Just published! Hope at the Crossroads, Book 2 of the Hope series

Hope at the Crossroads is available now! 

Take a journey with Maddie, a teen mom figuring out life while raising her daughter Hope in the heart of Wine Country. Hope at the Crossroads is now available in print and Kindle on Amazon.

bit.ly/hopecrossroadskindle

This is Book 2 of the Hope series, a trilogy that began with The Road to Hope, and will finish with the release of Book 3, Hope for the Broken Girl, on Feb. 5.

Happy reading!

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The book that almost never was

TigerLily tease2

I’m about to tell you about the book that almost never was. Every year I write a book for National Novel Writing Month in November. This last year, however, I was stumped. I had just written Reclaim Your Creative Soul, and that book took a lot of energy out of me. I figured I would just skip it this year. But at the eleventh hour before the eleventh month, an idea came to me—why not just have fun with it this year? I know, a novel idea for a novel.

And so, I did. Having always been a fan of Peter Pan and Neverland, I began exploring the idea of writing about a character that only got a bit role in the original story: Tiger Lily. I began to develop who she was, where she came from, the values of her people, and her likes and dislikes. Just like Peter Pan is a coming of age story, Tiger Lily’s story was much the same. She became a princess held captive by rules she didn’t appreciate, and with hopes and desires that didn’t fit the mold of her people.

Throw in some pirates, a few Never beasts, the Lost Boys, and Peter Pan, and I suddenly had a story.

To up the ante, I not only wrote the story, I LIVE wrote it. Many of you followed along as I posted each chapter to Wattpad, allowing you to see the inside process of what it’s like for a novel to be written beginning to ending. While it was just a rough draft, I was pleased with how things worked out as I wrote. Many of you expressed interest as well, anxiously waiting for me to post the next chapter.

The story was never supposed to be published. It was just something to amuse myself and a few fans, and nothing more. However, the more I wrote, the more I realized that the story was taking on a life of its own. It was more than just an amusing tale, it was a story that needed to be told.

This story became Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan, and it just published this morning!

For the next few days, I am keeping the Kindle version of this book at 99 cents so that there are no barriers for you to buy this book. This is my gift to you for sticking alongside me, cheering me on, and anticipating this very moment. Please don’t delay in buying this book now, as the price goes back up after the weekend.

Furthermore, I have a few contests on my Facebook page if you’d like a chance to win the print version of this book. Just look up #LTWgiveaways and you’ll find a bunch of contests that are going until Sunday.

Thank you for all your support, and happy reading!

Love,
Crissi

New book release! Come Here, Cupcake is now available!

Who’s ready for some cupcakes? 🙂

I am so excited to announce the release of my latest novel, Come Here, Cupcake. This book has been years in the making, and has been a true labor of love in its creation. I am so proud of this story and hope to share it with as many readers as possible.

This is why I am offering the eBook version of Come Here, Cupcake at 99 cents – TODAY ONLY.

Cupcake Release Tease

There are a couple of advantages to buying the eBook version of Come Here, Cupcake. First, it’s less expensive than the print version. Second, only the eBook version has a recipe to Limoncello Cupcakes inside (one of the desserts made by main character, Morgan Truly). And third, you can start reading the story immediately!

Here is where you can purchase this book:

CHC ebook teaseeBook – ONLY 99 CENTS ON OCT. 5!

Print

Oct. 5 only: Win a dozen cupcakes delivered right to your door. See my Facebook page for more details.

Add Come Here, Cupcake to your To-Read list on Goodreads

Find out more details about Come Here, Cupcake at bit.ly/ComeHereCupcake.

10 rainy day musings

Happy December friends! I can’t believe we’re in our final month of 2014. What a crazy year it’s been! Here are 10 things I’m thinking of today as the year comes to a close.

1. It’s hard not to feel down when there is so much horrible stuff going on around the world, both close to home and far away. But it’s times like these that remind me of a Mr. Rogers quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Let’s make a stand to be the helpers. Here are some things you can do:
Smile more. Give loved ones your time. Step in when those around you need help. Say ‘I love you’ more. Hug. Use your phone as a talking tool, not just a texting tool. Be generous. Practice empathy. Stay positive.
One of my friends posted this to their Facebook page:


Let’s do more stuff like this. Let’s spread love in these troubled times. Are you with me?

