Monday, June 30, 2014


It was inevitable because our Triumvirate (plus gobs) always ends up taking one another's ideas and it was only right that I'd come up with a vlog too. This is a thing I've been wanting to do for some time but a thing to which I'd never buckled down. Now I have. And here is the product. Not as nice a product as Jenny's, but I blame that on the fact that I don't have an iPhone and I don't know how to turn down the music's volume in the background of a video. HARUMPH. I will learn. This is the first of many, I hope, so enjoy. Also, if you've any questions about me or my writing, do please leave a comment below! I love to interact with you. Really and truly. :)


Sunday, June 29, 2014

To Fan-Letter or Not to Fan-Letter?

"I admire Shakespeare enormously. But since I can't be him, I'm glad that his marriage was unhappy and that he's dead."

Our internet is not working. I know you can comprehend how utterly incomprehensive that is. Internet not working? Like, what the blazes? I don’t mean that we are having any large problems. It’s just that I’m sitting here waiting for the Blogger page to load so I can actually blog and instead I’m having to type all of this into a blank Word document. Amazon is loading the super slow html version of the page as I try to check on Five Glass Slippersreviews and it is taking me back to the 90’s and I’m once again overwhelmed with gratefulness that I was not an 80’s kid.

Random asides wrapped up, I wanted to write today on the subject of fan-mail. I’ve always rather scoffed at the practice of fan-mail because I have a mortal dread of seeming like One of Those People. I don’t know how many of you have Instagram accounts and follow celebrities (my celebrity follows are left at Owl City and Broadway stars) but if you do, you will probably relate to a certain sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach when you inadvertently read the latest comment of the queue of four-hundred twenty-seven such worthless things: “SO hey, I love you sosososososossososososososos much and you’re like the best thing ever and I like would scream and cry and absolutely DIE of joy and tears if you followed me back. LOVE YOUR MUSIC. Xoxoxoxxx.”
So for years and years I thought of all fan-mail as that sort of saccharine thing and I figured I would always always hold myself to a snobbier standard that scoffed at such things. Then I began to write and when I was a writer, I noticed how good it felt to have my hard work acknowledged and appreciated. It is a truth universally acknowledged that most people don’t do things for praise (At least … I thought it was. Ahem.), but praise is a wonderful thing in its place. That place, dear reader of mine, is among the responsible, coherent public.
Intelligent fan art, fan mail, and fan other things (I still cringe at fan-fic but that is just my opinion) are the public’s way of letting a person know they place worth on what you do and that they think it worth their while to tell you about it.
The more I looked at fan-mail this way, the less I despised it and before too long I found myself trekking to our mailbox with a letter in hand. This letter was for historical romance author Sarah Sundin and upon its reception Sarah took a photo and put in on her Facebook page. She enjoyed my calm, coherent, congratulatory letter. I was not dying of shame in my corner over a letter I had (not) written in glitter gel-pens and decorated with an unseemly quantity of rainbow Lisa Frank stickers. I wrote a letter with my real (quiet and commonplace) feelings of admiration for her novel and I sent that letter and it was received gladly.
I’ve only written one other fan-letter after this, (though my sister, Leah, wrote to Broadway star Laura Osnes and actually got a reply.) With the publishing of Five Glass Slippers, I have been thinking a lot about what blessing it is to know someone appreciates your work and has taken the time to tell you about it. In the final line-editing copy stages of the pre-publishing work, one of my “Slipper Sisters” emailed to tell me her mother had read The Windy Side of Care and adored it.  That email is going down in history as one that made me happiest of all. It was a simple thing of a few lines and it gave me the boost I needed to finish up the work I had to do. In the same way, last week I received an email from a total stranger who had read Fly Away Home on the recommendation of a friend and very much enjoyed it. Again, none of the fan-girlish (or fan-boyish, which is almost creepier because guys tend to be blessedly understated) effluence that makes one discount the praise immediately.
Because we do.
We do get horrible shivers up our spines (and famous people get them worse) when we open an email or read a letter or what-have-you that is nothing but sugar mixed with that fake maple syrup spread over doughnuts stuffed with caramel frosting and pitted dates that have been chopped up into a compote with children’s ibuprofen and treacle.
The best kind of praise is intelligent praise. I was set to thinking after a comment left by one of my readers on my post about taking criticism. In this comment, the lady said that low-ratings are actually good for the health of public opinion because they make it obvious that you haven’t rigged the votes in your favor. I quite agree. I love to know that a reader loved my book. I’m sure actors or athletes enjoy the sensation too. But if I open an email that says, in essence, “This is the best book ever written and you are a modern-day Dickens. Period.” I am amused and happy but I can’t resist a sort of Miss Taylor To Emma Woodhouse Smile-Across-The-Table. (Dear reader, I have never received an email like that, never fear.)
How much would I rather an email like that I received last week: a simple congratulation of a job well done, quite understanding that many people do jobs equally well done!
In the end, I suppose this is a post of release, as if you needed my sanction on things you wished to do: write fan-letters.
Write them calmly, honestly, and with your natural tone. None of this stiff formality that has no personality but go easy on hyperbole.
Send those letters to people you admire (Even people you actually know. They deserve fan-mail too).
Wait patiently. Maybe they’ll write back. Maybe they won’t. Why did you write? If it was simply to congratulate them, you’ll not want to be another letter to gain a reply sitting in their slush pile.
Do it again. (To a different person or at least for a different occasion.)
And that, dear reader, is how I’d recommend writing fan-mail.
Please let it be understood that I’m not fishing for you to write me fan-mail by creating this post. It was more of a, “Oh, I wonder if my fan-mail (to a celebrity this time) will actually get read. Probably not. Oh well. Hey! Blog-post fodder.”

