How Bad Do You Want It?

If you are a writer, you’ve likely heard these suggestions often:

“Write every day.”

“Writers write.”

I’ve taken the NIKE Ad a little farther, and often say to myself and other writers, “Just Write It.”

Okay, in theory, these are excellent suggestions. If you want to be a writer, you have to actually put in the time and stay disciplined. But what if you’ve got a day job? What if you’re a single parent? What if you share living space with other noisy students, and have no where quiet to write?

Yup, it’s never easy, but if you want to write a book, you have to remove all the obstacles, make a plan that works for your particular situation, and then stick to that plan. If you have a day job, you’ll have to get up an hour earlier every day for a few months to write. Or possibly stay up later, if you’re a night owl. If you’re a single parent, come up with creative games to occupy your children for an hour or two every night. I’m not a single parent, but if I were, I’d raid the Dollar Store nearest me and create a special “Quiet Time Craft Bag.” I’d tell my kids to use the Quiet Time Bag so I can get my book done, and remind them it’s only for a few months, and you’ll make it up to them. I’d also rely a lot on the flickering babysitter and DVD movies. This is not the time to be Parent of the Year! Let that go for a while and allow yourself your dream of writing a book. You could create a special rewards system for when the kids give you a good, peaceful half hour. I suspect my books would take a lot longer to write if I were a single parent, and my solutions may not work well for someone whose kids demand a lot of attention. You know your kids and your situation best. If I had kids under five, I’d beg a family member or good friend to watch the kids a few times a week (and then I’d owe them big time).

Parenting and writing don’t often work well together, but you can always come up with a plan that works well for you for a while, and then modify that plan as you get deeper into your writing sessions. As for finding a quiet space in your shared apartment: libraries and cafés with headphones on (so no one speaks to you!) have worked well for me in the past. It’s not fun lugging your laptop to a library every night, but if the end result is your first novel, you may decide it’s more than worth the extra trouble.

There’s a country song performed by my favorite country singer Tim McGraw that goes, “How bad do you want it?” I sing it often. I think its theme is the key to writing and finishing a book. There are always obstacles to staying disciplined as a writer, but there are always ways to remove those obstacles – if only temporarily, for a few months – if you want the end result badly enough.

So, what are your obstacles? What might be your solutions? Could you implement those for a few weeks, just to give it a try?  Is your finished book worth it?

How bad do you want it?

L-R JM Lavallee, Heather Grace Stewart, Nancy Beattie, Jennifer Bogart - Morning Rain Publishing Authors who sat down and Wrote It!
L-R JM Lavallee, Heather Grace Stewart, Nancy Beattie, Jennifer Bogart – Morning Rain Publishing Authors who sat down and Wrote It!

A Christmas Interview

Here’s my first ever videotaped interview conducted by our nine-year-old daughter, Kayla.

Have a beautiful holiday season!

PS If you comment on this video when it’s posted in my publisher Morning Rain Publishing’s fun holiday party event for readers and authors HERE at 7:30 pm EST Thursday, Dec. 11th (posting time – you can comment any time after that all night long)  then you will be entered in a draw to win MRP books and book related prizes!

Holiday Party & 20 Percent Off Morning Rain Publishing Books!

Hey guys! Hope all is well.

For a limited time, you can get 20 percent off any Morning Rain Publishing Ebook by putting in the code XMAS20 at the Morning Rain Publishing website. 20 percent off Strangely, Incredibly Good and all other MRP ebooks? Great deal!

On Thursday, December 11 from 6 to 10 p.m. Morning Rain Publishing is holding an online Facebook Holiday Party! Readers can interact with authors on this “Superfan group” as they are calling it. Join HERE!

As you know, I recently left Facebook, so I can’t chat on there, but if you really want to ask me a question, why not do so here during that time frame? Now that I realize my daughter’s violin concert isn’t that evening after all (oh the mind clutter at Christmas! ) I’ll be here, and will be happy to chat in the comments section of this post, or the video post. You can also @ me on Twitter and I will respond. I’m @hgracestewart on Twitter.

Video post? YES! I’ll also post a video interview on this blog at 6 p.m. EST which MRP will post in the Facebook Group. You don’t want to miss it – our nine year old daughter Kayla conducts an interview (my first video interview ever!) with me in our home. I think she steals the show, the cutie :)

I think that’s all the news for now. You can check Upcoming Events to learn more about my January 3 book signing in B.C. and my Speaker Series noon hour speech in early March in Kingston, Ontario.

Don’t forget to use that 20 percent off code(good until Dec. 30th) , and if you already have my novel, please help a small independent publisher and buy a Morning Rain Publishing Book for someone you love.

Have a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Heather

Snowy December 10, 2014

Black Bond Books Poster3

Yup, I Finally Left Facebook

I left Facebook for good two weeks ago, and while I miss interacting with many of you readers and friends, I know I made the right choice for me and my family.

I don’t want to make a big deal of it. I don’t need to make some grand public statement about Facebook. I don’t think Facebook is evil, and I don’t think that you should all log off. I do think it’s only getting worse, not better. I miss the days when you could send someone cyber flowers or throw Obama at them! But, that’s besides the point.

Facebook is a communication/networking tool, and like all tools, you need to make it work for you. It wasn’t working for me anymore.

I miss seeing many of your photos reading your status updates, and I miss my two publishers’ discussion groups, and boy do I miss updates from the parents at my daughter’s school, but at the end of the day, I needed to make a choice.

I chose to make time for more meaningful conversations. ‘LIKE’ just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I decided to choose to make more time in my day for exchanging longer emails with friends, phone calls, Skype calls, and even snail mail letters. I was only on Facebook a few minutes every morning to post on my Page, and an hour every night, but I think I also ‘checked’ people’s updates a few times throughout the day. Those minutes added up. Now, I find I have more hours in the day to do as I wish, and I’m happier.

