Winning NaNoWriMo, and a few other exciting tidbits

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileYup. I won NaNoWriMo! Yesterday I crammed in 5500 words to cross the 50K finish line. Today, I wrote another 4000 words. And this weekend I plan to wrap up the novel altogether with the last two chapters of Love Truffle No. 9, thus completing the (very) rough draft of my second book in the upcoming “Dessert for Dinner” series. This is my 5th NaNoWriMo I’ve officially “won.” To say I feel accomplished is an understatement.

Of course, writing 50K+ words in 20 days doesn’t come without a price. The editing process is going to be a long and windy road as I clean up all the muck and grime. However, underneath the messy parts, I am really pleased with how this novel turned out. I can’t wait until I can start releasing this series. I promise you, it will be well worth the wait!

In other news, I am gearing up for a massive discount on my latest novel, The Road to Hope. From November 28th (Black Friday!) to Dec. 2, the eBook will be on sale for only 99 cents. Of course, if you have Amazon Prime you can get it now for free. I do hope you’ll take advantage of this sale. Here’s the link —-> bit.ly/road2hopebook

book lovers smallAnd third, I am hosting a Facebook event titled “Book Lovers Holiday Bonanza.” I am still sorting out the details, but I can share a few of them with you now. The event is on Dec. 12 and will feature 5 authors who will be giving away their books throughout the day. There will be multiple chances to win, and I promise there will be some really cool prizes. Stay tuned for more details to come. For now, you are more than welcome to RSVP for the event here —-> facebook.com/events/1529396500651035

By the way, I’m still looking for authors to feature. To learn more on how you can get involved, click here.

That’s all for now!

Forever Thirteen named a winner in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards!

Forever ThirteenMy book actually won! Forever Thirteen earned an Honorable Mention in the Young Adult section of the contest. That’s like 2nd place in its category! And the fact that they chose my book out of thousands of others is a pretty huge honor.

So to celebrate, I am continuing my sale for Kindle readers. You can download Forever Thirteen for only 99 cents for a limited time by visiting bit.ly/Forever13.

To learn more about the book, go here.

Here’s what the judge had to say about Forever Thirteen:

Judge’s Commentary, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards: 

From the very first line to the very last page, I was captured by this well-penned story of love, loss, and friendship. What an amazing idea—a story about a young boy who died as he was on the precipice of coming of age—and he still gets to experience this and much more from beyond.  I love this concept and while it is poignant yet heartbreaking, the author does a wonderful job throughout.

Another thing worth mentioning here is that this book is a continuation of a prior book or a subsequent book in a series.  The author does a fantastic job of designing this story to be read as a standalone even if you haven’t read the prior novel.  This is sometimes a tough thing to achieve and the author has done a great job here.

On the production side, this novel is beautifully crafted and well-designed.  From the melancholy cover to the top-notch formatting and editing—this book scores big.  Nice pacing with an even flow of both narrative and dialogue throughout.  The author’s voice is spot on for the genre and intended audience.

Nice opening hooks which keep the reader engaged all the way through to the tear jerker of an epilogue.  This book has it all.  Well done.

10 Cozy Things

1. National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo) officially begins today. This month I will be busy writing the second book in a series I am releasing next month. I have literally been counting down the days until Nov. 1st! Join me at nanowrimo.org/participants/crissi

The Road to Hope2. The Road to Hope is published! I’ve received some positive feedback from everyone who reads it, and it makes me so happy to learn about new people reading it!

3. I was interviewed at Strand’s Simply Tips as their featured author. I encourage you to go check it out. Joyce Strand has such a great blog, and interviews some of the most interesting writers. I’m honored that she asked me to be one of them! She asked me some really insightful questions. But I think my favorite was when she asked me about how relevant heroes and villains were to my stories. Check it out to find out my answer.

4. It’s the day after Halloween and I am totally nursing a candy hangover. I swear, I am giving up all bad things until Thanksgiving….or at least until my hangover has passed. All right, that’s not really cozy, lol.

