Tunnel Vision

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I’ve just emerged from a tunnel and I’m blinking in the light.

Goodness, what a lot I have neglected!

I see it now.

But I was quite happily engrossed in my tunnel until it came to an end.

It wasn’t the kind of tunnel that plunges you into total darkness. More like a tree tunnel, with light getting through but no way to see beyond the trees to what’s going on outside. You know the kind, I’m sure. A pleasant tunnel to be in.

I’ve had tunnel vision before. It happens with irregular regularity, each time I’m engaged in writing a novel. Because I am in the habit of writing every day, it’s been quite some time since I suffered from writers’ block – if I ever truly did. Most times, I think the trouble was that I was out of the way of writing, my writing muscles were sleepy and had to be prodded awake each time I felt like adding to my word count, and that was much harder when it had been a long time since I wrote.

Having said that, a few years ago I didn’t write anything other than the occasional blog post for almost a year after my mother died. It had been a traumatic time – not just because she died, but more to do with other things that happened around her death – and I went into a very different tunnel for quite some time – a long dark one that blotted out the sun and most of the joy it can bring. When I emerged from that tunnel, it took me a long time to adjust and I found that my creativity had all but dried up.

I was recently reminded of a blog post I wrote about what helped get me writing again after one such longish phase of losing my creativity. You can read it here if you choose.

When I’m reading a good book I get tunnel vision too. You know that way, when you can’t put a book down and you read well into the night in order to finish it, then you close your eyes and can’t stop thinking about it for ages. When you finally open your eyes and look around, you blink in the light. You realise life has gone on while you were happily in that pleasant tunnel with the book.

I had a lovely review for Rusty Gold just recently when that seems to have happened to one of my readers:

“I really enjoyed the Rusty gold series. I just couldn’t put the 3rd book down. I was desperate to see how it ended so was stirring the soup with the book in my hand! Off to bed early to read in peace and quiet and, of course ,when it was finished I wished that I had made it last longer. Now, that is the sign of a really good read. It would make a great T.V. series. How good would that be?” ~ Barbara R.

Needless to say, it’s very encouraging to receive reviews like that. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I can’t thank my readers enough for them. If ever I meet one such reader, I’ll give her the hugest of hugs.

So, you know what I’m talking about – that kind of tunnel vision.

And, like I said, I’ve just emerged from such a tunnel.

I’ve been busy writing another novel, and what a happy tunnel I’ve been in. I got so caught up with my characters, I found it hard to leave them.

This WIP is now in the hands of some beta readers, and I must wait to get their feedback before I can write the final draft, but, meanwhile, I find I’m still thinking about Yvonne and Hugh, and their story. I’m having to hold myself back from writing the next part of their story – because that’s for another book, another tunnel.

This one, called For What it’s Worth, is not quite another in The Reluctant Detective Series, more a kind of spin off, and while Mirabelle and Sam feature in the story, the main protagonist this time is Mirabelle’s sister, Yvonne.

Yvonne only featured peripherally in the three books of the series, but the dynamic of her and her husband, Hugh, kept asking to be explored, so I did, and have written their story – so far. I say, ‘so far,’ because just as our lives don’t stop when we settle into a routine after some great adventure or happening in our lives, so too, characters can seem so real that I just know their story could continue on. And my mind is already buzzing with what happens next in the Yvonne and Hugh saga.

Meanwhile, I have to see to all the things I neglected when I was so engrossed in writing For What it’s Worth – blog posts, promotional posts, guest posts, interviews, lots of interesting things like that. No matter how bonnie that tunnel of trees in, no matter how beautifully the sunlight dapples through the branches, I don’t want to hide inside it for ever. I look forward to driving through another one soon, but for now, other writing tasks need attention, there is other fun to be had, other vistas to view.

How about you? As a reader, do you get so engrossed in a good book that you can hardly bear to put it down? Do you emerge at the end blinking in the light?

As a writer, is that how you feel about the first draft of a new novel? The second? The third? And all the rest…

Please do tell me if you have felt like that when reading or writing – or doing anything else. I’d love to hear about the books you’ve read that held you entranced and why.

