200 People Who Have Looked Inside My Brain

So, a week ago I spent the whole day talking to Mr. Murphy and Mr. Osmond’s English classes at the local high school. About 200 kids are reading BIG IN JAPAN as part of their curriculum this year. Whoa, right? It was partway through the day when I realized: These people have all looked inside my brain.

I guess that’s what we as writers do, give readers a chance to look inside our heads for a few pages. (Yikes, right?)

Don’t worry. I got the upper hand for a bit. I made them sit seiza (Japanese style) on their knees for … a long time. Until some of them groaned in pain. Bwahahaha.

Well, it wasn’t exactly a torture chamber. They could get up and sit in their desks anytime their knees dictated, but some of them were just so darned competitive. And a box of Pocky chocolate covered biscuits was at stake, the winner of “longest seiza-sitter” receiving the coveted prize. Granted, it was a little meaner than if we’d been having that contest in a home in Japan, on springy tatami mats of woven bamboo on the floor. The millimeter-thick carpet over the cement on the floor of Mr. Murphy’s classroom did make for a hard surface. I think one winning kid may have been tardy for his next class because he was lying on the ground on his side unable to straighten out his knees. Poor kid. He’s a Mormon kid, and I hope if he ends up being assigned as a missionary to Japan he adjusts to the sitting thing fast. BHH.*

The kids were great. I gave a presentation mostly on Japanese culture, with a smidge of “writing a novel” thrown in. One of the favorite slides in all seven classes was the “how to use Japanese style toilet.” Google this, if you dare. Another was a photo from a strange story in the NY Times about people in Japan nervous about urban crime who dress in costume as vending machines to be safe in train stations. Do you see the feet? Weirdness. I think this might have been an April Fool’s Day joke. (Photo credit: New York Times.)

6  vending machine 20japan_xlarge1

I also have to say how impressed I was with how fast the students caught on to “Japanese style photo taking.” Very few of them knew the tradition of doing the peace/victory symbol with both hands and putting them next to the face while slightly bending the knees and inclining the head toward the person next to you in the photo. (Why is this a tradition? I don’t know. But in my stack of thousands of photos from my year and a half in Japan, the lion’s share have this pose going on.) When I told them, they got it almost instantly. See?

DSC03947 DSC03949 DSC03950 DSC03953 DSC03954 DSC03958 DSC03959

I had a fabulous day with all the students, and I really, really appreciated their interest, their respect, their great questions, and most of all that they’d take the time to read Big in Japan. I know a lot of reading assignments in school can be a drudge, but I hope it was mostly an enjoyable experience for them. Thank you for reading it! Yay!

Finally. Can I just say again, I don’t know how teachers do it? How do they not come home at night and not just collapse in a heap of needing Pizza Hut every night? Please! That’s an exhausting job! Yo, high school students–those teachers are TOUGH. Respect them! They could probably trounce you with all that endurance they have built up.

 

 

*BHH= Bless his heart. (If we can have BFF, we should totally have BHH as an acronym.)

The Third Ripple Has a Birthday Today!

Today is the book birthday for the third Ripple Effect Romance Novella, Righting a Wrong.
With the release of Righting a Wrong, we’re halfway through this fun series. I’ve been loving reading these books! Have you? They’re just good clean fun. (Hey, and it looks like the price is $2.99 today! Bargain, baby!)
You met the main character of this book in Silver Linings. Poor Jace was left in a tough situation but don’t feel too bad for him. There were reasons things worked out the way they did. In Righting a Wrong, you’ll find out why and see his happily ever after.

Writing a Wrong by Rachael Anderson

Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year ended in a fiasco. Only Jace Sutton knew the real reason why—that she was a spineless coward. Now, seven years later, her father’s been in an accident and needs help, and Cambri has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and boards a plane, hoping against hope that Jace is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs—in the past.