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Thousand Baby Lobster For The Salad

In the wake of the Five Glass Slippers blog tour, I have been laughing to myself over some of the songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella that were edited out for the current Broadway edition. In fact, I love their Cinderella musical so much that I wanted the soundtrack to be my contribution for the giveaway but it was a bit too expensive for that. Sorry, people! Instead, today I'm posting the lyrics and video to one of the funniest. (Sorry in advance to Mirriam Neal who will find this just as addicting as "The Stepsisters' Lament")
Servant: I have the chef and steward waiting outside to report their plans for the dinner.

King: Come in, gentlemen.

Steward: Your majesties
Your majesties,
A list of the bare necessities

King: a list of the bare necessities for what?

Queen: For seventeen-hundred guests.

King: That seems a lot.
Oh. Don't have any Chicken King.
I hate to see that on a menu ... "Chicken King". Seems like a criticism of my courage!

Queen: A thousand baby lobster for the salad

King: Wow!

Queen: And five-hundred pheasant for the pie

King: Aye-Yi!

Queen: A thousand pounds of caviar ...

King: A thousand?!

Queen: Hush.

King: That's more than the sturgeon can supply.

Chef: I told the steward to get us forty acres of lettuce and six-hundred suckling pigs for roasting.

King: But what about the marshmallows?

Queen: Who wants marshmallows?

King: I do.

Queen: Why?

King: For toasting.

Steward: Now would it please your majesties I have a list of wines.
The best of all the vintages from every nation's vines.

King: I want the wine of my country.

Queen: Hush, my dear.

King: I want the wine of my country, I want the wine of my country, I want the wine of my country! The wine of my country is beer.

Queen: Obviously.

Also, because I think laughing at oneself frequently is the best way to insure a healthy opinion of oneself ... I'm sharing this lip-syncing video my sisters and I did for our (quite single) Valentine's Day. Go ahead and laugh ... it was meant to be funny and the song is just terribly wonderful for letting off steam. :D

Well. Now I suppose you know how I got The Windy Side of Care ... I always do favor the whirligig varieties of things!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hey Gents: an open letter to my male followers

