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Month: February 2012

A splendid 5-star review for The Redheaded Stepchild

Maybe it’s just because I’m a Negative Nancy, but I fully expected my first review from someone I didn’t know to be completely negative. This morning, I woke up to find a link to this review tweeted on the Twitters:

I was only 4 pages into The Redheaded Stepchild by Kelly Hitchcock when I felt my blood pressure ease up and the knot in my stomach dissipate from having read and reviewed a particularly unreadable book of short stories that should have been written in invisible ink. Thank you Kelly, for reminding me that yes, there are amazing writers left in the world.

When I was 70% through it I’d found 4 typos. Ruined the whole thing for me. Nooooo, I’m kidding. There were 4, but this is the kind of writing, that distracts you from the typos instead of the other way around. Hitchcock’s power of observation is phenomenal and she has mastered the art of articulating the minute details of human behavior that most of us perceive only subliminally if at all.

I don’t think I’ve published enough reviews to expose myself as the harsh critic that I am, so you probably don’t realize the magnitude of the compliment I’m bestowing on this writer.

Here are just two examples of the many gems that delighted me:
…”It took him almost a year before he was able to give Katrina a hug, and even that was like watching a walking stick try to hug a caterpillar.”
…”my mother’s car looked as though it had been through menopause twice…”

The Redheaded Stepchild is a beautifully written coming of age story for readers of any age. The characters are multifaceted and well-drawn, the voice refreshingly unique, and the story poignant, hilarious, and horrifying all at once. And, as if the author doesn’t already attack all of our senses with her uncanny eye for detail, she adds a disjointed timeline as she jumps back and forth to the pivotal events that define her protagonist. We are fascinated by this because she does it deftly and because she innately understands that we are all the sum of the best and worst events of our lives, events that have no need to be told in chronological order.

Bravo! Kelly Hitchcock is definitely an author to follow for years to come. I wish I could give this novel 10 stars. Redundantly, I affirm that I am a fan.

I’m just… wow. If I only ever get this one amazingly glowing review for The Redheaded Stepchild, I won’t care, because my work truly touched someone I didn’t know from anyone. Not that I didn’t love my handwritten letter on pansy bordered stationery, but coming from a stranger it’s a different feeling. I really hope I can continue to inspire people with my literary work.

Also, I fully intend to hunt down those 4 typos.

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A Parley with Author L.M. Stull (@lmstull)

Today I am excited to welcome a fellow women’s fiction author to my site for a little interview. L. M. Stull is the author of A Thirty-Something Girl, one of the most exciting new books I’ve read this year from a fellow indie author. I’d gush about it, but you can read my review on Amazon or Goodreads for yourself. Thanks for allowing me to interview you, Lisa! It was a real pleasure.

I knew from the very first line of the novel that I was going to love it…

“The sun is bright and hot, and the world seems far too happy for me to be in it.”

KIH: How many times did you rewrite this first line of A Thirty Something Girl?

LMS: None! The entire opening chapter of the book came flooding out of me late one night and very little was changed in it 🙂

KIH: When did you first get the idea for A Thirty Something Girl, and how long did it take to get from concept to publication?

LMS: It began bouncing around in my head while I was in the process of editing what was originally slated to be my debut novel. The idea soon became so strong that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. So, I abandoned my first book and penned this in a month in a half. From first draft to publication, it took me about six months.

KIH: I know you’re a fellow runner; do you ever draw on it for inspiration, alleviating writer’s block, or for general self-abuse?

LMS: Running, for me, is a form of meditation. A chance for me to disconnect from everything and everyone… except myself.  It also allows me to eat insane amounts of cheese and cookies… ha.  Clearing your mind does allow the words to flow more easily as well. Don’t hate me, but I’ve never suffered from writer’s block, and, perhaps that is due in large part to the running and meditation 🙂

KIH: As a full-time working woman, where and how do you make time to write?

LMS: You used a very important word here… “make.” When something is important in your life, you fit it in. TV is not important to me, so I don’t watch much of it.  That helps a lot. But, as with everything, you have to find a balance. And make it happen. If you want something bad enough in life… you’ll go over after it. There are enough hours in the day if you believe it  🙂

KIH: How did you know you wanted to self-publish A Thirty-Something Girl instead of going the traditional, soul-sucking publishing route?

