NEW Book!

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Okay, here’s the thing. I’ve been absent for quite some time, and I’ve hinted at a new “project” I was working on. Well, that project was ME. In July of 2015 I underwent Weight Loss Surgery and my life has been forever altered. I’ve lost 112 pounds and I feel like I can fit in my own skin now. It’s an incredible feeling.

It’s not for everyone. It’s controversial. Some people think it’s “cheating” or taking the “easy way” out. (It’s neither of those, actually, and I truly don’t understand that mentality. Cheating what? The billion dollar weight-loss industry? Okay! I’m good with that!) But I did it and it’s been life-changingly wonderful for me.

And so, I wrote a book. Cos that’s what I do. So here it is… partially story of my own journey, partially a workbook to help people decide if it’s right for them (or simply to learn what people go through with this tool). If you’re interested, you can click on the photo of my cover above, or you can click right here to get to the Amazon page. Right now, only the e-book is available, but the paperback will be out next week.

This is a personal journey, made less personal by putting it on Amazon. It’s a vulnerable experience, especially for an introvert like me. But I’m hopeful that it can help someone else going through the same journey. If that’s the case, then it’s worth it all.

And yes, book two of Drawn In is still happening, and it’s nearing completion. I promise. 🙂

A Reading Challenge for 2016

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vintage books and a cup of coffee

I keep seeing reading challenges pop up on different sites and blogs, and I love the idea so much, I thought I’d create my own version! I tend to pick my next book based on mood or recommendation or what’s handy at the moment. So I hope that having a list like this will inspire my 2016 reading a bit, and maybe focus my TBR pile some as well. I’m going to make it a fairly short list though, so I can leave myself lots of room for reading what strikes my fancy along the way. Fair enough, right? So here goes…

  1. A book set in a foreign country
  2. A retelling of a fairy tale or legend
  3. A book with a season in the title
  4. A book based on a true story
  5. A book that’s about to be made into a movie
  6. A debut author
  7. A book with a colour in the title
  8. A classic that I’ve never read
  9. A book with water of some kind on the cover
  10. An indie author
  11. A book featuring a MC from a different culture
  12. A book with a music theme
  13. A book with a one-word title
  14. A book with a title of at least six words
  15. A retelling of a Shakespeare play
  16. A book with a holiday as a central element
  17. A book with a purple cover
  18. A book set in space
  19. A book released in 2016
  20. A sequel to a book I read more than a year ago

Okay, I think that will do it. I’m excited to have a list to cross things off of! Anyone else challenging your list this year? Let me know, we can compare notes!

 

 

Author Interview: Tara St Pierre and her book “Just a Few Inches”

Hi there! I’ve been missing for a while working on some personal… shall we say projects? Sure. We’ll go with that. But I’m back! And today I’m so excited to tell you about a book I read recently. I don’t usually do the book promoting/reviewing thing on here, but I couldn’t resist with this one! The book is called Just a Few Inches and you can read my full review here.

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But more than that, I am thrilled to have its author, Tara St Pierre, on my blog with me today! I’m so so happy to get to support a fellow indie author! First, the blurb for the book so you have a bit of context…

All Carrie Roberts wants is to be a little bit smaller.

To fit into the perfect dress for the Valentine’s Day Dance. To look beautiful for her boyfriend, the school’s star basketball player. To keep his jealous ex-girlfriend, a rival cheerleader, away from him. And to be noticed by her classmates.

Exercising and dieting don’t work, but an advertisement for weight loss pills promises a quicker solution to her problem. As time runs out, she takes more than the recommended dose until she’s just a few inches slimmer. Heads turn when she arrives at the dance, and the wonderful night with her boyfriend is beyond what she dreamed it would be.

Days later, Carrie discovers that her body is changing in ways that should be impossible. While her doctor searches for a cure, she desperately turns to her friends and family for support. Everyone is noticing her now whether she likes it or not, and even the media is intrigued by her incredible story. Getting everything she once wanted has created new problems–problems that are growing more terrifying every day.

Because Carrie Roberts is shrinking.

Sounds so good, right? It is unique and thought-provoking, funny and touching… I really enjoyed it all around. And now… Tara!

Hi Tara! Thanks so much for joining me on my blog today!

Hi Sioux! Thanks for having me!

Just a Few Inches has such an interesting premise. What inspired you to write this book?

