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EXCITING NEWS!

Good morning, Friends! It feels like it’s been months since I’ve written a post. That’s probably because it HAS been months since I’ve written post. So much has happened since COVID-19 hit the United States, and the truth is I haven’t been in a great place to communicate. But I have fabulous news to share today! But first, let me catch you up to date…

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Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

COVID-19: For those of you struggling with this awful virus, personally or vicariously, please know I understand. Sadly, I lost my mom to COVID-19 on April 30th when the number of lost Americans was still in the 80,000 range. I never imagined we’d be over 160,000 today! For those who haven’t been touched by this horrible virus, please be grateful. Besides my mom, I’ve watched more than a dozen people close to me struggle with it to varying degrees–some with almost no symptoms, and others on the verge of needing a respirator. If you’re dealing with this, please know you’re not alone and we’ll get through this together.

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

WRITING: Until very recently, writing has been a major challenge. Since the release of ROAM in 2019, I haven’t written anything worth reading. Truthfully, it goes back to farther than that…back to about the time I finished ROAM in 2016 or 2017. I had a least a half dozen writing prompts and ideas, but I couldn’t find the energy to get more than a chapter in writing. Well, guess what: I fell victim to that horrible disease called depression. Who’d have guessed? I know I didn’t. Having never experienced it before, I didn’t fully understand that those who suffer depression aren’t necessarily “sad.” Because I wasn’t sad. But I was exhausted, irritable, angry, experienced headaches and muscle aches, and really had to make myself leave the house. It just felt like too much energy to go out and have lunch with a friend or whatnot. The good news is I’m all sorted out now and I feel fabulous! So fabulous that I have great news…which I’ll get to in a second.

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Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

But first, just a quick Public Service Announcement: This pandemic has caused a lot of people to feel funky. If you’re feeling “off,” don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor. I admit it took me way too long and, looking back now, I could kick myself for the months I wasted. If you’re not feeling quite right as you navigate the pandemic, here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic’s Website with the Signs and Symptoms of Depression. And, as always, if you feel like you might be in danger from yourself, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is: 1-800-273-8255. Be safe and healthy, friends!

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS!

I actually have a few pieces of good news. The first is that I’ve finally found my writing mojo. After getting my depression sorted out, I struck on an idea for a new book. It felt so good to be excited by an idea once again that I binge wrote for about a month, poring all the words out on the page before I forgot them. The story just flowed out like I was watching a movie and just had to describe it to a person who couldn’t see. It was the most  fun I’ve had, even including writing my first two books! The result is WILLOW IN THE WIND, which goes on submission today!

2627690What does it mean to go on submission? It means I’ve sent it to my lovely agent, Tina P. Schwartz at The Purcell Agency, and she’s currently submitting it to publishing houses for consideration–hence the term, “on submission.” This process could take several weeks, a year, or it might never find a home. I hope the latter doesn’t happen–I really love the characters and it received good reviews from my beta readers, but that happens. If you’re interested in learning more about my latest manuscript, click here.

 

MORE GOOD NEWS!

TEON 3DTHE EDGE OF NOWHERE is now available on Kindle Unlimited, and ROAM is expected to follow son. If you have an Kindle Unlimited subscription through Amazon, you can read this novel at no cost with your subscription. For those who’ve read the original version, this version is updated with a few new scenes and an added bonus at the end outlining more about which parts were taken from true experiences, and which parts were completely a product of my imagination. You can use this link to find this book and others by me on Amazon.

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It’s a Giveaway Giveaway!

‪It’s a Giveaway Giveaway! This week only, Novel 19s authors will be giving away copies of their books for YOU to give away to someone special.

Head over to Instagram and use #Giveaway#Giveaway for more details where you’ll find about a dozen books being given away by your favorite Middle Grade AND Young Adult authors! THIS WEEK ONLY!‬ Details and entry available only on Instagram at #GiveawayGiveaway!

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RELEASE DAY FOR “THE EDGE OF NOWHERE”!

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RE-EDITED AS A 2ND EDITION
WITH NEW MATERIAL AND AN AUTHOR Q&A

I am so excited to share with you the 2nd edition of The Edge of Nowhere! Since it’s original release in 2016, I’ve parted on friendly terms with the original publisher and my current publisher has picked it up and allowed me to tweak all those things I wish we’d tweaked before its first release! Under the editorial guidance of the amazing Michelle Halket at Central Avenue Publishing, this 2nd Edition of The Edge of Nowhere includes brand new content in the form of added scenes and dialogue, “tighter” writing, a gorgeous new cover, and a new Question & Answer section related to the real people who inspired the story. Fans of the original edition will find the same riveting story, but improved through better writing and improved content!


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million |IndieBound |
The Book Depository |Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play


SYNOPSIS

Despised and feared by her sprawling family, Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene refuses to go quietly from her long life without revealing the secrets she’s held locked away for more than fifty years—the same secrets consistent with the rumors her grandchildren whisper behind her back during family gatherings.Widowed with nine children during the one-two punch of The Great Depression and the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, Victoria made harsh choices—desperate choices that reduced a once soft and loving young woman into the reviled matriarch she is today. Hers is the story of one woman’s courage in the midst of overwhelming adversity, and her absolute conviction to never stop fighting…no matter what it takes.


WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“John Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ meets Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in this novel set in the Great Depression. Based on a true story the book revolves around the life of the main character Victoria Green and the hardships she faces making a life for her and her family when the whole community are struggling with the Depression and the dust storms affecting the state of Oklahoma.” ~ Goodreads Reader

 

“The writing beats as a living thing telling us so easily of the struggles and the joys of this woman.” ~ Goodreads Reader

 

“This is one of those books that you don’t want to look away from. And that you can see everything unfolding, as if you’re there. So many twists and turns!” ~ Goodreads Reader

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed following feisty Victoria and her tumultuous life.” ~ Goodreads Reader

 

“C.H. Armstrong breaks barriers within her richly historical story and vividly depicts that time with a heroine you won’t soon forget. I found The Edge of Nowhere compelling for reasons so different than ones I get from my usual reading. This keen piece of fiction will certainly stay with me.” ~ Goodreads Reader

 

“The writing is very strong throughout, descriptive without being flowery, and I thought the author did a tremendous job of bringing the time and setting to life on the page.” ~ Goodreads Reader

 

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Donate to the El Reno Tornado Victims Fund and WIN!

It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the devastating news that my hometown of El Reno, Oklahoma was hit by an EF-2 tornado last night, leveling a budget motel and destroying a good portion of a mobile home park directly behind it. At present, two people are confirmed dead, and another 29+ people are injured. (Read the NY Times Article Here).

 

 

For those of you who aren’t aware, my first novel, THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, was set in El Reno and tells the story of the resilience of the people in that community during the one-two punch of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Originally released in 2016, this title is set for re-release as a 2nd Edition with extensive edits and a new Author Q&A on June 1st.

In addition to THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, author Brandon Hobson—another El Reno Native–has also released a novel set in the El Reno area, this one a National Book Award Finalist titled WHERE THE DEAD SIT TALKING. This highly acclaimed 2018 novel has found itself on multiple bestseller lists and is currently slated for its paperback release on June 4th.

Why do I tell you all of this?

The community bonds of El Reno are strong, and the resilience of its people are unyielding. Though Brandon and I have long-since moved from El Reno to pursue our careers, the ties that bind us remain forever. Sadly, it was only six years ago this weekend when this same small town was hit by the largest tornado in American history, and now they’re set the task of rebuilding once again. With El Reno and its people holding a special place in both of our hearts, Brandon and I want to help! And YOU can help US!

Here’s how…

A GoFundMe Page has been set up to assist the community, and we’d like to invite you to help us lend El Reno a hand up. For every donation to the Official City of El Reno Tornado Relief Fund, your name will be entered in a drawing to receive ONE SET OF THREE signed paperback copies of BOTH…

 

 

 

WHERE THE DEAD SIT TALKING
by Brandon Hobson

AND

 

 

 

 

THE EDGE OF NOWHERE
by C.H. Armstrong


There are 2 Ways to Enter

OPTION ONE:

  1. Use this link to go to the GoFundMe Account.
  2. Make a donation in any amount.
  3. In the COMMENT FIELD on the DONATION PAGE, leave the words “I AM EL RENO STRONG IN (name of your state).”Example: I AM EL RENO STRONG IN MINNESOTA

OPTION TWO:

  1. Share THIS LINK on your favorite social media site AND TAG C.H. Armstrong so that we can find your post.
  2. Each unique share equals one entry.

Facebook: @charmstrongbooks
Twitter: @c_h_armstrong
Instagram: @c_h_armstrong_author

*If you have any trouble tagging C.H. Armstrong on social media, please feel free to send a screen shot of your social media post to cathie@charmstrongbooks.com. Contest ends on June 2nd, so donate today!

*Note: If you’ve already donated or prefer to remain anonymous for purposes of the donation, please send a copy of your donation receipt to cathie@charmstrongbooks.com.


 

To learn more about Bradon Hobson, visit his website at www.brandonhobson.com.

To learn more about C.H. Armstrong, visit her website at www.charmstrongbooks.com.

 

 

 

 

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ROAM: “Be Kind and Have Courage.”

Hello again, Friends! The last two weeks have been crazy-busy, as I’ve been out on the Minnesota leg of my book tour for ROAM. It’s been exhausting, exhilarating and so much fun! A huge thank you to everyone who has braved the hazardous roads that have plagued every single one of my book signings to date! I can’t thank y’all enough! Also thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of ROAM, or recommended it to a friend, or shared links on so social media or emails! I can’t thank y’all enough for your kindness!

Two things I’d like to talk about today: Book Reviews and what I’m doing in my Presentations.