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You can find the three books of The Reluctant Detective Series and four more of Christine’s novels here on Amazon

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Daisy’s Dilemma

My guest today is Author and Playwright, Anne Stenhouse, who I met when I attended The Edinburgh Writers’ Club a number of years ago.

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Christine, thank you so much for inviting me to appear on your lovely blog. I’m honoured.

My pleasure, Anne. Can you tell us where you originally come from and where you live now?
I was born in Pumpherston, in West Lothian, Scotland, and I’ve migrated to Edinburgh. Pumpherston was an industrial village although it was surrounded by farmland and, on a semi-circular loop, agricultural holdings. We could walk out and pass fields of cows, a piggery and a mink farm. I remember very clearly how some of my class had to walk through disinfectant to come to school when there was an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. I came to Edinburgh as a university student and, apart from two training courses in London, I haven’t left. It was a leafy semi-magical place thirty-five years ago. You can still find some of that magic today, but it’s harder as the gap sites have been built on.

A bit about yourself? Including something that might surprise us …

I’ve swum in the sea around Stromboli which, some of you will know, is an active volcano. It was still pretty cold in the water.

100_5738I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a lot of foreign travelling. Most recently I was in India on the Hoogli and in Rajhastan. India is endlessly interesting to any foreign visitor – probably to the Indian visitor as well – because it is vast and populous and so much of life happens on the street in front of you. In addition, it has a long history of superb building. Here’s me at the Taj Mahal. Actually my favourite building in Agra is the Red Fort. Exquisite.

… something you are proud of about yourself …

I stuck with my playwriting long enough to have a couple performed on the main stage at St Andrews’ Byre Theatre. Great moments. Playwriting is my favourite form of writing, but it is so hard to make headway. Once you write the play, it needs a director and actors to bring it to life and an audience to appreciate it. I found eventually that struggling for funding was becoming too much of that equation. So, if any of you want to read a script suitable for the SCDA one act Festivals, get in touch.

… something you’re working on about yourself (and I’m not talking about your WIP)

Getting the hairstyle right. Growing older does so many unexpected things to one’s body and appearance. This is only slightly a flippant answer. We all, if we’re lucky, get older and the things we couldn’t understand about our parents suddenly become all too personal. So, I’m working very hard on accepting invitations I might once have dismissed as being not for me, like ten-pin bowling. Actually, I like ten-pin bowling. Have still to get a strike – if that’s the correct term. I’m working quite hard on not correcting people’s grammar – that’s tough. Since my husband retired, I’m working a lot on not being as untidy as I was. (He may not have noticed this, but I did clear out two folders of redundant paper while he was away recently. Two – I may need to try harder there.) So I suppose, I’m trying to keep changing for the better.

… and what you’re working on (now I am talking about your WIP)

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Daisy’s Dilemma is my latest release, June from MuseItUp, and it’s an historical romance.
I take that well known expression, Be careful what you ask for, and weave a tale around that. Daisy Longreach has pursued a particular man since her first steps outside the schoolroom, but – is what she wants, what she needs?
Lady Daisy appears in my debut novel, Mariah’s Marriage, and she’s a sparky younger sister character there. I could hear her voice (the playwriting impulse again) and had to write her story.
Buy Links

Daisy’s Dilemma by Anne Stenhouse order from amazon http://goo.gl/iMFFVu
Daisy’s Dilemma amazon UK – US – AU – CA
Kobo – Omnilit – MuseItUp
Readers may connect with Anne on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/annestenhouseauthor
Twitter @anne_stenhouse
Her blog: Novels Now http://www.annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Daisy’s Dilemma by Anne Stenhouse order from amazon http://goo.gl/iMFFVu

Mariah’s Marriage by Anne Stenhouse.
http://goo.gl/4LWt1H Mariah’s Marriage UK
http://goo.gl/qoggiQ Mariah’s Marriage US
http://goo.gl/Eu23YN Mariah’s Marriage Au
http://goo.gl/n8e7Jt Mariah’s Marriage Canada

http://goo.gl/P3lmzk Bella’s Betrothal by Anne Stenhouse amazon UK
http://goo.gl/7mh8FI and US

Novels Now blog http://wp.me/31Isq

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A Day in the Life….