If only life worked that way.
Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she’d led him on, bruised his heart, and left town without a backward glance, he was forced to pick up the pieces and try not to hate her for it. Eventually, he put it behind him and moved on, creating a life for himself in his beloved hometown. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jake instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs.
If only it were that easy.
 GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO
The rest of the books will release as follows:
Book 4 - Lost and Found by Karey White – April 21
Book 5 - Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver - May 5
 Book 6 - Immersed by Jennifer Griffith (moi!) -  May 19
Remember, while each story could be a stand alone, we do recommend reading them in order so you aren’t spoiled, since they are linked.
Here’s book 1 in case you want a link!
Home Matters by Julie Ford
Missed what this unique series is all about?
“Like a pebble tossed into calm water,
a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet,
perhaps setting a life on a different course—
one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love.”
FB Cover

How to Navigate Twitter for Total Newbies

Okay, I’m not a super Twitter expert or anything, but after a couple of years trying to figure out how to manage my writing time and social media, I am aware now that I need to have a social media presence if I’m going to be an author. It’s just the way it goes. I’d love to never be online, truthfully. I’d rather be writing, reading, spending time with the family, all that stuff. But I get it now. I have to do this.

And if you want to have what they call an “author platform,” you probably need to also.

In the last few months, though, I’ve finally figured out what to do with Twitter. Sheesh. It took me long enough. So I will share with you the little bits of what I’ve learned to “grow your presence” (i.e., gain followers.)

First, sign up for Twitter. If all those celebrities can do it, so can you.

Second, “tweet” (it’s like a text you send out to the world) a few times, like at least ten, so you don’t look like a robot. This can be personal musings, or links to interesting articles, or good quotes. Make your tweets “good content,” something someone wouldn’t mind reading. Use “hashtags,” which just means you add a # and a word behind it. You can see what hashtags are trending and add a tweet with that hashtag, or something common (like #amwriting, #amreading) or something made up (#amsosickofweeding). It doesn’t really matter. They just make Twitter searchable.

Third, follow as many people as you can. Twitter makes this easy. There’s a suggestion link in the left hand column “who to follow.” Click that. Follow as many people as you can. Then, the next day, follow as many more people as Twitter lets you follow. And so forth. The more you follow, the more people will follow back. It just works that way. It doesn’t really matter who you follow. But be sure to “follow back” anyone who follows you (unless you can’t stand to because they use foul language, or whatever). That makes Twitter “push” you onto someone else’s “who to follow” list.

Fourth, after about two weeks of following as many people as you can (I mean, the Twitter limit) sign up for “Just Unfollow.” It’s free. It links to your Twitter account. It’s pretty self explanatory. It lets you “unfollow” anyone who hasn’t followed you back. It also tells you who is following you that you haven’t followed yet. Follow them back.

Following back: There are “bots” that are just “Pay money and get 1000+ followers” accounts. I never follow those. Don’t pay for those. Seriously. I also don’t follow back languages I can’t read, or accounts that use foul language in their bios. (I also unfollow accounts that end up posting offensive tweets. No second chances. That’s just me.)

Another good way to get follows is to retweet (RT). Occasionally, go through your scroll of tweets of people you’re following and retweet anything interesting. It shows you’re engaged. It also bumps up your “tweet” count, and makes you more credible as a person to follow.

Twitter is like other things, the more you feed it, the more it grows. But it’s hard to feed Twitter from other sources. It’s like the cat won’t eat the dog food, you know? Don’t waste time going to Facebook and begging Facebook friends to follow you on Twitter. Twitter has a pretty easy way to farm followers as is. Just do the four steps listed above. In the past three months with not much time input (maybe 5-10 minutes 5x a week) I’ve gone from 2,000 followers to 5,000 plus.

There are times when I think, why am I doing this? Why is the world so weird these days that I have to do this? But then, there are times when really funny things happen on Twitter or I get a chance to connect with a reader or someone who has asked me questions about my church or I end up making a friend who I end up meeting in real life at a writers conference and we hit it off, and then I think, okay. That made it worth the time.

I hope this helps someone.

Happy tweeting.

Drum Roll, Please…. Book 2 of the Ripple Effect Romance is UP!

It’s really starting to make waves–er, ripples– now, this Ripple series. We’re on book two already!

SILVER LININGS by Kaylee Baldwin.

EbookSilver LiningsI read an advance copy of this book last week, and, ladies, I tell you, it’s lovely. The characters are just the sweetest. You met Drew Westfall in book one, Home Matters by Julie N. Ford. Now, dig in and find out how things turn out for the big-hearted Drew when he uproots his life and moves to the snowy cold of Colorado.

Drew Westfall wants nothing more than to forget what he had to do in the name of “smart” business. Cutting off all ties with his parents—including handing over the entire contents of his trust fund to a charity—he takes off for Bridger, Colorado where his best friend has an extra room for him. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that his business degree won’t do him much good in a town as small as Bridger, but he’s broke and has nowhere else to go.

