Good Summmer Reads and How to save some Cash!

My mother and I love to read. So essentially we have our own book club. We may get my sister Heather to read (or listen to the audio book version) some of the books too but the best part is talking about what happened in the books. What I would like to do here is share some of my favorite reads (so far) and also share some ways to save costs while still getting to read all the books you want!

My Favorites

  • The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West– There are two books in the series that are currently released (Book 1 – The Shadows; and Book 2 – Spellbound; Book 3 – The Second Spy is released July 5, 2012). These books are great chapter books for kids that love creative story telling.
  • The House of Night Series by P.C. & Kristin Cast I can thank my teenage niece, Tabatha, for getting me hooked on these books! These are a great series for teenagers and adults. I started reading the first book in the series, Marked, because I wanted to make certain what she was reading was appropriate. It was ADDICTIVE! There are currently 10 books published with book 11 due out in October 2012. There are also 2 Novellas that go with the series and are a must read! This mother-daughter team have done a great job of taking a vampire story and putting a whole new twist on it.
  • The Sookie Stackhouse Series (TrueBlood on HBO) by Charlaine Harris– If you have seen True Blood then you know what I am talking about here! The books are way better than the series simply because you can get more Sookie and Bill, or Sookie and Eric, or Sookie and Alcide, or Sookie and…. you catch my drift. The latest book, Deadlocked, was released May 1 and is book 12 in the series. There are so many companion books and short stories that will keep your Sookie appetite satiated for a long time. There is also a book that has a collection of short stories from 4 different authors. Charlaine Harris has one short story in this book, Must Love Hellhounds, as does Ilona Andrews.
  • Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews – Thank you Megan (my hair stylist) for this recommendation! If you love the world of the paranormal, then you have come to the right place! The Kate Daniels series collides the worlds of magic, weres, vampires, and Ilona only knows what else! You will quickly get caught up in the battles Kate faces as a Merc and the passion between Kate and Curran. Currently, there are 5 books released in the series and 2 novellas (one is in the author compilation, Must Love Hellhounds). The next book is due July 2012, however, this book will have Kate’s best Friend Andrea as the main character. The next Kate book is expected to be released in February 2013.
  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins – I am sure you have read the Hunger Games trilogy, right? If you haven’t… you should! Suzanne Collins teaches our youth the perils, sacrifices, and importance of war through her Hunger Games Trilogy. In Gregor the Overlander, she has created an amazing underland in which Gregor has “fallen” into with his 2 year old sister Boots. He quickly gets caught up in a Prophecy and a war. In the Underland, Gregor must go on a quest to find his dad with humans, roaches, a rat, bats, and spiders as his companions. There are 5 books in this series and all are available now.

There are of course so many amazing stories out there so if you have read one you think I may like, please let me know!!!

Saving some Cash!

So, I love to buy a hard copy of a book, turn the pages, and use my beautiful Brighton bookmarks my hubby got me for my birthday! But this can be expensive. Here are some great ways to save on your books this summer.

  • Hard Copy Books – Start with Half Price Books for all books that have already been released. I was able to get the House of Night books for less than $5 each. If you are in a book club or have a friend that likes to read the same kind of books, share books! Don’t forget to check your local library!! If you have finished your book and want to share it with others, donate it to the library. Most libraries have a Friends of the Library component that you can donate your paperback books to and check out others you haven’t read. Great way to save money.
  • eBooks – If you have an eReader of some sort (iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc) then you know the joy have getting your books instantaneously! Here is a little tip that I did not know until about 2-3 months ago. I bought my mother a Nook Color for Christmas and did you know you can “Loan” your Nook books to friends? This is another great way to save money! I have an iPad but got the Nook app so now I can purchase Nook books, borrow, and loan books out to my friends and family! Don’t forget your local library! At most libraries you can now check out books to your eReader! Visit your local library for more information. Prefer to listen to the audio book? There are loads of books available in audio format too.

Whether you purchase a hard copy or on your eReader, I hope you enjoy these books I have recommended and have a wonderful summer!!! Happy Reading!


Here we go again!

So I am getting ready to start the publishing process again with book number two! I am very excited but also very apprehensive. With the first book everything was new and I had NO idea what to do, expect, etc. So am I a little wiser? I would say yes, but that also means I will now worry more too. I know I really need a review of the book but how in the world does that happen? Currently I am trying to get my first book reviewed but the places that provide that service free take forever…if they review you at all. So, if anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them! Also, marketing!! Such an ugly word but vital to my success. How do you reach your readers? Well, I am working on that too. Social networking, book events at schools, book stores, libraries and even using a marketing campaign are all ideas I am trying. Meanwhile, I am pressing on with book number 2!! Yeah!!!

