Cover Reveal: Book 3 in The Blood Moon Trilogy

My friend Teri Harman has some pretty awesome witch stories going–Blood Moon, Black Moon, and now, the climax: Storm Moon! She’s an amazing person and a beautiful writer. Click on her page to get the pre-order links. Woo hoo!

Congrats on this gorgeous cover!

Storm Moon!

Storm Moon!

My Little Pair of Self-Pubbing Tips

So I’ve been working on self-publishing for about a year and a half. I’ve also got a book on spec at a traditional publisher, so I’m not leaving that behind. Just…romance is a good genre to self-pub. Anyway, lately I’ve had quite a few people ask me the difference between putting a book up on Kindle and actually formatting it for Createspace (Amazon’s self-publishing arm for paperbacks.) (A good option for hardbacks is Lulu.com, but that’s a different post.) It’s a valid question. They are NOT the same.

Okay, first, you get your book cover design the right size according to the Kindle Direct Publishing guidelines. Have your designer do that. Or do it yourself. It’s not impossible, just a little tricky. THEN uploading is quite swift and easy. Just follow the directions step by step on KDP. You basically take your Word document, convert it to HTML, make sure all the stuff looks right in their viewer, upload the cover, and POP. You’re done. They give you a 12-24 hour waiting period, and then it’s available on Amazon. com under the author’s name and the name of the book.

Easy peasy lemon cheesy.

Formatting for paperback is a different animal. Createspace is really user friendly, but there are a lot more steps involved–IF you want the book to look professional. If you don’t care, it’s way easy. But if you DO care, then I recommend buying a good little e-book by a girl named Heather Justesen. It’s called POD Like a Pro. The ladies who worked with me on the Ripple Effect Romance Series gave me that tip.

It’s a learning curve, and the first time I did it, it took me about six hours (!), and the second time and third time were also…quite a few hours. But it does get slightly easier. Maybe I just forget stuff in between (which is, okay, totally the reason. I think I lost 20% of my brain with each baby. And I have 5 kids.) But you end up with a great finished product. You can use the same cover as you used for your Kindle version.

Okay, the gist is: KDP=easy. Do it. CreateSpace=takes more time. Do it anyway. Because you can.

Okay. It’s Done. Not Well, But Done.

Apologies to anyone who gets this blog emailed to their in-box. I promise not to be a neurotic in-box clogger in the near future.

But the update is…the book is done. Done oh, so poorly. But it’s done. And now I can go work on some other projects for a couple of weeks and then maybe I can come back to this one and redo it from scratch. Maybe with different characters. Maybe with a reworked plot. Maybe I can just let it stay entombed in my computer files, festering as it deserves to do.

But maybe I’ll remember next year that the windy, windy, windy month of March (I’m not exaggerating about the wind in this place), is not the best time to be writing romantic comedy. I’ll stick to editing. Or come up with something angry or sad to write next year.

I think perhaps I’ll put that as a note on my calendar now as a reminder.

Thanks for the support, friends. Now, back to a new, happier plot. And a happier soul.

Epiphany

It dawned on me this morning, after writing yesterday’s sad sack post, that *this book* might be perpetuating the downer days.
And so I shall finish it, slap together an ending. (I only had two or three potential chapters left to write anyway), and run (not walk) away from this story.
Then in a month I can come back to it, tell the same plot (it’s a good plot!) but with different characters and the little helium balloon of this story can rise again.
Meanwhile, I’m slapping it together and racing away from it.
Then I’ll see how I feel.
Wish me luck.

Something Personal

Man, I guess I’m going to get personal in this post. Don’t read if you can’t bear it.

The month of March was lame. I hated it. I’ve said to a friend or two, “I wish I could just hit the backspace button and erase all of March.”

Nothing awful happened. I don’t even have an excuse. If I did, I think that would make it easier. But, no. On the surface everything was hunky dory. My family was healthy. My community and church responsibilities went along as normal—a little stressful, but nothing I could point to and say was particularly difficult.

Nevertheless, depression slammed me. I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I ate. Everything. And wallowed. Ugh. And I had been so excited for March because it was going to be the first time in half a year where I’d have blocks of time to get a new novel cranked out. It would afford me the weeks I needed to create the draft and so I could have it edited and done to publish before summer and the weeks where my kids are home and I get to really focus on them instead of storytelling.

