February 13, 2015

Oh Hello 2015!

Whoops! I certainly didn't intend to take such a long blog break but here we are in 2015 and I have yet to write a post. I blame this hiatus upon: the deadline on my new Scholastic book, a dreadful cold that the baby caught, throwing ball for Otto, something called Christmas, and going to bed at 9PM.

In other words, my life is soooo glamorous! Jealous much, Taylor Swift?

So let's play some catch up in photograph form! Alas, I haven't dusted off my DSLR in awhile so these iPhone pics will have to do (but I did manage to gussy them up a little in Pixlr so I'm not completely hopeless...yet). And here we go!

Aimee Rose celebrated her first birthday! Whoa nelly, where did this first year go?! We just got back from her first-year check-up and the doctor gave us two thumbs up. 20 lbs! Freshly vaccinated! And he gave us some parting advice: your baby will act like a teenager this year so get ready! Oh boy oh boy ... 

Back in November, we headed up to New York for our first family trip! I had a signing at Books of Wonder, which is simply a lovely store with even lovelier staff; and we also hung out with my best friend Amanda and her daughter Lilah. These girls are going to be BFFs. I shall force them. 

The three of us spent one gray morning just cuddling in bed. And why is Aimee Rose holding measuring spoons, you might ask? BECAUSE SHE LOVES THEM, I say! We're not toy snobs in the Richmond household. You want cheap kitchen utensils to play with? Mama gives you said cheap utensils. 

One of the highlights of my fall---along with eating delicious ramen in New York and surviving the baby's first train ride---was attending NCTE, an annual conference for English teachers. Scholastic was kind enough to set up a couple signings for me, and in between them I wandered around the conference floor in a daze, feeling very lucky to just be there and feeling quite verklempt at seeing the word "Author" on my name tag. (Also, I snagged a few ARCs. No shame!) 

Mostly though, my days have revolved around this little girl (and looking forward to when her papa comes home at night!). She's now talking ("Hiiiii!" she says) and crawling and growing new teeth. She's happy one second, then crying in the next, and then she's back to, "Oh hi! I love you!" She keeps me on my toes, this girl, but I love her very much and feel so very grateful to be her mama.

Except for when she barfs on me. Then she's Justin's daughter. :)

How are you guys doing?! Long time, no chat! Let me know what you're reading and what you're writing and what you've been up to!

October 13, 2014

A Quick Recap!

Oh, hi! I'm afraid this will have to be a quick catch-up post—'cause it's 9:30PM and past my bedtime—but I thought I'd write about my life as an author post-publication. 

*Cue Fergie's song "Glamorous

This fab new life of mine includes: 

* Waking up at 2AM to soothe my crying child!
* Bringing my dog to the dog park! 
* Flossing! 


In all seriousness though, I'm continually humbled and grateful to have a book out there in the world. On my pub day itself, I took my MIL out to lunch and did a little shopping, and then I hopped over to BN to find my book on the shelf. And find it I did! I was all alone in the Teen Fantasy & Adventures section of the store so I just had to take a selfie. All I could think about in that moment was, whoaaaa. There was my book! With my name on it! Then I scurried away to get back to the fussy Baby Overlord who did not care one whit about this momentous day, only that she had been sitting in her stroller for far too long and can we please leave now? 

She's my reality check. :) 

All in all, I'm a bit bewildered about this dichotomy that consists of fulfilling a lifelong dream and ordinary ho-hum life. One moment I'm like, "My book is out! FLAILS!" And the next moment is all, "Where is the dog's allergy medicine?!" But hey, I'm not complaining! I just wish I had a time-turner that's all. And maybe a night nanny who can let me get a full eight hours of sleep. 

But I digress. Onto pictures! 

{I'm not wearing a bit of makeup in this picture. So glamorous!}
{Here's my friend Courtney and me at my launch party. She drove all the way from NC to DC!}
{The Overlord is making a funny face in this pic. 'Hey, you talkin' to me?'}

How are you guys doing though? What are you up to? What are you reading? I just borrowed Code Name Verity from my library because I heard so many good things about it and because I need to read more historical fiction while I'm drafting my own WWII manuscript. Yipes, drafting is so tough! 

September 30, 2014

Today Is the Day!

Holy smokes! THE ONLY THING TO FEAR is now out in the world! Now please excuse me while I breathe into this paper bag and leap off of this cliff. Haha.

If you're interested in reading the book, it's available in both hardcover and e-book on Amazon, BN, and Indiebound. And I'm available for free hugs, amateur manicures, and a good ol' pat on the back. :)

{My postcards that were made by the lovely Jenny Perinovic!}
Anyway. Whoa. I'm excited and nervous, and I still can't quite believe that this is all real! Back in February, right after the baby was born, I remember thinking to myself that September 30 seemed so far away. The baby will almost be eight months old at that point, I thought. At the time, I couldn't quite fathom either possibility—of my newborn not being a newborn anymore or my book being an actual book-shaped thing—but now here we are, the baby is indeed 7.5 months old and my book baby is out too!

