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Monday, May 21 2012

Once my box of Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) had arrived, I couldn't wait to do my first giveaway on GoodReads. It seemed like a great way to get word out about the book and generate some interest. It wasn't until the giveaway started that I discovered just how distracting it could be.


The setup for the giveaway was a snap. You just specify when you want the contest to run, how many copies you want to give away, and which countries you're willing to ship to. Once the contest starts, you can check as often as you like for up-to-date stats on all sorts of things including how many people have entered and how many have added it to their to-read bookshelf.


That's when the trouble started. I couldn't stop checking. Within minutes, people had entered to win. After only a few hours, seventeen people had added Going Organic Can Kill You to their to-read bookshelves.


But when I checked back an hour later, I noticed only fifteen people had the book there. Where had the other two people gone? Why had they changed their minds and removed it from the shelves? Had they originally added it by accident? Had they read an excerpt and decided it wasn't for them after all? Come back, mysterious people, come back!


And so it went for the next two weeks. I'd check in several times a day, pleased when the number of entrants continued to rise, bewildered when the number of entrants stayed the same or someone removed the book from their to-read shelf.


Then the reviews started. One guy gave it five stars, another only three. Based on what? Since this was my first giveaway and the contest wasn't over, they couldn't possibly have read the book yet. Were they rating it on the title and cover alone? Was that really fair?

I'm pretty sure I need to relax. The book isn't even out yet and I'm already obsessing over every little detail. If I keep this up, I'll have pulled out every last strand of hair before July 1st even rolls around. I need to stop Googling myself, checking GoodReads, and making sure it's still on Amazon.


Instead, I should spend all that time and energy making the next book as great as possible. Then I'll be able to rest easy.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 01:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 14 2012

Many, many months ago, Penny Warner asked if I wanted to spend a minute or two promoting Going Organic Can Kill You when she and Ann Parker had a book signing at the library in January. After my heart started to beat again and I remembered how to breathe, I gave it some serious thought. I really had no reason to say no, other than my absolute terror at public speaking, so I agreed. Besides, the signing was months away, anything could happen.


Sure enough, the signing was pushed back until mid-May, giving me five more months of breathing room and plenty of time to hatch a plan as to why I couldn't possibly attend the signing after all. Surely one of the kids would come down with malaria. Surely my husband would have to go out of town on business and I'd have no one to watch those kids with malaria.


As the months ticked by and May arrived, I started to feel a tickle of doubt. Everyone was so darn healthy. My husband had no impending business trips. Would I have to speak in public after all? Just in case this dreaded event actually happened, I drafted up a short pitch for the plot of my book and practiced in front of family members (on a side note, never ask two young children to be your pretend audience, especially when one of them is only 2. They're really not that helpful). I tried to convince myself that this brief speaking opportunity would be perfect practice for when I start doing book signings in September with Penny, Ann, and Carole Price, another debut author from my writing group. I won't be able to chicken out then, so I figured I might as well suck it up now and get it over with.


The dreaded Thursday was here. I fretted all day, practiced my pitch, and yelled at my kids for no reason other than I was too nervous to think straight. I picked at my dinner, practiced again while driving to the library, and then arrived with thirty minutes to spare, just long enough to work myself into a frenzy of panic.


Seven o'clock rolled around, and Penny started talking. I knew my time was coming. My heart pounded. My throat went dry. Why hadn't I remembered a bottle of water like my husband recommended? Penny called my name, and I stood. Then I rattled off my pitch, trying not to talk too fast, looking out at the crowd without really seeing anyone, and then it was over. Just like that. And it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting.


Maybe I'm ready for September. Maybe I won't have a heart attack from the stress. Maybe this whole book signing thing won't be a disaster after all, especially since I'll be doing it with friends. I'm almost looking forward to it.


But not quite.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 11:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 07 2012

Normally I wouldn't repeat a previous blog, but the one I wrote for the Ladykillers site a couple of weeks ago is still so appropriate to what's going on in my life right now, that I thought I'd share it again.

I'm in prison.

Not the literal prison with the bars and cellblocks and a giant, muscle-bound weightlifting roommate named Tiny. No, this is a virtual prison called the Potty Training Prison. I won't go into details about potty training my youngest. After all, this is a mystery blog, not a horror blog. But suffice it to say that my little one has gotten clingy with all these Big Kid
changes. Attending the Left Coast Crime conference didn't help. Here I abandoned the poor guy for three whole days while he was trying to figure out how to pull his pants up and down and sit on a little plastic chair. I'd keep a close eye on me too, if I were him.

But this constant companionship is getting a bit ridiculous. Even if I tell him I'm only going upstairs to switch out a load of laundry, he comes with me. Even if I explain that I have to run downstairs for the phone, but that I'll be right back, he comes with me. If I manage to hop the gate and slip into the bathroom without him, he stands at the gate and hollers until I
come out. If I sit down, he sits in my lap. If I sit down with a book in my hand, he'll take the book, close it, and sit in my lap. Heaven forbid if I sit down and put the laptop in my lap. Do you have any idea how hard it is to fit a laptop and a thirty-pound toddler in one lap? It's next to impossible, which is why Potty Training Prison isn't the place to get any writing done. It's simply too hard to type around the kid in my lap.

Sometimes his older brother will distract him so I can write a few words, but it doesn't last long. Within five minutes, he has to come find me to make sure I haven't tied the sheets together and rappelled out the window or built a secret hiding place in the wall with a spoon and some duct tape.

I know this can't last forever. I know I'll eventually be paroled in September when he starts preschool two days a week (only five more months, but who's counting). And once I kick him out of the car -- I mean drop him off at school -- I'll look back on this time wistfully, missing that big cuddly kid who just wanted his mom to love him all day. But until then, I'm
hoping for solitary confinement. At least I'll get some writing done.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 01:58 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email