Books

All of Michelle D. Argyle’s published or soon-to-be published novels

The Third Breakaway Book Is Here!

The final chapter in Naomi’s story is here! This novella is an absolute must-read addition to The Breakaway and Pieces. As many fans of the series might know, I have consistently struggled to put Naomi’s story to rest. I’m relieved and overjoyed to announce that with this novella, I have reached that final ending. I hope you love this last chapter of the series as much as I do. It has truly been a joy to write. I think it will be even more enjoyable to share it with the world.

UNBROKEN_FRONT_WEB

Fourteen years after her kidnapping, Naomi has moved on from her traumatic past. She has a new last name, a career she loves, and nobody to hold her down. When she lands her dream job managing a restaurant in Italy, she resolves not to think about what happened in that country with Jesse eleven years ago.

But Naomi’s past won’t let her go that easily.

One by one, her former kidnappers are being released from prison. When Naomi runs into Evelyn at a local market, her perfect life is turned upside down and curiosity leads her step by step back to Jesse. She’s looking for closure, but what she finds along the way changes everything, leaving her at one last crossroads with her former kidnappers.

Unbroken will be available in other eBook formats like Nook and iBooks soon!

OFFICIAL UNBROKEN PAGE

Also, don’t forget The Breakaway, The Complete Series! This is a new 3-part eBook package that includes all three books in the series: The BreakawayPieces, and Unbroken. The digital package includes bonus material such as deleted scenes and information from the author about the series’ history and inspiration.

BREAKAWAY SERIES_BOXSET

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, The Breakaway, Updates, News, and Events

When Your Worst Fear Comes True

I’ve heard this a lot lately:

“What was your latest book again?”

If I Forget You.

“Oh, yeah! I remember now! That one sounded good!” Lowers eyes. “I haven’t read it yet.”

Not that I expect anyone in close proximity to read my books right away (or at all if they aren’t interested in them) because I seriously don’t, but I think I kind of cursed myself when I titled and based a book on forgetting stuff.

When I put out my novel IF I FORGET YOU, I had high hopes for it, but many great fears, as well … all of which have come true so far, and I’m pretty sure most of it is my own error. I made some pretty massively huge mistakes, the biggest one being that I didn’t market it one bit at all outside of announcing that it was published and out there. Why did I not market it? First of all, I was afraid for people to actually read it because the main character is a lot like me and I didn’t want to have to stumble upon reviews that tore it apart. Secondly, I think I released it too soon after OUT OF TUNE. Thirdly, I wanted to see if not marketing a book at all makes any sort of difference in sales. A big duh to that answer, right? It’s because I happen to know several authors who don’t market at all and their books sell just dandy. But they aren’t me, and they don’t write in a genre that doesn’t fit anywhere (i.e. clean new adult with no steamy erotic sex). At least I like to blame it on those two things, but who knows? Other people write clean new adult and do fine, but again, they aren’t me.

If I’ve learned anything in this business, it’s that there is no magical formula to selling books, and while there is a lot of luck involved in financial success, it’s also a matter of putting yourself in good situations to create that luck. It doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere (even thought it seems that way sometimes when you’re getting green with envy over another person’s success).

The thing is, folks, I’ve reached my worst fear: a novel I put out there completely 100% bombed on pretty much every level outside of the fact that I think it’s well-written, some people I highly respect who have read it say they loved it, and I’m proud of it. But a book failing the way this one has sales-wise, and after losing my publisher and feeling very alone this past year, I’ve felt at the bottom of the barrel emotionally, financially, etc. I’ve reached a point where I’ve spent way too much money on this publishing thing and dug myself too large a hole to climb out of with just selling books. So. Worst Fear Come True right there. I’ve had to attain a part-time job now that has nothing to do with writing, so now I have less time to write, and if I look at it with the bleak vision I usually look at everything (pessimist by nature here), I’d have a good mind to quit writing altogether.

Expectations are killer!

But I’m not going to quit. I’m still writing. I’ve shifted my goals, let go of some hefty dreams that have weighed me down over the past four years, and turned my eyes to different horizons. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach the goals I’ve set. I’m halfway through a novel I believe in wholeheartedly, and I’m not stupid enough to believe I’m a bad writer or anything, but when I look back on the path I’ve traveled, I wonder if I’d set out on it again if I were to start all over. At this point in time, I’m not sure I would because this is just a tad bit soul sucking and it’s hard not to ask WHY AM I PUTTING MYSELF THROUGH THIS?