LMS: Control. Freak. I wanted to see what I could do with it on my own. Also, writing is a hobby for me. It does not (and probably never will) pay for my bills (I eat a lot of cookies…. they get expensive), so I decided to go with self-publishing. Although a lot of work, it was a more relaxed route. I simply don’t have the time to query and wait and query and wait… okay, so I’m an impatient control freak!  But, with all this said, I am contemplating going the traditional route with other novels in the future. We’ll see.

KIH: In A Thirty-Something Girl, there is a lot of juxtaposition of joy and despair; do you enjoy writing the joyful parts or the despairing parts more?

LMS: I actually enjoy writing both. But, if I had to pick, I’d have to say the despairing parts are more enjoyable. I guess because I truly believe that it is in our darkest hours that we are the most honest with ourselves (most of the time), the most raw, and the most able to learn and grow.

KIH: Your protagonist, Hope, draws a lot of strength from her close circle of friends; are any of the characters based on close friends of your own?

LMS: Yes! They are all based on several close friends of mine from over the years. However, it is ironic that the people they were based on in real life are… males! ha

KIH: I kept seeing Kristen Chenoweth’s face every time Clara spoke in the story. If you could pick any Hollywood actress to play Hope in the movie version of A Thirty Something Girl, who would it be?

LMS: I would have to say Abbie Cornish!

KIH: What kinds of crazy projects do you have bouncing around inside your head now for your next big literary masterpiece?

LMS: I am currently working on two novels. One is another lit fiction/romance and the other is a non-fiction novel that follows how I have changed (and am continuing to change) my life 🙂

KIH: What’s your favorite color?

LMS: Black! And White! And Pink! And sometimes blue!

KIH: And finally, if you could have any super power, what would it be?

LMS: Probably the ability to make everyone realize how easy it is to be happy. And how being happy can… change the world.

A Washington, DC native, L.M. Stull spends her days chained to a desk at a law firm in southern Virginia. When she’s not feverishly taking orders from attorneys, she writes. Her stories tell of the human spirit – sometimes sad, sometimes not – most can relate to them on some level or another. A Thirty-Something Girl is her debut novel.

There are several ways you can go about stalking her on the web if your little heart so desires: TwitterFacebook, Goodreads and her Website. She also runs the Fellow Writer’s Group on Facebook.

L.M. also blogs about her own personal journey in life on her blog, Lisa’s Liberation.


Six Sentence Sunday 2/26/2012

I don’t know why, but despite February being the shortest month of the year, it always feels like the longest month to me. And since the only real thing of note is Valentine’s Day (mine was lovely, thank you for asking), today’s six comes from one of the few lovey parts of my debut novel The Redheaded Stepchild.

In this scene, Cady has just had her first car accident and her best friend at work, Johnny, attempts to comfort her. Is comfort the right word…?

You’re right,” I said, wiping the mascara from my face.  “Thanks for listening.”

He put his hand on my knee, simultaneously exciting and surprising me.  My shin shot forward a couple inches as though it had been hit with a flex hammer.  I looked up at his face to see what he was thinking, only to watch his lips say “Any time.”

The door sounded that someone had walked in, and Johnny quickly removed his hand from my leg.

That’s all for now! Hope y’all make it through the last few days of February. If you like what you just read, you can buy The Redheaded Stepchild in paperback or Kindle. Don’t forget to check out all the other talented authors on


Facebook, I don’t “like” you. Wednesday Wrant 2/22/2012

Today finds me ranting about something I think we can all rant about… Facebook. I have a general policy that my Facebook is a social media outlet completely separate from my author brand or persona, which I think is probably mostly healthy.

So for me, Facebook is all personal, and zero business (except when I am giving my book away, which I think is fair). What bothers me is other people who don’t respect those same boundaries.

“Like my page!”

“I want to play you in Scrabble!”

“I just bought a new pair of Toms and I’m doing a shitload of good for humanity with my overpriced $54 shoes!” (Hmm… there’s a topic for a future rant)

There’s also this new thing where it’ll show you where Person A commented on Person B’s status, even if you have jack shit connection to Person B. I unwittingly saw a uterus photo that way (again, a topic for a future rant).