BOOK REVIEWS

Thank you to everyone who has read ROAM. I am especially grateful for the reviews so many of you have left on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and other review platforms. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your leaving feedback behind. To those who haven’t yet, please let me assure you that I’m thrilled with every review — even if your response to ROAM was luke-warm and the review reflects that. You see, it’s feedback from readers that allows me to grow as a writer and perfect my craft. So even bad reviews are helpful, even if they do sting. The negative reviews I’ve received so far (and yes, there are a few) have helped me make immediate changes from the advance copies to the final print copies for issues I didn’t realize I had, as well as make me aware that my intent doesn’t always t translate to the reader. So please — if you’ve read ROAM, consider leaving a review.

PRESENTATIONS

I wanted to talk for a minute about the presentations I’ve been giving at schools and libraries. You see, ROAM is very personal to me because it was inspired by a woman whose work I admired, and who is no longer with us anymore. She was a woman dedicated to leaving behind a better world and, now with her gone, part of my goal is to help pick up some of those pieces for her since she no longer can.

BeKindAndHaveCourageThese last two weeks have been a hectic schedule of school presentations, sometimes as many as five or six per day. In each presentation, I talk about the inspiration for ROAM — the “soup kitchen” I visited that inspired the characters — and the woman (Mrs. Linda Curtis) who worked so hard to make those in the most destitute of situations feel respected and worthy.

When I met Mrs. Curtis, she said something very profound to me. It was,”Brokenness comes from being separated or isolated from society.” Through the Saturday Noon Meals, which she coordinated every week for more than twenty years, Mrs. Curtis attempted to begin healing some of the brokenness in our community that often leads to homelessness. You see, we all can make a difference in our daily lives, and it’s not the grand gestures that matter, but those tiny micro-connections we make on a daily basis that can change the lives of others.

How did Mrs. Curtis do this? By treating each of her guests — regardless of circumstances — with respect and kindness. Greeting them each week with a smile and a meal served restaurant-style on real table cloths with real dishes, silverware, glassware and even a flower arrangement in the center of every table, it was her goal to give her guests a couple of hours once a week of feeling “normal.”

It’s those who are isolated the most that need to feel “normal,” and this is something we can each achieve every day in even the tiniest contacts with those around us. How? Through kindness.

Hold the door open for the person behind you.

Smile when you make eye contact with a stranger.

Offer a simple helping hand when you see someone struggle. 

These are all things we can do every single day to make a connection with those around us and pass along kindness. You see, how we treat others determines (1) how they feel about themselves, (2) how they expect to be treated, (3) how they treat others, and (4) how they treat the world around them.

We’ve all heard of the “self-fulfilling prophecy,” right? For those unfamiliar, it’s where a person behaves in the manner he/she believes he’s expected to behave. If you treat someone as though he’s scum of the earth, then that person will behave like that…because that’s all that’s expected of him/her. But if you treat every person with kindness, you will inspire a feeling of confidence and worthiness. And that person will pass it along to the next person until it becomes a domino effect.

No, you don’t always see the difference immediately. That person may not return your kindness in the way you feel he should, but enough repeated kindnesses — especially by different people — becomes contagious.

One of the many times I visited Mrs. Curtis’s soup kitchen, I met a family who were regular guests. One week, I brought with my new blankets and warm hats donated by my Mother-in-Law. Mrs. Curtis asked me to take this family back to her storage area to select hats and blankets for themselves. The youngest of the family was a boy, about age 8. Holding 2 hats in his hands, he just couldn’t decided between them. I suggested he might take both of them, but was immediately mortified when his father spoke up and told him no. Turning to me he explained, “We only take what we need. Because, for as hard as we have it, someone else has it worse.”

Whether he realized it or not, he was passing on the kindness he received each week from Mrs. Curtis and her volunteers. She had welcome his family warmly and treated them with respect he’d likely been denied for some time, so the only way he could give back was by returning that respect — by not being a “jerk” and taking more than they needed. That moment was life-altering for me and it was the final catalyst that made me sit down and tell the story you find in ROAM.

Maya Angelou brilliantly said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

None of us is perfect, and I’ve absolutely left damage in my wake for words and actions I didn’t realize were harmful at the time. And to those people, I would give anything to retract those thoughtless words or actions and give my most profound apologies. But sometimes you can’t do that, either because you can’t find that person or because that person isn’t in a place in their lives to accept an apology no matter how sincere. But what you can do is move forward and try to make a positive impact on the next person. And that’s what I hope readers will get out of ROAM; the importance of empathy and forgiveness. The importance of understanding the world through the lens of another person, and allowing ourselves to forgive others for the harm they’ve done us.

Last night I watched (and rewatched again this morning) the 2015 Disney Adaptation of Cinderella, and — though I’ve been saying that ROAM was like a cross between The Pursuit of Happyness and Cinderella — I didn’t realize how spot-on that comparison actually was. You see, Cinderella’s mother tells her before her death, “Be kind and have courage.” Such profound advice, and it goes hand-in-hand with the advice I give all of my students during my presentations, and would give to all of those who read ROAM.

