Finally, a Writing Update

Sorry I have been dark so long. No blog posts. No newsletters. If not for a few tweets and Facebook posts, you guys might have decided I dropped off the face of the earth.

Other News first:

A Blog Series – I was recently part of a series of blog posts put on by the lovely Sarah Addison-Fox on what does it mean to write clean/Christian fantasy. You can read my post here, but it is worth reading all of them starting with the introductory post, then authors Hope Ann, Claire Banschbach, Serena Chase, Lauricia Matuska, and Kate Willis. Lots of different perspectives and food for thought!

Black Friday Sale – I will once again be a part of a Black Friday sale put together by fellow Christian indie authors. I think we have over 36 authors participating this year, which is huge considering we had about 7 of us the first year. Check back here on Friday for a link to the sale.

Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to answer the poll I posted a while back! Of the 90 responses I received, 62% mostly read fantasy (which is good. Fantasy is my first love and I struggle to write anything else). When asked if you would like to see more Blades of Acktar, over 75% answered either Yes, right away or Yes, but let’s see something new first. Very, very few said they don’t want to read anything more in The Blades of Acktar.

I was also surprised by the number of people who asked for either more about Ranson or more about Brandi and Jamie. Good news is, I have ideas for both of those characters that I would like to write someday, so there is a good chance you’ll see more about them in the future.

If you would like to still take the poll, here is a link to it.

If you took the poll, then you probably already guessed, but the current project I’m working on is a Christian allegorical fantasy. It has been a tough book to write, as allegorical elements are much harder to make sure they come across the way I intend since they aren’t as clear as writing full on Christian fiction the way I did with The Blades of Acktar.

But while this book is allegorical, it isn’t an allegory. What does that mean? Well, an allegorical book still has lots of story elements that aren’t necessarily part of the allegory. Think Chronicles of Narnia. A full allegory would be a book like Pilgrim’s Progress where nothing in that book doesn’t have some sort of symbol or meaning.

Due to the trickiness of writing allegorically, this book has been tough. My word counts have been drastically reduced compared to what I did each day when writing The Blades of Acktar. BUT I am ALMOST finished. If I keep on track, I’ll finish either before the end of November or early in December. That means I should be able to start telling you details, back cover blurbs, and stuff like that by the end of December or early January. Yay!!!

I’m both excited and nervous to share this book with you. Some days, I can barely write I’m so terrified this book will not only disappoint, but offend and turn away readers. That’s the chance every author takes with every book, but especially when I know many of my readers personally. I don’t want to disappoint a single one of you!

 

 

Turning Points – A Time to Rise Blog Tour

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I’ve been thinking a lot about turning points lately. It has been about two months since I posted on this blog, and most of that is due to stumbling across and purchasing a fixer upper house, moving, and making do without internet. A new house, a new turning point.

As I’ve posted about before, I’ve been into listening to history courses through the Great Courses lately. If you get them through Audible, they are pretty affordable. Recently, I listened to one on Turning Points in Medieval History, done by an English professor, not a history professor. Her perspective took on history as one big story, showing how each turning point isn’t a separate event standing all by itself, but interconnected with all the past turning points and influencing all the future ones. As a Christian, I could appreciate this even more because I believe the reason history is so interconnected and seems to be one story is BECAUSE it is one story. Christ’s story. God’s story.

Our own lives are also filled with turning points. Days and events that stick out to us as the moment something changed and set us on a new course. Often, these turning points are tragedy. But not always.

And sometimes, someone else’s turning point affects your own turning point.

Nadine Brandes has talked about several times how a turning point in her life started her on the path to writing her debut novel A Time to Die. In this novel, the main character Parvin experiences her own turning points when, with only a year left to live, she realizes she’s wasted her life, and she sets out to change that.

This was all a good three years before I even knew Nadine Brandes existed. I was partway through college, getting my degree in writing and dreaming about being a published author.

Fast forward a few years. I graduated college, was a year into a full time job, and was submitting a nonfiction manuscript I’d written and getting nowhere with it. I was frustrated that my dream of graduating college and having the time to write books hadn’t worked out. I felt like I had no time and would never have the time I wanted.

