Changing the World Over Donuts

Last Friday I had the great pleasure of speaking to 4th and 5th graders at an Elementary School in Maryland.

It was crazy fun and went by in a flash. I met with ten different small groups for only ten minutes each session, which was never enough time. I wasn’t quite sure I had something to say, but those kids sure had plenty. I loved hearing what they are reading and writing and I enjoyed answering their excellent questions.

I tried very hard to leave them with the message that words are powerful. Their words can change minds and hearts and they are here long after we are gone.

I went home with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I wish I could visit with elementary age kids more often; they are certainly good for the soul.

Tomorrow I will have the opportunity to meet with another local group. This time it’s the Rotary Club.

I wasn’t too worried about it until I looked up what the Rotary Club is. For some reason, I thought they were the old guys who zoom around on their scooters in the Mummers parade.

bikes in parades

Turns out, they’re not. They’re actually a group of business and professional men and women who to meet to talk about how they can help this world. They’re a service organization.

So now I’m pretty intimidated. I’m not sure I have anything to offer them beyond my story. Which isn’t really helping the world. At least not directly. Hopefully, my stories help entertain and maybe even inspire, but world changing? Probably not.

Like the elementary school kids, these folks are busy, so the meeting is brief. It starts long before those elementary kids are even on their buses, includes breakfast, and finishes up in a neat hour. The friend who invited me to come speak said they’d just like to hear my publishing story. That story is a long and winding road that changes every time I tell it.

long and winding road

It’s not that I’m embellishing with the glint of history, it’s just that I always try to condense it and I’m never quite sure if I get my cliff notes right.

What to include, what not to include? There have been so many false starts and pointless tangents. Because how do we know what really influences our journeys? Was it the word of a wise editor or the nudge of a trusted friend? Maybe it was a comment from a stranger or the doubt of a family member.

I freely admit, I did not always make the wisest choices as I followed my heart to where I am now, but I think it’s mightily better to follow your heart than the crowd.

Reflecting on the influences upon my own story, I can’t help but picture the eager faces I encountered last Friday. I hope that the words I said and the answers I gave are little seeds planted in those kiddos that will someday help them know the power of their own voices.

And tomorrow?

I don’t know what I’ll say, or if any of it will be of consequence, but I’ll offer it up straight from my heart and hope it helps make the world a little better.

Or at least entertains some mighty impressive people over donuts.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



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Changing the World

I have a speaking engagement coming up tomorrow in front of a tough audience.

Elementary school students.

It’s Career Day and I was invited to an Elementary School in Maryland, along with lots of people who likely have much more exciting careers than mine. I’ll have just 10 minutes per group to talk about what I do and answer questions.

I’m in a quandary about what I should tell them.

Writing is pretty boring. At least the act of it.

Unless you’re inside my brain, I appear awfully sedentary. Most days I bore my office mates to sleep.


So, what should I tell the kids?

Obviously, they’ll find my dog writing much more interesting than my women’s fiction writing or my occasional freelance pieces about parenting or organics or writing. They probably know more than me about marketing yourself via social media. And I’m pretty sure that talking about the largest part of my writing day – editing – would bore the life out of them, as it does me.

My tentative plan is to dazzle them with the dogs. I’ve even printed out a few 8x10s of some of my more exciting foster dogs to flash them.

My biggest dog- Whoopi. Continue reading “Changing the World”

The Difference Two Weeks Makes…

“When you woke up this morning were you still a big shot author with a new puppy?”

That was the text I got from my husband who was out of the country on business this week.

And it does feel like a ‘pinch-me’ kind of week. My memoir, Another Good Dog, sold to Pegasus Books for publication summer 2018, and after fostering 95 puppies and dogs, I’ve finally decided to ‘foster fail’ and adopt a puppy from our current litter.

Rewind two weeks. Continue reading “The Difference Two Weeks Makes…”

How Amazon Gets My Panties in a Twist

This time around I was going to do it right.

I started planning for the launch of my new book, Practicing Normal, six months ago. I was going to do things differently this time. No more promote by the seat of your pants. No, this would be strategic.

Practicing Normal Cover

First, I researched the idea of street teams, trading emails with several highly successful writers about how they utilized their teams. I brainstormed ways to make my team fun and rewarding for team members. I named them Cara’s Cronies. Then I planned my appeal and carried it out through several rounds of newsletters, finally landing 12 fabulous women from all over the country who agreed to help me promote my book, but also to be my sounding board and support. I’m excited and humbled to have their help.

I began reading a gazillion different book blogging sites, looking for ones that had plenty of engagement and the type of subscribers who might like my book. I read posts, commented, got to know the bloggers. Then I made my list and waited for the advance ecopies to be ready on Net Galley. When they were, I began querying bloggers and asking nicely for their reviews. Twenty bloggers agreed to read and review my book and post their reviews near the launch date of June 6.

Then I got serious about my newsletter, promoting it with giveaways and special reveals and spending countless hours editing it and adding pictures and recipes and news of my works-in-progress. I invited people to subscribe online, at events, and through emails. I tried (and failed) to master Rafflecopter. I even marked up a special calendar to hold myself accountable in preparation and distribution. (If you’d like to subscribe CLICK HERE. You might win something!)

