“A” is for An Affair to Remember

Welcome welcome welcome to Day 1 of the April A to Z Blog Challenge.  I’ll be participating by watching movies I’ve never seen before and telling you all about them.  I’m super excited, because I love movies and I love giving my opinion on things 🙂

To select my movies, I had a few simple criteria: 1) It had to be a movie I hadn’t seen before (duh) which meant I passed on a lot of movies I’ve seen once and wanted to watch again. 2) I wanted to be able to view for free so I could watch it easily at any time. This meant a few DVDs I’ve had on hand for a while but haven’t gotten around to, and a lot of Netflix. 3) I wanted to mix up genres and release years.  I didn’t want to exclusively watch classics or new-releases and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone in terms of the types of movies I normally watch. 4) “A” “An” and “The” do not count towards the alphabetical order, so the “A” in An Affair to Remember is for “Affair” and when I get to “D” for The Descendants, the “D” will stand for “Descendants.”  Get it?  Now on to the main event.

First up, the letter A!  As you can see by the title of the post and the previous paragraph, I selected An Affair to Remember for my “A” movie.  I was really excited as I love a good love story and Nora Ephron gave it a huge endorsement in her film Sleepless in Seattle.  I live-tweeted the experience.  Here are the details you need to know:

an affair to remember posterWatched: February 25, 2015 on Netflix

Hashtag: #WatchingAff2Remember

Year Released: 1957

Genre: Romance

Starring: Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr

Run Time: 119 minutes

Description (from Amazon): In this poignant and humorous love story nominated for four Academy Awards, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr meet on an ocean liner and fall deeply in love. Though each is engaged to someone else, they agree to meet six months later at the Empire State Building if they still feel the same way about each other. But a tragic accident prevents their rendezvous and the lover’s future takes an emotional and uncertain turn.


I was actually pretty surprised by my reaction to this movie.  Perhaps I’m growing more cynical and sarcastic as I get older, but I found it more ridiculous than romantic.  The dialogue was unrealistic, the situations were contrived, and the plot felt forced.  The two leads did have chemistry (for the most part) and the locations and costumes were beautiful, which were the saving grace of the film.  It made me want to watch more films starring Cary Grant.

Several times throughout the film, I found myself thinking about the changes in cinema from then to now.  The characters seemed so distant, so removed from the audience.  Movies made nowadays feel more intimate, like the audience is allowed to be a part of the action.  It took me forever to figure out character names and careers in Affair, but in modern films, we know those things straight-away.  I probably wouldn’t watch again.

Here’s a sampling of my tweets, but if you want more, follow me on Twitter @RLHammAuthor.


A to Z Blog Challenge Theme Reveal

Starting April 1st, I’ll be joining hundreds of other bloggers all over the world attempting to blog every day (excluding Sundays) for a month.  Consistency is one of the most difficult things to maintain when running a blog, so one of my goals in this challenge is to get better at posting more often.

(From the website) The premise of the A to Z Blog Challenge is to start beginning April First with a topic themed on something with the letter A, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z.  It doesn’t even have to be a word–it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself.  The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day.

Some bloggers organize their individual alphabetic themes around a larger theme for the month, which is what I’m going to do.  Today is the day across the blogosphere writers are revealing their chosen themes, so here’s mine!

I’m going to watch movies I’ve never seen before and live-tweet the experiences, then share my impressions during the blog challenge.

To select my movies, I had a few simple criteria: 1) It had to be a movie I hadn’t seen before (duh) which meant I passed on a lot of movies I’ve seen once and wanted to watch again. 2) I wanted to be able to view for free so I could watch it easily at any time. This meant a few DVDs I’ve had on hand for a while but haven’t gotten around to, and a lot of Netflix. 3) I wanted to mix up genres and release years.  I didn’t want to exclusively watch classics or new-releases and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone in terms of the types of movies I normally watch. 4) “A” “An” and “The” do not count towards the alphabetical order, so the “A” in An Affair to Remember is for “Affair” and in “D” for The Descendants, the “D” will stand for “Descendants.”  Get it?