I'll say it again: Whoa!

I have a pretty relaxed day planned: going out to lunch with the baby and my mother-in-law, writing (of course! my deadline is closing in!), and stopping by B&N to hopefully find my book out in the wild. Maybe I'll cry a little. Or maybe I'll run around the store yelling, "Look at me! Look at my book! Here, madam, buy my book!" And then you'll read in the newspaper about some deranged author getting arrested and you'll be able to say, "Hey, I sort of know that deranged author!"

All joking aside, I'd be remiss to write this post without paying my proper respects. 'Cause this writing-a-book thing is certainly a group project! To my editor Jody Corbett, thank you for taking my manuscript and for helping me turn it into a book. To my agent Jim McCarthy, thank you for never giving up on me. To my writer friends, thank you for putting up with my weirdness. To my blog readers, thank you for simply stopping by! And to my ever-supportive husband, thank you, thank you for loving me and for being my biggest cheerleader, figurative pom-poms and all.

Well ... whoa. I can't stop saying that! It surprises me how big this day feels—and yet so ordinary too. Just this morning I fed the baby and changed the baby and let out the dog and ate breakfast. All ho-hum, everyday stuff. But my book is out today too! I'm a published author! This crazy dream of mine has come true!

Thank you for sharing this day with me! To celebrate my book's launch, why here's a fun giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 27, 2014

Counting My Lucky Stars

{At my very first author event, meeting booksellers!}
Yesterday Justin turned to me and asked, "Can you believe that your book is coming out next week?" 

Nope! Not at all! 

In fact, it's still surreal to me that I'm going to be published at all. Like ... whaaa?! How did this happen? I've spent so many years dreaming about this goal, and nearly as many years collecting rejection letters that made this dream feel so out of reach. And now I'm standing on the edge of the publishing diving board, my toes wiggling over the water. A part of me wants to jump right in while the other part needs to hyperventilate a little. I'm nervous. I'm scared. What if the world hates my book? What if no one except my mom buys it? What if I can't even get my mom to buy it?!

*Deep breaths, Caroline* 

But I am excited too! And I feel incredibly grateful. The longer I'm in this business, the more I realize how much luck plays into everything. For me, I was lucky enough to find an agent who wouldn't give up on my book; I was lucky enough that he found an editor who wanted to buy my novel; and I was lucky enough that my publisher took a chance on ordinary ol' me. I know that I'm just a tiny minnow in these vast publishing waters but I'm thankful to be swimming here at all. 


Lately, I've also been thankful to participate in two author events! (Whoa! Surreal moment again!) The first was the NAIBA booksellers' conference in Arlington, VA where I took part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks reception. I got to meet three amazing Scholastic staffers along with a host of booksellers who were so enthusiastic about increasing diversity in their stores. Yay! Then this past Friday I was on a diversity panel at the Baltimore Book Festival, which was also super fun and cool. Here are a couple photos below, courtesy of Kimberly Shorter

{From left to right: Karen Sandler, Me, Justina Ireland. Photo credit: Kimberly Shorter.}
{Whoa, what am I doing with my hands?!}
And now here I am, sitting in my bed in my bathrobe, and I'm getting all verklempt because I just feel so darn humbled. There are so many writers out there who are far more talented than I am--and far, far more deserving--and I don't know why I got lucky. Maybe it was a cosmic roll of the dice? I don't know. But thank you, Universe. Thank you, Lady Luck. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Now I'm going to eat some cookies and cry a little, okay? 

September 9, 2014

Playing Catch Up


I've been meaning to update my blog for weeks but it seems like all of my free time lately has been funneled toward working on my new manuscript or watching the FIBA World Cup or eating stone ground wheat crackers (my meal of choice as a mom! glamorous!). Oh, I've also been going to bed at 9:30PM every night. Although sometimes I go a little wild and stay up until ten!

Basically, you're thinking to yourself: OMG, Caroline, how do I become as cool as you are?! 

To which I reply: This level of coolness requires a certain amount of flip flops, bathrobes, and let's-eat-cookies-for-all-meals-what-the-hell attitude.

I think Cookie Monster would approve of such a philosophy, eh?

{Bow down to her cuteness!}
Anyway! Here's a quick recap of what I did in August:

1. Hung out with my sister—which involved a lot of eating and blueberry picking and giggling at silly GIFS—before she drove out to Utah to start her senior year of college.

2. Hung out with the Baby Overlord because I am her mother and it is my parental duty to hang out with her all the time. Plus, she's rather cute.

3. Stalk the sale section at Gap Baby because who can afford to pay full price for this incredibly adorable sh*t?!

3a. I generally don't swear on this blog but it's 9:10PM and thus almost my bedtime so I've lost my filter. Apologies!

4. My braggity brag of the summer: GEORGE RR MARTIN FAVORITED ONE OF MY TWEETS! George Freaking RR Martin! I can now die happy!

