Posted in Blog, Hope Series, News & Events

My oops is your good news

hope trio_edited-1.jpg

I’ve made a publishing goof, and it might be in your favor. Here’s the details.

As a self-published author, every aspect of the publishing process is under my control. I format my own books. I hire my editor. I design my covers, or hire a designer to help me. I do my own marketing. I also say when and how the book will be published.

Earlier this month, I set up the pre-sale for Hope at the Crossroads, Book 2 of the Hope series. This book publishes this coming Tuesday, but it’s available for pre-sale now. Because I’ve already written the 3rd book in the series, Hope for the Broken Girl, I set that up for pre-sale now, too. The book is done, but it still needs to go through another editing session with me before I send it to my editor.

Here’s how the pre-sale button works for self-published authors. We can only set a pre-sale up three months in advance. So I set it for early January, and figured I’d change the date again every month or so.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. When I went in to change the date, I was told I could only move the publishing date out by 30 days, and then I was barred from using the pre-sale feature for one year.

Um, what?

After mulling this over, I’ve decided to take the hit. This means that when you finish reading Hope at the Crossroads, you only have to wait until FEBRUARY 5 to read Book 3 of the series.

This also means I’ll be going full speed ahead as I finalize the edits on this book and get it ready to release, not an easy task since NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’ll be whipping out another book next month. No worries, though, because I know I can do it.

So, long story long, Hope at the Crossroads publishes this coming Tuesday, and Hope for the Broken Girl is coming February 5!

Pre-order both at bit.ly/HopeSeriesKindle.

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Posted in Blog

Hope at the Crossroads, coming Oct. 24

In less than one week, Hope at the Crossroads, Book 2 of the Hope series, will be available to read. This book has been a labor of love, continuing Maddie’s story as a young teen mom, which began in The Road to Hope. I’ve been excited about this release since last year. And yet, it feels strange to release a book now.

My county, Sonoma County, is going through a huge fire disaster, one where many people, including people I love, have lost their homes. My parents were evacuated when this first started last Monday, and were finally able to get back in their home 2 days ago. My aunt and uncle lost their home, but managed to save their pet. I know of at least a dozen people I went to school with who lost their homes, plus 9 coworkers, plus several people I’ve become friends with over the years. One person I met because he reads my books, and now his home is gone. Whole neighborhoods are gone. Iconic landmarks and businesses are gone. Shelters are full. The air is filled with smoke. My family is safe in Petaluma, just south of the fires, but we’re all on edge as we keep our eyes on the horizon, searching for a new fire we hope well never see.

My day job is working at a newspaper. From the moment I woke up and discovered what was happening, I’ve been immersed in this fire. It’s been all hands on deck in the newsroom as we work together to keep the public informed. The first two days were chaotic, as it wasn’t fully clear where the fire was and where it would show up next. Today is Day 10 of this fire disaster, and it feels like a blur.

This is why releasing a book and promoting it feels strange. But I’m not going to put this book on hold. It is still releasing next Tuesday, Oct. 24. It will just be a slightly quieter release than usual. Once we’ve moved past this fire disaster, I’ll crow about it a little more. 🙂

The Kindle version is available for pre-order now at bit.ly/hopecrossroadskindle. The print version will be available on Tuesday, and it will be available on all eReaders soon.

Stay safe, friends, and tell those you love how much they mean to you.

Love Crissi

Posted in Blog, Life as I know it

Fire in Northern California

A firefighter monitors a flare of the Nuns fire in the Sonoma Valley, Oct. 11. (photo by Kent Porter / Press Democrat

I woke up Monday morning to the smell of smoke. It was faint, but strong enough that I kept searching for the source. I made my coffee, checking the burners on the stove to see if someone had left something on overnight. My dog stayed by my side, his nerves matching mine as the source of the smoky smell remained a mystery. As the coffee brewed, I checked notifications on my phone. That’s when I came across the text from my college saying classes were cancelled due to fires in area. Well, that explained the smoky smell. I grabbed my coffee and headed to my office. Before starting homework, I opened Facebook. That’s when I was met with post after post about the fire. My work, the Press Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa, had a Facebook Live video going, taken from the Kaiser hospital in north Santa Rosa. The scene was apocalyptic. A whole mobile home park torched. The hospital had been evacuated. Fire everywhere. I thought it was just that part, but soon learned that the town was surrounded. People had been evacuated. I immediately thought of my parents, and found out that they had also been evacuated.

