Bellingwood Boxed Set 1 – FREE

April 25 – 29

The Kindle Version of the Boxed set containing the first three books in the Bellingwood series is free right now.

“Delightful … charming … captivating … addictive.”

Meet Polly Giller, a young woman who comes home to Iowa after living in Boston, to renovate and restore an old school building and start a new life.

She meets extraordinary people in Bellingwood. While it seems impossible to many that these wonderful folks actually exist, that’s only because they haven’t spent enough time in small communities found throughout the world, but especially in this author’s favorite state – Iowa.

Iowa-nice is a real thing and it permeates the pages of these stories as Polly discovers mysteries and an exciting life with new friends that soon become family.

“These books are my favorite books this year.”

“Heartwarming and charming.”

“Best series I’ve read in a long time.”

“I feel like I’m one of the family.”

Download the first boxed set today and join thousands of readers who have fallen in love with this small Iowa town and its characters. These heartwarming stories will captivate you, making you wish you could move to Bellingwood and be part of the excitement.

Click on the cover image or HERE to get your Kindle copy today!

Tell Me the Stories

My Kindergarten Sunday School teacher’s name was Eulalie Bryant. After all these years and multiple churches and towns, I still remember this amazing woman. Every Sunday, she gathered her little class around – Mrs. Bryant on a chair and all of us on the floor in front of her while she told stories.

I was enraptured.

After Sunday School, she’d hug us all and send us on our way. It never really sank in at the time what she did for me, though.

Years later in high school, I was reading my Bible and came across the story of Balaam’s donkey in the book of Numbers. I was surprised to find that it was a Bible story. I always just thought it was a story about God. Then it hit me, all of those Bible stories that Mrs. Bryant had told us came from the Bible. But she didn’t just read them to us … she told the stories, bringing them to life with her inflection and expression.

As I look back, I’m sure she had the Bible sitting in her lap, but all I could do was listen and soak in what she told us. For some time after the Balaam’s donkey surprise, I continued to find more stories that I’d made part of my understanding of God, but never realized were found in the Bible. They were just part of the entire picture for me.

Stories from scripture have been the foundation of my life from the very beginning, even when I didn’t realize it. Jesus taught in stories … in parables … so that his listeners could more easily relate to the basic truths he taught.

Mrs. Bryant made the stories of the Bible come alive so that her students could easily understand the truths of the Bible.

In the second story of the Abide With Me Series – Abiding Grace – I plant the story of the Prodigal Son into contemporary society. This young man had to get to the very bottom of his life before he could ever understand the gift that his father offered to him.

I loved writing the story of Ruth in Abiding Love. It was a joy to explore the relationships she had with Naomi and her new husband. Even more so, I am in love with the story of David in Abiding Grace. I wept as I wrote it. The power of grace freely given is a miracle.

The Abide With Me series will end up being a collection of four short stories. When all four are completed, I will assemble it into a paperback as well. For now, they are only available individually on the Kindle.

Welcome, Morning!

Grey on the left and Earl.

We’re all friends here, right?

I had all sorts of good intentions yesterday. There is so much to do before the newsletter comes out on Tuesday morning (have you signed up for it yet?). I wanted to hang out with people on the FB page and talk about their cute fur-beasts. I even had a wonderful supper in the plans.

But instead, I dealt with the worst bout of food poisoning I’ve had in twenty-five years. Oh good heavens! Things were happening here that have no place on the planet we lovingly call home. From Stygian depths came explosions of horrors.

I can laugh about it this morning. Though I’m not quite one hundred percent, I’m so much better.

My poor cats didn’t quite know what to do. TB ended up hiding. He tried to hang with me and be supportive, but terrible noises and foul emanations scared him away. Earl was just plain shocked. Fortunately, Grey stuck close as I moved from the bed to the bathroom.

Let’s not repeat any of that … ever again.