Forever Thirteen5. Remember my second book, Forever Thirteen? It’s 99 cents for Kindle right now. If you’ve been waiting to read it, now is the perfect time to do so. Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can read it on the Kindle app from your phone or computer. But hurry, this price isn’t staying this way forever.

6. We “fall back” tomorrow. That means one extra hour to do whatever you want. You could sleep in, or you could use that time to do something else. Me? I’ll obviously be writing. What will YOU be doing?

7. I have the cutest dog in the world. True story.

8. I recently discovered a new book called Peter: The Untold True Story. It’s a historical account of a child known as the “Wild Boy,” who could have been a partial inspiration behind Peter Pan. It’s fascinating. And every time I read it, I just want to curl up in the pages. I love anything Peter Pan. And I love cozy books like these.

9. First day of November means fires in fireplaces, hot cocoa in mugs, down comforters at night, cuddling on the couch…. I love autumn!

10. Only 37 more days until my birthday, and 55 days until Christmas!

Happy November everyone!

Thank you.

happy endingOn November 1, 2011, I embarked on a writing adventure called NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. The goal was to reach 50,000 words by November 30th, and I was bound and determined to meet that goal.

The Road to HopeDuring those thirty days, I poured my heart out in a reckless rough draft that mingled real life with fiction, unleashing a few hurts and hardships I’d suffered in life—the death of a child, poverty, young pregnancy, heartbreak—and allowed my characters to suffer on my behalf while I healed. In doing so, I fell in love with my characters, Maddie and Jill, two women who suffered terrible loss and found strength in the rebuilding of their lives.

This book is The Road to Hope, and tomorrow I will finally be able to share it with all of you. In many ways, it’s a love letter to the darker times of my past. And it’s a letter of hope to those of you who may be in the thick of it.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Love, Crissi

Where to buy:

Kindle or Kindle app
Amazon Print

Note: This book is not available publicly for other e-readers. However, contact me if you read on a non-Kindle device and we can work something out.

Cover reveal of The Road to Hope

If you are part of my newsletter email list, you have already seen the cover of my upcoming book, The Road to Hope. If you’re not, shame on you. ;-) You can remedy that by clicking here.

My book designer and close friend, Liz Carrasco, has worked her magic to create yet another gorgeous cover for one of my books. Some of you may remember the beautiful cover she created for Forever Thirteen. So when she offered her talents to The Road to Hope, I didn’t hesitate. And I’m so glad, because look what she created:

Click on image to pre-orderDon’t you just love it???

I especially love the vineyard on the front cover of the book. It was taken in Sonoma County (where I live) by local author and photographer, Kent Sorensen. You can check out his photography at kentwsorensen.com.

And now for surprise #2. The Road to Hope is available for pre-order for Kindle readers RIGHT NOW! I am keeping the price at $2.99 through the book’s first week so that all of you can get it at a lower price. After that, the price goes back up. So be sure to order it soon to secure the lower price.

CLICK HERE to pre-order.

And now for a little bit of news for those of you who read on eBooks that are not Kindles. I have decided to sell the eBook version of The Road to Hope on Amazon only, at least for the next three months. If you read books on a Nook, Kobo, etc., contact me and we can work out a way for you to still be able to read it.

For print readers, never fear. The Road to Hope will be available across the web in book form, beginning October 15th, and eventually at Copperfield’s in Sonoma County.

Thanks for reading!

The Road to Hope publishes Oct. 15! How about a teaser?

