**Simply Love will be a work published serially. Contemporary romance slash chick lit, this piece will be updated every week. Follow Cadence Mills as her twentysomething life of cocktails and fashion is turned upside down with a family tragedy. Moving to Maplewood isn’t her choice, but could living the simple life put things in perspective…and even lead to love?***
Sometimes putting your dreams aside can lead you to new passions.
Our lives don’t typically change in a formulaic, mapped out fashion. Our lives usually morph because of a fleeting idea, a dancing fantastical whim coaxing us forward onto a new path.
My life changed forever when a whim beckoned me home, or at least to the closest thing I had to home.
I don’t know if I’d call it a whim exactly. Perhaps it was more of a gut reaction, an instinct that it was the right thing to do. In the moment, it seemed like a simple act, simple words. In fact, I upended my entire life with three little words: “I’m coming home.”
It was a mucky Thursday, mud sloshing under my knee-high boots, when the words escaped my lips and transformed my life. Standing under the umbrella the funeral director held above my head, I put an arm around Gram. Squeezing her into me, the soft floral scent of her familiar perfume dancing around me in the midst of the ashy rain smell, I practically whispered the words.
“I’m coming home.”
“What, dear? What do you mean?” Tears danced down her cheek, and her voice cracked from the strain of the day.
It was a bold statement to make backing away from Grandpa Joseph’s grave. Gram’s tears were still flowing, and our hearts were still panging with the heaviness of good-bye. Still, walking away from the graveyard, my frail Gram in my arms, I knew the words were necessary. More than that, I knew the action behind them was necessary.
The words, although genuine, were arguably inaccurate. No wonder poor Gram was confused. Maplewood had never been home for me, not really. It was Gram and Grandpa’s home their entire lives. I’d visited here a few times a year when Mom and Dad were still alive. Growing up, I’d spent holidays in Maplewood, had been here to walk the creek in the summer months every now and then.
But it was never home.
Home for me was with my parents in South Carolina. Home now was in my overly expensive two-bedroom in New York City, the bustle of the nightlife energizing me.
Maplewood would never be home, not physically. The word slipped off my tongue though, perhaps saying more about my situation than I even knew.
Gram was there, my only living family member. Perhaps Maplewood was home after all, even if I didn’t know it yet. How couldn’t it be? That beautiful woman who had saved me during my darkest hour, who had upended her own life to take care of the lost seventeen-year-old I once was, needed me. I owed her.
“I’m moving. I’m coming to live with you.”
e walked toward the hearse, ready to go to the funeral luncheon. I knew it was a formality, but I didn’t know if I wanted to face everyone’s cheerful conversations over ham sandwiches, cookies, and strange punch. I wanted to mourn in peace. I wanted to surround myself with Grandpa Joseph’s favorite things, to talk about him with the only woman who truly knew him—Gram.
“No, honey. You can’t do that. Your life is in New York. You’ve got an amazing job and friends. You can’t,” she said, vehemently shaking her head.
“Gram, it’s not up for debate. It’s done. I’m coming to live with you. I want to do this. Let me do this.”
“I won’t let you do this. I’m fine, dear.”
I opened the door for her and helped her creakily lean down, her bones cracking as she moved her frail bottom across the seat.
Gram let out a loud “umph” as she settled in, and I crawled in beside her. The funeral director shut the door. I wondered if he ever felt awkward, like he was privy to conversations too intimate for funeral director’s ears. Then again, when you handled the dead, perhaps nothing was off-limits or too taboo.
“Gram, listen. It’ll be great. I can talk to Whitney. I’m sure with Skype and things, I could just work from home, work remotely. And it’ll be good. A change of scenery will help with the creative juices.”
“Come on, Cadence. I might be ancient, but I’m not daft. You’re not moving here for a change of scenery. You want to babysit me.”
“It’s not like that, Gram. I know you’d be fine. I just…I miss you. I miss Grandpa. I want to be close to you.”
Sighing, Gram leaned in to give me a squeeze, her cold, bony fingers digging into the soft flesh of my arm. I rested my head on her shoulder like I'd done so many times, the comfort of her familiar yet scratchy sweater soothing me.
“I miss you, too. I just don’t want you changing your whole life for me.”
“Gram, let me do this. Please,” I begged, knowing I’m winning her over.