The last time something this awful happened was at least twenty-five years ago. Carol and I both got it and chased each other in and out of our adjoining bathroom.

The time before that had been 1984. The reason I remember the year was because Mom, Carol and I were in Minneapolis to begin training for our brand-new franchise print shop. On the trip up, that fateful Sunday evening, Mom and I ate some bad potato salad at a buffet and the two of us moaned, cried and delivered ugliness all night long. Before training even began, we had to postpone a day because we couldn’t remain upright for longer than it took to get into the bathroom.

About one thirty this morning, the worst of it was finally over, though I ached. Carol had made me promise to call her if I needed her, no matter the hour. I just sent a message that I lived.

Little by little, I returned the house to some sort of normal – putting things back that had been strewn around in my thunky travails. The poor cats needed food and water, so I took care of them. However, though I lamented the fact that I was going to be sorry, I didn’t get my cold-brew coffee made. We’re going to hope that it hurries this morning.

I’m pretty sure I know what caused it, but trust me when I tell you that everything in that refrigerator is suspect. I have an iron stomach and food never takes me out that badly.

We all have stories about these awful moments in our lives. I hope you’re able to laugh about yours. What’s the worst case of food poisoning you’ve ever experienced?

Mom and I were terribly embarrassed to tell the people at our printshop corporate offices that we couldn’t come in that first day of training. Did food poisoning ever embarrass you?

Come on … we’re all friends here, right?

Patience … Learned

There was a day when I was young and naive about what to pray for when it came to asking God how to be a better person.  I was a pretty good kid. I didn’t fight with my parents, I didn’t drink or do drugs, I was a good student … on and on. I was still young enough that my sins were pretty minor. The one thing that I did know was a problem was my lack of patience. So, silly me … I prayed for patience. I was only fifteen. This couldn’t take too long to learn, right? (insert hysterical laughter)

As I lay in bed this morning thinking about getting up, three cats clambered over me, up and around, over and back. I laughed. In the last twenty years, some memorable lessons in patience have come from my cats. Imagine that.

Twenty years ago, Max and I were dealing with a terrible mouse problem. After he trapped fourteen in one week, something had to change. Max mentioned that getting a cat might help. Uh … what? I didn’t like cats. At all. Multiple stories from my past reinforced that dislike. My dog, though, just watched the mice eat from his food dish. Useless thing.

Off we went to PetSmart for supplies. I wanted things in place before heading to the humane society the next day. Lo and behold, a rescue was at the store with a number of cats. I approached with great trepidation.

A ginger tabby sat in his kennel – calm as could be. I put my hand in and he just looked at it. He didn’t bat my hand away, hiss, or meow. Nothing. He was perfectly content for me to pick him up, so I did. We walked out with him that night. As soon as we were in the car, he leapt out of my arms and hid under the car seat. Yikes. But we finally got him into the house, where he promptly escaped and hid.

I didn’t see him again for two weeks. After some initial panic that he’d gotten out and run away, a friend told me to watch the food and litter. Yeah. He was there. I promptly named him Howard – Howard Hughes, the millionaire hermit who hid from the world.

One night I went downstairs and Howard was sitting in the bathroom off the kitchen. He didn’t run away. I sat down and talked to him. He watched me. I ran back to the stairs, told Max to lock the dog in the bedroom and come down. The two of us sat on the kitchen floor and waited for Howard. He walked past us a couple of times, then again. I put my hand out and he walked under it, letting me rub his back. We did this for an hour or two in the middle of the night and then he belonged to us. I’d learned to be patient.

Several months later, a friend needed to re-home her cat, Peekaboo. Uhhh, I don’t own cats named Peekaboo. She brought over this big, fat grey cat who was pissed as hell. I promptly renamed him Ichabod – kept a few of the consonants so he’d know his name. We took him to an upstairs bedroom, put litter and food and a bed in there and I sat with him. He wanted nothing to do with me, Howard, Bert (the dachshund) or Max.