Maybe it’s just me, but I get advertised to enough in my life; I don’t need it from my friends on my news feed in Facebook, and I don’t care to see status updates from people I don’t know. The interface has changed so that you can only determine what types of updates appear on your feed on a per-user basis. I’m not about to go through and set this for every single friend of mine, so I figured out a little trick that I thought was brilliant (and, behold my technical writing day job skills in action):

  1. In Facebook, in the left pane of the news feed, in the LISTS heading, click MORE.
  2. In the Lists page, click Create List.
  3. In the Create New List dialog box, in the List Name field, enter “All” or something and click Create.
  4. In the list page, click Add Friends.
  5. In the Edit <list name> box, add all your friends and click Finish. No, there’s not a quick way to do this. Thanks, Facebook.
  6. Now that you have everybody, click the Manage List arrow and select Choose Update Types. You might have to click this twice to see all the categories, because the UI is very finicky.
  7. And voila, you can uncheck games, likes, comments on people you don’t know, music, etc.

I was ridiculously proud of myself for figuring this out. Here’s the problem, though, it only works about 60% of the time! I still get “So and so is listening to Nickelback on Spotify!” (Really? Are you sure we’re friends?) or “Suzy just watched 20 YouTube videos and here they are in chronological order!” from time to time. So, it’s not perfect. But if you wanna hack your way to a better news feed, this is a start.

And no, I won’t host a 31 party, a Scentsy party, an Arbonne party, or any other party. I thought you were an “independent” distributor! (Yet another rant for the future.)

So, having ranted the following, it’s now the first day of Lent. Do I or do I not give up Facebook in hopes I’ll be less cranky after celebrating Christ’s resurrection?

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You Don’t Know Everything: Manuscript Strength in Numbers

If you’re a writer, and you’re not a part of a writer’s workshop group, I want you to go ahead and kick yourself in the gut. And if you’re capable of this feat, maybe you should consider a new line of work. Those of you who are regular followers of my mostly mundane author news know that I am the de facto leader of a writer’s group (via Meetup) here in town (on Twitter at @WeirdATXWriters), and I have to say, their feedback is priceless. Typically, I bring my first drafts of short stories, chapters, and poems to my workshop meetups, and my first drafts are usually pretty clean. But if it weren’t for my writer’s group, I wouldn’t have known the following about my next novel (which now has a title, btw… PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN INK: A TATTOO STORYBOOK).

  • One of my stories takes place on Thanksgiving, and there’s a reference to football playing on the television. If not for my writer’s group, I wouldn’t have known that the teams that play on Turkey Day are Detroit and Dallas, every year. And I LOVE football. (Yes, it was a Texan who corrected me.)
  • The correct height and weight of a 4-year-old boy. Also, the age at which boys are fully potty-trained. Sure, I can guess, but my guesses proved inaccurate.
  • That not everyone remembers 1984 (the book, not the year – I was two) with the same level of recall as me, and the term “proles” is lost on most.

Bottom line? I’m a pretty smart cookie, but I don’t know everything. No one’s life experiences can make them an expert on everything, and it’s only by having a few fresh sets of eyes on a manuscript that you can resolve little misgivings in the prose that hurt your credibility with the reader.

If you’re not part of a group, there is no excuse for that. There’s Meetup, where you can probably find about 5 writers groups in your area. If there isn’t one, you can start one, and it’ll cost you about $100 a year. I joined one when I moved to Austin, and ended up running the same group when the organizer moved out of town, and we typically have about 5 or 6 people in a workshop meetup. That’s 5 different people with different life experiences (parent, engineer, sports fan, etc.) reading my manuscripts and pointing out these little issues that never would have crossed my mind. Is that worth the $100 a year I’m spending on meetup dues (that I could be getting from sponsors or my group members if I were that concerned about the cash)? You bet your sweet ass it is.

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Six Sentence Sunday 2/12/2012

Another Six Sentence Sunday is upon us! I recently got a really great 5-star review on The Redheaded Stepchild from a friend of mine who’s not much of a literary fiction fan, and when I asked her what her favorite part was, she mentioned she really enjoyed the chapter where Cady O’Donnell, the protagonist, is 13 years old, spending her court-mandated summer with mom. Thanks for the review, Shannon – this six is for you (and from your favorite chapter)!

I half-walked, half-ran outside into the street, almost tripping over a brick that had been forced up by the roots of the big elm tree in the front yard.  I looked both ways as I ran across so I could be on the same side as oncoming traffic.  I stuck my thumb out, walking ahead with a quick, steady pace.  I had walked about 10 yards when a white hatchback Toyota Tercel with two Hispanic-looking men slowed to a stop beside me.

