Travel and Chocolate: When Books Inspire

Lately I’ve been devouring travel memoirs. And they’re fueling my wanderlust.

From a trip to Scotland last year. A very rare bird in Loch Lomond.

I love that about books. The ability to influence and inspire.

I was around eleven when I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The chocolate river. The candy (side note: twenty years later a made up story about a candy store would be my kids most requested bedtime story).

The story hooked me. Oh, and the chocolate bar that you could grab right out of your tv?

Magical. And I wanted some of that magic.

At the time we lived on a Coast Guard base in New Orleans and there was a tiny convenience store on the corner. They had candy bars.

I scraped together some money (sorry dad, I dipped into that change jar in your armoire).

And then, naturally, I sent my nine year old sister to get me the candy bar. I had a book to finish. (Thank you, B!)

I love that I can immerse in another world via a book, but it really does feel like magic when you nurture the opportunity to bring some of that story world into your real life.

And then those new memories inspire your own creative work…

And so on. Ad infinitum.

Bird is waving hello (there is a chocolate bar behind that other wing, I’m sure of it.

 

If you like travel memoirs, I enjoyed these:

At Home in the World, by Tsh Oxenreider

My Part-Time Paris Life by Lisa Anselmo

The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World by Torre DeRoche

Where I’m off to next: 

A cabin in the woods. For real. I’m doing a short–solo– writing, hiking trip. I’ll keep you posted! Follow me on Instagram for real(er) time updates.

Then this summer, we’re off to ALASKA. We’ll be stopping in all the usual places so if you have a favorite coffee shop, hike or food must eat, let me know!

Also, if you have a must read, perhaps one that  inspired you to action, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy Spring (and reading) friends!!

The Art of Going the Distance, 2007, & Worlds of Jessicas

Hey all!

I’m excited to let you know that I’ve got a new book out: The Art of Going the Distance.

chasing normal 2016 promo Coleen Patrick

Click banner above for my books on Amazon (spoiler: there’s a sale)

This is the last book in my YA series, Chasing Normal and while it’s kinda sad to close the book on Grace and Zac, I think they probably need a break from me. According to my word documents we’ve been hanging out since 2007.

going the distance with family

That’s a lot of time and change. My kids are so much older!

It’s possible that the original idea may have been born in 2005. But I’m not exactly sure, because all of the stories I wrote around that time (most of them middle grade) have a main character named Jessica. Back then I believed that the process of deciding on a name before I finished the first draft would yank me out of that early creative writing rush. And so, yeah, I’ve got worlds of Jessicas.

Anyway, The Art of Chasing Normal was never really about being Jessica in a World of Jessicas normal. It’s about Grace dealing with change in her family and friendships, and navigating the idea of what she thinks she SHOULD be doing vs. being herself (turns out I  didn’t need to do any research on this concept).

But at its heart this series is about love, family, and friendship. And a big crazy road trip. (My favorite things!) I may have teased Grace with a road trip in The Art of Second Chances, but it really happens in The Art of Going the Distance.

So if you or someone you know loves books about first love and friendship and road trips, I hope you check out my Chasing Normal series.

It’s a perfect time, because the first two books are only 99 cents on Amazon this week!

Oh and the ART part of all these titles? Grace’s passion is art, and I had so much fun researching this that doodling and art has become something I love and do every day too.

Happy Valentine's ewe doodle coleen patrick

I know I’m a day late for Valentine’s, so consider this a happy wish for President’s Day or if you’re not feeling very political, National Gumdrop Day.

So, what were you doing in 2007? I’d love to know!

Thanks so much for stopping by, hope you have a happy one!!

xo

Spambots Ate My Blog or The Art of Second Chances

If you’re reading this, then the Spambot war I’ve been engaged in is over.

Phew.

My site was down most of last week. It popped back up for a few minutes here and there only to be swallowed again by these guys

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 Note: This is not an actual spambot for they don’t show there faces. They like to lurk behind Burberry ads and gibberish disguised as flattery.

 

 

They were ruthless. They got thru Askimet and dumped so many comments HostGator had to shut me down. Finally, thanks to my tech guy (aka my hub), I got my site back.

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 His other super power: Fish Whisperer 😉

 

Yay! Because I’ve got stuff to tell you all.

I finished my big Photoshop project–the one that required me to take classes–and pull my hair out.

