Throughout middle school and high school, my friends and I would always gather at my best friend’s house after trick-or-treating to swap candy and watch the ridiculously cheesy Halloween specials on TV while our parents and neighbors would gather upstairs around the dining room table. While trick-or-treating was never my favorite thing to do (side note – other than plain chocolate, I’m not a big fan of candy…I know, I know, I’m weird), I always loved Halloween night. It was a tradition that lasted for years, and I always considered it the unofficial end of the early part of fall and the beginning of colder nights and cozier holiday gatherings. Like so many parts of The Other Side of Later, the scene from Halloween night is based, in part, on my own memories. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek of Halloween in Sea Grass!
“A few of the neighborhood kids were in the family room swapping candy and Carson was out like a light in my dad’s recliner… I took a sip of the warm apple cider my mom had made. Since Luke’s freshman year of high school, my parents started having a post trick-or-treating gathering on Halloween night. My parents’ house was decorated to the hilt, but not in the modern commercialized way. It was homey and welcoming for one of mid-fall’s traditions. Jack-o-lanterns glowed on the front porch steps, pumpkin flavored snacks from cheesecake to cookies lined the dining room table, and chocolate wrapped in orange foil filled candy dishes throughout the house, but my favorite was my mom’s homemade warm apple cider simmering in the kitchen.”
The Other Side of Later is available on Amazon for only 99¢!
For the past several weeks, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out new ways to promote my book, understand why I’m not getting many sales, and accept that the self-publishing venture is not for the faint of heart. While I still may not have all the answers or reasons why, it’s forced me to take a step back and take a look at not only how I’m presenting my work but also how I’m presenting myself. I’ve realized that I’ve only put out little blurbs about The Other Side of Later on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and here on my blog without really trying to open up and connect with my potential readers.
So let’s get real. I’m a very private person. While I’m very sociable among family and close friends, I’m also very reserved and probably perceived as slightly introverted to someone who doesn’t know me. Many times, I keep important things to myself. Day in and day out, I’m a logical and rational person. However, big changes – even good things – can throw me for a loop, and good reason can sometimes be thrown out the window until can wrap my head around it.
Why am I sharing all of this now? First and for most, the characteristics I described in the paragraph above are the reasons why I chose to publish under a pen name. Yes, there was a small part of me that chose to use a pen name because I’m an engineer by day, and the fields of engineering and romance/chick-lit writing are worlds apart, but at the end of the day, I was extremely nervous to put my name on my work. I poured months and months of my heart and soul into it. What if it was bad? What if I shocked everyone I knew? What if people thought of me differently? Those questions scared me. So I decided to publish under a pen name. I’ve never been sorry about my decision. The name has a special connection to my family and childhood, and I know it was the right choice.
It’s really not important whether or not my real name is attached to my work, but I’ve realized that it is important to be more open about myself in order to be successful as a writer. During a long run about 6 years ago, I passed by an old classmate on the bike path, and the premise of The Other Side of Later was born. Julia, the main character, is a lot like me – her childhood, her parents, her hometown. She’s independent, loyal, tenacious, but stubborn. So many of Julia’s reactions and decisions stemmed from answers to the question I kept asking myself “what would I do if I were Julia?” Was I ever in her position? No. But as I created and immersed myself in the fictional but familiar town of Sea Grass, NJ, I put myself in her shoes. The result is my debut novel. It’s truly a piece of me. Now, 6 plus months after I took the plunge and self-published on Amazon, I’m ready to admit it. Hopefully, this is the beginning of me sharing a bit more about myself and connecting with you. If you’re still reading, thanks and I hope to connect with you soon!