Honestly, I don’t remember what made me sit down and give myself a good shake from my pity party. One day, I realized that the reason I wasn’t a writer and wasn’t finishing books was that I was wasting time whining about my lack of time.

This was March 2014. That same month, I started writing Dare. Three months later, I had a completed book. I set it aside and started Deny.

During this time, I also turned my attention away from researching nonfiction publishing toward fiction publishing. I read blogs, books, articles. Traditional publishing. Self Publishing. All of it.

And this is where the turning point thing starts getting cool. I stumbled across Jill Williamson’s Replication as a free ebook. It was the first time I’d discovered the whole Christian speculative fiction world out there. I then went on to read her other books, and the Blood of Kings trilogy showed me that there was still such a thing as Christian fantasy besides Lewis and Tolkien.

Since I was researching publishing, I tracked down the publisher. It was Marcher Lord, right when it was transitioning to Enclave Publishing. I explored every inch of that website, and of course read the blog. Guess who had posted on the blog promoting the release of her debut book?

Yep, Nadine Brandes. nadine-early-release-2

The book sounded really cool, so I stalked her site. Learned she was an editor. Submitted Dare to her for editing. I was too late to officially join the blog tour for A Time to Die, but I unofficially joined it with a post of my own. It had to have been one of the first two or three posts I did on my blog, since I started my blog in August of that year, and that post is from September.

When I was finally able to read A Time to Die in October, Parvin’s realization of wasting time mirrored my own realization from a few months before. Wasting time. Waiting for something to plop out of the sky instead of actively pursuing God’s will.

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That idea of being active in pursing God’s will and glorifying Him stuck with me. It still resonated when, early in 2015, I sat down and had to decide how I should publish Dare. Traditional or indie? Through all my research, the indie route had tugged at me, but I wasn’t sure I dared do it. What did I really know? What if I messed all this up and Dare flopped and…and…

It was all my fear talking, and finally God made it clear indie was the route to go with these books. That moment I hit the publish button, I gave it all to Him. I’d sown the seed. The increase was His, no matter how large or small or whatever it might be.

But I wasn’t wasting time anymore. I was doing my best to actively pursue His will in a way I hadn’t before.

And He did bless the increase way beyond anything I had dreamed for that book.

Then the fall of 2015 came around. I was drained from the rewrites of Deny. Wondering if it would ever measure up to everyone’s expectations. Scared because everyone HAD expectations now, when they hadn’t with Dare.

Then A Time to Speak, Nadine’s next book, released. It was Parvin’s time to speak, to draw on the confidence of the lessons she’d learned in the first book. atimetospeak5

But it also pushed me to speak. To stop stuttering and stammering and hoping someone would change the topic when they asked about my books. To figure out how to keep giving it all to God now that this crazy ride was set in motion.

It’s strange to look back now and see how much a year and a half can change a person. In the year since publishing Dare and reading A Time to Die, I’ve become much more confident in how I interact with people. I’ve signed books at a craft sale. I spoke at a small Christian school. I’ve gone to two writer’s conferences and was able to relax instead of remain a bundle of introverted nerves in the corner. All of that confidence, those turning points, led to the turning point I started this whole post with: buying a house, moving. It wasn’t something I would’ve been ready to handle a year ago.

Looking back, I’m amazed at the way God used the turning points in my life to bring me to this point.

If I hadn’t gotten Replication as an ebook…

If A Time to Die hadn’t been releasing…

If I hadn’t stumbled across Nadine and found an editor and friend…

If A Time to Die and A Time to Speak hadn’t given me pushes when I needed them…

Would I have published Dare? Would I have gone to the writer’s conferences and made a whole bunch of writer friends?

And now, another turning point. A Time to Rise, the third and final book in the Out of Time series releases officially in 10 days, though Amazon is shipping it early if you want to order it now. You can read my review (also known as flailing fangirling) of the book here.

Yes, you all totally have the Out of Time series to thank, in part, for the fact that I ever published The Blades of Acktar.

Have you experienced turning points in your life? How have they affected you?