It’s a pre-sale!!!

The day has finally arrived!! My book is now available online for pre-sale purchase!!! The book will not be officially released until October 4, 2011 but you can get your copy today! You can purchase a hardcopy version for $8.99 or, if you prefer your books electronically, the eBook is $5.99!!! I will be working with my marketing rep to get book signings setup so please visit my webpage at to see when and where I will be or to purchase a book! You can also go directly to  to purchase your copy from my publisher, Tate Publishing!! Thank you to everyone for sending all the wonderful words of encouragement, support, and love. I hope you all love the book! Remember, I need to sell 5000 copies so please forward to your friends, families, co-workers, acquaintances, enemies, etc!!! Thanks in advance and HAPPY READING!

I love getting mail!

I went to the mailbox this past Saturday and my stomach was in knots. I was eagerly awaiting my first glimpse at my book. I pulled open the box and removed the contents to find it had finally arrived!!!! My book was here!!!!! I of course ran inside to rip open the envelope and see my hard work and patience in a hard copy format. I woke up my husband (yes he was still asleep) and made him watch me open the envelope….tah dah!!!!! It was truly an amazing moment. I was on cloud nine and have carried it with me all weekend! When my kiddos were all finally home I sat them down to read the book. I would be lying if I said they were as excited as me…they were excited because I was excited but I can tell they really wanted to be playing video games! Do they not get how cool it is to have a book published? Do they not get how cool it is to have a book written with them as the main characters? Apparently not! Maybe I should design a new video game and then I would be super cool mom. Probably not, they would just think that all mom’s are supposed to design video games. No matter, I am not letting that deter my excitement!!! Tomorrow my very cool and wonderful friend Dawn is going to help me record the audio for the eBook. Once we complete that, and once I complete the final proof of the hard copy, I can sit back and wait for my publisher to tell me my book is ready to be purchased. That should happen sometime next month. The book will not be released until September though. I published a new website so everyone can see where the upcoming book signings will be so please visit and share with your friends!!! I plan on being in the DFW area as well!! I hope to see you all and thank you for your love, support, and continued encouragement!

A Photo of Me????

My heart is just leaping out of my chest!!! After a couple of strongly worded emails, and one phone call to the cover designer, I received the first copy of my book (PDF copy of course). It was such an amazing moment that it brought tears to my eyes and happiness to my heart. I have not let my children see it yet! I feel like I just bought them the best new toy and I have to hide it till Christmas. Of course, they won’t react the same way I see them reacting in my head! HA HA. Thank goodness I have my fake memories!

So the layout is done, the illustrations are almost done (two little tweaks), and the front and back covers will be done shortly. So tell me something. If I asked you to send me a photo of yourself that will go on the back cover of a book for all to see….how hard do you think that would be? Well let me tell you, for  me, that was excrucitating! Women are usually so overcritical of themselves which makes it very tough to settle on a photo. Don’t want to look too old, too pale, too close, too far, do I need Botox? etc… All I have to say is Thank Goodness for PhotoShop!!!!

What’s next? By mid June I will have the first hard copy draft version of my book in my hands! I have already started getting promotional material and with that I have created a website to help get the word out! Please go to to see the new site! I have included a link to our Santa’s Calling business ( so please don’t forget us this holiday season!!! The book should be ready for me to get my first copies in July and it should be released in September. Stay tuned!!!!


So, I am gearing up for the book to be finished and cannot help but think about marketing. It sounds like a dirty word…kinda. It really sounds like an overwhelming obstacle! Now, thank goodness my publisher handles most of the marketing for me but I would be foolish to think I do not have to put in just as much work if not more than they do. I mean, who can sell me better than me? Right? Here are some of the things I cannot help but think about: 1. How much time during the week will this take? I only have 2 weeks of vacation you know…till next year when I finally get three!!! 2. I have a list of what to bring to a book signing but until I do that first one…or three… I really do not know what to expect. Exciting but nerve racking! 3. I spoke to a wonderful woman at Barnes and Noble that really helped me understand the booking signing process with them. She also clued me in on another question I had. When you do book signings at schools are you supposed to purchase the books yourself to sell to the kiddos? Her answer was yes and no. You always want to purchase some to have them handy in case you run out during any book signing but book stores like Barnes and Noble (BN) can sponsor your book signing at schools. They purchase the books that will be sold and any left over they have the option to return to the publisher or sell in their store. Now, I know what you are thinking. Who wants their books returned? Well, no one does but you are far more likely to have a sponsor like BN if they know they can return books if they so choose. Otherwise, they are more likely to not sponsor your book signing and you will be left to purchase your books and work hard to get them sold! Also, did you know that not all BN stores do book signings? Well, they don’t. There are usually a few in an area that schedule and host book signings for authors. There is also a New Author Book Signing that is hosted by BN so if you have a book and you are a new author…look them up! 4. There is so much additional marketing material available. I can purchase bookmarks, coloring books, 3D versions of my book, posters, business cards, etc. How do I know what is worth spending the extra cash on? Here is where my teacher friends will come in handy! What do kids like these days? I think the 3D books may be a good idea since 3D movies are so popular right now. I want to purchase bookmarks to give away with the books but what about coloring books? My thought was no. You can get any old coloring book for a $1 why would they (parents) want to spend more on a coloring book? Am I right on this? I think the poster is a great idea because it can go in the windows of a BN a week or two before the book signing or even in the window of a school library.