I’m a pretty good live-tweeter, if I do say so myself, so I hope you’ll check out some of my #Watching experiences and then come back starting April 1st to see the breakdowns of each of the movies! Follow me on Twitter at @RLHammAuthor and before you go, leave a comment letting me know some of the movies you’ve never seen before, but have always wanted to.

Book Review: Blogger Girl, by Meredith Schorr

blogger girlBlogger Girl, by Meredith Schorr

Genre: Chick Lit / Romance

Overall: **** 4 out of 5 stars

Legal secretary and popular Chick Lit blogger Kimberly Long is seriously crushing on a junior associate at the law firm where she works.  She’s also facing the challenge of reading and reviewing the debut novel of the girl who made her high school years miserable.

I did not receive a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I’ve heard/read some buzz about it on Facebook and Twitter (which the heroine of the book would probably get a kick out of) and I paid my own money for it.  Yesterday, needing something to read, I went to my trusty book box (where I have slips of paper listing all of the books I own but have not read yet) and pulled a title out.  Blogger Girl!  Yay!  I was excited because I’ve been wanting to read it for a while.  I started it last night and finished it about a half hour ago.  It was an easy, breezy read (to take a phrase from the book itself).

*Spoilers below*

The opening of the book introduces us to Kim and her crush on the very likeable, very cute Nicholas Strong.  Up until a night of drinks with office pals, Nicholas has never seemed to know she existed, but once Kim’s boss tells N. about K.’s book review blog, suddenly N. is finding more and more opportunities to talk to her.

K’s best friend, Bridget, is always around for support, especially when N. asks K. to meet him for drinks after her big 10-year high school reunion.  Unfortunately, the reunion also means a run-in with Hannah, who did her best to make high school a nightmare for K & B and who is now breathing down K’s back to get a favorable review of her to-be-released debut novel.

As Kim navigates her feelings/relationship with Nicholas and her jealousy and hatred for Hannah, she begins to realize that the thing she really wants most is to write a novel herself.

Character Development: ***** 5 out of 5 stars.  Kim was insanely relatable and likeable.  Nicholas is a dream, without being cliche.  I love that Schorr made him a short, but still hot guy.  Short guys are so underrated.  His sudden interest in Kim at the beginning felt slightly forced, but once their banter was established, I was all in.  They had the cutest conversations that always seemed realistic for where they were at in their relationship.  The supporting characters were all well-developed as well.  I feel like Schorr spent the most time on Hannah, but Erin (Kim’s sister) had a full personality despite only being used for phone call scenes, and Kim’s two best friends (Bridget and Caroline) were distinct from each other with their own backstories and subplots (Caroline didn’t really have a subplot, but it was shown that she had a life outside of the events of the book, which is not always easy to do).

I do wish that Schorr hadn’t gone the route of two mean girls as Kim’s adversaries.  Hannah was needed and great, but Daneen seemed unnecessary.  I get why she was included – to assist in sparking the fight between K. and N. in the middle of the book, but I feel her role could have just as easily been male.  I don’t like that women always assume that other women are their enemies.

Plot: **** 4 out of 5 stars.  The pacing is good and the character development has a lot to do with that.  Schorr relies on some cliches – the big misunderstanding leading to a breakup, the mean girls mentioned above – but I enjoyed the ebb and flow of the story, so it didn’t bother me too much.  After all, the entire book was a little meta and probably would have felt awkward if those cliches hadn’t been included.

Writing Style/ Voice of the Author: **** 3.5 out of 5 stars.  This was really easy to read, but sometimes the meta-ness worked against the author instead of for her.  The description of Hannah’s book, which Kim is reluctant to admit sounds interesting, did not sound interesting at all.  The repetition of certain phrases and descriptions became distracting – I found myself wanting to tally how many times Kim and her friends giggled.  Were they incapable of laughing?  Did it have to be a giggle?  But – the dialogue was solid and the author never went off on descriptive tangents that take a reader out of the scene, and her characters are so well done, it makes up for any defects.