…of a Writer.

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My name is Christine Campbell, and I am a writer.

There, I’ve said it.

I said it and believed it for the first time after I published my debut novel in 2008.

There can be few things more validating for a new writer than to hold years of hard work in your hands. Feel the paper smooth on your fingers. The weight of your very own book, the smell of it, the sound of pages as you run your thumb over their edge, letting them flip one against the other. The sight of the words you penned months before, tumbling over one another to fill hundreds of pages, painting the pictures from your imagination in words and letters, to tell your story.

It’s intoxicating.

But how did it come to that point?

What does a writer’s day look like?

For me, the day probably looked a lot like anyone else’s.

I had a husband, a family, responsibilities.

Writing was what I did in secret, what I did in snatches, in corners, in cafés. Not because I was ashamed of what I did. Not because my husband didn’t encourage and support me. Only because I didn’t believe I was a Writer with a capital W.

Then ‘Family Matters’ was published and I held in my hands the evidence that I was.

I am a Writer.

My days look different now.

Brazen, I sit at my computer while the dishes sit by the sink. My fingers fly across the keys making that special music of storytellers, while the washing churns in the machine. Dinners are simple affairs the days I’m writing well, more elaborate when I have thinking to be done. As I chop the carrots, I set out plot points in my head. As I brown the meat, my head fills with neatly turned phrases and enticing story twists.

If you pass me in the supermarket and I don’t seem to see you, I probably don’t. I’m somewhere else, in the world my characters inhabit, doing something else altogether. If I didn’t rouse myself occasionally to check my shopping list, goodness knows what I’d remember to pop in my trolley for tonight’s dinner. Whatever my protagonist fancies, I suppose.

Hours can pass and I think it’s a moment since I sat down to write.

A day in the life of a writer doesn’t look so very different from a distance. On closer inspection, it belongs to a different world, a different time capsule.

My family are grown now, and my long-suffering husband smiles at my passion and shares the washing-up. The washing gets done, the beds get made, no-one is neglected. But time is set aside to write, to edit, to think, to plan, to research.

It’s what I do.

I am a Writer.

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Sleeping with my Sister

For most of my life, I have had sleep problems, including delaying going to bed, snapping wide awake as my head hits the pillow no matter how tired I am, and wakening frequently throughout the night in a state of alarm.

I have examined this problem many times, tried various remedies and suggestions, gone to bed early, gone to bed late, eaten black cherries, nuts and oats, drowned in Camomile tea. Tried silence, tried music. Light on, light off. You name it, I’ve tried it.

Then, last week, I was watching a few of the excellent short videos Carol Tuttle produces as part of her Dressing Your Truth series. It was an attempt to lull myself to sleep. To help me relax, ready for zzzzeds.

It wasn’t any one thing, but a few things she and her daughter chatted about that resonated with me and got me thinking. Perhaps it was time to revisit my childhood, something usually painful, so usually avoided.

This time I went there, and I remembered….

Sleeping with my Sister

Sometimes the blood-curdling scream, sometimes the kick in the gut
Always sudden, always brutal.
Jackknifed forward by the gut pain, to meet the fingers, curled like talons,
Slashing out to rip the eyes out.
Afraid to open lids in case they’re gone, sockets gaping.
Tasting blood on lips, feel it trickle down from forehead.
This is no way to be awakened in the dark night.

Sometimes shrill, shrieking screams, sometimes guttural, gasping growls
Curses raining down like blows.
Starting up to reach the light switch, meeting headbutts, bites and punches
Vicious kicks and frantic lashings.
Calling out now, fear a mirror of terror crouching on the pillow.
Light revealing wide, gaping mouth, jaw breaking with the tension,
Eyes wild and vacant seeing something that was not there.

