books for book clubs

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

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

Your Hero Sucks

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I met Ed online awhile ago, and was excited when he announced that his thriller novel, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, was going to be published by Black Opal Books. I’ve already got the book on my TBR list because if anyone knows me at all, they know I love a good thriller with some depth to it — especially depth that has to do with family relationships. And that’s exactly what Ed’s book sounds like. But Ed says his hero might suck, so read on to find out more of what he’s talking about. Maybe your hero sucks too? Somehow, I have a feeling this might not be the worst thing ever.

E.A. Aymar studied creative writing, earned a Masters degree in Literature and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers and SinC. He and his wife live with a relatively benign animal menagerie just outside of Washington, D.C.

I have a problem with my hero, the protagonist of my debut thriller I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead. He’s not very heroic. After his wife is murdered, he decides to seek revenge, and in doing so he places revenge over the importance of raising his daughter. This troubled me when I published the novel and, although the reviews have been largely cheerful, a few readers took issue with that aspect of his character. I understand their concern, even though it seems to me that any number of characters in literature and television choose duty (or perceived duty) over family. Still, though, I thought the critiques were valid, and considered them constructive – maybe the choice he made could have been presented differently, and that’s on me.

But it also touches another topic – heroes, and how they should be depicted. I wrote a thriller and, as a hopeful entrant to that genre, I had to take a long look at the typical hero of these books and what they tend to embody. The following excerpted review of the film Jack Reacher, based on Lee Child’s celebrated series, highlights some of the same issues I have with my genre’s typical protagonists. Note that I don’t share all of the author’s views; these are like my opinions, but on crack: 

Jack Reacher is the embodiment of a certain kind of narrow alpha fantasy. He is the best at all the things: the smartest detective, the best driver, the greatest fighter.… His mind works faster than anyone else’s; he sees patterns no one else sees. He is Batman without the silly costume. He is the entire A-Team rolled up in one, such that he can disappear like a ghost (though he somehow pulls his military pension each month), but will still walk into a room at the most dramatic moment, just after someone has said, “You don’t find this guy unless he wants to be found.

Naturally, being so exceptional isolates him in his noble loneliness…. In particular, he has no time for women, who only exist in his world as victims to save or to manfully mourn. For those who buy into the extremity of his excellence — for those whose suspension of disbelief rivals the suspension system of the Golden Gate Bridge — he’s a potent fantasy. But for everyone else, it can be tiring listening to subsidiary characters go on and on about him, or watching him stand three steps ahead of everyone else, waiting with annoyance for them to catch up.”

Like I said, I don’t agree with everything the author wrote, but she makes some good points. Genre writers rightfully bristle at the notion that their work isn’t comparable to literary fiction, especially with the assumption that plot twists and timing are more valued in thrillers than characterization and prose, but the archetype depicted above, when realized, doesn’t help. Still, though, it’s a bit of a quandary. We like James Bond movies, and find Bond fun, but the character depicted in the movie is decidedly not a complex person. And writing about a character without complexity is describing a corpse.

Happily, there are a number of writers in my field who create great protagonists: Meg Abbott, Chris F. Holm, Lawrence Block, Michael Sears, Lou Berney, Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and many more. And they don’t sacrifice prose or good storytelling to do it. If you want to learn how to write a good thriller or mystery, check out their work.

In the end, you want to make someone complex and believable without disappointing fans of your chosen genre. And you want to create someone compelling to you. The choices your character makes may trouble you, give you a sleepless night or two, and some readers or reviewers might find their actions disheartening. The trick is to keep the reader invested when that doubt surfaces, to keep them turning pages even faster when their devotion shakes. You know you won’t satisfy every reader, but that’s okay. You want to be a good writer. You want to create a good character. You want readers to believe.

ISWYD cover

Tom Starks has spent the three years since his wife’s murder struggling to single-handedly raise their daughter, Julie, while haunted by memories of his dead spouse. When he learns that the man accused of her murder, Chris Taylor, has been released from prison, Tom hires a pair of hit men to get his revenge. But when the hit men botch the assassination of Chris Taylor, Tom is inadvertently pulled into their violent world. 

And now those hit men are after him and his daughter.

Add I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead to your Goodreads shelf.

E.A. Aymar’s debut thriller, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, was just published by Black Opal Books. To learn more about I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, and to watch the animated trailer, visit www.eaymar.com/novel

Purchase I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead on Amazon, B&N, or Black Opal Books.

Find E.A. on eaymar.comFacebook, and Twitter.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Guest Posts, Writing Process

My Affair with Canada Does Not Stop With the Music

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I’m so excited to welcome Sheryll Caulfield to my blog today! I met Sherryl online just a short while ago, but I’m already impressed with her sweet, caring and attentive personality and her professionalism and enthusiasm for everything writing and publishing. Please welcome her today as she talks about country music and all things Canada (which is awesome because she lives in Australia), including her new novel that is just out.

