Free Kindle Promotion for A Good Kind of Knowing

cover A Good kind of knowingMy latest novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, has been out now since October (in ebook, since December in paperback), and this is the first time it’s been offered free as an ebook via Amazon. It’s a free promotion in advance of my blog tour, which begins next week.

If you’d like to try the novel, risk-free, this is when to download! The promotion goes from April 4 through April 7.

 

 

Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009V3G93O

The book currently has 35 reader reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-star average rating. (Thank you, readers, who have offered your heartfelt reviews!) A friend recently told me that it was the most moving book she’s read in a long time. Wow. Just. Wow. So pleased with that kind of response to my work.

Feel free to share this information with friends. For every download, I hope that person enjoys the story enough to tell a friend.

Oh, and you don’t have to have a Kindle to get the free download. You just need to add the Kindle app to your iPad, android tablet, iPhone, desktop computer, whatever. You can get the free app here.

Thanks, always, for the support!

 

 

 

A Little Tease: Author Q/A and an Excerpt from My Next Novel

I’m cheating a little tonight. I was going to write a quick blog post before hitting the hay, but then I realized I had recently answered an Author Q/A for a blog during my two-week blog tour, but the content was never used.

So I think I’ll publish it here, just for kicks. The really cool thing? It includes a quick teaser of content from my second novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, which will be out this summer. I hope you enjoy it. But first, the Q/A.

Q: What inspired you to write this book, Blue Straggler?

I had written a short story with three of the characters that now appear in Blue Straggler (Bailey, Rudy and Idamarie), and I just loved them so much that I needed to put them into a broader story. Plus, the main character in the short story (Bailey) was going through a kind of early mid-life crisis, and I knew a lot of friends who were going through similar things, as was I. I thought the story could be universal and really explore what it means to find out who you are and where you’re meant to land in life.

Q: Do you have a favorite place you like to write?

Our deck in the summer = paradise for me.

Yes! On my deck in the spring, summer and fall. I live in a log cabin in a beautiful area in the Colorado mountains, in the middle of a national forest. It’s so peaceful; I can’t think of a better place to settle in and crank out stories. When winter rolls around, and the deck is not an option due to 20-below temperatures and snow, I write in my back bedroom or in the great room, next to a warm, crackling fire. Thank goodness for laptops (and golden retrievers to keep my feet warm)! We’re talking of moving to a lower elevation soon; it’ll be interesting to see how it affects my writing.

Q: Do you have a favorite author of your own?

So many. I love Barbara Kingsolver. She’s probably at the top of my list. Anna Quindlen would be there, too. (Her new memoir is brilliant.) Anne Lamott and Lorrie Moore. Larry McMurtry. Cormac McCarthy. Toni Morrison. I just can’t choose; it’s like asking me which of my many furry babies (dogs) I’ve had through the years I like best.

Q: A favorite character? One of yours or someone else’s that touched your heart?

A: Not to toot my own horn, but in my Blue Straggler, I love, love Idamarie. She’s just so down-to-earth and real and colorful and she always shoots from the hip. She’s the kind of Texan I miss most, living in Colorado like I do now. If I could have an Idamarie in my life, I think life would be even more fun than it is now. And I’d likely be more grounded with her sage advice around.

Q: Are you currently working on anything? If so, can you give us a tease?

I am putting the finishing touches on my next novel, A Good Kind of Knowing. It’s set in a small, rural town in Texas, and explores how all of these small-town lives are interconnected, and how even though we all come from different places in our lives, we have a lot in common — big things like humanity and small things like a love of good music.

So, I’ll leave you with a super tease! This is the most I think I’ve revealed of any part of the book. As you’ll see right away, A Good Kind of Knowing is a different kind of novel than Blue Straggler. It’s not comic fiction, though there is some humor.

This is the kind of jukebox mentioned in the excerpt below.

This is an excerpt from about halfway through the story. Sera is the main character in the novel; she owns a local music store. She’s married to Bill, but has a “special” relationship, which is growing in intimacy and closeness, to a handsome young musician (Mack). She’s been pretty sick for a while, and most people in town know it. Some of her friends have been trying to help out at her business while she deals with her illness.

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Mack waited for her at Antonio’s bar. Antonio stood over by the pool tables, emptying ashtrays from the night before. The afternoon sun filtered in through the small windows up front, sending sleek slats of light into the otherwise dark room and catching the perpetual dust of the place in a kind of suspension around the room. Two men, both in their eighties, sat at a square table in the corner, smoking thick cigars and playing cards. Every now and then, one of them would chuckle and cough. Antonio had turned on the jukebox—an old Wurlitzer with just one remaining front bulb flickering—and pushed the numbers for his favorites, mostly Freddy Fender hits.

