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Tag Archives: Memoirs and an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages

My Protagonist’s Birthday and a Countdown to the Countdown

In my weird little writer’s world, this week is a big deal.  I will launch the sequel to my Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages this Friday, both in print as an an ebook.  Drew, my protagonist also just shared a birthday with the anniversary of the original theatrical release of Star Wars from back in 1977 (of course that’s why I chose that as her birthday!) I thought it was the “perfect storm” to brew up something special to celebrate, so I decided to run a Kindle Countdown Deal on the ebook so people might be able to catch up with Drew’s life before her freshman year surfaces.

selling books

This is my first experience with Kindle Countdown Deals and I’m not super impressed. Oh, sure, it’s not just them; it’s me as well. But, sadly, it’s just not what I thought it would be. In looking for places to promote this sale I discovered these deals are not a big enough deal to have any special places to promote the sale, unlike all the options out there for doing free days on Kindle.  Most of the people I can reach on my own at this point through social media have already purchased or read my book, or probably just aren’t ever going to, even if I gave it to them for free and it’s the last book on Earth.  I need to reach new people, but there really isn’t a place to do it in this format.  When I signed up through KDP the information read that some books would be listed on Amazon’s special page for Kindle Countdown Deals, but there was no information on how to make that happen, so I figured it must be a random selection,a sort of Russian Roulette, but apparently, my book was not random enough as it is not on the list of about 10 books.

This was supposed to help create magical excitement to help lead into my new book’s release, but I now feel empty inside and let down. I mean, sure, my Amazon page now has a little, itty-bitty countdown clock, but people still have to find the page to see the clock. Oh, well. It’s all a learning experience, I suppose.


My Book Series is Going through Puberty

The May/June issue of Writer’s Digest is dedicated to those who write for children and teens, so I did my ill-coordinated happy dance when it arrived and jumped right in.  According to what I read, I’m right on the mark where I need to be, and since Writer’s Digest says I’m doing well, I’m certain others will soon figure this out about me too, and I’ll become a rich indie author.

Ok, but I am where I need to be, I think.

I felt like my book was homeless when I finished it, which is part of why I decided to forgo all the jumping through hoops in search of an agent who would then search for a publisher.  I figured my story didn’t really fit anywhere well, so it would have to do as I have always done, and non-conform, see who might pick up on it anyway.  But as it turns out, my book does fit as a piece of Middle-Grade literature.  Between that and Young Adult fiction, my story Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages falls into the middle, Middle-Grade that is. Yet somehow most of the readers I know of have been adults, and not necessarily all even female.  I guess I’ve told a timeless, possibly genderless, story. We’ve all gone through the tortures of middle school, right?  Also, I don’t often get feedback from that age group because they don’t really do that. I need to enlist the gatekeepers, their parents, teachers, aunts… My book fills the criteria properly, but I still need to reach them.

But even after checking on my word count and the appropriateness of my characters and content, I felt pleased.  But what of my soon-to-be-released sequel?  My middle schooler protagonist is moving up to high school, my word count is increasing, and some more serious issues will arise, though Drew always tries to keep it light.  So, now my series is moving into the Young Adult world. Will that make it hard to categorize my series? It’s moving from one age group to another.  I guess I hoped my readers could grow along with Drew, but is it an awkward change? Is my book series going through puberty?  Is that even allowed?  J.K. Rowling got away with it as everyone read about Harry and his buddies as they grew up.  This worked well for her, so here’s hoping (I would cross my fingers, but I already type slowly)

I plan to launch my sequel at the end of May.  I’m both excited and want to throw up.  I had no idea what I was doing the first time I self published my book, but now I’ve done a little more research and publicity, though all the free kind. Last time, I put the book on Kindle and then started telling people about it here and there.  This time I’m planning to shout it from as many rooftops (social media) as possible ahead of time, and to enlist my friends and fans to help.

I’m proud of my sequel.  My writing and content have matured and it’s more polished. I also think Drew, my semi-autobiographical protagonist, is a fun, interesting character.  In the same Writer’s Digest issue, I also read an article by Jacquelyn Mitchard on “Standout Series Characters” and I think Drew fits this concept:

“One of the most important characteristics of a character who’ll become part of a teen or a kid’s life for several years has a simple, relatable likability.”