Well, I can tell you I still have a million more questions but the bottom line is…these are all good problems!

Illustrations are here!!

I was able to preview the first draft of the illustrations today. They were really good! I have provided my feedback on the main characters and cannot wait to get the next round of sketches. So, are you wondering if you really have any input into what the illustrations will be? The answer is simple, YES!!! My illustrator, Jesse, is fantastic. She called me and we went over the book and how she saw the book laid out. To my surprise, her vision was so close to mine! That made me feel like a reader not only got the story but also saw it in their mind the same way I did…without the illustrations. That is an awesome feeling. This phase of the process will take a month and at the end the book will be brought to life! We are getting so much closer to the publication of my first children’s book! I cannot believe I am so close to being a published author. Now, I have to start thinking about sell, sell, sell! That’s a good problem to have!

On to Illustrations!!!

So, if you did not already know, once you have completed your final review of your edits you have to submit a form to the publisher. This form basically states that the final version you are sending is final and no further editing is required. I completed that form and sent a clean copy of my manuscript and VIOLA! Editing completed! This leads us on to the illustrations!!! Once I am put on the schedule my illustrator will call me (or email) and we will begin the illustration process. Now, I have made it very clear that this step in the process is the part that I have been waiting for!! I am so excited and just cannot wait till I hear from them. I look forward to my story being brought to life and to finally “meet” the characters that I have had in my head for over 2 years! It feels a little like you are moments away from meeting a pen pal that you have been corresponding with for years. I wrote the story with my children in mind and I hope that the illustrator can capture them. I am a little curious though for them to read the story and see what the characters look like in their minds. You can see I am ready for this phase in the completion of my book. Ok, enough about illustrations. I was also told that now is a good time to start getting my list of marketing contacts together. While my publisher does set up all of the book signings, media releases, etc. having a marketing contacts list already detailed out will help make the process go smoother (and I hope faster). So, if anyone has any ideas (or contacts) of good places to do a book signing…please let me know!! I do plan on calling the basic locations Barnes & Noble, local elementary schools (and my nephews school in Burleson), libraries, and Learning Express. If you can think of any place I have not listed please let me know!! Thanks in advance!

Ahh…Only Change is Constant!

Just when I think we are hitting a good stride….wham! Change happens. I think that those that can rise to the occasion and see the possibilities and opportunities of change will be successful no matter what comes their way. With that attitude, my editor accepted a position with another company so she could move closer to her family. While I am very happy for her, where does that leave me and my book? It leaves me in the hands of Patrick, my new conceptual editor. I look forward to getting my final draft back this Friday March 11, 2011. Once I review the final draft I will sign off on the book and with any luck we can be added to the schedule for illustrations on the first week in April. JOY!!!! I hope the illustrator will listen to my vision and we can come up with the best illustrations for the book. We are getting closer!!!

So, I want to ask a question. How many of you have been harboring a secret desire to write a book? Since I have made it known that I am finally living one of my dreams, many friends have come and had a million questions on how to get started. While I am certainly no expert, the obvious first response is to GET STARTED!!! I knew nothing about this and while the path I took may not be the path others will take, you will not go anywhere if you don’t get up and start. This has been a very long process and I encourage those that are serious to get a move on it! I will certainly answer any questions you may have but I cannot motivate you…I can encourage and tell you my experience but the motivation is entirely up to you.

The edits have arrived!!!

Ok, so I have been patiently waiting to receive my first real edits from my publisher. While the comments were very minimal, I would be lying if said there was no part of me that secretly hoped it would be perfect the first go round! Now, the edits were very minimal but what they asked me to change was my entire introduction! Ouch. My editor, Briana, stated that the illustrators felt there was not a lot of action to grab a child’s attention. Really? I thought I was setting the stage? Oh, well. C’est la vie! So, my hilarious husband pointed out that she did state, “..unless you violently oppose making changes” we could keep it as is. I am opting to trust the experts here and I made my edits. So, edits have been returned and now we wait. Next up…..ILLUSTRATIONS!!!!!