I’ve been working on the sequel to Strangely, Incredibly Good, and it’s going well! I’m taking my time, though, because I want the second book to be just as good as the first. I’ve been posting the draft up on Wattpad.com here. You can take a look if you’re curious and if you’ve already read the first book. Leave a comment if you can, please — comments keep me motivated!

I still haven’t conquered the piles of laundry that forever need to be folded, or the dust bunnies under the fridge. Darn. But I’ve been enjoying fun times with friends and family in-person, and I think that’s more important.

This weekend, I was hardly online at all, so I’ve managed to get half the Christmas cards written and addressed, and we made yummy chocolate lollipops on my daughter’s day off school. I mulled some wine with spices last night, as it was rather chilly outside putting up our house lights. Our marriage stayed intact during the challenge of putting up house lights, at least for another year. ;) Wonderful to come in from the cold to the mulled wine on the stove. I have to say, I wish I could share a cup with all of you!

Thanks for reading my books, and thanks for following my blog. I hope you all find time to sit back and enjoy this holiday season.

Heather :)

I’m still easily found online! Just not on Facebook.

How can you reach me? You can send me an email (writer@hgrace.com) or comment here – I’d absolutely love that.

I post chapters weekly on:

Wattpad

I post daily ( sigh, yeah. trying to keep it in check!) on
Twitter

Goodreads I have a profile here

Google Plus  I post here maybe once a week?

Cheers! To 'finding' more time for the things you really love. Heather & her mulled wine
Cheers! To ‘finding’ more time for the things you really love. (Note I kick up my heel I like it so much! )
Author Heather Grace Stewart & her mulled wine

An Interview with Heather Grace Stewart

Heather Grace Stewart:

Writer-Blogger Caroline Clemens offered to have me visit her blog, Gardenlilie.com for a short interview. Fun! Thanks very much Caroline!

Originally posted on gardenlilie:

Canadian Author

This is Heather Grace Stewart! I found this Canadian author on WordPress, and read her poetry book a couple years ago. I even left her my first review that I ever wrote. I had no idea I’d be posting a short interview about her further accomplishments. She is bubbly and vivacious and gets her work out there for others to see and enjoy.

Though she’s trained as a journalist, Heather Grace Stewart has been writing creatively since she was five years old, and says “I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.” She’s had a screenplay, two nonfiction books, a children’s book of poems, and four collections of poetry published. How incredible!

Here’s more about her on her blog. Have a look.

In June 2014, Morning Rain Publishing published her first novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good (a romantic comedy/fantasy). It reached #10 in humorous fiction on Kobo and #28 in Women’s…

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Dead People’s Avatars

Dead People’s Avatars

I said I never would

But I just wrote on a dead man’s

Facebook Wall.

We’re all going to do it

some time.

It’s inevitable now.

Dead people’s avatars

floating around cyberspace

their LinkedIn profiles

asking you to join them

for a business venture,

their lively smiles

begging you to Invite

them to your Facebook event

Despite that they

are dead.

At least it gives us pause

makes us wonder

momentarily if

they’re back from the dead —

Zombies are trending, after all —

Or, perhaps we just lost track of them

for a few months

lost sight of them in the nonsense

of our newsfeeds.

So we stop.

And think.

And reflect.

We mourn

a Dead person’s avatar.

The living?

We just LIKE

And move along.

These Obstacles Are My Life

For a long time it seemed to me that real life was about to begin, but there was always some obstacle in the way. Something had to be got through first, some unfinished business; time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
~Bette Howland

This quote holds so much meaning for me. My dream – my novel Strangely, Incredibly Good, was published June 5th, 2014. I’ve never felt more like I’m on the right path. But guess what? Never have I faced more obstacles in trying to get my work discovered and read! Yes, after publication! And I have an actual publisher! (It’s not their fault – they are awesome – it’s the nutty book industry right now).

I admit, some days, when it’s been too many obstacles in a row, I just want to sit on the couch, watch Ellen, and eat mint chocolate chip ice cream. Then I realize how blessed I am to have that couch, TV and ice cream, and a published novel. And I stop sulking and get back to trying to get my book discovered by more readers.

It’s not like Strangely Incredibly Good hasn’t been a success. How do you define success anyway? Great reviews? Check. Several readers who demand a sequel? Check. A big fat cheque? Yeah, not quite a checkmark there. But that’s okay. I’m in this with all my heart, to share my writing and hopefully lift a lot of people up; to give them an escape, touch their hearts, make them laugh out loud. So in that respect, I feel that I’m successful.

My greatest obstacle with this novel has been trying to get it into more readers’ hands. Indie bookstores are more than willing to take a few copies of my book on consignment (so if you want to see it in your local small bookstore let me know!) However, getting space on a major bookstore bookshelf is a real challenge, even if you have a publisher. I wrote the CEO of Chapters-Indigo a few times. Could my book be distributed in a few of her stores. Or if not, could I leave my bathtub of books in one of her stores for just a week? She was kind enough to respond to me that she’s inundated with 100s of messages like mine from authors on a weekly basis, and that sorry, but they don’t ‘do installations.’ She did put a happy face after that, but, darn. I was thinking outside the box (and inside the bathtub!) I will never stop doing that.

Alright, so I’ll just read at a library. Gain some readers that way. ANNNG. Wrong answer. Apparently, most Canadian libraries insist your book be in multiple branches of their library before they can even consider you coming to speak. I was disappointed about that, but I am just considering it one more delay. I’ll get there. This is definitely not a career for anyone lacking patience!