Of course, I also read this gem about the fine balance of writing a sequel, a tedious task:

“One of the most difficult things in the word world is to write the second book in a series.  The challenge for a good writer is finding the balance– appealing to the reader who’s meeting these characters for the first time and making sure the reader who knows the character already isn’t utterly bored.”

I think I got it right, and soon readers will be able to confirm this for me.


Sequel Excerpt of the Talent Show

A little sample of Drew’s progress in her freshman year, an excerpt of the sequel to Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages.

Florntayor’s Got Talent…Sort of

If nothing else, working as part of the backstage crew at the school’s talent show gave me something to do on a Friday night, and though there were no judges or winners, I was feeling quite judgmental, and I really questioned a few of the acts and outfits that strutted across the stage.  Make-out girl from my neighboring locker did some sort of gymnastics meets dance routine while wearing nothing more than a flesh colored body suit and a smile.  Little was left to the imagination, and a flashback montage of all her tonsil-tickler partners and Valentine hearts played in my head, which I shook quietly to myself in the dark behind the stage.

Lance, the mouth breather, performed a magic routine, but everything he attempted failed, and he shuffled off the stage with his left wrist handcuffed to his right ankle and feathers coming out of his pants.  A brother and sister combination played “Dueling Banjos,” and that disturbed me but seemed fitting for Florntayor. Mona performed a baton routine that I guess she used for her beauty pageants.  I secretly hoped she’d hit herself in the head, but she only dropped the baton once, albeit, it landed at the feet of a couple in the front row, which made me smile a little. For the rest of the night some poetry was recited by a mousy junior girl and Bryan Adam’s “Everything I Do” was sung a cappella, and badly, by a senior who was using it as a means to ask a girl to prom.  She said yes and with tears in her eyes, which were obviously there for different reasons than the tears I had in my eyes after the performance.

And then Vile Contagion took the stage and took it with force.

Terri Klaes Harper 2014

Sneak a Peek at My Sequel

I’ve been busy writing my sequel to Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages (sequel title to be announced).  Here’s some proof:

Learning What Ails

After the annual ceremonial sacrifices of our dignity, otherwise known as three weeks of square dancing, we got a little more time off from dressing out for gym (as if I often did anyway) as we had an interval of health class where we learned about cleaning ourselves properly, certain muscle groups, and eating nutritious food. Carmen and I were passing notes back and forth.  She was in the drama club and they were getting extra credit if they helped backstage at the upcoming talent show, and if they recruited other people.

Her note read, “Vile Contagion is playing, so Adrienne already said she’d help because she thinks Joe Spano is hot.” Adrienne had been talking about this all week.  Joe Spano was a junior and played drums in our high school’s local rock band, Vile Contagion.  I had to admit, their name was catchy.

“I can do it as long as Adrienne is because we’ll just catch rides together,” I wrote, and then refolded and tossed the note to Carmen. It came back to me quickly with a huge smiley face.

“Who remembers what the gluteus maximus is?” asked our all-year shorty shorts and whistle wearing gym teacher.

And in that unfortunate moment, Julia from chorus’ sister, who happened to be an office aid, walked in with a message delivery. As soon as her wide hips cleared the door to exit, Lance, Mouth-Breather from photography, shouted out, “That young woman is burdened with a prime example of a maximus gluteus maximus!”

Instead of scolding Lance, Mr. Baxter said, “Yes, exactly.  The glute is the butt,” and Lance and Todd, his greasy haired cohort gave each other high fives.

“But, wait,” declared my normally lip-locked locker neighbor who had recently been transferred into the class in order to avoid an old boyfriend. “I thought Gluteus Maximus was like a Roman god or something.”

After paying attention to those few minutes of class, Carmen and I resumed our note writing.  It seemed safer for our brain cells.

More to come.  I wrote around 7,000 words this week.

Sequestering My Sequel

writers block

Writing a sequel for Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages.  That’s what I’m supposed to be doing at this exact moment, but instead, I’m writing a blog post about writing a sequel.  Why?  Because I’m looking for excuses to not work on my sequel right now and as long as I’m writing something, that’s all that matters, right?


I know.  I know.  It’s just like I said…an excuse.  Why would I even need an excuse?  So many reasons.

Writer’s block:  Today I am seriously NOT feeling my protagonist, or the plot, or anything at all, for that matter.  It’s just now, in this moment though.  I’ve been doing fine all along… until now.  The problem is I’m about to have a very busy several days in which I know I will be unable to schedule sequel writing time, so I’m feeling that added pressure.

