You’re Invited to Join the Journey

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Are you interested in an author’s writing journey? Do you want to interact and be a part of that journey on a regular basis?

I have created a Facebook group called Crystal’s Creative Cohorts so that I can be more interactive with you on a regular basis. While blogging and my newsletters are great, they are often one-sided and I really want to interact and get to know you.

So what will Crystal’s Creative Cohorts do? Give input on current works in progress–like character names, descriptions, quirks, story ideas–, be the first ones offered a chance to be beta readers and members of my eventual street team, get a glimpse into the real life of an author and sneak peeks at my writing, and have access to exclusive contests. Because who doesn’t like a good contest?

In fact, my first giveaway will happen when the group reaches 50 members. Want a sneak peek at the prize? I thought so…

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So what are you waiting for? Come join the party and become a Creative Cohort.

Writer’s Fodder: The Flooded Ohio River

Living on a river exposes many people to the challenges of rising spring waters, and this February has been no different. Many areas around the country are dealing with floods and the aftermath. Ludlow, Kentucky is one such area, which happens to be where my brother lives.

 

 

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A pano of my brother’s front yard and street, just before the Ohio River crested at 60.53 feet on Sunday, February 25, 2018.

 

 

Bless his soul, not only does he have to deal with a flooded basement that forced him to cut power and gas to his house, he also has a writer as a sister. A writer whose current work in progress ends with the second highest flood in Cincinnati recorded history.

 

 

My story ends with the 1884 flood, which crested at 71.1 feet on Valentine’s Day, and if a disaster has to occur it couldn’t have occurred at a better time for this little writer. I am editing the scenes where that particular flood has a critical impact on my characters. (Do not take that to mean that I am not deeply grieved for those who are impacted. Disasters are no joke and I would never wish them upon anyone and am praying for those affected.)

 

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Skatepark – 2/25/18

 

 

After texting pictures, videos, and questions back and forth, he finally just told me to come on over so I could see the flood first hand. Since this was the worst flood since the 1997 flood, I brought my boys along, because, hey! It’s history, right? Interspersed throughout are photos I took on my phone while walking only two or three blocks away from my brother’s house around sunset.

 

 

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Some poor kid’s playset. Debris pushed against a tree. 2/25/18

 

 

So what was I looking for beyond the damage inflicted? This flood crested 12 days after my story’s flood, so believe it or not, water temperature was something that intensely interested me.

 

 

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No, I did not let him get in. But we did touch the water. 2/25/18

 

 

You can’t interact with a flood and not get wet, so just exactly how cold did it feel? Cold enough that if you fell in you’d probably take a sharp breath and inhale some water. Cold enough that an extended stay in the water could most definitely lead to hypothermia – although perhaps not as quickly as I thought.

 

 

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Someone else (not anyone I know) kayaking through the park. 2/25/18

 

 

When I saw this person kayaking around the park, I got way too stinking excited. As soon as they beached, I bombarded them with questions.

  • How bad was the current? Not bad, but don’t go past the fence. The current really picks up and becomes dangerous.
  • Did they have trouble controlling the kayak? Not here. There is a little current, but not much more than a pond or lake.
  • If they fell in, did they feel they could swim back to safety? Here the water was shallow enough they could stand up and walk back if needed.

 

In 1884, extra officers were on duty as well as extra regiments brought in to not only protect the people from danger, but also from themselves. Floods bring out the crazies (and I probably fall into that category, too). True then and true now. The picture below is of a young man who inflated a raft with a leaf blower and then proceeded to paddle his way out to the skatepark with a guitar. Yes, I said guitar.

 

 

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It is zoomed in a whole lot, so not easy to see, but when he climbed on the top of a ramp, he proceeded to “play” his guitar. 2/25/18

 

 

Whether it be due to drugs (very rampant in our region) or just a goofy young adult, he made for an interesting night. He did make it back to shore and when my kids approached him (TMNT Momma was close and watching, don’t worry), he gave them the guitar and said it came from Johnny Cash. My youngest son asked him why he paddled with the guitar. His response? “Because it helps him train and stuff.” Oh my, but it is a memory my kids will have. Oldest wants to mount the guitar on his wall.

 

 

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Busted but cool. 2/25/18

 

 

Despite the destruction and turmoil the flood is still causing and did cause, it produced one of my favorite pictures ever. Just like the rough times in our life can be overwhelming, there can also be moments of beauty.

 

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Island House – They built it ready for a flood, but who would have guessed they’d test that out in the first year. 2/25/18

 

While getting some hands-on research was fun, it was sobering to see the damage and to watch my brother deal with the aftermath. His damage is limited to the basement, and many others have so much more they have to deal with. My prayers are with all.

Do you have any flood stories? Any experiences you would wish to share? I am always on the lookout for first-hand accounts. Connect with me in the comments.

What to Write Next?

As I approach the end of editing my first book (EEK!!) I am looking to the next book. What will I write? Will I continue with the next book in the series? Or will I write a different series I already have in mind? Or should I begin something new and completely stand-alone?

 

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I will be honest, my mind creates books in series of three. Each is a stand-alone novel in its own rights, so not a trilogy, but the characters are all connected and revisit one another. Those are the types of books I read and that seems to be how my mind writes as well. 

 

In fact, I have the next two books in the series already outlined and playing in my mind. However, some wise sage of the publishing world recommended that unpublished authors not write the next book in a series until they have a contract to do so. Otherwise, you will have wasted your time.

