Sunday, June 25, 2017

Learning to be author savvy

I'm taking this slow as I: 

1) Have other commitments 

2)  Don't want to screw it up from the beginning


3) Don't want to be a crazy spam author trying to push my book down people's throats yelling, "READ IT!"

I started an author website at the recommendation of everyone on the internet...I know, great place to get advice!  You can see it if you'd like by clicking here.  It's not very exciting.  Basically, a link to my book and exclamation points because I'm not very involved with the site just yet.  I'm keeping this blog (Adventures First) my personal one (so personal, huh...when it's public...but yah).  The author site is more an investment in the future should I somehow end up with 30 published books (cause, yah...that's gonna happen) and need a place to put them all.  :o)

I joined goodreads as an author.  That site, I am told, is a goldmine for finding readers as long as I avoid number 3 (listed above).  It's cool because it brings people interested in a specific genre all to the same place so they are easier to to figure how to reach them without being pushy.  Baby steps.

My Amazon author page is up.  It's funny because there is another author with the exact same name who published some financial management thing and at first they tried to put that under my name too...all fixed (I think).

As great as it is to have a publisher to edit, design and put out the book...most of the advertising falls on my shoulders.  Which is fine.  It's all a new challenge and I like those.  No pressure either, I have an income and there is only a dog to feed so no worries that my kids or someone else's will be homeless if I don't sell this book.

I wrote a short-story (mystery) for an anthology that comes out at Christmas by Cozy Cat (my publishing company).  Then in the Spring I hope to have the second Aimee Talcos Mystery ready to go.  The best of all of this is how much I am enjoying putting the story down on paper.  If I lose that, I imagine I will lose any motivation to glad to live in the moment and go where God is taking me!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies are Canada's best kept secret!  They are AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and why doesn't everyone go there??


This year is the 150th anniversary of Canada and in celebration they have made all their national parks free: brilliant!

Top of Athabasca Glacier

We arrived on a Sunday to Calgary and made it Canmore, just south of Banff and the official entry into the Park, late that night.  Funny thing about this far north?  It's daylight out until 10:30 at night and then light again by 5am.

Lake Louise

And then we hiked.  And hiked. And hiked some more.  We went up to the Agnes Tea House above Lake Louise, followed the ten peaks after passing Lake Moraine (in the rain), wound our way up Paget's Peak and around Emerald Lake.  Then took some time to drive up to Jasper, stop on the Athabascar Glacier and then hike the Valley of the 5 Lakes.  In between we managed to stop at a million waterfalls including a nice little hike through Johnston Canyon.

Bird at Lake Louise

Fields of Alberta

Avalanche on Eifel Trail

Ten Peaks

Lake Moraine

Emerald Lake

Bow River

Back of the Fairmont

Glacier Climber

Columbia Icefield


Mama and baby bears

Athabasca Falls

Peyto Lake

Mountain Flowers from Valley of the Five Lakes

Big horn sheep

Johnston Canyon

Now I want to know what other parks I can get to before the end of the year!  What else is Canada hiding?  :o)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

So about the book I wrote...

I rather feel like a horse in a race that has just been let go from the box...all the other horses have taken off, I'm left in a cloud of dust, and I can't even think how to run, let alone catch up.  This is because today my book was (officially) released on Amazon and who knows where else.  It will be on Kindle sometime this week.  

What book, you ask?  Well, as alluded to in my last blog (and the one before that!): I wrote a mystery.

I wrote it while I was in Guatemala, one week when the doctor (head of the clinic) was on vacation and after literally 45 minutes, I had nothing to really do with my time (amazing how no one ever really needed anything when she was gone...hmmm...back to my book).  SO I sat at my desk, next to the clinic coordinator and started writing...and writing...and writing until by the end of the week I was leaving the clinic, tucking my kids in and then writing some more until it was dark and I had to go to sleep.  

The end product was a painful to read and rather pathetic attempt at a murder-mystery-who-done-it-type book.  My housemate, my mom, and my dear friend (who happens to have her degree in editing just not currently working in the field) all graciously read the vomit copy, gave me great feedback, and so, rather foolishly, I sent out a query letter thinking I had a book to publish.

