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Did you know that I have a newsletter?

Real talk: I’m not the most consistent with my newsletter. This is an area I want to improve especially as I use Facebook less and am enjoying writing blog posts again.

Newsletters are great ways to share exlusive content and updates and random pictures of Bobbie Voltaire The Cat and Plato The Dog.

I mean clearly…Plato The Dog thinks you should subscribe. You can subscribe by clicking here:  eepurl.com/g_Qp4D

I have some audiobook news which I’m very very excited to share with all of you very soon (this week). And my newsletter subscribers willl find out first.

Clearly, that’s a reason to subscribe 🙂

You can subscribe here: eepurl.com/g_Qp4D
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My summer goals

First, Thank you to #ASummerInWriting over on Instagram and Dante Medema as well as Liz Lawson for all those prompts :-).

I got to meet and reconnect with some wonderful authors, and I’m feeling even more motivated to finish drafting my rom-com 🙂 I’m very excited about the progress I’ve made and for my upcoming Summer goals 🙂

1. Finish drafting my rom-com. This will be my main focus in the next two weeks so that I can send it to my CPs mid-August. I need about 15000 words. Totally do-able, right? ⁣⁣

2. Announce and promote something very exciting (related to an audiobook). My newsletter subscribers will find out first (you can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/g_Qp4D – hint, hint). ⁣⁣

3. Prepare for the publication of the Italian translation of ALWAYS SECOND BEST.⁣⁣

4. Continue adding words to 2 small projects. ⁣⁣

5. Continue brainstorming MISS ME, MISS ME NOT. I’m not “officially” writing it yet, but this project is never too far from my mind.

⁣⁣6. Publish the German/English version of ASLNO via Ingram. ⁣⁣

7. Enjoy the process and all those little happy moments. ❤

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Good news! I’m still in remission!

Good news! I’m still in remission! Keeping it short 🙂 Because I could write pages about everything. I won’t go into the details of Scanxiety or what it’s like to wait alone for the PET scan results because visitors are still not allowed in due to COVID-19 (Alex was allowed in the PET scan waiting area though which was nice) or how much I laughed with the nurses who gave me my second round of vaccines.

We are breathing a sigh of relief (more than one) and doing a happy dance (as well as we can dance :-)). My scan yesterday showed no signs of recurrence! Based on the scan, I may have a nasopharyngeal cyst (need to see an ENT doctor). and a problem with my thyroid (we’re going to investigate with a blood test at my next doctor’s visit). And it seems the rash I thought was eczema could actually be shingles. But and I quote my report, “no metabolic evidence of nodal or extranodal lymphoma recurrence.”

We are very grateful to my oncologist and his team and everyone for the support.

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Did you know you can recommend a book to your library or pre-order a book and receive pretty cool things?

There are pretty amazing books coming out in August. Let’s face it: There’s always a lot of amazing books coming out 🙂

Some authors organize pre-order / library request campaigns. Basically, all you have to do is either pre-order a book (pre-orders are really helpful to authors) or recommend it to your library (you

And recommending the library purchases a book doesn’t cost you anything (and you can do it from home too) so if you’re on a tight book-buying budget, you still can support an author and read amazing books and get free stuff.

Here are two on-going campaigns for books coming out in August I’m very very excited about.

  • CRY OF METAL & BONE by L. Penelope (On Sale August 11th – pre-order/library request campaign runs unti 8/11)

I absolutely loved the first book in this series. It took me out of a reading slump I was in. And the CRY OF METAL & BONE (on sale August 11th) just got a starred review from Booklist!

All info on L. Penelope’s website: https://lpenelope.com/2020/07/cry-of-metal-bone-pre-order-campaign/

  • NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU by Kristina Forest Pre-order campaign (also includes library recommendations)

I just bought Kristina’s first book I WANNA SEE WHERE YOU ARE after seeing it recommended by Nic Stone. I mean: ballet, road trip and romance? Plus that cover? Gorgeous.

Kristina’s second book “NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU” is coming out on August 25th and it also sounds so so good: “A YA novel about searching for answers, love, and your eccentric grandma in all the wrong places.

All info on Kristina’s Forest’s website: https://www.kristinaforest.com/ntify-preorder-campaign

Did you pre-order those books? Recommended them to your libraries?

