Saturday, July 28, 2018

Unstoppable: My Life So Far

Unstoppable: My Life So Far is the memoir Maria Sharapova published in 2017, and it's an unforgettable read. I'm a tennis buff and love hearing about her drive and determination to win on the court, but her life story is fascinating, too.

Born in Russia one year after the Chernobyl incident, she writes, "If you had to pick one event that made me a player, it'd be Chernobyl." Because of the explosion, her family moved from the deadly area to the resort town of Sochi -- where they had tennis courts.

Aunt Nell and her 3-legged dog Sport

I remember where I was when I heard the chilling news of the explosion; in the small town of Tallassee, Alabama. I lived with my great aunt Nell, and after work I'd take long bike rides on lonely country roads. Every Friday night, Aunt Nell and I would go out to dinner with her friends at the Kowaliga Restaurant on Lake Martin (that's pronounced Ku-lie-ja). We'd eat too much, laugh too hard, talk too long, then come home too full to sleep, so we'd watch TV, laughing and talking some more. They were good, simple times, and I'm grateful for them, and for her.

Much later, my aunt asked me how many years I lived with her. "Six months," I said.

But back to Unstoppable. The main reason I want to share this book is because of what Sharapova says about writing. "I came to believe that the physical act of writing can reeducate your brain. By writing, you access certain thoughts and feelings that might otherwise remain hidden. You can bring them to the surface, where they can be understood and then dealt with."

Wow, right?

"I also came to believe that you can plant positive thoughts in your psyche in the same way. Put it on paper and in it goes. Which is why, if you look through those diaries, which I have saved and used to help write this book, you will see pages given over to nothing but positive phrases in the nature of 'Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Yes, you can.'"

It's no wonder Sharapova has won five grand slams! My favorite line from her book, though, the one that rings true, deep to my core, is this: "It's important to remember, but it's more important to forget." The context is a stunning defeat in the Australian Open that Sharapova was wise to put behind her, but the words mean so much more. In tennis it's important to learn the techniques, but at match time you have to stop thinking and just play. Remember, then forget. Trust what you've learned and be there when the ball bounces off the court and heads toward your racquet.

Aunt Nell's life wasn't an easy one, but she was good at living in the moment. The Great Depression, loved ones lost in WWII, a house burned to the ground, these didn't stop her from relishing laughter and friends and family. She would agree with Sharapova, too. "It's important to remember, but it's more important to forget." She's been gone almost twenty years and I still miss my Aunt Nell, and still think of her when I read about strong, determined, amazing women like Maria Sharapova..

Monday, July 2, 2018

Author Interview

I'm in the latest Red Adept Publishing Newsletter, so here's a chance to meet me if you haven't already! 
You will also learn more about Red Adept Publishing: what's new, what's on sale, and what's coming down the pike. 
Check out the newsletter here:  
RAP Newsletter Interview 
I can't wait for you to read it!
#RedAdeptPublishing #AuthorInterview 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Latest Review

I love this new review of The Existence of Pity on Amazon

5 out of 5 stars
Intriguing coming of age story
June 5, 2018

“Intriguing coming of age story set against a beautiful yet dangerous Colombian backdrop that will appeal to anyone who has ever experienced any kind of spiritual dilemma / journey, especially in their youth. All the main characters make seemingly incomprehensible decisions, but Zokan does a great job of fleshing those decisions out without oversimplifying this family's complex situation. Every teen lives in a complicated world; the way Josie navigates her world endears her to the reader, yet again, without oversimplifying the other characters. Good crossover novel in terms of audience and age appeal. I enjoyed it and have already recommended to my wife and my teenage son.”

Wow. "Every teen lives in a complicated world;" so true! I also love that this review is written by a fellow author who knows the effort involved in writing a novel and getting it published. 

Wes Dannreuther has written South Toward Horn and is looking for an agent or publisher to send it out to the world. Of his manuscript, an adventure story-within-a-story based along the Gulf Coast, he says, "I'm just ready to have the book out there because I think it's worthy of people's time to read it and I think a lot of people will like it." Amen, brother! That's why we write!

I have my fingers crossed that Red Adept Publishing will pick him up.  Keep an eye out for Wes! You can visit him here:

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"The Existence of Pity" Made the List!

