Happy Book Birthday! {giveaways!}

I’m utterly speechless.

May 15th will be two years since Spinner of Secrets was published.

It feels like yesterday and at the same time, it feels like it was a hundred and seventeen years ago.

To celebrate…

GIVEAWAYS.

There’s a giveaway of Through the Pages, with a paperback for US winners and a Kindle edition for everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And a giveaway of Spinner of Secrets, with a paperback for US winners and a Kindle edition for everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I wouldn’t be where I am today with the support you all have given along the way. This is my way of saying thanks for an awesome two years. I’m looking forward to many, many more.

Blessings,
Annie

Spinner of Secrets {first birthday + giveaway}

This upcoming week is pretty incredibly busy for me.

On May 14th, Spinner of Secrets turns one year old.

On May 17th, I’ve been asked to present to three groups of elementary school students about writing as a career.

On May 19th, I’ll be at the Homeschoolers of Maine Used Curriculum Sale with my books, in the vendor expo hall.

To celebrate my book baby’s birthday, I’m hosting a really big giveaway!

I’m giving away one whole collection of my paperbacks!

I’m ALSO giving away one paperback copy of Spinner of Secrets!

For my international loves — how about an e-book copy of Spinner of Secrets? I can’t pay international shipping this time around, but I don’t want you left out. So I’m adding, open worldwide (so yes, this includes US residents) THREE e-book copies of Spinner of Secrets OR a lovely little prize pack that might… possibly… include an art print file…

… that might look like this.

There are five potential winners for this giveaway!!

Here’s the Rafflecopter Dude:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

-Annie

2017 {my year in review}

It all started one fateful day in December 2016… 
It was the first holiday season since my great-grandmother Louise had passed away, so a number of us were reminiscing on Facebook, and a cousin shared a story that I, and a number of others, had never heard before. That story stuck in my heart and without necessarily thinking about it I found myself painting. Then I wrote the story out. I asked for a couple beta readers to help polish it up, then published it on my blog. On January 27th I hit publish on my first little Kindle e-book.
I wrote a poem for my local library’s poetry contest and won first place in the adult category with Something. Reading that one out loud at the presentation night was hard; I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it all the way through. It wasn’t nerves this time. It was how deeply the poem affected me personally.
I turned right around and started seriously working on my novella, Spinner of Secrets. Spinner of Secrets had been in progress for almost two years. I had an incredible team of beta readers who helped me get it in shape, then I started a process I would repeat three more times before the end of the year: formatting. I expected to hate formatting. I expected to take forever to get it, and to end up with a bit of a ‘ehh’ job. 
I didn’t. I loved it, and my first proof copy came in the end of April. I had a book. I’d made an actual, real, honest to goodness book. Not gonna lie, there was a lot of crying. And a lot of jumping around and yelling in excitement. And I don’t really remember a lot else.
I had two poems published in an anthology, “What The Sirens Say” and “Ache”. 
I was invited to enter a couple pieces in an anthology to raise mental health awareness, with all proceeds donated to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I wrote two poems for that, and then was able to help out a little with finalizing it. 

Back in January I’d assembled a poetry manuscript for a contest. I didn’t win, but I got bored one afternoon, rearranged it a bit, formatted it, and ordered a proof copy. This little book just might be my personal favorite of all my works this year. I finished it off with a handful of my own sketches, and published it on August 16th.
On September 28th I published The Ocean and I. A short collection of poetry, prose, and photos, it’s a snapshot of my vacation in Friendship, Maine this summer. It started as just a letter to me, from me, but I was encouraged to publish it, and people seem to have liked it.
With only two weeks left before the deadline, I learned about an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records record for largest anthology. I am one of over 100 authors who contributed. There are several goals we have to reach before the record is broken, but it’s kind of a big deal and I’m excited.

