Big book news!

secret

If you’re on my mailing list, you’ve already been alerted that I have some big book news to divulge today (and if you’re not on my mailing list, why not?!? Sign up here, you get a free book!). Are you ready?

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There’s going to be a sequel to The Road to Hope! In fact, there isn’t just going to be a sequel, there’s going to be a series. And I can’t wait for you to read what’s going to happen for Maddie and Jill, and everyone else in their lives.

Now here’s the thing—you’re going to have to be patient. After 3 years of churning out books in a hurry, I’m slowing down my pace. Now that I’m back in school, and the rest of my life hasn’t slowed down much, my writing process is evolving a bit. My goal is to write the next book during NaNoWriMo in November. But because I don’t know how time consuming college and finals will be that month, I’ll be satisfied if November is just a jumping off point in starting to write for the series, and then finishing it during winter break.

So that’s my big news!

Have you read The Road to Hope? If so, what are you hoping will happen next in the story? If not, here’s where you can grab a copy.

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Book Crush: ‘The Lazarus Kid,’ by Tim Farrington

the-lazarus-kidI am a huge fan of Tim Farrington, having discovered The Monk Downstairs a few years ago, followed by The Monk Upstairs, and then concluding with every other book Farrington has ever written before re-reading the Monk books again (and maybe again). So when I found out he had written another book, I got it and started reading immediately.

The follow-up to the first two Monk books, The Lazarus Kid does not disappoint. Farrington’s beautiful descriptive writing paints each scene, placing a microscope on some points or aspects of certain scenes, and panning way out for a broader view in others. Farrington has a way with believability, offering details that breathe so much life into each event, it’s almost as if you are right there inside the scene instead of just reading the story from a page.

The characters have evolved since the first two books. Mike is still contemplative and spiritual in both mind and mannerisms, but we now see him in a deeper role as a father and stepfather – even if much of his parenting is done at a distance due to chaos on the job. Rebecca is a better mom than I am of a precocious teen, handling infuriating circumstances with clenched fists and outward grace. And Mary Margaret is every bit the rebelling teen, though I never once found her character to be cliche. Rather, I saw my own teen daughter in her (hence, my awe at Rebecca’s skills of keeping a level head).

Of course, there’s so much more to the story, but I don’t want to offer any spoilers at all. Just know that when you read anything by Tim Farrington, you’ll never be disappointed. I can only hope that Mr. Farrington has more books up his sleeve very soon.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
PG for some adult language. Aimed at adults.

Loving the Wind: Peter Pan and the blatant racism of 1911

disney-peter-panThanks to Disney, most people are familiar with the story of Peter Pan. The universal story is that Peter Pan is a flying boy who lives with his fairy, Tinker Bell, in Neverland, an island that exists second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning. When he loses his shadow in the nursery of the Darling home, he meets Wendy, and then her brothers, John, and Michael. He brings them to Neverland where they meet the Lost Boys, pirates and mermaids. They save Tiger Lily from the pirates, party with the Indians, and battle Captain Hook. Then, with a sprinkle of fairy dust, Peter flies the pirate ship back to London and returns Wendy, John, and Michael back to their room.

375px-peterandwendyThe Disney movie, and many other adaptations, were based on J.M. Barrie’s book, Peter and Wendy, which was published in 1911 (following the original play that debuted in 1904). But like many originals, Barrie’s book has so much more to it. There were stories about the Never bird, the regal descriptions of Captain Hook, the real story about how Peter came to Neverland…and the blatant racism that existed in 1911. (Of course, Disney did play up the racism in its own way. Just watch the music sequence of “What Makes a Red Man Red.)

Now, Peter and Wendy is not the only book that shows its age with sign-of-the-times racism. There’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Oompa Loompas were black pygmies that came from “the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had been before.”). There’s The Story of Black Sambo (Sambo was a racist expression back in the day and the book’s illustrations resembled demeaning images black people were trying to distance themselves from, and I’m also pretty sure that my grandmother read me this story once). And The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn uses the “N” word more than 200 times.