“Need a ride?” the one in the passenger’s seat said, obviously not sensing my urgency.  Of course I needed a ride; why else would I be risking my life trying to hitchhike out in the middle of Nowhere, Nebraska?

Thanks for reading! Feel free to tell me what you think (come on now, it takes five frakking seconds), pull out the 4 bucks to read the whole thing (available HERE), and whatever you do, check out the other talented authors sharing their excerpts on!


Wednesday Wrant – What is this ebook thingy?

I don’t really have a whole lot to rant about this week, but ever since I self-published my first novel on Kindle, I’ve been paying more attention to people’s feelings about books vs. ebooks. There’s a wide swath out there, and to be truthful, I’m getting kind of sick of it. So, you know, I’m gonna add to the slush pile of book vs. ebook hoopla.

Yes, I love physical books. I love the smell of the pages, the feel of the cover, the crack of the spine. I get that curling up with a good book is an experience, and I get why people would think you can’t have the same feeling with an ebook.

Except that you can. And it’s actually easier. I can huddle under the blanket, arms and all, prop the Kindle up against my legs, and turn the page with just my thumb, without even needing to move my arms. Take that, Snuggie… and you can keep the book light.

I tried explaining the fact that I published my book on Kindle to my mom, which was probably a mistake in the first place. After about five minutes of going over the process over and over, she simply asked “When will it be available in print?” Then, when I did a CreateSpace paperback edition (for her, and my family who feel the same way about dangerous ebooks), she asked me what store she could buy it in.

She doesn’t have a credit or debit card because he tends to lose them, so she sent me some cash to get a CreateSpace paperback that I could autograph and send back to her. I’m not saying that a signed book isn’t valuable, but in the time that it took her to mail the letter, me to order an author’s copy, CreateSpace to ship it to me, me to sign it, and then ship it to her, she could have bought my book on Kindle 1,036,800 times. And that’s just a 12-hour day.

I volunteer at the library a couple hours a week. I love seeing all the books, the pretty covers, seeing parents reading Dr. Seuss to their kids. But I also have to sort those books. I’m not sure how many germ-infested books live at our branch at the library, but I’m pretty sure my Kindle could hold about half of them – no sorting, no shelving, no late fees.

I read more on the Kindle. Yes, Kindle books tend to be shorter, but I can set my Kindle on the treadmill at the gym, stick it in the pocket of my purse, all things I can’t do with a physical book. I do read physical books on my recumbent bike day, but it’s way easier on the Kindle. I typically have 2 books going at any given time – an ebook and a physical book – and I pretty much always finish the ebook first.

When we moved to Austin, we went through the inevitable stage of divesting of all the random shit we don’t use, which included – I shit you not – 8 boxes full of books. Oh yeah, and we still have 5 or 6 boxes of books in our storage closet that won’t fit on our bookshelf. What are they doing there? Nothing. To get to them, I’d have to go digging through boxes. When I want to find a book I want to read on the Kindle, I go to the index. If I don’t have it on my Kindle, I can browse Amazon right from my Kindle and get it. I don’t have to put on pants to go to the store, and I can get the Kindle edition for about 1/5 of the cost of a physical book.

I love both kinds of books, and I don’t see either of them going away any time soon. The bottom line, though, I’ve sold over 400 ebooks. Any idea how many paperbacks I’ve sold? 3. And I know the 3 people who bought them. Ebooks? They’re the future, and you can pry them from my dead, lifeless fingers like I’ll pry the physical book from yours. Stop squawking about how ebooks are destroying everything. It’s evolution. Get with it.

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Six Sentence Sunday 2/5/2012

It’s time once again for Six Sentence Sunday. Today’s six is from my newest project, a collection of short stories about women and their tattoos.

Erica nearly slipped on the floor as she heard her phone ring, the familiar tingle of fear collecting at the base of her spine and slowly crawling its way up, blocking the neural impulses that were trying to tell her to take the call. She slowly stepped toward it, breathing a sigh of relief as soon as she saw the call was just her husband, Tim, who was in Taiwan on business.  She felt the muscles in her back relax, the tension draining out slowly as she pressed the Talk button.

Erica had had the unnatural fear of the phone ringing ever since her father’s death four years ago.  She had been at work, her first grown-up job out of college, where she had to make calls all day for a market research firm.  She’d just finished consoling her cubicle mate, Megan, who’d just been yelled at by a customer who insisted she was the devil.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out all the other talented peeps over at!