“Okay,” she said simply, patting my hand. We sat in silence the whole way to the luncheon, thinking about Grandpa, thinking about how frail life is, and thinking about how so much was changing.
For me, though, the big changes hadn’t even begun. I just didn’t know it yet.
I shove the three suitcases into the trunk of my Uber driver’s car. He looks a little annoyed that I’m jiggling and wiggling them into the trunk of his flashy red sports car, but I don’t care. It’s been a long day, and I just want to get to Gram’s house.
My house, I correct myself.
I blow a piece of my hair out of my eye, sliding my sunglasses back down as I plod to the passenger seat. He shuts the trunk as I prepare for the awkward twenty-five minutes of small-talk I’m about to endure.
Mercifully, though, my phone rings. It’s probably rude to answer it, but I don’t care right now. Roger will just have to deal with it.
“Hey, miss me already?” I say into the phone once I pick up.
“Don’t you know it. I still can’t believe you’re gone. This is crazy, Cade, you know that right?”
I exhale. I’ve been through this so many times with Lilly, with Whitney, and with everyone else in my friends’ group in the city.
“It’s the right thing, Lilly. She’s all I have left, and vice versa. I can’t just let Gram live alone.”
“They have places for this sort of thing.”
“I can’t put Gram in a place like that. She’s too feisty for those witchy women there. She’d be evicted in five minutes. Besides, she upended her life for me not that long ago. It’s the least I can do to pay her back.”
“But she was in her seventies when she did that for you, not twenty-six. There’s a big difference.” Lilly’s voice is a tad whiny, as if she can change my mind.
“Lil, I know. But I need to do this. Look, I’ll come back to the city as often as I can. And who knows, once Gram recovers a little from the shock and gets back on her feet, maybe I’ll come back.”
“Well, maybe I’ll find a new roommate by then,” Lilly says into the phone. Her voice tells me she’s smiling.
“Please, I know better. Who the hell else would deal with your obsession with Teen Mom and your messy habits?”
“You’re right. Well, listen. If you’re going to be in another state, at least do some prospecting for me, okay? Let me know how the man market is there. Maybe I’ll have to make a visit out there.”
“If you can’t find a man in New York City, what makes you think you’d find one here, in the middle of nowhere? Pretty sure the pickings will be slim,” I say, accidentally making eye contact with Roger who is at a red light. I wince a little at my implied insult, and turn back to look out my window.
“Well, call me once you get settled in. I miss you already.”
“Miss you too. Don’t worry, I’ll be calling plenty. The biggest thrill here is Dunkin Donuts and Wal-Mart. Seriously. There’s like nothing.”
“Despite the fact I think you’re insane for giving up your awesome, youthful life here in the city, I think you’re doing a nice thing. Your Gram is lucky to have you.”
“Thanks, Lilly. Be sure to harass Stuart for me at work on Monday.”
“Of course. Much love,” she says, and she hangs up. I rest my phone in my lap, feeling sad.
Glancing out my window, I peer at the trees as they pass by, missing the bright lights and crazy traffic already. When I headed for the city at twenty-two, I thought I’d be there forever. I thought the city life would be mine to own for as long as I wanted.
But life changed. I learned early on that life doesn’t always go as plan. Tragedy can strike at any time, and sometimes your life takes an unexpected turn.
Still, as Roger pulls into the familiar driveway, the one-story brick house in view, my Gram waving from the rocker on her front porch, I smile. I miss my friends and our cocktail hours already. I miss the sushi bar down the street from our apartment. I miss the hustle and bustle of the office, of going across the hallway at the office to show Lilly my latest sketch for the new collection. I miss all of the possibility, the exuberant feeling of walking down the sidewalk feeling like I’d achieved my goal.
As I hand Roger cash, though, and tug my luggage out of the trunk, I can’t help but feel hopeful in a new way. Maybe moving to Maplewood will be a new kind of dream, a new kind of possibility. Maybe a new life is waiting right around the corner.
Regardless, I walk onto the porch, rushing into Gram’s arms. “Welcome to Maplewood,” she says as if she’s greeting me for the first time.
In some ways, I guess she is. Because the old Cadence Mills is gone again, her designer heels and sunglasses looking quite out of place in this simple setting.
Welcome to Maplewood, indeed.
TO BE CONTINUED….