All of these obstacles are part of the journey. They make it aggravating, yes. But they also make it interesting. They make victory sweeter. And they challenge me to try a new way, not just every year, but pretty much every day.

My latest new way is Wattpad. Yes, I am giving Strangely, Incredibly Good away for free, chapter by chapter. The theory is, I’ll gain new readers, and perhaps one day they will actually pay for my sequel. Perhaps not. You know what? I care about getting paid for my work, but above all else, I write for myself, and for others to hopefully get a lift and an escape. Wattpad is a new way to distribute the words I spent approximately 17531.6 hours getting just right. It’s getting my novel out there.

I hope you’ll check out my profile at Wattpad, and let your book-loving friends know about it! If you want to help me out, you can also remind them that Strangely, Incredibly Good and all my other books are on Kindle and Kobo for under $5. Thanks!

And remember, obstacles are not there to ruin your life. They are your life. Puts a whole new spin on it doesn’t it?

Have a great week!

Heather

Wattpad291Chicklit

Cardio for Creativity

Writing Tip: Move into creativity with 30 minutes of cardio every day. Your writing sessions will last longer as the ideas come faster!

I sometimes (okay, often!) put off exercise for days and days, because I think I can’t afford the time to do that AND reach my daily word count goal. But guess what? On the days that I work out, I notice I always end up getting more words down on the page.

Not only do I work faster, but I feel my writing is better after a work out. My ideas come faster, and I rarely feel stuck. I feel energized.

It’s been proven that cardio boosts blood flow to the brain, which delivers much-needed oxygen (the brain soaks up 20 percent of all the oxygen in your body).

So go for a run, and your ideas will find their rhythm. Cardio-box, and your words will pack a punch! Long walks, bike rides, raking leaves or playing a game of hide-and-seek with your kids are all great ways to open up your creative mind.

If you can’t find 30 minutes to work out before writing every day, here’s a suggestion: simply stand on your head or do a bunch of jumping jacks before you sit down to write. Get the oxygen and blood flowing to the brain, and you’ll note an improvement in your writing.

Not convinced? Give it a try for a week, then come back here and comment. Your gluteous maximus may be sore and you may hate me, but I bet you’ll have a few more wonderful chapters written.

:) Heather

ToWiiOrnot

Praise for Strangely, Incredibly Good

SIG reviews 3

Strangely, Incredibly Busy!

Author Events Fall 2014

October and November on my calendar are filling up with exciting events! I’ll be doing a book sales & signing at Chapters Pointe Claire Quebec, Saturday, October 4, from 1 – 4 p.m. On the same date in November, Tuesday, November 4 at 7 p.m., I’ll be at Pincourt Library, reading from Strangely, Incredibly Good, selling & signing books, and we’ll have evening tea and treats. This special event is thanks to The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC) and the Canada Council, and for that I’m grateful.

I’ve also been invited to Pharmaprix Pincourt’s VIP Tea night on Wednesday, October 22 from 5-9 pm to share Strangely, Incredibly Good with those being given a VIP treatment! Visit my Facebook Page (Events section) if you want to be one of the lucky three people to win a complimentary ticket to this event!

I’m going to leave the rest of November and December free, because I’m working on a sequel to Strangely, Incredibly Good, and want to give myself lots of time for the writing sessions. I’ll try to share as much as I can about my writing process here, without giving anything away!

I’m hoping to travel to Kanata or Ottawa public library some time in the New Year to say hello to my home town, and also to Kingston, Ontario, which holds a place in my heart, as I spent four wonderful years going to school at Queen’s University there.

If you’re reading this and you want me to come to your Canadian library to read and do a book signing in the next year or so, let me know, and I’ll try to work something out!

Hope to see you at one of these events,

Heather :)

SIG Chapters Pointe Claire 2

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When she still held my hand

When she still held my hand
My spirit felt lighter,
The world, a little brighter,
When she still held my hand.

Years went by, so fleeting,
with her needing, not needing;
Moods like fashions,
Boys, oh, the parade of boys—
Until one boy
took her hand.

Now I walk alone, yet
warm with memories
of those fall mornings
when she still held my hand.

When she still held my hand
My spirit felt lighter,
The world, a little brighter
When she still held my hand.

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Oh, What a Feeling!

It’s a weird and wonderful feeling to be working on a story…ok, a SEQUEL:)  … and refer to the published book beside you, instead of notes in your computer, to get a fact straight.IMG_0530Thanks for reading, and hang in there, Cat’s coming back! 

 

 

 

$1 SCREENPLAY, $2 RHYME, LIMITED TIME!

Heather’s bestselling Kindle screenplay, the romantic comedy The Friends I’ve Never Met, is now 0.99 until Monday afternoon, Sept. 8th!
Heather’s 3rd poetry & prose collection “Three Spaces” and 1st collection “Where the Butterflies Go” are just $1.99 until Monday. Visit your nearest Kindle or Kobo today to take advantage of these super deals before Monday!
IMG_3931“CHEAP BOOKS? WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

A Face and a Name

My new business cards from Moo.com are so much fun! Love how they and their lovely card holders (which come free with the cards) are sourced from paper from sustainable forests and recycled pulp. Even the four, red order reference cards aren’t wasted. Instead, they have fun sayings on them like “I like your shoes.” I passed one on to our daughter (“You’re delightful.” ) and will give the other three to readers who want them at my next book signing: Indigo Books, Pointe Claire, Quebec, Saturday, October 4th! I’ll also be the guest author reading & signing books at Pincourt Library, QC, on Tuesday, November 4th.