No Dragons, Please! was, like Spinner of Secrets, two years in process. I pulled it from my back files to be re-written and published. Originally written for my youngest brother’s 10th birthday, I had it published professionally in time for his 12th.
Other things of note:
In addition to my cat, rabbit, dog, and houseplants, I have a fish. His name is Thaddeus and he is a Halfmoon Double Tail Male Betta fish. He is fabulous. His tank is next to my computer desk and he likes to sit near me while I work.
I successfully pulled off the 2017 New Releases Showcase, a Facebook event featuring myself and eight other authors who’d released books in 2017.
In terms of mental health, this has been the best year in a long time. All of this work, all of this stretching and pushing and testing limits, and it’s still been the best year I’ve had. I’ve been scared. I’ve been angry. I’ve been stubborn and in the wrong and stupid and a brat. But I’ve been so joyful and excited and eager. I’ve been so happy I screamed and I’ve been so overwhelmed that I cried. It’s been good. 
And my total word count for 2017… as close as I can figure from my tracking…
246,769
At the end of the year, 2017 has been life-changing. Looking back at where I was one year ago today, I can safely say that I never saw this coming. And I can safely say I don’t regret it.

All my love – AnnieLou

Cyber Monday Special!

Cyber Monday is November 27th! Take advantage of my free shipping code and combine it with my holiday shopping code to get some pretty good discounts on my books. Don’t forget to leave a note if you want it personalized! 
They’re available as supplies last, so be sure to act quickly!

Copyright 2017 by Annie Louise Twitchell

I’m Not Always Brave

So remember how I did that giveaway for my birthday, where I had both my Kindle e-books available for free on the 13th? I ended up giving away 253 e-book copies of my books, mostly Spinner of Secrets, but a few The Christmas Ladder as well.

That almost didn’t happen.

Tuesday, June 13th.

I was going with my dad to one of the elementary schools in his district. I was going to speak to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms, about writing. My alarm was set to go off at 5:45 AM so I would have plenty of time to get ready, and also plenty of time to get on my computer and check to make sure my blog post I had scheduled with all the information about the giveaway had posted, and share it to my social media platforms.

I woke up at 4:30 AM in traditional Annie fashion when she’s nervous, and after a few minutes, decided I could go back to sleep. I turned on my Pandora station (I sometimes have a hard time going to sleep, and music helps) and went back to sleep. Dad heard music playing in my room when he was up at 6:00, so assumed I was up. At 6:40 am I was woken by Dad knocking on my door and asking if I was ready to go.

I jumped out of bed, jumped into my clothes, grabbed my tote bag, my crate of materials, wiggled my shoes on, bolted downstairs, mixed up my iced Chai tea I had started the night before, and dashed out the door, yelling to Mom that I messed up and was super late and AHHHHHH.

The books were still available for free, I just had no way for anyone to know that unless that happened to be the day they happened to look it up. My phone doesn’t have the Facebook app, that’s on my tablet, with no mobile data connection. But I managed to get Chrome open, find Amazon, SCREENSHOT the Amazon page showing my book was free, grab the link, and use Chrome to make a Facebook post saying it was my birthday and my books were for free and so on and so forth. Shared it to my groups and pages and so on, and started to get responses coming in.

Once we got to school and I had some down time before the classes, I was able to get on a laptop and onto my blog, publish the post, and share it on my Twitter and Pinterest.

I talked to the three classrooms, which I was crazy nervous about right when I started, but I did settle down about ten minutes into the first one. I did 4th grade first, then 3rd, then 5th – 4th sang Happy Birthday to me and I got a photo with the whole class. 3rd was a little harder, they weren’t as sure what to do with me and how to interact with me, and I was expecting more response from them, so I didn’t do as much talking as I could have. 5th was an absolute dream. They were interested, they were engaged – I got a question from EVERY SINGLE KID in the class, including the one I was pretty sure wouldn’t say anything. They were all super excited about Spinner of Secrets, but because I wrote it for upper grades, I told them to talk to their parents. I ended up giving out business cards to everyone in the class, because they were so interested in reading it. It was super convenient that it was free, because then the parents would be more likely to pick it up for them. Some of them told me about the stories they are writing, we talked about that – they all got wide eyed when I told them I have written over a million words in the past ten years – they thought five brothers was A LOT…

Since I had a different school the following day, but the same ages of kids, I decided to set my books for free on the following day as well. I had over 50 copies distributed when I got on the computer around one to set that up.

