Behind the Book Launch

Back in 2015 when I was a first-time author, I had dreams of having my publisher throw me a big book launch, preferably in New York City, with a celebrity-packed guest list. I’d seen them depicted on shows like Castle and heard Kelly Ripa talk about going to such on multiple occasions. Thus, I waited to be clued in about my glamorous night of cocktails and compliments…but my invite never came.

Once I realized the reality of it, part of me was relieved. I don’t like to be the center of attention and force people to buy my book. Meanwhile, a very good friend wanted to celebrate my accomplishment by throwing me a party. I wanted no part of it. Besides my reasons mentioned above, I didn’t want to come up with a guest list or—most importantly—let people spend money on me.

A few months later, though, my research on marketing stressed how productive a launch is. With that in mind, I began to reconsider my stubborn position. Still, I wanted it to be cost efficient to me, my family, and friends, and I didn’t want the hassle of inviting guests.

Hence, we compromised, using my alma mater as the venue to a public launch. I advertised it in the local paper and post office, and we spread the word. To give it a party-like feel, some chipped in and provided finger foods and desserts. Plus, my friend who started it all decorated, transforming the room where I once had lunch.

Concerning the release of Forgetting My Way Back to You, there was no debating; the first launch went so well that we had to have another one. We planned all year, with forget-me-nots as the theme. Our first get was the centerpiece, which featured a forget-me-not scented candle in a lantern and packets of forget-me-not seeds. We also implemented several of the story’s elements in the other decorations and giveaways.

While I’m still waiting on my fancy gala, I’m so thankful for the two great evenings I’ve had so far. We may not have had starlets, best-selling authors, or escargot, but we had beloved relatives, friends, and former teachers set aside their time to come share in my excitement. To me, there’s no better way to cap off a thrilling achievement and start a new chapter.

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“Forgetting My Way Back to You” Release: Twelve Years in the Making

Today, I officially become a two-time published author with the release of my new love story, Forgetting My Way Back to You.  Over the course of several months, I’ve posted multiple blogs about it, but I haven’t given you the true Behind the Pages details that make this book so special to me.

Like any book, Forgetting My Way Back to You started as a tiny seed.  In this case, the seed was in a sixteen-year-old girl’s mind, where it could’ve easily died of hormone overload!social-1206614_1280  Jokes aside, I was going through the throws of teenage life with the drama and yes, tears, and I wished I could forget my troubles.  If only I could get amnesia and forget them…

I attempted to write my first draft in the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, but I soon figured out how unequipped I was at that age.  After I graduated, though, I went back to it, and despite some setbacks, I finished it in about two years.  To my thrill, it attracted immediate attention from a well-known publisher, but—still in the days of snail mail—they lost my manuscript.  It worked out for the best, however, since they closed their doors within months.

While proud of it, I began to see, again, my immaturity shine through in the plot.  It chronicled the travails of an engaged couple being pulled apart by the groom’s ex-girlfriend, who schemed to sabotage their relationship.  During an argument on a Florida beach, the bride was hit by a rogue wave, and the head trauma she suffered caused her selective amnesia.  Melodramatic, you say?  Yeah, I realized that, too, so I set it aside for a while.

Meanwhile, I had similar doubts about a high school romance I wrote, and I pretty much marked them both down as writing experience, never to see the light of day.  In time, however, I saw hope for the two and realized what they lacked: each other. Thus, I decided to insert parts of the high school romance as flashbacks into the one about amnesia.  As a result, the couple’s history enriched the story, giving Charlee, the protagonist, more to lose when she forgets her boyfriend, Hunter.

I resumed shopping it to publishers in 2017, and my persistence paid off; three publishers showed interest in it within the first three months.  Of course, I ended up with Vinspire Publishing, who released it almost one year—to the day—later.

The experience was a long, mostly uphill battle, but all in all, I’m grateful for it.  It gave me experience and taught me a lot about myself both professionally and personally.  I’m proud of it more than I am any of my works to date, because of how far it’s come and how much I’ve gained in the process.  I hope the time and care I’ve given it will translate to readers, and give them an ‘unforgettable’ few hours of enjoying it!