2. My birthday is this Sunday! Want to know a confession? I cry every year on the day before my birthday. How terrible is that? I never thought I’d be the person who would mourn getting older. And I can’t even promise it won’t happen again this year. However, I’m also starting to view each birthday as the start of something brand new. My 36th year held so many wonderful things. What are my intentions for my 37th? This is something I’ll be thinking on for the next week until my new year begins.

3. My most recent book, The Road to Hope, actually hit the Amazon Bestsellers List this week! It got as high as #64 in the Women’s Fiction category, which is really, really hard to do. This was due to everyone taking advantage of the book’s discounted pricing, shooting it up in the rankings, and making it much more visible to other readers who may not have seen it otherwise. I cannot thank you enough!
BTW, The Road to Hope is still less than $1 for a limited time if you haven’t downloaded it yet. Check it out here: bit.ly/road2hopebook

4. It’s raining on and off here in Northern California, a foreign phenomenon in our drought-riddled parts. I don’t think I’ve ever loved the sound and smell of rain more than I do right in this moment. So what do you do on a rainy day? Go on a hike! The Mr. and I took a trek over to Mt. Tam to check out the waterfalls right after the rain broke this weekend. We weren’t disappointed. I took a video of the waterfall and included it on my YouTube page so I could share the magic.

5. This year I vowed to read more books. I made a goal over at Goodreads to read 24 books, figuring that 2 books a month would be a lofty, but worthy, goal. As of this moment, I am currently reading my 29th book, The Hunt for Wolf Eyes, by Sonoma County writer Ty Strange. I read all 29 of these books on top of writing and publishing several books, and discovered a bunch of new authors this year. Who knows, maybe I’ll aim to read 3 books a month next year…
Here are a few of my favorite books I read this year:
Maybe Someday, by Colleen Hover
Going to Solace, by Amanda McTigue
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green
Kissing Midnight, by Laura Bradley Rede
I’m always looking for recommendations on new books, so if you have a suggestion, send me a note.

6. Speaking of written books, I conquered my 5th NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year! If you don’t remember, that’s when writers strive to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I managed to cross the finish line on day 20, and finished the novel’s rough draft just a few days later.

7. And on that note, this novel I just wrote will be book 2 in my upcoming “Dessert For Dinner” series, coming out in 2015. This series combines magic, desserts, and lighthearted romance with 4 delicious stories. The first novel coming out is called Come Here, Cupcake. The book focuses on Morgan Truly, a girl who discovers she has the power to infuse her baking with her feelings – but not before she affects the whole town. Stay tuned for information on when this book will be released!

8. This holiday season, I am utilizing the talents of some of my artistic friends to give some gorgeous gifts. If you know any crafty people, I encourage you to do the same. Not only will you be giving an original gift that no one else can replicate, but you’ll also be directly supporting local artists! It’s a tough world out there for creatives to make a living off their craft, and there is a lot of competition from bigger companies with deeper pockets. Your support would be more than appreciated.
BTW, if you know of local artisans with gift-worthy creations, let me know! I’d love to spread the word on my Facebook page so that other people can find them too! If visit my page now, you can already find a few indie gifts there.

9. Earlier this year, I published the book, Forever Thirteen, the sequel to A Symphony of Cicadas that was never supposed to be. I just found out that it received an Honorable Mention for Young Adult books in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards for 2014! This is like winning 2nd place among thousands of entries! And to think, if my friend hadn’t insisted a sequel was in order, Forever Thirteen wouldn’t exist. Goes to show how much power readers have. 🙂

10. I am so grateful for YOU. Here’s the proof. (P.S. Did you notice it’s snowing here? Love that about WordPress!)

Love you guys! And thank you for all your support!

How I solved my computer dilemma

This week I’ve been plugging away on the third and final installment of the “Forever After” series, the prelude to A Symphony of Cicadas and Forever Thirteen. This novel (working title is Prelude to Forever) will tell the story of John and Rachel, focusing on when they met and what it was like for them to blend a family. If you know anything about me, you can be sure that I’ll be pulling from some familiar experiences, having been blending my own family for the past several years. This book has been a story I’ve wanted to write for a while, and I’m really having a lot of fun with it.

It just doesn’t get any neater 74 pages in…. Oh, and the last sentence says “If he really likes you, he’ll wade through all the necessary hurdles to get to the heart of you.” Sigh…. It’s true.