Wednesday was similar, except that I didn’t oversleep, and I took more business cards in with me. I did 5th, then 3rd, then 4th this time, and one of the things I talked to the 5th graders about was being scared.

I told them that I was nervous, even talking to them. I told them about the first time I did a public reading, and how I felt like jelly the whole time. I told them how I walked up to the front of the classroom and had to take a minute to collect myself before I could start talking to them. And I watched as those kids all lit up. I had six of them tell me that they have stage fright too, and they get nervous when they’re in front of people. I told them how I scared myself when I finally published my room, because I hadn’t thought I could do it, and then I did. I told them that I’m still learning how to do things like this.

And they got it. They understood. Somewhere, and maybe not all of them got it, but they understood that you still learn things even when you’re an adult. They got it that sometimes adults get nervous or scared. And they were encouraged by that, that made them feel a little braver. They asked more questions, and I watched some of them start to dream. I could see them wandering as I was talking, starting to dream, starting to wonder, starting to think – maybe I really can do something big, even if I’m small and scared. Maybe messing up isn’t the end of the world. I don’t know how many times I crossed words when I was speaking to them – how many times I had “verbal autocorrect” kick in. I had things I had to go back and rephrase. I had to ask a couple different times if what I had said made sense (it did.) And I watched these kids. I watched them watch me. And I watched as what I had wanted, what I had been hoping for, happened. It connected.

And then on Thursday I had a reading and signing at the library in Carrabassett Valley. I was pretty tired out by then. I desperately wanted to cry but I couldn’t even make myself. I made it through the session and apparently it wasn’t evident that I was exhausted and had a headache, so that was good.

See, I had at least half a dozen meltdowns before this week. I was so scared about the two readings I had, the six classrooms I was speaking to… I was going to be interacting with a ton of people, and I was doing it professionally. I was going to stand there and call myself a writer and an author, over and over again. I was scared that I would mess up, scared that I was just being stupid to even try, scared that I would start crying in the middle of a reading. I was so scared. I had help though; my girls online helped, Missie helped, Hannah helped, my parents helped.

And then at the first reading, when I was answering questions, I was asked one that I hadn’t thought of. One I hadn’t even considered. Hadn’t prepped for.

“How do you keep your joy?”

For a moment, my mind was a complete blank. I had no words. No answers. Nothing. I had nothing.

“How are you always so happy, and you don’t get frustrated with your work, and you’re always so excited?”

I managed to give an answer, one that was good – I give myself a lot of time and breathing space, and if I start to run into it being hard, I stop and go work on something else, and come back to it later when it’s easier. And that is true.

How do I keep my joy?

I keep my joy because I learned that messing up is okay and that saying things backwards like “I’m wearing shirts and sleeveless shorts” is okay and that sometimes stuff happens like a blog post doesn’t get scheduled and you sleep through your alarm. I keep my joy because I know that life throws curve balls, and I don’t make that where my worth is, when my light is. I am light for so many reasons – I am joyful because I have been bought, saved, and I am loved by Someone bigger than the universe that dances in the sky overhead. I am joyful because grace is not a fragile thing. I am joyful because messing up is okay.

I am light because I learned to let myself be dark.

I am brave because I let myself be afraid.

I am strong because I let myself be weak.

I am joyful because I let myself be angry.

I am hopeful because I have been hopeless.

I have been, and am, and will be again, angry and bitter and sharp and scared and terrified and heartbroken and desperate.