But like a friend of mine told me the other day after she read a blog post about what writing and publishing is like, sometimes you’re simply in the middle of a mountain meadow and you have no idea where you are, no idea if you even have a peak to climb after the ones you already reached and fell from, no idea which direction to turn. But you have to keep wandering, even if it feels aimless. Because eventually you’ll make your way out of the meadow if you don’t sit down and give up. And eventually you’ll find another peak to climb and you’ll think you’ve reached the top, but in reality there’s just another peak to climb. The trick is you usually have to go down first, and cross more meadows, then climb that peak just to find another one. There is no final destination.

So, it seems I’m in a meadow right now. A rather large one. With no flowers. But hey, I’m still writing and that has to account for something. I’m in the process of beginning to market my failed book and my other books, and I’m planning on being involved in many authorly things next year, like, gasp! conferences. All of that means I’m wandering, not sitting stagnant. One day I’ve got to make it to a spot I can at least see another peak, right?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, All Things Publishing, If I Forget You

Announcing IF I FORGET YOU

I announced my forthcoming novel, IF I FORGET YOU, a few weeks ago in my newsletter, but today I’m publicly announcing the novel and showing the cover. Yay!

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IF I FORGET YOU has been a tough book for me to write and to publish. Some days I try to talk myself out of publishing it all together because the main character is so much like me. I forget the most basic, simple things like people’s names and faces, even if I’m met them multiple times and had meaningful interactions with them. I’ve often been embarrassed by mixing up two or three different people and calling them the wrong name or referring to something that happened with the other person, not them. I forget important dates and events like nobody’s business. Just ask my friends.

I’m terrified that I’ll put this book out there and readers will not believe a character could be so ridiculously forgetful … when I’ve been just like her for most of my life. But, that’s the price an author pays for wanting to publish their work, and I’m just biting the bullet and doing it. If anything, putting this book out there makes it easier for me to say if someone reads it, they’ll understand me as a person just a tad better.

Avery Hollister is a little more than absentminded. She has trouble remembering faces, names, and dates without her piles of lists and Post-it notes. When she heads off to college it takes her a week to realize the guy she’s crushing on is, in fact, three different guys. With a faulty memory and three men who have no idea she’s mixed them up, Avery doesn’t know how to fix the mess she’s made. But she knows she has to try, even if it means losing a love not even she could forget.

**If I Forget You is considered clean New Adult/Young Adult fiction appropriate for adults and young adults. It contains adult themes and issues.**

OFFICIAL IF I FORGET YOU PAGE

IF I FORGET YOU will be available mid-to-late May 2014 in hardcover, paperback, and digital formats. Audio book options are currently in negotiation.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, If I Forget You

If You Are a Fan …

Newslettery Stuff

Hello, everyone! I’m writing this post to reiterate that if you are a fan of my work and would like to keep up with sales, book announcements, release dates, or anything of that nature, you’ll want to be subscribed to my newsletter. It’s the first place I am going to be announcing things from here on out. Eventually (a few days to weeks), my announcements will filter through Twitter and Facebook, but not here on the blog. I like my blog to remain “ad-free”.

Also, please keep in mind that for those who are subscribed to the newsletter that if I announce a sale or something of that sort, you’ll be the first to know about it … and if you aren’t subscribed,  you may miss out on certain things.

Spammy Stuff

Many newsletters now go to Gmail’s “Promotions” folder (or even Spam!), so if you want to be sure to get my newsletter, make sure you have added me (ladyglamis at gmail dot com) to your address list, or at least moved one of my newsletters to your actual Inbox folder and marked that you’d always like emails from that sender to go there.

If you mark my newsletter as Spam, I get a message telling me you do so. I will never be offended by this, but please … instead of marking my newsletter as Spam, please just Unsubscribe instead. The more my newsletters are marked as Spam, the more I can’t do certain things from my newsletter service.

Exciting Stuff

I am currently sending out a newsletter announcing several exciting things … including a new book announcement (shhhhh!) Even if you subscribe after I’ve sent out this newsletter, I’ll be sure to send out another batch in a few days for those who subscribed later!

Subscribe to my newsletter here! Or you can click the link over in the right-hand column.

If you aren’t sure if you are already subscribed to my newsletter, just send me an email or leave a comment and I’ll check for you. If you aren’t sure if my newsletter is going to your Spam folder, check your Spam in the next few hours since I’ve just sent one out.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, Books

What I’ve Learned from Being Quiet and Not Posting My Birthday on Facebook (Part 2)

It has been a few weeks since I posted the first part of this series, but I think that’s a good thing. Introverts like me are usually pretty deliberate in what they do, and I don’t want to rush my thoughts on this topic! Here are a few more highlights from Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. And don’t worry, I’ll get to the birthday Facebook mention later on down below.