Dear Gentlemen:
      I don't know that I actually have any male followers ... do I? But in the event that I have and you are just the type that lurk in corners and quietly follow, I would like to address this post to you, with love.
     You're such good peaches. By this, I mean that you put up with so much from me in the way of nonsense and I know that girls are able to stand a lot more than guys. If you have stuck around through everything (such as all this talk about Cinderella stories and the like) than you are even more decent chaps than I'd hoped. By the way, I have now read three of the Cinderella stories in the collection and I don't think you'd hate it. There's an awful lot of sense in the Modern Woman's mind that seeps into her telling of a fairy-tale. No spineless Prince Charmings for us, thankee.
      But this letter was not a plug for the male populace to lounge off and buy Five Glass Slippers rather, it is a chance to me to address you and to admit that I know I don't often remember you exist. I have even sometimes opened a post with "Hello, darlings!" which, though not exclusive to the female type, is probably a bit demeaning to a real man. (Darling Men I Know: is it? Do you hate it when I address you as "darling"? You ought to tell me. I will stop if I can.)
     What I wanted to say in this post is that I am looking to increase my male-reader following because there is nothing like having a sensible man's opinion on a matter. Many thanks to Wyatt Fairlead and my own brother, Daniel, for having aided me to the extent they have. I would have you gentlemen know that each of my stories goes past these two fellows to be scanned for matters like, "A man wouldn't say that" etc. before publication in an effort to make them palatable to most varieties of both sexes. I can't tell you how helpful it is to have someone look at my book from the opposite end of the spectrum and make comment.
     My mystery, Anon, Sir, Anon is coming out this autumn and I am much excited because one of the two main characters and practically all the side characters are men and I actually think I've pegged them well. I can't wait for you to meet the an & company and I can't wait to release this book and say, "Look, it's not a romance! Have at it, guys! I hope you like Mr. Orville Farnham and his gentlemen friends."
     Don't be afraid to be involved in this blog, my boys, because I intend to amend matters and start making my posts a bit less Addressed To The Female Contingent and more all-inclusive. I want to know you. I value your opinions. I would love to chat with you about your writing and hear your opinions of mine. I think it is clear by now that I don't expect sugar-coated praise when there are sensible opinions to be heard. Too long has The Inkpen Authoress been a host-place for an all-girls crowd without ever having invited the gentlemen in, though they are most welcome.
    So, dear man, if you are reading this post and find yourself "hear-hearing" in its presence, I invite you to leave a comment and tell me so. Girls, do keep silent this once and let the chaps speak. If there are no comments left, I suppose I'll keep it as proof that I've scared the gents off for the time being.
     In either case, you fellows are jolly welcome if you'd care to make yourselves known. :)
                   Cheers etc.,
                                    Rachel Heffington

Sunday, June 22, 2014

In Which We Have a Huge Fete

Please take me for your own blog! 

The official Five Glass Slippers blog tour starts with eclat tomorrow morning! Publicist Amber Stokes is running the affair with its headquarters at the event page on her blog. There, you'll find information about each tour on the blog, a fun giveaway, and much more. Actually, people call every giveaway "fun" but this thing is the real deal. The authoresses and editor worked together to collect a number of wonderful prizes including a copy of the Disney movie, a glass slipper cookie-cutter and recipe, a bookmark, astronaut ice-cream, an Apple Tree Inn cup and saucer, and more! Only one of you shall win this prize, so do make sure you enter the giveaway ... it's pretty wonderful as far as giveaways go! One caveat: this giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada ONLY. Sorry to you darling Aussies, Brits, Kiwis, Europeans, Asians, etc. who are living abroad!

The giveaway starts tomorrow AM at Amber's blog so do go over and say hello! The tour is a well-organized affair and each day one of the authoresses from Five Glass Slippers will be highlighted as Cinderella Of The Day! My day is Wednesday and I'll be around all day to answer your questions/comments on the various tour-stops so if you're free, let's chat! Following are the tour-stops on which I'll be appearing! You can find the others on the event page. :)

A Writer's Heart
Blooming With Books
Flowers of Quiet Happiness
i blog 4 books
Jaye L.. Knight
Jenelle Schmidt
Letters from Annie (Douglass) Lima
Rina's Reading
Splendor Falls on Castle Walls
Tialla's Tellings
Vonnie's Reading Corner

Hope to see all of you participating in this wonderful tour. Stick around and you'll be able to see my dream ball-gown, hear me admit my celebrity crush, and find out what I'd do if I found out I was the daughter of Prince Charles of England! (I'm quite serious and can only imagine the other authoresses were subjected to like inquiries. Told you this was going to be fun. :)

Oh. And in case you're not thoroughly addicted yet, Five Glass Slippers Kindle-version is going to be sold for .99 for the duration of the blog party. Now come on.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The House Off Quincy

While I am still not finished rewriting Anon, Sir, Anon, I refuse to bother with any real projects. In the wings, however, is an original fairy-tale with a vague outline (Toadhaven League), a rewrite of The Baby, and this. I'm not certain what this is, but I wrote it in one sitting and it amused me and I thought I'd toss it to you and let you guess about where it is headed. Oh, and because I strive not to do the obvious, please don't guess that A & B will become a couple. I hate jilting-jessies. Anyway, I give you this, referred to in my files as The House Off Quincy. (This title is strictly an organizational  ploy, not a fixed moniker.)