My query was great!  I got all kinds of interest.  I seriously think if this author thing doesn't work out I should just write query letters.  I found a bunch of publishers online and went through all kinds of hoops to submit.  Some wanted one chapter, others three, others a synopsis and some just the word count and title.  I wanted to have my book published but with one caveat: I didn't want to pay anyone to do it.

And so it began, the round of refusals..."not what we're looking for; not quite right for our house; you stink."  Okay, I made the last one up.  But you get the picture.

Finally after several months, I got a reply from a publisher of "cozy mysteries."  (These are clean mysteries, usually with a female sleuth, and no gratuitous violence or sex.)  The publisher wanted to see my book again, but with some changes...  

At this point I had received interest from several other people but nobody that I really liked (when I looked at the other books they publish).  The bigger houses (like anyone you've ever heard of) required an agent to submit and the big christian publishers required you pay to have them look at what you wrote...both kinda went against the grain since I was doing this for fun and to fulfill a childhood dream (thank you Anne of Green Gables and Jo from Little Women).

It was while I was in Honduras at the bus stop waiting for the mechanics to fix our bus (yah, that happened) that I emailed the cozy mystery publisher back, committing to the rewrite but only after I returned from my travels.  I then spent the months of February and March rewriting and reading my book aloud to my poor, very patient housemate: I found that reading it aloud was the best way to edit as it enabled me to hear and see the story simultaneously.

After all this I sent the book in to the publisher and within 24 hours I had an offer with a contract...the one stipulation being I had to create a series out of the book (which means I have at least two more mysteries to write).

And now what you probably want to know is: what's it about?  Below is the blurb from the back of the book, the cover and the link to Amazon.  The kindle version will be out shortly...I'll put the link in when I have it!

Acquainted two short weeks, married less than three days and widowed little more than one hour…

    Aimee Talcos isn’t sure what to do or where to turn when she finds her husband, Declan, murdered on the floor of her grandfather-in-law’s seaside home.  Combine that with the unexpected discovery of her deceased husband’s criminal activity and Aimee finds her life just beginning to unravel.  
     Balancing the suspicious attention of a good-looking detective with mysterious break-ins, roadside attacks and ominous threats, Aimee has to decide if clearing the name of the man she married is worth risking her own life in the process.

This whole process has been kinda crazy in the midst of readjusting to living in the states, restarting my job, moving around, reacquiring my dog, etcetera (oh and all those tomorrow when I leave for Banff).

Clearly God has a hand in all of this.  I like to think He's keeping me busy so I wouldn't come home and wonder "Now what?  Life is futile!" after Guatemala.  

One day at a time...His grace is sufficient for me!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Settling in

I don't like to post pictures on the internet of where I live but rest assured, I have successfully moved in!  Today the internet guy came and hooked up my wifi...and so here I am!  I think the most awesome part is I'm reunited with this bozo:

At first I was worried because after 20 months of living with 9 kids he was waking me up EVERY MORNING at 6 am.  Thankfully his oldness kicked in and we are back to an 8am wake-up call and this morning I was the one who woke him up!  Speaking of which, he's sleeping again.

So apartment living is weird.  I still haven't figured out the key-pad door entry and I've got stove problems...the nice part is a maintenance guy will be out in an hour or so to fix it.  My neighbors are gone all day and I rarely see anyone.  There are a lot of dogs.

However, I like where I'm living!  It's clean, and spacious, and pretty and stuff.  It's just weird being on my own again and not having any one to squint at in the morning.  Well except Clarence but he ignores me.

My next blog will be about the book I wrote.  I thought we were still copy proof editing it but apparently it's on Amazon not sure how I feel about that since I didn't think it was print-ready!  But I'll write about that and the whole process of getting published because that's a its own right!

Hope you all have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This time tomorrow...

It's weird to think that this time tomorrow night I'll be alone in my new apartment with my dog...probably sipping chamomile tea and working on my laptop.  I can't really keep up with my life. Seriously, how is it possible that four months have already passed since I came home from Guatemala?!  