As an English teacher and author, I truly believe in the value of literature. Books can teach us lessons we don't always learn on our own. Below, some of the top life lessons I've learned from reading.
1. Love Doesn't Complete You: Their Eyes Were Watching God
I can still hear my AMAZING AP Lit teacher asking: "Is love the answer to happiness?" during our discussion of this book. We learn from Janie Crawford that although love certainly adds depth and meaning to life, you can't base your entire self-worth on a relationship. This book taught me that love is a beautiful thing, but as a woman, I must find my own identity outside of the confines of a relationship.
2. You can't choose love: Crime & Punishment
Sonia and Raskolnikov: a prostitute and a criminal. Quite a pair. However, their undying love for each other goes to show you can't always choose whom you fall in love with. Obviously, falling for the murderous Raskolnikov is less-than-desirable. Nonetheless, beneath the violence and criminality of the book, we see how love can be redemptive...and against our own rational thoughts.
3. Every breath is a gift: A Long Way Gone
Beah's non-fiction memoir shows us how quickly life can change, and how frail life truly is. He reminds us to enjoy every breath, every encounter with a loved one because we never know when things will change.
4. Bravery comes in many forms: The Nightingale
I adore how Vianne and Isabelle both show bravery and courage but in very different ways. This book shows the strength of a woman and how the right choice isn't always obvious.
5. The parent-child relationship is unbreakable: Cry, the Beloved Country
This book is about the impossible lengths one will go to for a child. Even with the bitterly tragic ending, there is hope because the bond will live on through Absalom's son. This book shows that no mattter what, a true parent's love is limitless.
6. Sometimes bad things happen to good people: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Life isn't fair, and Tess certainly shows us this. Her story reminds us that fairness isn't guaranteed in life and helps us deal with this reality.
7. Even in darkness, there is beauty: The Road
McCarthy's gorgeous prose about the apocalyptic, dark world show us that even in sheer ugliness, beauty can shine through. The tender moment over the Coca Cola is a pure example. Even in horrible times, we can find gleaming moments of beauty to appreciate.
8. Trust your own judgement above all else: 1984
1984 taught me to never take information for granted. You must ask questions and constantly assess: "How do I know this is true?" Certainly, the book does induce a sense of paranoia to an extent. However, I think it makes us better citizens by helping us always question truth and motives of those in power.
9. Life's difficulties can help you focus on your dreams: The Last Lecture
When I think of Randy Pausch, I think of the brick walls. I love his metaphor about the walls and how they are there to see how badly we want something. Everytime I hit a roadblock with my goals, I remind myself that they are just a test.
10. Sometimes our goals don't lead to happiness: Frankenstein
Victor thought the monster would be his shining achievement. He feverishly devotes himself ot this one moment of glory but realizes all is not well once he achieves it. Frankenstein reminds us that not every goal is worth pursuing endlessly. We must seek to achieve our desires, certainly, but we must also recognize reasonable limitations and not spend our life consumed by lofty dreams.
What literary lessons have you learned? Share below!
I held you in my arms last night as you struggled to breath, your body weakening as you prepared to let go. Tears were falling, but I tried not to spend our last few hours sobbing. Instead, we put in a movie and cuddled on the couch in your favorite throw, laughing at our favorite scenes. I held you like I’ve done so many evenings, just cuddled in on the couch for a quiet night.
I thought about all of our moments, good and bad. I remembered the first time I saw you at that animal rescue. I had spent hours looking for a new friend to replace my sweet black cat who had died too young. I pet cat after cat, my husband trying to selling me on a kitten. Then, you crawled out, all seventeen pounds of you, and I knew you were it.
My husband tried to convince me you were too old to adopt at thirteen, that you wouldn’t live long. He was looking out for my heart, knew I shouldn’t have to go through a loss again potentially soon. It was sealed, though. One look at you, and I knew you were meant to be mine. You’d recently lost your home because your elderly owner had been sent to a nursing home. We brought you home and settled you in.
It took you a while to trust us. You were scared and hid for weeks. I thought maybe I’d made a mistake, that you wouldn’t be the cat to soothe my already cracked heart. But slowly, the weeks passed by and you started coming around. Before too long, you were cuddling with me on the couch, watching Netflix. You were claiming a favorite spot in the kitchen on our coffee cup mat by the fridge. You were meowing every day I came home and trudging up the steps at bedtime to cuddle. You were through happy days and sad days, for holidays and parties. You were there waiting for cupcakes, your favorite snack—just like Henry. You were cuddling with our other kittens even though you preferred to sleep on the couch alone. You were sweet and loving, an innocent, unconditional love always in your eyes.