Here’s what I’ve been up to–the cover of my new book:

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 A visitor from Zac’s past shows up, sending Grace and Zac’s spring break—and their relationship—into uncharted territory.

 

The ebook is available now. You can check out all the details here.

The paperback is almost ready to go live. I got a bit sidetracked with choosing between matte or glossy–and again there was more learning to be done with the fancy Photoshop.

But I did it. It wasn’t easy and I still have lots to learn, but I’m pretty happy with how far I got.  And that I tried. There was lots of mistakes and trying again–which fits nicely with one of the themes in this new book. So there’s that too. 🙂

 Plus, the companion book, The Art of Chasing Normal, is a Kindle Unlimited book!

So what have you been up to? I’d love to hear! But first…

a teensy, tiny bit of bad news. Unfortunately commenting here now requires a little math. Sorry, I know this is a lot to ask, especially on a Monday. Hopefully I will find a better Captcha setup (I’m open to suggestions).

So because I miss your comments and hope you will tell me what’s been going on with you, I offer you some very pretty cake.

Dessert cake Shyndigz_opt

 Gives new meaning to fruit cake.

Or maybe you’d like a little zen.

Me too. My new favorite thing is this class

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Yoga at the botanical garden. 🙂

 

What’s happening in your world? I’d love to know!

HAPPY MONDAY!

Reading Gives You Wings

bird book cartoon

I’m spreading my wings!

 

This weekend I will be participating in a local authors fair at Cascades library in Potomac Falls, Virginia.

There will be bunches of SUPER cool author peeps.

 

Super cool author peep, Kathryn Erskine.

 

And books and book stuff.

 

YA book swag

 

And coffee, I’m sure. Although, I should probably switch to decaf.

 

drawing on Starbucks cup

Me + Caffeine (and/or nerves) = Doodles

 

I’m grateful, excited, nervous, but also very CURIOUS. 🙂

 

Are you spreading your wings? How do you calm your nerves?

Happy Wednesday!

 

Gratitude and The Art of Chasing Normal

My latest YA novel

 

Today I’m talking about NORMAL.

Not that I know what “normal” is, exactly. Except to say, sometimes I lose my way and fixate on the grass around my feet that somehow just doesn’t seem to look as green as the grass on the other side of the pasture. The green I used to have, or was supposed to have. Or thought I had.

I don’t know. All I can say is, trying to write about “normal” this week was confusing. I mean, usually when I sit down to write my blog posts I choose whatever floats to the top of my brain, like say, Hey! I’ve got a brand new book!

Except this week something else kept fighting for top billing. I can’t stop thinking about my actual brain–and the MRI scan I had last week.

Sure, health stuff is important, but this was my third scan in three years (I’ve written a bit about it before here). Each time my neurologist has ordered a scan to “Rule out The Chronic Illness That Shall Not Be Named.” But so far, there’s been nothing conclusive. Except physically, I don’t have the bright shiny green-ness I used to.

Plus, there’s the worry. Because there were these unidentified things, not normal things, or maybe they are normal for me (one can hope). Either way they were confusing to the radiologist and doctor, something that maybe shouldn’t be there. Here’s a little graphic to give you an idea of what shouldn’t really be floating in your gray matter:

MRI scan picture

This is my brain. I’m sure you’re not at all surprised to see all the dessert.

 

But the problem with chasing after normal, is I think I’m going after me, but I lose a bit of myself in the process.

So, in order to get my brain off the subject of my brain, I’m focusing on my heart by practicing some gratitude.

Here are this week’s highlights:

 

funny faces

I’m grateful for my family–and silly faces.

 

dutch resistance world war two

Cornelia Warmenhoven

I am grateful to have heard Cornelia speak at a Kristallnacht Memorial service yesterday. Cornelia is a rescuer and an inspiration. She worked with the Dutch resistance against the Nazis during World War II.  I’m especially grateful for brave rescuers like Cornelia because my husband is a grandchild (and my kids, great-grandchildren) of Holocaust survivors.

 

I’m grateful for a college visit that took us on a scenic country drive. And for barns.  Barns are awesome.

 

military family

I’m grateful for my parents–and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Yes, I’m thankful to the U.S. Coast Guard for moving my dad and our family every couple of years. I’m serious! Because of this nomadic experience, I’ve been forever fascinated with the idea of living life in one place and falling in love with the boy next door (and road trips, but that’s another Grace and Zac story). Which leads me back around to…

 

I’m grateful for my new book.

