Love Your Library

LoveYourLibrary

I have always loved books. I grew up very blessed. My parents both enjoyed reading and always encouraged me to pick up a book.

One of my favorite memories from my childhood is that of my local library. Our household was a family of five, my parents, my two sisters, and me. Mom would go to different grocery stores to get the best prices. I would beg her to leave me at the library while she went shopping. The days she let me go to the library were the highlights of my weeks. I would browse the shelves in awe and an overwhelming desire to read every book on the shelves.

Briggs, our local library, had an amazing children’s section, it still does although it is now on the main floor. Previously, it was upstairs, and I considered it “my section”. I felt like a princess in a castle.

I had a ritual. When I first got there I would drop off my books that I had taken home with me the previous week with the librarian. My next stop was to what I called the “Nancy Drew” section. A few of the Nancy Drew books were always missing and I held out hope that they would be brought back so that I could have my turn with them. If I didn’t find a new Nancy Drew I would start my way through the various sections looking for something to catch my eye. I would make a pile of books, usually around six to ten, and pick which ones I would want to check out for the week. I would sit at one of the little tables and skim through the pages of the books I couldn’t take home, planning my next visit and promising the books that I would be back for them. They were my friends.

It became a challenge. Initially I wanted to read three books from each section that contained chapter books. That quickly became too easy, and I decided that reading every book in the library was a better goal. I never made it through all of the books, but I feel like I came pretty close!

Book highlights for me were the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, Sweet Valley High, and Goosebumps. I didn’t enjoy books that didn’t have a happy ending, or books that made me feel sad. I wanted to close a book feeling happy and with a sense of completion. I think this is why I found my niche in writing with romance novels. They evoke similar feelings. Yes, I know, you can read certain romance novels that make you cry. In fact, I have read several. But they don’t leave me feeling helpless at the end. There is a happily ever after in the books I prefer to read, and write.

Fast forward almost three decades and I still go to the same library. In fact, I wrote several chapters of “When Love Finds You” at Briggs. On days that I could not concentrate I would take my laptop and a notebook and drive to the library to hide from distractions. Being around so many books helped me focus. Is that strange? It was an affirmation that I could do this… I could finish writing a book. The thousands of books surrounding me were proof, if all the authors that had books on the shelves could do it then so could I.

And now, three months after my first book release, and halfway through completing my second book, I will be signing copies of “When Love Finds You” at that very library. How very surreal.

Have you visited your local library lately? I know they have changed, especially over the last ten years. But the ambience is still there. It’s a special place, inspiring readers and authors alike.

The how of it…. HOW did I pick Charlotte?

 

My book series (okay, it will be a book series…. As soon as the rest of the books release) is set in Charlotte, NC. I’ve had a few people ask me why I picked Charlotte. I could tell you that I chose it because it isn’t a place that many books have been set in this city, or I could tell you it was because I am originally from the area. Neither of which are true.

“When Love Finds You” actually started as a writing exercise. I was going to write a simple book about a guy meeting a girl and falling in love. The end. I wanted to work on certain writing skills. I have an entirely different series plotted, and it takes place on a little island along the Maine Coast. Which is a far cry from Charlotte, NC. But during the “exercise” an entirely new series idea attacked my brain and wouldn’t let go… and a series was born.

So I circle back, why did I choose Charlotte? My husband had recently travelled to Charlotte for an anniversary trip. He is a HUGE San Antonio Spurs fans and we went to Charlotte to see the Hornets play the Spurs. While there we also went sight-seeing. I fell in love with the city. I’ll be honest, I am a country girl at heart. I love the quiet, the mountains, and the isolation.  But as cities go, Charlotte is super nice. And since I was doing this as a writing exercise only I thought that it would be EASY (sill author) to write someplace that I had been to, aka less research.

Fun fact: The Cowfish (the place of Kendall and Aiden’s first almost date) really does exist. My husband ate the Hunka Hunka burger and loved it… although when he ordered it I thought he was insane. LOL

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Hunka Hunka Burger

I am having a lot of fun incorporating more of Charlotte into book two, TAKE A CHANCE ON LOVE. So far I’ve worked in a farmers market and a quirky little bookstore. Who knows what else will get added along the way!

Anyway, that’s the how of it.

Is it a pile or a mountain?

SO MANY BOOKS

That is the question that I ask myself about my To Be Read pile almost daily.