A PREFERENCE FOR STIMULATION

“There’s a host of evidence that introverts are more sensitive than extroverts to various kinds of stimulation, from coffee to a loud bang to the dull roar of a networking event — and that introverts and extroverts often need very different levels of stimulation to function well.”

I covered this already in the last part of my first post, but I’m taking it a little further here. I think the most fascinating thing I’ve learned so far is that introverts highly dislike loud, highly stimulating environments because their brains don’t process stimulation the same as an extrovert. Babies, for instance, who are mild and calm tend to grow up to be extroverts. Why? Well, think about it. They’re mild and calm. They’re taking a lot of stimulation in as they awaken to the world and much of it doesn’t bother them in negative ways. One baby might wail in confusion and fear if someone jumps in front of them and does peek-a-boo, while another might calmly smile and laugh. The one who wails in confusion and fear? That’s the natural-born introvert. Of course, this is a high generalization. I gave birth to a daughter who was an extremely sensitive infant, but she’s clearly an extrovert.

“Extroverts, in other words, often find themselves in an emotional state we might call a “buzz” — a rush of energized, enthusiastic feelings … They are characterized by their tendency to seek rewards, from top dog status to sexual highs to cold cash … even their sociability is a function of reward-sensitivity, according to this view — extroverts socialize because human connection is inherently gratifying.”

In highly generic terms, all of this means:

INTROVERTS = don’t need as much stimulation because their brains already get enough from everything, even small things. Drop an introvert into a party and the loud music and constant chatting can feel like a wave of noise and confusion.

EXTROVERTS = need more stimulation because their brains don’t get enough from everyday living. Drop an extrovert into a party and they’re in heaven, feeding off all that stimulation to keep them at a comfortable level.

Here’s where I really come into play in this section — I’m not only sensitive and an introvert, I’m HIGHLY SENSITIVE and an introvert. I wrote an entire post on this subject, which I continue to get emails from random people on the Internet who run across it, surprised to have found something that answers so many questions for them. Needless to say, I was very pleased to find that the woman, Elaine Aron, who has coined the term “HSP” or the “Highly Sensitive Person”, was featured in this Quiet book. In fact, Susan Cain (the author of Quiet) even went to a HSP conferences hosted by Elaine Aron herself just to find out more about the whole HSP thing. The interesting thing is that Aron has found only about 70 percent of highly sensitive people are introverts. The other 30 percent are extroverts, like my daughter.

So what does all this mean? It simply means that if you’re an introvert, you’re most likely sensitive to all sorts of stimulation, and that if you’re sensitive, you could possibly be highly sensitive (HSP), as well, meaning you’ve got even more to deal with when it comes to interacting with the rest of the world and all that stimulation. Knowing this, however, is definitely powerful. It means you can not only stop blaming yourself for being shy and embarrassed and anxious and frustrated all the time and you can start making more informed decisions such as planning ahead:

1. Stake out a party/social event when — or even better, before — you get there and decide where you can retreat when it all gets to be too much. You’ll have the confidence that a twenty-minute break might give you an hour or two more of socializing without killing yourself. Or you can leave early without apologies to yourself or anyone else.

2. When someone invites you to another party that same week, you can explain to others that while you’d like to go, you’re booked up already. What are you booked up with? YOURSELF, because if you need to recharge, you need to recharge. That should always come first for an introvert — WITH NO GUILT. It’s not a selfish thing, by any means, which many extroverts may not understand in the least — so don’t explain it if you don’t need to. Everyone has personal needs they’re not obligated to explain, so don’t.

3. If you do end up panicking in a social situation, you don’t have to add guilt on top of all those feelings. Simply excuse yourself and find a quiet place where your brain can get the least amount of stimulation possible until you can get yourself together again. A dark, quiet, non-confining room is what works for me. Sometimes that’s not possible, so I’ll find whatever I can.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM NOT POSTING MY BIRTHDAY ON FACEBOOOK

This might sound off-topic, but it’s not. For anyone not on Facebook, let me explain. On your profile, you have the choice to mark your birthday as public or private or only visible to friends. If you mark public or visible to friends, you usually get a wave of HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! posts on your wall on the day of your birthday — from everyone and anyone. Most people, I’ve seen, seem to enjoy this. It’s special to receive anywhere from 15 – 150+ posts from people wishing you a happy birthday, right? It’s nice to know so many people are thinking of you! For most people not like me, yes, it’s awesome. For me, however, I’ve found it overwhelming. It’s like walking into a room and having fifty people surround me all at once to tell me nice things about myself — and feeling pressured to answer every single person with a “thank you, you’re so kind” remark … because I really am thankful and touched by all that thoughtfulness. But to have that happen all at once makes me want to run away.