Eden Torresi has every reason to wallow. Not only did she lose her mother, but she had to drop out of nursing school and is in a relationship with a guy unwilling to commit. But Eden isn’t the wallowing type. Instead, she chooses to spend most of her time taking care of the seniors at Silver Linings Nursing home. When she learns that her boyfriend’s new roommate is down on his luck, her caring nature makes her want to reach out to him and offer what help she can. But the more time they spend together, the more complicated things get, especially when the seniors of Silver Linings decide to play matchmaker.
The rest of the books will release as follows:
Book 3 - Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson- April 7
Book 4 - Lost and Found by Karey White – April 21
Book 5 - Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver - May 5
Book 6 - Immersed by Jennifer Griffith (moi!) – May 19
Remember, while each story could be a stand alone, we do recommend reading them in order so you aren’t spoiled, since they are linked.
Missed what this unique series is all about?
“Like a pebble tossed into calm water,
a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet,
perhaps setting a life on a different course—
one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love.”
FB Cover

New Clean Romance Series Kicks Off TODAY!

I’m just hopping up and down! (Well, actually I’m typing and sitting on my couch. But my spirit is hopping up and down.) It’s here! The launch date of this new series. I’ve LOVED reading through these books. They’re really lovely stories, just sweep-you-away stories of people I feel I actually knew when the books were done.

Okay, so here’s the concept (again, if you have heard it before, sorry.) Each of these romances is tied in a simple way. One character introduced in the first book becomes a star in the next book, and so on. Like a ripple. Get it? Awesome, right? So they all tie together. And it’s so fun! The reviews are coming in on Goodreads for all of them from advanced copy readers, and they’ve been as good as I expected them to be. It’s making me jump up and down in my insides again. (Go with that image, just go with it.)

Here’s a blurb of each book. I’ll link to where they can be purchased as they “go live.” Julie Ford’s HOME MATTERS is available now! And then every couple of weeks the next one will launch. If you like a sweet, good read, these are your books. Yay!

FB Cover

 

The Ripple Effect Romance Series
Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors.

“Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love.”

Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford
Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin
Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson
Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White
Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver
Book 6: Immersed by Jennifer Griffith

 

home matters

#1 HOME MATTERS by Julie N. Ford

According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can’t even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She’s confident that her destiny is finally within reach.

When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.

 

 

 

 

EbookSilver Linings#2 SILVER LININGS by Kaylee Baldwin

Drew Westfall wants nothing more than to forget what he had to do in the name of “smart” business. Cutting off all ties with his parents—including handing over the entire contents of his trust fund to a charity—he takes off for Bridger, Colorado where his best friend has an extra room for him. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that his business degree won’t do him much good in a town as small as Bridger, but he’s broke and has nowhere else to go.

Eden Torresi has every reason to wallow. Not only did she have to sell her house to pay for her mother’s medical expenses, but she had to drop out of school and is in a relationship with a guy unwilling to commit. But Eden isn’t the wallowing type. Instead, she spends most of her time taking care of the seniors at Silver Linings Assisted Living. When she learns that her boyfriend’s new roommate is down on his luck, she reaches out to offer what help she can. But the more time they spend together, the more complicated things get, especially when the seniors of Silver Linings decide to play matchmaker.

 

 

 

Ebook Righting A Wrong#3 RIGHTING A WRONG by Rachael Anderson

Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year of high school ended in a fiasco. But now her father needs help, and Cambri has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and heads home, hoping against hope that Jace Sutton is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs—in the past.

If only life worked that way.

Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she walked out of his life without a backward glance, he was left with no choice but to try to forget her and move on. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jace instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs.

If only it were that easy.

 

 

Ebook Lost and Found#4 LOST AND FOUND by Karey White

Lydia was supposed to have an adventurous and exciting summer. Instead she’s done nothing more than read and eat takeout. Now it’s time to go home, and what does she have to show for it? A big fat nothing. Unless, of course, her trip to the airport somehow turns into something more than just a flight home.

Blake feels like he’s been sent on a wild goose chase. While work is piling up back in Denver, he’s on the other side of the country, hunting for some mysterious box that his grandfather left him. Well, no more. Nothing inside that box could possibly be more important than the opportunity to make it as the youngest partner at his firm. So he’s going home, and that’s that. But that’s before he discovers his flight has been cancelled.