Sitting shivering on the floor, feet tucked under little nightdress
Heart beating hard and fast now
Tears held in knots of pain between shaking shoulders
While mother lies beside my sister, soothing coo-ing, stroking better
Nightmare gone, I was a part of, forgotten now as sleep resumes unbroken.
My heart reaches out to hold her close now, that little girl
Who was me at five or six or seven.

Sitting waiting, cast out of cosy, teeth a-chattering, heart a-hurting.
I hold her now, as I would have then, had she been my child.
Having soothed the dreamer, turned to the injured.
Instead, sent back to bed with naught but frustration
What did you do? What did you say?
Get back to bed, she’s sure to sleep now.
Don’t you disturb her, just go to sleep.

Go to sleep! You must be joking! Hormones of flight run amok
Afraid to sleep, awaiting repeat of pattern.
The light switched off, in dark of night, still able to see that frightful sight
A nightmare’s terror in face and body, a sleeping child
Who sees me, but as a monster.
Hold me now, please hold me now.
Honour my pain as well as hers.
And for pity’s sake buy me a bed.

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How to thrive as an Independent Author…

Delightful post by Children’s Author Mariana Llanos, outlining some of the qualities she feels you need to make a success of being an Independent Author.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

If you’re serious about self-publishing, you might already know that publishing books isn’t easy. Behind each book there are countless hours of writing, revising, producing and marketing. Most importantly, behind each book, there’s a piece of your bare soul. The world of publishing can be as rewarding and fertile as it can be ruthless and disheartening.

front cover copy I decided to pursue self-publishing in early 2012. A year after, I was the proud author of a beautiful children’s book called Tristan Wolf. I’ve done everything my Marketing 101 book said I should do. I’ve protected fiercely the quality of my books, and I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made (and I keep on learning). I’ve published four more books and released three of those in Spanish. It sounds exhausting, but it’s all part of my plan to take over the world one children’s book at a time 😀

As part of…

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SALT OF THE EARTH

I thought this was a delightful blogpost by Marylin Warner. Informative, evocative and just delightful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Things I Want To Tell My Mother

My maternal grandmother, a woman of strong faith, great kindness, and soft hugs for five children, thirteen grandchildren...and many great- and great-great grandchildren. My maternal grandmother, a woman of strong faith, great kindness, and soft hugs for five children, thirteen grandchildren…and many great- and great-great grandchildren.

A picture of Grandma's five children, lined up in a row on the farm.  My mother is the middle child. A picture of Grandma’s five children, lined up in a row on the farm. My mother is the middle child.

I recently saw a “Helpful Hint” newspaper article devoted to salt. In addition to being worth its weight in gold for many centuries because of its medicinal, cooking and international commerce importance, it’s also recognized as an inexpensive and effective household cleaner today. For instance, to clean a grimy garbage disposal, pour 2 cups of ice into the disposal and add ½ cup of salt. Turn on the tap and run the disposal for 20 seconds. The gunk will be gone!  Or if a drain is clogged, pour in a mixture of ½ cup salt and 1 cup baking soda. Let it sit for a few hours…

View original post 315 more words

Meet The Author – Christine Campbell | Reading Head

It was fun to see myself on someone else’s blog!

Thank you Liza Shaw for giving me this opportunity to let your readers get to know me a little.

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Searching for Summer    pastedGraphic_4  THE book cover pastedGraphic_2  Featured Image -- 1966

Meet The Author – Christine Campbell

Welcome all.

Today I’m very lucky to interview Christine Campbell, author of Searching for Summer and four other novels.

Christine Campbell

Hi Christine, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you, Liza, it’s very kind of you to ask. Perhaps the first thing you should know about me is that, although I live near Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, in my imagination, I live somewhere much warmer, where I can still run up hills and swim in the freshwater pools under waterfalls, and I am 26 years old.

I know, I know, my oldest child is well into his forties, and I have ten grandchildren, but, in my heart, I’m 26 years old.

I don’t intend getting any older, no matter what age I look, no matter the walking frame, the poor hearing, the poor eyesight, the poor health. I am rich in so many other ways.
At a cuddly 4’11’, I’m also tall, slim and beautiful.