The House Off Quincy
By Rachel Heffington

“Would mademoiselle like me to look out for her partner in the lobby?” The maitre d’ bowed over the table, over her arm, till the white breast of his uniform nearly brushed the pink carnations.
“No, merci,” she answered.
“Mademoiselle is waiting for someone, no? Allow me to page him.”
“Monsieur is most helpful but no, merci.”
“Mademoiselle came tonight alone?”
Corinna Demarque quieted her fretful hands like white doves in the lap of her black dress, and smiled. Allowances must be made for the man’s ill-concealed curiosity. He was, after all, French. Corinna, quite American herself, had an unusually deep well of patience where the French were concerned.
“As it happens,” she said, “I am celebrating tonight.”
An expression of surprise hovered on the waiter’s lips. She could feel the shape of the words forming behind his white bow-tie.
“Alone,” she said it before him. She didn’t like it breathing down her neck. It was better this way.
Graceful lines at the corners of his eyes appeared. “Would Mademoiselle like me to bring a glass of wine, then?”
If any night occasioned wine, it was tonight. Corinna, however, did not feel that festal. “A Shirley Temple, if you please.”
The man drew himself tall, folded in half like a linen sheet, and backed away.
“No … wait.” Her cheeks felt too hot. Ordering a soda at a brand-new, rather swanky French restaurant was no way to conduct a professed celebration. “Coffee,” she said, her eyes catching a neat advertisement offering one cup for four dollars.
“One cafĂ©, mademoiselle. C’est bon.”
Corinna let loose her hands and clutched her napkin instead, patting the dampness away from her palms. She was bewilderingly hot at the idea of coffee and her stomach churned at the nauseous suggestion. It was much too hot for coffee – much too hot for anything – but wine was far too daring, even for she who felt exceptionally brave tonight.
The waiter returned, bearing a miniscule cup of coffee. “Cream, mademoiselle?”
“Mmmm please. And sugar.”
“Mademoiselle will excuse me a moment, oui? I did not anticipate the sugar.”
She traced his trim, departing figure on its way kitchen-ward. Were the French snobs about their coffee? She had thought it a trait peculiar to Starbucks employees. Never mind. Nothing, not even snobby waiters, could dampen her ardor this evening.
The waiter appeared a third time, bearing a trampled, orphaned packet of sugar. It looked pitiful, sitting alone in the center of a shining silver plate. He deposited this offending object next to the blue shell-like demitasse cup and bowed.
“I made a rather large decision today,” Corinna announced. She wasn’t sure what was going to follow this, but it had better be something good.
“Oui, mademoiselle?” The waiter’s graceful crinkles were gone and his eyes wore an intensely veiled expression. Bored. Bored as a middle-schooler in mid-terms.
Corinna folded her hands again. “I’ve decided to move out of—”
“Out of my way, mademoiselle? I wish to pass.”
Corinna stared at the ridiculously rude Frenchman before realizing he looked quite as scandalized as her. Turning, then, Corinna saw a familiar pair of blue eyes looking down at her.
The waiter sailed off, noiseless.
“Miss Demarque.”
She wasn’t certain she wanted Ashton Merrill to see her in this get-up. A little black dress and her mama’s pearls were a risky enough combination; Corinna’s mouth burned at the thought of the bright red lipstick she’d recklessly swiped on in the giddy heights of her excitement. And the hat.
“Won’t you sit down, Ashton?” Immediately, she wished she’d tossed out her Southern sense of etiquette with the last of this week’s newspaper. She didn’t want Ashton Merrill’s company any more than she wanted that horrible cup of coffee. If she was rude and modern, she’d not be bothered with him.
Unfortunately for Corinna’s peace of mind, Ashton cast his undeniably well-built frame into the petite chair opposite and his eyes roved over her. “Aren’t you a picture this evening?”
“I wouldn’t know. I didn’t look in the mirror.” Lies.
“That’d explain your lipstick.” In the up-rush of her ire, Ashton spread his hands and his low laugh rumbled. “Teasing you, Miss Demarque. You look very chic. Very Parisian.”
It had always been this way, Corinna thought. Always always Ashton Merrill got to tease her up one side and down the other. Didn’t matter what she did. Didn’t matter what she didn’t do. Somehow, Ashton had a laugh. Still, it wasn’t a terrible fate to sit in a place like La Salle across the table from a man wearing a new seersucker suit.
“He’s a nice-looking man. A nice-looking man.” Corinna’s grandmother had been a fan, whatever her own opinion might be.
“How’s the coffee?” he asked.
“Wonderful.” More lies. “Why are you here?”
“I missed Paris and Paris, it appears, had come to Terrence Heights. I couldn’t stay away.”
“Are you alone too?” she asked. “I think I’ve entirely shocked that poor man. Apparently, La Salle isn’t the kind of place single young women come to.”
Ashton kidnapped her coffee and took the ridiculous cup between his forefinger and thumb. “How scandalous of you.”
“I know!” she sounded ridiculously pleased, even to herself.
“Well, I’m not alone. Mama and Louise are in the powder room.” He took a sip from her coffee cup and grimaced.
Corinna smiled. “I was bourgeoisie enough to demand sugar. Won’t you take some?”
“All kidding aside, Corinna, why are you here alone? You told the waiter you were … celebrating?”
She hid herself behind the convenient brim of her over-size black hat. “Ashton Merrill. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, eavesdropping on a private conversation.”