Last night, I thought about the not so great moments, too. The moments when I was so busy with the ins and outs of life that I didn’t stop to pet you, to give you a treat, or to spend time with you. I think about all the rushing around and the making plans when I should’ve been on the couch with you. I think about how in the last week I took so much for granted, thought you’d be here forever. Even in that regret, though, I see the beauty of you. I see how you reminded me how fragile life is, how we can never take a moment for granted. I will carry that lesson with me.
I put you in your cat bed last night and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I said good-bye. This morning, you were wheezing, barely breathing, so we had to make the worst decision ever. We had to help you along to the other side, had to take you to the vet for one final car ride. The whole way there, you just laid in my arms, breathing your final breaths. I thought about everything I’m going to miss about you. I thought about the huge hole in my heart from the seventeen-pounds of black fur that won’t be here to greet me anymore. I thought about all the memories we won’t make.
But I also thought about all the memories we did make. I thought about how for the past two and a half years, you helped us make our house a home, our group of random animals a family. I thought about how now, you’ll get to the other side, how maybe your previous owner is waiting for you. I thought about how lucky I was to get you for a small piece of your life and a small piece of mine.
I thought about how now you’re running free, eating cupcake after cupcake and chasing birds and sleeping on a kitchen rug just like ours. I thought about how hopefully, years and years from now, you’ll save a cupcake for me and we’ll get to do our favorite thing—just be together.
I will miss you forever, Bob. Thank you for reminding me that life isn’t about money or crazy social lives or fame. It’s about being content with what you have, about being grateful for those in your life, and for never taking for granted a simple night on a sofa with the ones who matter most.
Author: Lindsay Detwiler
Title: Where Love Went: Holiday Special
Series: Sequel to Then Comes Love
A Where Love Went Companion Short
All platforms: books2read.com/wlwholiday
With the holidays in full swing, it's not long before the drama and hilarity unfold for Charlotte, Annie, and Ameila.
Join the mayhem as this year's festivities unravel.
Where Love Went: Holiday Special is a companion short and is not intended as a standalone. To fully appreciate and understand the events, Where Love Went must be read first.
FREE DOWNLOAD LINKS
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OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES
A high school English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink and/or glittery, Lindsay's the English teacher cliché; she love cats, reading, Shakespeare, and Poe.
She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, and Bob; and their Mastiff, Henry.
Lindsay's goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows she's done her job.
Lindsay's hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Two simple words that conjure horror-like images and feelings in any writer. The thought of the ideas ceasing to flow, the words not sitting right on the page--it's terrifying. The worst part about it is it can come at any time...and sometimes it feels like it will last forever.
Writer's block is something you can choose to overcome, however. Whether you're a blogger, a novelist, or an aspiring author, there are simple ways I've found to beat the block.
1. Go for a walk.
I heard many authors talk about this and thought it was rubbish...until I tried it.
There's something about fresh air and quiet that stirs the creativity. I've had some of my best ideas developed while walking, and I've solved many plot holes during a stroll with Henry. Get out of the house and take in the peace and quiet. You'll be surprised--sometimes the ideas you need are there already. You just need a space to listen to them.
2. Switch to another work.
When I feel myself losing steam on a novel, I'll briefly switch to an article, a blog post, or even a short story. Sometimes mixing the genre up can help, too. Just make sure you don't take too long of a break and you do go back to it. Sometimes setting it aside for a short period of time, though, can jog your creativity.
3. Talk about your plot holes/ issues with a trusted friend.
Sometimes writer's block happens just because you have a difficult plot situation or issue to deal with. Writer's block is our way of putting the problem aside because we don't know how to fix it. I've found talking through the plot can sometimes lead to an idea.
My husband is not a writer or even a reader. However, I've solved many plot issues and got "unstuck" on a story just by talking about it with him. Sometimes a person who isn't deeply involved in the writing can help you see a solution you couldn't. It is hard to be objective as a writer--we are our own worst critics. A fresh eye might or listening ear may be able to help you overcome doubt and confusion, which can ultimately help you beat writer's block.