“Be kind and have courage, and all will be well.”


Are you a teacher or know one who might be interested in a classroom or school-wide presentation?


Please
use this link for more information.


NOW AVAILABLE!

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Seventeen-year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha but, thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave behind what little they had for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager-fitting in at school, dreaming of a boyfriend, college and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.

Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her new friends let her down like the ones back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?

SEE THE BOOK TRAILER NOW!

READ THE REVIEWS:
Click Here!

PURCHASE LINKS:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million |
IndieBound | The Book Depository |
Target | Walmart

EVENTS
Click Here to See Cathie’s Book Tour Dates/Locations

CONTACT CATHIE FOR AN EVENT/SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT
Cathie@charmstrongbooks.com

 

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Thank You!

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The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind and have swept by so fast I’ve barely had time to breathe. Only last night did I catch up with my social media mentions from Tuesday! To say I am humbled and overwhelmed by the many people who have supported the release of ROAM is an understatement. So, for today’s post, let me start with a huge THANK YOU to all who wished me a “Happy Book Birthday” for ROAM. Your kindness is beyond my wildest imagination!

My Deepest Gratitude To:

Thank you to the Writing Community on Social Media for being so kind to give ROAM a shout-out on Tuesday, before and since. I have NEVER had so many mentions on Twitter and Instagram, and I’m beyond words. There were literally a hundred or more for each of the two sites! And that doesn’t include Facebook!

Thank you to the many bloggers who took time to not only read ROAM, but write reviews. For those who made a point of holding your reviews to run on release day, WOW! Y’all are truly the best. I’m overwhelmed by your kindness!

Thank you to my social media friends and followers , as well as my real world friends, who reached out to not only send congratulations, but to share posts on social media! I’m so grateful! You will never know how much you mean to me!

Thank you to my publisher, Michelle Halket at Central Avenue Publishing. I could not be more blessed than to be one of Michelle’s projects! Every author should have the opportunity to work with a publisher as amazing as Michelle!

Thank you to Mayo High School and Pattie Ekman for allowing me to present to your English Classes on Monday. I had more fun meeting the students, and they were all so gracious! They made me feel welcome, and their excitement over our “Kindness Raffle” was really fun! (More about the Kindness Raffle in another post).

Thank you to St. Louis Park Middle School and Lisa Lillie for inviting me to present at your school on Tuesday. OH MY GOSH — your kids are the reason why we write! Their excitement was palpable, and I can’t thank them enough for their welcome!

Thank you to Jenna, Jamie and Ann at Barnes & Noble Galleria in Edina, Minn., for hosting my first book signing. This was so much fun! I thought we were going to be snowed out! The roads were so bad I would’ve cancelled if not for the slight possibility that even one person might’ve shown up and been disappointment. To my complete shock, about a dozen students made their parents hazard the awful roads to come to my signing. And we had so much fun! I think we were probably the only people in the store aside from the stray shopper and staff, but we had a wonderful time! I loved our questions, and I loved the stories you shared. Yes, Henry…as the oldest, your younger siblings will always get away with way more than you ever did! That’s the “bonus” of being the oldest child. We moms put 100% of our energies into our first children and, when the next ones come along, we’re tired! We love them just as much, but we realize they’ll turn out just fine if we stop hovering. Haha!

And finally, my biggest and most humble thank you of all goes out to the OTHER debut young adult and middle grade authors who took time out of their own release days to congratulate me on mine! My only regret of the day is that I didn’t think ahead to plan social media posts to automatically post my congratulations to each of you on Tuesday. But I am deeply grateful, so at the end of this post is a shout-out to those authors who also had Book Birthdays on Tuesday! I hope y’all will take a minute to look at their amazing titles!

So…What was my day like on Tuesday?

Well, in all honesty, my “day” started on Monday with a presentation to four English classes at Mayo High School. This was a special series of presentations to me because the high school is special to me. It’s where my daughter graduated in 2014 and, since I was writing ROAM during that period of time, much of the story takes place within its walls — by a different name (Rochester South). But anyone from the area knows “Rochester South” of the book is Mayo. After all, how many completely round schools are there?

I went home exhausted, yet exhilarated, on Monday; then woke up at 5:30 on Tuesday morning to leave for St. Louis Park (a 90 minute drive without traffic) to present to five  classes. These kids were so fantastic, and I was shocked to learn how many students have already worked in some capacity with their homeless communities. Y’all are just fantastic! While there, I had the opportunity to meet the office staff, the school principal, and even the Superintendent of Schools. I’m just so grateful for  the welcome I received, and am excited to go back…because I’ve been invited back to present to other classes! Thank you, Lisa Lillie for setting these up! I had a great day!

 

At the end of my presentations at St. Louis Park Middle School, I was supposed to present to an after school assembly for those who were unable to attend during the day. Sadly, due to weather, all after school activities were cancelled. So I bundled up and drove the roughly 15 miles to my hotel in Edina, in preparation for my night signing at B&N. Well, the roads were AWFUL! It took me (and I’m NOT kidding) more than 2.5 hours to drive those 15 or fewer  miles! When I finally got to the hotel, I had about an hour to relax and have dinner before heading out again. Thank goodness for Jimmy Johns delivery!

