Category Archives: Books

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Goodbye, Magnolia | Launch Team


As the release date for Goodbye, Magnolia nears (the date will be announced soon!), I am looking for some of you to team up with me to share all the excitement surrounding the book launch. Self publishing a book is so much work and being a one woman show is hard. Besides writing the book, which is a huge task in and of itself, I’m responsible for every other step of this process – editing, proofreading, layout, ebook formatting, etc. And on top of all that, I get to be my own marketing team, which is so overwhelming for someone who is very much an introvert. So I’d love to have some of my blog friends (like YOU!) on my team. You’ll get to read the book months before anyone else and give me some valuable feedback and input. So …

Would you like to join my LAUNCH TEAM?

I’m looking for …
– readers who are familiar with my writing.
– readers who will enthusiastically share, share, share about the new book.
– those who are active on social media.
– bloggers with a dedicated following whose readers would enjoy the book.
– book club participants whose group would like to read the book.
– those willing to give promotional materials to friends, family, everyone!

You don’t have to fit into all of those categories. I’m looking for a variety of people, who will share in different ways. Most importantly, I want people on my team who are passionate about books and reading and want to help me spread the word about this book that is so special to me.

What you get as a member of the team
– a digital ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the book in PDF format
– an eBook copy of the final book before release
– a signed paperback copy of the book before release
– Access to a private Facebook group just for the team, where we can chat, get to know each other, talk about the book, and you can be a part of the whole process of self-publishing.
– Fun giveaways within our team!

What I’m asking of you
– Read and review the book online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc. the week of the book launch.
– Spread the word any way you can during the week of the book launch (Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., blog a review of the book if you have a blog, pass out bookmarks (will be provided), tell friends, etc.)
– Interact with the launch team, introduce yourself, ask questions, enjoy!
– Ask your local library to carry the book.
– Let me know if you have any other ideas for spreading the word.

Are you IN?
If you want to join the team, please CONTACT ME for more information.

A big THANK YOU in advance!

Let’s DO THIS! Yeah!

put it out there



While browsing through my old posts, I came across one written on June 3, 2005, the night I went to see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie. I loved that book series and I remember loving the movie. One other thing I remember about that night was going directly to Best Buy afterwards to purchase the soundtrack because of the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield and driving home with windows down and moon roof open with that song turned up so loud. (OK, I’m playing it right now while I write this post and it’s still awesome!) I love how a blog post can remind me of those feelings.

Here’s what I had to say that night:

“I like to read, but I LOVE when books are adapted into movies. I’m a visual person, a huge movie lover. So to see a story adapted for the screen and done well really thrills me. This was adapted really well. I think there were a few things here and there that they changed for movie purposes, but for the most part it was true to the book.

I think the character that I relate the most to is Lena, the quiet one. Afraid to really let go, trying to figure out who she really is, not the most outspoken of the group. That’s totally me. A little reserved, doing what I think others want me to do, wishing that I had the strength to stand up for myself more, a little shallow with my feelings, mostly to protect myself from being hurt, but wishing I felt more deeply sometimes.

These kinds of stories really make me think and they get my creative juices flowing. I began writing a book in 1997 based loosely on my time at the church camp I used to attend for a week every summer in high school. I finally finished the first draft last year, but I’ve done nothing more with it. I feel like pulling it out and working on it now. It’s so fun to read through it and see these characters that I’ve created with little bits of myself and my friends in them and the adventures that they go through and the lessons learned during the week at camp. I’m proud of my book. It needs a lot of work and who knows if it’s something that is good enough to be published. It’s the “Lena” in me that is afraid to put it out there and see what might happen with it. I need to let it go and see what God can do with it.”

Reading this made me smile so big. I had not forgotten about my camp book, but I had forgotten how even ten years ago, I was thinking about publishing, wondering if I should try, afraid to put myself out there. That book, the sweet little camp story, will find its way into book form. Not as it is now, though, because I was being honest when I said it needed a lot of work, but it’s already being re-imagined and rewritten in my brain. It even has a title already, which I’m pretty excited about. But, I’ll try not to get too far ahead of myself. ;)

OK … on to today’s giveaway.

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY

I’m getting so excited for the release of this book! It’s totally my heart and so much of myself is on these pages. This giveaway is for an Advanced Reader Copy of Goodbye, Magnolia. The winner will receive a copy of the manuscript in paperback book form in its still-being-edited, not quite polished to perfection, almost final state. It will be about a month or so before the ARC copy is ready.