About Forgetting My Way Back to You

At one point or another, everybody finds themselves wanting a second chance, whether it be missing the ForgettingMyWay 500x750mark on an investment, failing to live up to a certain goal, or letting a true love slip away. It’s very seldom, however, that one receives the proverbial do-over.

Charlee Stoll and Hunter Jett become the modern-day exception. After a decade-long estrangement, the high school sweethearts reconnect when Hunter, fresh off a career in arena football, returns to his hometown. Their reunion catches both of them by surprise, and they quickly recapture the love they once shared. When Hunter begins to rethink his choices, though, tragedy strikes. During a heated confrontation, Charlee’s thrown off a horse and sent into a week-long coma.

When she awakens with no clue who he is, he seizes the chance to right his wrongs, but it proves more challenging than he expects. On top of romancing her, he must overcome her father’s displeasure, another ex-boyfriend vying for her love, and her own mission to regain her memory. Through charm and deception, can he win back her love…before she discovers the truth?

Buy on Amazon for $12.99 for paperbacks or $2.99 on Kindle.  Go to VinspirePublishing.com for more retailers.

Character Spotlight: Mabel Stentz

Over the past few weeks, I’ve introduced readers to a few of the main characters from Forgetting My Way Back to You, my upcoming novel, through character spotlights.  In keeping with one of the story’s elements, these posts are portrayed as news articles in the Coatesville Times, the setting’s actual local paper.

This final edition sheds light on Mabel Stentz, the protagonist’s dear older friend whose frisky wit all but steals the story.  I based her on a close family friend I looked on as a grandma, who I often told I’d write a book about her one day.  Almost fourteen years after she passed, I’m so thrilled it’ll soon be out for readers to enjoy getting to know her and her undying spunk.

August 26, 2013

Community Spotlight: Resident Reflects on Fifty Years in Coatesville

By Terry Cinders

The Times frequently features articles on Coatesville’s longtime residents, and these are some of my favorite to put together.  Today’s is no exception.  Having moved here in the summer of 1964, Mabel Stentz may not have lived in our town the longest, but she probably has one of the liveliest stories on what brought her.

“I was a telephone operator in Louisville, Kentucky, and I spoke with a gentleman who needed to make a business call.  He had a deep voice, which made me wonder what he looked like, but I tried not to let that on since I’d been reprimanded before mabelfor flirting with callers. Nonetheless, my distraction made me connect him to the wrong line…twice, in fact!  When he called back the third time, he surprised me by how calm he was, and before I transferred him again, he asked if he could take me to dinner to see if I was a better date than an operator.”

The man proved to be Roy Stentz, who worked from 1934 to 1969 at Lukens Steel.  He’d gone to Louisville to look at other plants’ new equipment and determine if Lukens should invest in such.

“We ended up going out all three nights he stayed in town.  Before he left, he wanted my phone number, saying he’d lost trust in the help at the telephone company.”  She laughed.  “We kept in touch, and he proposed a couple times, but I refused.  I liked big city life and wasn’t going to let some man—even a very good-looking one—settle me in a quaint town.  He, of course, wouldn’t leave the factory, so that was that.”

A misfortune, though, made her reconsider.

“Not long after we broke up, I went with some friends to New York City.  The car only had one bench seat, and there were six of us, so two other girls and I sat on newspapers in the back.  I was over forty, so my hips and I were never so glad to see the Brooklyn Bridge!  My glee was short-lived, however.  Our first night, we were mugged at gun point.

“I’d never been so scared, and it made me realize how the world was changing.  We barely had enough money to get home, let alone spend a week in Manhattan like we’d planned.  So, we replenished our newspapers and headed back.  Within an hour, I’d decided I was going to Coatesville, and that became my home.”

Stentz hasn’t ever regretted the decision, having grown to love the small town.  Her husband died in 1991, but she didn’t consider returning to Kentucky.

“My sister had moved to the area, too, by then, but I stayed, anyhow!”