Ichabod, Howard & Bert

Every night after work, I’d go into his room and sit with him for forty-five minutes at a minimum. I’d spend time in the morning and then again before going to bed. It took a couple of weeks, but he finally let me pet his back. At the end of two weeks, though, I was done. He needed to figure it out. I put a baby gate in the door so Howard could get in to see him. Ichabod wasn’t leaving though. A couple of weeks later the baby gate came down and Ichabod integrated into the household. I’d learned a lot of patience with that snarly, mean cat. He never got much nicer, but he learned to love me and we got along just fine.

When TB arrived in my life, I realized how much Howard had spoiled me. He was such a good cat. He never did hiss at anyone and never bared his claws to me. He was docile and loving.

Not TB. TB was independent and curious. A true cat. If he didn’t like what I was doing, rather than tell me, he clawed or bit me. My hands were hamburger. I knew he loved me and I took what he had to dish out because we were going to be a family. He broke through the screens on my front porch, insisting on being in the out of doors. I spent many nights absolutely panic-stricken when he came home late. But he always came home. I learned how to be patient and let my independent boy come to me for love. I couldn’t force it. He taught me a lot, but mostly patience. (He’s completely an indoor cat now – not terribly happy about it, but he’s grown older and more patient too. And the clawing and biting is in the past.)

Grey is so easygoing, I haven’t had much to learn with her, but Earl was a different story. When he came into the house, he was so glad to be with Grey, he couldn’t stand it. But he didn’t really want any human affection. He’d been living on his own for an extra three weeks and wasn’t quite sure what to do with me. Earl was always polite. He has never hissed at me or tried to scratch me, but when I picked him up, he went stiff. He still flinches if I try to pat his head. I have no idea why, but he doesn’t want my hand to come near his head. I waited and waited, continuing to pick him up, even if he was stiff and unyielding. I’d snuggle him and love him, rub down his back and up his tail.

Today, two years later, Earl comes to curl up in my arms while I work. He’s the one who lets me rub his tummy. At night, he flops himself over my feet and purr like crazy, until he needs more affection and climbs up to lie on top of me. The other night he let me rub the back of his neck and up onto his head, purring and happy. My patience with him has paid off. He is the most loving cat I’ve ever known. He craves my affection.

I could tell you stories about people who have taught me even more about patience, but often those aren’t my stories to tell. No, it’s these fun stories that come to mind when I’m trying to wake up. Animals are so much more than just companions, they teach us how to live and remind us how to live well.

Happy Easter Weekend

Copyright 2017 – Maxim M. Muir

I do my very best work when it comes to avoiding things that break my heart. Stories that make me not just cry, but weep with pain and agony are hard for me. Some might attribute this to a Pollyanna-ish attitude toward life, but truth be told, I’ve lived enough pain and loss that deliberately exposing myself to more seems ridiculous.

This weekend – Easter Weekend, specifically Good Friday – is one of those that I would have loved to avoid. You can laugh with me, if you will … I’m a nut.

You see, I’m the girl who reads the gospels and knows exactly what is coming, but prays that I don’t have to read it again. When I watch movies about the crucifixion and resurrection, I dread that Good Friday moment on the cross. I fall in love with Jesus all over again as the movie presents him in all his humanity and then I am destroyed as I watch his humanity come to grips with that which his divinity has already done. There’s a little part of me that wishes that just once, he wouldn’t have to die on the cross.

As much as I silently beg for it to not happen (inside my head so no one knows what a ridiculous fool I’m being), I find myself so thankful that Good Friday isn’t the end of the story.

The crazy thing is – the Resurrection isn’t the end of the story either. The story is just getting started on Easter Sunday morning when the glory of heaven reveals itself to creation.

Every year, I approach Good Friday with trepidation, knowing that once more I am faced with the truth of what sin has wrought. God’s son chose to die an excruciating death, one that I can barely read about or consider, so that he could give us the opportunity to stand in the holy of holies and immerse ourselves in God’s presence.