“Because you and the waiter have such vital secrets to tell each other?”
“Shut up, Ashton.”
“Are you celebrating or playing tea-party? It’s a little hard to tell.” He pinched the brim of her hat and tugged it up, off her head.
She clutched it with both hands and shot absolutely pagan glances at him. “You know what? You are not a gentleman.”
“Settle down, Miss Demarque. Golly day, you’re riled.”
Riled she most certainly was. Corinna jumped to her feet and grabbed for her clutch-purse. It lay in the way of the carnations and if Ashton had not at that moment steadied the vase, her vehemence would have scattered the pink ruffles gaily across the expanse of her now-empty seat. “You are ruinin’ a perfectly fine evening. I don’t even like coffee.”
She steamed away from the table, high-heels punctuating her umbrage with sharp stabbing sounds as she crossed the marble floor. The sound of Ashton’s footsteps close on her own spurred her into an angry trot. He grabbed her elbow at the revolving door and squeezed in behind her so they were dumped on the sidewalk outside together.
“Now, hush up Corinna. Tell me what you were celebrating. I’ll listen. Promise.”
Don’t you know I have a life?”
“Of course I do!”
“And it isn’t anyone’s to tell me what to do with.”
“Are we even having the same conversation?”
Corinna pressed her pointer-fingers to the bridge of her nose and breathed deep and slow. She opened her eyes to find real concern on his handsome face. It bugged her worse than anything.
She sighed. “Look, I’m not celebrating anything. I just made that up.”
“Then what are you doin’ at La Salle at eight-thirty on a Friday night?”
Three cars passed by in the humid night air in the time it took Corinna to boost her courage enough to answer: “Waiting for one Mr. Frederick Sherman—my date. Mr. Sherman appears to have gone M.I.A. Otherwise known as, flown the coop.”
Ashton didn’t say anything for a second. She could have ignored him after that, but then his big old hand settled on Corinna’s shoulder with the same bluff comfort he’d always been able to dish out.
“I’m sorry, Corinna.”
She wouldn’t cry. There was no reason to cry. No reason whatsoever.
“Don’t cry, Corey.”
Don’t call me Corey,” she said in a voice redolent of the dreaded summer cold.
“Look, if he ain’t gentleman enough to go on a date, you wouldn’t want him anyway.”
Isn’t gentleman enough. And you just don’t understand, do you? It isn’t always a gentleman we want. Sometimes a man is quite enough for the purpose.”
Emboldened and a little frightened by the accidental scandal her words conjured, Corinna continued: “What I mean is, sometimes it’d be enough to come out to Terrence Heights on a Friday night with a man and sit across the table from him and talk about the weather and just have people know you aren’t shriveling up in some big old house off Quincy Street.”
She sniffed. He shifted his feet.
“I don’t care about not being married, honestly,” she said.
A few couples enjoying an evening walk in the sticky darkness walked by and the scent of Old Spice and gardenias filled the space behind their passage.
“I just don’t want people thinking I can’t get a man.”
“Why are you tellin’ me this, Corinna? Isn’t this something you ought to be telling one of your girl-friends over manicures?” The understanding from a moment ago had died out and Ashton was once again the most provoking man in Virginia.
“Get back to your Mama and your girl, Ashton.” Corinna pulled her car keys out of her clutch and managed a little smile. “You don’t want to leave them to that awful waiter.”
Ashton obeyed and was again a part of the La Salle atmosphere, spoiled once and for all for Corinna. Her little blue Nissan was parked along the street under a lamp still adorned with a tinsel wreath from Christmas. She felt ashamed to remember she’d waxed her ugly little car so it’d shine for tonight and had scrounged three quarters to stuff in the parking meter so she’d have three hours without danger of being towed.
Corinna checked her Mama’s silver watch. One hour, ten minutes. Well that was a complete waste of two of the quarters. Not that she thought it’d work, but Corinna banged the top of the parking meter in passing and inserted two fingers in the trapdoor. No coins jangled into her hand.
She yanked the driver-side door open, feeling dejected.
Seventy-five cents wasted on a man who hadn’t even showed up. Not to mention the four-dollar coffee … for which she hadn’t paid. Corinna eyed the calliope of light caught in La Salle’s revolving door and wondered if she ought to go back. But no, Ashton would take care of her bill. He’d drunk the coffee anyway.
“Goodbye, vanity.” Corinna yanked the drooping black straw hat from her head and tossed it into the passenger seat as if it’d been a murder weapon. She balanced against the open door and took her pumps off, one by one. Through the bottoms of her hose she could feel the concrete, still warm from broiling in the sun all day. She tossed the shoes in. One hit the passenger window; the other bounced off the glove-box and dented the crown of the black hat.
The only thing that remained was the guilty red lipstick and this Corinna could do nothing about: she’d religiously followed online instructions for its application that insured at least seven hours of stay-power.
“Thank you, Google,” she breathed viciously and climbed into the seat, slamming the door behind her.
Sweet August, she needed some Advil.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Please Don't Cry: How to Deal With Negative Reviews