I do my best to follow an “every other book” type of system. Every other book that I read is from my TBR pile. This helps, but doesn’t stop the problem. Because awesome-ness happens, publishing houses do amazing things like put stuff on sale for .99¢ (re: Entangled’s most recent sale) and I buy up every title I did not already own. So the TBR grows. BookBub introduces me to new authors, and I buy their backlist. It’s a great and exciting, but vicious cycle. So that’s how it happens. I think I am making a dent in it… but then, alas, I am not.

For a while I thought, well, at least they are in ebook, so I don’t have to dust the pile right? Nope. Wrong. Because then I end up falling in love with books and any book that I deem as a keeper I always buy in print (the zombie apocalypse could happen… and I may be holed up in a bunker or something with no electricity but plenty of light to read by…. Hey, it could happen, you don’t know!) And I can’t imagine not having my keepers in print if something were to happen to my digital books.  Sure, the amount of print books have reduced drastically, but also, due to the affordability of ebooks (sales and free, hello!) I end up impulse buying even more.

Hello, my name is Darcy and I love books. The more the merrier. I know I will never, ever, never ever, read my way through my entire pile. Even if I stopped buying books today I wouldn’t make it through my TBR pile if I lived to be 100. And the only thing that is not okay about this is the fact that so many awesome books will be left unread either on my shelves or on my ereader.

Combined, between my ebooks and print books I can safely say that I have over two thousand unread books, just waiting for my attention. So here is the question: Is it a pile or a mountain?

 

Adventures in Cat Rescue, 2017

**This is NOT a book related post.

On Saturday I was working my day job when I was told that there was a litter of kittens (2-3 weeks old by my estimate) and a momma cat underneath a building beside our pharmacy, where we keep extra building fixtures. The animal rescuer in me couldn’t let it go. So I secured rescue and spent the weekend trying to coax the kittens and mother out from underneath the building with cat food and tuna. No luck.

So I borrowed a drop trap and a live trap from a local animal rescue and, with the help of my sister, managed to trap the mother and one kitten. That left four kittens. We stayed in the grass behind my work building for over 3 hours trying to catch the stinkers. It finally got so dark I couldn’t stay any longer because we couldn’t see to trigger the drop trap.

I had to let the mother cat go because the remaining kittens would need her. I was sad, but determined to come back and try the following night. I took my one trapped kitten home and started bottle feeding. He’s a cutie. I’ve named him Asher, he’s a gray tabby, and the name totally suits him.

Sadly, the momma cat has relocated the other kittens to a better hiding place and I haven’t been able to find them. She is coming back and eating the food I am leaving under the building and also drinking the water. So at least I know she/they aren’t starving. I’m still trying to find them. I’ve contacted the neighbors, and continue to search for them daily. I pray I find them.

But at least I caught one. One kitten that will be fully vetted, and go off to rescue to find a forever home. It won’t have to live the life of a stray/feral and possibly die way too early due to lack of nutrition and appropriate care.

I am exhausted and worried, bottle feedings in the middle of the night, going home in the middle of the day to feed, and still checking to find the rest of the litter and the mother. I would love to get them all fixed, vetted, and off to rescue. I’m not sure if it will happen, but I sure hope so!

The moral of this story is spay and neuter your pets. And help spay and neuter strays. There are so many animals out there that need help.

Interested in keeping up with this ongoing saga? Findme on Facebook, I am posting updates and adorable pictures there.

(below: Asher next to a 16 ounce bottle of water, for scale)

 

 

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Book Two

I’ve started writing book two in the Coleman Family Legacy series. There have been a few surprises along the way.

First, book 2 is NOT going to be Cass and Tucker’s book. Even I thought it was going to be their story. But Sara is demanding my attention. After many, many hours of plotting/daydreaming I have a full story arc complete and made it possible for Sara to go first.

Second, Sara is NOT going to end up with who I thought she was…. There’s this new guy, Hank, who is rather outspoken. He is insisting that Sara be his forever. And how can I argue with that? I mean, he’s a good guy, even though he’s got a dark and dangerous vibe to him.

I have accumulated a file of inspiration photos and thought I would share those here.

So yep, that’s it for me. Book 2 in progress. Sara and Hank’s story… as of yet untitled. But I am super excited to be working on it and can’t wait to see where they take me.

Oh! And I am hoping for a September 2017 release.

I survived RT, barely.

 

Happy NationalBoss Day!

My RT recap, kind of.

*Edit to add that this is technically NOT my first RT. I’ve been as a reader, but never and an author.

