Happy Autumn

Yes, it’s that magical time of the year when the weather cools and spirits invigorate from the break of summer heat! Though months have passed since I last posted, I’ve been productive in other avenues, like writing a new manuscript and working on edits on the multi-book Gothic Horror.

Now that I’m in between projects, I’m taking a week or two to catch up on long over-due things like blogging, cleaning, and organizing. This year has been one of creativity and my living spaces showcase that artistic chaos. The next few posts will feature some highlights from this past year, like new tidbits about Fortitude and Corroded. To start things off, here’s the newest item: a photo from my recent book signing at Christmas Jubilee market hosted by Mobile’s Junior League at the Mobile Convention Center.

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Autism Awareness Month

No matter where you stand, education about something that touches the lives of one out of every sixty-eight people (or more) is important.

One of my favorite autism shirts.

One of my favorite autism shirts.

As a spectrum disorder, no two journeys are the same. The more stories the world hears, the better.

Share your journey or the story of someone you love whenever possible.

Awareness lead to acceptance.

To read more about autism, check out the different categories of my posts in the sidebar of my website, or start here.

Besides writing about autism-related topics on this blog from time to time, I wrote Corroded, which releases April 12, 2016. Corroded tells the story of neuro-typical Mary and Ben, who is on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum. I hope the book will entertain, as well as enlighten people about living with–and loving someone with–autism.

Who do you love with autism?

Guest Post: Jaded Love Tour

Today I’m pleased to host fellow Anaiah Press authors, Kara Leigh Miller and Jody Holdford. Last year I enjoyed the first book in The Mending Hearts series, Dangerous Love, and now they are celebrating the release of book two: Jaded Love.
JadedLove_Holford-Miller_KINDLE-NOOK

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

by

Kara Leigh Miller & Jody Holford

 

“A Picture is worth a thousand words” is a phrase originally credited to Frederick R. Barnard in reference to the effectiveness of graphics in advertising. Later, he then attributed it to a Chinese proverb. Regardless of who first said it, this is really a very powerful sentiment, even for writers.

 

As authors, words are our currency. We spend our days, nights, weekends, (every spare moment) make our living by playing with words. We string them together to create new worlds and people, to create situations and invoke emotions that will (hopefully) resonate with readers. We agonize over each word choice, each sentence, each paragraph until we feel it’s the absolute best it can be. But what people might not realize is that readers are also very visual people. We have the ability to visualize our characters, our settings, our books! They often play out like movies in our minds.

 

Sometimes, seeing an image can spark an idea for a new scene or some new dialogue. So, to help keep us motivated, to stave off writer’s block, and to assist in our promotional efforts, we utilized a lot of visual aids — namely, stock photos of our characters and our settings. It helped us solidify them in our minds and they worked wonders in keeping us both on the same page as far as writing descriptions. Jody even created a Pinterest board for Jaded Love, which you can visit here: https://www.pinterest.com/jholford/jl/

 

Today, we’re sharing some of these pictures with all of you so that you can see how we’ve always envisioned Jackson, Kristy, and the world that is Jaded Love. Hopefully they’ll resonate with you as they did with us.

 

Meet Jackson Reed… We always imagined him as this tall, somewhat imposing, closed off tough guy detective. He’s generally sporting some days’ old stubble because he’s a workaholic, but deep down, he’s got a heart of gold. The snippet is Kristy’s first impression of him.

 

Jackson darker

This is Jackson and Kristy’s first kiss, which takes place during a singles dance hosted by Pastor Ethan and his church. When the evening started, neither of them expected a kiss, so it certainly took them by surprise, but as soon as it happened, they knew there was no going back.

 

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An important part of Jaded Love is the group therapy sessions that Jackson and Kristy attend in the basement of the church. Even though it’s an emotionally intense thing that they go through, we’d always envisioned it as a small, close-knit, supportive group.

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Even though we deal in words, pictures are often just as important, and to us, they really do speak a thousand words.

Jody Holford_ Author Pic

Jody Holford

 

Kara Leigh Miller

Kara Leigh Miller

Thanks for stopping by, ladies! I loved visuals, too. As a bonus, this tour is hosting a giveaway. ENTER TO WIN A $25 Amazon Gift Card: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/527093932/

Find Jaded Love on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jaded-Love-Mending-Hearts-Book-ebook/dp/B018HS72VG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453766083&sr=1-2&keywords=jaded+love

And on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28378045-jaded-love?from_search=true&search_version=service

To see more posts about Jaded Love check out the full tour: https://anaiahpress.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/follow-the-jaded-love-blog-tour/

Spotlight on Jacqueline

Today I’m happy to share a Question and Answer session I had with another Anaiah Press author, Jackie Minniti. Her middle grade historical novel, Jacqueline, was one of my favorite reads in 2015. It’s now available in print as well as e-formats.

JacquelineWere you nervous about how family/friends would feel about reading a fictionalized account of a treasured family tale?

No, not at all! In fact, my dad, a 99-year-old WWII veteran whose experience inspired the story, had been asking me to write a book about Jacqueline for years. It was the only war story he was willing to share, and it became part of our family lore. I tried to explain to him that although our family loved the story, there wasn’t enough material for a book and no general audience for it. Then a chance encounter with a guest at my son’s wedding sparked a “Eureka!” moment. A man who’d been sitting with my dad came up to me. “I hear you’re a writer,” he said. “Your father’s been telling me the most amazing story. You should write a book about it.” I began to tell him why it couldn’t be done, but he interrupted me. “I have a daughter in 6th grade. She doesn’t know anything about WWII. She’d love to read a book like this, and it would help her learn history.” To this day, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to write the story for younger readers, especially since I’d taught middle school reading for so many years and Jacqueline was the same age as my students. But once I started looking at the story from that perspective,the plot began to form and I couldn’t wait to start writing.