I’ve put a photo of myself on my business cards for the past two years and have noticed it’s made a big difference in people finding my web sites and buying my books. Some people forget names – so a biz card with just a name on it doesn’t always jog their memory about, “who the heck handed me this card again?”

Think about it for your business cards!

By the way, I love your shoes!

Heather :)

 

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Sensationally Sudsy! Behind the Scenes!

You have to be creative and think outside the box (or, er, inside the tub) a lot when you’re a little-known author with a small, independent, Canadian publisher. As hard as it is to get new people to discover your work, you can’t give up. One technique not working? Try something new. Something different. You have to try things that you haven’t seen others doing yet.

When I self-published Three Spaces (2013),  people were just getting into e-reading, but I wanted to encourage paperback sales, too. I was looking over my own book in the bath one night (I rarely re-read my own stuff but our daughter had handed me a copy, ‘Here Mommy, you should relax and read this!’ ) when hubby decided to take photos of me to be funny. I told him to delete them but he didn’t. So as much as you think it was an ingenious idea, it was rather accidental. When I looked at the photos later, I realized that in all except a few photos you’ll never see ;), everything that should be covered up was covered up in suds. I then had the idea that one or two of those photos would be perfect to share to encourage paperback sales ( ‘No ereaders in the tub’ was the slogan). The rest is literary history! (ha! not quite. but such a fun little campaign).

It worked well, and made such a fun business card; one that started many interesting! conversations with new readers. So, with the OK from my publisher Morning Rain Publishing, we decided to do a similar ‘bathtub shoot’ for Strangely Incredibly Good. This time around, I knew the photos would be posted, so I was much more shy. “Bill, am I all covered up? You sure?” He’d smirk and throw lots more suds at me, then shoot the photo. It was a lot of fun!

Since most of you have been following my blog for over five years now (Wow! Thanks!) I thought I’d present BOTH final photos (the one with the beer, and the one with the wine – told you I had fun shooting these photos!) here as well as one that had an Instagram filter added to it. Feel free to share them. In fact, I ask that you do!

Oh, and if you’ve read the book, please give it a brief review on Amazon and Goodreads. Even two words will do! Every review helps.

Thanks so much for reading.

Heather

 

The one with the beer – not photoshopped -

SIG-bath

 

The one with the wine, with Instagram filter (wow! looks like it’s sunny in there now!):

Photo-1

The one with the wine, original unphotoshopped:

SIG-beer

 

 

 

Wine pairing

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Sunsets are always free

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Do You Like Pina Coladas?

PoolsideSIG

Caged

Amur

Caged

You may stop and stare,

but do not pity me.

I may be caged,

but how are you free?

Chained to your desks

while I play & preen;

You spend half your days

glued to a screen.

I delight in my prey;

I pounce when they sing.

Chained to your devices;

you jump when they ping.

I don’t beg for attention.

Selfie? Hear me roar!

Why update the pride

that I just caught a boar?

I owe no one money,

I have no where to be.

Perhaps you are caged,

And I,

I am free.

***

I photographed this Amur Tiger yesterday at Granby Zoo, Quebec. I was amazed how much the photo came out like a painting. It is not. It is my favourite animal photograph I’ve ever taken.

I always find it sad to see a caged animal, but when I read that there are fewer than 400 Amur Tigers left in the wild, I got thinking about how this one might not have survived life in the wild, or perhaps he was bred in captivity and never knew the wild. It got me thinking about North American society today, and how we are living our lives, so much ‘freedom,’ all these ‘toys,’ and yet so little time to actually stop and rest and enjoy living, and that’s how this poem came to be.

For more information about the Amur Tiger and to learn how you can help conservation efforts, please visit  http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/amur-tiger

Make That Strangely, Incredibly Good

‘A magical holiday read!’
‘A page-turner!’
‘A fun & feisty Bridget Jones for the digital age’
Make your next beach day Strangely, Incredibly Good
Find it on Kobo & Kindle  Paperback copies via Paypal by contacting writer@hgrace.com
2014-07-02 12.15.50

Even in the rain

IMG_0401

Even in the rain

Your face lights up my whole world

Even when I don’t like you

Even in the dark

When we aren’t talking anymore

Even until death

To Infinity & Beyond

In my flamboyant, often clumsy, Non-Disney-Mom manner, I will love this girl to infinity and beyond. Today, I just needed to love her all the way to that bus.
~’To Infinity and the Bus’ from THREE SPACES
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My Fireside Dance (Go Ahead, Laugh!)

I dance by the camp fire with a S’more every year. It’s my way of appreciating my life and all my blessings, and trying to entertain my family. It’s me being me and communing with nature. It’s my weird ritual, and man, it feels good.

One year, my family got it on camera, and I posted it for you readers to have a laugh at. My dear friend Larry, who has since passed away, had an especially long

good belly laugh over it. This one’s for you, Lar.

This white poet can’t dance (or rap). I sure do have fun trying, though.

 

It’s the Time of the Season….

..for being inspired by all the beauty around me!

In between writing books, I often turn to photography and reading other authors’ books as a mini-vacation from the work involved in writing a book. I love writing, but I find I’m at my best when I’m rested, and when I’ve taken a break to be inspired by certain aspects of my world. Such as:

 

Friendship!

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A gift of flowers from our nine-year-old, placed in an old Buckley’s jar…

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Entertaining for Friends and Family (Move over, Martha Stewart) :)

The breakfast was cooked by hubby. I just do the decorating :) Wait, not true. The dinner (Salad, appetizer, Indian butter chicken) was cooked by me. But seriously, I write and photograph – I rarely cook. I will cook if I think it will look pretty for my photographs :)

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Alright, one more. Having the girls over for drinks? Confession: That’s not research. That’s just plain FUN!