This year, since I had read this Quiet book and was starting to understand myself a little better, I decided to mark my birthday as private only to me on Facebook, meaning nobody would get notifications that it was my birthday. I wanted to see how I would feel at the end of the day, if anyone would even remember on their own if it was my birthday, and if I’d be crushed if they didn’t.

Result? One person posted on my wall about my birthday. I thanked her and went on my merry way. It turns out that on my birthday I was also sick and had to go to the doctor and have some pretty horrible, painful stuff done on my tonsils. It turns out that if I had received a slew of Happy Birthdays on my wall, I might have totally lost it that day — more than I had already because of the doctor visit. In truth, I did feel bad for myself that hardly anyone wished me a happy birthday, but then I realized it was okay and better that way.

I think introverts often feel the need and desire to act like extroverts, even when we don’t want to. I think introverts can often crave the ego-boosting attention extroverts naturally get from just being extroverts, but if we do get it somehow, it can set us back in ways we didn’t expect. Turning off my birthday on Facebook taught me something valuable — I may want that sort of attention, but as soon as that time passes where I could have received it, I’m usually happy I didn’t seek it out. If it comes along anyway, great, I’ll deal with it and be grateful for it in my own introverted ways, but seeking it out is usually never a good thing for me.

It’s not that I don’t want to be wished a happy birthday. I do! It’s just that Facebook can feel like an almost too impersonal and overwhelming place to do it … for me, anyway. Awhile ago I might have thought I was crazy or weird or stupid for feeling this way, but now I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one like this out there. How about you?

**all quotes belong to Susan Cain or people she has quoted within her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.**

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, Books

What I’ve Learned from Being Quiet — A Look Into the Book “Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain (Part 1)

I finally got around to reading a book many, many people have recommended to me. Why I didn’t listen to these people and read the book earlier, I have no idea, but now that I’ve been expanding my reading genres it has made it a lot easier to pick up something nonfiction. I’m now on a nonfiction streak, which is a good change of pace.

The book I put off for so long is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I think one of the reasons I put off this book was because I secretly thought it would just be one huge Validation Party for introverts. And even though I am an introvert, I didn’t feel extremely comfortable with forcing validation upon myself for being the way I am. Boy, was I wrong. While Quiet does give introverts much validation for being the way they are, it is not in the way I thought it would be. Instead, Susan Cain carefully, deliberately, and modestly presents her founded opinions and scientifically-backed information about both introverts and extroverts — and why both types of people desperately need each other in this increasingly extroverted world.

Below are some highlights of the book that I found especially helpful for me. I firmly recommend that both introverts and extroverts consider reading the book for themselves.

THE CORE OF WHO WE ARE

“Introversion — along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness — is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.”

The wonderful thing I’ve realized is that as an introvert I do not have to change the core of who I am. In fact, it is impossible to change the core of who I am. But, just as extroverts should be a little more understanding of introverts, introverts should also be more tolerant of extroverts. At the moment, in the world I’m living in anyway, this simply isn’t happening, and as Susan Cain says, many of us are living under the Extrovert Ideal and feeling as if there is something terribly wrong with us. Some of us turn to medication. Some of us even turn to suicide. Some of us simply learn how to pretend we’re extroverts. It’s sad, really.

THE EXTROVERT IDEAL IS FAIRLY NEW

“The word personality didn’t exist in English until the eighteenth century, and the idea of ‘having a good personality’ was not widespread until the twentieth.'”

This is seriously fascinating to me because I can’t even imagine living in a world where I didn’t feel pressured to develop a charming personality in order to be truly successful and liked. But it’s everywhere we turn — from the workplace to schools to religion. If you are quiet, shy, or extremely sensitive, there is something wrong with you and you’d better snap out of it or you’re not going to get anywhere.

“Well-meaning parents of the midcentury agreed that quiet was unacceptable and gregariousness ideal for both girls and boys. Some discouraged their children from solitary and serious hobbies, like classical music, that could make them unpopular. They sent their kids to school at increasingly young ages, where the main assignment was learning to socialize. Introverted children were often singled out as problem cases (a situation familiar to anyone with an introverted child today). 

