The Ruby’s Place Christmas Collection

Ruby’s Place is a fictional bar in a fictional small town in Missouri. And for the past four holiday seasons, it has been one of my very favorite places to visit.

The idea came to me several years ago, as my hometown was debating a public ban on smoking. A woman appeared on the news to say her business (a small corner bar) would take a serious hit if the ordinance passed. A hard enough hit to possibly even close her business for good. The owner indicated she knew how to do one thing better than anything else: run that bar.

There was just something about the look of her face in the plate glass window of her bar, something about what she said…I started to dream up my own corner bar, my own caretaker of the establishment. An owner who was so good at running her bar, she was still there, rattling her cocktail shaker and serving up drinks long after her own death. When she was herself a ghost of Christmases past.

My Ruby’s Place has become, over the years, a place where the living in Sullivan, Missouri flock to reconnect with the faces of their past. Where they can sit side-by-side with loves and friends and family members who passed on themselves. After all, I thought, what would be a better gift than one last moment to say everything that had gone unspoken? “I love you” or “I miss you,” “You were so important to me,” or maybe even, “I’m sorry.”

This year, I’ve written the finale to The Ruby’s Place Christmas Collection. It’s a standalone, so even if you haven’t read the previous books, you can jump in. But if you’ve been reading along the past few years, you’ll see previous events from a new angle and understand characters in a new light.

The Gift That Is Ruby’s Place is available at all the regular outlets (links below). But this has been such a hard year for everyone that I’d also just really love to spread a bit of holiday cheer—which is also why I’m sending this particular newsletter to all my subscribers, regardless of the list. Whether we’re taking care of children or senior parents (as I am), dealing with natural disasters, financial disruptions, or virtual school years, our lives all feel a bit upside down. Since we’re all facing such hard financial times, if you’d like a free e-copy, please leave a comment here or contact me at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d be happy to share a copy via BookFunnel.

The Gift That Is Ruby’s Place Links:

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
Apple

If you’d like to read the collection from the start, all four books are available as a single download at Amazon.

I’m so excited to get the full collection into the hands of readers. And please, all, do stay safe and healthy.

Holly

Do Not Check Email (The Art of Putting You First)

This springs off my last post, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been switching up the order in which I tackle my daily list of tasks.

Before, I was hitting email first, then getting to my writing. That doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but when you factor in all that also needed to be done around the house, I wasn’t even getting started on my writing until eleven in the morning.

Lately, thanks to Gus’s newfound love of spending time in the front yard, I start the day with my work first. (I can’t get a decent Wi-Fi signal in that area, so it’s kind of like a few hours of forced digital detox.) It’s utterly peaceful. There are absolutely no distractions (other than the occasional squirrel), which means I get a couple of hours of uninterrupted brainstorming or drafting or copyediting time at the time of day when I’m the freshest and my mind is the sharpest.

It’s made all the difference in the world.

How so?

I start the day with a feeling of accomplishment, rather than frustration. That, too, sounds like a small thing. But it’s everything. I’m not constantly running to catch up. And the best part? Hitting emails late in the day works every bit as well as hitting them first thing. Turns out, writing first is truly win-win.

Long story short, don’t be afraid to put yourself (or, at least, your writing) first in your list of to-dos. I think you just may find that it helps you breathe a little deeper. And in times like these, breathing a little deeper is a truly beautiful thing.

Looking Ahead to Play It Again: The Playing Hurt Sequel

Hey, all,

I’m in the midst of a couple of new projects–one being the conclusion to the Ruby’s Place series, and the other being the sequel to Playing Hurt. I’ve so enjoyed reading your reviews and hearing from you directly regarding Playing Hurt–but here’s the cool thing: with a sequel in the works, the end of Playing Hurt is really kind of like intermission in Clint and Chelsea’s story. It’s unfinished. At the midpoint.

So–with that in mind, I’d love to hear from you all about the sequel. What are you most hoping to see? What issues would you like addressed?