Another reason I’m having fun with it – I’m handwriting the whole first draft. You read that right – a pen, a notebook, and me. So far I’ve written approximately 18,000 words (about 74 pages at about 250 words a page), and I’m still going strong. There are several benefits to working this way: I don’t have easy access to the distractions of the Internet (if I throw my iPhone across the room), I don’t have to deal with computer issues, I’m less apt to go back through my work to re-read (thus, letting my inner critic take over and tell me it’s all crap), and I won’t be bogged down by formatting, etc. Also, it is much easier to lug around a spiral notebook than a computer that needs to be plugged in. Last, I will have a clean rough draft to work from as I retype all of the pages I’ve written, going over the whole manuscript word by word.

Reason #137 why this is proving to be a good option for me – my computer crapped out last week.

I kind of stressed on that last point. Not only did I plan on writing my next book immediately following the release of Forever Thirteen, but I just took on the Editor’s position for my regional writing club, Redwood Writers. To be without a computer at this time was kind of terrible. No, not kind of. It’s devastating. I just don’t have the money to buy a new computer right now – I spent it all on releasing a book! Thankfully, I found a “for now” computer on Craigslist. I say “for now” because it is the most basic of basic Dells, doesn’t even have Microsoft Office on it, and freezes up when I try to do more than one thing on it at a time. But it’s a computer, and it will work for what I need it to work for. Plus, it was only $60.

In other news, some people are wondering why I started writing my next novel so soon after the last one. To be fair, it really isn’t that soon….to me. Forever Thirteen has been written for about 6 months now, and I’ve spent the last 6 months preparing for its release through tweaking the manuscript, working with the cover designer, gathering promotion materials, getting the word out…. Once it was released, I was ready to start on the next part of the story – John and Rachel’s story. But there was a second part of that equation.

I wanted to keep writing so I wouldn’t focus so hard on sales.

Has it worked? Not totally. But it’s something. Sales have been somewhat decent in the fact that my family and friends have been grabbing a copy for themselves in the past few weeks (which is so awesome and supportive of them!). But getting this book into other people’s hands has been quite the challenge. I’m a bit of an introvert, so breaking out of my shell to contact people I don’t know to write about me and my book is a bit daunting. Plus, what do I offer them so it’s worth their while? So far, my cash-strapped self has connected with one book blogger and offered a free download of my book. But is that enough? I just can’t offer every blogger I contact a print copy (which would be preferable, I know). It’s just too much. So the digital copy will have to do.

Last bit of news, I managed to land some freelance work without even trying. A friend of mine who works for the city I live in found herself in a desperate situation. Seems they are one week away from needing to finalize this year’s publication for our town’s popular parade and festival, and their writer fell through. She contacted me in her bind, and I enthusiastically accepted. Now I need to write a creative article on what ‘Home Grown‘ means to my country town, referring to different businesses, people, food…. It’s going to be a bit of a stretch to get all of this done with such a quick turnaround, but I’m excited to be a part of it. 🙂

One final note: I have placed A Symphony of Cicadas, the first book to the “Forever After” series, on sale for Kindle users for 99 cents, only for as long as I feel like giving it away for free. That’s hardly anything! I hope you’ll take advantage of this deal. 🙂  Link to Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1bM5s2u

Forever Thirteen, released today!

It’s finally here! Forever Thirteen is here! And heads up, if you’re buying for Kindle, it’s $2.99 for this week only to celebrate release week (after that, it’s $4.99).

And because I am just too excited to write, here’s a video:

Find out more about Forever Thirteen at crissilangwell.com/forever-thirteen.

Where to buy:
Amazon Kindle
Amazon Print
Nook
Smashwords
Createspace Print

Coming soon to:
Kobo
iBook

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How to launch a book

A year ago, I was gearing up for the release of “A Symphony of Cicadas.” And the anticipation to actually publish the book was killing me. In fact, my patience was so thin, I published it a week before the date I announced it would be released.

Here was my official announcement. Isn’t that newbie author just adorable (and so naive)?

The truth was, there was no reason for me to wait that extra week. Besides my friends and family, no one else really knew anything about my book at all, or that this really awesome story was about to be revealed to the world. I don’t fault myself, I just didn’t know how to get the word out there.

