--a.k.a., "idiot," mode. As in, "Oh, this idiot forgot to turn off the car, but she took the key fob with her, so she's not coming back. Shutting down now...")

"I want a Prius like Nate's... er, this one."

"I'm sorry for all the Prius jokes I've told in my books. They may look silly, but they're really fun."

It was sad having to hand in the keyish thingy and go back to driving my regular old car at home.

I also got to swing by Lambeau Field for a visit. Yeah, yeah... I know... Nurse Nate hates football, BUT he does attend a game in Let's Be Real, so it wasn't a betrayal of the Nurse Nate experience. I didn't get to actually see the field (all of the tours were full), but just walking through the atrium and seeing this two-story statue of the Lombardi trophy was amazing.

I also visited the pro shop, where the people who come up with t-shirt designs revolving around the Packers "G" put my creativity to shame. I mean, how many ways can you make it different? A lot. And they're just getting started. Camo, sequins, every color combination known to mankind. And the jewelry... You can get a replica Super Bowl ring. I really wanted to get these, but I couldn't think of an occasion when I'd get a chance to wear them.

 

Finally, I did my own version of the Lambeau Leap with these delightful bronze fans. They love me.

Other things I saw in person that I'd mostly only read about in my Nurse Nate Trilogy research efforts:

Younkers, which Betty mentions in Book 1: I didn't go in (malls aren't my thing), but it was close to my hotel, so I saw it a few times on my way to and from other places.

Roundabouts: Green Bay loves 'em. We have a couple in Springfield, but not on any of the streets or routes I regularly travel. While I was visiting Packerland, I had to use them every day. Very European.

Cheese curds: I ate some deep fried cheese curds at the Farmer's Market, and they were amazing. Heart attack in a cup, but it would be a delicious way to die.

The Sardine Can: a cool, indoor-outdoor bar in the heart of downtown that features live music acts. It's not quite the same as The Cheesehead, which is a bit... quieter. And less crowded (The Sardine Can ambiance is exactly as its name would suggest: they pack 'em in there). A ton of fun but not conducive to conversation.

Below-boiling temperatures in July: While I was away from Missouri, they experienced a major heat wave with heat indexes up near 110 degrees (Fahrenheit, obviously). This was the temperature on Thursday evening in Green Bay, right before a lovely, gentle summer shower:

The next day, the temperature soared to the upper 80s (91 in some nearby areas), but the humidity was low, so it still felt like the most heavenly summer ever. Summer is supposed to be hot, right?

Upper Midwestern Nice: Apparently, Wisconsin and Nebraska are competing for the "Nicest People in the World" title. I didn't think people could get nicer than the ones I encountered in Nebraska last fall (yeah, I'm becoming quite the mid-American traveler), but I didn't meet a single sour-faced person in Wisconsin. Not even when I cut them off (inadvertently, of course) in my clueless navigation of the roads and highways while trying to figure out how to drive my car (I really was a hazard, and I'm sorry). My co-workers were amazing hosts and tour guides, going above and beyond, never letting me sit alone in my hotel after work, eating fast food and binge-watching Broadchurch.

Taken AFTER many cheese curds were consumed with friends.

Even the woman who had to wait for me until after midnight at the car rental desk was chipper and sweet (although I think she was getting back at me in her own way by not warning me about the robot car I was about to drive). Everyone made me feel like a rock star. And I was just not-so-little ol' me, bumbling my way through unfamiliar territory, trying to pretend like I knew what I was doing. They played along fabulously.

And then it was time to come home. I had to gas up the spaceship...

Sidebar: I only used $1.88 in gas those five days, and I was motoring around town, let me tell you. A Toyota dealership's going to be getting a visit from me soon, I think. Maybe I can get a discount if I show them this shameless advertisement of a blog post. I'll conveniently forget to show them the jokes in my Nurse Nate books.

...return the key fob (sob), and make my way through airport security and the exhausting obstacle course that is flight travel in the United States (horrible, horrible, horrible system). I even saw a real rock star, Alice Cooper, in the Green Bay airport. We nodded at each other like rock stars do while the security agents went gaga over handling his carry-on baggage and making him take off his shoes and looking at him in the X-ray machine. Actually, he didn't look at me at all. And I almost missed seeing him altogether, because my nose was buried in my book (The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow, which is wonderful, by the way) while I tried to keep as relaxed as possible before setting off on my stressful journey home. But the airport security staff's inability to play it cool saved me from missing my brush with fame altogether.

And I was happy to be able to say that seeing a celebrity didn't even come close to being the highlight of my visit to Green Bay. I met a lot more interesting, funny, and amazing people than that. And I saw firsthand their turf and that of the imaginary characters I love so much.

Speaking of those characters, it's good to be home, getting back into my normal routine. Only now, I have some fresh perspective and feel as charged as that Prius. Back to work!

 

Thanks for reading! This post is part of the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog. To return there and read more participating posts, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-july-2015

Monday
Jul062015

Summer Reading Suggestions

I'm a crappy friend. I am. I'm not saying that so you'll say, "Aw, no you're not!" I'm saying it because it's true, and I know it, and no matter how many times I acknowledge it, it's a reality I can't seem to escape. Never is it more obvious than when I release a new book. It doesn't matter how holed up I've been, how neglectful, how hermit-like; when I release a new book, my friends gather around and congratulate me, share the news with their readers and friends, and flood me with offers to help me promote my new book baby. And I think, "Wow. What a swell person to jump to my promotional rescue! I've retweeted and shared a few things on behalf of that person in the past few months, and that's it. What else can I do to thank them?"