Favorite Lines:

He put his mouth to the harmonica, played a few notes, and started singing to the tune of the chorus of Penny Lane by The Beatles.  ‘Kimmie Long was in my pants and it felt nice.


Nicholas rubbed his lips.  “Isn’t it supposed to be first comes date, then comes sex?  We had sex before the date.”

“I think the correct words to that ditty are ‘first comes love then comes marriage.’  But lots of people get that order wrong too.”


The last two lines – I’m not going to write them here, because I don’t want to deprive you of the humor when you read them for yourselves.  They are just the perfect conclusion to a running joke throughout the book and you won’t find them funny on their own.

A New Reason to LOVE Pinterest

I was browsing around some book blogger sites yesterday and one writer mentioned using Pinterest to create inspiration boards for her characters and books.  I thought, wait a second!  Another excuse reason for me to waste time on use Pinterest!  Sign me up!

Needless-to-say, I went on and created an inspiration board for my new WIP, Lark.  I didn’t look for anything intentional, just browsed my friends pins, the “Everything” tab, and the “Popular” tab.  And I found quite a bit of useful inspiration.  Most of it was for the MC, Honor, but I’ll probably do some more digging this weekend to collect inspiration for the other characters, namely Sedric (and Zara), Bonnie (and Caron & Lang), and Valor ( and Mabry, Shyla, & Handor).

Check out the Inspiration for Lark board HERE.  Feel free to follow that board, or all my boards, and I’ll follow you back.

Found on Pinterest - Inspiration for Honor's haircut
Found on Pinterest – Inspiration for Honor’s haircut

First Month Stats

internet-statistics_1July is over.  My first month of self-publishing is over.  I’m hoping that sharing my findings will help those out there considering self-publishing.

I enrolled in KDP Select for the e-book.  I choose the 70% royalty option and priced the e-book at $2.99 US, with comparable prices for other markets (UK, France, Germany, Canada, etc).  My royalty for the e-book is approximately $2.03.  I used 2 of my five free days early in the month, on July 3rd and July 6th.  My thought process for the free days being that people would be on (or about to be going on) vacation, likely a beach vacation, and would be looking for something easy to read.

For the paperback, I went with the publish-on-demand (POD) service CreateSpace.  I priced the book at $10.99 US, again with comparable prices for other markets.  My royalty for the paperback when ordered through Amazon is $1.90 (no one has ordered it through CreateSpace, so I won’t worry about their royalty).

Now the good stuff – the stats.  Here are all the details from the first month:

Money Spent

ISBN for the paperback – $10.00

Proof copy of the paperback – $8.28

Business Cards (with Title of Book, link to Amazon’s page where people can buy the book, and all of my Social Media contact info) – $49.52, purchased through Staples online print center (500 cards)

Copies of the paperback for Gifts, Giveaways, and In-person sales – $187.65 (35 copies)

Shipping of a paperback copy to a Book Reviewer – $2.75

Total Costs: $258.20

E-books Sold

USA – 64 copies

UK – 267 copies (that’s right, they like me in the UK)

Canada – 4 copies

Total Sales: 335

Royalty Total: approximately $680.05 (this is calculating $2.03 royalty for each copy, though the exchange rates may cause some differences.  I’ll know a firmer total when I receive the report on the 15th)

E-books Borrowed

USA – 3 copies

UK – 5 copies

Total Borrows: 8

Royalty Total: Not sure what the payout will be for borrows yet, I’ll find out in my monthly report around the 15th, I believe.  The average for the past couple of months (according to KDP community message boards) is approximately $2.00 per borrow, so $16.00

Free Downloads over 2 days

USA – 487

UK – 152

Canada – 4

France – 10

Germany – 14

India – 3

Total Downloads: 670

Royalty Total: $0.00, duh 🙂

Paperbacks Sold

Through CreateSpace – 18

Royalty Total: $34.20

In-person by me – 12 + 2 copies that were given with a promise of payment later (I know where they live!)