When these two strangers meet at the airport, they make a split-second decision to search for the box together. Maybe with both of them on the hunt, Lydia can have her adventure and Blake can find the box. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll even find some romance.

 

second chances 101#5 SECOND CHANCES 101 by Donna K. Weaver

Thirty-seven year old Francie Davis, a recent widow and empty nester, gets to attend college at last. She’s sure her luck has changed when she also lands a job on campus that will pay her tuition, as administrative assistant to a history professor. When her handsome new boss yells at her on the first day of work, Francie worries she will never be good enough.

For Professor Alex Diederik, life is going downhill fast. Not only is his bitter ex-wife trying to poison their only daughter against him, but now his one place of solace—his work environment—is being complicated by his attractive new administrative assistant. She drives home his feelings of failure as a husband and father, and Alex wonders if hiring her was the right thing to do.

Francie will have to put aside her hurt and insecurities or risk her dreams, while Alex must look outside himself if he’s to mend the breach with his daughter. And, perhaps, find someone who can help heal his pain.

 

GRCroppedImmersedInLoveFull 3 copy (2)#6 IMMERSED by Jennifer Griffith

Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever. But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just to have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.

The bad wig, icky makeup and puffy sweaters work like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest. Lisette’s totally relieved.

Until…Erik.

Erik Gunnarson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Every day as his tutor is making her fall for him more. Even though he seems to have a secret, and she’s sworn she’d never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—although it could mean jeopardizing her career.

Well, I’ll Never Do THAT Again

In the fall of 2011 while I was waiting on confirmation that BIG IN JAPAN would be picked up for publication, I joined the rest of the writing world in the ritual known as NaNoWriMo. It’s a weird word, one reminiscent of a bad rhino joke or something Mork From Ork would say, but it’s actually National Novel Writing Month, and it happens every November. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in a month. And it’s a biggie. Lots of people try. Some succeed. Some crash and burn after three days of enthusiasm. I’ve been in both of those groups.

The “right” way to go about NaNo-ing is to plan ahead by creating an outline. To know what the story will be. Get that outline done, and the use it as a guide through the writing process.

Another way is to be what writers refer to as being a “pantser.” No, not some juvenile joke (although in my case, that could be what the end result would be termed as: a juvenile joke.) It comes from the term “writing by the seat of the pants.”

I’ve always been an outliner. Ever since the days I spent at high school with “the Jeans” as my brilliant but firm English teachers (Jean Roylance and Jean Workman, both incredible teachers and women), outlining has been the way it’s done.

However, that rotten November I got my “Idea for NaNo” late on the night of Halloween. It poured into my head like liquid gold. It was the-best-idea-ever and I couldn’t wait to get writing. Who needed an outline? I was full sails ahead, writing this thing like a maniac. Stuff kept popping up and surprising me (like a motorcycle at the bottom of the Havana Bay in the 1830s). It was bliss. Who needed plot? Who needed structure? This was a romp, and I was on fire. 50,000 words came and went.

NaNo ended, and I had to set it aside. I signed BIG IN JAPAN for publication, Christmastime happened (always a little distracting as the mother of five kids), and I finally had a chance to come back and finish the-best-idea-ever story in February. I remember that joyous moment typing “The End,” and thinking it was so close to being ready to foist on the world.

Uh, no.

Now, two years and 5 serious edits past that, I am realizing today that this thing needs more than a tune-up. It probably needs a total overhaul. Possibly a rewrite from the ground up. I’ll have to set aside all that delicious prose I thought was the best-prose-ever, and recreate it with a little. more. control. And perhaps a plot. Or possibly some structure. I tried to wrangle it into submission in these past five revamps, but without that outlined structure, it won’t be wrangled. Okay, maybe I can lift some sections that are still okay, but I’ve got to let a lot of it go.

Man, I tell you. I’m never doing THAT again. If you’re a pantser, I don’t know how you do it. Since I’m an outliner, I’d better behave like one.

P.S. I still am in love with the story and think it’s the best-idea-ever. I’d better shape it up so it’s also the best book for that idea so the readers can agree and not say, “Great idea, but the book was a total misfire.” That’d be so sad.