Santa Rosa was on fire.

The sheer magnitude of what was happening began to unfold over the next several hours. There were fires in Napa, Calistoga, Kenwood, Santa Rosa, Windsor, Mendocino… It felt impossible as the fire grew, popping up in new spots. I spent the morning keeping our newspaper’s social media up to date, wondering if I was even going to be able to make it into work. I didn’t know if the freeway was open, if it was jam packed with cars, if I would be driving into the fire, if my own house would burn down while I was away. I felt pulled to stay and protect my family, and to go to work to help keep the public updated on what was going on. Luckily, my husband stayed home, ready to leave with the kids and dog should anything happen. I was assured that the freeway was clear. So I set into work.

The sky in Santa Rosa was a deep black toward the fire. Where my work was, we were safe, but the smell of smoke was thick. Inside the building it was just as bad. I soon became noseblind to it (though my head and sinuses have yet to recover), and set to work. All hands were on deck as everyone pulled together to gather information. Let me tell you, information was confusing. No one knew were the fires all were, where they were headed, who was in danger…nothing. We did what we could, but it felt like the world was caving in around us as information kept pouring in. A whole subdivision was lost. Then another. Hundreds of home, demolished. Thousands of people evacuated. So many unsure where their loved ones were, afraid they were part of the growing number of lives lost.

PDfrontpageThat first day was organized chaos. Our team of journalists shone in the worst situation possible. Several had been up all night, awake since the fire broke and in the office to do their job. Some were evacuated and still at the office, unsure if they’d have a home to go back to when all was said and done. Stories poured in. Video and photos poured in. People came to our page for information, wondering if we knew anything about their specific house. I tried to answer every question sent our way. Some left me feeling helpless, others I was able to give answers. The answers weren’t always good.

We’re about to enter our 4th day of fires. Yesterday there seemed a small victory as firefighters attacked a section of the fire near my childhood home. They lit a backfire, sending an alarmingly large plume of smoke over southeast Santa Rosa. Before knowing what was happening, it seemed like things were over. But the firefighters appeared successful; this morning, everything in that fire’s path is still standing.

Still, it feels bleak as the fire fight continues. The whole town of Calistoga has now been evacuated. Half of Sonoma is evacuated. Santa Rosa is still burning, and containment is unclear. It’s been 0% for days. My parents haven’t seen their house since they left early Monday morning, but we’re assured it still stands thanks to vigilant firefighters fighting defense on the hills around the neighborhood. We have no idea what we’ll see when….if…they come back home.

In all this, our community has formed a solid bond. We’re all in this together. People are reaching out to strangers. Donations of food, supplies, money are pouring into evacuation centers. Our newsroom has been well taken care of as people send food in every day for our hardworking crew. Friends are opening their homes to those who have no home to stay in. My aunt lost her home as her neighborhood was wiped out. My friends with a one-year-old left home with only the clothes on their back, returning to mere ashes. At least 10 of my high school classmates have lost homes, and several very generous people from our class have worked tirelessly to gather money and supplies for them. One of these classmates who lost their home is a fire captain, and he’s continuing to save other people’s homes even though his home is gone.

Me, I live in Petaluma. We’re still okay, but told to be prepared in case the fire comes this way. With the high winds expected today, it’s possible. I don’t even want to think about it. I’ve been devoted to the news while at work, and unable to detach while I’m at home. I’m praying it will end soon, trying to combat feelings of helplessness, that it’s all hopeless. I know it’s not, but when will this end? I’m trying not to be angry as the world keeps going on while our community goes up in flames. I’m trying not absorb the chaos, the desperate need, the sheer danger. What happens next for the people who have no homes? Where will people go when the evacuation centers can no longer hold them? It feels like the end of the world. It seems weird to open up the New York Times and see stories that have nothing to do with the fires here in California. Everything seems trivial while we continue to burn. Why hasn’t the president stepped in? Why aren’t there more planes fighting this in the sky? Why is the fire still burning?

I pray that this nightmare ends soon.

Posted in Blog, Writing

Writing process: How to write a novel fast

Crissi vineyardAs I gear up for the release of Hope at the Crossroads (Oct. 24!), I thought I’d take a moment to share about my writing process. I always love reading how other authors crank out their novels, don’t you?