At 7:00, I showed up for my signing at the Barnes & Noble in Edina at the Galleria Mall. Y’all, if you’ve never been to this Barnes & Noble, you really MUST visit them! Truly, they have the nicest, friendliest, most helpful staff of any Barnes & Noble I’ve ever visited. I first visited this store back in June, and I knew immediately I wanted to do my launch at this store. And I was right. They  made the experience so fun, even though the roads were awful and — aside from those who hazarded the roads to attend my signing — the store was virtually empty.

BN Edina Signing

Returning back to the hotel at around 9:30, I’d really hoped to sleep in until at least 11:00 the next morning. But, alas, I was still riding high on adrenaline and not only had difficulty falling asleep, but was awake by 5:30 a.m. with excitement for the day and my drive back home.

So What’s Next on My Calendar?

Today is a “rest day” for me (which really means I have to clean  my house since I’ve been ignoring it).

Tomorrow, I head to Lanesboro Schools for a day full of presentations to their middle and high schools.

barnes-noble-75Saturday, February 9th, I’ll be kicking off my local book tour at the Barnes & Noble Apache Mall in Rochester, Minn.  I’ll be reading and signing books from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. I really hope y’all will join me. You can find the Facebook event invitation with more information at this link.

1544456650778Sunday, February 10th, I’ll be at Pasquale’s Neighborhood Pizzeria in Rochester, Minn., where I’ll be signing books from 1:00 to 3:00 p .m. This one ought to be a HUGELY fun signing, as I’ll not only be offering up free copies of ROAM to five random winners, but you seriously can’t beat the pizza at Pasquale’s. For more information on this event, use this link to view the Facebook event invite.

Monday, February 11th, I’ll be at Stewartville Public Library in Stewartville, Minn., from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. THIS is the library I consider to be my own library. Though I live in the neighboring town, I love going to Stewartville’s library because it reminds me of the library I grew up in. It’s small and friendly, yet they have everything you could ever need…or will get it for you if they don’t have it. To view the Facebook event invite, use this link.

I think I’ll stop with Monday, or this post will go on for pages. If you’d like to figure out where I am to come to a signing, you can use this link.

And Don’t Forget…

Check out these debut Young Adult and Middle Grade novels that also released on Tuesday with ROAM. You seriously won’t be sorry!

 

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway
Enchanteé by Gita  Trelease
Ruby in the Sky by Jeanne Zulick Ferruol


NOW AVAILABLE!

RoamCover

SEE THE BOOK TRAILER NOW!

READ THE REVIEWS:
Click Here!

PURCHASE LINKS:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million |
IndieBound | The Book Depository |
Target | Walmart

EVENTS
Click Here to See Cathie’s Book Tour Dates/Locations

CONTACT CATHIE FOR AN EVENT/SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT
Cathie@charmstrongbooks.com

 

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HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO ROAM!

 

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I’m so excited to share with you the release of ROAM! Set in Rochester, Minnesota, ROAM is the story of 17 year old Abby Lunde, whose family moves to town after a series of unexpected events leave her parents unemployed and homeless. Now living in the family’s van in the Walmart parking lot, Abby is desperate to keep her embarrassing secret from her new friends. But the nights are getting colder and, as Abby knows well, Minnesota winters aren’t the only thing unforgiving—so are many teens.

As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her new friends let her down like the ones back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help the family find a normal life?

PURCHASE LINKS:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million |
IndieBound | The Book Depository |
Target | Walmart

Join me TONIGHT as We Celebrate
the Release of ROAM!

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Can’t Make it Tonight? No Worries!
Come to Another Reading or Signing this Month!

Tuesday, Feb 5th

Don’t Forget: If you Purchase Your Copy by February 12th, You Can Win! Click Image Below for Details!

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ROAM: COMING FEB 5–READ THE ENTIRE FIRST CHAPTER FREE!

Hey everybody! There’s so much going on these days that I thought I’d bring you up to date.

FREE FIRST CHAPTER PREVIEW!

first chapter free!For a limited time only, you can READ THE ENTIRE FIRST CHAPTER OF ROAM FOR FREE! That’s right! Not just a snippet, but the full first chapter. I’m so excited to give you this sneak peak! At the end of the chapter are easy links to learn more about ROAM, as well as purchase links to help you find your favorite online retailer. If you enjoy it, please feel free to share with your friends!

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TOMORROW NIGHT ON TWITTER!

Tomorrow night is the monthly Novel Nineteens Twitter Chat! If you don’t know what this is, it’s a chat on Twitter where middle grade and young adult authors with 2019 debut titles answer your questions! It’s a really fun opportunity to find out what’s coming out in 2019, win prizes, and get to know the authors on a more personal level. So join me tomorrow night at 8:00 PM (EST). If you mention you heard about it through my website or my social media, I’ll enter you into a raffle to WIN A FREE ADVANCE READER’S COPY OF ROAM! So stop by and say hi, respond to one of my #Novel19s tweets in the chat, and let me know you heard about it from me to enter!

novel19chat
Click this image for an easy link to the Twitter #Novel19s chat.