The original inspiration came from standing in the check-out line at a supermarket or drugstore. All those magazines with airbrushed cover photos made me wonder about the messages they send to young women. One had a cover story about some method to shrink your dress size. I remembered the Lily Tomlin movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman from my youth, and my brain created an interesting mash-up. I imagined a girl, struggling with her own perception of her body based on such conflicting images in the media. What if she tried one of those methods to shrink her dress size but instead of losing inches around her waist and hips, she lost them from her height? At that point, I was sure I had something unique. I hoped the simple speculative element of her shrinking would keep readers turning the pages while Carrie learned her lesson. I quickly realized that the only way to make it work was to write it from Carrie’s point of view. Not only would it help make her situation seem all the more real, but I could utilize her narration as social commentary while she internalizes what she learns from her own experience and from observing others.

We see the book, first person, through Carrie’s eyes. It was fascinating to watch her shrink and see ordinary objects become challenges and even threats to her. How were you able to keep track of all of the specific height references?

Lots and lots of measuring! I measured the height of counters, sinks, doorknobs, tables, beds, clothing, various dolls, phones, and other common objects. I referenced growth charts for girls so I could compare Carrie to her sisters’ heights—but she wouldn’t perfectly match their sizes. For example, a toddler has a different overall shape than a teenager, so that would affect how clothes would fit. Using averages for a girl of Carrie’s starting height (5’8”), I created a spreadsheet to calculate her measurements (height, weight, waist, arm length, foot length—you name it) for every single day of her incredible journey. At that point, I matched situations to her height. For example, there’s a scene where she’s trapped in a closet, so she needed to be too short to use the doorknob effectively. I also used the spreadsheet to determine when she’d transition her clothing—from her younger sisters to infant clothes and ultimately to doll clothes.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

Trying to find the right balance between theme and plot. I didn’t want it to come across as too heavy-handed, yet I wanted Carrie to learn so much—to grow internally—as she shrank externally. It’s easy for her to regret her decision to take the pills early on because it’s doing something so incredibly terrifying to her. But along the way, I had her observe others (her younger sisters, her friends and classmates, even her mother and doctor) to try learning where—and when—our body image issues come from. Various heights allowed for different lessons. For example, some people claim the unreal dimensions of fashion dolls may be an early contributing factor to body image struggles in girls. Whether or not that’s true, I can’t say, but I could posit the question while Carrie was that tall.

It’s pretty clear that there are body image messages throughout the book, and they’re handled really well. (Having her want to be a journalist and using that to speak consciously about her issues was a really smart move, by the way!) Is there one Tweet- sized message you’d like to have us come away with?

Thank you! Since the media plays a part in our perception of body image, it made sense to make Carrie somewhat media savvy. She starts maintaining a blog about midway through the story, and she’d probably post on other social media sites too. This is a fewer-than-140-characters line from her blog (when she’s 2’ 2” tall) that I believe she’d Tweet out: “I’d much rather have a body—any body, at any size, even this one—than to shrink away to nothing and have no body whatsoever.”

What is a favorite line from Just a Few Inches? 

My absolute favorite line occurs at the very end of the story, but I don’t want to give anything like that away. Got to save something for the readers. 😉 I have so many other lines that I love for a variety of reasons, including the one above and this one (from when she’s 4’ 2” tall): Would I ever be that secure with what I was? And which of the labels—cheerleader, shrinking, or incredible—would I ultimately embrace?

And I have to ask… other than Carrie of course, who is your favorite character?

Definitely Evan. It was great to write someone so sweet and secure in who he was, even if he was shy at times. Also, I could incorporate some of my inner dorkiness into him. There are some scenes where he performs calculations about Carrie’s height or her trajectory in a cheering routine. I had to do the calculations myself in researching and developing the story, so why let them go to waste or keep them behind the scenes? His character gave me the opportunity to insert some of them into the storyline!

Are you working on other projects?

Actively working on? Well, not exactly. But I have written what may become the first chapter of a future project. Right now, it’s a scene with two boys eating pizza while one wants to discuss fractions and infinity. The conversation came to me one morning, so rather than lose it, I typed it out. I like the narrator’s voice, and I’ve started sketching out what his lecture is a defense mechanism for. Whether this will develop a later YA novel, I don’t know. It took a long time for me to complete Inches, so we’ll just have to wait and see!