4. Read a book.
If you can't write, do the next best thing--do some reading. I think of each book I read, no matter what genre, as research and skill building for my writing. Every book teaches me new techniques, new styles, and new ideas. It's nice to step into the reader's perspective now and then. So take a break from your writing and do some reading. You might just find it inspires you to get back to it.
5. Keep your goals in mind.
When I get frustrated and want to succumb to writer's block, I think about my writing goals. I think about all of the successes I've had so far, and I usually get inspired to push through.
Writer's block can be crippling. It can make you question your dedication, your skill, and even your reasons for writing. However, keeping a bulletin board with your goals, dreams, and writing aspirations can help you remain focused. Writer's block happens to all of us. It is the truly dedicated author, however, who can push through to get to the other side.
Lindsay Detwiler is the author of five contemporary romance novels, a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post, and a high school English teacher. Visit her on Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I married the funny guy.
I didn’t necessarily mean for it to happen . In 7th grade, though, he stole my heart with his class clown tendencies and ability to make me laugh. I can still picture the day I, Miss Goody Two-Shoes, got in trouble in history class because my now-husband made a joke about the teacher’s drawing on the board.
Since the beginning, he’s known just what to say to make me laugh, even if I don’t like to admit it. He’s the one at parties and gatherings telling stories to get the group laughing. He’s the one I can’t stay angry at because he knows just how to soften my mood with a punchline.
Being married to the funny guy isn’t always glamorous. Frequently, I’m asking him if he’s capable of taking anything seriously. Still, I must admit there are benefits, as with anything in life, to marrying a guy with a killer sense of humor.
1. Life is hard. Laughter makes it easier.
Bills, work, illnesses, adult drudgery—growing up isn’t easy. Life is filled with tough moments and hardships. Having a man by my side who can lighten the mood, who can make me truly laugh even on the worst day has helped alleviate the melancholic undertones life sometimes provides. Even when I’m crying because of a terrible day, he knows how to make me smile and realize things aren’t completely awful.
2. He is often the life of the party.
As an introvert, this is a benefit for me. I’m the girl at parties who is awkwardly admiring the cheese platter in an attempt to avoid small talk. My husband is the one steering me toward a group of new people as he enchants them with his hilarious re-tellings of the time we got lost on the way to the zoo, the time I choked on burnt pork chops, or the time he tried Pilates for the first time. Having a man who’s able to direct our social interactions and brighten even the dullest party is a plus for a socially awkward person like me.
3. He makes even the mundane task exciting.
Last week, we had two vet appointments in the same week—these things happen when you are a bit of a cat collector. Even the boring task of waiting in the reception area for an hour was bearable because he was cracking jokes the entire time. From weird jokes at Walmart to the dentist’s office, I’m never bored thanks to his ability to find humor in even the most tedious task.
4. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.
My horrific cooking and navigation skills are often the source of my husband’s joke-telling. Still, he’s also not afraid to poke fun at himself. He’s not so full of himself he can’t take a joke or even make a joke about himself. His humility in the form of humor makes him down-to-earth. We never feel in competition with each other because neither of us has an ego so serious we can’t laugh at our own blunders.
5. It’s hard to stay mad at him.
When we’re fighting, this doesn’t always feel like a benefit. Nonetheless, his ability to crack any argument with a joke is a gift. Even when I’m so mad at him I can’t even breath, he is able to assuage the situation with a one-liner or a ridiculous joke.
6. He can turn even your worst moment into an amateur comedy routine.
I’m a major worrier and perfectionist. When I’m devastated about a simple mistake or feeling like my life is over, he’s there to make even the worst thing seem like a joke.
7. No one ever feels awkward in our home.
He makes everyone feel comfortable by making a joke out of any awkward situation. One time, we had friends over who had brought a bottle of wine. It was right after we moved in, and I was humiliated because we didn’t own a wine cork. Instead of trying to avoid the conversation, Chad just owned it and made a huge joke about it. Even the most awkward moments are smoothed over because he’s able to help everyone laugh it off.
8. He doesn’t get mad about the little things.
A flat tire because I backed into the curb.
A cracked patio table because I left the umbrella up.
A ruined hardwood floor because I left a wet mop on it.