First, I fully admit that I’m not writing any books at the moment. My focus is on college and the Hope series book #2 release, so my main writing is journaling and class essays. However, writing is definitely on the horizon. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner (see more info at the end of this post), and I’m getting ready to start outlining my book project for that month.

In the meantime, here’s a look at what my writing process is like:

Before I’ve even started writing the novel, I have an outline to the story already in front of me, something that lays out every single chapter in as much detail as I can dream up. This outline can change, if the story requires it. But generally, it stays pretty similar. I’ve written books off the cuff, and it can be a truly organic experience. It can also take so much time to do, because there’s plenty of room for writer’s block. I’ve also done it with short outlines. But since I started mapping out each scene and chapter with details, my writing speed has increased a ton. I don’t think it impedes that organic creative flow, as it’s there while I’m writing the outline. Having it all mapped out, I know where I’m going and what it is going to take for me to get there. Then I let my characters fill in the blanks.

Now for my actual schedule. I wake up at 5 a.m. and start the water for a cup of coffee. While it’s heating, I let the dog out to pee, and I do my devotionals. This is my time with God, through both reading and praying. Once I have my coffee and the dog is settled, I finish my devotionals, and then spend about 30 minutes pre-writing. Usually this is just journaling an extension of my prayers or an issue I’m struggling with, or even a character study or scene that I’ll never use in the final draft. Pre-writing is important because it warms up that writing muscle so that when I get to actual novel writing, the first words aren’t those crappy ones we end up deleting anyway.

Then it’s on to the novel. I’ve made it a habit to NEVER GO BACK when I’m writing a book. I do not re-read anything until I’m totally done writing the story, as it will only trip me up. The first draft has a lot of mess to it, and focusing on any of that mess won’t help the forward motion. I do, however, write a paragraph at the end of each writing session to clue me in on where I’m headed. This way, there’s no guesswork. Plus, I have my outline to keep me on track.

My first writing session is about 2 hours, and then I’m off to work for the day. Generally that’s enough time for me to get about 1,500-2,000 words, my goal for the day. I’ll write a little more on my lunch break as well. After work, I often don’t write because I’m busy with family stuff. Plus, my brain stops working in the evening.

When I’m in the middle of a book project, the story is with me constantly, even when I’m not writing. The characters are with me, the scenes, everything. I could drive down the freeway, and I’m stuck in the middle of my world and my character’s world. It’s completely consuming, and I love it. But I can’t stay in that mode forever, because I tend to tune everyone else out. This is why I use seasons for book writing. I devote myself completely to the project, and then detach once it’s done (following the inevitable mourning period after typing The End, of course). I set it down for a month or so, catch up on some sleep, and then pick it back up to re-read and start editing.

And that’s it!

Want to write a novel? Here’s your recipe for success:

  1. Write a details outline of the story, start to finish, laid out scene-by-scene (you may even want to include character studies and scenery. Bonus, some of this can end up in the story!)..
  2. Pick the same time every day to sit down and write. This will strengthen your writing habit, and help your brain settle into writing mode since it’s an expected time to write..
  3. Start with pre-writing. This can be a few paragraphs of what you want to happen next in the story, a character study, or journaling. This is your warmup before you get to the actual story..
  4. WRITE..
  5. Don’t re-read anything, unless it’s just the last few paragraphs to get you reacquainted with the story..
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 every day.

Last year I released Reclaim Your Creative Soul, a book that shares tips and secrets for being the most creative you can be, even when living a full-time life. I included many of my writing tips for writing fast, and ways I’ve used organization to make my writing time the most effective. Trust me, I’m not the most organized person in general. However, I’ve developed a few habits around my writing career that have allowed me to keep writing books, even when I’m also going to college, working full-time, and raising a family.

If you’d like to learn how to find more time in your busy life for writing, you can find it on Amazon here, or visit crissilangwell.com/creative-soul for other retailers.

By the way, right now is the perfect time to start planning your novel. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming up in November. That’s only 1 1/2 months away, which is enough time for you to start working on your story outline. Find out more about NaNoWriMo here.

Posted in Blog, Writing

Take a tour of my new writing studio!

desk

A few weeks ago, my daughter moved out. And I should be sad, but I’m not. I mean, Summer’s not sad, so why should I be sad? It helps that she only lives down the street. She’s renting a room at a family friend’s house, and she still comes over now and then. It also helps that before she left, I hardly saw her anyway, as she works almost full-time and is going to college. With her moved out, I think I still see her just as much as I saw her when she lived her.