 

Want to connect with Nadine yourself? Because, after all, she’s an awesome human being.

Nadine is also the queen of Facebook parties, so you won’t want to miss the one she is hosting on October 18

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Want to check out the Out of Time series for yourself?

A Time to Die

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A Time to Speak

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A Time to Rise

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The Awesomeness that is Realm Makers

I know, it has been over a week since Realm Makers and everyone else and their brother-in-law has already written their Realm Makers post. I’m a little behind. More news on that later.

All I really have to say is IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!! That would pretty much sum it up, but that would be a sorry excuse for a blog post, especially after I haven’t posted anything in four weeks.

Realm Makers is a writer’s conference for Christian writers in the speculative (fantasy, science fiction, horror, steampunk, etc) genres. It is kind of like a four day retreat with 150 of your closest friends (even if you didn’t know they were your friends until you arrived). This year, it was at Villanova University outside of Philadelphia. Me being crazy me, I drove the 11 hour drive all by myself. Who wouldn’t want to drive themselves with views like this?

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I did the drive in two days, one long day and one morning so that I had time to stop at the Valley Forge National Monument. Valley Forge is where George Washington and his men spent the winter of 1777-1778 and started being better organized as an army. While most of t
heir huts and entrenchments are no longer visible, the farmhouse where George Washington spent the winter is still there. It is about 80% original, down to much of the interior floorboards, railings, and paneling in the rooms.

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Finally, I arrived at Villanova. The campus was beautiful, all stone buildings and brick paths. Lots of scope for a fantasy writer’s imagination there!

I roomed with Nadine, Katie, and Ashley. Of the three, I’d only known Nadine before the conference, but that didn’t stop all of us from bonding. Katie is super perky and amazingly dedicated to her blog fans. Ashley and I swapped curly hair horror stories and product tips. Seriously great Realmie Roomies! I could go on and on about how amazing our three AM chats were! Ashley and Nadine both have books available, and I adore both of their series! There was a rather hilarious moment when I wore a Nadine’s Ninjas shirt all day, but Nadine didn’t notice it until nearly midnight. She screamed incredibly loudly and totally freaked out. Katie and I got a good laugh about it, because Katie asked in the morning how long I thought it would take Nadine to notice. Apparently it took her all day.

Realmie Roomies

Nadine's Ninjas
Photo Credit: Nadine Brandes This is Nadine’s “I can’t believe I never noticed this” face!

 

Ashley and I got each others books at the conference. So excited to read the rest of her series now that I have them!

Ashley and I

 

The sessions were amazing, especially Steve Laube’s. He focused on building our own faith since, as writers, we pour out what we take in. If we aren’t taking in God’s Word, we can’t pour it into our writing.

The costume night was also a highlight. I dressed as a Blade, but I struggled to be intimidating.

Dressed as a Blade

Then there was the lack of sleep. The last night I got about 20 minutes of actual sleep before I had to be up to drive a carload of faculty to the airport. I’m really surprised none of them refused to ride with me when they realized I’d had pretty much no sleep, I was driving in the dark in an unfamiliar area, and it was a torrential downpour. Thankfully, they all arrived safely, and I was able to doze in bed for a few more hours before I had to start my drive home.

In case you hadn’t noticed, no one at Realm Makers sleeps. For four days, people should get about 32 hours of sleep. I haven’t seen any Realmie report anything more than 20 hours of sleep. I think I got about 10 hours of deep sleep and a lot of catnaps and dozing. Good thing everyone at the conference is too buzzed on hanging out and caffeine to care how little sleep they got!

The best thing about Realm Makers I think is the whole atmosphere. It is very relaxed, very friendly. Like I said, it feels like a several day retreat with 150 of your friends more than a stuffy conference. I made so many new writer friends it would take pages to list them all here. I miss them all so much already!

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Seriously, if you are a Christian speculative fiction writer, you should go to Realm Makers if at all possible! I can see now why people go back to it every year!

A Look Back

I realized today that I haven’t blogged at all since Deny released. Not a good way to go about keeping up my social media presence.