As much as I dread this day, I’m thankful for the cycle that brings me to a point of humility each Good Friday. It is the worst of me that brought this about … I am ashamed that this day even has to exist in history and I am humbled that this gift is offered freely.

Monday morning we will return to our normal lives. Celebrations will be complete, families will go home, jobs will demand our time, life will move on. But today, as much as I feel sorrow and pain for the crucifixion of Jesus’ body over two thousand years ago, I am renewed by the grace and hope of his unfathomable gift on that cross.

May you have a blessed Easter weekend.
– Diane

Moving Past Fear to Ship

The one thing I won’t ship is TB. I promise.

Seth Godin is one of my inspirational authors. He pulls no punches when he writes.

In his book, Linchpin, he addresses one of the biggest problems with moving forward. You have to not only finish whatever it is you are doing, but you have to ship.

You can practice that instrument in the privacy of your house every day, but until you sit down with the orchestra and play it – you aren’t adding anything to the world.

You can write poems and stories, but until you publish them for others to read, they add nothing to the world.

The world needs what you create!

He knows how difficult it is to ship. I know how difficult it is to ship. I’ve written about his description of the Lizard Brain – the amygdala – the fear center of your brain. This is the part of me that tells me nobody cares about what I write, that I’m not very good at it, that believes the worst of the reviews or unflattering comments that come my way.

Shipping – moving off center – releasing your baby to the world – performing in front of real live people – putting your heart and soul out there … it’s absolutely impossible for many people, frightening as hell for others, and stomach lurching for most of us.

The first time I pressed that *publish now* button, I wanted to go throw up. I no longer lived in my own safe little world where I was the only author that existed.

The thing is, I still live in the panic of the amygdala a lot of the time.

Oh, you can tell me how wonderful I am, how much you love my books, how I shouldn’t worry, how I should do it anyway … you know, all that really good stuff. The thing is – we all need to hear that, but we (and by we, I mean anyone who puts themselves out there) also need to hear that you get it. That you’ve experienced the fear that comes from doing things others won’t try.

I have a friend who gets on her horse regularly to ride in competitions. Sometimes she does just fine and then there are the times when she absolutely rocks the world. I’m so danged proud. But I know the fear that hits her heart when she climbs up and rides into the ring. She does it anyway.

Another friend stands in front of a large group of singers. They’ve trained and trained, but we all know that every single thing can go wrong in a performance, especially when there are hundreds of people in the audience and he’s dealing with the terrified amygdalas of fifty individuals on the risers. He lifts his arms to direct them anyway.

A friend of mine is an incredibly talented jazz organist. He practices for hours and hours. He hears and cringes at every single missed note. When the time comes, he hauls those keyboards all over the Midwest and plays with the best musicians in the country. Every week.

My sister teaches fifth grade. She’s always under pressure to lead those little horrors into their best lives ever. She has to manage absentee parents, a district whose focus on numbers and metrics eclipses their focus on individual students, failures every day from unexpected places, kids whose terrible living circumstances follow them to class; all while making a salary most corporate types would laugh at. She goes every day anyway.

I’ve been fighting off my own fears these last couple of weeks. There have been days I simply fail and go to bed overwhelmed because there is still so much yet to do and I was unable to get over the hump of feelings of inadequacy.

But Godin’s words come back at me … telling me that I can’t sit still very long. Getting lost in the mire of my own fears is a ridiculous place to spend time.

And the other thing … the minute I wrote about just a few of my friends who inspire me, my spirits picked up. Get up and outside of your own head, Diane. The world is too delicious not to experience to its fullest.

Godin writes: “You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.”

Go. Do. Create. Ship.

To Clean or Not to Clean … That is the Question.

Okay … confession time.