If this is the first you’re hearing about my new book, here’s a little bit of the synopsis for you:
Wedding photography is Maggie’s passion. The art of capturing a moment forever in time is magical to her, and she’s worked hard to become the best of the best. Week after week, she works with couples as they plan their happily ever afters, but she hasn’t been so lucky in love. Behind the camera, it’s easy to hide from the pain and rejection of her past. The life she has made for herself is safe and predictable, until the owner of a rival photography studio sets up shop in her small town and comes to her with an unexpected proposal. Suddenly, everything she has worked so hard to build is threatened and her simple, controlled life is thrown into chaos.”

Eeeeeek! I’m giddy. ;)

Enter below. Tell a friend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CLICK HERE to see all the GIVEAWAYS on one page!

SEE YA BACK HERE TOMORROW!

10 YEARS!

You’re here! I’m so excited! On February 26, 2005, I started this blog, and for the next two weeks, I will be looking back at the past TEN YEARS of blogging!

Ten years has gone by in the blink of an eye. At least, it seems so at times. I’ve been browsing back through old posts and, while the style of my photos (lots of borders and filters in the early days) has changed, the core of the posts has not. It started with a few posts about my kids and that’s pretty much the same today. I wrote about things we did, places we traveled, movies I loved, following my love of photography into a business, family, friends, parties, scrapbooking, memories, happy times, sad times, publishing my novel. So much of our life.

Ten years is a really long time.

So, for the next TEN DAYS, I will be looking back, sharing old photos and favorite posts, and there will be GIVEAWAYS!!!

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY!

I’ve got a paperback copy of my first young adult novel ready to sign. The Truth About Drew was published last May.
It’s a sweet, uplifting, heart-warming story full of friendship and family with a journey to faith and a mystery surrounding a boy and his notebook.
Enter below. Tell a friend! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions at all about the giveaway, feel free to ask.

SEE YA BACK HERE TOMORROW!

hello, monday


Morning is my normal time to blog. But it’s hard to blog when you’re away every day. Last week was one of those weeks …

– Mom and I visited our friend Erinn and her two adorable boys on Wednesday.

– Thursday was one of those “gotta get groceries” mornings that takes for-e-ver followed by bills and budget and balancing the checkbook (all those oh-so-fun things).

– Then on Friday, my hubby had an outpatient surgery very early in the morning, which required me to get up at 5 am, take him to the hospital, go home, take the kids to school, come back to the hospital and wait, wait, wait. My mom was so helpful to go get the kids for us since they had a half day of school. She and my brother Rick took them to lunch at Applebee’s before bringing them home.

OTHER HAPPENINGS:

– After school on Thursday, Zach went right out and got the shovel and cleared the porch off for me. I didn’t even have to ask. I was so proud.

– The kids played in the snow. They never do that anymore, but they went outside on Friday afternoon after they got home from lunch and ran around the yard, tried to make a snowman, did cartwheels and back handsprings (Chloe) in the snow.

– Jake sliced his thumb open while working on his mini terrain stuff. Ick! Thankfully no stitches were needed. We keep teasing that he shouldn’t craft while on pain medication.

– Started reading Dear Mr. Knightley. I’m liking it so far. The entire book is in the form of letters from the main character to a mysterious benefactor who gives her a full scholarship to college. Very interesting so far.

– Carved out a little time on Sunday afternoon to work on my Project Life album. There’s nothing like getting a big order of photos in the mail and slipping them into the page protectors along with all the cute Project Life cards.

– I’m really loving the She Reads Truth app‘s “The Bible In A Year” plan. I’m 7% through the Bible. Yay! Chloe even downloaded the app so she would have the Bible on her device, but she has also started reading through the Bible following along with the plan. Best thing about the plan … I love lists and being able to check things off as I complete a task. This plan lets you cross off each day’s reading as you go, so you can see what you’ve finished and it keeps track of the percentage of progress as well. Love it!

– Chloe spent the night at her BFF Mackenzie’s house. Just before bed, I was browsing pics on Instagram and I saw this video of Chloe singing while Kenzie’s sister’s friend played the ukelele. I could listen to that all day long. Here’s the 15 second instagram video she shared:
[embed]http://apwphotography.com/myblogpics/2015/chloehannahsong.mp4[/embed]

Happy Monday, everyone!

around here


enjoying
the quiet moments I have while waiting to pick the kids up from school or this or that activity. I’ve finished reading Bread & Wine, listened to music or one of Elise’s podcasts, made lists and brainstormed ideas for the book’s interior layout, talked to God about everything that’s in my heart and mind right now, or just been still and soaked in the silence. Some days I feel like a chauffeur, but most of the time, I’m OK with it. Especially when I get to enjoy nights like the one above.