 

I am still praying that one through, because ultimately, God lets me know what is a waste of my time, but I am playing around with other new ideas.  My current inspiration comes from some fun pictures my family took over Christmas break in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

So here is a peek at the ones that inspire a story in my mind:

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Don’t you dare cheat with crack-shot Donovan Marshal at the table.  The hardened, undercover Pinkerton agent isn’t fooled by tricks, but when Cassie Granger plays the trick of her life, will they both be fooled by what really is at stake?

 

 

 

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Former Confederate soldier, Elias Blake, just wants to put the war behind him and rebuild his farm. Upon returning his ramshackle home, he finds the enemy has moved in and taken claim on his land and possibly his heart.

 

 

 

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Escaping the law has always been a challenge she enjoyed… until she accidentally married the law.

After a robbery gone wrong, Emily Hoppe is injured and mistaken for a mail-order bride. Not one to turn away a built-in cover, she intends to go along with the ruse until she is well enough to hightail it out of town.

U.S. Marshal Dirk Burn knows something isn’t quite right about his bride, and his instincts never fail him. Determined to sniff out the truth, he gets more than he bargained for when her outlaw family comes to her rescue.

 

 

Okay, so some really high-level ideas, but just maybe one of them will be my next story.

What about you? If you are a writer? How do you choose what to write next? If you are a reader, what makes you decide what to read next? Did any of our goofy pictures inspire you with story ideas? I’d love to hear them!

 

By the way, the winner of Cynthia Roemer’s signed copy of Under this same sky is: 

JANET ESTRIDGE

 

While we did purchase the rights to these pictures, I want to give credit where credit is due. Out of the 22 Old Time Photo places in that tourist-heavy area, we used Old Time Photo #5. Yes, the number is part of their name. You can visit them here if you are interested in checking them out. Our photographer was great.

 

 

Reader Resolutions

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The first week of January is already almost behind us. How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions? I have moved away from making resolutions and have instead taken up the One Word idea (choosing one word to be my focus for this year). But that doesn’t mean I haven’t made goals for the New Year. My friend, KyLee Woodley, wrote a fantastic post about New Year’s goals which you can read here.

 

This year I have made several goals split by category: Writing, Reading, and Personal. I’ll give a glimpse of my writing and personal at the end, but what I wanted to really focus on was Reading Resolutions.

READING RESOLUTIONS

Are you are on GoodReads? I have been on it for years, but this is the first year that I am actually going to participate in the GoodReads Reading Challenge. I’d love for you to join me in the challenge and if you so desire, you can add me onto your friend’s list: Crystal Caudill.

 

My reading goal this year? Read and review 24 books. 

I am struggling to make my list. There are so many great books, but here are the ones already there (in no particular order):

  1. A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson PolitanoARumoredFortune
  2. TooFarDownToo Far Down by Mary Connealy
  3. ASpysDevotionA Spy’s Devotion by Malanie Dickerson
  4. A Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson
  5. A Dangerous Engagement by Melanie Dickerson
  6. Plots and Pans by Kelly Eileen Hake
  7.  The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz
  8.  The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenback by Bethany Turner
  9.  Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine ReayDearMrKnightly
  10.  TheSecretLifeofSarahHollenbeckHeart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer
  11. Engraved on the HeartWhither Shall I Go? by Gina Holder
  12. Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson
  13. The Innkeepers Daughter by Michelle Griep
  14. 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

 

What books do you recommend I add to my list? Do you have any reading goals? Please share them below! Facebook has made interacting with people more difficult on my author page, so I hope to be able to interact better with you here.

 

WRITING GOALS

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1. Finish editing WIP by the end of January.   2. Plot out the two following books. 3. Begin a new WIP in March and have it finished by December.

 

PERSONAL GOALS

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1. Repaint the basement and upstairs main room. 2. Be more present with my kids, friends, and other family members. 3. Balance my responsibilities and still remain sane.

 

 

What about you? Did you make any goals or resolutions? Share them and/or your book recommendations below! I am so thankful for anyone who takes the time to read these posts. The internet is a hard world to be in. Bless you and have a great day!

Newsletters: An Important Way To Support Authors

You’ve seen it from every author or business out there, “Join my newsletter!” In fact,  your box is probably riddled with newsletters you don’t open. I know I am very selective about the ones I join and unsubscribe when I can no longer handle the mess of my inbox.

 

Yet as I continue on this journey of writing and supporting other authors, I have learned the importance of newsletters, especially to new or aspiring authors.

 

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The publishing world is constantly pressing authors to build a platform and network with readers. Start a Facebook page, Tweet on Twitter, Pin on Pinterest, Insta (?) on Instagram. Okay, so Instagram isn’t my thing, but you get the point. Top on industry professionals’ want list? You guessed it, newsletter subscribers.

 

Newsletter subscribers mean you have a dedicated following of people who want to know your updates, promotions, or other little odds and ends.  Having a good number of subscribers is a huge deal for authors just getting their start, so subscribing to author newsletters is a fantastic way to support authors.

 

In this increasingly competitive market, I want to know:

What makes you open a newsletter? What are you newsletter pet peeves? What do you wish newsletters had in them? 

 

Comment below and be entered to win a Love Inspired Suspense novel from my “Giveaway Stash.” (Open to comments from 9/17/17 to midnight EST on 9/25/17.)

 

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If you haven’t guessed it, I am taking my first foray into the newsletter world. Beginning the month of October, I am going to send out a monthly newsletter with a fun digital freebie, a glimpse into my chaotic life, brief notes about my journey to publishing, what is on the top of my TBR pile, and a prayer for you. If you would be interested in signing up and trying it out (you can unsubscribe and it won’t hurt my feelings), click on this link. As a bonus, if you sign up, I will give you my top ten favorite jokes. Cheesy, I know, but who doesn’t like a good laugh?

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