5. Work on my WIP. Work on my WIP. Brush my teeth. Work on my WIP. Maybe sleep. Feed baby. Rinse, repeat.

6. Occasionally, shower.

And there you have it, folks! I know you missed me and that you've yearned for my glamorous posts on my very glamorous life. Now that I've recapped my August for you, you're totally gnashing your teeth in envy, aren't you? Aren't you?!

I mean, did you know that George RR Martin favorited one of my tweets? :)

Haha. So how are YOU doing? How was your August and how is the first week and a half of your September? Update me!

August 3, 2014

Life, Lately

{I found this quite hilarious. And true.}

Lately, my life has felt ... 

Well, stretched. 

You know how sometimes you eat a gigantic plate of pasta drenched in alfredo sauce, and it is so delicious and creamy that you can't stop eating it—and oh, what's that? garlic bread? why, yes please!—and basically you keep devouring everything by the plate full ... until the carb coma sets in and you face-plant on your couch, worried that your stomach might burst from pasta-itis. 

That's sort of how my brain feels right now. Stretched

Ever since the baby's arrival, I've felt like I'm juggling three big bowling balls: mothering, writing, and everything else in between-ing. But this last week it seems like a wrecking ball was added into the mix between Justin's overseas work trips and a nasty pox that befell our house. Okay, it wasn't a pox. It was a terrible, no-good cold. But it felt like a pox so I shall call it that! 

I was venting (ie, crying) about all of this to Justin yesterday, and he tried to be very supportive and as always. And after my cry fest, I was reminded that all of these stressors in my life are indeed good things at the end of the day. Writing deadlines? I'm grateful to even have a deadline! Baby fussiness? But she's so cute too! Messy house? Eh, we'll live. (In squalor maybe.) The only bad thing, really, is the nasty pox but we're all on the mend now. Begone, vile pox!

All in all, I'm okay. We'll all be okay. And Justin and I have weathered much, much worse in our marriage. But I still sort of wish that I could escape to Hawaii for two weeks where I can order fancy drinks with pineapple wedges perched on the rim of each glass. Sounds heavenly, right? There'd be a full-time babysitter too, of course, and lots and lots of books. 

Ah, if only ...

So now I'm wondering: how do all of you balance everything? How do you juggle your life duties and responsibilities and shower at some point? Would love to hear your stories and advice!

Now if you'll excuse me, the Baby Overlord is VERY unhappy! Better get her some butter...

July 11, 2014

I Am an Awful, Terrible, No Good Blogger!

Blergh. Poor neglected blog! Here, let mama give you a big hug. *Hugs blog*

Um, I've totally dropped the ball on blogging as of late! My life for the past few weeks has been a blur of relative visits, friend visits, baby wrangling, dog wrangling, ant killing (die, kitchen ants!), and writing until my fingers hurt. I've also been thinking a lot about blogging but feeling too tired at the end of the day to do anything except for eating Rocky Road ice cream and watching reruns of 30 Rock and ... zzzzz.

I'll say it once and I'll say it again: BLERGH!

In fun news, however, my little sister has come home after spending 18 months in Taiwan! So much fun! She's older and wiser and speaks Chinese amazingly well, but she's still the same ol' Kristy in so many ways and I'm super excited to have a few giggle fests with her before she heads back to college. Until then I plan on taking her out to eat at delicious American establishments (Taco Bell! Don't hate!) and hanging out with our 91-year-old grandma. We had lunch with her yesterday and I snapped this picture of my Nainai with the Baby Overlord!

Hopefully I'll get more time to blog next week! 

June 16, 2014

Ready, Set, Write: Update #1

It's time for my first update in the Ready, Set, Write challenge!

In short, RSW is a summer writing intensive that encourages writers to set goals, account for those goals, and to cheer each other on as we strive to meet those goals. The RSW hosts this year are Alison Miller, Jaime Morrow, Erin Funk, and Katy Upperman; and details about the intensive can be found HERE.

Gulp. Here we go then ...

... How did I on last week’s goals? ...

Le sigh. I wanted to write two chapters of my WIP but I only got 1.25 done. The Baby Overlord had a slight fever all weekend so I had my hands full with a rather grumpy and cranky babe who embraced the philosophy of "Never put me down, Mama! Never ever." Haha. Fortunately, my poor girl seems to be in better spirits today! 

... What are my goal(s) for this week? ...

Same as last week! I need to crank out two chapters per week to (hopefully) have a first draft finished by the end of the summer.

... A favorite line from my project? ...

I'll cheat a little and post the first two lines from this book, which I wrote before the baby was born. But I think it captures my protagonist Lucie's voice quite well! Here they are: 

My good Catholic mother taught me to never lie, cheat, or steal.
I hope she can forgive me then for what I’ve agreed to do—for it will be far, far worse.

... The biggest challenge I faced this week ...

Sick Baby = No writing for mama!

... Something I love about my WiP ...

As weird as it sounds, I love weaving in little historical tidbits throughout this book. Since this novel is set in Occupied France, I've been doing a lot of research on what was life back then: the tight rations, the bombers overhead, the murmurs of resistance. It has been a fun challenge to weave in these details without sounding too much like a history book.

So how did RSW go for you this last week?