sharing
the cover of my new book, Goodbye, Magnolia, due out in the Spring of 2015. Very excited about this one, but also nervous. I love the story and the characters so much. But it’s also personal. For this story, I’ve really drawn from my own life, my own heartbreak, and that’s kind of scary to both deal with as you’re writing it and to share with the whole world.

juicing
I drank apple/carrot/ginger juice, apple/cucumber/kale/celery juice, and banana/orange/apple/spinach smoothies for three days this week. The worst part about cutting out every other food but juiced veggies and fruits is the horrible caffeine withdrawal headache. That was tough. But I made it through and now I’m moving forward with healthier meals. Although, I did eat a couple pieces of pizza my hubby brought home from a work party yesterday and I immediately regretted it. My mouth said “yum”, but my stomach said, “What have you done?” :D

celebrating
our nephew’s wedding this weekend. Looking forward to spending time with family and welcoming Shalea officially into our family.

wishing
you all a lovely weekend, wherever you are and whatever you do. <3

how can you help?


How can you, readers and lovers of books, help authors like me? Having people read and enjoy a book you wrote is wonderful. But how do we get our books into the hands of more people? With your help, of course. We need you! Especially we indie authors, who self-publish.

Here are some great ideas for you to help spread the word about the books you love!

• TELL YOUR FRIENDS
Obviously, the best way to spread the news about a book is word of mouth. Talking with a friend about what they’ve been reading lately? Chatting on IM? Skyping or Facetiming? Texting? Share what you’ve been reading and where they can find it.

You can also share links on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, or wherever else you hang out online.

• REVIEWS
This is so helpful to authors as well as other readers looking for good books to read. If you read a book and love it, please post a review and rating. Your opinion and recommendation matters, especially for a new author trying to get the word out about her book. ;)

It doesn’t have to be a lengthy review telling all the plot points and definitely don’t give away any major twists or big reveals in the story. Just share what you loved about it. How it made you feel? What made you think about it long after you read it?

Places to review a book:
AMAZONBARNES & NOBLEGOODREADS
Do a search for the book title on these sites. You can even copy your review from one site and review it on the others also.

• SHARE or GIFT IT
A girl on Goodreads, who won my giveaway, enjoyed the book and told me she is going to pass it around a reading group she is a part of after she lets her teenage niece read it. I love that. I encourage anyone who bought a copy of my book to share it with a friend or give it away to someone you know will love it. For me, it’s not about the number of sales I get, it’s about the people who get to read it.

If you pass the book on, make sure to tell them how to spread the word, too.

• ASK YOUR LIBRARY TO CARRY IT
Not all libraries will do it, but you can request books and the more requests they get, the greater chance they will add the book. Having a book in the library makes it easy (and free) for many more people to read the book!

• BLOG ABOUT IT
If you have a blog, write a post/review about the book. Besides a review on book sites like Amazon, you can share more about the book and your thoughts on it as well as links to the author’s website/blog, places to purchase the book, etc.

When you’re done reading it, you could even give it away on your blog. If you can part with it, of course. ;)

Some authors are also willing to be interviewed for blogs. Open your blog up for questions from your readers, then invite them back after the author answers their questions.

• INSTAGRAM IT
Take a photo of yourself with the book, something fun and creative. (If it’s my book, include the hashtag #thetruthaboutdrew.) :)

Instagram is a fun place to share your photos, but if you aren’t on Instagram, you can post it on Facebook. (Again, if it’s my book, visit my Facebook author page and add your photos to the “Reader Photos” album.)

• BOOK CLUBS
Are you in a book club? Suggest it as the book one month. Sometimes authors are even willing to answer questions via email, chat or Skype to go along with your book discussion.

• GOODREADS
Goodreads is such a fun place to hang out, make new friends, join groups, and talk about books. Start a discussion in your favorite group about books you’ve read and loved. And don’t forget to leave reviews there as well.

• TWITTER
Tweet favorite lines or quotes from books you are reading. (Don’t forget, if it’s my book, add the hashtag #thetruthaboutdrew.) ;)

• TELL THE AUTHOR
Let the author know how much you liked the book, what you loved about it, how it affected you. This isn’t really about spreading the word, but this can be so encouraging to an author. Some days, just a little email or comment or “like” can totally make their day and give the boost that’s needed to write through a tough scene in their next manuscript.

It’s wonderful to hear what kinds of things you’re doing to help spread the word about a book, too.

Here are links to my book on the various sites. If you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, please leave a review or do any of the things I’ve listed above. I appreciate all that you guys are doing to tell people about my little book. Thank you!