Peter and Wendy is just one of many books that holds true to the racist times in which it was written. This is particularly in regards to how Barrie addresses Native Americans in his book. They are called redskins, and they belong to the Piccaninny Tribe. Piccaninny is an offensive word that generally means “small black children.”

The most that is spoken about the Indians is when Peter rescues Tiger Lily from the pirates.

Quoted from Chapter 10:

They called Peter the Great White Father, prostrating themselves before him; and he liked this tremendously, so that it was not really good for him.

“The great white father,” he would say to them in a very lordly manner, as they grovelled at his feet, “is glad to see the Piccaninny warriors protecting his wigwam from the pirates.”

“Me Tiger Lily,” that lovely creature would reply. “Peter Pan save me, me his velly nice friend. Me no let pirates hurt him.”

She was far too pretty to cringe in this way, but Peter thought it his due, and he would answer condescendingly, “It is good. Peter Pan has spoken.”

TigerLily tease2

When writing Loving the Wind, my focus was to give Tiger Lily a voice, and to also shine a light on what life was like in her tribe. Where Tiger Lily only had one speaking part in all of Barrie’s book, I gave her a whole novel of her thoughts, her feelings, her values, where she came from, and so on.

I also aimed to strip the story of racism. Instead of the Piccaninnies, Tiger Lily’s tribe was the Miakoda Tribe. Miakoda means “power of the moon,” and is of Native American origin. Because the moons (yes, there are more than one) play a central part of Loving the Wind, it was only fitting that Neverland’s tribe would be named after them. I also never describe the tribe as Native American or Indian at all, letting that be up to the reader. Sure, there are similar themes to Native American culture. But I wanted to separate these people from the tribes of America. After all, they live in Neverland, not America. Even the names of their homes have changed—instead of wigwams, the tribe lives in “yinshaws.”

I also explain the whereabouts of Tiger Lily’s mother. Neither the book nor the Disney movie addresses where her mother is. Loving the Wind shares how Tiger Lily’s mother actually died a few years back, just when Tiger Lily was nearing the age of young womanhood. This, obviously, would affect a young girl who was constantly at the center of attention because of who her father was.

One of the things that I kept the same as the book, that the Disney movie stripped out, was the story of the Never birds. These birds play a central part in the very beginning of the book. Here’s an excerpt:

From where I sat, the top of the forest spread out all around me, blanketing this part of the island in a sea of green. I could see birds fluttering in and out of trees, playing hide and seek as if all life were a game. I whistled to them, practicing a birdcall I had once heard Lean Wolf use. The birds paused, then scattered with the wind. Frustrated, I tried it again. Then I listened. Silence. And then, faintly, I heard one solitary bird mimic the tune I just whistled. I tried it again, and was met with a few more songs from the birds. The third time, the birds burst from the trees, singing the song repeatedly, incorporating it in their play. I grinned, but then caught my breath when a brilliant Never bird, the size of three large horses, erupted from the tree in an explosion of color. It soared overhead, calling out the song I had sung, searching the canopy for the song’s source.

Look for a few more Never bird appearances as you read the story.

One character that I mentioned above, Lean Wolf, was also mentioned in Barrie’s book—but just briefly. I won’t completely give it away, but let’s just say it didn’t end well.

In Loving the Wind, Lean Wolf is the strongest, bravest warrior of the tribe. He also has a thing for Tiger Lily. Unfortunately for him, the feelings aren’t mutual. The thing is, he’s a bit sexist and chauvinistic—a result of growing up in a chauvinistic culture. Tiger Lily’s tribe lives by strict gender roles—the men go hunt and provide; the women stay home, tending camp and watching over the children. Lean Wolf has a good heart, but these are the only roles he knows how to live by.

And, these are the very roles that Tiger Lily is trying to escape.

And that is just a smidge of what you can expect from Loving the Wind.

If you’re curious about the original story of Peter Pan, I highly recommend reading Peter and Wendy. If you can look past the racism of the times, the story is full of adventure and imagery, and the theme of never wanting to grow up is one that almost everyone can relate to. And, of course, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of my book, Loving the Wind, and find out more about Tiger Lily’s story.