I started writing the Bellingwood series as a diversion from writing papers in my Master’s Degree courses. When I needed to procrastinate, I wrote the story. Rather than clean or do any number of things around here, I soon discovered that my favorite work-avoidance was to write fiction.

Now, I’d done this over and over throughout the rest of my life, but I never finished anything. There are scores and scores of barely begun stories hiding in different places in my life. I look at them and say “maybe someday.”

By the time I finished the degree I had the first two books published and the third well underway. My procrastination projects had paid off. Pretty cool, eh?

March your little feet forward with me to today.

My job is to write these stories. I focus on them all the time. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking and researching, plotting and planning. I’m marketing, I’m chatting, I’m putting things into place. I’m building newsletters and looking for book covers (while praying that a title will show up before the book goes to press). Everything in my life is now focused on my writing career.

…which leads me to the problem of procrastination. Because I recognize how much of a role this plays in my life, I actually build that wasted time into my schedule. I’ve been burned before and since I’m not a stupid girl, it was important to learn that lesson.

I’ve decided that tonight is a procrastination night. I don’t think I could come up with a creative word to save my life. What should I do … what should I do?

Earl and TB are snuggled up. TB’s paw is actually resting right there on Earl’s. Gotta love ’em. They’re going to be very surprised when that vacuum starts running. Poor boys.

The sad thing is that I absolutely have to do some cleaning around here. Even sadder … I think I’m looking forward to this. Cleaning is one of those things that I generally abhor. I avoid it with all that I have inside me. I can ignore a pile of junk like you can’t believe. If I don’t look at it – it doesn’t exist. If it doesn’t exist – I don’t have to worry about it.

I could sew or play my piano. I could lie down and read a bit or watch television shows. I could fret over the work projects that haven’t been completed yet.

But no … I’m about to clean.

What are you go-tos when you want to avoid working on something?

I suppose that instead of talking about it, I should probably get off my duff and do it. I can procrastinate procrastination!

Moving Forward and the Lizard Brain

Some days you look out and see several different futures in front of you.

The first future is normal. You’ve been doing it this way for a long time. Familiar colors and people. It’s quite comfortable; really doesn’t take much more effort than you’re used to expending.

Then you become aware that just off in the periphery is another possibility. Your mind’s eye only sees that it is dark and foreboding, filled with murky pitfalls you spend way too much time imagining. You don’t perceive a clear path through, only the first few steps are visible. As fearful as it is, when you look closely at those steps, you realize they’re covered with sparkly fairy dust and unicorn glitter. The promise of something better lies beyond your own fears and bleak imagination, but you have to take that first step … make a commitment to the new future.

~~~

Seth Godin talks about our Lizard Brain – the almond-shaped amygdala – a cluster of nerves at the base of our brain. Now, not only is the amygdala useful for protection – it stops us from running out in front of moving traffic – it is also where our anxiety, depression and fears reside. And as small as this sucker is in relationship to the rest of our brain, it has power.

Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art calls it Resistance. We face it down every day in order to accomplish our goals and achieve new heights, but it never stops fighting us. Whenever we’re presented with something new, Resistance shows up to tell us that the easy way out is the better way.

Chip and Dan Heath write in Switch that will-power: self-control, self-supervision, change, decision-making, on and on, is an exhaustible resource. One reason change is so hard is that people have worn themselves out. They’re exhausted at continually being in charge, being on top, being aware. So when it comes time to change, it is sometimes nearly impossible.

~~~

I’ve been gearing up for something, that while it will make no difference to all of you (I’m never going to stop writing the Bellingwood series on a regular schedule), it offers changes for me. Not big wild changes or anything crazy-nuts radical, just something that requires me to refocus some energy. I know that I’m going to do it. There’s no question.

But I fear failure or making a fool of myself or tripping over my lack of understanding or doing something really stupid or not knowing enough to handle mistakes … on and on. My Lizard Brain has taken hold.

The scary ghosts in that murky darkness have gained too much power in my head and it’s time to beat them back.