Sherryl Caulfield is an Australian-born marketer, traveller and writer. After twenty years working for some of the world’s leading technology companies and a stint with Outward Bound, she longed to write about the human experience and the redemptive qualities of nature. Her first novel, Seldom Come By, Book 1 of The Iceberg Trilogy, will be released in December 2013.

Michelle is right. Everybody does love country music – even if they don’t admit it. I thought I wasn’t a fan. But you know I grew up listening to a British-born, Australian songstress singing about a river in America, “The Banks of the Old Ohio”. My mother would hum Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy”, my brother would sing Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” under his breath while I personally favoured “Canadian Dan Hill” and his “Sometimes when we Touch”.

Then came the other Canadians:

Cowboy Junkies (how country is that name?)

Shania Twain Jane Arden and her Insensitive anthem And the incomparable

k.d. lang who covers practically every genre there is

Love, love the music, but like Michelle’s Maggie from Out of Tune, can’t sing to save myself.

My affair with Canada does not stop with the music though. I’m a fan of Canadian literature as well. When I was twenty I read No Fixed Address, An Amorous Journey about a young, sexually-liberated, travelling lingerie salewoman who drove a Black Mercedes. I became enthralled with Arachne and Canada. And then came the idiosyncratic The Shipping News, followed by the Novia Scotian drama, Fall on Your Knees, leading up my recent fascination with the novels of Joseph Boyden.

Yes, I am truly, madly, deeply in love with Canada. I’ve travelled to many parts and still have many more to visit. But it was on my first trip to Canada that I came across a single woman whose image followed me home and into the pages of a series I’ve called The Iceberg Trilogy – epic adventurous love stories about three irrepressible Canadian women and their remarkable men.

They’re epic because each woman has a disastrous experience that defines their life; each one has a breathtaking, heartbreaking hard-won romance that is the love of their life; and each one celebrates the frail mysteries of families in all their beautiful twisted forms. The Icebook Trilogy also takes you across the stunning land and seascapes of Canada with cinematic, signature moments that you will never forget.

My first book, Seldom Come By (Book 1 of The Iceberg Trilogy) is a about teenage girl, called Rebecca, who feels trapped by her surroundings.

This soon-to-be fifteen-year-old lives on a remote Newfoundland island overlooking Iceberg Alley, which to her is the only redeeming feature about the place. Icebergs are the most exciting spectacle in the months of monotony and mediocrity that mark her year. If it weren’t for icebergs Rebecca doesn’t know what she would have to look forward to. Just the thought of climbing on board one of those frozen forms and seeing where it might take her is magnetic.

To Rebecca icebergs represent something magical; a sign of lightness in darkness, a sign of hope and endless possibilities.

And then one spring, this young woman who lives and breathes longing, is looking out to sea, yearning for an iceberg, multiple icebergs, when she discovers a shipwrecked sailor and her world is never the same again.

Nineteen year old Samuel, near death, with his blonde straggly hair and his out-of-this-world Samuel smile and his far-flung experiences and talk of nude sculptures and the teal waters of the Carribean, is like no one Rebecca has ever imagined, let alone met.

One look at her sister, Rachel, and Rebecca knows they both are in the same boat: Samuel’s boat. The summer Samuel stays with them, recovering from his misadventure at sea, ignoring requests from his brother to come home, is the most exciting summer of Rebecca’s life.

And then one day she casually asks him, ‘Have you ever been up close to an iceberg?’

‘No,’ he tells her, ‘but you know it would be something, to be able to get up close and have a look at one, don’t you think?’

‘Yes,’ she sighs, in a way that is more an inhalation than an exhalation.

Seldom Come By

Seldom Come By, named after an actual place in Newfoundland, is Rebecca Crowe’s coming of age story and Samuel and Rebecca’s soaring and unforgettable love story. It’s out on now! Come, meet Samuel and Rebecca and the iceberg that started it all. Visit. www.theicebergtrilogy.com. Oh, did I mention, it’s set in 1914? Don’t let that stop you 😉

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Guest Posts

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

michelle-d-argyle-catch-cover

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'

If you’d like to order directly from Michelle, please choose the ‘MDA Books’ link below.

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Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Catch

Bonded Book Club Visit

Bonded; Three Fairy Tales, One BondOn Wednesday night, I went to a book club run by my friend Ilima Todd. It was her month to choose the book, so she chose Bonded, which makes me feel all sorts of special. Thanks, Ilima!

I’ve done a few book club visits now. I think this was my fifth visit, but the first one I’ve done for Bonded. I was a little worried about how it all might work with three different books. Would it be too much to discuss all of those? Turns out several readers didn’t have the chance to finish all three books, but it was still easy to have a great discussion. Everyone was so kind, even when we discussed things not everyone particularly liked. Mostly, the discussion revolved around questions everyone had about the characters or the plot. What I find most interesting is that these questions are ones I’ve heard time and time again (especially when Cinders was first published). It’s fascinating because readers seem to gravitate toward the same issues every single time. At first, I worried this is because I’ve done something wrong in my writing. Did I not spend enough time on certain aspects? Did I leave a few things too vague? Did I do it all WRONG? (That’s like my greatest fear, ever, mind you).

