Tag: writer

Happy Birthday To My Baby!

Unconditionally

My book baby. What did you think I meant?

Yes, today is the day where my newest book baby, Unconditionally, goes out into the world.

Turns out a second book is a lot like a second child – with the first one, you’re waiting on pins and needles, counting every day. With the second, the time goes by so much faster because the first one is keeping you so busy.

(I can see you rolling your eyes that I’m comparing a book release to the miracle of having a child. And you’re right – it isn’t the same – a book release is a *much* bigger deal. Just kidding. Calm down.)

So, go forth, little book. Here’s hoping you make people laugh, bring some smiles, a few tingles, and maybe even convince a few people not to go to law school. Momma loves you ❤Unconditionally Close-up

 

Advertisements

This Week in ‘Overestimating Your Own Intelligence’

So, I got a little click-happy on Amazon this week and stocked up on reading material.

First, I bought these:

The Hating GameCinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Because The Hating Game sounded like a funny rom-com and the more I read about The Lunar Chronicles, the more I felt I needed to give them a read.

Then things got a little weird.

Next, I bought this:

Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour

Because I thought, well gosh, I’d like a quick little primer on astrophysics!

And then, because no one was there to stop me, I bought this:

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory?? Shut up. You had me at superstrings.

Because I thought – you know what’s been missing from my life? A basic understanding of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics!

So, yes. I’ve greatly overestimated my intelligence in my recent book-buying excursion. Although, I do know that string theory is not a game children play with yarn, so I feel like I’m starting with the proper foundation.

Well, I’ve had my broadcast TV phase, my lawyer phase, and my writer phase. Maybe this will be the start of my astrophysicist phase. Just kidding. I hear they make you do math.

All’s Fair in Love and Book Reviews.

I read an article by an author who said never – never – read reviews of your book online.

Okay, but did he mean like never ever? Or just kind of never? Because never seems sort of impossible, right? (For a slightly neurotic, first-time author like me it proved to be, anyway.)

And I looked. That’s right. I read them all.

Here’s the funny thing about reviews of your book – a good review makes you smile and puts a spring in your step. For about a day.

A bad review is like that popcorn kernel that gets stuck between your tooth and gum that you can’t seem to dislodge no matter how hard you try…because the popcorn kernel is in your soul. Giving you something to poke at late at night when you’re trying to sleep.

So even though there are substantially more good reviews out there, the few bad ones are the ones that got under my skin. Which is probably why that author said DO NOT READ THEM! A-ha. If only I had the ability to listen to sage advice when it is presented to me.

Oh well. Some of the good ones make it all worth while.

Lisa over at LostInLit called it “Hilarious, Witty and Quite Charming.” And Lisa (I know – I’m winning with ‘Lisas”!) over at LisaLovesLiterature gave it 5 stars! And Becky on Goodreads said I “hit it out of the park!” Megan over at ReadingBooksLikeaBoss added me to her “Book Recommendations” tab! And then I found this young woman who goes by The Lone Reader who did a very funny and enthusiastic video blog about it. If I can make anyone rattle on that fast about my book, I certainly should be able to overlook a few naysayers.

So if *you* have read my book – and liked it – please leave me a review 🙂  (And I’ll try to keep myself from reading it). If you read it and didn’t like it – my name is spelled N-i-c-h-o-l-a-s-S-p-a-r-k-s. Be sure to get that part right.

 

Defacing Public Property.

img_20161028_171652Okay. It was actually a book signing. But it was my *first* book signing so it seemed a little strange that people wanted me to write in a perfectly good book.

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to take part in the author reception at the Fall Discovery Show held by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. So…lots of authors and lots of booksellers. Or something like that. It was a blast.

My favorite comment of the night was a young woman that hurried over to my table to tell me that she had read the description of my book and that she “had to find me” because my book was something she “needed in her life.” I know, right? Super cool. And I’m pretty sure she didn’t confuse me with someone else, so I’ve got that going for me.

Funniest comment of the night: someone said “So?? What do you like better? When you were an attorney or now, being a writer?”

To which I replied (likely with little grace, thanks to the two glasses of wine): “Oh, I’m still a lawyer.”

They replied (with what seemed genuine astonishment) “Really?”

Yeah. Really. “I’m pretty sure a lot of authors have to keep their day jobs,” I said. “Unless you have a dream about pale, sparkly, teenage vampires!”