At the beginning of December, my carpal tunnel syndrome started acting up again in my right wrist. I’m still not sure what set it off. You’d think spending 11 to 12 hours a day on the computer to get Deny out into the world would’ve caused problems, but it didn’t. But when I cut back my time on the computer to give myself a break, then it got bad again. So I cut out even more computer time (including blogging) until my wrist no longer hurt. Thankfully, the pain is gone now, so I’m back. 🙂

A New Year 2016

It’s the day after New Year’s, so it’s as good a time as any to look back and reflect. God did so many amazing things in my life this year, I’m still blown away. Especially once I started making a list.

This time last year, I had just finished writing three manuscripts for what I had called The Blades of Acktar. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them or what publishing route God wanted me to pursue. I was waiting for my first professional edit to come back on Dare from Nadine Brandes, an editor I was just beginning to get to know. I’d just connected with Angie Brashear online and began pestering her with questions on indie publishing. And I’d just heard of Jaye L. Knight. I’d only had a blog for a few months, and I wasn’t even on Goodreads yet, much less most of the other social media sites.

Crazy, when I think about it. Now I have so many writing friends online I’m blown away. I connected with the wonderful Kim Moss through a book launch team we were on together. Angie Brashear became a prayer warrior who helped pray Deny into existence. I don’t know what I’d do without Nadine as a friend and mentor. And Jaye’s encouragement has been amazing. All the other bloggers and fellow authors who volunteered for my launch team: Claire, Shantelle, Hope, Alyssa, Abigail, Jessica, Gabriela. Sierra, my amazing critique partner who helped so much. All the fans who have contacted me or written reviews or simply interacted in some way on line. I can’t believe that a year ago, I didn’t really know any of you.

I now have two published book and a third in the process of publication. My three book series turned into four. Dare hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for Christian Fantasy (sharing the list with such estimable writers as Jill Williamson, Jaye L. Knight, and Patrick Carr. Seriously never thought I’d see my books anywhere near theirs on a bestseller list!). Deny hit the #1 Hot Newest Release in Christian Fantasy for the first month after its release, and both Dare and Deny are still bouncing around in the top 20 on the Christian Fantasy bestseller list. I am so blown away by the response to these books.

I’m excited to see what God does with 2016.

Fun with Book Selfies

Okay, so I wasn’t actually planning to write this post, but I had so much fun last night taking pictures that I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

I decided to take a few selfies of me with my horse with Nadine Brandes’s book A Time to Die to celebrate the release of it’s sequel A Time to Speak (which released today! Yay! Though, only the ebook version is available. Click here for Nadine’s full explanation of why).

Anyway, I marched over to the horse pasture with book and camera in hand.

My horse refused to cooperate until I bribed him with treats.
My horse: “Can I eat it?” Me: “Um, no. That’s my super special paperback that I got signed IN PERSON. You are not allowed to so much as breathe on it too deeply.”
I’m making a sneaky ninja face while my horse still refuses to cooperate. Not enough bribes yet.
I finally convinced him to read the book with me. 😉
Another ninja face while my horse makes a stealthy sneak attack looking for more treats.
And, finally, a good one. 🙂
My horse: “Can I eat it?” Me: “No, that’s my camera.”

If you couldn’t tell by the great lengths I went to, I really, really love this series. And, if you enjoyed the characters in Dare, it is in part because Nadine was my gracious editor to point out things where “this decision doesn’t make sense” or “this character is really flat” or “this character doesn’t do anything but sit around and cower the entire book.”

Her books are available here:

Book 1 (A Time to Die) – bit.ly/AmazonATtDpaperback
Book 2 (A Time to Speak) – bit.ly/AmazonATtSPaperback

Have you ever done a selfie with a book before? How about a selfie with an animal? Ever tried doing both at once?

My First ACFW Conference

ACFW Conference

Over the weekend, I joined almost 500 writers, editors, and agents at the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, TX.

Besides being my first time flying and/or traveling alone, I was a little panicked about what a writers’ conference would be like. Would the people I met online be as nice in person? Should I hug them or not? Will I even have the courage to speak to anyone? And many writers’ blogs talk about going away from their first conference feeling like they knew nothing about writing. Would I feel that way?