A year later, and I’m still learning that process. However, this past year I’ve had a few new ways to market my book come to my attention. And because of this, I have actually created a list of things to do from now until the day the book publishes. With a lot of determination (and a little luck), my book should be properly launched by the time March 15th gets here.

For those of you who are curious about my timeline (or if you’re an author looking for an example of what another author might be doing as they prepare for their book release), here’s my proposed calendar for the next month or so. I hope I don’t take too much of the mystique out of my process by divulging all this, lol! The dates are when I’d like each task to be done by. As you can see, I’m early with my blogging schedule. 🙂  (Note: this list will likely change as I remember other things I’ve forgotten to add)

Forever Thirteen to-do list

Feb 1 – Redesign newsletter
Feb 3 – Blog – How to Launch a Book
Feb 3 – Write Feb 6 newsletter
Feb 3 – Finalize cover
Feb 3 – Finalize back
Feb 5 – Upload to Goodreads
Feb 5 – Create Goodreads giveaway
Feb 8 – Create postcards
Feb 9 – Press Release
Feb 9 – Blog
Feb 10 – Write Feb 13 newsletter
Feb 10 – Write acknowledgements, about the author
Feb 14 – Buy $20 Starbucks card
Feb 15 – Re-format edited book
Feb 15 – Order ARCs (advance reader copies) for beta readers, contest winners
Feb 15 – Create ePub, Mobi files of book
Feb 15 – Upload to Amazon, iTunes, B&N, Kobo
Feb 15 – Advance readers?
Feb 15 – Book blog tour (proposed March 24-28)
Feb 16 – Blog
Feb 17 – Write Feb 20 newsletter
Feb 17 – Create blog book page
Feb 23 – Blog
Feb 24 – Write Feb 27 newsletter
Feb 25 – Create blog banner
Feb 25 – Create FB banner
Mar 2 – Blog
Mar 3 – Pick Rafflecopter winner, send out ARC
Mar 3 – Write Mar 6 newsletter
Mar 9 – Contact local bookstore about release party
Mar 9 – Blog
Mar 10 – Write Mar 13 newsletter (reminder about release day, links to sneak peeks)
Mar 10 – Write Mar 15 newsletter (release day!)
Mar 15 – Publish day!
Mar 15 – Add to Amazon FB store
Mar 15 – Announce on FB, Twitter, blog
Mar 16 – Relish in the glory of another published novel. You did it! 🙂
Mar 22 – Blog – Announce blog tour stops
Mar 24-28 – Reblog tour
April – Bookstore release party

P.S. If you’re an author, and there are things you’ve done that you swear by as you prepare for your book’s release, please help an author out (me and anyone reading this) by leaving your tips in the comments. Thank you!

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Being a lazy writer

Photo by AquaSixio on DeviantArt. Click for more of his art.
Photo by AquaSixio on DeviantArt. Click for more of his art.

I’ve been a lazy writer. I admit it. I have not done any book writing since NaNoWriMo, or book editing since December. I keep seeing other authors I follow in blogs and on Facebook talking about their work-in-progress, and the green-eyed monster in me wants to be doing what they’re doing.

But I’m not.

I guess I can chalk it up to catching up on my sleep. When I’m in writing and editing mode, I wake up at 5am and spend the two hours before I need to get ready for work on my book. Do that for several months straight, getting only 6 or less hours of sleep a night, and things get a little crazy. Plus, my hubby was getting the short end of the stick, since I was so tired. Patience tends to wear thin when you’re overtired. And other things tend to be lacking as well.

Second, I’ve been reading a lot. And I mean, a lot. I’ve already read three books this month, and I am currently in the middle of reading three more at the same time. I blame it on my brand new Kindle. And I thank my Kindle for it. This past year I forgot how to make time for reading. And as a writer, reading is soooo important. It serves as inspiration, and it’s pretty cool to see how other authors go about painting a scene and develop their characters. However, I should be reading AND finding time to work on my own books.

(Btw, my favorite book I’ve read so far this year is “The Fault in Our Stars“. O. M. G. That book was amazing….)

Third, I’ve been sort of focused on preparing for the release of “Forever Thirteen.” I say “sort of” because I feel like I’ve done a lot, but there’s still so much to do. Call the local bookstore, plan a launch party, gather blogs who will help host a blog tour (any of YOU bloggers interested?), get the sales pages worded right, finalize the book cover…. Everything I didn’t do with “A Symphony of Cicadas” (because I just didn’t know), I want to do with “Forever Thirteen”. I want to expand this title to even more people who might enjoy this book.