Okay. I didn’t say the part about sparkly vampires – but I thought it. But, for all those authors, working the day job and moonlighting as a writer? I gotta say, seeing my actual book in actual print…made all that moonlight worth it.

So, This Happened.

Galley Cover

Just like that. I have a title. And a cover. And a description that is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster in that it’s partially my original story pitch and partly what “they” came up with (whoever “they” are that tinker with these things at the publishing houses).

So, sure, it felt pretty real when I got the deal. And it felt a little more real when I signed the contracts. And then it felt realer still when I got that first advance check.

But, I must say, this sort of hit a new level of “oh my god – this is really happening!” Which is a pretty good level.

And, about the time the actual book cover showed up on my publisher’s website (Forge is part of Macmillan), it showed up for PRE-ORDER on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and even popped up on Goodreads!

Oh – and I now have my official release date: January 10, 2017.

So, I’m gonna ride this high until I get my copies of the galley (Advance Reading Copies) and am actually holding a copy of my book in my hands and then I’ll write a post about how that’s the realest real yet! I know. You can hardly wait.

Look at it this way…I’ll probably be a lot cooler on my next go-round. But this time? I’m gonna enjoy every, little, teeny, tiny step. Because it took about 15 years to get here 😉

As Yet Untitled.

Insert-Title-Here

For those of you that don’t know – I’m going to give you the five-cent description of my novel. It is, at its heart, a romantic comedy about Kate Shaw, a 30-something starting over as a new lawyer (don’t get carried away drawing author parallels – besides, I’m 40-something). The twist is that, in this slight alternate reality – marriage doesn’t exist. All relationships are based on 7-year contracts which can renew or expire (or, more likely, wind up breached). So, much like there are men in our world who only date married women, this world has similar men who only date women already under contract. These men are called…wait for it…contract killers. Get it? (And yes, I realize women can be contract killers, too.) But, beyond this, it’s about Kate and her funny love life and her even funnier lawyer life.

Okay. Long story short, The Contract Killers was the name of Book 1 of the trilogy. The concern has been raised that this title sounds too thiller-y and might mislead the potential audience. So we need to <gasp> RE-TITLE the book. (Cue the Death Star music.)

While I loved my original title, I definitely see the need to change it. But how? I’ve spit-balled about 30 suggestions at my agent and editor but nothing is hitting home. So, while my manuscript is already in copy-editing and art is working up the cover design – I HAVE NO TITLE. Which is giving me anxiety.

So now – I’m putting it out to you. Because you are brilliant and creative, and had the perfect title all along that you didn’t even know you had. And because you want to be sure I include your name in my acknowledgments.

 

 

As Good As It Gets.

I love the movie, “As Good As It Gets.” I’m using the word “love” here, about a movie. And if you love the movie, too, you’ll get that joke. Anyway, it’s a perfect movie about imperfect people without a single wasted line. Including this one:

As Good As It Gets

Remember? He’s trying to get in to see his shrink without an appointment and he turns to the waiting room full of the damaged, anxious and depressed and poses the question, “what if this is as good as it gets?” And there is a collective gasp in the room in response.

So. What if this is as good as it gets?

My mom’s birthday came and went. The anniversary of her death was December 15. The holidays are over. It’s a new year and my catastrophic loss is now 13 months in the rear-view. And I’m haunted by Jack Nicholson’s question.

What if this is as good as it gets?

I mean, it’s not as though I’m sad all the time. But definitely more than I thought I would be 13 months later. And I still think, no less than five times a day, of something I wish I could tell her or show her or ask her. And I still miss her every damn day. And now I’ve racked up a considerable number of days.

I’m sure it will continue to improve with time. But, after 13 months, I can tell you, it moves like molasses. Maybe because you’re trying to watch grass grow because you’re so anxious for it to be green again.

So, I’ll continue to focus on the good – while trying not to dwell on how much better it would be if she were here.

And I know that if this is as good as it gets – I’ve still got it pretty damn good.

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Breakdown.

Well, mini breakdown.

So, here’s the thing. In the beginning, everyone expects you to be a mess.

Then, a few months later, everyone understands when you’re a mess.

But nine months in – people seem a little caught off guard when you’re a mess.

So, by nine months, you’ve got this internalization thing going where you save most of your tears for bedtime and you’ve mastered having quiet, undetectable mini meltdowns.