I’ve realized over time, though, that I haven’t written anything wrong. As I’ve discussed before, there are no right answers. Everyone brings different things to a novel when they read it, but that’s why it is so interesting how different readers ask me the same questions over and over. To me, that means I did something right. The story I’ve written obviously begs different questions and different themes that make a large group of readers stop and think about those same things in a critical way. It’s more than entertainment, and that’s something pretty great.

I think attending book groups is one of my favorite things to do as author. It’s not because attention is focused on me and my book. It’s because I get an insight, in person, how my book has affects readers. I’ve heard the highest praise in these book groups and the harshest criticism. I’ve grown a lot because of it. Wouldn’t trade any of it for anything! Book clubs are awesome. I don’t belong to one, but someday I might. Do you belong to one?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Bonded, Books

Bonded Launch Party at The King’s English Bookstore

First, a suspenseful story.

I live about 40 minutes away from the bookstore that hosted me for my launch party. There’s a stretch of freeway between me and Salt Lake City, which means I was looking forward to a nice drive with three friends. Forty minutes of talk-time isn’t anything I’ll ever complain about! Unless, of course, I almost hit a deer on the freeway while we’re talking. It was rolling across the road, apparently just having been hit by a car. I was barreling along at about 68 mph, when my friend in the front seat pointed out that something wasn’t right up ahead (note, “up ahead” means, like, a split second up ahead). Since about six years earlier, I ran over (it was lying in the road, just hit) an entire elk on a backroad on my way to work (in a sports car, mind you), I had that flash through my head as my brain recognized the deer flopping across the road ahead of us. I swerved because I was thinking there is no way I’m running over a huge freaking deer again. I think my brain registered there wasn’t a car next to me, otherwise, I would have caused a nasty accident. Later, we learned the deer did cause a four-car pileup. Probably the people right behind us. I am very lucky to have missed the deer and not hit another car at the same time. Very lucky.

So that out of the way, we made it to my launch party right at the starting time, thank goodness! We could have all been in the hospital, but for the next three months, I’m thanking God in my prayers for keeping me and my friends safe.

The launch party itself was a fantastic, super, amazingly wonderful success! I wasn’t too nervous, I had fun reading my excerpt, and two of my good friends came dressed up as characters from the book. My six-year-old was well-behaved, and even asked a cute question during the Q&A section. There were a lot of people in the signing line (I consider it a total success if at least one book sells!), and I had so many friends and family show up, I went home with tears of gratitude in my eyes.

I want to thank every single person who came, and a huge thank you to The Kings English for hosting me! A launch party is a celebration, and that is exactly what this felt like.

Thank you to Janci Patterson and Lisa Shafer for most of these pics!

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Bonded, Books

The Post-Revision Antsy Blues

So I’m not really into post-revision on Pieces yet since I’m waiting for two more readers to get me feedback, but after getting feedback from my other readers, and doing major slit-my-wrist revisions on the book, I’m sitting here staring at my computer and wondering what the heck to do with myself. I’m antsy. I’m nervous. I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat. My brain feels like it was a rubberband all stretched out and then somebody let go. Now I’m lying on the floor, helpless. I’d watch a movie, but I’m too antsy. I’d read a book, but I’m so tired of reading after reading through my book like five times, forward and backward and up and down. The worst thing of all is that I’m exhausted. I’ve been exhausted for a long time now because when I do revisions, I DO REVISIONS. I don’t do anything else. I don’t do laundry. I don’t cook (much). I don’t clean (much). I don’t sleep (much). I just revise until I make myself sick, which I’ve done.

Does anyone else get like this?

Also, let me clarify what revisions are. Jennifer Hubbard did a great post about what revisions are for her. She sums it up better than I can.

As Jane Lebak notes, this is about more than fixing commas. This is about deleting entire scenes, moving chapters around, writing new scenes. Bringing in new characters, or getting rid of old ones, or merging two characters who have too-similar reasons for being in the story. Changing the plot: changing what happens or when or in what order. Chopping unnecessary pages from the beginning, or the end, or even the middle. Introducing new subplots. Jane Lebak discusses the most thorough kind of revision: the rewrite that starts from a blank page. Sometimes it does come down to that.

And, yeah, I’ve done the rewrite that starts from a blank page before. More than once. Thankfully, this book does not need that extensive of revisions. I’ve restructured and rewritten and added and deleted and shuffled stuff around. Now I’m onto the line stuff, and then a final read-through for copyedits. Then it all goes to my editor and I get to do all of the edits she sends to me. Then more copyedits.

I guess all I’m saying is when people ask me how hard it is write a book, I honestly don’t even know where to start. It’s definitely a job that goes beyond the mind. It’s physical too. Revisions, for me, are the equivalent of running a marathon. I’m pretty sure I end up burning as many calories.

The post-revision antsy blues get me every time. Like my friend Becca said to me, last time this happened to her, she sat in her office chair in the middle of the room and just spun around forever. Sometimes that’s all your mind can handle! I really just don’t know what to do with myself while my brain gets back to normal. Yoga. Maybe some yoga.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Pieces