Royalty Total: (I spent $5.34 on each copy and charged $10.00 when selling them) $55.92

Total Sales: 30

Paperbacks Given Away

3, though I have plans to give a few more away

Royalty Total: $0.00 again


Approximately $527.97.  For someone who never expected anyone to even read my book, let alone pay for it, I am REALLY happy with that number.  Even though I won’t actually see the money for a couple of months (Amazon doesn’t pay out until 60 days after the end of the month in which the royalties are made and CreateSpace is 30 days after the end of the month in which the royalties are made).


I did very little marketing.  I posted the link to the book on my personal facebook page and several friends and family members shared it.  I then created a Facebook Author fan page, a Twitter account, and a Goodreads author page.  I asked on my facebook pages for friends to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads IF they read and enjoyed the book.

11 reviews have been posted on Amazon, all 5-star, 10 by people I know.  The one person who I didn’t know, heard of the book through a friend of a friend.

14 ratings have been posted on Goodreads, with 5 actual reviews.  (10) 5-star, (1) 4-star, (1) 3-star, and (2) 1-star.  (5) of the 5-star ratings are from people I know, the rest are from strangers.

I’ve listed 2 giveaways on Goodreads.  The first giveaway is for the US and Canada, for 5 copies.  I started it on July 8th and it will end on August 8th.  So far, there are 758 entries.  The second giveaway is for the UK, for 1 copy.  It started on July 15th and will end on August 15th.  So far, there are 98 entries.

483 people have added Twenty-Five to their bookshelves on Goodreads.

I have two book bloggers doing reviews, but those will not appear until next week at the earliest.  From what they’ve said in our email exchanges, it sounds like the reviews will be positive, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed there.  But, even bad publicity is good publicity, right?  I’m raising the prices on both the e-book and paperback tomorrow, and doing 3 more free days on Amazon the last weekend of August.  I’m going to reach out to sites that promote free e-books before the second free promotion, which I did not do with the first 2-day promotion.

I did not tinker with the book’s description, cover, or tags in the first month, though I may once the higher price kicks in if I see that sales have dropped.

So, that’s it.  My first month of self-publishing all laid out.  I said in my last post I was happy I’d done it and I’m even happier today.  I am so proud of myself and my book for taking a chance and taking the leap.  These numbers are modest, I know, but they are mine.  And they are more than I expected, especially the e-book sales in the UK.  I can’t wait to see what the next month brings.

Hey, Good to See You Again!

Wow.  So I haven’t written here since before my job interview.  Crazy.  So much has happened.  Let me catch you up.

I got the job!

And it has been great.  It really has relieved so much of the stress I was feeling on a daily basis.  I love the people I work with and my boss is just great.  All the signs were pointing to “I need a new job,” and not only did this job deliver, it’s been better than expected.  It was exactly what I needed at the time I needed it.

I was MIA on this blog for a couple of months because I was putting a lot of energy into the other blog I started, but after a while, that one sort of fizzled out as well.  I stayed away from here because I didn’t really have anything fresh to say about writing and I didn’t want to post random facts about my boring everyday life.  I know that’s not the best thought process, but what can I say? It’s how I was thinking.

It’s especially silly, because my life has not been all that boring.  But you know, hindsight is 20-20 and all.  I’ve been trying to keep focused on “Saying Yes” and my Happiness Project by seeking out new things.  One of those new things was running a 5k, which I did in December and again this past weekend!  I am still way out of shape (and I didn’t technically run the entire thing) but old Rachel would NEVER have even ATTEMPTED such an athletic feat.  I’m planning on another one in October with my sister and I’d really like to work up to running a 10k before my 30th birthday (358 days to go).

Another new thing, something I’ve been attempting for a long time, I wrote a second book!!!!!  I have been meeting at least once a month with a friend of mine to work on writing, but even that wasn’t giving me the motivation I needed, so I decided to go for NANOWRIMO.  It worked!  I finished the first draft of my second complete novel on November 30th, 2012!  I joined a critique group and have slowly been editing it and have just started the plans for books 2 and 3 in a trilogy.  I’ll post more about that book and plans for the sequels later, I promise.