But the other reason I’m not sad: I now have my own writing studio!

I haven’t really had a dedicated writing space since becoming an author. For a little while, I used a desk in my bedroom, and even wrote about it in my book, Reclaim Your Creative Soul. In that book, I really stressed how important it was for artists to have a space they could use to unleash their creative flow. And yet, my own writing space was not ideal (hear more about it in the video below).

So now, I have a room where I can wake up early and not bother anyone. As I’m writing this, I have an oil diffuser filling the room with a lovely scent of peppermint and lavender, my dog snoring on his pillow right next to me, some soft spa music playing in the background, and ZERO distractions.

Here’s a video tour of my writing studio:

Posted in Blog, Hope Series, News & Events

The bad news. And then the good news.

Dear Friends,

I hate doing this. It’s something I’ve been mulling over for the past week, trying to figure out if there’s another way. There isn’t…at least if I want to do this right.

I need to postpone the publish date for Hope at the Crossroads, the 2nd book of the Hope series.

I know a lot of you were looking forward to reading more of Maddie’s story, and this is probably a disappointment. This is a disappointment to me, too. I was really excited to release this book, and even more excited to know how this story affects you.

I just want to get this right.

There are still some areas of this book that need some smoothing, and I don’t want to rush this. This series is way too important to me, and your reading experience is even more important. And so I am moving the publish date to a new day.

Mark your calendars for OCTOBER 24.

In the meantime, you can still read the book that started it all, The Road to Hope, Book 1 in the Hope series. At this time, it’s still only available on Kindle and at Amazon, but will soon be available in print or as an eBook at any of your favorite online retailers, and for any digital device. See where to find it here.

Thank you, as always, for your support, and for reading!

Love,
Crissi Langwell

hope pub tease

Posted in Blog, Inspiration, Life as I know it, Writing

The temptation to give up

Today, an author I’m friends with wrote a post about giving up. “It turns out the world does not need my novels,” she wrote. “I have spent thousands and thousands of hours writing and reading about writing, and for what?”

I hate that she wrote this. And I get why she wrote this. And I totally understand why she is ready to call it quits on writing.

I have these arguments with myself almost every day.

In fact, I was just talking myself down today as I drove home from work . It had been an especially hectic day at my day job, and I’d left my desk knowing that if I lingered for even a minute more, thirty more minutes of work would land in my lap. So I raced out of there. And the whole drive home, I questioned what I was doing. Why was I working so damn hard at a job that sometimes feels suffocating, and it’s not what I want to be doing? Why hasn’t my dream of being a full-time author been realized when I’ve worked so damn hard at this for the past 5 years of publishing, and 3 decades of writing? How long can I sustain writing novels, working full time, going to school, taking care of my family, and every other part of my life, all at the same time?

What if….what if I wasn’t meant to be an author?

I’m always stunned into silence when this thought crosses my mind.

I love words. I love the shape of them, the taste of them, and the feel of them. I love the way they look on a page, how they smell in a book, and how they sound in other people’s mouths. I want to spend the rest of my life playing with words, and my dream is that this will always involve storytelling: playing with words, creating words, writing words, and then using them to create books that people love to read.

But what if the people never come?

Today I saw another frustrated post from a different author who had written 20 novels, and she still hadn’t seen any kind of success. Her books don’t suck, either! Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here with 8 books, believing my time should have come. Apparently there’s no number to these things.

It is really, really hard when you want something so bad, and it just isn’t coming to you. In The Alchemist (my favorite book), Paulo Coelho writes, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

But why does the universe have to take so damn long???

Coelho also writes, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

And this, my friends, is the meaning of life.

We all have dreams we wish to fulfill. And when that dream is realized, a new one must be sought after. After all, life would lose meaning if you had nothing to work toward.

Do I want to be chasing success this hard all my life as an author? Absolutely not. But I never want it to get old. It’s always going to be hard, and I’m always going to be striving to make it happen, as this is what I know I’m supposed to be doing.

Now, that’s not to say that my dream won’t one day change or evolve, or that my friend is wrong for “giving up.” Sometimes things just aren’t in the cards, as much as that hurts to write. However, no dream is a wasted dream. I truly believe this. An unrealized dream may just be the bridge you need to set you on the path toward the dream that’s meant to be.