And I know this.

I choose to let myself be what I need to be in order to best express who I am.

I keep my joy because that is part of me, I am daisies and sunshine and that soft golden rain you get when it’s raining at sunset. And I’m bright and small and easily frightened by loud noises, and I get nervous when I talk to people because I’m afraid that I’ll mess up or say the wrong thing. I’m scared I’m not good enough. I’m scared that I won’t be enough.

And I’m learning to be me.

Learning that me is enough.

Of course I’ll get better, and more confident, and so on and so forth – but for the moment I am here. And it’s okay to be here. Here is not where I am staying, but here is where I am.

Happy Birthday! (To me, and presents for you!)

It’s my 20th birthday!

I’m so confused. I don’t exactly know how I ended up here. I’m 20 years old. The last thing I remember is my 18th birthday and graduation party. (I had 60 guests. I was a little overwhelmed.) The past two years have been such an insane blur of book drafts and words and meltdowns. (The word count has gone up and the meltdown count has gone down.)

I’m going to be spending all day at an elementary school, speaking to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders about writing. But to celebrate my birthday in Hobbit tradition, I’ve got some lovely specials for you all:

Both of my ebooks, The Christmas Ladder and Spinner of Secrets, are available for FREE today. Here are the links:

The Christmas Ladder

Spinner of Secrets

And, if you want the paperback copy, I have a special there too! This one is a little more complicated because of how I have to do it with Amazon and CreateSpace. The code won’t work on Amazon.com, by if you go to my CreateSpace page, you can apply the coupon code

MTMN4WLC

and get 20% off a paperback copy of Spinner of Secrets! 
Again, this doesn’t work on Amazon.com, you have to go to this link: www.createspace.com/6540619

Happy birthday to me!

(Baby me)
(Including this one because it is my bestie’s favorite picture of me and she is special. ❤)

(Obligatory selfie… from like a month ago.)

PUBLISHED: Spinner of Secrets

You can now get Spinner of Secrets in paperback and on Kindle, at Amazon: Spinner of Secrets
 (insert loud squealing and funny noises)

Check out the history of this little book on the Spinner of Secrets tab at the top of my blog. There you’ll find all the blog posts I made about it during this two years journey. 
Spinner of Secrets is two years old now, since the beginning, which was a writing prompt. 

Local friends (Maine), I have two book signing events set up for June! More information on my Facebook page: Facebook: Annie Louise Twitchell
I’d love to meet you and hang out. I’ll probably talk entirely too much because I just do things like that when I get excited. Also… signing books is a lot of fun. 

(This is still my favorite picture of this book.)
And one more thing before I go running around in the rain like a crazy person: 
Can we just give my baby brother a big shout-out for what is probably my favorite picture of myself? I knew as soon as I saw it that it was going to be my photo for the back of my book. He took this last summer and it is just my favorite.
Copyright 2017 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Author photo by E.L. Twitchell

Spinner of Secrets, Update Ten

I am somewhere between seven and five days before launch. (I am also terrible at math tonight, apparently.) Logic would say that means I am six days before launch, but I am too tired to be logical, therefore, I am somewhere between seven and five days before launch.

I’ve ordered books.

I’ve ordered bookmarks and business cards, those have arrived.

I’ve got stuff on my social media.

I’ve got everything all finished.


I ended up going away for the weekend because I finished my final round of double and triple checking, and submitted it for publication. I felt at once relieved and incredibly overwhelmed.

What if they don’t like it? What if it’s not actually done? What if there’s a typo or a really really stupid grammar error? What if, what if, what if, what if…

Enough.

I’ve had to sit down and talk with my inner voice quite a lot recently. It’s what tells me *psst, you missed that spot*

It’s what says *oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no* on repeat for hours on end and won’t shut up and won’t let me eat because I’m so nervous about this impending oh no.

And I have to tell it to shh, quiet down in there.

