Top Ten Things You Should Read on Your Birthday

Yesterday I turned 29… again. So I decided to write a blog post about one of my favorite things: reading! On your birthday, you should definitely take a little time for yourself, if you can afford it. I try to take some extra time for reading on a personal level, since it is something that I enjoy, and it is an affordable indulgence.

Here are the top ten things you should read on your birthday:

All of your “Happy Birthday!” posts on Facebook Since most of my family and friends live in Michigan, and several of my friends are in Vermont and Wisconsin, I revel in birthday greetings from all across the US of A. How fun to read and respond to people you don’t often see.

Your birthday cards I always save my birthday cards, especially those from family. Since my Grandma Mason passed away in October of this past year, I plan to read some of the previous messages she blessed me with. Her words were always so wise, and I could definitely feel the love that she had for me, even in just a pen and pretty paper.

Your favorite blogs Because I am busy reading emails and queries and manuscripts for work, I generally don’t take time to read a lot of blogs during the work week. So, on my birthday, I like to catch up on blogs. A few blogs I will be spending time with include Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, John Green Books, Literati Cat, and A Miniature Clay Pot. The last blog is by my friend, Marie, who wrote a blog with over 5,000 responses after the Aurora theater shooting. She and her daughters were in theater 9, and she has been such a blessing to those involved in the shooting, as well as others. Of course, she was a blessing to others long before the shooting; she helped me through some difficult times, and she made my wedding invitations for free!

Queries, partials, and full manuscripts in my inbox as well as manuscripts that I am currently editing Yes, I work on my birthday, mostly because my husband also works, but also because my mom visited for the week, and she left yesterday morning. Instead of sitting around being sad and missing her, I plan to focus on projects that I need to complete.

Bible/devotional While I am not a daily bible or devotional reader, I do like to check in on special days. It is always so wonderful to see what God, who knit me together in my mother’s womb, has to say about me on my birthday. He planned the day I came into the world as well as every other day after that. I love to receive a special birthday blessing from Him.

Text messages Who doesn’t like to receive “Happy Birthday!” text messages?

The menu at your favorite restaurant. While I am normally an Olive Garden girl, this year, my husband, mom, and I plan to go to White Fence Farm, a home-style restaurant that specializes in fried chicken and high cholesterol. For those of you in the Denver area, be sure to visit the restaurant which includes a petting zoo, fun shops, and different music nights including square dancing and line dancing.

The menu at your favorite coffee shop A friend recently introduced me to the awesomeness that is Espressole Caffe. It is a bit farther than I normally travel for coffee, but I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than working on an editing project while sipping a five spice latte. Yum!

Your driver’s license Make sure it hasn’t expired!

And my favorite: a good novel! Currently, I am reading Pulitzer prize winning novel, Tinkers, and I finished it on my birthday. It always refreshes me to read beautiful writing with amazing story, and what a great way to start the weekend than with a great story still ruminating in my mind.

What sorts of birthday reading do you do? Do you have any other fun birthday traditions?

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The History of E-Publishing, Pt. 1

Hand holding an e-bookE-publishing and e-books are hot now, but there was a time when some of us wondered if they would ever catch on.

I know.

I was e-published before e-publishing was cool.

In 1997, I finished my first novel, a 35,000 word YA novel titled Friendly Revenge. I had decided to write for the young adult market because in my youthful naïveté I felt that it would be the easiest market to break into.

Silly me.

Friendly Revenge received excellent feedback and many glowing rejection letters, informing me that the YA houses were stocked up three years in advance. So after it finished making the rounds of the Christian houses, I consigned Friendly Revenge to my closet and began to work on another novel.

But one afternoon, when I was reading Writer’s Digest, I noticed a fascinating sidebar. It said something like: “Savvy authors are checking out e-publishers.” The sidebar went on to list about five royalty-paying e-publishers. I was a little skeptical. After all, weren’t these guys just the electronic equivalent of vanity publishers? Didn’t they mostly sell junk? And even if I allowed someone to put my stuff on the Internet, what was to prevent people from stealing it?

On the other hand, my manuscript wasn’t doing any good sitting in my closet.

I decided to check out the e-publishers, and I was surprised at what I found.

Two stood out to me. One was a site called Online Originals. It was based in Europe and sold mostly literary fiction. Online Originals held their authors to very high standards, and it showed. One of their books had even been nominated for a Booker Prize (a British literary award comparable to the Pulitzer).

Another site had the unusual name, Hard Shell Word Factory and, yes, their logo was a turtle. This site sold mostly genre fiction, and it seemed a better fit for the suspense/thriller novel I had written. And besides, Hard Shell sold their books as 3 ¼ inch floppy disks; Online Originals did downloads only.

I was willing to e-publish, but I still wanted some kind of physical product.

And so I submitted Friendly Revenge to Hard Shell Word Factory.

It went through a manuscript review process, just as I would have expected with a conventional publisher. And after it was accepted, they assigned an editor to me to help me improve my story.

I even received royalties—sort of.

Whenever royalty time came around, my wife and I would wonder if we’d receive enough for a cup of coffee and a bagel, or if it would just be enough for coffee.

The checks were rarely enough to even buy coffee.

But it didn’t matter.

I was published by a real, royalty-paying publisher.

Of course, I couldn’t do book signings; I did disc signings.

There was only one problem. Who was actually going to bother to sit down at a desktop computer to read a novel? Laptops weren’t all that common back then, and tablets, iPhones, Kindles, and Nooks hadn’t been invented.

If there wasn’t a way people could read e-books, this bold new concept might never get off the ground. In 1998, it looked like the problem was solved. Someone introduced a dedicated e-book reader to the marketplace.

But it wasn’t the Kindle. It was the Rocket E-Book.

E-authors were thrilled, believing now that our books would start flying off the “shelves.”

It didn’t quite work out that way, but that story’s for next month, when I tell you the gripping tale of The Rise and Fall of the Rocket E-Book.

Photo Credit:
“Holding E-book Reader in Hands,” © Tombaky | Dreamstime.com

Do you have any early e-book stories that you would like to share?