~*~Spoooooooooooky Pumpkin Ball!~*~

It’s the 2 month anniversary since the release of Awoken! Since then, I’ve survived homework, after school activities, WEDDINGS (so many of my old girlfriends got married this autumn! So happy they each finally found somebody to love them!) and just day-to-day life, but boy am I glad to be back online will all my friends and fans!

The weather here in Ohio has been strangely warm for October, and even though it looks like rain, I can’t wait until the Pumpkin Ball tomorrow. Yes, you heard me right; there really IS a Pumpkin Ball. It is an actual tradition for us Anaprotestants that inspired me.

The Pumpkin Ball has been a tradition for my congregation since the 1970s. You see, we Anaprotestants have never really been too comfortable with all the pagan, Satanic imagery of Halloween, but in the past, parents still allowed their kids to trick-or-treat and wear costumes. They figured that as long as the faith was strong in the home, a little mischief wouldn’t hurt anyone. But then in the 70s there were all those news reports about poisoned candy and razor blades in apples, and our Church Elders decided the horrible incidents were more than enough signs from the Lord of the moral degradation Halloween encouraged. We Anaprotestants don’t have a problem with fun (as long as it’s good for the mind, body and soul), but we all felt much safer having our own separate festivities on October 31st.

I remember little details from my very first Pumpkin Ball—the pumpkin painting, the pies and falling asleep in the hay maze outside. When I got older, there was the square dancing, and the scarecrow contest and apple bobbing (which I was never too good at, unfortunately. I always get water up my nose!). Even now that I’m a wife and a mom, I still go every year. What a fantastic way to bring a community together, and what fun way to grow up! Naturally I just had to include it in my story!

So, now I just need to finish the last minute touches on my pumpkin bars and cupcakes, and the Twins’ scarecrow for the Scarecrow contest, and we’ll be good to go! I hope you all have a happy and safe day on October 31st, whatever you celebrate. I love you all, and maybe one day I’ll host a giant Pumpkin Ball for all my fans!

If you don’t have a Pumpkin Ball to go to yourself, might I suggest curling up tomorrow with a copy of  Awoken? ;p Just click on the link below!

I can’t believe the outpouring of love!

Fanart by http://siderealscion.tumblr.com/. The very first!!!!!

 

Not yet a full month since book launch, and it’s my very first *official* post-launch fanart! Andi’s face is just breaking my heart, I just want to give her a big old hug and promise her everything will be okay!

With the cat out of the bag and Awoken finally on the “shelves,” so far things have been going incredibly well! I mean, there are some bad reviews in the mix, but I keep trying to remember what my husband and friends tell me–don’t engage! Rise above the hate! Although, the Lamb knows sometimes it can be hard, especially when people don’t “get” my work, or give it a scathingly bad review before they even read it–which talk about judging a book by its cover! It’s just been amazing to me how angry people have been over Awoken while, in the same breath, insisting they will never read it! They sound like Allison when I try to make her eat her Brussels sprouts!

Now, I’m not saying these “critics” are acting like 4 year olds, but sometimes an author just has to explain things to them. I’m a mother, and I definitely feel the duty to protect my babies–and Awoken IS my baby!  I am 100% justified in stepping in and explaining calmly and rationally that, to each their own, but these “readers” just don’t understand what I was trying to accomplish. My book is a Young Adult Paranormal Romance about the unbelievable power of love–it’s right there on the tin, practically! If people don’t enjoy that sort of thing to start with, what’s the point in decrying my book loudly from the rooftops? If you can’t say something nice, as I tell the Twins…

And speaking of saying nice things…I know I have quite a few defenders out there, but considering the backlash other authors and fans have suffered in trying to defend other work…well, I can’t bear to see anyone attacked, fan or no. So no debating or arguing or “trolling” people who didn’t like Awoken please! This is my “fight,” and I don’t want anyone else dragged into it. I’m a mother of five, believe me, I can handle it! ;p

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s just sad for them they can’t enjoy my work. But if you enjoyed my book, definitely sing it loud and proud!

So no hate, let’s celebrate! With the one month anniversary of the book launch right around the corner, share links of fan work you’ve made or found so far! I looooooove seeing how my book inspires my fans!

If you haven’t ordered your copy of Awoken yet, you can do it right here on my website!

Soundtrack for Awoken???

One of my writer friends, Celeste Stevens, made a playlist for her book and I thought, what a great idea!! Only thing is, as a mom of five rambunctious, lovable muffins, I realize that I hardly know any of the songs the kids are listening to! So, for all you people who are more popular music minded, what songs would you put on the Awoken playlist?? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

Remember, I love music, but I particularly love versions of songs done by “Glee” or “KidzBop!”

The Writer’s Journey…Part 2, or, getting back on that horse!