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open-mic-september-flyer-gaiaI’ll be reading from Loving the Wind this Saturday at Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa from 2-4 p.m. If you’re in the Sonoma County area, please stop by and take a listen. See upcoming events for more information.

Book crush: The Sea of Tranquility

tranquilityI’m not exactly crushing on The Sea of Tranquility, a novel by Katja Millay. However, I did enjoy reading it enough that I finished it in just a few days. And it’s a long book.

Let’s start from the beginning. I did not like the beginning. In fact, I was incredibly irritated with the beginning. We’re introduced to Nastya, a girl who can only think really hateful thoughts about anything and everything. She is carrying a huge secret about how her hand became mangled, and because of that, she has a huge chip on her shoulder. To top it off, she makes sure she is completely unapproachable by the way she dresses. Shooooort skirts. 4-inch heels. Painted on makeup. Everything tight. Her reasoning is that everyone is going to stare at her anyway, so she might as well have control over where they are staring.

This was the first thing I just couldn’t buy.

It goes on. She can’t cook to save her life. But apparently she can bake up a storm. She doesn’t talk, and is sexy/scary, and somehow that means the most popular guy in high school (Drew) is highly interested in her. She’s incredibly anti-social, and yet she keeps going to high school parties with him.

Here’s what I did enjoy.

Josh. This is Drew’s best friend who has basically lost his whole family to tragedy. He spends his entire life in his garage building furniture. It’s kind of old man-like, except it’s also sweet and manly at the same time. Think Sex and the City’s Aiden (Carrie, what were you thinking breaking up with him???).

Drew. Despite the fact that we’re introduced to a full-of-himself jock, he’s actually quite sensitive and sweet. He and Nastya have a totally inappropriate flirtatious relationship, but it becomes pretty clear that he’s not going to try anything because neither of them really want that.

Drew’s family. They’re basically that all-American family you wish could be yours, even if you’d probably be rolling your eyes the whole time. His mom has Sunday dinner every week, and anyone who wants to come is invited. It basically becomes a thing amongst all the friends. They even hold a family dinner when the parents are out of town, even if a bottle of tequila might be involved with the sit down dinner.

The build-up of Nastya and Josh’s relationship. Even if I hated the inevitable scenario that forced them to be apart (classic YA formula: MC is awkward and misunderstood. Meets love interest who’s awkward and misunderstood. Spends more than half of book denying love. Fall together in beautiful moment. One person messes up. Break up. Spends too long avoiding other person. Some thing or event forces them back together. Realizes they were in love the whole time. Lives happily ever after.), I enjoyed the sweetness within their relationship. With Josh, Nastya could let her hair down, strip off her makeup, and breathe easy. She kept her secrets, but she’s also safe with him.

So while this wasn’t my favorite book, I still recommend it. If you can overlook a few warts within the story, you’ll find a sweet tale of a broken girl who was dealt a hard lot in life, a broken boy who continues to live while everyone around him is dying, and a meant-to-be relationship that holds all the innocence neither of them had every been allowed to have.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
PG-13 for some violence and non-explicit sex.

Book crush: Hell’s Children

hellschildrenSometimes a book is so good, you don’t want it to end. And when it does, you go through a bit of a mourning period. This is a strange sentiment I’m feeling for a book titled Hell’s Children, but it’s where I’m at right now. The book starts out with Jack Ferris, a home-schooled kid who has to bury his own mom after a Sickness took her. The Sickness has stripped the world of all adults, leaving only kids behind, the oldest being 15, if they were lucky to survive the Sickness. Most older teens didn’t. Lucky for Jack, he’s learned survival skills from his parents, a couple who already foresaw that Jack would have to fare without them since they were seniors when they had him. Those survival skills are exactly what Jack needed to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, now run by various gangs of kids who are desperate to survive and void of morality. Jack and a few friends form their own group, and the story becomes a survival of the fittest with a dozen or more twists and turns.

