In an attempt to be more organized and serve you better, I decided to set specific topics for each week of the month. This is our first reader-specific post and will be a summer recap and book launch update. I have so many topics I look forward to writing about during these posts, and I hope you will interact with me as we plow ahead. I’ll end each of these posts with some reading-related links I think you’ll enjoy and a question and/or a challenge. Today, I’ve got one of each of those for you and eagerly await your responses! 

Behind the Scenes of a Book Cover 

If you subscribe to my weekly newsletter, you received my cover reveal a full week ago. If you follow me on social media, you got your first glimpse either Monday night during my monthly Logos & Mythos Book Club LIVE or on Tuesday when I started blasting the images everywhere. I didn’t want my own site to feel left out, though, so here is a look at both the front cover and the full layout that you’ll see on my paperback.

This gorgeous cover comes from the incredibly talented Rachael Ritchey. I am thankful for her creative genius, attention to detail and patience with me. From the very first mockup, Rachael really nailed exactly what I desired for Any Good Thing, but her creativity went so far past my imagination. I sent her a few photos I snapped of some tools in my father-in-law’s workshop for inspiration, and she was able to use some of them in that first round. She encouraged me to take more, and most of the imagery in the cover comes from those photos. I had help from my father-in-law and husband in choosing the right tools and with sprinkling shimmers of sawdust. One of my dear friends let me borrow her camera baby when mine wasn’t behaving. 

I think one of the best unexpected results of being an Indie Author is the opportunity to work alongside friends and family and to have professional contacts become friends as we team up. 

Any Good Thing will be available wherever you purchase books in late September 2019. Here is the book’s description to give you a little taste of what you’ll find inside this stunning cover. 

Witness a young man’s battles of mind, heart and soul and follow his coming-of-age journey from selfishness to true sacrifice and from recklessness toward redemption in this contemporary southern fiction novel meant to reside on your heart’s bookshelves. 

Jack Calhoun recovers from one tragedy and its consequential addiction enough to glimpse a shimmer of hope for his future—until the day of the second accident. Instead of heading to college with his childhood sweetheart, Rachael, Jack flees the rural southern town that blames him for every bad thing and leaves his loved ones behind. 

His journey for purpose, if not peace, brings Jack face-to-face with war in Iraq’s desert, with his past’s nightmares and with a deeper battle on a mountain peak. Along the way, he both finds and loses parts of himself. 

Perhaps it was never purpose he required but the ability to discern selfishness from sacrifice. Will he cast off a lifetime of crippling guilt to rest in redemption, or will peace remain as elusive as any good thing for Jack? 

This book lends itself to a lively book club discussion or shared read between couples and friends. While readers who remember 9-11 will have an instant bond with the story, anyone who enjoys a well-paced tale full of larger-than-life characters—with a dash of southern charm and a whole batch of tasty food—may just discover a new favorite book in Any Good Thing. 

Summer Reading, Anyone? 

Since the beginning of June, I have hosted a special Summer Reading Challenge on my Facebook page in connection with my Logos & Mythos Book Club. Students in some parts of the country might be returning to school, but we’ve got another month of summer reading fun ahead! 

On September 2—during my monthly LIVE Book Club on my Facebook page—I will announce the two winners for the summer. One winner will be the reader who has completed the most books in our challenge (eight categories to choose from!), and the second winner will be the follower with the most points earned over the summer. Points come from participating in events (like the monthly Book Club), sharing posts, commenting on and interacting with posts and sharing book reviews with other readers. It’s all pretty simple! You read and hang out on my Facebook page, and I’ll award two lucky folks with a paperback copy of Any Good Thing and some other goodies! 

You might notice the second bonus book category is Any Good Thing. So, if you choose to participate in that one, I will send you an ebook version before it’s even available! Just email or message me that you want a copy and what kind of e-reader you have.