LAST CHANCE TO FOLLOW AND WIN!

If you’re not following me on Goodreads, now is the time to do it! On Monday, January 21st, I’ll be drawing a winner from among my Goodreads Followers to win a FREE ADVANCE READER’S COPY OF ROAM! If you’re already following me on Goodreads, you’re good to go–you’re already entered. If not, make sure to do it before Monday for your chance to win!

goodreadscontest
Click on the image above to enter for your chance to win by following me on Goodreads! Good luck!

 

BOOK TOUR DATES!

With the February 5 release of ROAM, my book tour schedule is filling quickly! For a comprehensive list of where I’ll be and when, you can use this link. If you’re interested in having me visit your school, please note that I’m currently scheduling on-site and Skype School Visits at no cost. You can use this link to learn more.

 

AND FINALLY…

Did you get my newsletter that went out yesterday? If not, you missed a lot of really great information! To view it, click the image below.

our newsletter

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ROAM: The People Who Inspired the Novel

roambirdThere are some events in a person’s life that are completely life-altering—moments when you witness something so unexpected that it changes how you see the world and, sometimes, makes you want to “do” something and be a better person. For me, that moment came in 2014 when I was assigned to write an article for Rochester Women magazine about a local “soup kitchen.”

I should admit up front that I was initially uncomfortable writing the article. It meant visiting the soup kitchen and interacting with an image in my mind of grizzled vagrants who might even be dangerous. The reality of that experience was polar opposite. While there may have been one or two “grizzled vagrants,” what I found more than anything were people just like me who were doing the best they could just to get by. But more than anything, what I found was a community of love, understanding and support. It was truly special and like nothing I’d ever seen before.

On that Fall day in 2014, I was greeted by the meal coordinator, Linda Curtis. In her 70s, Mrs. Curtis was like a mother hen to the guests she served each week. She was cautious about talking to me at first, wanting to make sure the story I wrote didn’t paint a negative image of her guests and reinforce society’s image of the homeless and needy. But, after a lengthy vetting of my intentions, Mrs. Curtis began to open up about her mission and the community she served. And, after further vetting, she allowed me to meet meet her guests.

I’ll never forget my first impressions as I walked into the dining hall of the “Saturday Noon Meals.” My first thought was that it was like nothing I’d ever expected or seen before. In my mind, I’d seen a cafeteria-like serving line where downtrodden people with heads dipped low in defeat accepted paper plates with mystery meat, wilted salad and stale rolls. What I found instead was a community of people—both volunteers and guests—who had a true connection and affinity for each other, all  sharing a nutritious meal prepared with love. Let me paint for you a picture of what I saw that day.

The meal was set to begin at noon but, at roughly 11:00 am, there were already about fifty people gathered in conversation and friendship. Set up around the room were a dozen or so round tables seating eight, each properly set with cloth tablecloths, real dishes, cups/glasses and utensils. As one guest told me later (paraphrased), “It’s the little things that make a difference—there’s no plastic sporks here.”

In the center of each table was a small flower arrangement donated by a local grocery store florist, and a spread of pre-dinner appetizers were displayed on large banquet-sized tables for guests to partake before the meal was served.

Mrs. Curtis was a blur of activity as she directed volunteers and prepared the meal, but she stopped repeatedly to greet guests by name and with a smile. At one point, a gentleman walked in with a bushel of fresh vegetables he’d picked up at the locals farmers’ market on his way to dinner. He presented those vegetables to Mrs. Curtis as his contribution to her efforts. I learned later that this gentleman had been a regular guest for nearly ten years; at first living in his vehicle but, now experiencing better circumstances, he seldom attended dinner empty-handed—he frequently brought “gifts” to Mrs. Curtis or other guests as he noticed an interest he could fulfill. 

As the clock ticked down to noon, Mrs. Curtis called the room to attention where she gave announcements of interest to those in attendance. I think most surprising to me at that moment was how many people she knew by name, and how many people she mentioned. One person was having a birthday, the other had recently been offered a new job, and yet another person had some other exciting news she shared with the group. At the end of her announcements, she asked those assembled to allow her to say a prayer—and then she mentioned even more people in the pre-dinner prayer. It was like she knew and cared about nearly every person in the room.

At the end of announcements and the prayer, a flurry of volunteers entered from the kitchen with rolling carts filled with food. They stopped at each table where they placed serving bowls piled high, after which each guest served himself and then passed the bowls family-style around the table. And throughout the meal, conversation was abundant. These people really cared about each other.

As I sat there and interacted with Mrs. Curtis’ guests, there was no “us” or “them.” There was no poverty or social status. There were just people gathered together to share a meal. And all of this was made possible by the love extended from one woman toward everyone there.