The character development in this book is fantastic. There were so many characters mentioned, but the author did a great job giving each a distinct persona, and offering subtle reminders if a character hadn’t been mentioned in awhile. The last half of the book had me nervous, and I couldn’t stop reading until the end.

I totally recommend this book. In fact, I plan to buy a hard copy for my 15 year old son, who I think would love this. He’s not a reader, but when I mentioned the plot, he was fascinated.

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

Pre-order “Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan”

ltw-FRONT-cover-finalIf you’re a Kindle reader, Loving the Wind is now available for pre-orders! Even better, it’s temporarily discounted to 99 cents! Read the untold story of Tiger Lily and how she met Peter Pan in this fun prequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter & Wendy.

bit.ly/lovingthewind

Here’s what one reviewer said:

Crissi’s latest book, “Loving the Wind” is a fun new dimension to the Peter Pan stories we know and love. She captured the voices of the characters so well, I felt like I was a pixie on the wall watching the whole time.
It takes us to Neverland through the eyes of Tiger Lily, a young native girl who is mentioned in the original stories, but not much is known about her.
Tiger Lily’s story as told by Crissi is deep and rich. We get to experience her adventures from just before she meets Peter in the belly of a pirate ship to the end of the book (but not the story, hopefully!!) as a wise young woman in her tribe. She takes us with her as she learns what it is to love her people as a leader.
Tiger Lily is the girl I want to be when I grow up. Brave in spite of her fear, bold in standing up for those who had no voice, humble in her accomplishments, and open to the lessons in hardships she experienced. She’s wise and graceful in the end, when she’s finally accepted the path that is before her, unexpected as it is.

So, the question is, should you read this book? If you appreciate a new angle on the characters we’ve met before, absolutely. This is a fun, easy to read story. It flows along nicely- not too fast or slow. Plenty of action, some really great lessons, and friendly enough for families. This is a coming-of-age storybook I’ll encourage my own daughter to read when she’s old enough to appreciate it. Thank you Crissi for the amazing gift of this story!

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P.S. Would you like a chance to win a print copy of this book for free? Follow me on Facebook and take part in my 6 Days of Giveaways.

Days of Giveaways for “Loving the Wind”

Loving the Wind publishes this Thursday, Aug 18! What better way to celebrate than with some free gifts? 🙂

image1Starting today, I’m counting down to the release of Loving the Wind on my Facebook and Instagram pages with chances to win a signed copy of the book. Want to be a part of the excitement? Be sure to follow me!

Today’s giveaway is over at Goodreads. Go to bit.ly/GRgiveawayLTW and enter for a chance to win one of three signed copies of Loving the Wind.

HINT: Tomorrow’s giveaway is explained in Facebook video, and part of it requires that you join my newsletter. (If you join now, you’ll get a free gift!)

So, head on over to my Facebook page. You may even want to turn on notifications so you don’t miss a post. And then enter for a chance to win!

Good luck!

Culture Dept. podcast: Reclaim Your Creative Soul

CultureDeptThis week I was a guest on Culture Dept., a podcast that, in their words, “features interviews with artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights on building a sustainable, contemporary creative life.” Host Daedalus Howell and I discussed how to make creativity a huge part of one’s life, accomplishing creative goals even with a busy schedule and full-time life. These insights were from my latest book, Reclaim Your Creative Soul.

The podcast is only 20 minutes, perfect for your drive into work. I hope it inspires you! Also, I encourage you to subscribe to the Culture Dept. podcast. I’ve listened to almost every single episode, and each one is brilliant.

Here’s where you can find the Culture Dept. episode that I am featured on:

If you listen, let me know what you think!

Getting personal with book selling

Crissi reading

I remember when I first started publishing my books, my marketing focus was on the whole wide world. With the internet at my disposal, it made sense to me. I could reach anyone, anywhere, and sell to hundreds of thousands of people without ever having to leave the comfort of my own home.

My first book did pretty well. I marketed to everyone in the world, which was a hard sell since no one knew of me yet. However, my family and friends knew me, and they bought wholeheartedly.