I am setting the publish date! The book is edited and ready to go. The cover is in the final stages of being designed (so I can’t reveal it yet). And I am chomping at the bit to share The Road to Hope with you! For now, how about another teaser?

~~~
~ Chapter Four ~
Not Our Little Girl

Maddie ducked her head down under the pressure of the officer’s hand, giving up all efforts of the fight she’d had in her just moments before. What was the point? They had her. At least she’d have a warm place to sleep tonight.

She could have killed Jordan, even as she understood why he took off and let her bear the full brunt of his scheme. It had all seemed so simple when he had relayed the plan. Who would suspect a pregnant girl to do anything against the law? Despite her growing belly and disheveled hair, she still possessed the look of a girl who came from a good home. With her wide brown eyes and effortless smile, she had the face of innocence.

But inside, she held the rage of a girl who had been turned out by her parents once the pregnancy test came back positive…

***

One month earlier in Gallup, New Mexico.

“But where am I supposed to go?” Maddie cried.

“Why don’t you go find that low-life boyfriend of yours and tell him you’re his problem now,” her father said. He stood firm, his military background shining through as he looked at his daughter without any hint of sympathy. Even though it had been years since he’d retired from the Army, he still sported the close cropped hair and muscular build. And Maddie, she was expected to be his little soldier, standing in line and only doing as told.

“Bill, please,” her mother said, placing her hand on her husband’s arm. As large and intimidating as Maddie’s father was, her mother was the exact opposite. Petite in every sense of the word, her mother took to sweaters and pearls, her light brown hair always combed and pulled back. She aimed for perfection, volunteered for the PTA, and attended bible studies in the middle of the week. Maddie’s mom was firm in her beliefs, and consistent in her appearance. But she always stood down when it came to Maddie’s dad. So when her mom tried to stop him with the touch of her hand, Maddie wasn’t surprised to see him shake her off and turn his glare toward her.

“Not now, Carol. Maddie needs to learn she can’t just go around life doing whatever she damn well pleases with no repercussions whatsoever,” he said.

“But she’s pregnant. We can’t just throw her out,” her mother pleaded.

“She should have thought about that before sleeping around. We’ve raised our children.”

“But this will be our grandchild!” her mom argued.

Maddie’s dad was silent for a moment as he regarded his wife. For a moment, Maddie thought he might reconsider. But when her father returned his cold gaze to her, Maddie’s heart fell.

“No it won’t,” her father said. “Because I don’t have a daughter.”

The words struck Maddie, taking her breath away. She could feel the tears hovering in her eyes, but she willed them to stay back. She closed her mouth, setting it into a firm line as she worked to mirror the icy stare of her father.

“Fine,” she said. She turned on her heel and went to walk toward her bedroom.

“Where do you think you’re going, young lady?” her father called behind her.

“I’m going to get my things,” she muttered through clenched teeth.

“What?”

“I’m going to get my things!” she yelled, turning to face him with her hands on her hips. Her father only glared at her.

“You don’t have any things,” he told her.

“Yes I do!” she yelled. She could feel her chest burning as her fury erupted in the hallway. Her father remained calm.

“No, you don’t,” he said. “I bought all those things. They’re mine.”

“You didn’t buy everything!” Maddie yelled. “What about all of my Christmas presents? And what the hell are you going to do with all my clothing, my stuffed animals, and the pictures of all my friends?” she demanded.

“Whatever the hell I want,” he replied with narrowed eyes.

Maddie took several deep breaths as she faced her father, every muscle in her body clenched. She waited for him to back down, to tell her he’d give her another chance, to let her know he was only teaching her a lesson, and the lesson was now over. But he never did. Instead, he moved to the side and pointed toward the door as if she were a mere dog being ordered outside.

She thought of all the things in her room she was leaving behind. Her pillow, the one she’d both laughed and cried into. Her favorite sweatshirt, the light pink one with the hood. The teddy bear she’d had since the day she was born. The dozens of photos that lined her mirror, reminding her of friends she had once been close to before she met Jordan. Her journal that detailed every single one of her thoughts, including thoughts she never wanted her parents to know.