NOBODY IS 100% INTROVERTED OR EXTROVERTED

“Extroversion is in our DNA — literally, according to some psychologists. The trait has been found to be less prevalent in Asia and Africa than in Europe and America, whose populations descend largely from the migrants of the world. It makes sense, say these researchers, that world travelers were more extroverted than those who stayed home — and that they passed on their traits to their children and their children’s children.”

I know I have some extrovert traits, absolutely. I think everyone does to some degree. You can’t put people in boxes and just say HE’S AN INTROVERT or SHE’S AN EXTROVERT and then make judgments based on that. The most important thing is to get to know people and understand that if they lean more toward one trait than the other, it’s okay. Studies show that people in general do lean more toward being introverted or extroverted. It’s just natural, but we are all our own personalities too. So don’t put people in boxes — especially yourself.

INTROVERTS VALUE SOLITARY TIME, BUT EXTROVERTS SHOULD TOO

“What’s so magical about solitude? In many fields, Ericsson told me, it’s only when you’re alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice, which he has identified as the key to exceptional achievement. When you practice deliberately, you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach. … Only when you’re alone … can you ‘go directly to the part that’s challenging to you. If you want to improve what you’re doing you have to be the one who generates the move. Imagine a group class — you’re the one generating the move only a small percentage of the time.”

And that quote goes for both introverts and extroverts. This is why I have an issue with how the education system is set up these days. I walk into public schools and they are centered around groups. The desks are in groups. The schedules are organized around group learning and thinking. The social structures and practices are group centered. Probably the only thing that truly happens in a solitary way is homework (maybe, since many times group study is encouraged) and test taking. I am sure there are exceptions. I hope there are, especially since I have a child in the public school system, even though she happens to be an extrovert. And don’t get me started on church organizations. The good thing about the religion to which I belong is that solitary worship is encouraged, to a degree, but there is also a horrifying amount of “group thinking” going on, as well. To an introvert like me, it’s discouraging and intimidating. Even if I do hold deep beliefs in my religion, the societal end can almost be too much if I’m not careful about how I approach it.

WHY INTROVERTS COME ALIVE ONLINE

“…[W]e’re so impressed by the power of online collaboration that we’ve come to overvalue all group work at the expense of solo thought. We fail to realize that participating in an online working group is a form of solitude all its own. Instead we assume that the success of online collaborations will be replicated in the face-to-face world.”

Wow, does that ring true. I honestly think it’s why more and more people are writing novels now — it’s so much more accessible to write and feel connected to other writers at the same time. I also think it’s why FB took off. I also think it’s why there are so many more problems with being online than we realize. Being online allows you to be solitary, yet participatory. But it’s a false sense of participation, at times, and I think that can lead to issues, especially with extroverts who may realize over time that being online is not nearly as satisfying to them as actually being with people. An introvert may blossom and open up through online interaction, so don’t be surprised if you meet someone face-to-face whom you previously got to know online and they are suddenly a lot more quiet and closed-off than you though they’d be. 

And like the quote says — online collaboration is NOT the same as group face-to-face interaction. Not. Even. Close. They are both so very, very different. Oftentimes you’ll find introverts are much more likely to participate and get busy with a project if meetings and collaboration are handled through online interaction rather than actual group meetings, of which I totally loathe *shudder*.

WHY INTROVERTS ARE SO BORED BY SMALL TALK … AT THE BEGINNING

“It’s not that there’s no small talk. … It’s that it comes not at the beginning of conversations but at the end. In most settings, people use small talk as a way of relaxing into a new relationship, and only once they’re comfortable do they connect more seriously. Sensitive people seem to do the reverse.”

Oy, is that true! Seriously, if you try to “small talk” me to get to know me, you’re in trouble. I will close off like a clam. I want a deep, meaningful conversation and then I’ll small talk with you. I never, ever understood why this was until I read the Quiet book. Now I understand it beautifully. However, it is quite a complicated process to get to the root of why this is, and for the sake of time I’ll boil it down to the roots.

There are two types of people (for the most part): high-reactive and low-reactive. High-reactive people are not extroverts. They are high reactive because they are, by nature, more sensitive to, well, everything. Not just people. Everything. Sound, smell, emotion, all of it. And some people are even more sensitive than that. They are the HSPs, or Highly Sensitive People, like me, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Low-reactives usually turn out to be the extroverts. It’s also good to note that these two types are evident from birth and stay with a person the rest of their life. Of course, there are no boxes here. This is all generalization, but still great to know. Example: My daughter happens to be high-reactive — even more on the end of HSP, like me, BUT she is an extrovert. She is one big ball of sensitive energy. It’s pretty overwhelming to her introverted, sensitive mother. She definitely does not fit into a box!

