I had to step away from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram because I can’t stop the tears from pouring from my eyes. Reading the stories of why women and men are voting today for Hillary is inspiring and gives me hope that the hatred that has spewed from the Republican party for over twenty years may have reached its limit.
My hands shook as I put my ballot in the counting machine. I choked on the frog in my throat as I passed other women dressed in white entering the polling place. I exchanged knowing, secret glances in the elevator with other women dressed in white and pantsuits. It was the unspoken, “I got your back, sister!”
I sat in my car and hunted for some tissue. This, I was not prepared for. The emotional reaction at the historical significance of voting for the first female president of the United States.
I cried for my daughter who should never have to wonder if a woman can be president, who should be free to live her life how she wants to and to love whomever she wants to without fear of reprisal from the small-minded and petty.
I cried for my mom who told me that it wasn’t until 1992 when she was able to get a car loan all by herself without having to have her husband’s signature, too. Ironically, I’d already purchased my first car and qualified for a loan before my mother.
I cried for my deceased grandmothers who lived long enough to vote for the first African American president but not long enough to vote for the first woman president. Oh, how happy they’d be today. I cried for them because they were trailblazers in their communities and in their own occupations. My maternal grandmother, Nelle, would proudly state how she was the first female on the executive payroll at Brown Shoe company. Growing up, I heard this story over and over, but it wasn’t ‘til I got older did the significance of her achievement hit home. I had the luxury of always assuming that women would, of course, be on the executive payroll. But someone had to do it first for the rest of us.
I cried for my ex mother-in-law who told me of a time when she went to withdraw money from her business checking account and it was empty. She’d worked so hard making cakes and catering parties and had built up quite a nest egg. But a woman wasn’t allowed a bank account without her husband, her father, or her brother on it as well. She was stunned and gutted when she learned her husband had withdrawn her money and there was nothing she could do about it.
I cried for the women who are afraid to vote for Hillary because of a man in their life.
I cried for the women who found the courage to stand up and speak out about their sexual assault and for the countless women who still sit in silence.
I cried for the women who were beaten and dragged through the streets and humiliated because they supported the 19th Amendment. I thanked them for not giving up.
I thanked Hillary for not giving up on us and on our country.
I cried for my sons because today they saw their mom, a strong, extraordinary single mom who’s made so many sacrifices for them stand up and proudly cast her vote for another strong, extraordinary woman who is more than qualified to lead our country. They are encouraged to see millions of others coming to the polls to repel the hatred that has threatened our communities. If they were of voting age, they’d be casting their votes for Hillary, too.
We are a beautiful nation filled with amazing people who believe in each other. That is who the world needs to see and I pray today is the start of something new, something better and a stronger country because we are together.
#imwithher #strongertogether #election2016 #herstory
... but you do!
I know that. You know that. The cover lures the reader to open the book, the story keeps the reader turning the page. Both should be amazing!
While writing Midnight Playground, I had an idea all along of how I wanted my cover to be. I wanted a merry go round with deep ruts, symbolizing the ruts we get in when we keep doing the same thing over and over. I wanted it to be nighttime, of course, with moonlight. The darkness and stillness to show emptiness and quiet (not necessarily peaceful, but quiet).
I had proudly submitted to the publisher what Julz and I and Caerah (my artist) had put together over several sessions at Starbucks. I dared the professionals to top our cover.
I was blown away!
Every element I wanted is included. It's slick. It's professional. It's legitimate. It says, "pick me up, read me, the story inside is amazing, you won't be disappointed, you'll think about me for a long, long time, you won't want to put me down!"
And my novel backs up what the cover promises. You won't be disappointed; you'll think about my characters long after the last page; you won't want it to end, and you'll want more. Much more.
My author copy was shipped today. I'm a few nail-biting days away from holding the real-life, smell-the-ink, bend-the-spine copy of my book in my hands. And once I approve my author copy, then it's ready for you!
If you want a signed copy of Midnight Playground,use the pre-order link. If you need any other personalization (e.g. It's a gift and you want me to write someone else's name on it), please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few pictures from my hike Sunday at Hawn State Park. The weather was perfect! Warm enough for a tank top! Who would expect that at the end of October? Although Simone's hikes in Midnight Playground take place in Arkansas, these pictures give you an idea of what she was hiking through and looking at.