Or, sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break so we can rediscover what we loved about our original dream in the first place.

___

SHAMELESS PLUG: My book, The Road to Hope, is still FREE! But only until Sunday. Don’t miss this chance to read the first book in my 3-book Hope series for free!

Posted in Blog

This week only: The Road to Hope is FREE!

Hey friends! I just wanted to give a quick update on what’s going on in book news this week, along with book release news.

First up, if you haven’t read The Road to Hope yet, this is your lucky week! To celebrate the upcoming release of Hope at the Crossroads, Book 2 in the Hope series, I am offering Book 1 for FREE! This is for the Kindle version of The Road to Hope only. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read this from the app on your smartphone. Please don’t miss this opportunity. The Road to Hope has NEVER been offered for free! Download it here.

Btw, don’t hesitate, this offer ends Aug. 6.

Second, starting next week, The Road to Hope will be available on iBooks, Kobo, and other digital reading tablets. Since this book published in 2014, it has only been available on Kindle. So if you prefer reading your digital books on a non-Kindle device, you’ll be able to read The Road to Hope next week!

Third, if you’re local to Sonoma County, I’ll be at the Sonoma County Fair this Sunday (Aug. 6) in the EC Kraft Building. If you’re at the fair this Sunday, come say hi and check out all my books. Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek at Hope at the Crossroads before it publishes!

Which brings me to #4: Hope at the Crossroads publishes on Sept. 5! Pre-sales will be available soon, and I’ll send out an update as soon as I have a link to share. This series is near and dear to my heart. If you read anything of mine, let this be the series you read.

That’s all for now! Chat with you soon!

Love,
Crissi Langwell

Posted in Blog, The Road to Hope, Writing

Hope at the Crossroads, and writing my heart

Crossroads FINALThe countdown is on for the release of Hope at the Crossroads, the 2nd book in the Hope series. The book is set to release on Sept. 5, which is only 7 short weeks away. Right now, beta readers are finishing with the book, and then it goes to the editor before it’s finally released to all of you.

This series is one that’s extremely close to my heart. This morning I was thinking about what the entire 3-book series is about, and what it means for me. When I first wrote The Road to Hope, it was only meant to be a stand-alone book. I wrote about Jill’s loss of her son so that I could write about my feelings of losing my own son to stillbirth. I wrote about Maddie’s journey as a teen mom and becoming homeless so that I could write about my own journey as a young mom who struggled through poverty. I wrote about the Wilsons, who took Hope in and gave her a home, because they were like my own parents who nursed me back to health after I left an abusive marriage.

When I ended that first book, I felt like I’d said everything I needed to say. But then I realized, I really hadn’t, particularly through Maddie. That first book, I spoke about loss, about falling down and then getting back up. What I didn’t write about was what happens next. What happens after you’ve turned your life around? I’ll tell you what—your mind plays tricks on you. Your life might look different, but inside, you’re still that same person you were, ready for the deck to fall in your fragile house of cards. When things are great, you question if you’re worth all this goodness. You are prone to turning back to your old lifestyle. You feel inadequate. You may even sabotage everything you’ve gained in your new life.

In Hope at the Crossroads, Maddie is now living at the Winstons’ house with Hope. She’s just graduated, and her future is promising. She’s learning about the winery business with Mr. Winston, and her life on the streets is far behind. Except, it really isn’t. In her mind, she feels out of place. She will always be that rejected teen, the one her parents threw away, and then her boyfriend. She’ll always be that homeless pregnant teen, the one people avoided looking at while they walked by. She battles feelings of unworthiness while trying to move forward—and this affects every single aspect of her life, and threatens her relationships with the people who love her most.

While the 1st book was about falling back down and getting back up again, book 2 is about the inner battle of identity. It’s about life after a dramatic change, when life has changed but the mind hasn’t. It’s about worthiness, overcoming old narratives, and about how we tend to sabotage ourselves because we feel we’re not worthy.

I wrote this series to get out my most personal story of loss, identity, and redemption. But I also wrote it because I’m not alone. I wrote this to offer HOPE to others who have experienced loss, who struggle with overcoming lies about our identity, and about letting love lead us out of the trenches.

Of everything I’ve ever written, this series is the one that’s my heart.