At age ninety, she’s lived for the past five years in Harrison Home and enjoys playing Bingo, as well as visiting with her friend, Charlee Stoll, the center’s physical therapist.

“That girl is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met…and it isn’t just because she brings me extra desserts.”

When asked her secret to longevity, Stentz replied, “Good food and good men!”

 

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Character Spotlight: Mike Stoll

Like I mentioned in previous posts, I wanted to introduce readers to a few of the main characters from Forgetting My Way Back to You, my upcoming novel, ahead of its release next month.  In keeping with one of the story’s elements, these posts are portrayed as news articles in the Coatesville Times, the setting’s actual local paper.  This edition gives a sneak peek at Mike Stoll, the protagonist’s father whose no-nonsense personality leaves quite a mark on the plot.

August 23, 2013

Iconic Coach Sidelined but Far from Forgotten

By Terry Cinders

As the Red Raiders prepare to kick off their season tonight against the Easton Rovers, Coatesville’s former head coach, Mike Stoll, continues to follow the team’s progress despite his limited circumstances.  While he hasn’t stood on the sidelines since suffering a stroke four years ago, his successors still appreciate his wisdom, drawn off his twenty-five years of experience.  As my article reported earlier this week, even Hunter Jett still turns to him for pointers, though having played on a professional level.

“These guys know what they’re doing, of course. The athletic department has high standards, so none of them truly need help.  I appreciate their respect for an old man, though, and I’m happy to share whatever I can to add to their success.”

Stoll’s connection to his former squad waned for a time, due to his health and theandreas-kaufmann-876134_1280 passing years.  With his sudden stroke in the spring of 2009, he couldn’t hand over his duties the way he’d planned to in preparation for his retirement.  Jay Wilson, his friend and colleague, included him in the transition, but Stoll’s limitations impeded the guidance he could offer.

Now that his daughter, Charlee, is the team’s physical trainer, however, Stoll takes advantage of the inside scoop she can offer.

“She keeps me informed of the goings-on but does withhold some things that she thinks will upset me. I typically find out through the grapevine, anyhow.” He grimaces but won’t elaborate on details.  “Regardless, I love having her out there.”

He made it to the first game she worked in 2011, having not attended one since the last he coached.  Following that, he’s gone to just three but listens to every one that’s broadcasted on the radio from his room at Harrison Home, the senior center where he lives.  He hopes his family takes him to a couple this season.

“I’m expecting a much better year than last.  We have a good core of upperclassmen who showed maturity during the final few games, so I’m optimistic.”

When asked if Hunter Jett’s arrival as offensive coordinator boosted his confidence, he gave a cryptic response.

“He has a lot to give when it comes to football, but don’t go to him for advice on women!”

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Character Spotlight: Hunter Jett

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to introduce readers to a few of the main characters from Forgetting My Way Back to You, my upcoming novel.  In keeping with one of the story’s elements, these posts are portrayed as news articles in the Coatesville Times, the setting’s actual local paper.  Next up is Hunter Jett.

August 21, 2013

Local Celebrity Returns Home and to his Alma Mater

By Terry Cinders

Over the years, the Times has chronicled Hunter Jett’s success in football, from the time he moved to Coatesville as an All-State quarterback in high school to his rise in the Arena Football League. At age 31, however, Jett’s playing days came to a close this past season when he suffered a torn meniscus for the third time.

“I didn’t know for sure if I could try to make a comeback until my physical last month. Our doctors said my prior injuries would make playing a real risk and that I wasn’t healing as fast as I did after my past surgeries.”

The development disappointed Jett, for sure, ending his eleven-year tenure with the Spokane Shock. However, he didn’t have to scour the job market for long upon his return home. Raiders’ Head Football Coach, Jay Wilson, retired in the spring, which left an opening in both the coaching and phpeople-2604836_1280ysical education departments. Interested in the positions, Jett pursued the needed credits to acquire his teaching credentials and landed the jobs. With Harvey Langdon’s promotion to head coach, Jett will be taking the duties of offensive coordinator.

“I’m excited to come back here and switch sides, from student to mentor. I’ve benefited from so many coaches, and I can only hope to impact these guys in a similar way.”