Let me know in the comments 🙂

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Motivation Wednesday…

Yes, those are my feet and my Bombas‘ socks 🙂 A little motivation Wednesday mainly as a reminder to myself. But also as a way to ask you: what made you smile today?

⁣And full disclaimer: a lot of those thought-processes are easier for me because of years of therapy and a lot of work 😉 And it doesn’t mean I don’t have moments where I focus on the fact that this used to be much easier. Just putting that out there. 

⁣A few days ago, I did a few relevés and elevés from first position. They were far from perfect. And I can’t stand on the balls of my feet for very long or all the way because I still experience neuropathy and cramping in my feet (and hands) in addition to needing to re-build (or build – ha) muscles.

⁣But as I did those exercises, I smiled. Because it felt like progress. 

⁣Kind of like when you’re writing a sentence that stays with you or when you finally understand your character’s motivation or simply when you write a few words in-between busy times or hard times.

⁣I enjoyed this moment when it happened. I smiled like I said. I think I even laughed I was so happy. And I smile as I post it even if my feet and hands are currently cramping. I know I’ll do this exercise again today. And I am revising my first chapters feeling grateful. A reminder to keep going, to keep swimming, to keep writing.

writing

My writing process…

Today’s prompt for #ASummerInWriting is Plotter or Pantser.

A plotter is someone who plans their story before writing it. They outline. They usually know what happens in each chapter.  I wish I could underline “usually” because they are many varying degrees and ways of being a plotter or pantser.

When you’re a pantser, the idea is you sit at your computer and write without a detailed outline or a roadmap. A pantser is someone who “flies by the seat of their pants.”

There are a lot of articles detailing both processes as well as the way some authors can be pantsing scenes while plotting chapters or vice-versa 🙂 Jami Gold has a comprehensive article entitled “Pantser vs. Plotter vs. Something In Between” if you’re interested in learning more.

I am a little bit of both. 

I don’t have a very detailed outline. I do have a bit of a roadmap. I usually know how the story ends. I mean it’s a romance so there’s a happy ending, but I usually have the epilogue scene playing in my mind like a movie. I know some of the plot points. Buuuuut…I learn about the story and more about my characters as I start typing. Which means that things change. A lot.

Since I started using Scrivener, I write scenes out of order.

I revise them and re-write them as needed and so when I type “The End” on my first draft, it’s in a much different place than for my first novels.

Because I learned that if I just go to the end without going through that process, if I just push through and continue writing the story without going back to change some things, to polish other scenes, to get more into the head of my characters, I end up needing way more time to re-work said first draft. I’ve been known to completely re-write books because that first draft wasn’t working. And I found that it’s more motivating to me and less time-consuming if I write the scenes out of order, re-write them or delete them if they don’t work and if they do work, make them shine as much as I can before typing “The End.

That first draft is not my final manuscript. Far from it. Revisions still happen of course. But once I type “The End” on my first draft, it’s much much closer to being ready to be sent to my critique partners.

So now, my first drafts may take me a bit longer (depending on the novel but I should do another post on that :-)), but they require less work after typing “The End.

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Neues Hoerbuch (auf Deutsch :-)) – New audiobook (in German)

Audible.deAmazon.de – iTunes (coming soon)
Eine kleine Hoerprobe…

Sie hatte sich schon auf dem Weg zur Spitze gesehen…Innerhalb einer Woche aendert sich Natalyas Leben fuer immer.

Die 16-jährige Natalya Pushkaya hat nur einen einzigen Traum: die beste Ballerina zu werden, die es je gegeben hat. Das Tanzen hat schon immer bestimmt, wer sie ist und sie würde alles tun, um die Hauptrolle in der jährlichen Abschlussvorstellung der School of Performing Arts zu landen.

Aber…wird es ihr gelingen?

Audible.deAmazon.de – iTunes (coming soon)


ABOUT THE NARRATOR

I was very happy to work with Kathrin Kana on this audiobook. She brings Natalya to life and am crossing my fingers she will narrate the follow-up as well 🙂

Award-winning bilingual voice-over artist w/ 18+ yrs. experience: commercials & industrials, language & audiobooks, etc.

Check out her website here: https://www.kathrinkanavoice.com/

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Why do I write?