Feel free to enter all your thoughts in the form below–I’m open to any and all suggestions! If you can’t access the form below for any reason, you can see it here, or you can hit me up directly.

New Read + Author “Tip Jar”!

I’ve got a couple fun new things to share: a fun new read and (hopefully) a fun new way to buy it!

THE NEW READ:

funny final 2 small

This release is called Funny Meeting You Here. It’s comprised of six sweet, humorous shorts. I don’t know about you guys, but the entertainment I’ve been gravitating toward lately is all light and often comedic. I want to smile and chuckle. I’ve been loving Fallon each night—watching his informal interviews and his daughters playing. When I sat down to write during our weeks of isolation, all I wanted to write was something equally sweet and funny. Also, as far as I’m concerned, the best part of any story is the point at which the main characters meet. I combined that hunger for light entertainment with my love of chance encounters to write Funny Meeting You Here. These are quite literally stories of meetings—funny scenarios that bring two characters together. It’s my hope that when you read them, regardless of what the world is like just beyond your door, it will bring two smiles: one to your face and one to your heart.

THE NEW WAY TO BUY IT

Recently, I’ve been hearing from readers wanting to better support authors during the Coronavirus pandemic. Many have contacted me to tell me they’ve bought paperbacks rather than the lower-cost ebooks. That’s incredible! But that’s a big leap between a .99 ebook and a $10 (or more!) printed book. So I’ve started a Payhip store (payhip.com/HollySchindler) as a kind of “tip jar.” At Payhip, you can absolutely still buy Funny Meeting You Here for the listed price of .99, but if you want to set the price to chip in an extra few cents, that’s fantastic, too. I just wanted to give readers a way to offer support and still have enough money left during these lean times to buy themselves another read. One of the best parts of Payhip is that it allowed me to integrate with BookFunnel! When you buy from Payhip, you’ll receive two emails: one from Payhip and one from BookFunnel, both with download links. You can download from either Payhip or Bookfunnel, whichever you’re more comfortable using. Since I’ve been distributing my ARCs and review copies via BookFunnel, and you’re all familiar with that site, I definitely wanted to give you guys that option.

AND, OF COURSE, YOU CAN ALSO BUY THE BOOK AT ALL THE OLD FAVORITE SITES

Funny Meeting You Here is live right now on Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, and Scribd.

Thanks, guys. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you all. Feel free to drop a line to tell me what you think of the Payhip process. And please do stay safe and well.

New Book Blurb – The Art of the Kiss

“Conversational, yet edited with considerable care, the book is like a beautifully wrapped box of chocolate—old-fashioned and sweet.

Art of the Kiss final

“Conveyed in narrative snapshots, the scenes of a small town romance fill the pages of this album-novel, while shining a spotlight on a photographer with a retired camera. Obsessed with the past and searching for meaning, every word is like a piece in a juxtaposed puzzle.”

The BookLife Prize

Juggling Multiple Writing Projects #WritingTips #DraftYourNovel

Coronavirus has thrown the entirety of the publishing world into confusion. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read lately trying to work out whether you should submit, whether agents are reading, whether editors are acquiring, what kind of reading landscape will exist when we come through the worst of the pandemic, etc.

One thing you can always do–no matter the state of publishing–is write. Easier said than done, of course, these last few weeks. We’ve been homeschooling, cooking, and let’s face it: worrying about our financial situations and the health of our families.

One thing I’ve done during home isolation is juggle multiple projects. In the past, that really got me into trouble. Mostly because “juggling” amounted to starting projects and abandoning them in the middle. This time around, I’ve been more successful with it.

A big part of that success is that I’m not pushing to meet a quick deadline. That’s really one of the most important aspects–or so I’ve found. You really can’t be concerned with finishing a project quickly if you would like to try juggling.

BUT: It’s been great for me lately. Here’s why:

Juggling Projects Allows for More Think Time

Basically, right now, I’m writing four different books. (Sounds nuts, I know.) I’ll admit that it requires a ton of outlining and planning–I draft a few chapters of one book, then outline or brainstorm the possibilities for the next few chapters before bouncing to another project (whichever project is calling to me at the moment). But I never forget about the first project. It’s always there, in the back of my mind. The extra think time gives me room to come up with additional possibilities for structure, events, conflicts, etc.