Added pressure:  I’ve been working on this sequel for five months and I really want to get through this first draft and begin editing, but I’m only at about the halfway mark.  There is no time frame or deadline.  I’m an indie writer, so it’s all up to me, but I am the added pressure, because I want to have a sequel to offer to prove I’m serious about this book writing thing.  Also, I know I have more chances of getting noticed by readers if I have more than one book and the promise of an entire series.

Fear of sequel disaster:  It happens all the time in books and movies. We’ve all seen it, or read it, and felt sadly let down.  The first one is great, so a second is written or filmed.  But other than The Empire Strikes Back, which is my favorite Star Wars film, I have a hard time thinking of any movies or books in the second position that have lived up to the first.  Occasionally, a third can come along and help dig it out of a hole, but sometimes, once that car comes off the rails, it just becomes a larger train wreck.  I don’t want Drew to be part of a train wreck.  She means more to me than that and I want to get it right, for her sake.  I owe her (Drew is my protagonist, if you’re wondering)! So I have repeat performance issues.

But I really need to just suck it up and write, right?  I have to have faith that Drew can guide me and help me to be true to her character.  When I have alone time with her, as I do now, sequestered in my office, I need to build her life.  I can always go back and fix it later if I screw up too much.  Being a writer is much safer than parenting.  That’s what editing and revision are all about.  After all, I rewrote and deleted chunks in the first book. It’s acceptable to not be perfect at first.  Nobody has to know if I catch it before I publish it.  I can do this.  I feel better already.  I always do when I write it out. Now, can I do the same with Drew?

My First Chapter Book and Some Randomly Related Thoughts

As the self-published author of Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages, I’ve written a chapter book, which is obviously an accomplishment I’m excited about.  However, when recently looking through my “box of old stuff” (most of you know what I’m talking about- old school work and creations from your past), I found the original chapter book I wrote.

It happened in second grade.  Most of the other kids in my class were terrified of the idea of writing a book, but other than the part where we also had to do our own illustrations, I was stoked!  Yes, I loved writing at least as far back as second grade.  Drawing was something I enjoyed, but I knew I was not talented in that art medium- not like the kid Jesse in my class who drew the most amazing landscapes with depth of field you ever saw by a second-grader.  But even then I was sure my writing abilities made up for my drawing inadequacies.


The assignment: Write an illustrated chapter story beginning with, “Lucky me! I was chosen to take the first trip to the planet Cats-A-Lot.”  I threw in weird aliens, a flying cat, and chocolate covered pills for space travel.  Looking back now, I see I could have used an editor, but I was six or seven, so I’m going to let that go now.

green kangaroo

As a YA writer, I also get questions about what kind of books I liked reading when I was a kid.  The first chapter book I read was Judy Blume’s The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo and I think I was in third or fourth grade when I read it.  I’m also fairly certain I related to that book even if I wasn’t in the middle.  I remember feeling so mature and accomplished when I told my friends which chapter I was reading.  It was a book picked out of one of those Scholastic book papers we got back in elementary school, the ones where you could also get a free poster of some kind of cute little kitten or puppy if you ordered a certain amount.  I had those hanging all over my walls and doors.

fifth grade

From there I moved on to Cleary’s Ramona books, DeClements’ Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade, and then Pascal’s many Sweet Valley Twins books. I also had many hand-me-down books from my older sisters.  I always had a book in progress.  If I was home sick, I read a book.  If I had a bad day, I read a book.  If I had a good day, I read a book.  I couldn’t get enough; I constantly had to get my fix.  They were like drugs for my developing mind, only they grew my brain cells instead of killing them.  Now, more than anything, I want to see my book and future books as being a part of the readers’ memories when they look back and realize how they connected to my beloved Drew.



I love free stuff.  It makes me smile.  I want to make others smile by giving away free stuff, namely my book.

Today (8/30/13) through Monday (9/2/13) I am giving away my ebook.

A few people thought my timing on this was weird because I just launched my book in print after having the ebook available for a year now.  Why would I do this?  Honestly, I just want people to read my book, love it, and tell others about it.  Also, people are more likely to risk reading something unknown if it’s free than they are to buy something unfamiliar to them, right?  So, the freebie ebook giveaway is my sneaky way to get noticed, have people give a free book and chance, and then let them decide if a paper book (which always has a higher overhead cost) is worth adding to their libraries.  It’s a way to check it out before investing.