I’m really not asking for anything here (especially advice or preaching – I’ve got this) … just expressing what’s going on. When I get like this, I find it really helpful to write things out; to express what’s going on in my little brain – the one that should be in control – not the Lizard Brain.

Feel free to talk about your fears or the way you handle the Lizard Brain. I think we’ve all been there and I’m pretty sure we’ll all face it again and again. Prayer, planning, preparation. And a severe beatdown of that stinking Lizard Brain. Who’s with me?

Oh Words, You Vex Me

TB likes words too. This was taken in 2013 – Book 3’s manuscript.

For the last week I’ve been head down in an online course taught by a Brit. Consequently, the pronunciation of words that ramble around my mind is a bit off-kilter. I may never be able to say some of these words correctly again.

I’ve also been completely caught up in the Maisie Dobbs series of books by Jacqueline Winspear. Set in London during the early twentieth century (1913 – 1939), I’ve been inundated with vocabulary that requires me to tap on the dictionary function of my Kindle. While I have a pretty good grasp of language and can generally intuit a word’s meaning from context, there’s nothing more fun for me than to be introduced to new words.

Today, as I attended a webinar led by this British speaker, he posted a slide that used the word instalment. As soon as it arrived on the screen, some helpful Hannah typed a comment regarding the typo. Well. No. Not really.  A moderator quickly posted back that in ‘English,’ it was not misspelled, which made me laugh out loud.

I believe that this points out several pieces of learning we should embrace.

  1. English is an incredibly fascinating language.
  2. American English is a young language, yet has bastardized many different languages and cultural references. Our way isn’t necessarily the right way for anyone but us.
  3. Discovering all we can about words, language, and etymology makes us smarter and increases our ability to communicate.
  4. By the way, we’re not always as smart as we think we are.

As immense as my vocabulary is, I recognize that I have barely tapped into the breadth of the English language.

Have you ever played the game “Balderdash”? You receive a card with a word and everyone writes down their definition. Points are awarded to those definitions that sound good enough to get people to believe they’re correct.

The first time I played that game, I was floored by the number of words I’d not yet experienced. Not just obscure words that dropped out of circulation or scientific terms, but words that just never made it into my circle of knowledge. That was quite distressing to someone who treasures words as much as I do.

My mother loved words more than anyone I’ve ever know. Her favorite thing to do, though, was to mash them to pieces and spit them back out, causing no end of conflict in her children’s vocabulary when in front of a teacher in school … or friends … or when leading a group … you know. Just plain trouble.

To this day, I have trouble saying the word rhinoceros.  Say the word quietly in your head for a moment. The accent is on the second syllable, right?

Well, not for me. Mom always pronounced it as rhi’ – no – sore – ass. Consequently (and it’s surprising how often this comes up), I begin the word with the accent on the first syllable and have to stop myself and start over. Sure, I could shorten the word to rhino, but that’s not usually what happens.

I’m still embarrassed about the day I argued with an office mate about a word I’d heard my entire life. He insisted that it wasn’t a real word. I pushed back. He sent me to the dictionary.

Stallfoundered is not a real word.

Thanks, Mom. It might be a great word, but nobody else uses it.

So this week, I’m embracing British pronunciations and learning words such as costermonger. I’m in no hurry to leave this headspace. It’s kind of fun. I have yet to exchange an ‘s’ for a ‘z’ in words like apologize (apologise) or add back the ‘u’ in words such as honor. British English adds an additional ‘l’ sometimes when adding ‘ing’ (travelling or fuelling- American English is traveling or fueling). Then I discover that somehow we’ve added those lost ‘l’s to install or enthrall.

I enjoy the fact that the world is filled with inconsistencies and differences. It makes things more interesting. We aren’t all the same. We haven’t completely homogenized our cultures to bland and boring.

What’s one thing about language (s) that fascinates you? I’m not asking what frustrates you – that’s a topic for another day. Something that you just love.