But then, I want to start on the next project. And then the next. And then the one after that….

So there is no one to blame but me for my writer’s envy. This week I start getting serious about my writing and editing. Hello 5am wake-ups. Hello finished manuscript in need of serious editing. Hello and goodbye to wrapping up the final things on my Forever Thirteen to-do list.

(and sorry in advance, hubby. love you!)

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So you’ve written a book. Now what?

This week alone, I’ve been approached by a half dozen people who were curious about writing books – from the actual writing of the story, to how to get it into the hands of readers. To have people look at me for these answers is kind of incredible. I mean, I remember a year ago, gearing up to publish my first book, and being totally lost in what I was supposed to be doing. I couldn’t wait to get that book onto Amazon and be a real live published author. But, then what? I looked up to those local authors I knew that were publishing books right and left, and I began following them via social media to see what they were doing right. And I began listening to the Self Publishing Podcast (who now have an incredible book out chock full of information called “Write. Publish. Repeat.” Go download it now).

I’m definitely no expert. But because I’ve been consuming every bit of information I can about writing and self-publishing this past year, and through lots of trial and error, I have learned a lot – particularly about what to do (and not to do) to get your book into other people’s hands.

Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Write a book worth reading. This is the first and most important step, and should be the most obvious. However, it’s also advice that’s not always followed. Before a book goes live, it should be free from errors and typos. The characters should be fully developed. The storyline should make sense and be believable. An editor (or at least someone who isn’t you) should look it over and clean it up. The cover should draw people in, the back cover description should seal the deal. Write a book that readers will want to share with their friends, and your readership will begin to grow.

2. Believe in your book. When I first published “A Symphony of Cicadas,” I was so dang shy about it. I mean, I’d tell people I wrote a book. And then they’d ask me about it. Suddenly, I’d clam up and be closely guarded about what my book was about. I was afraid that maybe the story wouldn’t matter. And when it came to knowing who this book was written for, who knew? But the thing is, I was proud of my book then. And I’m proud of it now. It’s this story about life changing in an instant, the grief that comes with that change, and the light that shines through when you accept that change and grow from it. It weaves a story that many people can resonate with who have struggled to hold on to a life that is no longer a part of their path, and the peace that comes when acceptance is changed. Know your story. Know who would want to read it and why. And believe that what you write is something that can change someone’s world.

3. Join a writing group. Last year, I joined my regional writing club, Redwood Writers. I went to the first meeting, and was totally inspired. Here was this group of people who were just as passionate as I was about writing. They held workshops, booked readings, and held events. At the meetings, authors sat at tables around the room with books for sale. Each meeting had a speaker that gave inside tips on a certain aspect of writing or publishing. And then to be surrounded by so many writers… Over the past several months I’ve been getting more and more involved with the club. I’ve gotten to know several other writers, and my face is beginning to be more familiar in the club. I’m learning a lot, both about writing and about getting my books in the public eye. And this group is catapulting me further down the publishing road.

4. Be your best advocate. You know how some local authors seem to be everywhere? They’re holding book signings at several different venues. They’re hosting workshops. Their name is seen all over. You know how that’s happening? They’re doing that. They’re not waiting for people to ask them to read their book at an event. They’re not waiting for people to come to them about their book. Their name is getting known because they’re making sure people learn it. If you sit back and wait for your book to be discovered, it’s not going to happen. Offer to host a workshop on something you’re skilled at. Sign up for local readings. Host an event that maybe the local newspaper may want to mention. Contact the bookstores in your area and ask about how to get your book on their shelves. You have to do more than just write a book to get it noticed, you have to get creative with how to get the word out.

5. Keep writing. So you’ve written a book. That’s great! Now write another. And when your done with that, write another. Give your readers something else to read once they’re done with your first book. Gather more readers with each book you write. If a book garners a lot of attention, consider making it a series to keep the momentum going. There are too many authors out there who are cranking out the books. If you write just one book and stop there, you’re going to be buried under the pile. Keep your name at the top of the list and just keep writing.

P.S. I’m holding a giveaway for an advanced copy of my upcoming novel, “Forever Thirteen,” as well as a few other prizes. Enter here.

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