"I'll wheel you outside where you can sit and crrrrrriticize everyone who passes by."
"Criticize? Now Miss Shirley, that's not Christian!"
-Anne of Avonlea

The release of a new book is such a mixed feed-bag of delight and terror. For the first few weeks, you don't worry so much and then the reviews start pouring in. Every review is different: some rave that your book is the best thing they've ever read, while others say it wasn't up to their standard, or they didn't enjoy it very much at all, or they've read better books. Of course they've read better books -- even I know that, and I'm partial to my stories.

I got my first two-star review of Fly Away Home the other day. 

Much as I'd like to say I didn't care, I really did. It's a terrible feeling as an author to see that someone who bought your book rather wishes they hadn't. You know in your head that not everyone will find your book to their taste but there is something in every writer's heart that wants to be loved by everyone in the whole wide world. This particular reader's review went something along the lines of, "I didn't know what to expect (not a romance), the plot didn't seem very original and I guess I was expecting a murder mystery, but don't let my prejudices turn you away if you like a good (mostly) clean romance." I could begin to counter these points (why, exactly, did she expect a murder mystery? Did I ever mention murder on the back-cover blurb? How could she not have known it was a romance?) but that isn't my prerogative. You know why? Because everyone is entitled to think what they think about my book just as I am entitled to the same.

Not everyone is going to like your book. 

I want you to know that because it's something I didn't really expect to encounter. But it's there and I have. There are people who will like other peoples' stories better (heads up, I'm sure it's happening even in the very recent release of Five Glass Slippers) and that's okay. Not to say it isn't disappointing. Gosh, it's terribly disappointing, especially for an indie author because you feel that you can't afford to disappoint a single reader. You don't have that many! How can you let one go? But it is going to happen. My grandmother told my mother, growing up:

"You're not going to like everyone, and everyone else isn't always going to like you."