“You don’t own my journal,” she said. “I’m getting my journal.”

Her father regarded her for a moment, then nodded his head toward her bedroom.

“Fine,” he said. “But you have two minutes, or I’ll come in there and throw you out myself.”

Maddie didn’t hesitate. She turned on her heel and rushed into her room. She opened the drawer next to her bed and pulled out the journal and a pen. She also grabbed the small stash of money she’d been putting aside for a rainy day, stuffing the dollars in her pocket. She looked around the room, searching for anything else she could grab. After a moment’s thought, she took her pink sweatshirt out of her drawer and slipped it on. Then she grabbed her backpack and began stuffing whatever clothes she could find that would accommodate her soon-to-be-growing body.

“No!” her father yelled, standing in the doorway. “Drop the bag and get out.” He strode forward, and Maddie clutched the bag to her chest, ready to fight him if she had to.

“No, Bill,” her mother said, determination in her voice. She held on to his arm tight, and didn’t let go when he tried to shake her off. “It’s bad enough that she has to leave. The least we can do is to let her go with a few things.”

“The least we could do was everything we already did—raise her with proper ideals, a roof over her head, and with all that we worked hard for so that she could live a good life,” he hissed. But he didn’t fight his wife, allowing Maddie the time to pull her backpack on and grab her journal off the bed. Eyeing her dad, she also grabbed the teddy bear off of her pillow. Without a word, she dared him to stop her. He didn’t.

Maddie looked at her mom. Tears were now streaming from her mother’s eyes down her cheeks. She rushed forward and grabbed Maddie into a bear hug.

“I’m so sorry, honey,” she said. She pushed something into Maddie’s hand away from the hovering eyes of her husband. Maddie recognized the familiar texture of dollar bills, and she quickly stuffed them into her pocket with the rest of her money. She knew this wasn’t her mother’s decision for her to go. Still, she kept her emotions from spilling over. Her mom could stop all of this from happening. She could put her foot down. But she didn’t this time, just like she never stood up to Maddie’s dad every other time he laid down the law. She was just letting her daughter go without any fight at all.

It was Maddie who pulled away from the embrace first, and her mom put her hand over her mouth with a sob. Without saying a word, Maddie strode past her parents and out of the room, down the hall and through the front door for the very last time. It wasn’t until she’d hit the sidewalk when the sound of her mother’s sobbing stopped following her. And still, she knew that sound would haunt her for a very long time.

****

The countdown is on! The Road to Hope will be available for purchase on October 15, 2014.

Don’t tell Colleen Hoover I Facestalked her.

Blog note: This post is kind of embarrassing. Don’t read it. Especially if you are Colleen Hoover.

There are two realities I’ve been living in lately – one of total frustration and impatience, and one of sheer excitement about possibilities. It’s whatever one I’m focusing on that dictates how I live.

Hint: Cupcakes are a delicious part of my new book series coming in 2015.

Hint: Cupcakes are a delicious part of my new book series coming in 2015.

Right now, I have several exciting things to look forward to. The first is that I have made a clear plan for getting out of debt, and the end is in sight. The second is that I am weeks away from releasing my third novel, The Road to Hope. The third exciting thing is that I have a new 4-book series coming out this next year that I am crawling out of my skin to release because I’m so excited about it.

When I focus on these three things, my whole world is rosy and I am overjoyed to greet each day. But sometimes, Negative Nelly takes over, reminding me of how much work needs to be done to get these three things off the ground, and how one slip can bring everything down.

Negative Nelly:

“You’ll never get this book finished in time.”
“Why save to pay off debt when you can buy cool things?”
“Some huge expense is going to knock your budget off center, anyway, so stop saving.”
“There are so many moving parts to this book series. You sure you want to commit to this?”
“You’re going to be stuck wishing you were a big time author forever.”
“Are you really serious about your book release schedule? Because that will never happen.”
“Why are you putting so much effort into writing books when you’re paying more than you’re receiving?”“You might as well throw in the towel. You know you will eventually, anyway.”

This morning, as I felt the excitement of possibility warming my insides, I could hear Negative Nelly knocking at my door, asking to be let in. And so I did what anyone would do in this situation.