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What inspires YOU most in the summertime?

To-Do List

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You had a to-do list,

but I threw it away.

 

Perhaps I Talk to Flowers…

Perhaps I talk to flowers

because they don’t talk back.

They blossom when I’m kind;

wish the world were more like that. IMG_0156

 

A Fun, Feisty Bridget Jones for the Digital Age

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Fun and Feisty Bridget Jones for the Digital Age 11 July 2014
By Danny BrownPublished on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Theoretically speaking, I shouldn’t have enjoyed this book since I’m a guy, and we all know guys don’t read “chick-lit”. Yet to call “Strangely, Incredibly Good” chick-lit would be limiting its scope and appeal – it’s much more.The main character Cat is one of these people you immediately connect with – her fears, paranoias, past mistakes and pessimistic outlook on a life that’s been so hard on her. Then she meets a genie from inside her Nintendo Wii, and life will never be the same again…

“Strangely, Incredibly Good” has a lot going for it from the off. Great characters, humour, adult conversations, and a sidekick in Gram that lights the book up even more whenever she’s around. While funny and biting, though, the book also has some standout emotional moments (chapter eight, for example, leaves you breathless with its prose and punch to the heart).

It’s this kind of emotional swing that makes the book so enjoyable. We know that life is never perfect; we know we make mistakes; we know we chase often-impossible dreams. The fact Heather Grace Stewart captures all these emotions so well in her tight debut novel shows a writer who knows her craft and audience.

An excellent first book, and hopefully the first of many in the adventures of Cat.

***
Strangely Incredibly Good is available on Amazon sites worldwide, on Kobo internationally,  and in print at special events and bookstore readings/signings, so watch this site for event announcements. If you’re interested in purchasing a print copy or a signed print copy, please contact Morning Rain Publishing for more information.
SIGSELFIE2

Five Author Myths: Debunked

5 Authors make a salary.
That’s just funny. Some of us, if we have a large publisher, get something called an advance on royalties. I got a nice big one ($2,000 per book divided into three installments) when I worked with Jackfruit Press, writing a couple books on Canada’s Prime Ministers. It’s a wonderful recognition of your hard work to get these installments after you’ve signed your contract, sent in a draft, and delivered your final manuscript, but I don’t know many independent publishers who offer this. It’s too much of a risk for a publisher to do this. So, authors might work for 1-2 or even more years on a book, and not see any payment until their first royalty cheque. This is just the way it is.

4 Once you’re a published author, you’ll have your own agent & assistant!

Nope. Authors with big publishing firms, and ‘names,’ have these. I have tried to find an agent for years. It would help me and my books get more visibility. It’s a Catch 22 because you can’t find an agent unless you grab their attention. I sent 50 queries to agents *accepting* queries when I finished Strangely, Incredibly Good, hoping one would represent me. Many agents and publishers don’t accept unsolicited requests – they want someone to refer you. ONE of those accepting queries responded in the 3 month time span they’d said they’d take to reply to me. ONE. No one else ever even sent me a “Decline” type note. I heard nothing. The one who did write back, thankfully, wrote to me that my manuscript wasn’t what they were looking to publish but they didn’t doubt that another agency would ‘jump on it’ (none did).
That one response gave me some motivation to keep on searching for an agent or small publisher, and I soon heard from the small Canadian publisher, Morning Rain Publishing.

3 You must be wealthy if you’re on/have appeared on an Amazon & Kobo Bestseller List!

Hardly. You need to realize these best seller lists are meant to help authors sell more books, but they don’t necessarily mean an author who made that list is rolling in it. Remember, Amazon and Kobo take a percentage of your royalties. If you have a publisher, that’s one more middle-man. So, we’re talking about a royalty between .40 cents and $3.99 per book, depending on what you’ve set your book at – but with many books going for .99 to $2.99 these days, an author’s royalty is probably on the lower end of that scale. Royalties for print books also vary, but I’ve never earned more than $4 per book, and though I’ve worked hard at selling these books, I haven’t yet sold more than 300 print copies (that is my sell-count for Where the Butterflies Go, my oldest poetry collection, so it’s had more time to sell. Carry On Dancing is at about the 250 mark, and my latest novel, now out one month, is at about 40 digital copies and 50 print copies sold. The silver lining here is that the publisher didn’t even intend to print the book until six months after the ebook release, but decided to print it early. It’s now available through special order or at events.

Don’t forget I had expenses to promote these books – book cover art, promotional ads, travel – so the $1,000 I may have earned for sales of WTBG was not my net profit. My first royalty cheque for Carry On Dancing amounted to a nice dinner with wine with my husband. After that, three months later, I got one that was around $30, and then because it was no longer new, sales petered out. Now my four poetry collections provide what I call “coffee money” every few months.

I was really pleased with that first royalty cheque from COD and I’ll never be ungrateful for the money I have managed to make as a published author, but you need to understand that royalties on books do not make authors rich, unless they have a viral best-seller, which is rare. Speaking engagements can provide some good income, but unless you’re John Grisham, you’ll be earning $100-$300 per speech, not the $50,000-$100,000 he earns for speaking.

2 Traditional publishers have tons of pull & power to help you sell your book.
It depends on their size. There are five publishers, ‘The Big 5’, that have some pull in the world. They compete with Amazon. Then there are the independent publishers, like mine. Mine is a small independent Canadian publisher that’s less than a year old. They do their best to give their authors a fighting chance, but my publisher can’t compete with the big publishers with big budgets (at least, not yet).