As much as I wish it wasn't true, it is. There are people who didn't "get" Callie Harper and there are people who will, I'm sure, resent the fact that I took the hallowed story of Cinderella and irreverently turned it upside on its head to give a snarky miss the lead role. To the criticism issue first,  I would say this: be gracious and admit that you will not always be the preferred flavor of some people's palate and try not to beat yourself over the head because you failed to please one of your readers. If you take it upon yourself to write so that everyone and their blessed brother will adore you, you'll lose sight of who you are. I have readers who remark on the fact that all of my heroines have a bit more ... chutzpah than is realistic. To them, I would reply kindly that I based those aspects of both Callie Harper and Alisandra Carlisle on real-life friends and family members. In that case, their criticism is untrue because I can present real evidence that there are people with Callie's changeable moods and Alis' political brain.

But the real killer, the real thing that stings, is that sometimes your readers are just plain right.

This is the thing I sometimes like to ignore. This criticism stings not because it is unjust but because yeah, you actually botched up that aspect of a character, situation, plot, or whatever else the reader is mewling about. Maybe you really don't have enough suspects in your mystery, virtues in your villain, or your dialog really stinks. Here, you have two choices: give them a martyrous "God loves you and so I must, though your opinion is wrong," (which is gratifying to the feelings, somehow) or you can get your big-girl panties on and say, "You know what, you're correct. Next book I write, I'll keep an eye out for this sort of thing and try to do better." The former is, of course, my favorite choice because it feels so good to think you're right and to justify your rightness in the eyes of God and man and it feels so worm-ridden to let that arrow hit home and make you work. Odd thing is, I don't know of any person who has become a better whatever-they-are by staying at the same skill-level their whole lives.

Reader-reviews are the equivalent of a teacher's red pen: they mark the places that seem wrong and give you a place to begin thinking.

I want to thank my readers who have taken or will take the time to review Fly Away Home, The Windy Side of Care, and all my future work. I actually do read those reviews and I take them quite seriously. You can make me feel crummy or elated and in either case, I go back and read your review a second, third, even fourth time to weigh it in the balance and sort out the things I'll choose to take home. All of you are, in some way, helping to build my career as a writer. If you kept mum and never said a thing, I'd go along complacently at rest in the current puddle of my skill-set, never growing, never branching out. You keep me sharp, you keep me cross and inspired by turns, and you're an integral part of what it means to have my books in the public's view. So thanks to everyone, even to Miss Two-Star & Co.

Perhaps next time I'll keep some of that chutzpah to myself.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Birthday to An Enchanting Book!

Today is the day that I am officially published by a real traditional (though small) publishing company. It's a good feeling, guys. I wrote in a post in March  about not being ashamed to claim my indie authorship; I still feel that way, but I cannot deny the sense of accomplishment that comes from having done something a traditional way. The way people expect it. The way you always thought, when you first started, it would be done. Granted, I won this publishment through a contest and that isn't exactly traditional, but we don't quibble over crooked stiles here.

The Windy Side of Care is now available for purchase alongside four other wonderful stories as put forth by Rooglewood Press in Five Glass Slippers. I am saving my reviews of each of the other stories for when I have a paper copy, but I will just tell you that I read the first chapter of each story and am already convinced that this collection boasts quite a lot of talent contained in two covers. :)

Well. A very hearty congratulations to Clara Diane Thompson, Emma Clifton, Stephanie Ricker, and Betsy Brown on this happiest of days.

And to those of you who have read the book or will read it, would you please remember to post a review on Goodreads and Amazon? Such things are far more helpful than you'd ever guess, let me tell you. :)

Well. That is all I have to say for now! I must leave you with a smile and a wave -- I look forward to hearing what you think of the collection and its stories. Truly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Snippable Stories

So. Snippets. Yes. It appears to be that time of the blog post circle when I share pieces from what I'm currently writing. They aren't many, this time, but there are some and for that you must give me grace. Five Glass Slippers and the publicity pertaining that is keeping me plenty busy, but I have found time for writing a bit. I hope you enjoy these.