Hello all again! I know it’s been a while since I’ve spoken to you. The kids started school just last week, and between getting them back on the school track (especially Marianne, who is starting*HIGH SCHOOL!* I can’t believe it, it seems like only yesterday she was standing on the front steps in pigtails for the *FIRST* day of school!) and setting up my Createspace.com account to keep to that August 30th book launch deadline—well! Let’s just say, it never rains in the Elinsen household!  Thank goodness my husband was able to handle the bulk of the school supply buying, although there’s nothing quite like that last minute Walmart run because somebody  forgot to triple check the teachers’ supply letter!

But now, with quiet falling over our house like a blanket, it brings me back to late summer 2012.

It was only last year that my husband convinced me that, while I was a great homeschooler, it wouldn’t hurt if the twins finally went to public school.  Even Allison, the youngest, had taken to Pre-K like a fish to water, but the Twins were a little too rambunctious in the early years, if you know what I mean. ;p My husband decided that at 8 years old it was finally time for them to leave the house for at least part of the day. Even though I had to agree, it’s always so hard to let go of your little blessings.

But I had kept them in the nest long enough, and as my husband reminded me, we have a great public school system in our township. So this time last year, off the boys went, and for the first time in years, I found myself home alone.

I thought about trying my hand at rejoining the work force, but one look at my resume only made me scoff. ‘Mother of five’ is hardly a life skill recognized by corporate America (although it should be! I mean, where else can you learn management skills like these, am I right, moms?), and my husband has a good job that provides for us all comfortably. I didn’t NEED to work, I just wanted something that would engage my mind and get me out of the house a bit. It was then my husband gently reminded me of how much I used to love writing, and suggested that maybe it was time for me to get back on that horse.

I was still hurting from all the abuse I suffered online, and at first resisted. Lucky for me, I have a spouse that knows when to not take ‘no!’ for an answer! (I really am the most blessed wife in the world…) He persisted, and made me promise to at least try out a new writers’ group, which had put up a meeting notice at our local library.

So, on one fateful Wednesday, nervous as anything and certain I’d hate it, I went to my first meeting of the Nibs.

We met at a the Starbucks, and to this day I still can’t believe how perfect a fit we were, and still are! And to think, I almost didn’t even go! We introduced ourselves, and over tasty Frappuccinos spoke about our writing ideas and hopes and dreams and fears. And never once was there a condescending word or discouraging critique.  Lilly, the head of the group, spoke often of wanting it to be a ‘safe space’ for us all; the only rule was that we could only say what we liked about each other’s work. No unsolicited suggestions, no grammar Nazis, no plot hole pirates—the purpose of the group was to foster pure creativity.

Nibs wasn’t for everyone, and we lost a lot of people in the first week, but I was HOOKED. I went every week to the Starbucks, sitting and chatting and typing away with the other three ladies and one man that stuck it out. Tuesdays became take-out night in the Elinsen house while mommy worked on her craft. I even finally purchased by own little laptop for writing so I wouldn’t have to hog the family desktop with transcribing handwritten notes, and my words just flew onto the screen!

And it was one night sometime in mid-October, after the kids finished their homework and were settling in for the night, that miraculous inspiration struck me—