And then…this.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write romantic comedy when you feel like a black cloud has encased your soul?

If I’d had some kind of depressing cancer drama in my TBW (to be written) lineup, I would have done better.

As it sits, I’ve got 9/10 of a little ought-to-be-frothy romance in my computer, and the characters are dull, lifeless, and coping with mountains of self-doubt. They don’t even have a semblance of witty banter. The helium balloon of a plot I handed them? They took it and sank it like the Hindenberg.

It’s a shame.

So, what do I do with this pile of words? I am not sure. And today, when I went to revisit it after a day off, I saw just how hollow all the characters’ lives are, and how little I like them, and how I’d feel bad asking readers to pay even ninety-nine cents to spend six or seven hours reading about their lives.

Lame.

Which made the whole “bummer” tone in my life resurface. And now I wonder whether I should start just planning a lot of cancer dramas and change my whole genre completely. Will the heavy cloak never lift?

Sigh. I guess it gives me a huge pile of compassion for those who have to deal with this on a more regular basis. But am I the only person for whom depression is actually a cause of guilt? I have no reason to feel down! I am, of all women, most blessed! Life has not handed me a lemon. My blessings are just countless: food on the table, nice shelter with AC, darling and healthy children, a kind and loving husband—the list goes on and on.

Then, how can I let myself feel this way? How ridiculous, how self-centered. I should be able to think or exercise or clean or garden or pray or serve myself out of this muddle.

Or not.

It’s probably something that will lift with time. Soon, right? Seriously? But meanwhile, if I pump out a novel that has less of a lighthearted tone than some of my other books, I fear my readers will abandon me. Because I write for them, and they come to me in times of struggle and expect an uplift. Or so I perceive.

So, now what? Do I just set this novel aside and pretend it never happened? Hit the veritable backspace on my life and pretend that the work I did on this book would’ve been much better spent doing genealogy or weeding the side yard? I don’t know. Or as a writer do I allow myself to show a different facet of myself to my readers?

It’s hard to know. And I don’t know if I publish it, then finally crawl out of this hole, whether I’ll realize how lame the story is and quickly have to unpublish it.

Again, with the backspace key.

Sigh.

Anyway, if there is someone out there who reads this and finds they struggle in similar ways, I hope you know you are not alone. Just like with the characters we write, opposition doesn’t all have to be external. Some has to come from inside. I don’t know why God created things this way, and I may never understand. But I trust He will help me through it–and you as well.

Guest Posting: Jenniffer Wardell “Why Fairy Tales Last”

Jenniffer Wardell: She's got that triple double letter thing going on!

Jenniffer Wardell: She’s got that triple double letter thing going on!

My wonderful friend Jenniffer Wardell just had her second book released, Beast Charming. This comes on the heels of the ever delightful “Fairy Godmothers, Inc.,” which I blogged about here. She’s got such a beautiful mind, and I’m excited to introduce her writing style to you here! Enjoy! (And then I’ll tell you more about her bookssssss!)

 

 

“Why Fairy Tales Last”

By Jenniffer Wardell

 

Stories are alive.

They’re older than vampires and sneakier than pixies, changing their shape just enough to fit in seamlessly with the time and the people who are currently giving them voice. A female hero becomes male, then female again, donning male clothing for protection against a narrow-eyed society. Her weapon moves from a spear to a sword, then into a gun before transforming into a computer virus.  The story adapts. It survives.

Fairy tales are some of the oldest stories out there, only slightly younger than the myths and legends that stretch all the way back to creation. They existed long before some of the famous names associated with them – The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault – put them down on paper, the penned versions merely a snapshot of how the stories looked at a particular point in time.

But oh, they’re so much bigger than that. Nearly every culture there is has a “Cinderella” story, with fishes and trees and dead mothers taking the place of the fairy godmother. “Beauty and the Beast” was “Cupid and Psyche” to the Greeks, the hairy beast secretly a god testing the faithfulness of the lover he’d chosen. The Egyptian goddess Isis loved her husband powerfully enough to bring him back to life (though briefly), from the sleep of death.