Although I'm relatively new to hiking, I'm so glad to have found it. For me, every hike is like getting a birthday present from Mother Nature. With every step I take, the breeze kisses my cheeks, the sun warms my face, and I keep unwrapping the beauty. My hikes linger with me for days and days. Being out there, trying new trails, seeing new and incredible vistas that are right in my backyard, is when I'm overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of all the blessings in my life.
If you haven't hiked yet, I urge you to try. If you're a veteran hiker, what's your favorite hike? What more do I have to look forward to???
Enjoy my pictures.
Penned Con was my first ever authors/readers conference. Like most first times, you build it up in your head and it will either let you down or make you want to do it more. Can you guess what my experience was?
This is my post-PennedCon 2016 post. My reflections and thoughts. My observations and comments. My #adnauseam.
You’ve waited long enough…
It. Was. Overwhelming.
Two ballrooms filled with authors signing books, talking to fans (and soon to be fans), authors laughing, taking pictures, passing out bookmarks, chocolates, suckers, condoms, and much more. (Yes, you did read the word, condoms.)
I was nervous at the beginning to share with people that I’m joining their ranks as an indie author in about two months or so. But the outpouring of positive support and encouragement from the attendees made it much easier to pass out my business cards and to talk about Midnight Playground. I even showed a few the different cover mock-ups I had received. By the time I left the conference on Saturday, I felt confident and excited that I’m on the right track. And I passed out A LOT of business cards. It was good.
Some of the authors I spoke to at length were Emme Burton (St. Louis), Denise Grover Swank (from Kansas City area and a NYT and USA Today best selling author - over 2 million copies, WOW), and A.D. Ellis, (Indianapolis). Networking and building relationships is crucial to any industry whether you’re selling books or you’re selling soft drinks. I’m excited about the connections I made.
When I wasn’t wandering the ballrooms buying books, signing up for newsletters, picking up swag (you know, as in discreetly grabbing condoms from tables), and taking selfies, I was attending the various break-out sessions. I concentrated on the marketing topics, mostly. However, I did attend a compelling presentation on e-book/e-publishing by a representative from Smashwords. Fasc-In-Ating!
Anyhow, here are my bullet points from the marketing presentations:
One question which kept hitting me as I listened to the established authors and PR professionals presiding on the panel discussions was how does an author raise his/her discoverability? How will I attract readers? How will I rise above the noise? There is A LOT of noise.
How do I avoid becoming “new coke”? That slightly less tasty version of Coke. When there are a gazillion stories and millions of authors out there, why will someone choose to read my books? And why will they keep coming back?
In addition to my unwavering and unique ninja-like ability to utilize Catholic guilt over everyone I meet, I believe it has to be quality writing and quality storytelling.
You have to have a fresh, unique voice with characters that linger and stay with the reader long after they've finished reading. Otherwise you're New Coke or the generic store-brand soda with a bad aftertaste.
I don’t ever want to be New Coke. I'm hardly generic!
My major take aways are to keep writing my stories, to recognize I'm a publisher and in business, to apply marketing/sales strategies that work for me, and to not be afraid.
xx - SR
(Okay I made that last bit up about not being afraid. It sounded good. Like I read it on a daily calendar of affirmations and decided it should be in that sentence. Sort of fake it, till you make it. Truth is, I’m terrified but in an absolutely ironically happy, positively joyful way.)
This September, I'll be walking the aisles, perusing local author tables and checking out relevant break-out sessions at PennedCon St. Louis. Looking forward to meeting other great authors and learning valuable insights to publishing success. Of course, I'm bringing my marketing guru, Julie of Stella Maris Marketing with me.
I'll report back with my observations and insights.
The publisher has asked me for keywords to describe Midnight Playground so their distributor can accurately list it in its database. They say I'm allowed up to 7 phrases of max 3 words each. My reaction was "But my book is 57,000 words, how am I supposed to reduce that to 21?!?"
So I'm working on refining the list below.
Keywords describing Midnight Playground: Where the Soul Plays
Romance: love triangle, menage, second chances, modern romance, thriller
Women’s Fiction - Love, Friendship, Dating & relationships, single hood, Complicated relationships, Strong female protagonist
Erotica: humor, mystery, suspense, urban
Literature - Love Stories, Depression & Mental Illness, Family life, Childhood.