Chapters will allow independent authors (including those published by independent publishers like mine) to sell books on consignment. The author sets the “list” price, and the store takes up to 45% of that price as payment for shelf space. Yes you read that right: they take up to 45 percent. Sometimes, I’ve lost money just to appear at Chapters. It’s a decision I stand by today, since I ended up gaining lots of new readers because of those appearances. However, those were not money-making appearances. They were great for publicity.

1 You’re always smiling and excited about your latest achievement. Your books must be selling like crazy!

Yea, I don’t want to be a mopey bitch of an author now, do I? (actually maybe that would get headlines and sell more books! I’m kidding. )
I am so grateful that I get to do what I love – write books – that they’ve actually been published, and that I have a lot of support from family, friends and a few loyal fans. However, when you work two years or more on a book that is your heart and soul, and it only sells 75 print copies, while How To Properly Pull Nosehairs has sold 750,000, that can be quite discouraging. I keep on smiling and keep on writing* though, because the alternative isn’t my style.

*(After I’ve obsessively checked my Amazon rankings and screamed out loud a few dozen times)

I love laughing and making others laugh! And now that I've debunked these author myths I can keep on writing & laughing :)
I love laughing and making others laugh! Here I am, celebrating the release of Strangely, Incredibly Good with (L) Author JM Lavallée and (R) author Nancy Beattie.
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I have a lot of fun with my job, and try hard (not always easy) to focus on what I have already accomplished, not what I’ve failed to do.

Born to Blog

It took me several years of playing around on social media to realize that my first love on the Net – blogging – is still my passion. I love blogging!

I miss posting photos and blogging regularly. Writing a novel took me away from that, as I needed time offline to get the novel finished, but time on Twitter and Facebook has also cut into my blogging time.

I’d also noticed a drop in commenting in the last few years, and that was discouraging. The LIKE button came along, and many of us – yes me included – now find it easier to simply LIKE a blog post, rather than take the time to log in and comment.

While I can’t promise another novel won’t take me away from regular blogging (that would be a good thing, right?) for now, I’d like to try posting at least once a week again; to have some fun with taking and posting photographs again, and to try commenting on more blogs each week. I know how great it feels to read someone’s comment on my blog. I hope to give that back.

Meanwhile, it’s Saturday and it’s summertime, so I’ve just been chillin': reading, gardening and picking bouquets of lilies, floating in the pool, and taking lots photographs ….my daughter and I loved these tangerine drinks, and I loved how they made those lilies pop!

:)

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A Few of My Favourite Things: Dresses and Heels

Heather Grace Stewart:

Confessions of a Girly Girl

Originally posted on Where the Butterflies Go :

I’m a girly girl.

There, I said it. Sometimes I have problems admitting it, because it seems a little weak. And I’m not weak. I like to inline skate long distances. I love to cardio box. I like to debate a point. I love to win.

But the girly girl in me takes over when there are dresses and heels in my vicinity. I don’t own many: maybe just three good party dresses and three pairs of nice heels. But I love it when I get a chance to wear them.

Dressing up lifts my spirits, and makes me feel youthful (with the big 4-0 approaching–in 2012–feeling youthful is a very, very good thing). I’m not saying I’d happily go grocery shopping in heels–that’s when I break out the running shoes–but fashion can be so much fun. Life is short. Play it up!

Me in one of my favourite dresses

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Where Good Books & Friends Meet

I finally had the opportunity to meet some of my Morning Rain Publishing colleagues last night!

Editor Jennifer Bogart kindly invited me, Nancy Beattie, and JM Lavallée and our families to her home for a BBQ. JM and her family were traveling from their home in Alberta to Quebec’s Lower North Shore, where JM is going to be doing several book signings (be sure to visit her Facebook Page to learn more). We met up just outside of Montreal.

It was fun getting to know each other, and doing a silly photo shoot with our books. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get together again soon, because we all really hit it off – and our kids had a blast together, too.

Thanks to my husband, talented engineer/ photographer :) Bill Stewart, for all the great photos.

But First, Lemme Take A #SIGFIE

Thanks for sending in all these surprise #Selfies with SIG! You readers are
making my days!

(I was calling them #SIG SELFIES, but my 9 year old says I should call them #SIGFIES :) what do you think?!

 

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Tell Your Inner Critic to Take a Hike!

My last guest post for my Strangely, Incredibly Good blog tour is

about telling your inner critic to take a hike.

Come check it out at Chick Lit Club!

Blog Tour: Interview: Heather Grace Stewart

Heather Grace Stewart:

Cosmochicklitan interviewed me! Find out when I write, how Twitter helped me write my first novel, and what Superpower I’d choose to have.

Originally posted on cosmochicklitan:

I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Grace Stewart as part of the blog tour for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Thank you so much for visiting Heather! 

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Your debut novel is called Strangely, Incredibly Good. Could you please tell us a bit more about this book?

Sure, and thanks so much for having me here. My novel is about Cat Glamour, a 38-year-old woman who has just been through a rotten divorce and now she’s struggling with finances, self-esteem and balancing her personal life. She lives with her two teen daughters and her 91-year-old grandmother who…let’s just call her a unique trip. On the day that Cat decides to start an exercise routine, the last thing she expects is a modern-day Genie to pop out of her Wii machine. Unfortunately for Cat, her genie is somewhat unreliable in his wish-granting capabilities. In a series of hilarious misadventures, he sends Cat…

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Why I’m An Exclamation Mark (Sometimes a Semi Colon)

Here’s an interview at the Fictionella blog as part of the Strangely, Incredibly

Good blog tour!Thanks for reading!
Heather

I Ate Bugs for This: My Road To Becoming A Chick Lit Author

Please check out my guest blog post over at Chick Lit Goddess!