 

Which character was the hardest to write about? Why?

I’d have to say that it was Yvonne Jamet, the young French “collaborateur” who was keeping company with the Nazi soldier. She was a controversial character because she was considered a traitor and was hated by Maman and the adults in the story, but Jacqueline saw her softer, more vulnerable side and had conflicted feelings about her. Since younger readers tend to see characters as either good or bad, I tried to present Yvonne as more of a “gray” character so they’d have to make their own decisions about her. It was a real effort to keep my personal feelings about Yvonne from leaking into my writing.

 

What are some of the most interesting historical tidbits you came across in your research?

As a Baby Boomer, just one generation removed from WWII, I was surprised at how little I really knew about this historical period. I’d read a lot about the Holocaust and the plight of the Jews in Germany, Poland, and Austria, but there wasn’t as much written about France during that time. I learned that there was a sizable Jewish population in Rennes, and that many French Jews were sent to Drancy, a “transit camp” outside Paris that was actually a temporary stop on the way to the death camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. I was also amazed at the hardships the French endured under the occupation – food rationing, curfews, censorship, air raids, constant surveillance. It renewed my appreciation for the freedom we enjoy here in America. And I can’t express the depth of my admiration for the bravery and sacrifice of the American troops who fought so valiantly to defeat the evil that was Nazi Germany. Most of them were mere boys, many away from home for the first time, and yet they transformed history and secured freedom for millions of people. They truly were the Greatest Generation.

 Jackie

Did the story go as planned or did you write some surprises?

Since Jacqueline is based on a true story, most of it went as planned. But some of the characters took unexpected turns. The biggest change from my original vision was the fate of the Bergiers. Since I don’t want to spoil the ending, I’ll just say that I originally planned something more catastrophic but decided it might be too intense for the younger readers.

 

What’s been the most rewarding part of Jacqueline being published?

I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author for as long as I can remember. The submission process was difficult and stressful, but it was all worth it when I was offered the contract from Anaiah Press. They’ve been extremely professional and a pleasure to work with. But the most rewarding part of the entire experience was putting that first copy of Jacqueline in my father’s hands. It was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life.

 

Ready for more?

Check out http://www.jackieminniti.com/

and

For More Stops On The Tour, Click Here.

Christmas Blessings

Christmas cheer goes a long way, especially when unpacking from a trip the day before Christmas. While off on a magical vacation this past week I received equally exciting news: Fortitude is an official nominee for the Whitney Awards!

Whitney Nominee 1

Finalists will be announced in February, so if there is any more Whitney Awards news to share, that’s the next time it will happen.

Keep in mind the paperback edition of Fortitude will be released in eleven days. I know some of you have been holding out for a print copy–thank you for your patience. Once you’ve read it (either digital or print), please leave a short review online where you purchased it or at a book review site. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads are the most viewed locations but any place is great. Reviews go a long way, and even just one sentence is wonderful. Word of mouth goes a long way, too. Please recommend it to your book-loving friends and family.

Happy Christmas to all!

P.S. In case you missed it, here’s a link to the complete listing of all the stops on Fortitude‘s blog tour over the past two weeks. Lots of insight and tidbit about the book and why/how I wrote it.

Expand Your Horizons

Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month is past the halfway mark. Have you seen an increase of understanding around you? My blue hair has provided more opportunities to discuss autism with others, so I’m glad I was brave enough to try it this time.

Me, on World Autism Day.

Me, on World Autism Day.

I scrolled through some old posts and came across this one from two years ago—the then nameless Fernando has been making an appearance on the blog for that long. This is a timely find, because it talks about my two manuscripts that are now under contract for publishing in 2016, and it explains where I got my line, “Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.” It doesn’t seem like Fernando has grown much, but it’s more than doubled in size.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando today, April 2015.

Fernando today, April 2015.


Seeing these photos today reminded me of my teen on the spectrum. Just like my son, Fernando is always responding to his environment. Outside stresses, like weather, can cause disturbances to growth and adaptability, while appropriate nutrients and habitat can promote expansion. Sometimes, the rate of my son’s maturing seems laboriously slow, but if I think back to how he was two (or more) years ago, I can see how far he’s come.

Fernando can be used as a personification of my writing, as well as a symbol of human needs and growth. What can your fern do?

If you don’t have a Fernando of your own, go find one and nurture your creativity.

Global Autism

Today is one of those controversial days, this month sometimes less than joyful.

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and April is dubbed Autism Awareness Month. (Yes, April is also National Poetry and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but allow me to focus on one for a bit, please.)

There are some in the autism community that despise this month, this day especially, because they don’t agree with some of the organizations that have over-run things with their own agendas and publicity. No matter what some groups have done, this month is still be a great opportunity to share your stories—whether your own or your family’s—and bring to light the joys and frustrations of life on the autism spectrum.

Today, I’m wearing blue, and all month I’m sporting a bit of blue hair and an Autism Awareness ribbon. These visual tokens give me conversation starters to share with others about my own family’s journey, as well as direct people to great advocates on the spectrum like John Elder Robison, Dani Bowman, Erin Clemens, and A.S.P.I.E.

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Over the coming weeks, I’ll share a few more autism-related posts (including literary news you’ll want to stick around to hear.)

As for the other worthy cause, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I highly suggest reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Several different times she and her publisher helped raise money for RAINN in April. One year I donated to RAINN and Laurie, in return, donated to Autism Society of America. A win-win situation of awesomeness.

Now I’ll branch over to the National Poetry Month. Here’s a haiku I just wrote about some of the feelings one might deal with on the spectrum:

All thoughts are spinning
Mind, body, crowded senses
Breathe, wrap me in weight.

What are you passionate about this month?