The big BIG news, though, isn’t that I wrote a second book, it’s that I’m in the process of publishing my first!  I’ve always been supremely proud of Twenty-Five and it’s always been my goal to have it in actual book form at some point, and now’s the time.  I’ve got the momentum going and the support of my friends and family, so I’m going for it.  I read a lot of articles on the benefits of self-publishing and it feels right for me.  I did speak with a publisher, but they were new to publishing fiction and I just didn’t get a good feeling from them.  It felt like the only real benefit I’d get by going through them was a less-hands on marketing approach (I don’t like marketing) and that just doesn’t seem like enough for me to give up my control.  I’m still waiting to receive a Deal Memo from the man I spoke with, but unless that has some hidden perks we didn’t originally discuss, I think I’m going to opt out and publish on my own.  I’ve already done all the formatting and purchased the ISBN and my writing partner (who also happens to be a graphic designer) has already designed a beautiful cover.  I’m just waiting on the final touches to the cover and the chance to peruse the Deal Memo before I submit everything to CreateSpace and Kindle.  Hopefully, Twenty-Five will be available for purchase by mid-July.

All that being said, I will be taking the chapters down from this blog.  Thank you to all who read here and gave me feedback and encouragement.  It meant the world to me.  I plan on keeping the blog up-to-date as I go through the world of self-publishing and as I work to get my next book in a readable condition.  If I ever slack off, you have permission to yell at me!

It Isn’t Always Easy

It was not easy to be happy today.

I woke up at 7:00, as usual, and as usual, I checked my email first thing.  I don’t know why I feel the need to check my email as soon as I wake up, but I do.  I had an email from a man I’d been on 3 dates with saying that he didn’t feel a “spark” and that we shouldn’t continue seeing each other.  I was utterly baffled, because it had been less than 36 hours ago that we were making out like teenagers on my couch.  I’m not sure what happened to the spark, but apparently, it’s gone.

I tried my damndest to be cautious about my feelings for this guy, because I didn’t want to get hurt when it inevitably ended, but our second date was amazing and our rapport seemed so spot on, that I let myself become hopeful.  We had just enough in common to keep us talking and just enough not-in-common to keep it interesting.  And he was nice.  And funny.  And shared my devotion to the Oxford comma.  And he kissed me first, dammit!

I can’t figure out what went wrong.  I don’t think I did anything crazy or desperate or clingy.  In fact, I was super careful not to, while still being my amazingly awesome and quirky self.  I understand that dates are for “trying people on,” but after that third date, I felt pretty confident that he’d chosen to wear me out of the store.  After we watched a movie on my couch, he literally said, “I can’t take this anymore,” and kissed me!  He’d been working up the nerve to make a move throughout the ENTIRE movie, then comes back with “There’s no spark.”  WTF.

So, yeah, it wasn’t easy to be happy today.  I repeated one of the commandments to myself, “Fake it til you make it,” but it didn’t do me much good.  All of my co-workers could tell I wasn’t having a good day.  I tried to remember, “Laugh more, cry less,” but only succeeded in keeping the tears at bay until 6:00 PM, when I arrived home.

I finally decided to force myself to do something that would make me happy, so I started a new blog.  I’m not dropping this one; the new one is under a pseudonym and with a different hosting site and is basically going to be an outlet for my misadventures in dating, love, and (lack-of) sex.  I think it’s going to make me very happy.  Especially if I can get some readers.  Writing the first post made me feel a little better.  And writing this makes me feel a little better.  Tomorrow I may work on doing some actual writing on my novel.  Because that will make me very happy.

Please Welcome Guest Blogger Angela Fristoe!