Exclusive Excerpt

Thanks to Everything Books & Authors for featuring Strangely Incredibly Good today. Here’s their post!

Everything Books & Authors EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT From Strangely, Incredibly Good

Are you still here? Well then guess I should thank you for being an exceptionally loyal reader. You helped get SIG to #11 in Humorous Fiction on Kobo this past weekend, and made it an Amazon Bestseller – #82 in Contemporary Romance !

Please keep on sharing links to this book. If you liked it, spread the word! Thanks so much.

Strangely, Incredibly Good Confessions

Hey guys!
It’s release day! Thanks again to everyone at Morning Rain Publishing for helping get this book out into the world. Here’s what Morning Rain Publishing has to say today (you can buy Strangely, Incredibly Good at this link too).

I wanted to write something special for this day, but the fact that I woke up at 3 a.m. ! like a child on Christmas morning has left me with rather poor writing skills. I don’t like how my writing turns out when I’m tired. I can still try to offer you, my dear, loyal readers, a list of Top Ten Confessions about this novelist’s journey to getting Strangely, Incredibly Good published. Just please excuse any typos :)

10. Came up with the idea mid-2012 but then a few people (including me!) said it sounded kind of silly…and I stuffed the idea in a drawer. NEVER LET SELF DOUBT STOP YOUR GOOD INSTINCTS.

9. For years and years, I didn’t think I had a longer story in me. Then, after being inspired by the people mingling at a wonderful discussion board led by writer Aaron Sorkin, I penned an 18500 word screenplay. I was on my way. Thanks to The Undeletables for firing me up, and knowing how to get me out of that hole!

8. I have spent too much of the ’00s online, and not enough time writing. Don’t do this. It took until about 2012 for me to find true discipline and realize that if I want to write something, I can’t be online until at least lunch time. When I have a project I want to finish, I write early, and log on late.

7. I fuss about my hair too much. It’s amazing what going au naturel curly (letting it be air-dried) did for my writing! I’m serious! I had really bad hair days for months while writing Strangely, Incredibly Good, but hell, it got finished!

6. Working at home all day can be a lonely existence. I’m thankful for some wonderful neighbors, music, and the friends in my social networks. I hope I don’t become a crazy old novelist with four cats (we currently have three) ….but if I do maybe I’ll write some really weird and wonderful stuff? Laughing!

5. When I finished the manuscript in October 2013, I sent it to 50 literary agents with a really great (at least I thought so) cover letter. I heard back from ONE who said it wasn’t what they were looking for but someone else would absolutely love it. I’m thankful for that ONE agent as she convinced me to keep pushing this manuscript, and I started just sending queries to publishers that were looking for unsolicited manus. I never did need an agent, in the end, a wonderful Canadian publisher took me on without the help of an agent.

4. I thought I was writing a piece of crap about 60 percent of the time. I’m glad I listened to how I felt about the work the other 40 percent of the time – and I’m grateful to those who read it in its early stages and insisted I keep going.

3. We’re all just winging it. Every one of us.

2. I believe in magic.

1. I’d like Hugh Jackman cast as Gene, the genie. Who wouldn’t?!

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Okay, maybe WITHOUT the turban and genie pants! But imagine Hugh as Gene in the tuxedo? Mmm.

A book in review & author interview!

Heather Grace Stewart:

In this interview, I talk about when I knew I wanted to be a writer, and divulge my guilty pleasure!

Tour Stop One: Keep Calm & Blog On – Interview & Review

Originally posted on keep calm & blog on:

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Book Description

Cat Glamour is an overweight 38-year-old divorcée who is struggling with finances, self-esteem, and balancing her personal life. While her 91-year-old, decidedly different, grandmother provides emotional support, Cat needs to take control of the life that has been shattered by her abusive ex-husband and tragic events of the past. On the day Cat decides to start an exercise routine, the last thing she expects is a modern-day Genie to pop out of her Wii machine. Unfortunately for Cat, her Genie is somewhat unreliable in his wish-granting capabilities. In a series of hilarious misadventures, he sends Cat to a castle in France and back in time 20 years in an attempt to solve both Cat’s weight issues and emotional stresses. Cat’s journey is one filled with quirky adventures, realistic love, and above all, self-discovery.

Review

First, I absolutely love Heather, her interview below is so fun and I thank…

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“If there’s just one book you read this summer, make it Strangely, Incredibly Good”

The first review is in and it’s five stars! Wow!

Fictionella tour begins tomorrow – please join in the fun and discussions.

I’m looking forward to the official release on Kindle, Kobo and Google books on June 5th. We can celebrate on my Facebook Author Page on this event page.

Thanks again for reading,
Heather

Coming June 5th
Coming June 5th

 

 

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/954301791

Strangely, Incredibly Good ~ The Cover!

Finally, I can share the Strangely, Incredibly Good cover! You can read all about how it came to be here.

Don’t forget my first Fictionella tour stop is Monday, June 2nd. You can check the entire schedule for this month-long tour here.

Coming June 5th
Coming June 5th

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Book Bloggers! Join the SIG Tour!

I’m going on tour. This is so exciting!

I’ll be on tour with help from the wonderful Fictionella from June 1-30. Here’s the Fictionella tour schedule so far. Book bloggers, there is still time to join!

Strangely, Incredibly Good Blog Tour

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Morning Rain Publishing Moves To Print

I signed my contract with the e-book publisher Morning Rain Publishing in December, with the hopes they’d move to print for December 2014. Today I got the exciting news that they’re printing all their fantasy books including Strangely, Incredibly Good in June!

The easiest way to get the book is still to get it on Kindle or Kobo or iBooks on June 5th. However, looks like (*barring emergencies ) I should have some print books at my release party at Herb’s on Friday June 13th.