Every month, Red Adept Publishing puts out a list of its bestsellers, and I'm on the list for February 2018! RAP makes a very cool video on Facebook showing the top ten, and I nearly gave up hope as I watched the countdown. I've never gotten so close to the top before. But then, my beautiful cover popped up in the SECOND SPOT!

Here's the video that had me holding my breath:

You can check them out on RAP's website: February TOP TEN  but here are our covers. Each one is awesome, of course. One is a USA Today bestseller, and two are New York Times bestsellers!







Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Lessons Outside the Comfort Zone

Every time I reach out of my comfort zone, I learn. Doing giveaways with fellow authors where they lead the way isn’t out of my comfort zone, but coming up with my own is. Today marks the last day of my very own giveaway - it ends at midnight - and words can’t express how relieved I am. Here’s the link:  
Sure, it’s been fun.  I boosted the post on Facebook and over a twelve hundred people saw it, there are 197 entries for the giveaway, many liked my author page as a result, the comments on the post were fun, and I got a few BookBub likes to boot.
But here’s what I learned.
1) Lots of cogs and wheels have to sync up for pretty much every new endeavor. There was much back-and-forth with mentor Erica Lucke Dean, Gail Cleare, Jennifer Klepper, and my personal life-saver, Kelly Stone Gamble in order for everything to work out. These women taught me the ropes on Rafflecopter and about boosting posts on Facebook, lessons I will no doubt use again and share with others along the way.

2) Be prepared to invest lots of time. Late-night wrestling with wiki-style formatting had me close to tears, and I’ll never get that Saturday back, the one where I sat in front of my computer trying to figure it all out. It was a pretty day, too.
3) You will need help. Refer to point one! I don’t like to bother people and I don’t like to owe people favors. And maybe THAT’S why the process took me out of my comfort zone. I’d rather just keep on doing what I know how to do than ask for help! Can I get an amen? But I won’t get to new heights without a little help from my friends now, will I?
4) Don’t get attached to the results. The goal was to garner at least 50 BookBub follows. I did NOT reach my goal. But I did get my name out there, quite a few readers liked my author page, and I learned how to master the art of a giveaway. I'm calling it a win. But just in case you’re interested, you can follow me on BookBub here:
Darn... now I owe you a favor!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Enter "The Existence of Pity" Valentine Edition Giveaway!


The Existence of Pity Valentine Edition prize package includes a $5 gift card to Starbucks, a Valentine coffee mug, two Colombian coffee samples, a Valentine's Day drawstring bag with 7 coffee candies, and a The Existence of Pity" postcard. Enter now to win!
The winner will be notified by email on 2/9/18, and announced on my Facebook author page, The prize is not transferrable and can only be shipped within the USA. The winners will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter.
I can't wait to see who wins! Best of luck!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

My Morning Coffee (Times One Hundred Million)

There's no telling what bug I caught. I didn't have a fever, I just couldn't get out of bed. For days. I couldn't eat, either. But eventually, I recovered. Life on the other side of illness is pretty amazing. I'm so glad to be alive - and feel good! Except...

I started my coffee addiction late in life: about ten years ago, according to my gold card from Starbucks. And while I was sick, I didn't drink the stuff. When I felt better, it occurred to me to just stop drinking it, mostly because I've heard it's not great for you. Cool. No big deal, I thought. I just won't start up again.

But there was a problem. I found myself not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Not from lack of energy, just from the lack of a really good reason to get out of bed. Turns out, coffee in the morning was doing more than just filling me up, and life without it was pretty depressing. Oatmeal certainly wasn't going to get me out of bed. I needed the promise of a warm beverage in my hands, and tea, even delicious vanilla chai tea, couldn't do it.

A reason I don't quite understand was at play. I felt alone, sitting by the kitchen window as the sun shone on my face. I missed sharing the daily drink with my worldwide community of coffee drinkers. Across America alone, about one hundred million others have been sipping their caffeine with me all those mornings, and they were feeling the perks of the java while I was not.

If I had a plan in place, if I had a stronger resolve to steer clear of coffee, it probably would've happened. But today I succumbed. I had a cup of coffee. It wasn't the delicious cup I remembered, but that's probably because my taste buds are still on the fritz. It was, however, very satisfying. Something stronger brought me back. I'm part of the collective again, and glad to be here.

And you? Coffee? Tea?