One of those coaches was Mike Stoll. Even though he won’t be able to work with him, he still looks to him for guidance in the new chapter.

“I just visited him today, and he gave me some tips. Earlier this afternoon, Charlee [Stoll’s daughter and the team’s current trainer] gave us his playbook. I have some serious reading ahead of me!”

While Jett enjoys being back in his old stomping grounds, he admits his career didn’t end like he would’ve hoped. He always hoped to receive another call from the NFL, after the Eagles drafted him in 2002 but never offered him a contract.

“That’s the ultimate dream, but it only happens for a few. I consider myself fortunate to have played the sport I loved for longer than most do and on a bigger platform.”

Looking ahead, Jett hopes for a playoff-bound season, but he realizes he needs to focus on more than football.

“There’s nothing like the game, but it’s fickle. Once you’re gone, you see how easily it moves on as it did before you. With that behind me, it’s time I give attention to the matters I’ve put aside for so long. The ones that don’t measure me by stats and physicals, but by who I really am.”

 

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Character Spotlight: Charlee Stoll

As we near the release of Forgetting My Way Back to You, I wanted to introduce readers to a few of the novel’s main characters.  In keeping with one of the story’s elements, these posts will be portrayed as news articles in the Coatesville Times, the setting’s actual local paper.  First up is protagonist Charlee Stoll.

August 14, 2013

The Stoll Legacy Lives On in Raiders’ Football

By Terry Cinders

Family businesses are common in Coatesville, but no one expected one carried on in the Stoll family.  Sure, they’re well-known in the Raiders’ athletic department, with Eli Stoll the current and winningest varsity basketball coach and his dad, Mike, having headed the football coaching staff for twenty-five years.  With the latter forced to retire after he suffered a stroke in 2009, however, we all thought we’d never see a Stoll again on the gridiron.  For the past two seasons, his daughter, Charlee, proved us wrong.

“I never intended to fill a role on the team,” the youngest Stoll admits, “but after I was certified as a therapist, I ran into Coach Wilson.  He needed a new trainer and asked if I would consider it.”

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Stoll didn’t immediately accept the position, held back by her nostalgia.  She confesses that for a couple years after her father’s departure, she lost touch with the team. It pained her to watch someone else standing in his beloved spot at the sidelines.

“In the end, my childhood memories actually persuaded me to take the job.  I grew up at that field, and I liked having a chance to relive those moments in a small way. It pleased Dad, too.  He enjoys the thought that I can carry on his legacy.  He’s still upset with Eli for switching sports!”

By day, Stoll works as a physical therapist at Harrison Home, the senior center where her dad lives. This allows the two to visit frequently, and the former coach uses such access to pass on strategy tips to the squad through his daughter.

“He sends me with his playbook on my first day of practices every year.” She smiles. “It’s become a tradition, and the coaches always grin when they see me lugging it out of my car.”

On the subject of the coaching staff, Jay Wilson’s retirement left a vacancy, as did several other departures. Charlee hasn’t met any of the replacements yet, but she looks forward to doing so when she returns next week.

“I haven’t had time to keep up with all the changes. I don’t mind being surprised when I show up to work on Monday.”

And indeed, she will be.  

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I have an idea…oh, so did they!

In 2010, Google estimated that nearly 130 million books had been published in history.  On top of that, another study predicts there’ll be a whopping total of 2,702,243 films made by the year 2020.  Behind each of these, there’s a writer with a story—fictional or nonfictional—, making the very notion of originality seem incomprehensible.  Sure, we’re all different, but can there possibly be that many separate plots?

In short, no.  There are countless resemblances in storylines on paper and on film. This summer alone has brought two television series about actors turned detectives—both of which I enjoy.

In the case of several of my books, I’ve encountered other works that share characteristics with my stories.  I started the first draft of what became Forgetting My Way Back to You in 2008, thinking the idea of a woman forgetting the man she loved was pretty unique.  Imagine my sickened feeling, then, when I saw the trailer for 2012’s The Vow, which follows a wife losing memory of her husband after a car accident!  Before my book could even be published, it already had a rival.