“Why a reading challenge?” you might ask. Well, everyone loves a good challenge, right? Plus, it’s an opportunity to send some goodies to the winners. More than anything, though, it’s an opportunity for us to come together over our common love of literature, share what we’re reading, push ourselves out of our comfort zones and discover new ways every reader can interact with books and their authors and become better patrons of literature. 

So, come join us! You’ve still got plenty of time to jump into the mix!  

It’s Festival Time! 

I live near New Orleans; and, if there’s one thing I’ve learned while living here, it’s that you can’t beat a good festival! The very best kind of festival for me, though, is a Book Festival! We’ve got an outstanding one coming up. 

On August 17, 2019, readers and writers will converge on the state capitol in Jackson, Mississippi, for the Mississippi Book Festival. Friends, this event is extremely special to me and my writing bestie, Mea Smith. This is the fifth year of the Festival and our fourth to attend. In 2016, it’s where we finally found the inspiration and motivation to follow our dreams and began to find our voice in the literary world. When we walked onto those blocked-off streets, Mea and I breathed deeply and sighed our contentment in the realization that we were home among our people—patrons of literature. 

If you love literature and you’re within driving distance, you should join us at the Literary Lawn Party! Mea and I will be there, and I’d love to say “hello” in person!

Joy’s Reading-Related Links Recommendations 

  • If you’d like to follow a book blogger who gives helpful, well-rounded reviews and makes great reading lists, check out Allison with Mind Joggle. Here is her August 2019 Reading List. 
  • If you love Anne of Green Gables as much as the rest of us, Elsie over at Tea & Ink Society has an outstanding post titled, “The Ultimate Guide to Anne of Green Gables Film Adaptations.” 
  • Now, this article is a longer read that I would love for you all to take the time for. Scott Semegran presents his case that “The Future of Literary Fiction is Self-Publishing.” Friends, this post touches my heart on a number of levels.
    • First, I happen to love literary fiction. I mean, I did write a literary fiction novel, after all! Unfortunately, these days many readers crinkle their noses at the term; primarily because they’re not sure what it means and perhaps because some authors have used it to drone on without plot or form. True, it is a genre without specific rules common amongst other categories; but it offers so much range and possibility in its typical focus on the human condition. It can be one of the absolute best genres in which to learn something about ourselves and our fellow humans.
    • Second, Scott shines the spotlight on the tremendous value in and quality of many self-published authors and even highlights several Indie Authors who have written literary fiction. You all know how passionate I am about this path I’ve chosen, so it’s no surprise I appreciated his take on the rise in professional self-published authors.
    • Third, he gives a proper nod to another part of the literary community I adore—local independent bookstores. Reader friends, our Indie bookstores are on the rise and have boosted literary community across the United States. As Scott points out, this seems rather improbable in our age of instant downloads and cheaper options at the click of a mouse; however, the people have spoken: we want a book community, not a vague, somewhere-out-there book cloud. We want to walk into a store that brings events with authors and other artists into our community and gives us personalized recommendations from store owners who are not only fellow readers, but who know our name and our reading preferences. As we say around my part of the country, “Geaux Local!”

QUESTION: Have you ever attended an event where an author signed, read from and/or spoke about his or her book? What were your favorite things about that event? What would make you attend or encourage you to detour to an author’s table in a larger store (candy, book swag like bookmarks, giveaway, etc.)? What did you enjoy most about whatever event you attended? If you’ve been to several, do you prefer a simple signing, a reading or a presentation of some sort by the author (behind-the-scenes details about the book or a talk about something book-related)?

CHALLENGE: Did you know you can have Any Good Thing in your local independent bookstore or library? That’s right! All you have to do is let them know and put in an order (store) or a request (library). Your local bookstore can order any book with an ISBN (the special number assigned to a book). Most libraries welcome requests from their patrons. If you would like to do this, please email me because I have a sheet all ready for you with all of the information (including ISBNs) they will need from you. I’m also willing to do in-person book signings and can do in-person or virtual book readings or talks about the facts behind my fiction. These options could also extend to book clubs who choose to read my book together. For more information on booking me, please contact Logos & Mythos Press!