KINDLEAMAZON PAPERBACKBARNES & NOBLEGOODREADS

second thoughts


Maybe people look at me and think I’ve got it all together. I’ve got a loving husband and two great kids. I’ve been able to work from home and be at all my kids field trips and class parties and soccer games. I’ve had my photography and scrapbook pages published in magazines. I’ve put “my life” out there on this blog for the past nine years, sharing all our trips and birthdays and moments. But it’s not the whole story. It’s not all pretty pictures and happiness 24/7.

Inside, I’m a swirl of emotions most of the time. But I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding it.

Sometimes I think about that line at the end of Titanic when old Rose says, “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” I’ve always liked that and felt it was true of me. Deep down inside, where nobody but Jesus can see, are wounds and scars and insecurities and doubts and fears. Things I don’t share with anyone.

I could. I could open up more (“open” is my one little word for the year after all). But for some reason, I feel like my deepest secrets are boring to everyone but me. And I’m sure it’s my own insecurity and fear of being hurt that keeps me from sharing. I used to be an open book. My friends from high school and college will tell you. I told them everything that was going on with me and everything that was in my heart. I let them in. What you saw was what you got.

I’ve been reading “A Million Little Ways” by Emily Freeman this week. It’s all about finding the art that God made you to do. One of the things she talks about is “first thoughts” and how a lot of times we edit ourselves and push our first thoughts – our true feelings and desires – back inside and go with our second thoughts instead for fear of failure, of being judged, of not being accepted, to please others.

This is so true of me now.

Maybe it was my broken heart. Maybe it was the years completely consumed by my business, or no longer feeling like our church was “home” anymore. Maybe it was Jake losing his job and the humiliation of going through a bankruptcy, or feeling like a failure – in my business, as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as the maker of our home. Maybe it was just life and years passing by and feeling like I should know what I’m doing by now. But I don’t.

I don’t think I’ll ever have it all figured out. This life. And I don’t think we’re supposed to. I think we’re supposed to question and search and seek answers. And I’m OK knowing that one day, I’ll get to sit down with Jesus and all the things that I never quite figured out here in this earthly life will make complete sense because they won’t matter at all. Things that seemed to be the hugest deal will pale in comparison to sitting in His presence and knowing that THIS is where I’m meant to be. HE is what matters most. No second thoughts about that.

around here | happy pi day


I’m typing away at my desk and I can hear bangs and crashes outside as the sun melts the snow and ice from Wednesday’s snow storm. The kids had yet another snow day on Wednesday. We went from nice thawed, dry roads, driveway and porch to 6″ of heavy wet stuff. Normally, I wouldn’t mind a random snow day here and there, but we’ve had so many this year that we were informed by the superintendent of schools this week that we’ll definitely be extending the school year into the second week of June and even further into the month if the snow days continue. I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but this is the longest winter EVER.

Our snow day was actually very productive. I spent most of the day doing laundry and baking meals ahead for Jake’s lunches. Chloe’s floor was covered in clothing, so I asked her to please sort the dirty from the clean and she ended up cleaning and organizing her whole space. When she starts working on her room, she’s on a mission and she does such a nice job of it. She likes to display all her favorite things and she’s loving her new IKEA bookcase we got her for her birthday.

I also got one of the small IKEA bookcases when we got Chloe’s so I’d have a place for my albums and Project Life supplies. Lots of new goodies arrived this past week from Becky and Kari as a thank you for being part of the creative team this year. Thanks, girls! :)

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Starbase with Chloe’s class at the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek. I went with Zach’s class (posted about it HERE) when he was in fifth grade, too, and it’s such a great program teaching kids lots of fun science facts and experiments. Chloe made me get my picture taken in the space suit. I did always want to be an astronaut when I was growing up, so I guess now I know what I would have looked like in space. :D

I picked up some yarn at Mary Maxim last weekend when we visited Jake’s parents. I’m giving THIS pattern a go.

It was spring conference time this week. Chloe’s was student-led and, boy, is she thorough. She put together a little power point presentation with a slide for each subject. They’re supposed to write a few sentences about what they’ve been learning. She wrote at least 6 paragraphs about each subject and read them out loud to us. The conference is supposed to take 10-15 minutes. It took us about 20-25. Nothing wrong with that. I just remember Zach’s having a few sentences, very brief and to the point. It’s so interesting to see how different they are. She’s doing well in all subjects with Math still being the one she struggles most with. When she takes her time, she’s got it. But when she’s rushes and doesn’t think it through and check her work, she makes a lot of silly mistakes. We’re working with her teacher and doing extra practice each night through a couple online sites they use in class and we think it’s really helping. Zach’s doing pretty good. His biggest problem has always been not turning things in on time and forgetting assignments. We’ve got him using a daily planner and that’s helped. Last marking period saw some lower grades because he didn’t make up work on time. This marking period has been much better and we’re proud of him for being more responsible.