   Antonio mumbled the words to “Vaya Con Dios” as he picked up the previous night’s litter around the booths in the back. Empty beer bottles knocked together in his hand.

     Mack sat at the bar, his felt hat on the barstool beside him, his hands working to fold a square bar napkin into the shape of a flimsy paper airplane. He shifted his weight on the barstool, glanced back at Antonio, then shifted again. “Sure I can’t help you back there?” It was the third time he’d asked.

       Antonio hollered his response. Same as before.

       The front door squeaked a little, drowning out the low-playing music for a second, and Sera stepped into the bar, jeans hanging loose on her hips and one of Bill’s sweatshirts tied around her waist. A blast of fall slipped in behind her and the wind sucked the heavy door back hard as she came in.

       “Hey there. Been waiting long?” She greeted Mack with a quick kiss on the cheek. He wondered if she’d meant to let her lips linger, or if it was only in his mind.

      “Thanks for meeting me, hon. I needed to get out of the house for a while.” Sera waved to Antonio as she talked. “I don’t know how long I can stay, though. I never know when my body’s going to give up the ship for the day.”

       “I was glad you called,” Mack replied, nodding again at Antonio as he motioned for them to help themselves to the cold longnecks chilling in a long, aluminum tub next to the bar.

       Mack picked out a couple and used the corner of his brown work jacket to twist off the caps.

     “Can you even have beer?” Mack hadn’t thought to ask before he handed it to her.

       “Oh hell yes. Why not? Not like a little beer every now and then ever killed a person.” She laughed at her joke and nudged Mack’s shoulder.

       “Funny.” He didn’t mean it.

      Antonio walked over to them and put his hands on Sera’s neck.

      “How’s my favorite lady today?” Antonio asked, squeezing her thin shoulders. Mack straightened next to her.

       Sera smiled and swirled around on her barstool to face Antonio. “Tony. Join us? I’m taking a walk on the wild side, going to see how hops and barley affect pancreatic distress.”

         Antonio glanced at Mack, then back at Sera. “Maybe later, okay?”

         “Later,” Sera agreed.

         As Antonio left to check on his two customers, Sera turned back to Mack and asked how things were at the store.

       “Nobody’ll tell me a thing, Mack. Bill hardly even speaks to me these days. I’m lucky if I get a good morning from him, much less a report on how things are going. And I went by the shop on my way here, and Tommy Lee and Ruby D. were down there—on a Sunday, mind you—arguing over shelf space.

       “I think it’s all gonna be alright, Sera. Everybody’s tryin’ real hard.”

       “I know,” she said, letting out a long sigh. “You know, I’m really thinking you all are crazy and we ought to just close the shop for a while. It would ease my guilt of you all trying to make this work.”

      Mack cleared this throat and nodded toward the bar door. “Guess this weather’s gonna stay cool for a while longer,” he said, doing his best to change the subject.

       Sera didn’t answer. They sat together, listening to Freddy Fender sing about being there before the next teardrop falls. One of the men sang out to the chorus in Spanish.

      “I’ve been thinking about heaven, Mack. I mean, there’s a side of me that wants to believe there is this garden of sunshine up there waiting for me with all the people I’ve ever lost in the world sitting around sipping lemonade in the shade. The weather would never get hot, and there’d be cats everywhere and my mother and Otis Redding and Patsy Cline would all be singing every night at a little dive. But something tells me it isn’t that simple.”

        “It could be.”

      “Yeah, but what if we’re living in heaven right now? I mean, what if we’ve got it all wrong, and we’re already there.”

      “I guess there’d be some people going around missing out on the lemonade.”

     Sera smiled. “Maybe we ought to switch the lemonade to Shiner Bock.” She clicked her bottle against Mack’s.

      In the back, Antonio turned the key on the jukebox and punched in new codes to start the music up again.

      An old Johnny Rodriguez song dropped into play, a melody about being down on the Rio Grande, lovers walking hand in hand. Sera hummed, and Mack watched the beer swirl against the glass as he moved his bottle in circles with his wrist.

    “Do you realize we’ve never danced together?” Sera turned to face him.

    Mack smiled slightly, concentrating on his beer. “Guess there was never a time, what with me on stage and all.”

      Sera waited for a moment. “What about now?”

      Mack surveyed the room. “Now?”

       He looked at her—this woman with eyes that danced no matter what the music, with a face that could weaken any man, with a spirit that spread around her like a magician’s stardust.