My next book didn’t do quite as well in sales. I won a small award and sold to some of my family and friends. But the rest of the world ignored me. The story was the same for my next book, as well. By the time my fourth novel was published, I was worn out and couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I questioned my career path as an author, and considered throwing in the towel. After all, I was spending thousands of dollars on this dream of mine, and had nothing to show for it except for some books that no one except a handful of people who loved me seemed to be interested in.

This was around the time that I found the inspiration for Reclaim Your Creative Soul. If you’ve kept up with this blog, you remember when I went on a personal soul retreat that changed my life. It was on this retreat when I addressed all of the dilemmas I had with my life path, conferring with God on how to move forward. I came away from that day with answers to my questions and a new purpose for life, and the seed that would become Reclaim Your Creative Soul.

With this last book, I was very clear about my message and the people I was writing to. I wanted to reach other creatives who felt pulled between their busy life and their craft. Most of us must have a day job to be able to afford our lives, especially when our art isn’t make us money. I wanted to show that it’s totally possible to have both, and I wanted to inspire people to NOT give up on their dreams just because they needed to work for a living (or whatever else was getting in the way of their craft).

With this message in mind, I let go of trying to reach the world, and instead just reached the people around me. The message started out small. I, or course, let my family and friends know. But I also started to spread the word to people I didn’t know, but on a more personal level rather than through the anonymous space of the internet. In this, I signed up for readings and read chapters aloud. I verbally shared about my book to those people who wondered how they could fit creativity in their lives. My marketing endeavors weren’t about making money or selling my book at all. Instead, they were about helping other people to make the most of their time so that they could fit more creativity in their life. That was my main objective.

Fast forward to now. A week ago, I read my book in front of a group of writers and sold a bunch of books who were affected by my message. Word about my book reached a podcaster, and our interview will publish on Monday. I’ve been asked to take part in an exclusive sales opportunity with a small group of other authors I admire. Opportunities are coming my way, and all I’ve done is to refocus my intentions and the audience I hope to reach.

Instead of trying to reach the world, I’m starting out with my own community and then going from there.

This not only takes a ton of pressure off me, it also makes things so much more natural. I am now preparing to publish my next book, Loving the Wind, and my hopes are that this book will reach the most readers I’ve ever reached with any of my books. This time, instead of pushing out ads and promoted Facebook posts to a bunch of people I don’t know, I am utilizing my friends and family to help me spread the word. As of right now, a few dozen of the people I know and love are reading this book as first readers. I contacted each of these people personally, handpicking them because I trust them and know that they like many of my books. When the book publishes on Aug. 18, many of these first readers will be key in helping me to spread news about this book because it’s something they read and enjoyed.

If you’re wondering how you can get your book into the most hands possible but coming away with disappointing results, it’s possible you’re trying to market to too many people. Rather than selling to the whole world, consider starting with your own community. Sign up for an open mic or two and read aloud from your book. See if your library is interested in a reading from a local author. Join an active writer’s group that offers events that will help you reach readers. Contact local book clubs and offer to talk with them if they decide to read your book. Think about the people that you want to reach with your book. Who would be interested? Not everyone will like what you write, but there is a group of people who will love it.

Finally, never underestimate the power of being personal. A Facebook post about your book or an advertisement on a web page are easily ignored. A mass email is a little bit better, but can also go unread. But if you talk to someone one-on-one, the power in that is huge. In this day and age, it’s super convenient to socialize on a broad scale, being impersonal through social media, texting, or the like for the sake of convenience. But if you pick up the phone or meet over coffee? That means so much more to everyone.

As much as possible, try and be personal with those people you wish to reach. If your contact has to be done over email or social media, that’s fine. But make it a personal message, and don’t just rely on your social media broadcasts to reach readers. If you take the time to care about the people you wish to connect with, they can’t help but care about you in return. Their loyalty will increase. They may even wish to help you spread the word about your book.

In connecting with a few readers on a more personal level, you have the opportunity to reach the world.