Personally, I think Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages is a well-written, well-voiced book, but I might be biased since I wrote it an all.  So…I am asking others to read it and hopefully add reviews to my page as well.  Help me get noticed.

Pass along the news and spread the link:

The Top Three Reasons Why People Read the Books They Read


I made it my most recent mission to find out the top three reasons people are drawn to read the books they read.  After all, I figured uncovering this information would give me insight as to how I can get my book out there and read by the masses. (Here’s one subtle hint… read Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: the Middle-ish Ages– nah, subliminal messages are not in the top three, but check it out anyway!)

1) Someone recommended it, perhaps over and over again

2) You read at least one other work by the author and swore you would read everything else this person ever wrote

3) You were just browsing, but the cover and title of the book looked awesome

By the way, I did absolutely no solid data gathering or official research for this, so you are warned, but you’re also thinking, That’s a good list.  Maybe I should see what else she has to say.  She is obviously quite smart and beautiful.  So maybe I added the last part, but keep reading anyway.  My list was carefully constructed by my own experiences as a book nerd and by observations of other people.  I love observing other people… but not in that creepy, restraining order kind of way.  No worries.

Back to number one (by the way, these are in no particular order of importance).  There are many ways a book may be recommended to you.  Perhaps a friend read the book and just knew you would love/relate to it.  The name of the book just kept popping up everywhere you went, on everything you watched and in everything you read, and critics loved it.  Maybe you know or once knew the author and wanted to either be supportive or to find something wrong so you could knock him or her down a peg, finally!  In rarer instances, you may have found yourself forced into it (school assignment or a gun to your head).  But the bottom line is that recommendations do work, so I know I need to work on my marketing with word of mouth or buy a gun.  I’d rather go with the first (and I know some hippie tree hugger is going to find my sense of humor off on the whole gun thing, but then that person really needs to lighten up and go eat some granola).

Number Two.  I know from experience (and all the posts I see on Facebook, which are sure to be good research) that once I read something I love, or sometimes even just like, I suddenly want to read everything that person ever wrote.  Sometimes this leaves me feeling hollow inside and disappointed to the point of tears (I read the entire Twilight series because I was a high school English teacher and I wanted to see what was warping the minds of the girls in my classes, but please don’t tell anyone. I still have nightmares about sparkling vampires), but it’s usually a good investment of time.  And then, of course, a good book series (not Twilight) can pull us in to the point that we’re just not sure what we will do with our lives once we’ve read them all.

And then number three (hold on, let me scroll up to see what I wrote for that).  Ah, yes, the book cover.  “You can’t judge a book by its cover” is a load of poop.  We all know if the cover looks boring we do not want to read the book.  It’s a really nice idea to use for learning to get to know people before we make decisions about them, but there are way too may books out there waiting for me to read them to waste my time reading them all.  If I find myself in a situation where I do not already have the next book I want to read or I’m at my local public library that hardly ever has anything on my want to read list, I browse.  If the cover gets my attention, that’s a good start.  Then if the title is intriguing, I will read the back of the book or the book flap.  If I’m not hooked, I’m not going to read it.

So, there you have it, my not-so-scientific research list of why we read the stuff we read.  If you don’t agree, come up with your own list.

Maybe Not so Ordinary

Last August, I published a tween/young adult novel, Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages.  Then the school year started and I did little to promote it.  Now that it is summer and I no longer have the doom of an impending school year ahead (since I quit my day job), I am working towards getting the word out again on my book.  And I am working on the sequel.  The protagonist, Drew,  must move on and join those who have lived in the misery of being a freshman.

Who would like this book?

Who wouldn’t?

Seriously, the target audience is middle school girls; however, many adults have read it and enjoyed reliving their awkward middle school moments as well.  It’s a humorous tale of a girl figuring out who she really is, and it’s set at the cusp between the ’80s and ’90s, so if you enjoy nostalgia, give it a try.

I’m also trying out a new summer pricing of $2.99, down from $4.99.  This is far less expensive than most alternative forms of “entertainment” out there these days (anybody attempt to go to a movie any time recently?), so take a sneak peak, buy it, read it, and tell all your friends about it, especially if they have preteen girls.  I want to build up the proper age of followers as well.