I have made my share of mistakes, especially when it comes to household tasks. I struggle with being a grownup, as does my husband. While some men get frustrated over wasted money or household issues or broken items, my husband doesn’t. He sees the humor in everything from a shattered glass table to the time the refrigerator door handle popped off in his hand. His ability to shrug off the small stuff—even when it doesn’t feel small—helps us keep perspective in life and be thankful for the things we’re blessed with.
9. His humor is a gift in a sometimes bleak world.
It’s not just me who benefits from his optimism and ability to laugh off the small stuff. I see his interactions with everyone and how he brightens so many days. From a sick relative recovering from illness to an elderly lady in the grocery store, his gift for humor is shared with so many people. I see the way he can bring a smile to a devastated face or make someone laugh who hasn’t had much going right. His ability to make others smile is something I admire in him.
10. Looks, strength, and even smarts can fade—a good sense of humor usually doesn’t.
Muscles might soften with age, and even intelligence can dim as the years go by. However, I know his sense of humor will probably be going strong, even when we’re old and gray. Even when I can’t remember every story anymore or when our lives are winding down to the final chapters, I know I won’t be afraid or regretful. Instead, I’ll be smiling at his jokes, at his ability to see the humor in it all, up until the very end.
Marrying the funny guy doesn’t guarantee a lifetime of blissful happiness or easy travels through the treacherous journey called life. It does, however, promise a lifetime of smiling even when you feel like crying, of finding the humor in the most difficult hurdles, and of having fun when it seems impossible.
I think these are gifts we can only hope to have in marriage, in love, and in life in general.
It’s no secret that the past week has been filled with shock, rage, fear, and anger from all sides. With the election aftermath, it’s easy to fall prey to the idea that America is falling apart and that there is no goodness left in the world. After watching all of the angry speeches, riots, and divisions, it’s easy to believe there’s no sense in even trying anymore—goodness is gone.
Fear and hate seem to have become our rhetoric, and so many have given up on the belief they can make the world a better place.
I’m not a political person, and I don’t claim to take a side in the election debates, debacles, and debauchery. I’m simply here to say that no matter who is running the country or what side of the political spectrum you land on, goodness can still prevail.
In the past week, despite the media frenzy about how things are falling apart, I’ve still seen goodness.
I see goodness in my high school classroom when my students help each other, offer a kind word of encouragement, or put their best foot forward in their academic careers. I see their hearts when we talked about a charity in Kenya and they wanted to help. I see goodness when they discuss the future and their role in shaping the world. I see goodness when I think about their compassionate, accepting hearts pursuing their dreams and finding ways to impact the world.
I see goodness in strangers as they put money into the red kettles that have already appeared across our town. I see goodness in the food drive at my church when people gather to help our neighbors in need. I see goodness in the neighbor who rakes our leaves just to be kind. I see goodness in the driver who lets me go first because she isn’t in a hurry or in the man in the grocery store who lets the busy mother of three go ahead of him. I see kindness in every person who holds a door for another, in the waitress who smiles as my grandfather asks “what” for the tenth time. I see kindness in the hospital nurse reassuring a patient or in the stranger in the Emergency Room looking out for the ill woman beside her. I see goodness in the selfless empathy of people.
I see goodness in my friends mothering their children, teaching them to be kind, giving, compassionate individuals. I see goodness in their teaching of principles such as acceptance, love, and respect.
I see goodness in the news. I see goodness in the story of a ten-year-old girl who chooses to do random acts of kindness, reminding us all that we have the power to change the world. She takes away our excuses, our fear, our tendency to say “it’s not possible” by showing us just how much power we have to make a difference.
Despite all the negativity surrounding our country, I still see the possibility to achieve, to dream, and to make a difference.
Some may call it naïve. Some may say because I am not a part of specific groups I cannot claim fear shouldn’t exist or that dreams are still alive. I get that, and I appreciate that.
Still, I think we can choose to overcome if we’re willing to work together and as individuals. I may not control the country. I may not control our governmental decisions or policies. I do, however, control my own actions. I control how I view other people. I control how I spend my time—wallowing in pity and despair, or getting off the couch and trying to help others. I can choose to believe in goodness, and I can choose to advocate for that goodness through meaningful actions.
We cannot use the election, the government, or the media’s focus on negativity as an excuse to give up on a better world. We cannot give up on goodness, and we cannot succumb to the pessimistic bubble that says evil prevails.