Georgia doesn’t like me. Let me start there. It never fails, every time I have ever vacationed in Georgia something bad has happened.

Examples include:

  • An anniversary trip with my husband, my house flooded while we were away.
  • We went on a vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains for hiking in the state and national parks, the government shut down.
  • We tried again on another vacation, I ended up with pneumonia.

So why did I try this again??? I must be a glutton for punishment. My close friend, and fellow author, and roommate for the trip, Amy J Hawthorn, went along for this torturous adventure.

We drove, which is fine. Both of us like to drive so that really isn’t an issue. But the trip started with her having some seasonal allergy related problems and me having a cough and the beginnings of a head cold. No problem. Nothing some Airborne and OTC meds can’t handle right? Ugh. Not so much.

AND, to add insult to injury, two hours into the trip my oil light kept flashing off and on. We stopped at an AutoZone in Lexington, KY. I’m muttering about my bad luck with trips to Georgia and Amy mentioned her bad mojo with vehicles.  At AutoZone a very kind mechanic, NOT an employee, but a shopper, looks at the car and tells me that he thinks it is a pressure switch/sensor problem. Okay then. So what do we do? We continue to drive  all the way to Georgia with a binging sound… we started to get used to it and it became background noise. But there was the constant worry that the car was going to blow up. Lucky for us, we made it to Georgia, and back home, without any actual car trouble.

There were multiple panels that I wanted to attend, parties to go to, friends to see… You get the point. What did I do? Well, the first day I registered and slept. Yep. That’s right. I paid a ton of money to drive down to Georgia and sleep off a cold. After the first day I forced myself to do a panel or two each day, and even made it to a few reader events… and did my best to smile through the signings and not act as if I possibly overdosed myself on Robitussin during the Saturday and Sunday signing. I chugged coffee too, lots of coffee.

Did I have a good time? For the most part, yes. But I was so concerned about spreading this crud to other convention goers, and also frightening off possible readers of my one and only book, that I mostly hid in the hotel room.

On the bright side, I am about ten thousand words into book 2 of the series, so that’s something right?

Poor Amy though. She had to listen to my mouth breathing, nose blowing, yucky self for an entire week. All while not feeling so hot herself. She’s a trooper.

I wish I would have gotten to see more friends, and make new ones. But there is always the next convention right? Speaking of, check out my appearances page if you would like to see where I am going to be. And check out my author Facebook page “Author Darcy Stephens” for pics from the convention.

Release Day Thoughts

 

Like so many readers I have had dreams of writing my own books. I’ve had stories in my mind since I was a little girl. My mom gets the credit for that… she enabled my love of books. I was a lucky girl. I grew up in a home with parents that loved to read. My Dad had his Louis L’amour books, Reader’s Digests, and Nat Geo’s. And Mom had her Little House on the Prairie and stories of how she read Nancy Drew when she was younger. Mom would take me to the library. And every other week she would let me spend my $10 allowance at the local bookstore “The Little Professor” or at a nearby shopping center that sold Harlequins and other various books.  Back in the day books were only $2.50 – $2.99 each and I could always get three books. And then I would wear those three books out in the two week time frame until I got my next allowance or the next trip to the library. It was reading all of these books that triggered my imagination. I remember going into the library and thinking about how amazing it is that someone had to write all of these books. And if all of these other authors could do it then maybe one day I could too.

So around the age of twelve I decided to try. I wanted to write Sweet Valley High books. Because why not? I filled spiral bound notebooks with my ideas and very poorly written dialogue. But I had the dream. Nothing ever came of these stories. I never showed them to anyone, and to be completely honest I think I destroyed most of them, embarrassed because I knew my writing wasn’t good enough. Even then I was my own worst critic.

Fast forward 17 years (10 years ago) give or take a year. I met a wonderful group of Ladies on a reader’s forum. And out of that group I formed a close bond with many, especially two very special women. We just so happened to live within an hour of each other, how lucky! It took several years before one of these two women admitted to wanting to write. We talked about it. I could tell that she was very serious about it. She had stories drafted and been taking some writing classes on the side. I thought okay, if she can do this maybe I can do it too.  So I tried, and I absolutely hated my writing. Like, throw the notebook against the wall, can’t stand it, hated it. Her writing was beautiful, and still is, filled with emotion and depth. And I would look at all of the authors that I admire, people like Nalini Singh, and wish that I had that type of fluidity. Because damn, that woman has some amazing skill. So, out of frustration, I gave up.

