Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Year in Pictures

As the year comes to a close, I thought it would be cool to reflect on some of the highlights. And they are…

We admired the gorgeous cherry blossoms in DC.

Our home underwent a major renovation, which certainly came with its share of headaches.

We said goodbye to the best dog in the world.

It warmed my heart to visit with two young men my husband connected with on his trip to Haiti a few summers ago.

I published my first book. Successful launch. Visiting book clubs. Loving it!

We also visited Cape Cod for a soccer tournament, spent time with friends and family, enjoyed a weekend jaunt to Chicago, celebrated fourteen years of marriage, and spontaneously attended my twenty year high school reunion. It was a year of adventure, loss, reunions, and connection. Finding gratitude in and through it all.

Highlights of your year?

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Catch you here next Wednesday.

“We must not see any person as an abstraction. 
Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.” ~ Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Does Your House Say About You?

The main character in the book I’m reading, THE GOOD HOUSE by Ann Leary, claims she can tell
everything she needs to know about someone by looking at their house.  “I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist could after a year of sessions,” admits Hildy Good.

I thought I’d have a little fun with this today. Who doesn’t like to psychoanalyze themselves every once in a while?

Here’s what a walk-through of my house at this moment says about me:

  • Disinfectant wipes on both bathroom counters = Taking care of children with the flu all week.
  • Sticky Note Central = I don’t use an app to remind me of things. I still love the old-fashioned way…posting sticky notes over every square inch of my house.
  • Piles & Piles of books to be read, cards to be written, rapidly breeding clothes on my bedroom floor = I have priorities and cleaning my home until it’s spotless has never really made it to the top of my list.
  • Christmas tree with both toilet paper roll decorations and beautiful dove ornaments = I have kids and I love them. I also like to try for a little class. Hence…a schizophrenic Christmas tree.
  • Jackets hanging on just about every chair = We make ourselves at home and we’re in and out a lot. I also haven’t found a hook rack I like well enough to buy yet.
  • Half-finished homemade Christmas presents in random places = I have good intentions, but my kids have the flu.
  • Earrings and rings on the kitchen counter = When I’m home, I’m home and I take off all the trimmings the second I get in the door.
  • A dog leash on my beside table = I still miss my dog terribly and I’m counting the days until we get a puppy.
  • Dozens of apples & bananas on my dining room table = Did I mention my kids have the flu? (B.R.A.T. diet, anyone?)
  • Candles in every room = Because I happen to believe candles make a home more homey.
  • Dust bunnies, vacuum left out, dishes still to do = Again with the priorities and this week you can just call me Flo Night. (Wow, and yes, I’m lacking that much sleep).
  • Painted furniture in almost every room = I like to DIY furniture and I’m not half bad at it. I’m half good.
  • Books about writing and WIP (work in progress) notes in every room where I write = I spend a lot of time writing.
  • Christmas cards spread out on my piano = I love my friends.

Wonder what would your house reveal about you?

*Congratulations to the five Goodreads Giveaway winners of my novella!

*After Christmas & in the New Year, I’m MOVING to Wednesdays! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Club Fun, Giveaways, and More

I’ve been having a blast visiting with local book clubs discussing my debut novella, The Disappearing Key.

Please contact me if you’re interested in having me come to your book club (I'm also up for Skyping).

Diane Estrella’s 2013 Debut Author Giveaway Hop ends TOMORROW. 
Enter to win a free copy of my book!

Chance to win one of five autographed copies of my book.

Grateful to guest post at Jenny Hale’s yesterday. 
If you missed it, I answer more insider questions about my book and what’s on my bucket list.

*Also, if you've read The Disappearing Key & you enjoyed it, I'd love for you to post a short review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thanks for helping me spread the word!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Will We Read in the Future?

I’m with Bueller on this one.  “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you
could miss it.” I feel that way about how technology is rapidly influencing the way we experience books. Within the past few years e-book readers have exploded and audio reading is on the rise. The mind can only imagine what reading will look like ten years from now. (Who am I kidding, the way things move, probably two years is more like it?)

What will it be like to read in the future. I brainstormed a few potentials.

Five aspects of reading I predict will continue to develop in the future...

My recently released novella, The Disappearing Key, portrays a teenager who is a synesthete (Oriana experiences sights and sounds on a more intense, comingled level).

Picture tapping your finger on a sensory button on your Kindle Fire that would enable you to smell the fragrance described or to hear the exact trumpet sound or song the author wrote into their scene.

Will readers be able to select alternate endings to novels? I envision authors setting up this option through different means. Authors could very well provide their work in stages. This is already taking place in the case of beta readers  providing insight for authors as they help them to refine the revision process.

Anyone who doubts the influence of interaction only has to look at the powerful sway reviews have regarding book sales.

Call me crazy, but I just can’t get enough of book clubs. I’m visualizing future book clubs interacting with authors not only after a book has been written and published, but even during the process. Similar to how Goodreads has a section for quotes and trivia, I’m imagining a reading experience with games, trivia, probing questions, and an Ask the Author section built right into the book.

I also wonder if readers will continue to play a more vital role as they have opportunities to create their own powerful reactions on Youtube, by developing and/or directing a movie version of what they experienced.

Have you encountered a wee little website called Pinterest yet? It’s only one of the fastest growing social media sites out there. Need I state the obvious? People are attracted to pictures. I’m willing to bet we’re going to see a lot of creative imagery in future books. I recently finished  reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It suited the main character to tell his story with pictorial depictions. My gut says this is going to become more and more common as readers crave and respond to images.

I know you’ve seen it, authors who write a book with wonderful descriptions of meals and then they have the wisdom to include detailed recipes in the back of the book. This is only a hint of what’s to come. I’m envisioning links to all sorts of local resources tied in to the book. Guides to cooking, listings of local cooking classes, tutorials, links to Youtube How-tos, etc.

I’m not arguing whether this influx of resources will add or detract from the reading experience, but I am guessing it’s something we’ll see in the future.

When I worked at Microsoft I remember sitting in on some pretty intense brainstorming sessions. People were constantly trying to come up with the next greatest thing.

Personally, it always has and always will come back to a good story for me. I won’t be looking for the bells and whistles to enhance my experience. I’ll try them because I’m open-minded and curious as all get out, but I’ll always hunt for a story with the power to climb inside my soul and nest there.

What about you, how do you think our reading experience could change in the future?

*I’m giving away FIVE autographed copies of my book via a Goodreads Disappearing Key Days Giveaways for the Holidays starting tomorrow at midnight. Make sure to check it out.
**Also, I’m visiting five book clubs this month that have signed up for my Key Book Clubs from Coast to Coast Contest. Please contact me if you want to involve your book club. (See sidebar.)

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...