We must make a personal choice, each and every one of us, to believe in possibility, to be optimistic, and to get up and devote ourselves to making the world better.
We cannot let go of the great American vision to better our tomorrows by dedicating our lives to protecting our values at all costs. We cannot let go of the dream of goodness, of selfless giving, and of peace, no matter how hopeless things can sometimes seem.
Lindsay Detwiler is the author of five novels and a high school English teacher.
My husband is amazing. Seriously.
For our five-year anniversary, he got me tickets to go see Keith Urban in Hershey, PA...and he got us great seats. What's more...the concert was on his own birthday. And he's not a fan of country, concerts, or sexy Australian rockers :)
Keith Urban was truly amazing! I love how he interacts with his fans, pulling up a local girl to sing with him and giving a signed guitar to a young boy in the audience. I love that he goes all in for his concert, obviously exhausted by the end because he pours so much into his performance. I love his songs. Plus, I love his accent and tattoos.
I definitely have some writing inspiration now for the sexy men in my romance novels :)
Thanks to my husband for willingly paying to take me to ogle my country man crush. <3
You've achieved that goal--you have your first published work! And now, a second dream is coming true--your first book signing or author event.
It's thrilling to see your hard work pay off and your dreams come true. Seeing the sign on the door of your venue or bookstore is surreal. However, once the shock and excitement wears off, you might have one big, daunting question: What the hell do you do now?
I can remember seeing my picture on my local Barnes & Noble for my first book signing. In some ways, I couldn't rationalize that it was actually my picture. It felt like a dream because it had been a goal for so long. Once I got over the initial shock, though, panic set in. I didn't feel like a "real" author. I had no idea what I was supposed to do at a book signing. What if people showed up expecting a "real" author smoothly talking about plot arcs and characterization?
Or even worse, what if no one showed up at all?
Luckily, I had an amazing team of support to quell my fears, to offer me a Pepto Bismol when I felt like I was going to vomit from nerves, and to make sure I wasn't sitting all alone at a lonely, empty table. My first event went so well, and over the past few years, I've found myself getting less nervous for author events.
I'm still no expert. I still have my socially awkward "What do I do?" moments. I still shy away from the spotlight and lack confidence I should have in my salesmanship. Nonetheless, over quite a few author events, I've learned some tips I wish I had known when I first started.
1. Take a team who know your books with you.
Especially if you're on the introverted side, pitching your work to strangers can be intimidating. There are so many sales' techniques that go into a book writing career. You do have to be able to sell your work to strangers. I found this intimidating. Having friends or family members who know your book and can objectively tell others about it will help you out if you freeze up.
My husband is naturally extroverted and has an easier time talking to people. He's always right by my side during events because he helps make up for my shyness. He gets people talking and feeling comfortable; I've found sometimes customers are shy and nervous to approach.
Also, having a team with you is a confidence boost. It helps you to have fun, to realize it's all okay, and to not have to awkwardly look busy if there aren't any people approaching your table.
2. Practice your two sentence pitch.
Your goal at book events is always to gain new fans. If you can sell to one new reader, you've been successful.
Strangers who approach you at signings typically have a few questions in common
It seems crazy, but sometimes as an author, it is so hard for us to boil our stories down to a quick description. We spend so much time elaborating on characters and settings that when we're asked to take it back to the basics, we stumble.
Prepare a few sentences that describe your book. That way, you can give potential customers an idea. Typically, people feel awkward reading the back of the book when you're right there. Having a quick pitch to pique their interest will help you seem more confident. I've also found as a new author it helps to have comparison authors. "Readers compare my work or writing to___insert familiar author name____" can give readers a point of reference. Just make sure you're being honest. I always say my stories are similar to stories in the Nicholas Sparks' genre. I don't claim to be Nicholas Sparks, however.
3. Have attractive giveaways or freebies.
People like free stuff. Period.
Attract new readers to your table with giveaways and freebies. I use Vistaprint to make paper products like postcards with all my covers and business cards. Bookmarks with your book cover are useful; I like Overnight Prints or Print Runner.
Try to have a few unique items to giveaway, too. Make a few grocery totes on a photo website to give to the first few customers. I have had pins made on Etsy shops. I also have made my own bottlecap magnets by printing out pictures of my books and using Mod Podge to create magnets. These were really popular. Get creative. Think about what you would like to use. Don't limit yourself to book covers, either; you can use quotes from your book to adorn totes, bags, shirts, etc.