This question came from #ASummerInWriting on Instagram – and I thought I’d share the answer on my blog too 🙂 Expanding it a little too…Oh and if you want to read some very thoughtful, heartfelt answers from other authors, don’t hesitate to browse the hashtag on Instagram. I was very humbled and touched by so many authors sharing their reasons yesterday.

Why do I write?

This was an easy and yet so difficult question to answer.

Difficult because there are so many reasons I write (including wanting to make a living out of writing – I mean I’m still day-dreaming about getting that call from Reese Whiterspoon about adapting one of my books or maybe Netflix or Lifetime).

But mainly, it is difficult because answering it also means being vulnerable in a way. Putting those words out there. Not a story. But part of my story.

And then answering it is also easy because I know the answers. I know why I write. All the reasons. And one of the main reasons.

I feel like it’s always been because writing is an outlet for my imagination.

Already when I was a teenager…I had those stories I wanted to tell. It’s hard to describe the feeling I have when I finally fully understand my characters and how much I want to be able to tell their stories. And how much I can’t wait for them to have a happy ending. Even though for some of them, it might take a lot of heartache along the way, they will have a happy ending.

Writing enables me to express myself. And know that my words may help others in one way or another. It might distract them. Pull them in. It might make them feel…

And when I don’t write, my anxiety and OCD tend to get worse. It doesn’t mean that writing is easy or that writing is the all-in-one solution.

It’s all about balance, right?

I go to therapy. Well, right now, I do zoom therapies 🙂

And I’m lucky that I have two wonderful therapists. One who’s been helping me deal with the anxieties related to cancer and who’s been helping me with staying in the moment, being more present while also not ignoring the fears that come with *wave hands* everything. 

And more recently I also started seeing an OCD specialist. And I’ll be forever grateful to my “cancer” therapist who recognized that she couldn’t help me with what I was going through with OCD. So that I could learn how to deal with it. It’s also a process. I have homework 😛

Apparently, going through months of chemo, then radiation, then immunotherapy, then a stem cell transplant and menopause and vitamin D deficiency and everything means that the brain may not have its usual mechanisms in place to deal with stress. Mechanisms I had learned in therapy back in Germany 🙂 I also had to learn new mechanisms for OCD as I hadn’t done too much work on that before. I’m telling you… it’s a process.

The last book I wrote TRUST ME, TRUST ME NOT meant a lot to me because I wrote it during treatment and right after treatment. I published it before my stem cell transplant. I raised money with it for LLS. I loved and still love Lacey and Hunter. Writing that book was very cathartic. And finishing to write that book felt like such an accomplishment.And the one I’m currently writing? It manages to make me laugh out loud. And swoon. And it’s very different than my romantic suspense (no killers in this one), but it’s another way for me to be in the moment. To work. To be productive. To dream. To be creative. To tell stories.

That’s why I write.

If you’re a writer, why do you write? And if you’re a reader, why do you read?

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#TeamJuwan 4th Annual Toy and Book Drive

Juwan’s Mom and I are in some of the same online Hodgkin’s Lymphoma support groups. We don’t know each other personally. But I’ve been following Juwan’s treatment and read his mom’s posts and seen videos of him in the Abington High School marching band (where he’s the lieutnant). I celebrate Juwan’s victories and I share the pain when there are setbacks. I smile with her and think of Juwan and his entire family often. As I was going through my own autologous stem cell transplant, I remembered reading his story. And he inspired me to stay as positive as I could. When it got rough, like when I had sepsis or when I couldn’t really eat or when I was feeling scared, what helped me was: my husband staying overnight, my parents visiting, the nurses and doctors who went above and beyond, my family and friends who sent notes and messages and checked in and thinking about the stories I had read. Juwan’s story was one of them.

For his 18th birthday and high school graduation, Juwan is organizing his 4th Annual Toy and Book Drive.

Because since he’s been diagnosed at the age of 13, he’s been organizing an Annual Toy And Book Drive for other children in the oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to celebrate his own birthday.

“I decided to collect toys to give to the hospital, so that other children will have something to do, to stay positive,” said Juwan. (Source: 6abc)

Here’s how you can help with his drive, but please, please keep on reading to see how you can also help by registering and spreading the word about Be The Match, as Juwan’s autologous stem cell transplant failed and he’s in a need of a donor for an allo transplant.