They adapt, changing to reflect what matters to the culture of the people telling it. In “Perceforest,” an early version of “Sleeping Beauty,” the sleeping girl’s lover impregnates her to wake her up. These days, we prefer the man confine himself to a simple kiss. In the Algonquin Indian version of “Cinderella,” known as “The Rough-Face Girl,” the scar-faced heroine wins her warrior with honesty, clear vision and a pure heart rather than the size of her shoe.

Through them all, however, you will find the threads that wind back across the centuries. A poor girl can win her own happiness despite her circumstances. You must learn to look past appearances. Love, whether romantic or familial, has a power that can overcome all obstacles. A good heart wins out in the end. No matter what terrible things happen to you, you can survive them.

These threads are the heart of fairy tales, the bits of hope and comfort so important that the stories have clung to them no matter how many times they shed the rest of their skin. They are the things we really dream of, more than castles or handsome princes or piles of gold. These are the prayers every teller of every tale whispers out into the universe.

Are they true? A cynical mind might say no.  Some versions of fairy tales even try to say the same thing, smiling at you with blood in their teeth and whispering the horrors of everything from sex to the trap of romance. But the darkness rises and falls with fashion and the time period, never managing to last quite as long as the hope does.

 

Thank you, Jenniffer! You are awesome. Don’t we all think she’s awesome?

And now, here’s the cover reveal of BEAST CHARMING! Is it not charming?

Beast Charming!

Beast Charming!

You can buy it on Amazon now. You know you want to. :)

She’s also running a rafflecopter giveaway on her website for her online release party! Go enter to win!

Congratulations to Jenniffer for another great book. It just released two weeks ago, so it hadn’t hit the top of my TBR list, but I tell you, reading the blurb and this post and remembering how cute her first book was…let’s just say it skipped up many levels and is at the tippy top of my next read list.

Hey, if you do read this, be a friend and leave her a review. Authors live for them.

Solution to Writer’s Block: Hitting the Books

Sometimes I feel like the well is just dry. Dessicated. A desert inside my soul.

Such was the case at the beginning of February. I’d written almost 100K words over the past 9 months, and it was just–I was empty.

Enter: the ANWA Conference bookstore. There I purchased about 10 books written by lovely and talented women I am so honored to associate with. When I got home from that, I started plowing through those books and read them like a bandit. Each one of them made me think, wow, I love this, and oh, isn’t she talented, and wow, what a great concept!

Each book restored my spirit and bit by bit my reservoir was filled. Now, I feel pretty much ready to get back to work, and I have an idea that will probably be pretty good for the Legally in Love Series. I hope. See? Almost there, confidence-wise.

Sometimes I have writing friends mention they’re in a slump, can’t get that old magic going. My advice? Get a pile of lovely books and read for a  few days (or weeks, as the case may require). Hitting the books always helps me.

Big thank you to the great, talented women I love. You make my life happier and better.

Winners of the Giveaway Announced!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the #giveaway for Attractive Nuisance!

Our winners, drawn at random via random.org were:

  1. Sarah
  2. Stacy
  3. Trudy

Congratulations! I will be contacting you with your prizes–a copy of Attractive Nuisance. Yay!

It's LAYWERS IN LOVE! What's not to love?

It’s LAYWERS IN LOVE! What’s not to love?

Now, I’m going back to work on the second book in the Legally in Love Series. Wish me luck!

Giveaway Time!

Lucky you, all you Irish folk and non-Irish folk, it’s giveaway time!

Just for St. Patrick’s Day week only, I’m giving away three copies of my latest book ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE (LEGALLY IN LOVE BOOK #1). Hooray, right?

How do you enter? Easy. Three things.

1) If you haven’t already, “Like” my author page on Facebook.

2) Tweet or post on Facebook or somewhere else on social media about one of my books that you either already read or would like to read. Use hashtag #AttractiveNuisance.

3) Leave a comment below telling me you did these things.

I’ll pick three winners at random from the comments and send you a book!

Here’s the info about Attractive Nuisance, which Golden Quill-winning author Donna Hatch reviewed on Goodreads and said was “the best contemporary romance I’ve read this year.” Nice, right? I love her.