But that’s another story for another time, dear friends. ;)

~~~

In the meanwhile, Awoken (paperback and Kindle versions) will be available to buy right here on my website starting on Friday, August 30th! Please show your support of me by buying your copies directly through my website!

Once again, thank you all for your love and support so far! Soon the wait will be over! <3

The Writer’s Journey…Part 1…

Sitting here with less than a month before the official release of Awoken  (oh my goodness how time flies!) I can’t help but remember those dark days when I nearly gave up on writing. If it hadn’t been for the utter compulsion to write I felt the first time I saw Riley fully-formed in my mind, and my own desire to do my beloved family and friends proud, I never would have found myself here today—a nearly published author of a completed book. No matter what happens, I did it! All the nights my poor family had to eat TV dinners and leftovers because mommy was working on her novel, or the times I would take my notebook to my sons’ games, trying not to feel like a terrible mother for stealing a few minute’s writing while they were on the bench—I did it for them! And yes, I also did to for myself—to remind myself that I am a writer, that no one can take that away from me. And I had almost lost that.

I doubt anyone would realize it now, and it is a chapter of my life I consider closed, but once upon a time when I was at home raising my young children, I was a bit of a “BNF” in various fandom communities. I would get dozens of comments thanking me for what I thought were silly little stories written during the kids’ nap times and when there wasn’t anything good on the TV. I realized then that my little writing hobby was so much more than that. My words were bringing people I’d never met happiness!  Around 2007 I starting blogging in earnest on livejournal, sending out into the ether details about my happy but simple little life as well as the imaginings of my mind, and the feedback from my fans was a truly joyous experience. At night I would read the comments aloud to my husband in wonderment. We both found it a little bewildering, but for me it was a sign from God that I had a purpose in this world outside of my little homestead.

As I became more popular, though, the comments began to change. I mean, I was always happy to accept a comment or two helpfully pointing out a misspelled word here or there. But there’s nothing like “fame” to bring out the folks that just want to bring you down, and tear apart your soul’s work. People would keep “helpfully” pointing out that my characters were one dimensional, that my stories were just the same fan fiction over and over again, that there was nothing original about “X only with Y” stories (whatever THAT means!). And never mind the comments about how I should probably get a beta reader to help with my “clunky” grammar and “adverb abuse.” Adverb abuse! You know, those words that are so crucial to really bringing a scene or character to life? Unbelievable!

I went to school and got a B.A. in English from The University of Dayton! My style might not be as cookie cutter as others, and I may be no Hemingway (thank goodness for that) but I know my way around the English language, thanks!

But still the “constructive” criticism continued. If I want criticism, I take my work to my writers’ group. And besides, once I finally found a writers’ group that really understood me, THEY never have any complaints! My writers’ group now-a-days can’t wait for when I have new material to share, so obviously for some people I must be doing something really good! But that’s regardless, because once a book is out there, either read it or don’t, but don’t tell me how to use my own creative talents. That’s just common human gosh darn decency.

Harsh words, I know, but back then I didn’t think like that. Each critique and less-than-stellar comment was like a stab in the heart. Now I have the confidence to think that if you don’t like my writing, then maybe the problem is with you, not me—and if anything, that is what the back button is for. But back then, I wasn’t as confident or worldly.

I had fans, beautiful fans, who rushed to my defense, and as ever always begged for the next update. To them I am eternally grateful. But when there is poison like that in your comments, when you start receiving buckets full of it on your blog, the knowledge of just how much people enjoyed your stories isn’t enough to fight the feeling of helplessness and worthlessness that grows. I started to believe what these awful people were saying, that I was just a hack, even after I won “Western Ohio Writer’s Association Award for Best New Blogger 2011.”

And after a year of that kind of attention and mockery, I gave up. I hated the Internet, I hated myself, I hated everything I had ever written. And so I deleted it all. The livejournal, the fanfiction.net account, my facebook, EVERYTHING. I can’t even find my old writings online anymore. It is like a fire ripped through my internet home and destroyed it all.

All I kept were my old writing journals. I couldn’t bear to lose those. And thank goodness I didn’t, because everything changed in 2012…

TBC

I am truly blessed…

A few friends of mine from my writing group (although, it’s so hard to find the time to go! Kids come first after all! J ) were going to ConBravo in Canada this weekend. They explained it’s a “yearly celebration of fandom.” It’s been ages since I’ve dipped my pen in fan fiction as I’ve been working so hard on crafting my own original stories, but it sounded like they were going to have a blast hanging out with quite a few of their Internet friends who were going as well. I’d be jealous of their youth and free time for that sort of thing, but they don’t have the five blessings I do. ;)

Anyway, they even reserved a table so they could sell their “geek wares” (I keep telling them they have to open an etsy store! I can’t believe the things they can do with yarn and hot glue, even if I don’t get all the references) and the Big Guy himself must have reached down to nudge me, because I was struck with sudden inspiration! I had 80 signed hard copies of  my very first edition of Awoken on the kitchen table that I was going to lug to the local Barnes and Nobles so that the manager could display them for sale, but I asked if they would be okay with taking and selling Awoken for me.

Well, us writing group gals stick together, ESPECIALLY when it comes to supporting each other’s work (even though they aren’t published yet like I am) and agreed! And let me tell you, I was definitely right in listening to the Big Guy’s idea, because word got out at the con and they sold 76 copies! 76 whole copies! When they called me on the drive back, I couldn’t believe it! I even started crying (my poor hubby, he must have thought someone had died!) How can I possible describe the warm, beautiful feeling of a life full of such amazing blessings? He truly has filled my life to the brim!

But yes, I am a Serra on cloud nine. I just can’t believe I already have to reorder more copies! My friends did mention a lot of people asked if there would be an e-book version, so I should definitely look into that, anything to bring my ‘baby’ to a wider audience! Also realized I need to make business cards! Everything’s just happening so fast!

To everyone who purchased Awoken this weekend, thank you so much for your support! I hope you are enjoying your brand new signed copy. :D  Although, I do have to admit, the cover was not my pick. I asked my kids if they wanted to pick a cover for me, and Matt A. was just so excited about the tentacle… well, what mother could resist, even if tentacles send chills down my spine! For the next printing, I may try to find something more to my tastes and more in line with the book, but I suppose that will make your copy a special collector’s edition! ;p