       He blushed, then stood up and offered his hand. She grinned and he grinned and the old men in the corner grinned. Even Antonio looked up from his calculator—and slowly grinned.

       Together, Mack and Sera swayed and moved in a slow two-step around the center of the hardwood floor. Daylight streamed in around them like nature’s spotlight. Mack held her loosely at first, but Sera moved as close to him as she could, her left hand at the nape of his neck, her right in his leading hand.

       He heard her breathe in, but was not aware that she was actually trying to hold on to his scent—an earthy combinationpart leather, part cotton. Part hay, part rope. Part beer, part coffee. Part horse mane and part crushed wild weeds.

       As she rested her head on his shoulder, Mack let his own breath out slowly, for fear she’d know, finally, full well, the effect she had on him. Her hair, blown in many directions from the wind when she came in, tickled his nose. But he couldn’t brush it away, didn’t ever want to brush it away. He closed his eyes and memorized how her body moved, how somehow he was no longer leading and his body was only reacting to the sway of Sera’s hips, his boots following the sliding of Sera’s across the floor.

_____________________________________________________________

So … like it? Hate it? Let me know by commenting below! Thanks for reading, always.

 

What Happened When I Turned 30 … and 40

I just returned from my first-ever book tour in Texas, promoting Blue Straggler. The trip brought up lots of old feelings I hadn’t thought about in a while — mostly because I spent a lot of time on the tour talking about the main character, Bailey, who in the book is going through a period of time where she is trying to discover who she really is inside, and because I visited many of my old haunts in Texas, which were ripe with memories, good and bad.

Me, at age 30, seemingly in need of a makeover of some kind.

The truth is, much like Blue Straggler’s Bailey, I had my first mid-life crisis when I turned 30. And while I wasn’t technically at mid-life if you look at actuary statistics, I had done a lot of livin’ by that point — some easy living, some hard living.

My 20s had been filled to the brim with highs and lows, board rooms and bar rooms, tons of joy and far too much pain, some of which was self-inflicted. I had some ugly scars, but they were healing. I was successful in my career — the youngest person on the executive management team for a major university system. I was dating both a NASA engineer and a doctor, neither too serious, at the same time. I lived in a sweet 1950s cottage-style house with original wood floors in a good neighborhood. I enjoyed amazing friends who had me over for deck therapy when I needed to laugh. I mowed my yard on Sundays, had a little garden in the back. I was coasting into a pretty good little life.

Then, I hit that 30 mark. And something clicked in my brain.

Restless does not even begin to describe how I felt. I literally felt a physical, guttural pull to change my life. As Soon As Possible.

It was like an overwhelming toothache when you know you need a root canal or a chicken-pox itch that no amount of Calamine lotion could remedy. I could not drink the longing away. (Some might say I gave it a good go, though. Thank you, Ketel One vodka and all makers of boxed wine.) I could not run far enough on my morning runs or swim fast enough at the pool to make it stop. Writing about it only made it even more real.

I Simply Wanted More. Right Then.

What did I want? Well, I wanted everything. I wanted less of some things, more of others. I wanted, wanted, wanted.

I wanted the kind of love that those damn romance novels and fairytales had promised me. I wanted to work in a job that I knew would make a difference in the big, bad world in some small way. I wanted to meet new people who were more like me, less like everyone else. I maybe wanted a child, or 50 more dogs. I wanted to ditch my old self like a snake sheds its skin. I wanted to feel and experience more. I wanted to make my mark on the world, to prove that I was here and alive and creative and oh-so-deep. (Still working on the last one, by the way.)

Now remember, I was on a pretty good trajectory before all this. But the trajectory wasn’t right, and I knew it inside. So, I sold most of my belongings, packed up my (two) dogs and the little furniture I had left, said adios to one of the best jobs in town, kissed two very nice men goodbye, apologized to my mother for leaving, and headed off to the Rocky Mountains, where I knew I could push myself and experience something completely different than my comfortable life back in Texas.

Me, before a hike my first year in Colorado

Did it work? Hell, yes! I highly recommend my approach. I bought a log cabin at the top of a mountain, challenged myself to 10-mile hikes alone on backcountry trails, learned to cross-country ski and snowshoe and how to chop firewood and survive during blizzards, married a handsome man who was unlike anyone I’d met before, adopted a baby, got some more dogs, and began to write and publish writing that mattered to me. Basically, I created the life that I wanted and needed.

And then … I hit the 40 mark. (These darn age milestones just wreak havoc on my psyche!)

Adopting Mac was the best decision ever.