Camilla Sweeten is serious about her job in the County Attorney’s office. She’s even working up the courage to ask her boss to consider her for promotion to deputy. Then, into court walks the gorgeous Zane Holyoake, and disaster strikes—in the form of a total brain fog right in the middle of her closing arguments. In front of both her boss and the meanest bear of a judge in the county, Camilla hears herself saying, “Like, I totally made my point,” as though she’d flown in from1980s California in a time machine airplane. Now her boss will never consider her for deputy—especially since Zane turns out to be a new lawyer, possibly brought in to steal her dream job.

But when a notorious criminal is caught in their county, Camilla must focus on getting the thief convicted and not on Zane, who smells heavenly and is bent on distracting her with lunch offers and wacky Boy Scout stories that may melt her many resolves.

It’s going to take incredible willpower to ignore this attractive nuisance.

Attractive Nuisance is the first book in the Legally in Love Series by best-selling romantic comedy author Jennifer Griffith.

It's LAYWERS IN LOVE! What's not to love?

It’s LAYWERS IN LOVE! What’s not to love?

Writers Conference Top Ten #ANWACon15

It’s over. Once again, the ANWA Conference has come to an end. I’m always totally saturated with new knowledge and completely wiped out by Saturday afternoon and dying to get home to sleep, but by Monday morning I’m wishing I was back there again.

I’m just going to make an abridged list, a top ten list, of things I loved at this year’s exhausting extravaganza.

10. Heather B. Moore’s class on how to hit a top 100 list on Amazon. Can I say what I’ve said many times before? I think this woman is a genius.

9. Helping CJ Anaya shop for her Cat Woman shoes for the Antagonist Ball and Gala, which was delightfully fun and planned expertly by Sarah Daley.

8. Getting feedback at the critique camp on my little fluffy romance from none other than Lisa Mangum, Editorial Manager at Shadow Mountain Publishing (and then pitching another, different piece to her later.) She … just knows stuff. And her class on character motivation totally changed how I am going to write my WIP.

7. Getting to finally meet the man behind the hilarious and insightful blog that is Middle Aged Mormon Man. Read this blog post about his experience at the conference and cringe along with the truth it exposes.

6. The weather in Mesa, Arizona, in February. (Makes YOU want to sign up for next year, doesn’t it, snow-bound writers of the Northeast and Midwest.)

5. Finding out that Julie Wright bought my novella. What? And sitting with her at breakfast. And almost laughing so hard that I was afraid I’d snort milk from my cereal out my nose. That is one funny chick.

4. Receiving expert feedback on my book covers from John Wincek, an expert at book covers. And feedback. Thanks, John. You never did give me your card. Dang it. Now who is going to design the interior of my upcoming project?

3. Watching Sarah Eden quote/lip synch long stretches of dialogue from the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice when the audio on her presentation went out. Quite impressive knowledge on the subject.

2. Near the top there must always be food, so eating delicious salmon at Mimi’s Café with CJ Anaya and the ever-hilarious Stephany Robinson, and in the process getting introduced to Kelly Oram. Oh, my word. When I saw her books, I thought, “This woman? She is my people.” I can’t wait to read all those YA Contemporary books. My favorite brain candy.

005

What’cha gonna wear today, Steph? Blue t-shirt? Jeans? Cool. I will too.

 

Kelly Oram. This woman is "my people."

Kelly Oram. This woman is “my people.”

1. Meeting the keynote speaker Regina Sirois. Not only is she loveliness itself and a gifted, poetic writer and speaker, she’s grounded. She’s has climbed an amazing mountain– being an Amazon Breakout Novelist winner and published by Penguin–and yet she taught us all that we can be happy with our own mountain we choose to climb. So grateful to have made a new friend.

Regina Sirois. I love her.

Regina Sirois. I love her.

I’m already getting excited about the prospect of next year’s conference, wondering who I’ll get to reconnect with, and happy that I can be part of a great organization that’s so uplifting, nurturing and supportive. I thank Marsha Ward for being inspired to organize it, and for making it what it is today. Love all of you, ANWA friends!

 

Now I guess I’d better get to work implementing the stuff I learned!

What did you do this weekend, Jen? Oh, nothing. Just talked to Brandon Mull and stuff. Might've been kinda snotty to him. Probably never see him again to apologize. Sorry, Brandon. >where is my filter?<

What did you do this weekend, Jen? Oh, nothing. Just talked to Brandon Mull and stuff. Might’ve been kinda snotty to him. Probably never see him again to apologize. Sorry, Brandon. >where is my filter?<