When the advance paperback copies arrived two weeks ago, I swooned over the gorgeous copies and then sent them to a few big bloggers and book stores who will probably never consider reviewing or promoting my book, including Modern Mrs. Darcy, one of my favorite blogs and Nora Roberts’ book store, Turn the Page, in Maryland. My publisher sent copies to my Cronies, and I instructed them to read the book and prepare a review but to wait to post it until I gave them the go-ahead so that they could be timed with the book’s launch in June.

DSC_7686 (2)

I spoke with the proprietor of my favorite York establishment to see if I could hold a public launch party there on the night before my book came out. He loved the idea and even offered the first beers on the house.

I came up with a clever marketing plan to get readers to post pictures of themselves ‘practicing normal’ and holding my book on twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I would introduce the plan in my last newsletter before the book came out and offer prizes! Clever, clever me! This was gonna be fun!

Everything was set and the ball began rolling earlier this week. My Cronies received their copies and started reading, and the first book blogger posted her review. Six weeks until the book comes out everything was right on schedule.

And then….. Continue reading “How Amazon Gets My Panties in a Twist”

Writing Doldrums

I’m in the doldrums.

I’ve polished my manuscript until parts seemed to be wearing through and it began to feel like I was rearranging furniture. Now it’s safely languishing in my agent’s TBR pile. Even as it’s tempting to go back in there and fiddle, I’m staying out of that world. Jem and Liz and Jake and Fish and Coach are safe from my meddling fingers.

My other novel-in-progress is marinating. Marinating is what I call the time between edits. It’s very hard to be objective and see your story clearly unless you leave it lie for at least a few weeks between edits. Otherwise, it’s like trying find anything on a map on your phone—you’re too close to see anything in perspective. Which means I have to leave Kat and Dylan and Pilgrim and Gwen alone to work their problems out, at least for a little while.

So, no fiction. Which isn’t easy for me.

Instead, I’m working on guest blog posts for my upcoming blog tour for Practicing Normal (which comes out June 6!!) and mostly coming up blank. Plus, I’m putting way too much time into blog posts for my dog blog. And still my writing energies are stopped up.

I’ve become so desperate I’m thinking of trying my hand at a short story (again). I’ve never written a decent short story.  Every short story I’ve ever attempted either turned into a novel or landed in my ‘crap I wrote’ folder to languish for all eternity. But you never know, maybe this time I’ll figure out the genre. Either that, or I’ll have a good start on my next novel.

Writing is not a job for the unmotivated. There is no boss telling me what to do, although, true confession, I kinda wish I had a boss telling me what to do. If I had a boss and a specific job description, then I’d know when I was finished a job (plus I might have benefits and overtime and paid vacation). Instead, writing work is endless, spiraling into the land of all-the-ways-to-waste-productive-time-productively. Blogging, for instance. Writing this post is not required of me. And yet, here I am, musing on nothing much. Wasting time, really, but productively because if nothing else I’m honing my craft.


And that’s just it. If you’re gonna be a writer, ya gotta write.

Every day.

Even if it’s just a journal entry or an email to a friend. Slap those words down, one after the other. Do that long enough and eventually you hit on a few good combinations.

That said, I’m gonna head out to the wilds and do some short story wrangling. (Can you tell my short story will involve horses? And maybe cowboys. Hmmm….) I’m toying with pasting the beginnings of that story right here on the blog, if for no other reason than to hold myself accountable. So watch for installment number one next week.


What are you writing? Anything good? Well, I hope at least your writing is humming.

Have a great Thursday and thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my stories and blogs, please visit If you’d like to catch up on all my adventures, subscribe to my (occasional) newsletter.

Getting Serious about Writing and YOU

Okay, it’s time to get serious about this writing gig. No more lolligogging about reading books about how to be a better writer. The excrement is about to hit the fan. I have a new book coming out June 6, 2017! We are now in the three-month countdown and I need YOU. (Yes, I’m serious. I’m tired of trying to do this all by myself.)

What? You don’t think there’s any way you can help? I beg to differ.

My first two novels, I’m Not Her and Girl’s Weekend have done well. There were plenty of lovely reviews from lovely people who took the time to read and then write about what they read. A bunch of other awesome people picked my book for their book club and then invited me to come to the meeting! That was super fun and luckily most everyone liked the book (there was this one grumpy lady….but even that was fun).


Still other amazing people recommended my books or gave them as gifts. So all in all, both books did okay, even cracking the bestselling list on Barnes & Noble’s Nook and gracing the New & Notable section of Apple ibooks (right next to Hamilton!!).


But this next book? I want it to do more than okay! Here’s what one famous writer (and you’ll have to either subscribe to my newsletter or buy the book to find out who!) said about Practicing Normal: Continue reading “Getting Serious about Writing and YOU”

Nature Vs Nurture: Am I a Story Genius?

I buckled down and got serious about my assigned reading this week, plowing through three chapters of Story Genius. The picking apart of the story writing process prickled my nerves a bit. I’ve never been good at following directions and details bore me to tears, but I pledged to read this book so I powered on.

I found myself, nodding, duh, duh, duh at some points and at other times I underlined sections like I did in American History class, thinking, “This is the part that will be on the test.”

And then I went for a run and thought about it. I don’t have time to read to be reading. My shelves are creaking with books I’m dying to read. So, what is the point here? Why am I forcing myself to read craft books? Can’t I just write? Continue reading “Nature Vs Nurture: Am I a Story Genius?”