So the high-reactive people? Usually introverts, yes. This means they process everything differently than an extrovert. High-reactive people, or introverts, or sensitive people — whatever you wish to call them — tend to think in great complexity, probably because they are so observant of their surroundings because they are so sensitive to those surroundings.

“Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments — both physical and emotional — unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss — another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly. … [This] may also explain why [sensitive people] are so bored by small talk. ‘If you’re thinking in more complicated ways … then talking about the weather or where you went for the holidays is not quite as interesting as talking about values or morality.'”

I think this is a good place for me to stop today. I have so much more to explore, but this is already getting so long. I do hope the information I have provided has helped you see into the world of introverts and extroverts a little more. I’ll be back later with even more. If you’re hooked, go check out the book Quiet itself. Trust me, there is WAY much more in that book than I’ve touched on here.

FIND PART 2 HERE

**all quotes belong to Susan Cain or people she has quoted within her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.**

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, Books

“Everybody Loves Country Music — They Just Don’t Know It Yet”

“Everybody loves country music — they just don’t know it yet.”

That’s something my brother said to me about ten months ago. That was the point I started listening to country music in earnest because I was writing Out of Tune, my “country music book.” I wasn’t too keen on country at first, but now my car’s radio station is permanently stuck on the local country music station. It’s all I want to listen to now. I was converted, so to speak.

There are lots of different kinds of country, so it’s kind of silly to me when I hear someone say they HATE ALL COUNTRY. There’s country folk, bluegrass, classic country, country pop, country rock, etc. There are a lot more genres than that, but those are the main ones I’ve found.

COUNTRY FOLK

Think John Denver. Who doesn’t like a good John Denver song every now and then? “I’m leeeeeavin’ on a jet plane!!!!”

Country folk has been described as a mellower and gentler form of country music with more emphasis on song writing than vocals. Many of the artists described as country folk are respected more in mainstream country circles for their song writing abilities. The lyrics of the songs tend to be more thoughtful and emotionally complex than mainstream country. ~ Wikipedia

BLUEGRASS

Think the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? Think “You Are My Sunshine”. Alan Jackson has a fantastic album dedicated to Bluegrass titled, The Bluegrass Album.

Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of Appalachia. It has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English traditional music, and also later influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz elements. ~ Wikipedia

CLASSIC COUNTRY (whee!)

Think Johnny Cash. Have you seen Walk the Line? Yeah, go watch it.

The classic country format can actually be further divided into two formats. The first specializes in hits from the 1920s through the early 1970s (thus including music that is older than almost any other radio format in the United States), and focus primarily on innovators and artists from country music’s Golden Age (including Hank Williams, George Jones and Johnny Cash). The other focuses on hits from the 1960s (including some the above-mentioned performers) through early 1990s, some pre-1960 music, latter-day Golden Age stars and innovators such as Waylon Jennings,Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard) to newer recurrent hits from current-day artists such as George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Reba McEntire. ~ Wikipedia

COUNTRY ROCK

THIS is the country my husband adores — yet he claims to hate country. (Shhh, he doesn’t really hate country if he likes this stuff) Think The Eagles and Bob Dylan.

Country rock is a subgenre of country music, formed from the fusion of rock with country. The term is generally used to refer to the wave of rock musicians who began to record country-flavored records in the late 1960s and early 1970s, beginning with Bob Dylan and The Byrds; reaching its greatest popularity in the 1970s with artists like Emmylou Harris and the Eagles. ~ Wikipedia

COUNTRY POP

If you “hate country,” this is probably what you hate. Think Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban. This is the country I mostly listen to, but I get back to the roots of country and listen to folk and bluegrass as well.

Country pop, with roots in both the countrypolitan sound and in soft rock, is a subgenre of country music that first emerged in the 1970s. Although the term first referred to country music songs and artists that crossed over to Top 40 radio, country pop
acts are now more likely to cross over to adult contemporary. ~ Wikipedia

So chances are, you don’t really hate country. You  just think you do because you haven’t given it a chance yet. I know I thought I hated country since I grew up in a tiny hick town where country was the rule, not the exception. Country is more popular than I’ve always thought, though. When I announced over a year ago that I was going to write a “country music book”, I was blown away by how many people said they love country. I think since country truly does reach down to the roots of who we are, it has the potential to touch everyone.