My blog isn't a review blog, nor do I host guest writers. I don't write reviews at all (scarred for life by a few experiences), and I generally keep myself too busy with my own writing to beta read for others. My favorite word when approached with projects or opportunities that would impinge on my sacred writing time is, "No." (See? I told you I was a selfish jerk.) But I know myself and my limitations. I know when I overextend myself, I'm useless to everyone, especially my family. And despite how it may seem to those who have heard me say, "No," on more than one occasion, I'm a major people pleaser who will drive (and has driven) myself crazy trying to be everything to everyone. I've been there a million times. It sucks.

But I do have this blog. And I do have readers ask me for recommendations now and then. I have a few favorites I always give off the top of my head, but I decided to solicit links from those who have been there throughout the publication process for Let's Be Real. They write women's fiction, chick lit, and rom coms that I think you'll enjoy. Have I read all of these books? Nope. Are they all on my Kindle, waiting to be read (or pre-ordered, in some cases)? Yep. Are the authors amazing people who would make great additions to your online friendships? Absolutely. Give their books a try and find out for yourself by seeking them out on FB, Twitter, or your social media site of choice.

And now, in no particular order, here's the list. Click on the book to find out how to purchase and download.

Jay Walking by Tracy Krimmer

Available now for pre-order. Releases August 4, 2015.Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr

The Marrying Type by Laura Chapman

Cutters Vs. Jocks by Elizabeth Marx

Bad Medicine by Caroline Fardig

Available now for pre-order. Releases July 7, 2015.

The Other Wife by Kathleen Irene Paterka

Scotch on the Rocks by Lizzie Lamb

Vegas to Varanasi by Shelly Hickman

Geek God by Victoria Barbour

Happy reading!!!

Saturday
Jun272015

Launch Day for LET'S BE REAL

I have mommy guilt. Not about any of my real, biological children (although I have plenty of that on any given day, too), but about my latest book baby, Let's Be Real, the sequel to Let's Be Frank.

This was a surprise baby. And while I'm also no stranger to that phenomenon in real life, in writing, it's a little more difficult for something like this to take you by surprise. After all, writing a book is a pretty deliberate act. So is the other thing, I suppose, but... the results are a little different. Anyway! So here I am, writing away on another project, a project that is the first in a trilogy, when BAM! Nurse Nate pops into my head again, and I get this full-blown vision of what his life is, post-Frank. And it's a fun idea. And it won't let go. So I write it. And then I realize, this isn't the end of the story, either. So I plan one more book in Nurse Nate's scrubs and call the trio of books the Nurse Nate Trilogy. And I'm currently writing that third book.

Meanwhile, the book I was working on when the Nurse Nate Trilogy idea hijacked my brain is waiting patiently to be released in the fall. It's about American football, anyway, so that's a better time for it to come out. But still. I've never released books "out of order" before. It's a weird experience.

Anyway. Back to the baby metaphor... Let's Be Real was a "surprise," and like both of the real surprise babies in my life, it's been a blessing. I enjoyed being pregnant with the idea. I enjoyed giving birth to it. I've enjoyed diapering and dressing it. I've even enjoyed losing sleep over it. I've especially enjoyed showing it off to people, first beta readers and now YOU. But there's guilt.

Because this is my eleventh baby, so... I mean... I don't have much to say about the experience. I wouldn't say this is old hat, because I still enjoy writing as much as ever. I still love publishing and sharing these silly stories of mine, too. But launch days... they're just another day in this writing life. So poor Let's Be Real is like the kid whose parents never take any pictures of him. And I'm kind of relying on his big brothers and sisters to do some of the work. After all, readers will come to him, thanks to Let's Be Frank and the other books I've written that they've liked. And I'm already well into the process of bringing his little brother, Let's Be Friends, into the world. Plus, his little sister, Out of My League, will make her debut in October, and he'll just be another one of my middle children. I'm like an out-of-control book baby factory! "Don't you know where book babies come from?"

Okay, this metaphor's annoying me and making me feel like a redneck reality TV star. The point is, I'm happy this day has arrived. I'm overjoyed I finally get to share the full Let's Be Real story with you. BUT I know the majority of people aren't actually going to read the book TODAY, so launch day is just... well, it's just a distraction from doing what I love most: creating. As a matter of fact, on launch days, I have to participate in one of my most hated parts of this process: promotion (although you guys make it a lot more fun than it would be without you).

So, please. Buy the book, read the book, enjoy the book, review the book (if that's something you like to do). You don't need me to throw confetti in your face and say, "Look how great I am; I wrote another book!" Trust me; that's not what I'm doing today. I'm sitting here in my pajamas at 10 a.m., writing this post, drinking my third cup of coffee, and berating myself for not giving my new book baby the launch it deserves. No balloons and confetti here. But definitely plenty of satisfaction and excitement and relief and nerves.

Maybe that's not a very attractive picture. Maybe it's actually a little depressing (although I don't mean it to be), and I shouldn't have shared that with you. But I'm nothing if not honest. And I strive to be authentic. And I think most authors, especially the indie author-publishers like myself, would admit, if pressed, that their book launches look a lot like mine does today. I hope I didn't bum you out by pulling back the curtain a little too far. If you'd prefer to picture me sitting in a tiara and a ball gown, sipping champagne and being doted on by an adoring public, please... go ahead and maintain that image.

The un-sexy truth of the matter is, publication day is just one small part (one of the smallest parts, in fact) of a book's birth and development. A story is nothing until you, the reader, have read it and projected your own experiences and thoughts and interpretations onto it. Please, let me know when you've done that. That will be a day for me to celebrate.

HOWEVER, I do want to thank you for your support and enthusiasm throughout this book's development and launch. You guys have been amazing, and your faith that I would accomplish this June 2015 publication date was more convincing than any of the doubts I had. And look! You made it happen. Thank you!