Ideas Become More Important than Sentences

This goes back to the whole quick deadline thing. When you’re on deadline, it’s all about meeting insane word counts. You don’t really have the time to brainstorm for a week and a half when you need to knock out 50K in a month.

With the juggling method, though, I feel like I’m far more concerned with the ideas. Like I said, I outline like crazy. When I come back to a project, I review my outlines. I may think they’re weak. I may decide I need to brainstorm all over again. I may do nothing but re-outline and brainstorm, then bounce to another book.

Don’t underestimate how important that is: As a reader, I feel concepts stick with me, and make a bigger impact, than pretty turns of phrases. Whether or not I enjoy a book is primarily about an author’s ideas, most times. And this strategy can really help with idea generation.

Juggling Creates a Sense of Play

This is the big one. I’m not alone in saying joy is essential for good writing. When I sit down to write, I go toward whichever project my heart wants to work on. I might switch projects mid-day, and I might stick with one for a week before bouncing. Because I’m writing the project I’m most excited about, I always feel like I’m playing rather than working.

I can’t tell you really how much fun this juggling is–of course, the true test will be in the finished products!

More to come…

It Came to Me in a Dream: An Unusual Plotting Technique (Guest Post with Darlene Beck Jacobson, author of Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up To a Bully

Hi Holly. Thanks so much for having me on your wonderful blog to talk about my new book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY and how it was plotted.

WoCCover01Usually, when it comes to plotting a novel, I struggle with getting it all to come out the way I envision. I have a strong beginning and knowledge of how I expect it to end. It’s what comes in between that throws me for a loop. I’ll write down possible scenes, things the character(s) need to do or potential conflicts that could arise. Most of the plot ideas that end up staying in the story are ones that I discovered after many revisions.

I expect there are many of us out there with this same kind of problem.

For my new novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, plotting was a totally different animal. The main character Jack spoke to me in a voice so loud and clear. He was insistent that I tell his story the way he spoke it, which turned out to be free verse. So, instead of plotting what might happen, I began to compile a list of words that would spark a conversation between Jack and me. (The title for the story at this stage was Fish, Wish, and Other Four Letter Words…hence the list of four-letter words).

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Each day I’d sit down with the list, choose a word and let Jack tell me his thoughts on it. The list expanded as we got further into the story and the final version that became the book veered from the strict four letter word format. But that list is the plot, sure and true. Every crossed out word is a poem in the story. I am so intrigued by this idea, that I am ruminating on another story in verse and have started compiling my list of words.

 

Book Cover Blurb:

Wishes, Dares and How to Stand Up to a Bully. The novel in verse crystallizes a boy’s worries about his father, who is MIA in Vietnam, and how his family, new best friend, and a bully unexpectedly help him find the courage to do the right thing, not just the easy thing.

 

Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully(review from Forward Magazine)

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

Creston Books (Apr 7, 2020)

Hardcover $17.99 (275pp)

978-1-939547-62-0

In Darlene Beck-Jacobson’s poignant novel in verse, Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully, a boy copes with the absence of his father, who is missing in action during the Vietnam War.

Eleven-year-old Jack, with his mother and his sister, Katy, spends the summer at his grandparents’ home. When he and Katy catch a one-eyed fish, they see it is as lucky; they make a wish on it to have pancakes for dinner. When the wish comes true, they wonder if the fish really is magical.