Oh, and if you’re a Firefly fan, I feel strongly that you’re country at heart.

Do you hate country? Love it? I’d love to hear where you stand on your music preferences.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, Out of Tune

Sneak Peek — Out of Tune

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Twenty-year-old Maggie Roads’ parents are legendary in the country music world. She wants nothing more than to follow in their footsteps, but the limelight isn’t reserved for singers who can’t carry a tune, let alone keep a rhythm.

When her parents tell her they’re getting divorced, Maggie decides it’s time to leave home and take her future into her own hands. Moving in with Cole, her best friend and sometimes boyfriend, might not be the best of ideas, but she’s got to start somewhere. Their off-and-on romance gets even more complicated when Maggie crushes on her new voice teacher, Nathan, who unlocks her stunning potential. A sensational music career of her own is finally within reach, but Maggie might need more than perfect pitch to find what she’s really looking for.

Out of Tune is a clean novel suitable for young adult to adult readers.

It’s a little less than a month before Out of Tune is officially released. For a long time I’ve gone back and forth with this book — especially when my publisher told me they were closing their doors and that Out of Tune would be mine to do with as I pleased. At the time, I had submitted the novel and it was with my editor there. It was a tough decision, honestly. I think Out of Tune is marketable enough to publish with a publisher (dare I say even a big publisher?), but now I was faced with publishing it on my own.

You have to understand that I thought this book was going to come out in the spring of 2014 with my publisher. My little heart was set on it. I had already made plans, and since I had some good momentum built up with my other books, I didn’t want to throw this one into the querying trenches and cross my fingers that maybe an agent would sign it in a decent amount of time, and maybe they’d think it didn’t need to be completely rewritten, and maybe they’d pitch it to some great editors at great big houses, and maybe it would sell and maybe it would come out before 2016 or 2017 (yes, big publishing is that slow). All of it was a Big Fat Maybe, and well, since I have momentum, why would I do that with this book when it was already with an amazing editor and I know how to publish my own work, already have a business set up, and even a good cover? So that’s where we are, and I’m excited that Out of Tune will be released December 3, 2013.

So, in all that excitement, here’s some more information about the creation of Out of Tune — the official novel that has made me a Huge Country Music fan for life.

BOOK TRAILER

Yay! There’s a book trailer for Out of Tune! 

IDEA

The idea for Out of Tune came to me probably about six or seven years ago. I have always wanted to play the guitar. I still don’t have one, but I would like to get one some day when I can afford it, and I’d like to take some lessons and learn how to play a few songs. Maybe even sing. Gulp. But the closest I could get to for the moment was write a story about a girl who plays the guitar and sings. When I started thinking about plot possibilities and themes and conflict, I decided, well heck, what if this girl can’t sing? What if she’s so bad that everyone, even her parents, are embarrassed for her? It all took off from there.

The funniest thing of all is that I knew I wanted this book to be about country music, but that I didn’t really like or know country music. I mean, I know it, kind of … because I grew up in a town where the high school is next to a dairy farm. Yes. Cows. Every football game was bathed in the scent of cows and fresh manure. We won a lot of games because of that since the other teams weren’t used to it and we were. Probably half the population of my high school owned cowboy boots, or at least a hat and a pair of Wranglers. And a lot of my friends listened to country music. Every dance played a  lot of country. I even knew how to line dance. But … I resisted country with every fiber of my being. Now, though, after immersing myself in country music for almost 11 months since starting the novel, I love country more than any other music. I got back to my roots, and I’ve finally accepted them. Because of that, Out of Tune is very close to my heart.

TIME

I started writing Out of Tune in January of 2013, this year. I finished it the first week of March. I even queried the dang thing, with some interest but not much luck. I also submitted it to Rhemalda Publishing, my publisher at the time. After some initial revisions, they told me I needed to rewrite the entire novel. It was written in first person present (not my strongest POV), and they wanted it rewritten in third person past. So I tried it for a few chapters, realized they were correct, and rewrote the entire novel in a few weeks. It was so much better, and I’ll be forever grateful to them for their suggestions and help.

EXCERPT

Want a little peek inside Out of Tune? This scene takes place after Maggie has moved in with her best friend, Cole. He’s in a band, and she’s been waiting patiently to sing with them … even though Cole is all of a sudden not as supportive as Maggie thinks he should be.