  • Amazon Wish List for the pediatric oncology department at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Please write in the gift message that it is for Team Juwan: https://bit.ly/TeamJuwanWishList
  • Virtual yearbook to send your well wishes and congratulatory messages to Juwan on his graduation: https://bit.ly/TeamJuwanVirtualYearbook
  • You can also donate or mail a gift card to the Kisses for Kyle Foundation (local foundation that supports the families of pediatric cancer patients) (https://kissesforkyle.org/). Thanks for including a note mentioning your gift is from Team Juwan.

Juwan has also spearheaded a campaign to register more people to Be The Match. If you text “SAVEJUWAN” to 61474 you can get a link to be on the bone marrow donor registry and help potentially save his life or someone else’s.

And his goal at the beginning was to register 1000 people, but he helped register 10000 people! (I tried to add a video here but it’s not embedding for some reason…you can see it here).

He still doesn’t have a match.

“Even if he doesn’t find a match, he’s been adamant about getting more people on the registry list,” said Andrea Adams, Juwan’s mother. (Source: The Philadelphia Tribune).

The following is from an article published in The Philadelphia Tribune who talked to Lauren Mueller, a Be The Match spokesperson:

“If you’re a white patient in need there is a 72% chance to find a person on the registry list,” says Lauren Mueller, a Be The Match spokesperson. “The likelihood of someone who is African American or Black is as low as 23 percent.”

A person’s ethnic background can make all the difference. There is an urgent need to increase the ethnic background of the donor registry, especially in the African-American community. If more Black people register and donate, more Black lives will have a greater chance of survival.

“There is a huge gap we need to fill to give all patients life-saving procedure,” Mueller said. “We need to diversify the registry. That will help all patients find a perfect match.

“If someone joins and turns out [to be a match to Juwan] that can be a cure for him,” she added. “The transplant will be a cure. That’s pretty amazing.

“We are likely to match with someone who shares a similar ethnic background,” Mueller said. “Someone who is African American is more likely to match an African American donor with a similar genetic makeup.”

Adams has a 15% chance to find a donor because of his ethnicity, Andrea Adams said.

Source: BeTheMatch.org

Be The Match has announced concrete steps which might help raise the number of Black patients in need of a donor transplant to find a match (Source: Words Are Not Enough on BeTheMatch.org). Here are a few steps they are taking:

  • Increasing awareness and education in the Black and African American community about the resources and potential cures available to treat Sickle Cell and other blood diseases.
  • Adding a paid community engagement fellowship in the Twin Cities focused on building relationships and increasing trust with ethnically diverse communities.
  • Increasing the number of interns from historically black colleges and universities by 50%.
  • Committing $250,000 by the end of 2021 to partner with community and civic organizations serving diverse communities such as the National Urban League Young Professionals. (…)

Juwan’s 18th birthday is in July. So let’s continue sharing his story and his campaign to register more people to Be The Match. And let’s help him with his 4th Annual Toy and Book Drive. Let’s find ways to make him smile, like he always tries to find ways to make other people smile.

“It makes me happy when I can make someone else happy and make their day better, I don’t know what it is. I just enjoy putting smiles on people’s faces,” Adams says. (Source: 6abc)

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#BeTheMatch …You can save a life.

The Chemical Engineer just joined #BeTheMatch ‘s registry. Joining the Be The Match Registry® means volunteering to be listed as a potential blood stem cell donor, ready to save the life of any patient in need of a transplant. He’s about to put his swabbing kit back into the mail. That picture of him in the collage on the right is him smiling while swabbing his chick.We were inspired by Juwan (https://www.ourraceagainsttime.org/story-juwan/).

Juwan is a teenager who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a year before me. His mom is a member of two online groups I’m also a member of and she shared his experience, his strength and the way he helped other kids throughout his own treatment. Juwan had an autologous stem cell transplant that unfortunately failed and he’s looking for a donor to do another transplant. Juwan is also helping getting more people to Be The Match. Can you “Be The Match?”

Thanks to his efforts 10 000 people registered to the registry. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 44 can help by texting savejuwan to 61474 or registering online at http://join.bethematch.org/Juwan

Have you registered?