I decided that it was probably time to get this blog back on track, seeing as it started out as a blog about writing and has somewhere along the way veered into a blog about randomness.  So, I’ve asked a few of the writer friends I made two years ago on The Next Big Writer to whip up some guest blog posts for you to enjoy.  They are all embarking on the process of having their books published, either through self-publishing, or through a traditional publishing house and I applaud them for that!  They believe in themselves and their writing and they are putting it out there for the world to see and enjoy and that is not only impressive, it’s courageous.  My first guest blogger is Angela, who I knew for the longest time as “penang” or “Ang” in the TNBW forums and whom I’m happy to say is a talented writer and a great friend.  I asked her to talk a little about why she first “picked up a pen” to write and to give you a little information on her latest book, Songbird.  Here’s what she had to say:

Writing was never my number one passion. In fact, writing didn’t even come onto my top ten list until about six years ago. I’d always dreamed of being an artist, a flight attendant, or the next Diane Fossey or Jane Goodall. I ended up teaching. Then I read the Twilight series. Okay, so not the best example of amazing YA literature, but it did make me think I could do that. Until then I didn’t even know that Young Adult was a genre.

When I first started writing, I had no idea how to approach it, and honestly I still don’t. Every writer I talk to approaches it differently. For me this means sitting down at the computer and typing as it comes to me. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. My first novel is still under the revision process thanks to my unplanned approach.

Songbird is actually the second novel I wrote and most of it was done within a month during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Finishing Songbird, along with revising and editing, took a bit longer, but this story just flowed for me much better than my other novel. There was never a point where I sat down and didn’t feel the story come to me.

There are parts of Songbird that are so close to my heart. Some of the experiences, good and bad, that Dani goes through were inspired by things that either I’ve experienced, or people I know have lived through. At times it was hard to write because all I could see and feel were the real reactions and emotions.

Songbird is a story of death, loss, love, friendship and moving forward. Seventeen-year-old Dani is haunted by memories of her abusive parents and her murdered brother. Those memories constantly influence her choices and when her love for her best friend Reece is rejected, she struggles to find a way to put the past behind her for good. A struggle mad harder when a former foster brother reappears and brings back even more of the past.

Songbird is now available in paperback and all eBook formats at Amazon.com, B&N, and Smashwords.

You can learn more about Angela and her writing at her blog: Turning the Pages.

Putting Down the Pen?

I’ve wanted, for a while now, to be able to take a memory, something from my past, and write a deep, meaningful, reflective post about it.  Problem is, I can’t seem to come up with a memory that would allow me to write anything of significance.  I could talk about choices I made that, in retrospect, were probably wrong or I could talk about moments when I thought my heart was breaking, but again, in retrospect, it probably wasn’t, but I don’t think I’d get the reflective piece I was hoping for.  I should probably be thankful I’ve lived a fairly even-keeled life.  There have been no times of great tragedy, only disappointment and regret, but there have also been no times of tremendous joy, only fleeting happiness.  In the grand scheme of things, I should consider myself lucky.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing for a long time now- pretty much since I finished the second big edit of Twenty-Five.  Poetry, short stories, attempts at novels- nothing is working.  I have begun to wonder if I should put the pen down and forget about this whole writing thing.  Not that I want to, necessarily.

I’ve never been successful at anything I’ve attempted to do.  At least, I don’t feel like I have been.  Always good, never great.  Which makes me think I’m not choosing the right things.  Honestly, when I think about it, the only thing I ever really excelled at was school.  So, I’ve been thinking about going back to school.  I’ve wanted to get a graduate degree pretty much since I received my undergraduate one, but the timing has never been right or the money’s never been available.  I still don’t know if the timing is right and I know there isn’t money available, but if I keep waiting, I could be waiting forever, right?

I don’t know for sure yet what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, or even the next couple of years.  I wish I did.  I wish I knew if I had it in me to write another book.  I keep trying and failing.  And I hate failing.  I keep thinking one day I’ll have the time to devote to another story.  One day I’ll develop characters that really speak to me.  One day I’ll come up with a plot that is so freaking fantastic that it will basically write itself.  But how long can I wait for one day?

I feel lost and confused and really guilty that I haven’t had anything of quality to post on this blog in a very long time.