 

I’m so thankful I get the opportunity to write, especially characters like Grace and Zac. I started this story several years ago, but it wasn’t until 2011 when they came back with more to tell, that I started reworking this one. It’s been so much fun writing about friendship and love and the boy next door. You can find out more about THE ART OF CHASING NORMAL here.

Last, but not least, I’m also grateful for YOU.

Huge thanks and big hugs to you for taking the time to read, or comment, or share. You are what make this part so rewarding. You make me feel a part of a super awesome community when I emerge from my writing cave. Tons of thanks for taking the time to share a part of  your lives with me.

Happy Monday.

 

 

 

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Book Marketing or Winking at a Boy in the Dark

 book marketing advertising quote_opt

The one thing I know for sure about book promotion is that there’s no shortage of information.

I’ve been reading and bookmarking how-to articles for the last couple of years, but when it comes to promoting my writing (and probably flirting), I think I probably resort to that winking in the dark stuff.

But then my very first print copy of my YA book, Come Back to Me, arrived in the mail.

Having a copy of my book made being published feel more real.

Made me feel like I wanted to do a little book flirting.

Which is a good thing, because if you want your book read, then you need to get your book OUT THERE.

Right?

I can’t just sit in my office and wink out of the window while holding my shiny, new book.

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Gotta do some book marketing.

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VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

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 adam levine promoting my book_opt

An endorsement from Adam Levine? You never know, he could like my “voice.”

 

Speaking of promotion, my book is now officially available in paperback at Amazon (all other formats can be found here). Plus, my book will be experience it’s very first blitzing in May (a promo blitz is kind of like the opposite of winking in the dark). 🙂

Do you have marketing advice to share? Are you any good at flirting? If so, do you know any celebrities?

Have a spectacular kind of week!

Coleen xo

 

Do You Have Tattoo Envy?

Today I’m hanging out at Jenny Hansen’s blog. The topic? Tattoos!

Hop on over and check it out!

 

 

Have a spectacular weekend!

 

 

 

**If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive my new posts straight to your inbox.  Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

 

Choosing Happy: Come Back to Me ~ My New YA Release

 

Big news…my debut YA book, Come Back to Me, is out NOW.

It went live on Amazon last Wednesday, a happy surprise. There I was gearing up for the you’ve-published-a-book-now-what marathon, when suddenly the starter pistol went off.

I think I was tying my shoes or something.

But I got moving. Thanks in BIG part to family, friends, and lots of super cool people like the WANA (we are not alone) writing community.

Although no one mentioned the adrenaline. I could’ve lifted a car.

Anyway, speaking of family, friends, and love…those are big themes in my YA contemporary story. Check it out:

Come Back To Me 200 320_opt

 

 

 Available for purchase at AMAZON or SMASHWORDS 

(paperback and other venues, coming soon)

 

Whitney Denison can’t wait to start over.

She thought she had everything under control, that her future would always include her best friend Katie… Until everything changed.

Now her life in Bloom is one big morning after hangover, filled with regret, grief, and tiny pinpricks of reminders that she was once happy.  A happy she ruined.  A happy she can’t fix.

So, she is counting down the days until she leaves home for Colson University, cramming her summer with busywork she didn’t finish her senior year, and taking on new hobbies that involve glue and glitter, and dodging anyone who reminds her of her old life.

When she runs into the stranger who drove her home on graduation night, after she’d passed out next to a ditch, she feels herself sinking again. The key to surviving the summer in Bloom is unraveling whatever good memories she can from that night.

But in searching for answers, she’ll have to ask for help and that means turning to Evan, the stranger, and Kyle, Katie’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, life flips again, and Whitney finds herself on not only the precipice of happy but love, too, causing her to question whether she can trust her feelings, or if she is falling into her old patterns of extremes.

As she uncovers the truth about her memories, Whitney sees that life isn’t all or nothing, and that happy isn’t something to wait for, that instead, happy might just be a choice.

 

So, it’s been an exciting week.

But wait! I’ve got one last, but very special thing to share.  You may have read a post I wrote about signs.  In that post, I mention how I equate ladybugs with hope, and to my brother (who passed away six years ago).

So, ladybugs found a way into Come Back to Me–and into my book’s acknowledgments, where I wrote, To my brother, Dan the Man, Thanks for the ladybugs.