And it’s all well and good except that with all this internalization comes detachment. You wind up feeling removed, distant, isolated (and a fan of synonyms, apparently). You feel less and care less because you’re watching everything from a distance.

I have a problem with this because I typically care about freaking everything. What people think. How people feel.

But now? Meh.

But I’m sure it’s just a phase and I’ll get back to my normal, overly-excitable, impassioned self. Eventually.

But for now – I’m Pluto. Downgraded, distant and disenfranchised.

pluto-new-horizons-july-2015

Anyone else think it’s interesting that Pluto has a big ol’ heart on it? Makes you feel kinda bad for downgrading it to a dwarf planet, huh? Because Planet Dwarfism is no laughing matter. Icy Dwarf Planets need love too.

I Find the World a Very Confusing Place These Days.

I can’t be the only one who feels like shit is more than a little out of control…like we’re just one terrorist attack – or one viral outbreak – or one economic collapse away from utter chaos.

And I am confused by my emotions. Because I simultaneously loathe society but find myself inspired by people. I detest all the hate-speech on social media but I love the connectedness it provides. I am disgusted by the large news outlets but I crave understanding.

So I have one very real question. When did it become okay to not validate anyone’s opinion because it is different from yours?

The divisiveness in this country has reached a fever pitch. And it’s pissing me off. We’re buying the rhetoric and it’s tearing us apart.

The news. Facebook. Twitter. All you see and hear is how it’s the whites against the blacks. The Christians against the gays. The Democrats vs. the Republicans. The rich vs. the poor. The Americans vs. the world. Pro life vs. pro choice. The gun owners against the gun control advocates.

It’s rhetoric. It’s being put into our water like fluoride and we’re drinking it. But if we could stop and think…really think. We are always more alike than we are different. The divide between belief systems is not the chasm we’ve been led to believe.

But back to my question.

One of my oldest friends is incredibly liberal and I’m a moderate conservative. She and I have some of the most enlightening discussions because we listen to each other. We don’t change each other’s minds or positions but I know that, for me anyway, I come away with a better understanding of her beliefs. I thought understanding was the goal? Something to strive for? When did we abandon that ideal?

I try to stay a-political because I’m never willing to fight the militants who simply want to beat you into submission (as though yelling at me over social media is going to change my beliefs), but I’m going to break that rule today.

I am a Republican who supports gay marriage. I have Mormon family members who do not. But I respect their viewpoint. Why is it so hard to understand that people who fundamentally believe in the bible will struggle with this? They have a belief every bit as sacred to them as a gay person’s belief that they should be able to marry. That doesn’t make them evil for opposing it. (And for the record, I actually believe the government has no business marrying anyone. Separation of church and state, my ass. This whole fight was over religious ideologies. The government should only grant civil unions which confer legal rights relating to taxes, insurance, property and the like. “Marriage” should have been left to the churches. Then religions that opposed it could refuse to grant them, but there would always be churches that would approve. This had no place on the political stage.)

Moving on. I’m a gun-owner who understands the argument for gun-control. This is a very difficult topic without simple solutions. But the anger people fling at each other on social media for having an opinion is ridiculous. Just because you have guns and want to keep them doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about the very real problem in this country.

I am pro-life but believe in exceptions, first and foremost being the health of the mother. And I also know dozens of women who have had abortions. And I don’t judge them. The belief about when life begins is something so deeply ingrained in a person that we can all talk until we’re blue in the face and not change a single opinion. (If you’ve never read the case of Roe v. Wade, you should. It is actually a wonderfully written opinion about a very difficult subject. I read it in law school and was surprised – it wasn’t what I thought it was after hearing the case name thrown around in all the pro-life/pro-choice debates.) Point being, those beliefs go deep. I may not agree with them, but I understand them.

Bottom line. Not all Christians are against gay marriage. Not all bigots are white. Not all gun-owners are rednecks. Not all republicans are religious. Not all cops are racist. The overgeneralization is out of control.

You’re not enlightened if you are shutting down opposing viewpoints. Aren’t the wisest people the ones that can see from all sides?

If people opened their minds again – they would realize that the chasm is not that wide – we aren’t that different. If more people moved toward the aisle, we might actually get a moderate president instead of the extremist options we have who feel the need to pander to their right and left wing bases. The base should be closer to the middle – where you actually have a 360 degree view.

I know. I’m being naïve. But a girl can dream.

Until then, this will continue to be my moment of zen.

Leaving Earth