Read the rest of this interview via Meet The Author – Christine Campbell | Reading Head.

Always Nice to have a Visitor.

20140811_092437My guest today is Zenobia Southcombe, Zee to her friends, and she lives in Aukland, New Zealand, a bit far for her to travel just to pop in to sit round the fire and chat with me, but isn’t the internet wonderful? I can throw another log on the fire, cuddle up with my iPad and ‘chat’ to Zee on the other side of the world, perhaps even ask her to play a tune on her ukulele.

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Take it away, Zee….

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When Christine agreed to host a blog post by me, she asked me to write about marketing and a bit about my writing process. Marketing is such a massive area to tackle, and so I decided to look at one aspect that has been new for me – a blog tour.

Why a blog tour?
Well, I’m having a physical launch here in Auckland (New Zealand, or Middle Earth in case you’re not sure) but I want to push the eBook sales as well.
Quite frankly, eBooks are cheaper and far less hassle to produce, so on the financial side eBook sales are the way to go. In addition, there’s a global audience out there numbering more than New Zealand’s population, and I want to reach a larger audience.
A blog tour is a way to get publicity – to get my author name out there in the blogosphere to touch some of the people who might be interested in my work. Hopefully, it helps the blog hosts as well, by introducing some of my current readership to their blogs.

Finding blog hosts
Now, I know there are many services that do this for you, and I did look into them. There’s still a bit of work involved though (like, I would still have to actually write the posts!) and there are pretty strict timelines. I didn’t want to have to fork out money for something if I was still having to put considerable energy so I took it upon myself to do it independently. For a blog tour of 10-20 stops throughout the month, I was looking at between $70 to upwards of $125 (US dollars).
It was actually easier than I thought to find willing victims, uh, hosts for my tour. I put an open call for hosting a guest blog out in my main writer forums: the Coffeehouse on Google+ and a small NZ Indie Writers group on Facebook. I got back (at the time of writing) fifteen responses! And that’s just an open call – I didn’t ask any bloggers directly.
Once I’ve written up the fifteen that I have, I’ll reach out to blogs that offer author interviews and spotlights as a regular feature. There’s a great list on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s site, and I’m using this as my starting point.
http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/authors-resources-central/guest-author-friendly-blogs/

What to write?
Each was different. For some it was an interview, which is the most straightforward as I don’t have to come up with the content. If you have the option for an interview – take it!
Because the point of the tour is to publicise my launch, I’ve tried to ensure that the content links to my book somehow. For example, I’m writing about marketing for Christine’s blog, but I’m using The Caretaker of Imagination’s launch to do so.

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So now, you know about my launch, and you’ve gotten a glimpse into one of my marketing strategies. How’s that for a win-win?
It is important to consider the blog host’s audience. A lot of my host blogs have a large writerly audience, and while they might be interested in my books (especially if they have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews) most are interested in reading about my marketing & promotions strategies, or my writing process.
It’s a good idea to have a few different photographs, as well as book covers, to send the host. Sometimes they will specify what they want.

Call to action
Generally, at the end of a blog post – especially a guest post – a call to action is advised. What do you want the reader to do when finished? Again, the blog host’s audience of utmost importance and so I have a few options (and I wrote them down in my planning for each post). If you’re a romance writer, chances are you won’t be interested in a slightly offbeat children’s fantasy book! But, you might be interested in my marketing strategies on my writerly blog.
The options include:
-sign up to author mailing list
-visit writerly blog
-visit author website
-participate in online launch (for posts published during launch week)
-buy my book(s)
-pre-order my book(s)

Would I do it all again?
I have a decent number of blog hosts for my ‘tour’ but not many of them are reviewers. This is something that blog tour companies would be great for, and the only thing that has me considering hiring one for my next launch in July. I have reached out to a few reviewers, and some people have agreed to give me a pre-release review in an exchange for an advance review copy (ARC).
What I will most likely do is a self-organised one like the I am doing now, and in addition do a small reviews-only blog tour with a tour company.