Then, last Wednesday, in the middle of the awesome hullabaloo of seeing my book on Amazon, I ran up the stairs to grab my slippers (because it was a snow day–and cold!).

Halfway up the stairs I saw this:

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 Thanks for the ladybug, Dan.

 

Have an AMAZING, hopeful week!

YA Fantasy: Myndi Shafer & The Darkening ~ Book 2 of the Shrilugh Saga

 

Hi all! I’ve got a special treat for you today…

YA author Myndi Shafer is here to answer a few questions about her brand new book, The Darkening–the much anticipated sequel to Shrilugh. It’s out now!

The Darkening

  As Aydan Fulbert settles into her new life in a new world, she realizes a few things. She’s healing from losing Brig. She’s coming to terms with her new home. And she’s lonely.

  Rein Torvald’s return from his long absence helps alleviate her loneliness, but a darkness comes with him. Unsettling news about her father and the Sovereign has the potential to make her a fugitive all over again – from his world and hers.

  Will Aydan allow her heart to be taken places she’s never been brave enough to go? Or will the threat of danger – of the Sovereign’s rage, and her father’s vengeful grudge, send her running? 

 

Welcome Myndi!

 

What was the inspiration behind The Darkening?

When I first wrote this story, Shrilugh and The Darkening were all one book, told solely from Aydan’s POV.

When I changed the POV, the story really exploded, and needed to be divided into more than one book. Which is why the first book of the Saga ended rather abruptly, and why, if you read these two back-to-back, they’ll feel a bit like one piece of work.

So, really, the inspiration for The Darkening came from the same place as my inspiration for Shrilugh: an old silo on the farm where I was raised. There’s a ladder that extends up past the top of it that looks kind-of like a door, and I’ve always, always wondered where that door would lead.

When I began writing Shrilugh that was my goal – to find out what kind of world was beyond that door.

 

Have you always been interested in being a writer?

Goodness, no! The thought never crossed my mind until about four years ago. I started writing on a whim.

The Hubster and I were driving past the farm where I grew up, and I was staring at that silo with the ladder-door, and said to him, “I think I’m going to write a book.” He looked at me like I was crazy. But I started writing that night, and knew I’d found it – the thing that would be my thing for the rest of my life.

 

What do you like most about writing and being a self-published author?

The fact that I can do a job, from home, that allows me to dig down into my creative self, is THRILLING. Really, this is my dream job. I get to be with my kids, be the stay-at-home mom that I’ve always wanted to be, and still have the satisfaction of a creative outlet. The fact that this creative outlet helps to provide for my family is just a bonus. Really, I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed I feel to be able to do what I do.

Being a self-published author has been a really good fit for me. There are days where I wish I could pass the business-side of writing to someone else – all the marketing and networking and stuff like that…it just doesn’t come easy to me. But overall, it’s been a really fun ride. To see my books in the hands of readers, and to hear their enthusiasm…it’s so totally worth any and all of the effort.

 

What’s one thing about you that will surprise readers most?

I have the most tame, Beaver-Cleaver-type life you could imagine. I’m probably the least surprising person in the world. Well, okay, there’s this – I really enjoy folding laundry. I love seeing the tidy piles build up, and thinking about my kiddos and how they’ve grown, and the smell of clean laundry. It’s soothing.

*heavy sigh* I just re-read that and realized how lame I sound. I wish I could have had something way cooler like, “Oh, I go parachuting,” or “Big game hunting in Zimbabwe is totally my thing”. But nope. I’ve chosen to stun you all with laundry.

 

What is your favorite snack food and beverage of choice?                

Oh my goodness, my favorite thing to snack on are these almonds that have been roasted in cocoa powder. They are AH-MAZ-ING. Crunchy and sweet and perfect.

And if I’m not drinking water, I’m drinking coffee. Very rarely do I stray from either two of those beverages.

 

Where can you find Myndi?

Facebook: Myndi Shafer Stories

Twitter: @MyndiShafer

Website/blog: www.myndishafer.wordpress.com
Pop on over to one of Myndi’s hang outs and say HI! Ask her about the Shrilugh Saga, The Darkening, or coffee. 🙂

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 I’ll be drinking fancy coffee this weekend. I’m off to spend a few days with my sister–a little road trip, and a lot of laughter.

Got a question for Myndi? What’s your beverage of choice?

Happy Weekend!