Nadine and I get a couple of pictures in while waiting for dinner.
Nadine and I get a couple of pictures in while waiting for dinner.

I shouldn’t have worried. That first night after dinner, I turned around to Nadine Brandes calling my name and giving me a hug before I even had to think about whether or not to hug her. It was the first of many hugs. 🙂

I also got lots of hugs from my fellow author and prayer warrior Angie Brashear, but we missed getting any pictures together.

I met Gillian Bronte Adams, author of Orphan's Song. I absolutely love her book, and I was hiding my fangirl squealing when I met her.
I met Gillian Bronte Adams, author of Orphan’s Song. I absolutely love her book, and I was hiding my fangirl squealing when I met her.

I met several other new friends who I plan to keep in touch with. Besides a few moments of panic or trembling hands, I didn’t experience most of my normal social anxiety. Perhaps it was the confidence of being in a room full of writers where I didn’t have to pretend to be normal. Maybe it was the freedom of telling people I’m a writer as the first thing they know about me instead of one of the last. Above all, it was an answer to a prayer.

While I learned a few things from the writing workshops, I didn’t learn as much as I thought (or feared) I would. No panicked realization that I knew nothing of writing. In fact, what I did learn was that I knew more than I thought I did. I learned a lot from writing and editing Dare. Yes, I have stuff to learn yet. There’s always more to learn. But a lot of what I need to work on is applying the things I do know consistently.

While I was nervous for my critique with Jeff Gerke, I shouldn't have worried. After bonding over a shared love of Mountain Dew, the rest of the critique went by quickly.
While I was nervous for my critique with Jeff Gerke, I shouldn’t have worried. After bonding over a shared love of Mountain Dew, the rest of the critique went by quickly.

I was really disappointed that it was over so quickly. Next thing I knew, I was packing my bags and slipping out of the hotel for my airport terminal.

Once on my plane, still high from whatever streak of courage that got hold of me all weekend, I turned to the lady sitting next to me (something I never do) to strike up a conversation. She was a young mother, her chubby cheeked kid sitting on her lap, her husband in the seat on the other side of her.

Every mother likes to talk about her kid, right? So I asked, “How old is he?”

She gave me this cold look. “She is a girl.”

Oops. Guess my socially inept self was going to make a reappearance sooner rather than later. I’ll go read my book now.

I walked the Mighty Mac – Again

I walked the Mighty Mac

Every Labor Day for my entire life (except for the year my youngest brother was born), I’ve walked the Mackinac Bridge (pronounced MACK-ih-naw).

For those who don’t know, the Mackinac Bridge is the suspension bridge that connects the lower peninsula of Michigan with the upper peninsula. It is the fifth largest suspension bridge in the world. Each year, tens of thousands of people gather for the annual Labor Day bridge walk, including Michigan’s governor.

I love the tradition. I love the feel of walking five miles high above the water, Lake Michigan on one side, Lake Huron on the other.

It’s a tradition that’s bigger than just my family. It is a tradition that connects generations. My dad did it. My grandparents did it. Years from now (if I ever get married and have kids) my kids will do it. Even if I don’t get married, I’ll keep walking the Mighty Mac each year until I no longer can walk.

There’s something special about walking in the footsteps of your grandparents. The bridge connects Michigan, but it also connects generations in Michigan. I remember walking across the bridge holding my grandma’s hand. My brothers spent several years walking across with our grandpa.

It’s a part of a culture. A culture that walks the bridge rain or shine, wind or sun. Fall isn’t allowed to start until that bridge is crossed. It’s a culture that’s tough enough to get up early in the morning to gather for a five mile walk.

It connects those who do it. When I meet someone who has walked the Mighty Mac for a number of years, we share stories. We both remember the year the wind was so strong that the whole bridge swayed, causing everyone to stagger. We remember the years it was so cold we walked in our winter coats and scarves. And we’ll remember this year, the year it was spitting a warm rain and all the early walkers got covered with a sheen of rain.