Of Coffee and M&Ms … or

The Care and Feeding of Your Favorite Authors

Grey (left) and Earl were so cute looking out the window. Then I leaned back to take a picture. Obviously that meant that I needed them to come my way. Cute little buggers.

A week ago, this post had an entirely different focus. But then, I was coming off a rather intense period of twelve – fourteen hour days and a book release. I might have been more than a little whiny. Better that I just keep those thoughts in my head.

Just after publication, I get a huge influx of communication. Most of it is wonderful, some of it is a little critical, but every once in a while, something really awful shows up in my in-box that just rips me to the core. Not with every book release – and not with this last book release. But it happens.

Growing up in a minister’s household … okay, my father’s household … I learned that keeping people in the community happy was a primary goal. So I do everything I can to keep the largest percentage of the population happy. When I discover that I fail – for even one person – it is hard on my soul.

In the beginning of my writing career, nasty (not just reasonable critiques) words would devastate me for an entire week. I’d come up for air, the words would resonate through my head again, and I wondered why I was even bothering.

People on the outside told me to toughen up, grow thicker skin. Seriously – there is no armor strong enough to hold back some of the barbs and lances that are hurled. I often wondered if that person realized that I was a real-live human being with feelings and a heart.

I’ve gotten much better at managing my way through those. The truth is, I rarely read reviews – whether positive or negative – because they mess so badly with my psyche. Even if I’m there to read a positive review, I can’t stop myself from looking at the negatives. They’re a magnet I can’t resist … and I end up staring at the computer screen with my mouth wide open at how much someone hates what I’ve written. I’m just not that polarizing.

Wow … that was a lot of words pouring out over something that’s actually pretty personal. Sorry about that.

Back to the point.

Last week I went to the post office and lo and behold, there was a wonderful package from a friend filled with various flavors of M&Ms. Yep. Perfect snack for the late night writer. Between those and coffee, I can write for hours!

But what else do authors and other artists you follow on Facebook need to sustain themselves?

A. Well, we need you to *like*, comment, and share posts from our FB page. Every time you like a post – as simple as that – the post is exposed to more people. It also helps Facebook know that you want to be engaged with us and they will deliver more of our posts to you. If you feel like you’ve been missing things – the way to fix it is to re-engage on a regular basis.

B. Sign up for email newsletters and engage with them. Open them, click on the links. If you decide you’re getting too much in your in-box, simply unsubscribe (don’t mark it as spam, that sends us into a tailspin because the provider freaks out that we’re doing something wrong). Authors, artists, musicians – we want to share what we’re doing with you because you’re interested. We spend hours trying to decide what is important to send out, so you can get to know us better and learn what we’re doing.

I send out one email newsletter on the twenty-fifth of every month  to the entire list. The last thing I want to be is intrusive, but I hate for you to miss anything.

Facebook limits how much will be delivered to your feed. Email newsletters show up with detail that you might miss otherwise. For instance, no matter how many times I tell you all that I publish Bellingwood books on March 25, June 25, September 25, and December 25, I get at least one question per day from readers wondering when the next book comes out. It’s not that they aren’t paying attention – they simply aren’t getting that information in front of them. (See what I did there? LOL)

C. Reviews. I despise asking for reviews. It’s enough that you pay to read my stories, I shouldn’t ask you to do anything else. I will never be able to express the depth of my appreciation.

But reviews have become an important part of an artist’s life. Many of us don’t think about writing a positive review, but when we’re upset about a product, we rush to write a one-star review. We want to warn people off a bad product, but don’t think to encourage them to purchase something we love.

Positive reviews are vitally important to us who are artists, authors, musicians … creatives. These increase our visibility and then when people end up on the book page, they encourage those folks to investigate further.  Whether it’s Amazon, Etsy, YouTube or another outlet, being a positive voice in a sea of trolls is important and necessary.

Oh … and unicorns. I like those.