Settings - St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago
Are you intrigued, yet:?
If so, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter, that way you get all the hows, wheres, whens regarding Midnight Playground delivered direct to you. No waiting to see it on a billboard on a deserted street in the middle of America (well that's all my billboard marketing budget can do right now, ;-) )
Holy Website Batman!
Simonerichards.com is better than I could have imagined.
When Julz texted this morning and suggested we "knock the website out" today, I grabbed my laptop, swung by to pick her up, and beelined to our local Starbucks where, except for the AC set on 'hell freezes over', we were able to 'comfortably' sit and work for five hours. Clicking, refreshing, typing, giggling, high-fiving!
And here it is...
Julz knocked it out of the park!
I'm thrilled, excited, and proud.
My task now is to gather my writings from the various places: blogs, secret spots on my hard drive(s), and paper copies and bring them here to simonerichards.com.
My writings are and have been my humorous (well sometimes not humorous) and honest (always honest even if it's raw) look at life & what I've learned so far about marriage, divorce, relationships, being single, raising children, cancer & chemo, and accepting & embracing all my imperfections, It is my journey.
I believe life should be lived fully, no matter what the circumstances – we can spend a lot of time wishing it were different, or we can celebrate it, all of it.
Welcome to simonerichards.com where we celebrate all of it!
I've been working diligently editing my book, Midnight Playground Where the Soul Plays. It's taken me almost as long to edit it as it did to write it. But I have to say, it's really good. The feedback from my beta-readers has been amazing and encouraging.
I sent the final draft and the cover artwork to the publisher earlier this week. It seems very surreal. The book could be available as soon as Christmas and as late at March. Either way, I know that when it's ready it'll be the right time. I've had wonderful support throughout the whole process from my family, my friends and my editor. His feedback was immeasurable! He saved the world from my first draft, ha ha ha!
I saw this on a wooden sign at a store in Chicago recently:
She believe she could, so she did
Yep, you're right. I bought it.
I'm excited to get to this next stage (production) and then head back to my keyboard and my office/study at home to work on the sequel to Midnight Playground, finish Purg-A-Tory and my transporter series.
I've treated myself to an upstairs study. I kicked the Rockstar to the basement and moved the Sage to another room so I could have my own library/office/study. I feel like a proper grownup now. The Rockstar protested initially, but I think he kind of likes his mini apartment. Of course, I have to remind myself that the putrid smell coming from the basement is of his soccer cleats and not a dead animal. He'll be off to college in twelve months. I'll miss him, but not that smell.
Oh and it's been three years since my surgery and I'm still cancer-free!!!! More on that in future posts.
Below is a picture I took of the Ferris Wheel in Seattle! Yeah, I've been vacationing a bit as well as writing and editing. I'll post pics from our absolutely beautiful hikes in Oregon and Seattle, Washington soon.
I have believed, and have been proven correct in my belief time and time again, that most men end up eliminating themselves from consideration or inclusion in my life all by their lonesomes. Some do it in a more spectacularly disastrous manner than others. The last one takes the cake. #hiddenracist, #stupidracistcommentcostmemygirlfriend, and #secretlyrelievedhesgone.
I have NO room in my life or soul for hidden or out in the open bigots.
Yeah! I did it.
Finished the book. Been revising and editing for what seems like ages now. I've had three rounds of beta-readers and have absorbed all they suggested. Now I'm finalizing the artwork, prepping the website, filling out paperwork, drawing up intellectual property contracts and generally feeling giddy about the future. It's really happening.
In between book stuff, I've been looking for a car for my Rockstar, working at my suddenly politically sensitive and busy "real job", managing to stay sane during club soccer season, doing lots of yoga (one year in so far and my body has really changed and it's no longer in constant pain -big smiles here!!), dieting and down 40 pounds since August...working on last 20.
Love my life.
In the midst of all my wonderful happiness though are reminders that life is short and so unfair. I've lost two friends in the last six weeks to different medical issues: heart attack and colon cancer (yikes that's close to home!). Both men left behind kids and families that dearly loved them, and a community that misses them tremendously. Both were musicians and when I heard of David Bowie's death today, I visualized them all making heavenly music together, and it made me happy.
Love fully, love richly, love now