I watched my friend’s career grow. And I was thrilled, over-the-moon, happy for her. She was working her tail off, still does, to hold a full-time job, take care of her family, and write. Holy crap, right? And here I was still dreaming. Then it hit me about two years ago… I think I may have said something to her on one of our trips… I don’t know exactly what it was, but it was like a light bulb finally clicked. I had to write my stories my way. They may not contain the beautiful writing of the authors that I admire, but that was okay. Not all stories are flowery and eloquent. There were likely thousands of texts about writing, hers and mine, and so many phone calls with our friend, who always offered encouragement, helped with plots, and listened when I needed to complain.

Two years ago I started writing seriously. I wrote so many drafts of a story that I loved but could never finish. So I took a writing course, searching for inspiration. That is when I decided to write a few chapters of a non-existent, random story to work on my dialogue and have it critiqued by a course instructor. And THAT was when Aiden and Kendall’s story broke into my mind and heart and wouldn’t let go. There is an entire series in my head now screaming, demanding to be let out. So that is what I did. I gave up on series one that I was attempting. And jumped right in… It has taken a year, but FINALLY the day is here. A day that has been twenty-seven years in the making, my very first release day.

I owe my thanks to many people for helping me get her. My parents, my husband for the nonstop encouragement, and my two best friends, Amy and Inez. I love all of you with all of my heart.

Serendipity

Serendipity defined by Dictionary.com is

noun

  1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

2. good fortune; luck:

When naming my first book, “When Love Finds You” my mind was all over the place. I wanted something that literally captured the story in the title. I initially chose the one word title “Serendipity” because the story of Aiden and Kendall falling in love is the very definition. But then I wanted a more wordy title and started thinking. That is how “When Love Finds You” came to fruition as the title.

And I have to say that picking that title was rather serendipitous. *see what I did there?*

Anywho…. That’s my random share for the day.

Wishing you all the best andmay success follow you wherever!

 

Where are my ducks???

Deep Thoughtswith Darcy (1)

Well, here it is, by first blog post. Let me start by saying that it has been such a busy start to the year that I managed to do very little “authorly business”.  What? Authorly isn’t a word? That’s okay, I like it so I am keeping it.  I’m eccentric that way.

I’ve decided that I want my blog posts to be a journal for myself and anyone else interested in reading about my goals, challenges, and (fingers crossed) accomplishments as I plunge into the waters of writing.  So please, hang in there with me. I’m a bit snarky most of the time, but as long as I have had my coffee I won’t bite.  Promise.

I am currently looking for my ducks so that I can get them in a row.  I have signed up for three book conferences this year. RT, Pages in the Cave, and Arch City, and I have a beautiful book cover.  Sadly, what I don’t have is a finished book!  How did that happen?  I must be insane.  I totally put the cart before the horse…. Heck, let’s be honest, the horse is so far back there I can barely see him.  But I am getting there.  I’m determined and I have a great group of friends and family supporting me.  So here I am world, nervous and wearing a shiny “NEWBIE” sticker right on my forehead.

The book so close to being finished. Seriously, just an ending remains to be written. The challenge is writing something that doesn’t feel so completely ridiculous. And there is my problem. I know what I want to happen, how it needs to happen, and what needs to be left hanging for the next two characters to be set up for their book…. It’s all there, almost. But the three, yes, THREE, endings that I have written are all so pathetically lame.  And I love my book; I don’t want a lame ending.  Tomorrow is the day, I am heading to the library with a very large iced coffee and I am going to stay there until I resolve my issue. Or they close. You know, whichever.  Please, please, please, let it be the former.

I managed to get a picture of myself today. The conferences want a head shot.  Why do they have to have a picture?  Oh, that’s right, as some point in time people might actually want to know what I look like.  Not yet of course, because I haven’t published a book. But very soon that will all change. I have to be honest though, I hate pictures of myself. Candid shots taken with friends are one thing, posed pictures of just me? Not so much. But I’m being a big girl and dealing.

And thank goodness I am self-publishing.  Because I have set myself a deadline, one in my head that I will not share because I don’t want to jinx it, but there is a deadline and I MUST have my ending written by a specific date to give editors and the person formatting time to do their thing.

So that’s pretty much it for me today. My goal is to blog twice a month.  I hope that next time I have found my freaking ducks and have managed an ending to my book that doesn’t suck.

Darcy