Adopting Mac was the best decision ever, even if he does change my ability to pick up and leave on a moment's notice.

Once again, I’m feeling that same old itch. But everything is more complicated now, of course. I have a child and there’s this whole clothing and feeding and paying for karate thing. I have a husband with his own ideas of the future. I have a home that’s lost a whole lot of its value after the housing market crash. I have family who probably needs me to move back home. There are more layers to me now than there were back then (in more ways than one).

Just because every blog post should contain an image of chocolate.

But, I want new layers! (Anyone else craving a chocolate-layered cake right now? Sorry.)

Seriously, I don’t want to fall into what society thinks a mom should be, or a wife should be, or a writer should be. I want to again make my own way. And again, I know there is more out there that I need to experience, and I crave it like an adventure junkie.

So who knows what this mid-life crisis will bring? A move to a foreign country where I’m forced to learn a new language? A move to a new climate, even if it’s just city-life in Denver? Learning a new instrument? Going back to school? Opening my own business? Running a marathon? Taking my kid to live with wolves for a year? (That one’s a probable no.)

I suppose if it’s anything like the last one, it’ll be a good thing, right?

Check back with me when I’m 50, I guess. When the next crisis will no doubt be brewing like a strong pot of black coffee, waiting to be tasted.

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Have you seen the new book trailer of Blue Straggler released by 30 Day Books yet?

 

Highlights of My Texas Book Tour

The wildflowers were incredible!

Several things are more clear to me than ever after my whirlwind book tour in South/Central Texas: I have some of the best family and friends in the world back home; there are few sights more beautiful than a lush green pasture full of Texas wildflowers and grazing horses; and my skin and hair still visibly balk at a week spent in that 200-percent humidity.

My five-year-old son accompanied me on the book tour, and we had a great time. (My son was either selling or giving away his autograph and asking others for theirs at several of the events. He was way more popular than me. It’s hell to be overshadowed by a cute kid.)

Various members of my family (my mom, my sisters, my niece, my dad) served as my promoters, bankers and greeters. It was so nice to feel supported by them (and I think they were even a little proud of me!) Along with several friends who pounded the pavement for me to bring people in for the events, I felt like I had my very own little Street Team going on.

At the Bryan, Texas, book signing with friend Lori C.

I got to see so many dear friends from my previous lives … high school friends, college running buddies, coworkers from the jobs I held at Texas A&M. I got to catch up with wonderful people over wine and beer and burgers. I got to thank many of my hometown teachers who taught me so well all those years ago.

Other stuff that happened:

At one of the events, people took books and had me sign them without paying for them … I think they thought they were free for the taking! When I told a friend this at another event, he suggested he had attended the wrong party (since he’d had to pay for his copy that night).

My sister’s hubcaps were stolen off her Cadillac during one of the signings. This was only a little bit funny to her. (Or not at all now that I think about it.)

I spoke to a group of high school seniors at my alma mater in Gonzales, and the vacant stares and large yawns were a bit unnerving. I tried to make jokes here and there, but this tough crowd was having none of it. However, no spitballs were thrown at me, and I considered this a positive thing. Note to self: Do not go into motivational speaking to young people.

I had intended to ask someone to take pictures at the events, but kept forgetting to actually alert anyone to this need until the end of each event. But this way, I can remember myself as looking better than I actually did. (If you are reading this and took pictures at an event, and — this is important — I look good in the pictures — send them to me via email – kathy@kathylynnharris.com!)

At one event, an old friend of mine came up to me dressed in a disguise. Was this really necessary? Did make me laugh, though.

Okay, I think that’s it for a recap. Thank you to every single person, in disguise or not, who attended an event in the Lone Star State. It was an amazing experience (my first book tour ever!) and I’m just so grateful.

I’m also officially exhausted and out of gas money.

Two Things I Miss Most About South Texas in the Spring

My book tour in Texas is coming up the week of March 26 (see details on the events here), and I’m so looking forward to not only the book events themselves, but just being in Texas in the spring.

This time of year is actually when I miss home the most. Where I’m at (high in the Colorado mountains west of Denver), we’re still very much in winter mode. March and April are our two snowiest months of the year. The huge blizzard of 2003 when we got 9 feet of snow — not a typo, that’s 9 feet — occurred in March. We just had windchills that were near 20 below in the past week. Our doors were frozen shut.

So, the thought of being in that warm, albeit humid, Texas air is exciting right now. I’m bringing my flip-flops, y’all! (I don’t think my mother will let me wear them to the book signings, though. And I’m pretty sure my ankle surgeon would not approve.)