'Click Here to Read the 'Out of Tune' Excerpt'

 

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Out of Tune

Sneak Peek — Catch

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When eighteen-year-old Miranda chases a purse snatcher on the Las Vegas Strip, the last thing she expects is for the pursuit to turn into an extended game of hide-and-seek. All Miranda wants are the old black and white photographs buried at the bottom of her purse. They’re the only things she has left of the grandmother she never knew. But how much is she willing to put on the line to save them? And is it possible she’s falling in love with a thief?

My friend Natalie Whipple calls Catch a mini book. I like the sound of that! It’s not as pretentious as the term “novella”, nor as dismissive as “short story”. Whatever you want to call Catch, it’s 20,000 words (most novels are at least over 50,000) and you can probably read it in less than two hours if you’re not interrupted — longer if you’re a slower reader, of course.

So, want to know some stats about Catch? Here goes!

IDEA

I honestly can’t remember how I came up with the idea for Catch. All I know is that I wanted to write a short story and publish it on my own. This happened before my publisher informed me that they were closing their doors. So, although it may seem I decided to publish Catch out of nowhere once I made the announcement that I would be publishing all my own work, I had actually started writing Catch long before that, and had discussed with my publisher that it would be an independent project.

Since Catch takes place in Vegas, the idea of games is prominent. It’s one of the reasons I was so excited to write the story. Falling for a guy amidst all the chances of winning and losing? Winner!

TIME

I started writing Catch the middle of August and finished it in fourteen days. I think the only reason I finished it so quickly (for me, anyway) is because I started on the day my daughter began first grade. That meant she would be in school for six hours every day, giving me plenty of time to work! And work, I did. I received a bit of feedback for the story from one reader, did revisions, and then sent off the story to my editor. Edits went super fast because the story is short, and soon we were into copyedits, proofreading, and layout. Yay! Overall, from start to finish, Catch was conceived and published in 25 days. I definitely plan to do more “mini-books” like this in the future.

EXCERPT

Want a little peek inside Catch? Here’s a scene from the middle of the book. Miranda is in the midst of communicating with the guy who stole her purse. He’s made a deal with her that as long as they play hide-and-seek, he’ll return something of hers from the purse. Of course, all she really wants is the photographs of her grandmother she left in the purse, but Ollie isn’t about to give those up since playing the game is just too much fun.

'Click Here to Read the 'Catch' Excerpt'

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Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Catch

How Do You Feel About Authors Reviewing Books?

A few years ago, I noticed an interesting thing happening amongst author acquaintances of mine — the book review exchange. Author #1 agrees to review Author #2’s book if Author #2 agrees to review his book in return. But when Author #2 gets online and sees Author #1’s review of his book, things aren’t looking so happy. Three stars? It “wasn’t up to par?” But Author #2 gave Author #1 FIVE stars, and a glowing review. Isn’t that what authors are supposed to do for each other? Where’s the support? But Author #1 doesn’t feel bad. Author #1 says, “Hey, you said leave an honest review. Why are you so upset? I didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve helped you out.” But did he? If he honestly didn’t care for the book, is he supposed to lie in his review? Find a clever and more professional way to say only nice things about it and give it a higher rating? Pull out of his obligation to write the review in the first place? Should authors agree to only give a review if they loved the book? Do we all just need to grow a backbone? These questions are valid not only for review exchanges, but authors reviewing any books in general. What is professional? Is there a line?

I’ll admit I did the review exchange a few times. Sometimes it worked out great, sometimes it didn’t. I also reviewed books on my own without any exchanges, but I eventually decided that as a published author I was no longer comfortable reviewing books, whether I knew the author or not. I took all books off my Goodreads profile, deleted every review I’ve ever written online, and decided never to say yes to exchanging reviews or review requests (even from friends, and yes, this was a difficult decision). I’m happy to blurb/endorse a book for another author, help out with marketing where I can by spreading the word, and recommend books in certain situations, but to this day, I am not comfortable writing reviews in public under my author name.

I’ve heard authors say, “Well, I read and review books, and I always will. I’m a reader as well as an author. I have every right to review books and share my opinions about them.” I think that may be so, and perhaps some authors can pull it off more gracefully than I can, but I’m far too worried I’ll unintentionally hurt feelings and burn bridges with an honest review, or cause distrust and skepticism with a ridiculously glowing one. Not to mention the hurt feelings I’ve observed when authors take time to review some books, but not others, when there’s clearly not enough time for authors to review everything out there, even from all their author friends.

How do you feel about authors reviewing books? If you’re a published author, do you review books online under your author name? I’m curious as to other viewpoints on this topic, so share how you feel. I’m curious!

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Reading and Reviews, Working With Other Writers