There’s a power in that. It isn’t a religious holiday or tradition. It’s a cultural one. Something that is specific to just a small number of people.

For someone who loves traditions as much as I do, it’s strange, when I think about it, how little I remember to add them to my fantasy worlds when I’m writing. But I should make more of an effort. Traditions hold a lot of value and power. They will shape our characters and hold our fantasy worlds and cultures together.

What about you? Do you have any traditions that your family has? If you’re a writer, do you have any traditions for your characters?

Revisiting My Writer Past

Laura's House

As most of you know, I was on vacation last week. I intended to post this Tuesday, but when I got back, unpacking from camping, catching up on work and all the stuff I’d neglected before and during vacation, and realizing that deadlines I’d pushed back to the end of summer were now less than two weeks away. All to explain why this post is going up on Friday.

While I didn’t get to go to Realm Makers this year, I did end up in St. Louis, MO on the Monday after Realm Makers. A couple of my friends and I took an awesome week-long road trip to Missouri. And, I still got to revisit one of my writing roots.

The year was 1996. I was six years old when my parents loaded up our old Midas motorhome and took my brothers and me to Missouri.

My dad had read the entire Little House series to us, me curled on his lap listening to the rumble of his voice in Pa’s stories and knowing that I was his Half Pint as much as Laura was Pa’s. We’d already visited the replica of the little cabin in the big woods, though it is now a little cabin surrounded by tiny saplings. I don’t remember if we had visited any other sites by that point. I eventually visited all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites, the last one in Independence, KS when I was sixteen.

But on this trip, we were stopping at a Laura Ingalls Wilder site not in the books, yet essential to them. I’m talking about Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, MO, the place where Laura Ingalls Wilder actually wrote the books.

I was six. I was awed in the museum at Pa’s fiddle and a handwritten manuscript. The house was old and huge. The furniture big. The tour boring. I don’t remember anything from most of the house.

But I do remember Laura’s desk. It was big with cubies and space for writing. And there, standing in front of that desk, I made the decision.

I was going to be a published author someday.

The year is now 2015. Nineteen years have passed since I saw that house in Mansfield. Seeing things as an adult is both the same and different.

The wonder at seeing Pa’s fiddle is still the same. Pa’s voice in my head is still my dad’s. I’m still my dad’s Half Pint.

Pa's Fiddle
Pa’s Fiddle

The house is different. It’s smaller. I actually remember the tour through the rest of the house. This time, I see the people and their lives, not just the author and her books.

Laura Ingalls Wilder is smaller. I’m actually taller than her (by a whole inch, but I’m still taller).

And the desk is smaller. My own desk at home could swallow it. It doesn’t look like something big enough to start off a little girl’s hopes and dreams.

Laura's Desk
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s desk

Still, I choked up standing there. At six, I’d stood there and decided I was going to be a published author. Nineteen years later, I stood there a couple months after my first book released. A surreal moment.

Nineteen years. A longer road to publication than my six-year-old self could’ve comprehended. I’d thought I’d be published by sixteen or eighteen at the latest (because eighteen year olds are so old when you’re six).

Have you ever read the Little House books? What memories do they bring up?

Do you have a specific memory of the day you knew you wanted to be a published author?

Road Trip Snippets

I’m on a road trip this week so this is a scheduled post. I’ll answer the comments when I return.

In honor of road trips, I’m going to share of few snippets about road trips, roads, and driving.

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A few years ago, I went on a trip with my dad to Texas. To a Michigander, Texas roads are strange to look at. The bridges, off-ramps, and on-ramps are all these swooping, beautiful loops. Some are even decorated. Ever driven through Fort Worth? The highways are built in layers, stacked on top of each other.

2013-03-05_08-39-32_645In Michigan, we just don’t build roads like that. All the bridges are built as short and low as possible. There are a few swooping on-ramps, but they have huge ice warning signs and sometimes they drift shut with snow during storms.

On that same Texas trip, we were driving a stretch of high way south of San Antonio. The speed limit was 75. My dad was blowing by all the other cars on the road. Curious, I glanced at the GPS, which shows our speed. We were going 70.