Also in 2012, I started Husband in Hiding, a mystery about a man named Wes, who, after meddling in his detective wife’s case, has to flee into Witness Protection to be taken off the mob’s hit list.  Mere weeks, I believe, before I began writing the book, I saw a preview for a thriller about—you guessed it—witness protection.  To boot, the protagonist’s name was Weston, my original choice for my main character.  After overcoming the shock, I shortened the name and carried on with my tale.

Such instances disheartened me, as I saw I didn’t have the individuality I thought I did, and I feared readers would think I copied the blockbusters.  I came to realize, however, that art spawns art.  As I mentioned earlier, there can be several different shows, books, or songs that have similar themes, but they all bring their own spin.  For the right audience, they can draw off and add to each other’s success.

Even so, we must protect our own work from inspiring another one that’s too similar to ours.  In fact, the question I’m asked most frequently is how do I protect myself from plagiarism.  Like most authors, I turn to the Library of Congress to take care of that.  They’ll copyright an original piece of literature, music, or art for $35.  Go to Copyright.gov for details.

Sean Lennon gave a frank summation, “There are only a few stories to tell in the end…”  That’s the truth.  However, we all have one to tell and our own way of telling it.  Hence, don’t despair when someone else has a similar one-of-kind idea to yours; you can still be one-of-a-kind.

Seconds, Please

I haven’t blogged for most of the summer, but I hope my loyal readers and followers will cut me some slack.  With my book release less than two months away now, my promotional efforts have kicked into high gear, and I’m just coming up for air before the next tide comes crashing in.

Many may assume I should be used to this, having had one book published already.  Through this whole process, though, I’ve been shocked by how differently this second round has unfolded.  Despite not having any kids, I’ve always compared a book release to a baby’s birth, albeit without the stretch marks or dirty diapers to follow!  No one, of course, has to tell me how drastically the two events contrast, but I thought I’d share the similarities I’ve observed between second-time parenthood and second-time published-hood.

I’ve both heard and witnessed how much busier moms and dads are when their second little ones arrive than they were the first time.  They’re occupied with caring for their oldest and the duties that come with that.  They also have better knowledge of the preparations they need to make before an infant throws their world into a temporary tailspin.

Likewise, my triumphs and failures from three years ago, along with better guidance, have given me insight into all I need to put into this launch to make it a success.  My debut was far from a flop, but not knowing my responsibilities, I cared more about finding a dress for my book party than anything else.  While I’d never neglect my fashion sense and do have my outfit for the big night planned out, my focus is marketing.  By collecting reviews, producing a book trailer—discussed here—, and doing interviews, I’ve endeavored to draw as much interest as possible to my new addition.

Like several parents have shared with me, there’s also a calmer, more laidback approach to caring for the second child…and any more that may come along.  I’ve found this, too, to be the case with my sophomore release.  With Husband in Hiding, I ached to know every step of the progression and often asked for updates.  Sure, I still have my curious moments, but this time, prolonged silences don’t bother me.  I know my release date—another difference from my previous experience—and trust that matters are being handled in the proper time and order.

One final parallel I’ve perceived between my circumstances and those of a parent of two is the goal to thoroughly enjoy the ride.  On any new experience, we can easily take it for granted, thinking we’re pros when we’re amateurs and being too concerned about next time than living in the moment.  When Husband in Hiding came out, I had my sights set on having a new book every year from then on.  That plan didn’t play out, making me realize the value of such an accomplishment.  Just as one can’t predict how big a family he/she will have, an author will never be able to foresee how many times he/she will have the thrill of having a book published.  Thus, appreciating every moment of Forgetting My Way Back to You’s release is my priority.  After all, kids—and books—grow up way too fast!

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Setting the Scene: Act II

In a previous post, I discussed how I like to see a place before I set a story there.  Sometimes, however, circumstances don’t permit that, and you simply have to do lots of research and hope it’s accurate.