I turned to Facebook.

Okay, so that’s not actually a good answer. If you’re feeling down about yourself or you need to get some work done, Facebook is the last place you should turn. It’s a tempting distraction from everything you should be doing, and you’re liable to feel worse about yourself after running through an endless timeline of other people’s successes or tragedies. However, this morning I came across a post by the ever prolific author, Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s on tour right now with Oprah and a bunch of other inspiring people. And the latest talks they had elicited the following statement:

“You don’t get what you wish for, you get what you believe.”

If you’ve been following my posts, you know I believe this truth with all my being. I believe we manifest whatever it is we focus on. So if we’re focusing on being a failure or not succeeding, those things will come true. But if we focus on moving forward one step at a time, reaching our goal, and living our dreams, it will come to fruition.

So I told Negative Nelly that I didn’t have time to listen to her today.

colleen hoover

Colleen Hoover

But then I went one step further. In my goal to one day be writing books for a living, I needed to see how other authors had done it. So I went back to Facebook (I know. Bear with me.), and Facestalked one of my favorite indie authors – Colleen Hoover.

Now this woman is someone you all should be following if you’re into New Adult romance, or you just like brilliantly funny people. Colleen is everywhere. She recently just came off a book tour with a few other authors writing under the label Atria Indie Authors. In the last 2.5 years, she’s written 8 books, all of which have received tons of attention. She’s in the top sellers list, like always. She releases a book, and then two months later, she has a new book she’s releasing.

The woman is on fire.

However, it wasn’t what she’s doing now that I wanted to see. I mean, it’s inspiring and all. But I wanted to see where she was when she was like me – just starting out and waiting to hit the big time. So I looked back to her beginning days, the ones where she had just published her first novel, Slammed.

First things, Colleen Hoover found a way to hit the ground running. She published Slammed at the beginning of 2012 (or possibly December 2011), and the reviews began trickling in. It seemed she really knew how to get the word out about her book. And within two months, she had the second book in the series released. And then she began hitting the bestsellers lists, including the NY Times as well as Amazon. And then she sold 100,000 copies of books in June of that year.

While this is kind of more than amazing, that wasn’t what I was looking at. I wanted to see who Colleen was back then vs. who she is today.

Today’s Colleen is incredibly successful. But back in 2012, Colleen was new to all of this. Her first few posts are months apart. And when she does post, there’s a sweet awkwardness underneath, with only a few comments and shares.

This is a vast difference from today’s posts, where hundreds of people share her words, and thousands are liking or commenting.

At any rate, one thing is unmistakable about Colleen Hoover from the very beginning – she believed in herself as a writer, and worked her butt off to make her dream a reality. I mean, it isn’t just sitting around to release quality books as quickly as she did. The fact that she became so popular so quickly is no mistake. She made that happen.

So seeing all of this, I became even more inspired to send Negative Nelly on her way and start focusing on what I need to do to get things off the ground.

Me:

“The Road to Hope is a beautiful story your readers are going to love.”
“You have some amazing ideas for this new book series coming out next year.”
“You’re going to enter 2015 almost completely debt free. Won’t that feel amazing?”
“You are living your dream right now. You are a writer. Be patient, good things are in the works.”
2015 is going to be a game changing year.”

As a final note, in Elizabeth Gilbert’s post I mentioned earlier, she confessed that before she was a bestselling author, she was serving eggs and hash browns at some greasy spoon diner. While she was waitressing, however, she never stopped believing she was a writer. She WAS a writer. Even amid rejection letter after rejection letter, she believed. She worked long days, and spent all her free time writing. And it took YEARS before success finally found her. But in all that time, before she was doing tours with Oprah or inspiring people with Eat. Pray. Love., she was a writer.

I am a writer. And you? You are whatever it is you believe yourself to be. So decide what that is. And then live it.

P.S. Colleen Hoover, you are totally welcome to Facestalk me back.