A bit about my writing process
And what about the actual writing? I’m onto my third book now, so I have a good idea of what works for me.
I’m a planner, and I plan my stories with a strong narrative plot – I use the three-act structure well-known by scriptwriters, and a general narrative structure to make sure my bases are covered.
From there, I do my drafting and revise it before sending to my editor for a manuscript assessment, or developmental edit, to tackle the big issues. I revise based on those notes and send it to my illustrator, who pretty much has free reign on the illustrations. We have decided that she’ll do the cover art first, so that I’m not putting pressure on my graphic designer to come up with a cover quickly.
At the same time, it goes to my beta readers and I revise after each of those are received. I send it to one or two final beta readers and then it goes off for proofreading and formatting (I have a formatter now, thank goodness!).
I write short books (about 12,000 words long) but even so the process takes a while. However, they overlap (e.g. I am working on Book 3 while my formatter has Book 1 and my illustrator has Book 2) so schedule-wise it works out wonderfully.

For more information and reflections about my writing process, author mindset and marketing strategies, visit my writer’s blog http://zeesouthcombe.com

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Searching for Summer Book Trailer

If you know me at all, you’ll know I love to chat. Today it’s not about me chatting, it’s about the beautiful trailer for my latest novel, Searching for Summer.

I’ll let it speak for itself.

I hope you enjoy it.

Searching for Summer by Christine Campbell

Searching for Summer

http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00TDYRLGK

A Team Pow Production

http://www.timpowfilms.net

Wild Mountain Thyme – Aimee and Tim Pow

Growing up to be Jo March

I’m delighted to have a guest on my blog today. Author Samantha Dunaway Bryant has been kind enough to visit and introduce herself and her upcoming book to us. The page is yours, Samantha.

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Growing up to be Jo March

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I was always going to be a writer. You know, when I grew up. I had romantic visions of what that meant–mostly drawn from Louisa May Alcott’s Jo March in Little Women. I imagined it involving a lot of time spent alone in a lovely room (preferably a turret with a fireplace) making things up. It may sound solitary, but that was fine with me; I was a solitary child, preferring reading and writing to more raucous types of fun.

Still, I still thought I’d be famous in my own way. Somehow I thought that, if you were a writer, that automatically meant that people would read your work.

There was a lot I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that “growing up” is a relative process and that it was entirely possible to be over forty and still feel as if you’re waiting to be a real grown up.

I didn’t know that making a living solely as a writer was a rarity, and that writing a good story didn’t guarantee anyone would buy it or read it.

I didn’t know that living a writing life would turn out to be so social!

When I was about to turn forty-two, I realized it was time to commit and be a writer, rather than just talking about it. Like one of my characters, Helen describes, “Sometimes, Helen felt like she had spent her whole life waiting to be “old enough” and then had crossed over into “too old” without finding out what is was that she had been waiting for.”

That was me and I didn’t know what I was waiting for. It was time to take myself and my work seriously and give it a real shot. I committed to writing every day and began to finish the things I’d been playing with for years. Then, I started submitting them.

Happily, that means I can tell you that, just before my forty-fourth birthday, my debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel will be published by Curiosity Quills Press (on April 23, 2015). You can preorder the Kindle version already!

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So, now is the social part because I would like to make my living from my writing, like my role model Jo March, and in this day and age, that means finding ways to get readers to notice my book among the many available to their eyes.

It’s been hard for an introvert like me, but I’ve been reaching out to people, making blogger friends, and connecting with other writers. I’ll be holding a launch party for my book at a local independent bookstore (Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill). That makes it all feel very real!

So, now I’m living that childhood dream of being a writer. A published one even! I don’t yet have a writing room in a turret, though I do have a fireplace. I’m managing this with a day job (I teach middle school Spanish) and a family (my children are 15 and 7), so you can bet it’s not easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I may be a little older than Jo March was now, but I’m still a woman of words, just like I always wanted to be.

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Samantha’s book is available to preorder now

at

https://curiosityquills.com/kindle/change/

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