Two more things I miss about home this time of year?

Spring in Texas. Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/bobrosenberg CC license 2.0

First, the wildflowers. The fields of bluebonnets that look like a sea of blue. The red paintbrushes (we always called them Indian Blankets). The pink buttercups. The list goes on. There’s nothing quite like a drive down a rural Texas highway in March and seeing the beautiful colors lining the roadways and dotting the pastures along the way. Our wildflower season at 10,500 feet above sea level is in late June and early July, so this trip in two weeks is going to be a real treat.

Secondly, and most importantly, I miss my mom’s lemon icebox pie. She always makes a double recipe for Easter Sunday. (Well, because we love it so much, she’s now starting making it at Christmas, Thanksgiving or anytime my son will be around! Spoiled kid.) I’ve tried making it up here a dozen times and it never tastes as good as hers. She uses the organic lemons that she and my dad grow there in Gonzales, Texas, which probably makes all the difference in the world.

I hope she doesn’t mind that I share her recipe below.

These things are seriously good. And since they are baked, I take it to mean I can eat the whole bag.

In other very exciting news, Blue Straggler is now on an Amazon.com bestseller list!  It hit the top 20 best sellers in ebooks/comic fiction on Friday. That meant, of course, that I celebrated all weekend. (Send vodka replenishment and those Snappea Crisp things.)

Mom’s Lemon Icebox Pie

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Beat the above ingredients until smooth. Pour into a 9-inch graham cracker pie shell. Spread whipped topping (or make your own whipped cream!) over the top of the pie.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving.

Great Reviews and Book Tours Are Making Me Consider Spanx

Blue Straggler’s official release date last week was A-MAZING. I mean, we’re talking an all-out love fest! Readers were buying it, talking about it, posting reviews. (And not just my mom, either, for you cynics out there.)

The cake my husband and son brought home to celebrate launch day!

In fact, as of this writing, the novel has 38 reviews on Amazon.com and an average 5-star rating. Can I get a yeehaw? I’m just so grateful to everyone who has read the book and thought it worthy of a positive review.

I also am solidifying my book tour dates here in Colorado and back home in Texas. (There may be one in Seattle, too!) But I’m starting to get a little nervous. Why? Because I’ll be the center of attention at such events, I do not like being the center of attention at such events, and basically, doing a book tour is like combining five or six high school reunions and family weddings all in one month or so of happenings. But, no pressure or anything.

This is NOT me in Spanx.

Now, I’m usually a pretty laid-back person when it comes to my appearance. I am comfortable with who I am and have found, at age 42, that I can even like myself some days. (Those are still rare days, but they do occur.) I am the kind of person who would never in a million years consider wearing shapewear (i.e., Spanx®) because I prefer to be able to breathe in and out without pain.

But still. People will be LOOKING at me. Bleh!

So I thought I would let all of those people who will be attending a book tour event, and who haven’t seen me in 10 or more years, know a few things up front. I think it’ll be easier on us all to just get these things out in the open prior to the event, so we can move on to drinking wine and/or coffee.

  1. I will not be wearing Spanx, and I’m sorry for what that means for my side profile.
  2. I have grown some additional chins, and I’m afraid they are here to stay. They have names.
  3. The Colorado air is awesome, but very dry. This means that I will have more wrinkles than all you South/Central Texas byotches who don’t even have to moisturize because the humidity stays at 90 percent.
  4. I wear glasses now if I need to see anything in the distance, but I don’t like wearing them much. So if I’m not wearing my glasses, and you wave to me from across the room, do not take it personally when I do not wave back.
  5. For about a year now, I have been experiencing robust, random hot flashes. We’re talking the kind that makes me want to strip down to my underwear and sit on a block of ice in the shade. The hot flashes are made worse by things like wine, coffee, Colorado fireplaces and Texas heat. All of which I still love and enjoy. So be warned.
  6. My sense of fashion has not evolved since the last time you saw me and in some cases I may still be wearing the same pair of Justin boots I wore in 1998.
  7. I used to wear makeup like a good Texas girl, but now I’m more like a Colorado hippie. That means that what you once believed was my true complexion was probably wrong.

Well, there you go. It’s all out there now. I feel so much better. Do you?

Details are still being nailed down for many of my book tour dates, but I do have one that I can pass along! I’ll be in Bryan-College Station, Texas (Texas A&M graduates like me call that the Mecca) on Wednesday, March 28, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Downtown Uncorked wine bar in Bryan. I’ll be signing and selling books and drinking large amounts of wine. Please join me and bring 100 of your closest friends!