Personal Tidbits

A Little Listening Goes a Long Way

My husband and I do our best to talk to our children and stay up-to-date on their social lives. Up until last night, I thought we knew about all the important stuff. You know? How they feel about school, how they feel about themselves, who their friends are, the things that are going well, the things they might be struggling with, etc.

Last night, I lay with my son for a while after I tucked him in. He’s a talker so he chattered away about various things, and I did something I don’t usually do. I didn’t ask questions. (Not at first, anyway.) I just listened. And I found out something I never would have guessed or thought to ask about.

You see, my husband and I usually ask a series of check-up questions:

  • How was your day?
  • What did you learn?
  • Who did you hang out with at recess? What did you do?
  • How did your spelling test go?
  • Any problems on the bus?

But after what my son told me last night, I’m reminded that these routine questions aren’t enough. They become generic. And kids, like adults, become desensitized to these types of questions and start giving routine answers. Fine. Nothing. Same kids as usual. Good. No. We think we’re doing a good job by consistently checking in, but is there really any genuine communication going on? I’m not saying we’re dopey robot parents who don’t pay attention, but sometimes life is a little too hectic and we’re in such a hurry to get things done that we don’t really listen when our kids say something outside of the script.

So what did my son (who takes gymnastics and piano lessons and has never shown a real interest in other activities) tell me? He said he wishes he could play soccer with a large group of boys who play every day during recess, but he’s afraid they won’t let him join in. He’s afraid he won’t be any good. He’s afraid if they do let him play that he’ll make a mistake and they’ll get mad at him. He’s afraid that if he plays, a female friend of his will want to play too and the soccer boys will be mad that he brought a girl to play soccer. He revealed all of these fears in a very matter-of-fact tone, like he was telling me his favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip. But even though he didn’t seem sad, his words broke my heart because I could sense the crushing effect these fears were having on his self-esteem.

Had I not taken the time to just listen to him ramble for a while, I think my husband and I would still be in the dark about his desire to try something new. And we wouldn’t have had the valuable conversation that followed his confession–the one about never being afraid to break out of your comfort zone and not worrying about what others might think or say about it . . . the one about doing something because you want to, not necessarily because you’re good at it, but because you like it. And how you’ll never know if you like something or if you’re good at something until you try it.

After we were done talking, I sat down to do some writing, and an email notification popped up. You’ll never believe who the email was from . . . our local soccer association. It was an announcement about a new indoor soccer training camp in our town. Registration had just opened up. I’m pretty sure my son was the first kid to register. πŸ™‚

Personal Tidbits, Self Publishing

My Goals for 2016


I had a lot of goals for 2015 and I worked my heinie off in an attempt achieve them. How did I do?

Goal #1 – Finish and Publish Don’t Call Me Kit Kat

Goal achieved! And as of today, Don’t Call Me Kit Kat has review averages on Goodreads (4.57) and Amazon (4.8) that make my heart swell with joy. This book is very near and dear to my heart, and based on the majority of responses from readers, it conveys the messages I was hoping it would.

Goal #2 – Stop Obsessing Over Click Date Repeat

Hmm. This one is iffy. While I managed to stop checking my sales stats every day, I faltered on resisting the urge to constantly check for new reviews after Don’t Call Me Kit Kat was published in May. Because I wanted to keep tabs on how Kit Kat was doing, I ended up checking in on CDR more than once a week as well. So this goal continues to be a work in progress.

Goal #3 – Finish the First Draft of Click Date Repeat 2

MAJOR fail. But, I have a really good excuse! During November, I participated in NaNoWriMo and completed a good chunk of a YA suspense novel.

Goal #4 – Stick to a Blog Schedule

Another iffy one here. For the most part, I managed to post one book review per week. But I kinda fell off the bandwagon as far as posting a personal/professional post every Wednesday. I won’t abandon this goal, but it definitely needs to be revised.

Goal #5 – Remember What’s Really Important

Goal achieved! Not only did I set time aside for hanging out with my family without writing, I took the entire summer off to do things with my kids. Honestly, this goal may have been overachieved. πŸ˜‰

And now for my new and revised goals for 2016…

Goal #1 – Revise and Complete SPIN

SPIN is the YA suspense novel I worked on during NaNoWriMo. The manuscript has been through one round of developmental editing, and I can’t even describe how excited I am to see this one through to publication. My plan is to send it off for one more round of developmental edits some time in Feburary. Then, if I succeed at making this book into what I think it can be, I just might be querying agents come spring.