Visit the MRP blog to learn more:

Morning Rain Moves To Print!

We’re in the Home Stretch!

Genies exist in my novel. Wish one could help me clean & fold laundry while I’m deep in final-edits & hubby is working to a deadline! (our 9 year old is a big help but you can only ask her so much).

‘You can’t do it all, and you shouldn’t even try!’ is my new mantra. Before working on edits today though, I walked through our small flower & veggie gardens with a cup of coffee. There is so much promise in new buds and blossoms. I think that’s why I love gardening. It’s a lot like creating a book.

THREE weeks until the release of Strangely, Incredibly Good, my debut novel, to be published by Morning Rain Publishing! Woo hooo! Thanks for all the encouragement!

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Strangely, Incredibly Good: An Online Celebration

 

SIG FB1If you’ve been following this blog since 2008, and many of you have and I love you for it!, you know that I’ve written poetry most of my life. My first poetry collection, Where the Butterflies Go, was born from this blog in 2008, and three others followed. Then I tried my hand at screenwriting, with The Friends I’ve Never Met, and realized how much I love writing longer stories. So, a year and a half ago, I tackled my first novel, which will be published by Morning Rain Publishing on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

I’m inviting you all to celebrate this occasion with me. Let’s meet online HERE – comments and questions welcome anytime! – I’ll also post links to my Fictionella blog tour posts here from June 1-30th and ask you to please join me on my Facebook Page, where I’ve set up an event for the evening of June 5th, to pop some cyber champagne and celebrate the release of Strangely, Incredibly Good with you, my wonderful readers. Please join the event and share it with others!

For those of you who only read print books, please have patience. There *should* be a printed version of this book later this year – just not quite yet. Morning Rain Publishing is a small but mighty publisher, putting out primarily ebooks. I’d really appreciate your support in please buying the ebook (on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, or at the Morning Rain site) because the more ebook copies that are sold, the more chances it has to be published as a printed volume. Please help make that happen!

Thanks again for following & supporting me on this journey.

Heather :)

Cell phones in heaven

CellPhones

Never Stop Searching

How to Make Sweet Easter Treats

Hey gang!
I’ve decided to start sharing some of my artistic hobbies with you: chocolate lollipop making, flower arranging, and perhaps even patio table-decorating if we ever get rid of this snow!

These are the arts and crafts I do while I’m plotting my next novel or poem. I like to keep my mind busy with another art form while I’m ironing out the writing project I’m working on, or when I just need to do something different with my creativity.

These easter lollipops are the latest batch of lollipops I’ve made with my nine-year-old daughter. We don’t like to use the words, ‘I’m bored’ around here, but that means coming up with creative activities to suggest to your children, or to do with them.  If you always have some chocolate compound (also called melts), molds and lollipop sticks on hand, you’re set for a fun (though rather messy!) afternoon with your children aged 7 and up. They may even forget about their iPhones and iPads for a while!

It can be an expensive hobby to start up just because you’ll probably want to get molds for every holiday – when we started we got ones for my daughter’s birthday, Christmas, and Easter. The molds are only $3 each, and the compound that melts in the microwave is $5 at Goldas Kitchen (where I love to order all my supplies as they always arrive the next day or in 2 days at the latest). You can probably find it cheaper somewhere like Bulk Barn. The lollipop sticks are $7 for 150, but again you can maybe find them cheaper at Walmart or a party store.

My daughter has told me she’d much rather make chocolate lollipops with us on a weekend afternoon than go to a movie – which these days runs at $50 for a family of four, if you want drinks and popcorn too. The best part is that I can spend $50 on supplies and we get to make the lollipops several times a season (and the molds are reusable forever, just don’t put them in the dishwasher!)

We use paintbrushes to fill in the fine details before filling the molds up with melted chocolate. We had to experiment with bowls and microwave time before being able to make really complicated and detailed molds. Some bowl types get really hot and then burn the chocolate. We now put in 1/4 cup of chocolate melts, put it in the micro for 35 seconds, stir it, then put it in for another 35 seconds, stir again until smooth, and place as much is needed in mold. Now that we’ve figured out the process (we each like to have our own mold to work with, a paintbrush or two of our own, and a section of the counter where we can ‘share’ a bowl of chocolate) the sky’s the limit, and we even make some of these without lollipop sticks to place as decorations on cakes.

We love giving the treats away as gifts. We use small plastic bags, tied with dollar-store ribbon. It feels good to give someone we love a chocolate treat and see their face light up.

Please ask any questions below – I’m happy to try to answer them.

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One Strangely, Incredibly Good Tour!

STRANGELY, INCREDIBLY GOOD comes out in ebook June 5th, and I’m going on tour June 1-30th, 2014. Fictionella is setting up an online blog tour for me -I’ll be visiting up to 25 blogs.

This Is So Exciting!

What do you want me to talk about? Please discuss below, or send me a note via my Facebook Page. I’ll make sure those questions get answered during my blog tour. I’ll also be re-blogging some of the best interviews here.

I’m going to set up an event page for the June 5th digital launch, and hope we can all chat on that event page at my Facebook Author Page that day. We’ll have an online party like the ones I used to have on my Facebook Wall years ago.

My publisher & I are planning a Friday the 13th Strangely, Incredibly Good Novel Release Party as well, somewhere in the Montreal area. Details to follow!

Thanks again for your support and loyalty. You rock.

Can’t wait for you to meet Cat, Eugene, and Gram!

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Love,
Heather

 

Strangely Incredibly Good – New Review & Interview

Book Reviews.

Thanks to Christine Peets for this interview and review!