And We’re Off…

My book, “Lies Jane Austen Told Me,” has been out for a week. I am overwhelmed at how many people are excited about it, are buying it, are reading it. If you’re one of those people, thank you. Thank you from the depths of my clichéd soul.

Thursday night, EAB Publishing hosted a multi-author reading at a swanky library in downtown Omaha. I couldn’t believe that I was included in the list of talented writers, and was once more reminded how cool Omaha can be. The literary talent alone is impressive.

In the 10 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve experienced times when I write less than others. I either don’t make time, or I’m only inspired to write about things I probably shouldn’t, or I feel like I have nothing to say.

This past week, a week when I probably should’ve been blogging every single day, I couldn’t bring myself to write. I couldn’t quite get the balance right between joy and humility. As Stueve and I often lament: our Puritan DNA doesn’t like us to be proud of what we do.

So I’ll just say this: I have loved every photo posted on Instagram or Facebook or sent to me via iMessage when people get my book in the mail. I am humbled by the kind reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I was overjoyed Thursday night to see so many kind and friendly faces–people I’ve known for years, current students, former students, some strangers–all sharing in my excitement.

And I’m silly excited to head to Utah later this week for a couple of author events. I never imagined any of this when EAB said they would publish my book. Sometimes not imagining the possibilities is a good thing: we can be filled with awe at what actually happens.

 

Recluse.

This weekend was my church’s semi-annual General Conference, which I’ve started treating as a complete escape from regular life. I made sure I had ample provisions prior to Friday night, and when I woke up Saturday morning, I immediately relaxed knowing I didn’t have to go anywhere until Monday morning.

I made pumpkin waffles, chowder, a chocolate sheet cake, and rolls (twice–the first recipe didn’t rise, so I went back to my mom’s recipe). I did laundry. I did just the bare minimum of school work, making sure I had lesson plans done for the coming week.

And I watched four 2-hour sessions of the conference on my television. I heard some excellent talks about Jesus and grace and practical advice for how to be a better Christian.

The next two weeks are so busy–regular school responsibilities, a reading in Omaha, parent-teacher conferences, and a short trip to Utah–so I’m glad I spent this weekend in solitude and reflection. I’ve heard it’s good to occasionally retreat from life when facing something brand new on the horizon.

Thanks, Pal.

It’s Tuesday, right?

Because on Monday, I planned to blog every day this week, acknowledging all the help I received in publishing my book, but my calendar is trying to convince me it’s actually Thursday and I haven’t blogged since.

Shoot.

Yes, I included an acknowledgment section at the end of my book, so people are thanked there, but I have to expand a little on one of those thank-yous.

Mr. AE Stueve, author extraordinaire, probably did not realize he would take on multiple roles when he suggested four years ago that I write a book.

He became an advocate, taking my book to EAB and proposing they publish it.

He became an editor, reading I don’t even know how many drafts of the book and giving me valuable feedback.

He became a coach, encouraging me when I needed it and telling me to suck it up and write better when I needed it.

He became a cheerleader/therapist, reassuring me in the middle of epic freak-outs over so, so, so many issues (big and small) that accompany writing and publishing a book.

And most important, he became a friend. We had just started working in the same classroom mere months before NaNoWriMo 2011, when I wrote the first draft of “Lies Jane Austen Told Me.” We kind of knew each other prior, but working in the same classroom, advising journalism students, and shepherding my book the past four years, he’s become a trusted friend. I admire his dedication to his wife and family, to his writing, to his students, and to his friends.Box of Books

There is no way this book exists without his involvement. And regardless of how the book is received, the fringe benefit of having Stueve in my corner is beyond worth it.

Thanks, pal.

 

Judging a Book By Its Cover.

This week on my blog, I spotlight the people who helped me as I wrote and prepared my book for publication. 

When I realized the memoir I had written was actually going to be published, when I really let myself believe that it was going to happen, I started thinking about what the cover would look like.

I read memoirs quite often, and I don’t pay much attention to the covers, because I have my tried-and-true authors. If Anne Lamott wrote it, I’m reading it, regardless of the packaging. Joan Didion, same. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Amy Poehler are all famous enough to put their faces on their book covers, but even if that wasn’t the case, I’d still pick up their work.

Should I have my cover drawn? Should it just be a simple graphic design? I don’t remember when or how I envisioned what finally ended up being the cover, but I know it wouldn’t have happened without my good friend Ashley Crawford.

Web Cover Photo

Ashley Crawford Photography

Here’s some background on the photo: one of my fondest memories of being a student at BYU is taking a blanket out to the lawn to study, but I often ended up writing in my journal. The quilt in this photo is one my mom made me when I started my junior year at BYU. The journals in the photo contain most of the source text for my memoir. And the legs there? That’s me.

I explained to Ashley what this looked like in my head, and when I saw the photo, I wondered if, even for a nanosecond, she had special powers to access my brain because this is exactly what I wanted.

In addition to taking the photo for the cover, she also gave me some options for headshots to use on the back of the cover–one of my favorites is on my home page here on the blog. (I used a different one, in color, for the back cover.)

I’m so thrilled with how the cover turned out–front and back–and I hope the contents within live up to the images on the cover.

Twitter Probs.

 

When I first joined Twitter in 2009, I was still concerned about my digital footprint and social media presence. At that time, I even had a fake name on Facebook, so students could not find me and friend me. So on that Twitter account, I protected my tweets. Made it impossible for random people to follow me.

Then in 2010, I attended the National Council for Teachers of English convention, and I wanted to use Twitter as a way to share and connect with other teachers. Rather than make my private Twitter account public, I made a new handle altogether.

So for the past five years, I’ve been managing two accounts: one that is private, with limited followers where I feel free to express political and religious opinions, and one that is public, where I feel constrained to share only that which would not result in me losing my job (so mostly, rants about BYU sports and positive education messages).

But I have this book coming out Oct. 2. And when people google me, the private Twitter account appears, and the public one is absent. I want people to be able to engage with my on Twitter, especially if they have nice things to say about my book (haters, you can stay away).

So I have a dilemma of sorts–do I delete the private Twitter account? Or do I figure out how to get my public account more visible? Thoughts?