Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Heart Grows Fond

I've always thought it would be a neat experience to be a foster parent.  My husband and I have talked about it several times over the years and the timing never felt quite right.  Last Saturday, my family and I took a trip to the local Petsmart to see the dogs.  Oh how my children have begged for a dog.  (We were even planning on getting a puppy for Christmas.)  They asked us if we were there to adopt.  "No," we said.  "We're just here to pet them."  Then the nice dog-handling ladies told us we could always foster one.  Well, isn't that a great idea?  Take a dog home and see how it works out?  What I've learned from this experience:

  1. I like dogs, but I don't want a dog to take care of
  2. I could probably fall in love with any dog, but I still don't want a dog to take care of
  3. My seven year old has extreme anxiety around a dog she thinks may bite her
  4. My children will not be getting a puppy for Christmas
Well, that's pretty much it.  Taking Rascal back will be difficult, which means the sooner the better.  I'll consider a dog when my kids are older and can take care of it themselves.  And I probably won't be fostering any children either because my heart doesn't need the damage of having to say goodbye to something I've grown fond of, especially over and over again.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


 This night was nothing short of magical: fun decorations, amazing people, a great book to celebrate and beautiful snow.
 Signing table minus the author.
 Banquet table.  We went for a medieval castle feel and it turned out lovely.  Check out the haunted forest mural in the background.  Gotta love Halloween clearance!  It worked perfectly.
 We started off the night reading the third chapter of Cinder and Ella where Ella decides to leave her family behind.
 The beautiful cake my friend made.  Thanks, Misty!
 I'm so sad I missed all the fun!  I signed books upstairs while everyone partied downstairs.  My husband made these stilts that I'm sure everyone had a blast with.
 It was so fun to see family, friends, neighbors.  Thanks to everyone who made an effort to come out, especially given the heavy snow.
 Just some more of the cool decorations made by my husband.

Cinder and Ella had a fabulous launch!  Special thanks to Susie, my partner in crime, Jo, Sarah and Crystal for keeping things running smoothly, everyone who brought such yummy food to eat.  Thanks for such a magical night!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

End of an Era

Nearly seven years ago I began teaching piano lessons because a friend of mine convinced me I could.  My husband and I bought a Kingsbury spinet for $700 from an ad on Craigslist and I obtained several students.  Cello students came as well and I eventually taught myself guitar so I could teach that, too.  I've had dozens of students in two states.  I enjoyed it.  I'm good at it.  Then I wrote a book.  For me, that was like seeing your favorite color again for the first time.  I fell in love.  And continued to teach music lessons.  I spent over a year trying to get that first book published.  Then in November 2009 I made my first attempt to win NaNoWriMo, working on a story I had been thinking about for several months.  I finished the story, but fell thousands of words short of that 50,000 word mark on my first draft.  I began the editing process and attempted once again to find an agent or publishing company.  And continued to teach music lessons.  In February of this year I received that fateful e-mail every aspiring author dreams of.  I cried.  And continued to teach music lessons.  Things got busy, a little too busy.  Earlier this month I had a final recital with my current students.  Did I cry?  Yes.  Will I miss my students?  Yes.  Do I love writing more than teaching music lessons?  Yes.  And I hope a career in writing works out because I've done that stupid thing every writer knows they're not supposed to do:  quit my paying job.

I am so grateful for all of the music students I've had and for how my ability to play these instruments has increased.  But also so grateful for the chance to try something new.

What new thing have you tried lately?  Or what new thing would you like to try?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNo Drama

Oh, November, why do you have to be so darn busy?  Last night I hit 5,000 words.  Forget that I'm dealing with major personal life drama and releasing a book.  It's pathetic.  To tell the truth, though, knowing how busy this month would be with signings and everything else, I made a silent goal:  Finish my current WIP by the end of the year.  Not November.  Maybe this won't be my year to be a NaNoWriMo winner.  But worse things have happened.  Far worse.  Literally. 

What things have kept you from your NaNo goals?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nourish and Strengthen Blog Tour

N&S Final 75 dpi.jpg

My Review:
After reading this book I had to put it down and kind of mull over it for a while.  Over a week later I'm still thinking about it.  To tell the truth, it took a bit of courage to volunteer for this blog tour because Nourish and Strengthen fits into a category of books that I generally don't like.  Somehow this book was different for me.  The story is simple, and yet it's not.  While Nourish and Strengthen may seem like a book written mostly for Latter-Day Saint women who have diabetes, it's more than that.  It subtly speaks truths about relationships, particularly friendships and how those friendships are formed and how they last despite things like big mouths and human frailties.  Having friends, especially in an LDS ward setting, is a lot like the family you are born into.  You didn't really get a choice, but you make it work somehow.  You make mistakes and so do your friends.  They forgive and so do you.  All of our lives are crazy busy and somehow we have to learn to help each other and lean on each other and, on occasion, stay out of each other's way.  This book just gives you a ton to think about.  And if that isn't enough, Hoagland's writing is pristine.  Take it from a picky reader who likes to know what's going on and likes beauty in the writing of the books she reads and isn't fond of silly mistakes.  I give Nourish and Strengthen 4/5 stars.  Check out the author and how to purchase the book below.

What do you find difficult about friendships?

Maria Hoagland LDS Author.jpg

Maria's Blog
Smashwords (for all eBook versions)
Createspace (for paperback version)
Amazon (for paperback and kindle)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Give Thanks

This  contest is now over.  Congratulations to Inga!

Happy November, my favorite month to give thanks and slaughter turkeys.  One lucky winner will win a hardback copy of Cinder and Ella.  This contest is international.  For all of the other giveaways click here.

What you have to do to enter:  Leave a comment, and if you want, tell me why you are grateful for books or share an experience where a book helped you through a difficult time.

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top Ten Ways to Get a Hold of Cinder and Ella

Cinder and Ella has arrived in my publisher's warehouse which means it will be available soon.  If you've been asking how to get a hold of a copy, here are a few great ways!

10. Order it on Amazon.  This is recommended if you live far away from me.  It is available in hardback and  kindle.
9. Walk, run or drive to my house since I've got a few handy. This is recommended if you'd like a signed copy, but if you live within walking, running or driving distance I hope you'll come to the launch party for your signed copy.
8. For you library buffs:  Please, please, please call your local library and tell them you'd really really like to read the book and request that they get a copy of it.
7. Go to your local bookstore and see if they have it.  If they don't, request that they order it for you.
6. Come to one of the book signings scheduled in November.  There are several.  Click on my events page above for all those details.  I would so love to see you at one of those signings!
5. Take a trip to Costco in a week or so and it should be there. (This is recommended if you live in Utah, Idaho or Arizona).
4. Come to the Cinder and Ella launch party!
3. Come to the Cinder and Ella launch party!
2. Come to the Cinder and Ella launch party!
1. Come to the Cinder and Ella launch party!

Can you tell which one is my favorite?  I really hope you'll join me if you can. If not, there's always Amazon.  Oh, and by the way, I always knew the cover design was stunning, but after seeing the real live thing I know it's more than stunning.  The designers and writers did an AMAZING job of the cover art and blurbs.  Now I want to read it.  Again.

What things on a book's cover make you want to read it?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011