 

Jack relates the incident to his friend, Jill, who decides to catch the fish again. She wishes that her bully of a brother, Cody, would leave them alone, but her wish has different results. Meanwhile, Jack reads his father’s childhood diary, hoping that it contains clues about what makes a good wish so that he can make the perfect one and bring his father home. Discussions about wishes overlay the ways that the children work through their complicated situations. Its free verse lines crafted with care and concision, the book captures Jack’s emotions, and his 1960s small town setting, because of its sharp attention to detail. References to John F. Kennedy, John Glenn, and Joe DiMaggio round out the period, and the shadow of the war hangs over everything. Still, the children roam unsupervised—fishing, biking, and camping—in a world that is otherwise familiar and safe. They’re dealing with serious issues all the while, from Jill and Cody’s abusive stepfather to Jack and Katy missing their father. By the end, they have all developed the courage and strength to deal with their struggles.

 

A historical childhood fantasy in verse, Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully blends light summer fun with deep emotional challenges.

 

CATHERINE THURESON (March / April 2020)

 

BIO:

author pic 1Darlene Beck Jacobson is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing since she was a girl.  She is also a lover of history and can often be found mining dusty closets and drawers in search of skeletons from her past. She enjoys adding these bits of her ancestry to stories such as her award-winning middle grade historical novel WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston 2014) and WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston 2020).

Darlene lives and writes her stories in New Jersey with her family and a house full of dust bunnies. She’s caught many fish, but has never asked one to grant her a wish. She’s a firm believer in wishes coming true, so she tries to be careful what she wishes for.

Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, book reviews, and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators.
www.darlenebeckjacobson.com

Twitter: @DBeckJacobson

darlenejacobson13@gmail.com

 

ISBN: 978-1-939547-62-0

 

View the previous post in the tour (March 30):

http://www.robinnewmanbooks.wordpress.com

 

The next stop: https://viviankirkfield.com/

TO ORDER:

Amazon

B&N

 

Writing Through Distractions – Coronavirus Edition

Yesterday, I recorded a forthcoming podcast interview for the delightful Carrie Jones–among other things, we discussed how I got started writing full-time (it involved an incredible amount of family support).

There’s truly nothing more delicious than long, multi-hour writing sessions. Something I got to indulge in on a regular basis while I was drafting my earliest manuscripts. But what if you’ve got to balance writing and an outside job? Or two outside jobs? Or a family? How do you carve out writing time while everyone is home during the Coronavirus outbreak?

I’ve learned how to keep going in the busiest of times–maybe a book’s just released, and I’m doing a ton of virtual visits, or I’m traveling with my brother for his business, or I get a new puppy (like I did last fall). I’ve discovered several techniques that keep projects rolling:

Every Minute Counts

Sometimes, you have to write in bursts. Don’t discount ten minute writing sessions. Granted, this does tend to work best when you’re drafting. But I’ve thumbed a ton of chapters into my phone while waiting in line, or riding in a car’s backseat, or even during lunch.

Get Up an Hour Early, Stay Up an Hour Late

I do much better with staying up late (I’m becoming less and less of a morning person the older I get). But an hour of uninterrupted time can be carved out of the first or last hour of the day. In my house, these are the quietest hours. It’s a great time to draft or revise, either one. I know I usually do my best revising when it’s quiet. Those last-hour-of-the-day revision sessions have become some of my favorites.

Don’t Get Attached to One Device

To take advantage of tiny writing bursts in strange settings (you can wind up in the wackiest places in the house trying to get away from noisy family members!), you obviously can’t be glued to your desktop. I already mentioned writing on a phone. Notebooks work, too. And don’t discount dictation–I recently dictated an entire book in one-hour bursts. Dictation means being able to write while cooking or walking on the treadmill.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Revision or drafting in tiny chunks of time absolutely requires a plan. You need to know exactly what you want to write about beforehand. If you don’t, you spend your ten minute writing bursts just trying to figure out what you want to say. Outlines and notes are utterly essential. You’ll find yourself spending plenty of your ten minute bursts doing nothing but planning for future sessions!

Don’t Punish Yourself

Writing a book happens sentence by sentence. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re making minuscule progress–it’s progress.

Look, the thing is, I truly believe that all writers get there eventually, in their own ways. So keep at it. Even when it seems like there aren’t enough hours, even when you find yourself barely getting a single paragraph written in a day. Don’t stop. It can absolutely be done. And you can do it.