The goal is to make people remember you.
Tell everyone about your event weeks in advance, and send reminders a few days before. Don't be shy! The best way to ensure a good turnout is to take the initiative to invite people. Treat it almost like a party! Create a Facebook event page, send out flyers, and email relatives. Spread the word.
When strangers see your author table crowded, it helps reassure them that you're a good writer and worth their time. The more people at your event, the more likely you are to sell to strangers.
5. Ask for spellings of names.
When personalizing books you sign, don't be afraid to ask for spellings. I have everyone spell their name just because you never know if someone has a unique spelling. People aren't offended by this; they like that you want to get it right.
Don't know what to write in a book? Come up with a few common sayings you can tweak. I like to write something like "It was great to meet you!" People like the idea that if you get big, they will have a personalized book saying they met you. Also, date every book.
If you are super stumped, ask the purchaser what they would like you to write. If nothing else, just put their name and sign your name with the date.
6. Dress to be confident and comfortable.
You will be standing a lot. Wear comfortable shoes. Trust me.
I usually get a new outfit for each event because I want to feel confident. Find something that makes you feel good so self-consciousness isn't added to your nervousness. I always wear a dress to show readers I'm taking things seriously. I like to dress professionally to show my professional attitude toward my writing.
7. Be realistic in your goals.
Even J.K. Rowling had a few empty book events when she first started. Don't panic if you have an event where you only sell one or two copies. I've had quite a few events where I was lucky to sell two books. I've also had events where I sold over fifty copies in a few hours. All sorts of things like schedules, weather, time, and advertising can affect your turnout. Don't take it to heart if you have a sparse event.
Also, if you are a new writer, realize people are hesitant to spend hard-earned cash on a newbie. With each book you publish, it gets easier. People trust someone with a backlist. I've seen many more strangers willing to invest in my work now that I've released five books versus when I had only written one. Give yourself time to grow a fan base.
At the end of the day, you've done something few can say they've accomplished. Celebrate that. My husband always tells me even if only one person buys my book, that's one person who is reading words I made up. That's pretty exciting.
Celebrate each small victory and appreciate the journey. I know that's easier said than done, but be patient. Your time will come if you just keep at it.
8. Just smile and be yourself.
You don't have to know what you're doing. Seriously. Tell people it's your first event. Tell people you're still getting used to the author title. People like genuine. People like personality. It's okay to not be perfect.
Just be friendly, be yourself, and the rest will fall into place.
Have a question about books, writing, or the author journey? Let it in the comments and I will address it in a future blog post! Thanks for reading, and let me know how your signings go!
1. Avoid "is" and "was" when possible.
Linking verbs weaken the power of your words and the movement of your piece. Look back at your writing. Eliminate "is," "was," and any other being verbs from your work when possible.
2. Use metaphors and similes creatively.
The key is to create description that your readers can relate to and say "Oh yes, I get what the writer's saying here" while also writing a memorable, unique idea. Metaphors and similes can allow you to create standout connections that are memorable. Push yourself past the first simile and metaphor your create in order to avoid common ideas. So many people might write that something is as "cold as ice." How can you be different? What else comes to mind when you think of the meaning you are trying to get across?
Use comparisons others will connect with but maybe haven't connected to your subject matter.
3. Think about all five senses.
We often rely solely on sight and sound when trying to describe something. Go beyond. Can you capture the smell of the scene? Taste? Touch? Try to make the scene a full-body experience for the reader to the point it would be fitting.
4. Reconsider your verbs, not your adjectives.
Novice writers try to jam adjectives into their piece to add description. Adjectives, however, typically fall flat, especially when you string them in a line. Verbs are the most powerful way to kick up your description. Instead of walking, does your character saunter, trod, parade, march, skip, or dash? Think about verbs that can convey the emotion you are trying to capture. Verbs keep your writing moving and exciting. Next time you write a piece, go back through and circle your verbs. Then, try to challenge yourself to up your word choice.
Check out Pinterest for great posts about word replacements. I have several word pins on my Creative Writing Board for you to check out.
5. Focus on the smallest detail you can while still capturing the emotion.
Lindsay Detwiler, Author
Contemporary Romance Author and English teacher blogging about life as a modern woman: books, makeup, marriage, and style
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