While there I met so many people—people that could’ve been you or me. I met a mom and daughter who used this one week as their opportunity to have mother-daughter time. I met a family who, while not homeless, were only one step away from living out of their car. I met friends who’d known each other for years, and people who’d only just met. And each person interacted with complete warmth and acceptance. 

When I left the Saturday Noon Meals that afternoon, I left a changed person. My perception of homeless and hungry had changed. The people were no longer the vagrants of my imagination; they had faces. They had lives and stories and struggles…all of which I could relate to. No, I’ve never been poor or in jeopardy of losing my home, but the circumstances that led to many of their situations were relatable. Just a single domino falls, and the whole line goes down, one block after another.

For weeks after my visit, I couldn’t get their stories out of my head. Most especially, I couldn’t get the few children in attendance out of my head. What must it be like to “need” the services of a free weekly meal? What must it be like to be a high school student—when we all already know that the caste system in a middle or high school is nothing short of completely brutal,  especially for those who are “different” in any way.

As the days passed and my article was published, my mind kept returning to the people I met that day. I called my mother-in-law to share this experience, and the experience affected her as well. She began sending new blankets, hats, etc., to be given to the guests at Saturday Noon Meals. I’ll never forget on one of my return visits, my arms laden with a couple of large boxes of new blankets and hats, Mrs. Curtis had instructed me to take a father and son to the storage room and allow them to take their pick. The son was about eight and couldn’t decide between two hats. Well, it’s cold and it’s Minnesota. I’d brought a lot of hats, and this was a kid! I said, half joking but completely serious, “Take them both—they’re small.” The boy looked at his father, who shook his head.

“No,” the father said. “We only take what we need and you only need one. For as hard as we have it, someone else has it harder. We never ever take more than we need.”

And that, my friends, is the statement that has lived with me since and which finally forced me to sit down and write ROAM. You see, while there are a lot of reasons for poverty, not everyone is looking for a free handout. While there are certainly some who will take advantage of any system, it’s important to remember that there are equally as many who are just experiencing hard times and are truly looking for nothing more than a hand up which they’ll return in kind to another when their own circumstances improve.

Sadly, Mrs. Curtis passed away this past June. While she knew I’d written this story, and she knew I’d found an agent to sell it, I never had a chance to tell her that this manuscript had found a publisher. I was waiting to surprise her with an image of the finished cover. But when I emailed her, she didn’t respond. And when I called to inquire about her—because it was unusual for her to ignore an email—I learned of her passing quite literally only a few days earlier.

It saddens me that Mrs. Curtis never had a chance to read the book she and her work inspired, but I hope she lives on through the memories of those who knew her, the work that is continued in her name, and by the pages of this novel.

redbirdROAM releases in just 22 days on February 5th. Watch this space for a free first chapter teaser coming soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to read that article I wrote so long ago for Rochester Women magazine, use this link.

 

 


ROAM
Coming February 5

9781771681513

Being a homeless teen is hard.
Keeping it a secret is even harder.

Seventeen year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha but, thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave what little they had behind for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager—fitting into school, buoyed by dreams of a boyfriend, college and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.

Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her friends let her down the same way they did back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?

 

PRAISE FOR ROAM

“An empathetic tale that treats homelessness with respect and makes it visible.” –Kirkus Reviews

“In Roam, C.H. Armstrong sings with a brilliant, powerful youthful voice as she portrays a narrator named Abby who experiences what it’s like to be homeless with her family, while dealing with the emotional and complex daily challenges of attending a new school. We, her readers, are drawn in from the first page. This lovely book has tremendous heart.” —Brandon Hobson, author of Where the Dead Sit Talking

Roam is a study in empathy, forgiveness, and second chances—an impactful and memorable story of teenage homelessness.” —Foreword Reviews

“In her warm and hopeful novel, C.H. Armstrong has created a spirited heroine who triumphs over her circumstances thanks to those who believe in her; friends, family, teachers and ultimately, herself.” —Lorna Landvik, author of Once in A Blue Moon Lodge

“Armstrong’s book pays compassionate and eloquent attention to teenage angst and love amidst the backdrop of homelessness.” —Cara Sue Achterberg, author of Girls’ Weekend and I’m Not Her

“A must-read for all young people to understand the hardship of homelessness and how they can reach out to help others.” —Cathy Lamb, author of No Place I’d Rather Be

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

READ WHAT EARLY READERS ARE SAYING:
Click Here!

PURCHASE LINKS:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million |
IndieBound | The Book Depository |
Target | Walmart

EVENTS
Click Here to See Cathie’s Book Tour Dates/Locations

CONTACT CATHIE FOR AN EVENT/SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT
Cathie@charmstrongbooks.com

 

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AUTOGRAPHED COPIES–ON SALE NOW!

 

FULL RESOLUTION EONIn anticipation of the February release of my debut young adult novel, ROAM, I’m excited to announce that you can now purchase AUTOGRAPHED COPIES of  my first novel, THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, at a discounted price of only $12! This exceptional price is not only below cover price, but includes tax and shipping!