In Michigan, most freeway speed limits are 70, and a large portion of the population drives at 75 to 80 or more. If the speed limit were 75, then Michiganders would probably go 90.

But in Texas, where it is legal to go 75, the drivers go 60. Strange, huh? Maybe it was just that stretch of Texas road. Any thoughts, all my Texas readers?

On our way home from that trip, my dad swerved to avoid a pothole. I swayed with the car. Swerving around potholes isn’t something unusual for Michiganders.

My dad glanced in the rearview mirror. “He’s not from Michigan.”

“Who’s not?” I asked.

“The driver in the car behind us. He hit the pothole.”

It is something many of us Michigan drivers learn. If the car in front of you swerves, odds are they are swerving for roadkill, a pothole, or shreds of a tire cut open on a pothole. It’s like a big game of Follow the Leader meets Obstacle Course. Add in a little bit of Memory because it never hurts to memorize the locations of the worst potholes so you know when to swerve without even thinking about it.

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Several years ago, a few friends and I took a road trip through West Virginia. I quickly learned that very few roads in West Virginia are straight. They twist and turn all over the place through the mountains. At the end of each day, my upper arms hurt from turning the steering wheel and holding it through the twisty turns while going up, over, and down the mountains.

Speed limits are a little crazy on some of the back roads. In the valleys, the semi-straight parts of the roads, the speed limit drops to 45. When the road goes up and over a mountain, the speed limit goes up to 55 even though it is physically impossible to actually go 55.

I also quickly learned that in West Virginia, the speed listed on the yellow signs is the maximum speed you can go. In Michigan, we look at the yellow speed of 40 and continue to go 50. In West Virginia, I learned really quickly that going 30 when the sign says 20 might not be such a good idea. In fact, it dumps the cooler onto your friend’s lap and cause a lot of screaming.

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What about you? Any fun road trip stories?

A Trip to a Book Sale

Last Saturday, I realized I might just have a problem. I’m a wee bit too addicted to collecting books.

Every year, my small town holds a festival to celebrate simply being in existence (because small towns still hold celebrations like that). There are fireworks, a parade, half the businesses run sales, the other half do some type of special dinner or hot dog fry or something. It’s pretty crazy. As part of the celebration, my local library holds a book sale.

On Saturday, I was just sitting down to edit when I remembered that the book sale started at 9. It was now 9:37. The parade (which closes down the street in front of the library) started at 10:00. I live 12 minutes away.

It was going to be close. I grabbed my purse, dashed out the door with a quick explanation to my mom where I was going, and hurried into my car.

I didn’t make it. I arrived at the final turn as the local police closed the road. I was stuck half a mile away from the library.

So I did what any level-headed, book-addicted girl would do when a parade stands between them and books. I parked and walked the half mile to the library. Did I mention that it was 85 degrees and humid out?

I fast-walked to the library (after all, the longer I took, the more picked over the books would be) and managed to outpace all the candy-crazed kids eager for the parade to start.

Finally, hot, sweaty, and red-faced, I stumbled into the air-conditioned library. And realized that for the first year ever, they’d decided to run the library sale Friday and Saturday. The boxes of books were already half empty and picked over!

I found a couple of YA books, but none my favorites, and a few research books. All told, I found 8 gems buried in the boxes of books.

After paying, I stepped back outside. The beginning of the parade was just reaching the road in front of the library. I could either wait the 45 minutes and watch the rest of the parade or hike back to my car and leave right then.

I decided to leave. I was supposed to be editing, and I’d have to make the walk either way. Might as well do it before the rest of the crowd and miss all the crazy traffic.

By the time I reached my car, the bags of books had cut trenches into my fingers and ached into my shoulders. Blisters had formed both between my toes where my flip flops had rubbed and on the bottom of one of my feet where the plastic chafed.

I was thankful the sale had been so picked over. My usual forty pounds of books would’ve been way too much to carry half a mile back to my car. Eight books were heavy enough.

Probably the most amazing thing about the whole day, was that I managed to fit the books on my bookshelves when I got home. 😉

Have you ever been to a library book sale?