In the shifting blue shadows where green gave way like watercolors to the gold-ripe fields, a hand clamped over Merrin's arm.
-Toadhaven League

“I hate him.” The end of Germaine's statement tilted upward like the tip of her nose, conversationally.
-Toadhaven League
She compliments him, Merrin thought. Like poppies compliment wheat.
-Toadhaven League
She chopped blindly at a tuft of grass that had grown up with depressing presumption between a squash plant and the garden path. Merrin was no better at menial labor—indeed, likely much worse—but she was not certain gripping it with both hands, like a croquet mallet, was quite the way to handle a hoe.
-Toadhaven League

It was the first page of summer and a high, white melody was at play in the trees. Great, black bees droned in thickets of oregano and thyme. Great, black crows stalked in the gardens which had not behaved this year as gardens ought, but crept along like midget-things at a slug’s trot.
-Toadhaven League

“It is hardly fair, Cat, that I cannot be a princess.” Saying so, the young woman locked eyes with the animal in her lap. Her eyes were golden and his were golden, and the result was that the girl looked away before the cat.
-Toadhaven League

Womannish, Merrin shoved the truth in the Cotton Man's eyes: “Estelle is blonde and tall and wise which are things I can never be and Tierney. Tierney is a man and he must see it and I fear lest he see it and … and love it.”
-Toadhaven League

Merrin's heart plummeted with dread. Nay, plummeted before the act as if prophesying it.
-Toadhaven League

“We sound so horrible,” Lisbeth said, “to anyone who isn't us.”
“Quite so.” Germaine did not sound the least bit concerned about sounding horrible. “The cat, you know, probably loathes us. I know the crows do. I hate working out or doors; the weather does nothing but glare, you know.”
-Toadhaven League

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Inkpen Poetry Day: "A Goodly Warning"


"A Goodly Warning"
 by Rachel Heffington

O! Time is a faerie-maid, dark is her dairy laid:
Larders of mem'ry and amethyst lore.
But one kiss from her lips
On your lips as she slips
One cold hand in your pocket will finish the chore.

For her kiss it is sweet
It is death, it is meat
It is sharp as a bone-frost and light as a wheat
In her bed, poppy-reds
glimmer bright as she shreds
All your best years of life into raggedy threads.

O! She picks every purse with a laugh and a curse
but a beggar she stays till the end of no end.
For her girtle is trim
From the breast to the hem;
She must ever stay hungry to eat what you lend.

Never thanks, never smile,
Such small coinage is vile
In pay for the life-years snipped off of a man.
But a kiss for the road
- Age and Slumber your load -
And a red-lipped farewell where your trouble began.

O! Time is a faerie-maid, dark is her dairy laid:
Larders of mem'ry and amethyst lore
But one kiss from her lips
On your lips as she slips
One cold hand in your pocket will finish the chore.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

May I please drag you into something?

Amber Stokes, a publicist and friend of mine, is running a blog tour for Five Glass Slippers (which comes out June 14!) and has invited anyone who has a wish to join in! The information and invitation is as follows and I do so hope you'll join:

You are cordially invited to take part in the Five Glass Slippersblog tour, a collaborative celebration brought to you by Seasons of Humility and Rooglewood Press!

Dear Bloggers,

We're introducing the Five Glass Slippers novella collection to the world through a very special blog tour taking place June 23-28. The theme is "Cinderella for a Day," and the tour will consist of mini (one-question) interviews with the five authors of the book, as well as fun spotlights and a tour-wide giveaway. 

Fans of all things fairy tale are encouraged to join us in promoting this creative collection - the culmination of the Five Glass Slippers contest hosted by Rooglewood Press in 2013. If you would like to ask any of the five authors (Elisabeth Brown, Emma Clifton, Rachel Heffington, Stephanie Ricker, and Clara Diane Thompson) a question while helping us spread the word about the book on your blog, we'd love to have you join us!

You can sign up for the blog tour on the tour's home page orHERE.

Further information can be found on the tour sign-up form and in the attached press release, but please don't hesitate to email back with any questions you might have. Once you've signed up, you'll be included in the tour email list. Thank you for your consideration!

Amber Stokes

Freelance Editor & Publicist