Black Moon’s GORGEOUS Cover Reveal

My dear friend Teri Harman writes a witch trilogy that will enchant you. The second installment, BLACK MOON, is coming soon, and if you click here, you can see the cover reveal! Also, you can enter to win a drawing for a signed hardcover of book one, BLOOD MOON.

Can I just say here, that Teri is amazing. She often appears on television talking about books. She’s incredibly well read. And she’s a beautiful writer. Find her and follow her on Twitter and her Facebook page. All her posts are great content!

OKAY, NOW! Go check out her cover reveal!

BIG REVEAL! Book Cover Art

Yes, there's a creepy clock that plays a role in the story!

Yes, there’s a creepy clock that plays a role in the story!

The Brothers Washburn, whose excellent YA horror novel PITCH GREEN scared the heck out of me last year, have a new entry coming out in the campfire story chill-inducement genre: MOJAVE GREEN.

I don’t know much about the plot of this little baby, but I do know Pitch Green told the story of a creepy creature that ate children and lived in a “haunted” house in a small Mojave Desert town. I fell in love with the two teenage protagonists, one of whom lost a sibling to the hungry beast on a Halloween night long ago. I can only imagine what they will do next as they battle it—and its “keepers,” who are almost as scary as the beast itself. Okay, maybe even more intimidating, because at least the worst thing the beast can do is eat you.

Here’s Berk on the left, Andy in green on the right. These guys, in my opinion, are the kings of the campfire ghost story.

DSC_0898

 

And, drumroll please…. The cover of MOJAVE GREEN.

MojaveGreenCover1mb

We’ll be seeing and reading a sniveling over this book later this year over at Chez Griffith.

Why February in Phoenix Was the Place to Be

I just returned night before last from the annual ANWA Conference in Phoenix. This is my fifth or sixth year to attend, and I have to reiterate that in February, Phoenix is the place to be. I’m telling you, the weather was fantastic. All you suckas stuck in the snow who opted out of the conference, eat your hearts out. Sunny and 80 degrees, baby. The pool and hot tub at the hotel were in constant use.

Other great stuff happened besides the weather, though. A New York Times Bestselling author was there. So was her husband (who was presenting a class on contract law ins and outs for authors) who has a really fun middle grade book of his own. There were two USA Today Bestselling authors as well, giving us their wisdom. Lots of award winners, as well as top-notch teachers.

The organizers brought in agents from New York and Los Angeles. Pitch sessions were super cheap, like only $10. Seriously, folks. And they were nice women. Like, one of them gave me a hug when it was over. An editor was there from Harlequin Heartwarming, for all us clean romance writers. Another editor was there from a mid-sized press in Salt Lake City called Shadow Mountain, which for some reason WordPress won’t let me put a link to today, but this is the place for you if you write clean fiction and want a national audience. Anyway. She was a delight. And my pitch to her was really uplifting and encouraging.

One of the little sweet moments for me was during a class taught by Heather B. Moore, USA Today Bestselling Author (click on the link to learn how they did it) and ingenious writer and businesswoman. She was teaching about co-authoring, the ins and outs and ups and downs of it, as well as how to do it right. One on of her slides discussing author collaborative projects was a picture of the cover of my upcoming book IMMERSED, as an example of what kinds of things can be done. Cool. Made me feel kinda special.

FB Cover

Other classes included “How to Write Cinematically” by Adam Sidwell; “The Hero’s Journey” by Annette Lyon; the contracts class by Kenny Pike; short story writing; a time-saving tips class by Dierdre Eden; lots more that I thoroughly enjoyed. Oh, yeah, a panel discussion from the editors and agents. Good stuff. And a great and inspiring keynote by Sarah Eden, as well as a bookstore where I spent way too much money but don’t regret a single purchase, and a costume ball.

My favorite thing by far was getting to see the good women and men I have met through writing circles, hear about their lives, their triumphs and tragedies. I wish I could have spent more time visiting with each of them, and I guess that’s what I look forward to most if I ever make it to heaven. It’ll be good conversations with people I love at leisure.

So…over all…! Good times! Put it on your calendar for next year. They already announced that the keynote speaker will be BRANDON MULL. Yes, ladies and gents. Brandon Mull. We shall be learning from the best yet again.

BIG IN JAPAN Optioned for Film

It’s official. I have the check in my hot little hand. My sumo wrestler novel BIG IN JAPAN has been optioned for film. Yay!

DSC03769