Because it doesn’t have to be perfect.

(Even if this picture kinda is.)

And that’s okay.

For me, the important thing isn’t that I get a lot of sales. It isn’t that this book does really well and is amazing and people love it.

The important thing is that I did it.

I beat the voices in my head, and yes, the few voices around me, that said *psst, you can’t do that. You’re just a girl. You’re not good enough to do anything. You’ll never make a difference.* 



So while I hope you will read my book, and while I hope you love it as much as I do, it’s okay if you don’t. It’s a small little book, but it’s a story I love, and I did it. Because while it might not make a big difference out there in the world – it’s made a huge difference right here for me. I did it.

(I’m still a little bit in shock that I actually did it. In case you were wondering.)


Will I do it again? Absolutely.

Am I already working on three new story ideas? Obviously.

Am I super excited about this launch? YES OF COURSE I AM, YOU SILLY PINEAPPLE.

Did I wake up this morning from a dream that there was a typo in my book? Ayup.

Did I get up and go running to obsessively check it over and over and over? No. I flopped on my bed and texted my little sister (I kind of adopted her) because I didn’t have much chance to all weekend and I wanted to. (I also went to work on time.)

Something is missing from this picture. 



Ah, much better. 
The place I went to is kinda super gorgeous. Also a little bit cold. And it was rainy. But since I am a Mainah and legend has it that maple syrup runs through our veins, not blood, (no idea where that came from) and since I love the rain, it was a very enjoyable weekend and I had a lot of fun walking around the property and taking photos. And I’m very glad for the break, but also very glad to be back at my computer to do more writing. It felt like that time I smashed up my leg and was stuck on the couch for three weeks and couldn’t do the things I normally did. 

Amazon Kindle Pre-Order Link

There will be paper copies available through Amazon and CreateSpace, as well. And local people, I have two events in Western Maine set up so far, so go haunt my Facebook page for information about those:

Facebook – Annie Louise Twitchell

It is now time to go write for ten minutes on a letter, and then, go watch a movie and knit.

~Annie

Copyright 2017 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Spinner of Secrets, Update Nine

So, I got my proof copy in the mail on Saturday.

 Saturday, April 15th:

Excited? Maybe a tiny little bit.
I TOTALLY did not shriek loudly half a dozen times today.
Also I broke the rules and shrieked in the library. (It was just me and my librarian, Julia, who was excited too, so it was okay. At least, she didn’t tell me to SHHHHH.)

I ran away this morning to go write at the library for two reasons: one, because the current story I’m working on works much better if I hand write first and then type in into the computer, and two, because today was Saturday; that meant it was the last chance for my proof copy of my book to come in the mail before Monday. I could handle waiting until Monday, but waiting to see if I needed to wait until Monday, that was hard. So I went to the library and wrote for an hour or so, then walked home again, checked the mailbox, got my book, ran upstairs to show Hannah, then went back down to the library to show Julia, because I was too excited to sit still.
I proceeded to continue being very excited up until this point, at which it is 8:00pm and I am finally starting to settle down and I am going to go watch a movie.
But people.
I have a book.
I have a real, honest to God, print copy of my book.
*distant shrieking*

It’s been four days and I feel like it’s been eight weeks, it’s been so much happening in such a short period of time.

And of course, Elli needed to be in the picture.

It’s spring, have a happy rabbit. I need some tea.

~Annie

Copyright 2017 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Spinner of Secrets Available for Pre-Order!

My release date is May 14th, 2017! I’m over the moon excited, as you can probably imagine.

This story has been nearly two years in the making and I’m so excited to have it coming together so well.

It will be available in paperback as well as on Amazon Kindle. If you pre-order it now, you’ll get the e-book delivered to you on or around the 14th of May, depending on where in the world you are.

Amazon Kindle Pre-Order

~Annie

PS: I definitely have not made lots of loud squealing noises that spooked my rabbit recently… Absolutely not.