Goal #2 – Finish and Publish Click Date Repeat 2

As of right now, I have about a third of this book completed. However, the entire novel is outlined, so I know exactly what needs to be written. I plan to work on it intermittently for the next two months, but as soon as SPIN gets sent in for its second developmental edit in February, I’ll finish this one up. I’ll aim for sending it for it’s first developmental edit in March with the ultimate goal of publishing in late May.

Goal #3 – Stop Obsessing Over Book Stats

I will only check my sales stats and for new book reviews once a week. This might seem like an easy goal, but it’s not!

Goal #4 – Limit Social Media Time

Last year, this goal wasn’t necessary because all I had to maintain was Click Date Repeat’s Facebook page. Now I also have an author Facebook account, an author fan page on Facebook, a Twitter account, and an Instagram account. This is a lot to maintain and often turns into hours of wasted time each day that I should have spent writing. My plan is to limit my time on social media to one hour per day. (This does not include time posting book reviews and writing blog posts.)

Goal #5 – Post Regularly to My Blog

Instead of committing to personal/professional posts on Wednesdays and book reviews on Sundays, I’m only committing to posting something at least once a week and it could be any day of the week. In addition to personal/professional posts and book reviews, I’ve also started participating in cover reveals and blog tours.

Goal #6 – Write Every Day!

Even if I don’t feel like writing. Even if I’m busy with family commitments all day long and can’t write until after the kids are in bed. Even if I’m feeling under the weather. I will write at least one page of something every day. That something could be complete gibberish, but even gibberish can be turned into something meaningful. And baby steps are better than no steps at all.

Goal #7 – Remember What’s Really Important

I won’t be taking the summer off this year due to Goal #6, but I will continue unplugging every Friday night (and holidays) to spend quality time with my family.

What are your goals for 2016?

Personal Tidbits, Self Publishing


People often tell me when they purchase, read, or are in the process of reading one of my books. This includes family, friends, people who follow my blog, Facebook friends, etc. Even though I know these individuals are just trying to be nice, I have to be honest . . . it drives me nuts!

WAIT! Before you shake your head while mumbling “what a bitch” under your breath and unfollow me, please hear me out.

I know, I know. I should be appreciative that people even consider my books. I swear to you, I am. The problem is, when someone tells me they intend to read one of my books or have already done so but offer zero feedback, I can’t help but become paranoid.

Old Friend From High School: Hey, just bought a copy of your book! Can’t wait to read it.

What I Say: Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. Can’t wait to hear what you think. πŸ™‚

What I Think: Oh, my God. I wonder if she’s really going to read it or if she’s just making conversation . . . Oh, my God. If she does read it, what if she thinks that one part is about her?

Facebook Friend: Hey! Saw your book was on sale last week so I one-clicked it. Really enjoying it so far.

What I Say: Yay! Thank you so much! So happy to hear you’re enjoying it. πŸ™‚

What I think: Please don’t hate my book. Please don’t hate my book. Is she still going to want to be friends if she hates my book? Please don’t hate my book. Please don’t hate my book.

Distant Relative I Met Once When I was 10: “Hey Kristie! Aunt Mary loaned me a copy of your book. I finished it last week. Wow, I can’t believe we have an author in the family!”

What I Say: “Thank you so much for reading, Distant Relative! I really appreciate your support. Are you an avid reader? If so, I’d love to be friends on Goodreads.”

What I Think: I’m not even sure I know who Aunt Mary is . . .Well, what did you think of it?? . . . Hmm. Maybe If I bring up Goodreads, she’ll rate it.

And when I don’t receive updates from people, that’s when the heavy paranoia sets in and my brain becomes overloaded with assumptions and whiny thoughts, many of which are verbally expressed ad nauseam to my poor husband.

“I know so-and-so read my book. Why didn’t she write a review?!”

“Why would he tell me he purchased a copy of my book only to never mention it again? I wonder if he even read it. Even worse, what if he read it and hated it?!”

“Well, I guess she hated it. Excuse me while I cry myself to sleep.”

Ugh. I’m lucky my husband is such a great listener, and I’m even luckier that he isn’t afraid to remind me that the paranoia has everything to do with me and nothing to do with them. :/

Even so, if you’re the friend or family member of an author, I propose the following order of operations if you are genuinely interested in reading her work:


Or even better:


And if you’re an author, try to keep in mind that most people who mention they purchased, read, or are currently reading your work are truly trying to support you. It just might not occur to the majority of that lot that you’d appreciate feedback, and a good portion probably don’t understand how important reviews are to an author (indie or traditional). Plus, people are just plain busy!

I know I need to take my own advice. Trust me, I’m trying. πŸ™‚