In the case of Forgetting My Way Back to You, just deciding on the location was a years-long process.  My earliest draft had the characters set in Rhode Island.  Because I’d never been near the area, I soon changed it to Florida, but another state lingered in my mind.  I played around with the idea, until Pennsylvania won out at last.

I tried creating a fictitious town at first, but I’m no George Lucas.  I need established locales to put my characters in, and the adventures blossom from there.  Since I’d gone to Philadelphia, I wanted to base it around there.  Being a country girl, though, I felt more connected to a small town for this particular story.  After much more deliberation than one might deem necessary, I settled on Coatesville as Charlee and Hunter’s home.

Despite it being a day’s drive from my home in Ohio, I wasn’t able to visit the town until this past week…after I finished the book.  It disappointed me that I couldn’t use my “field research” to implement in the novel, but seeing the sights confirmed that I made the right choice.  Without giving too much away, Coatesville is the cozy hometown environment I hoped it’d be.  While it isn’t the middle-of-nowhere neighborhood where I grew up, it’s far from life in the big city, which would make a dreamer like Hunter restless and longing for more.  At the same time, the undoubtedly tight-knit community and warm landscapes would draw him back in time.

The stop I enjoyed most was The Cameron Estate Inn, in nearby Mount Joy.  The nineteenth-century mansion serves as a bed & breakfast, a restaurant, and a popular wedding venue.  In Forgetting My Way Back to You, Hunter takes Charlee there for dinner on a first date, but his romantic plans are thwarted when they discover two weddings are being hosted there.  He uses charm to navigate several unexpected twists, and in the end, the evening plays an integral part in reuniting the high school sweethearts.  It’s always been my favorite scene, but after going to the gorgeous place, I love it even more!

Here are some photos from my day of setting scouting.

 

 

This Time Last Year…

As June’s been flying by, I’ve had several reminders of where I was a year ago (my website’s domain just renewed, triggering my nostalgia). The summer of 2017 wasn’t one I’d like to relive, but I recount it today to encourage any of you who are frustrated with where your career or personal aspirations aren’t going. I’ve kept my discouragement mostly to myself, but now, I’m ready to reveal a glimpse into it in hopes it’ll show those disappointed spirits that matters can turn around in ways you couldn’t expect.

You may wonder why renewing my domain would bring back memories. Well, last year, I didn’t know if I even needed a website. My confidence in my career as an author was very low. For over a year, I’d been awaiting a response from my former publisher on whether or not they wanted to accept the sequel to my first novel. As time went by, communication slowed to a complete stop, and it became clear something was off. Sure enough, word came in July that the company was restructuring and would be letting go of some authors. A few weeks later, I proved to be one of them. Sprinkle in some other personal disappointments I won’t detail, and it makes for a bummer of summer.

Having seen it coming for a while, however, I’d put my focus on Forgetting My Way Back to You that spring, and it was ready to go out to the publishing world by late July. Given the circumstances surrounding it, I wasn’t too motivated to subject myself to the game of seemingly endless rejections that come along with shopping a manuscript. I confided in a couple close friends about my hesitation, and they all encouraged me not to quit. My former teacher, who’s proofread every work I’ve written, even told me Forgetting My Way Back to You HAD to be shared.

Thus, I overcame my despair and commenced my quest for publishers. During a casual browsing session, I came across a company named Vinspire. Their submission guidelines stated they only worked with agented authors, so having not found one to contract me yet, I almost closed the page. Upon giving it a last look, though, I found a box that announced their one-day event of opening their inbox to unagented submissions. It was less than two weeks away, so I had no choice but to mark both my paper and electronic calendars…and hope!

They welcomed queries from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., so I sent mine in along with the full manuscript at 9:06 that morning. Since I’m now with them, you know the outcome. I received an acceptance letter in October and signed the contract early the next month.

All said and done, while I wish I could redo some of my choices, they led to this moment this year—working with a new company I enjoy and prepping for a new book release. No, I haven’t exactly gone from rags to riches, but I’m so much farther than I expected to be twelve short months ago. Again, I hope reading this inspires any who are off to not-such-a-great summer to stay strong and undeterred. One day—or just twelve hours!—can change everything.