And now… just for fun…

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Vanilla…which is interesting, considering at least one character in the story has quite the affinity for chocolate.

Apples or Oranges?

Apples…I don’t like citrus.

Disney or Universal?

Do I have to choose? Both are responsible for so much wonderful entertainment!

Superman or Iron Man?

Iron Man…love his snarkiness…and he’s got a cooler suit than Superman.

Movie theatre or Netflix?

Movie theatre…there’s something great about the shared experience of watching the story unfold as part of an audience that’s far better than watching it at home where you can pause it.

Winter or Summer?

Summer…long days, sunny weather, barbecues, beaches. What’s not to love?

Thanks Tara! I loved having you join me today. Now here ya go readers … go forth and read! Here’s the link (or click the cover above). And don’t forget to add it to your TBR list on GoodReads too. 

What is your STOPPING point?

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In the final throes of editing and proofreading before hitting that “Publish” button, I am once again re-visiting my opening paragraphs. I have two that I like, one that I’m leaning towards, and I’m 90% certain I’m leaving it alone. However, in the past few months, I’ve been hyper aware of how other authors choose to start their novels. It’s fascinating.

I recently began reading a book that had been highly anticipated, and then highly recommended by several blogs that I follow. I’ve found some great books this way in the past, and have rarely been disappointed when a book has this much positive buzz. So I bought it, started it, and at the end of chapter one I thought.. eh. Not really into this yet, I have zero connection with the main character (and first person narrator). But it was so highly talked about, I’ll give it another chapter.

I ended up giving it three more chapters. I still had no connection at all with the main character, didn’t understand a lot of what was going on plot-wise or love-interest-wise, and wasn’t particularly blown away with the writing in general. When the next night came around, I anxiously picked up my Kindle, ready to settle into a great book… and then I remembered. It was that book. My heart sank. And that’s when I knew it was time to give up. I downloaded another book from the top of my TBR pile, and never looked back.

Last fall, I read a whole book that I wasn’t connecting with (mediocre writing, unrealistic character choices, not even edited well grammatically), but this book is a thing. It’s a big popular series–so it can’t be bad, right? I just wasn’t getting it? I still don’t know.

So here’s the thing… how much is too much? Or maybe more appropriately, how little is too little? When do you stop reading a book you’re just not connecting with? Do you give a book a chapter? Two? A single page?

A Revelation at Target, or A Potential Solution to the Eternal Debate

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I’ve often said that if Target doesn’t have it, I don’t need it. But the other day, I stumbled upon something completely unexpected: clarity. You see, I’ve been struggling for a long time with the Eternal Debate that faces all of us new, eager, undiscovered authors: Traditional or Self-Publication. I know, the debate is long and tired, and all sides have valid points depending on what you’re actually seeking to accomplish with your book(s) and career. Believe me, I’ve had all the internal and external debates possible on this one.

And then came Target. I was browsing the YA books (shocking, I know), and there it was: the Up & Coming Authors section. I took a cursory glance at them, saw a few pretty covers and nothing really caught my eye, so I turned to move on. And then it hit me. That tiny little section that is lucky even to get the cursory glance from a stranger is exactly where I’m trying to be! Every one of those books on the shelf has a mommy or a daddy who spent YEARS praying for their eventual existence, going through an eerily similar process to what I’m going through right now… and will probably live and die on that tiny Target shelf, never seeing the light of day. How very sad. Part of me wanted to snatch up one of each and take them home, just so someone would love them. (This, by the way, is the same part of me that is no longer allowed to go Christmas tree shopping because I end up crying over all the Charlie Brown trees that will die in a wood chipper. But I digress.)

Thus, the revelation. Why am I killing myself to find an agent, who will then have to turn around and find a publisher, who will then maybe MAYBE decide that my book is worthy of a small release to similar sad shelves? With all of the changes in the industry in the last few years, why am I fighting self-publication? I’ll have to market myself, yes, but won’t I have to do that anyway? At least with self-publication, I can choose my own cover, my own fonts (I LOVE FONTS!), my own release date, plus I keep my profits.

So yeah, I’ll probably do ONE more round of query letters, just to say I tried everything I possibly could in the traditional route. But really, I’m already thinking of covers.

All this, plus I got milk and a new lip gloss. Target really is a magical place.