Baby moon is definitely over.  My Guatemalan mojo is a faint spark that I think is still there...but only by grace.  

The hardest part isn't moving on to my own space (I haven't lived alone in almost two years!).  No, it's the sadness I feel at losing my friends!  Not only am I on my way to another home...but so are they...and it is in Texas!  I will miss them!!

But...change is inevitable.  And after being told not once but four times today, "I can't believe you're that old," I am officially, "I can't believe you're that old" old...another unavoidable change!  

Because today is my (what the is it possible???) 37th birthday!!!  

I thought it would feel....I don't know...different?  And I would have more done by now.  Well, I mean in the way of having a husband and kids...I've done more in my life than I thought I would!!  Traveling to almost 40 countries, hiking tall mountains, running marathons, learning new languages, publishing a book, and making beautiful friendships...  It's not the things that I thought I would do...but actually it's a lot cooler.  :o)

God has a way better plan than I ever did!  

Here's to the next 37 years!  Or days, months, weeks...whatever He wants... :o)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Crushing the head: Fatima

"The decisive battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be over marriage and the family."
Sr. Lucia dos Santos

Hashtag 100 years!  Who doesn't love the story of Fatima?  An Angel, Our Lady, three holy and beautiful children...and a message for the world.

"Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?"

"Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort."

"You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace."

This is the second time I have been privileged to visit Fatima.  The first time was with all of my sisters when we were teenagers.  That was over fifteen years ago!  I spent the first day in Fatima walking around seeing how things have changed, remembering our visit and thinking how much we have grown since then.

I lit candles for my loved ones and their intentions.  I knelt on the walk.  I wandered through churches both above and below ground.  Then I found a nook where I could just sit, watch and think.

And I spent a lot of time in prayer.  100 years since Our Lady appeared in the little Cova and now it is a beautiful site with churches and chapels and thousands of people.

But Our Lady didn't come so a beautiful cathedral or basilica would be built.  She came to bring peace and to give us hope.  Her message to the world 100 years ago is just as timely today.

Sister Lucia, the visionary who died several years ago but lived through almost the last one hundred years, would tell you the same.

“Let us all willingly endeavor to follow faithfully the path that He has mapped out for us. Yes, because it was out of love that God sent us this pressing call from his mercy, in order to help us along the way of our salvation.”

*Quotes above taken from the words of Our Lady to the three children of Fatima except for the last one which is from Sr. Lucia's book.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Way of Beauty

I know I promised Fatima...but it will have to be the one after this!

I just spent the most beautiful week at the Malvern Retreat house in Philadelphia studying the Way of Beauty with the Institute of Theology of the Body.  The course was 30 hours of lecture cushioned by Mass, the Rosary, Holy Hour, and private time to pray and walk around these beautiful gardens:

I met the most interesting people: authors, artists, musicians, art teachers, priests, sisters, and consecrated.

The instructor used the writings of Pope Benedict, Saint John Paul 2, GK Chesterton, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and combined it with Moana, Van Morrison and Bono to illustrate how beauty lifts our hearts to God.  

We also looked at the great works of art, from cavemen drawings 42000 years old to modern art (including one amazing painting -shown below- made by a fellow classmate during the session).  I came away with a sense of wonder at the beauty God puts all around us and also how clear it is that beauty unites with truth and goodness to bring us closer to Him.

The following poem struck me after watching Evan Koons read and explain it...not only by the beauty of the poem itself, but also by its meaning.  How easy it is to go around "selving" and missing the beauty that is around us...raising us up to our own self-absorption!

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

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As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's 
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. 

I say móre: the just man justices; 
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; 
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is — 
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his 
To the Father through the features of men's faces. 

The biggest thing I took away from the course was the immensity of God's love, love for us!  We see it in each snowflake, dewdrop, and blade of grass.  We see it in our friends, family, and the kindness of strangers.  We see it in music, movies, works of art, and architecture.  Because, we see it in beauty.