Finally starting this book that my lovely mom-in-law got me for Christmas. I’ve been reading Emily Freeman’s blog for a while now and have never read any of her books. For shame. Time to change that.

And here’s my pile of books to read. It pays to have a hubby who works in publishing. Can you tell where he works? One of these things is not like the others. Hint: It’s not Revell. ;)

Still plugging away at scanning Grandma’s negatives. Found this one last night of me taking a bite out of my 5th birthday cake. My mom still makes us do that every year. ;)

And, last but not least, Happy Pi Day! For a little Pi Day humor, click over to my hubby’s website, Plus Sized Models.

book progress


Well, I think I’m at the point where I’ve edited all I can edit. After a while, everything looks like gibberish on the page from staring at it so much. I read it through again this week, changing a few small things here and there, and I am as happy as I’m going to be with it. For now.

I finally had someone besides Jake read it (his Mom) and her exact words were, “If you don’t publish this book … I will personally kick your butt!!” Guess I better do what my mother-in-law tells me to do, huh? ;)

And she gave me one of the best compliments I could possibly get when she said,
“God certainly guided you and your keystrokes.”

What does the photo above have to do with my book, you ask? Mt. Baldy is a scenic lookout in the Yankee Springs/Barry County State Game Area. I believe it’s the highest point in the county. It lies up the hill and across the road from where I grew up. Although, it’s not much of a scenic lookout anymore since the pines have grown so tall, but when I was little, you could stand on the top and see Gun Lake. It’s not a big tourist spot or anything. If you try to Google it (as I did), all you’ll find is the map of the Yankee Springs Recreation Area and several other Mt. Baldys across the country. But my Mt. Baldy, the one I grew up climbing, is the inspiration for one of the locations in my book. Write what you know, right?

healthy eating | the skinny rules


It’s Day Two of healthy eating. Jake and I both fell off the wagon this summer, eating whatever we wanted and barely exercising. And it shows, not only in the way we look, but the way we feel. I have no energy whatsoever and that just will not do. So we decided to get back to making meals at home and eating better foods.

Jake suggested I read “The Skinny Rules” by Bob Harper (the trainer from the Biggest Loser). Lots of good stuff in there, including drinking a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning and before every meal. There are a lot of rules to live by in his book, but it’s doable. It’s similar to an eating program my Mom and I followed at our church after I had Zach.

• Eat lots of vegetables and fruits.
• Eat plenty of protein (fish, chicken, eggs. all things I love! easy!).
• Drink water.
• Don’t drink your calories (no more pop, juices, mocha lattes).
• Stay away from fast food at all costs!!!
• Limit your bread intake and never eat bread with “enriched wheat flour” listed in the ingredients.
• Read ingredient labels. If it has sugar in the first 5 ingredients … Run away! Run away!

These are some of the guidelines we followed in that program and Bob’s rules are very similar, but he’s got more of them. :) The book doesn’t just give you a list of rules and that’s it, though. He goes into the reasons why each rule is important and how it helps you to get to a healthy weight. He also gives lots of meal suggestions to get you through the first month and the last section of the book is filled with easy healthy recipes.

I’m kind of excited about this. Taking control over food. Making good choices. Getting healthy and dropping all these extra lbs. It’s all good!

I probably won’t share what I eat every single day, but here is what I ate yesterday on Day One:

Breakfast:
Large glass of water x2 (one when I got up and one before I ate. Bob told me to!)
Oatmeal with apples and cinnamon
Coffee with a tablespoon of sugar and creamer (that’s half what I normally add. gotta start somewhere, right?)

Lunch:
Large glass of water
Romaine lettuce with cranberries and almonds (will nix the cranberries from now on since they have sugar listed as an ingredient. oops!)

Dinner:
Large glass of water
Whole wheat thin spaghetti and roasted broccoli tossed together with a little olive oil and topped with some parmesan cheese (This was tasty and a good Meatless Monday option.)

Snacks:
Large glass of water
Apple chopped up
Oikos Key Lime Greek Yogurt (this has sugar! Bye bye, key lime. maybe I’ll eat you on splurge day.)

Bob encourages one splurge meal per week. Not to go crazy and eat everything in sight, but to have a meal you enjoy without worrying about the rules. (But no fast food joints! No matter what! ick!)

Feel free to comment and bug me about how my healthy eating is going. I could use the accountability. :)

AJAXed with AWP