Released in 2016, THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, was inspired by my own grandmother’s experiences as a widow with 14 children during the Great Depression and the 1930s Dust Bowl!

Can’t decide if this novel is for you? Check out the video trailer and the synopsis below. Then place your order using the button at the bottom of this page!

 

SYNOPSIS

The year is 1992 and Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene—reviled matriarch of a sprawling family—is dying.

After surviving the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Victoria refuses to leave this earth before revealing the secrets she’s carried for decades.

Once the child of a loving family during peaceful times, a shocking death shattered her life. Victoria came face to face with the harshness of the world. As the warm days of childhood receded to distant memory, Victoria learns to survive.

No matter what it takes.

To keep her family alive in an Oklahoma blighted by dust storms and poverty, Victoria makes choices—harsh ones, desperate ones. Ones that eventually made her into the woman her grandchildren fear and whisper about. Ones that kept them all alive. Hers is a tale of tragedy, love, murder, and above all, the conviction to never stop fighting.

PURCHASE A SIGNED COPY

Use the button below to purchase a signed copy. If you wish to have the copy personalized, please send a separate email with your name, address and the person to whom you wish the copy personalized in the body of the email. If you wish to purchase multiple copies, send me an email and let’s see if we can work out a better shipping cost.

 

ON SALE NOW! ONLY $12.00

Regularly priced on this site at $18.50 (includes tax and shipping), now ON SALE FOR $12.00 (tax and shipping included). Please note: If you wish to have the signature personalized (i.e. “To Sue”), please e-mail me after your order with your name, address, and the person to whom you wish to have the book personalized. For multiple orders, please e-mail me and we can attempt to negotiate a better shipping cost. U.S. orders only, please.

$12.00

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Harvey Weinstein: Empty Words and Noise

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog piece. Life has been crazy, and I’ve been trying to complete a manuscript related to sexual assault on our college campuses. With that in mind, the Harvey Weinstein case has captured my attention, and it’s with a lot of relief that I notice so many of his close friends and associates speaking out against him for the many allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

But…

While I’m pleased to see so much national outrage against Weinstein’s actions, they’re all just empty words and noise until the average sexual assault victim receives the same support when she comes forward.  Sadly, this isn’t the case.

First, it’s important to remember that less than half of all sexual assaults are reported. (source). And, when they do report, victims who aren’t famous rarely see the same outrage as we’re seeing right now with Harvey Weinstein. Instead, they are most often doubted, blamed, and harassed.

Think about this for a moment: you’ve just experienced the most personal and traumatic violation of your life. It takes tremendous courage to come forward — more courage than 63% of all victims have within them — and by doing so you put yourself center stage to be ridiculed as a liar or money-grabber looking for a “huge settlement.” It’s no wonder most victims don’t report. Who wants to be put through all of that?

Let’s do the math:  If statistics are true and one in four college women are assaulted before she completes her degree, then out of an incoming class of 4000 freshman women, 1000 of those women will be assaulted. Of those 1000 rapists (presuming a different rapist for each victim), only 470 will ever be formally accused. Of those 470 accused, only 8% to 37% will ever see a day in court due to the stringently high standard of evidence need to convict (source). Now, let’s split the difference and say only 22% of those accused will be charged and go to court. And then, if only 2% of those 22% charged see jail time, what’s your number ?

0.44.

In other words, approximately 1 of those 1000 rapists will ever see a day of jail time.   Shocking huh?

Some might say, “Then all the others were liars.” The answer is NO, they weren’t. In most cases, charges aren’t filed not because the victim was lying, but because there wasn’t enough concrete evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” in court. And a prosecuting attorney will not take a case he/she isn’t at least 97% certain they’ll win. They know the law and the standard of evidence. They know what they know, but also what they can prove. Countless victims are contacted by prosecuting attorneys who say, “I believe you. I know this happened. But I can’t prove it before a jury of twelve.” Because in a criminal trial, if even one juror isn’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, there is no conviction. It must be all 12 and it must be unanimous.

Why is proving rape so much harder than other crimes? Because unlike any other crime, the victim has to prove a crime took place.

When your car is vandalized, you don’t have to prove it was vandalized or that you didn’t do it. When you’re working as a night cashier at the local gas station and you’re held up at gunpoint, you call the police and then don’t have to prove the robbery happened. But if you’re sexually assaulted, you have to prove (1) that the assault happened, and (2) that the accused is guilty. And doing so is very, very difficult.

In the case of Weinstein, it’s easy to condemn someone we’ve never met. It’s easy to look through the window and see clearly how and why the alleged perpetrator’s actions were wrong. It’s a different thing when that perpetrator is someone you know.

According to the National Institute of Justice, “85 to 90 percent of sexual assaults reported by college women are perpetrated by someone known to the victim.” (source) What does that mean in the big picture? It means the victim and the rapist often travel in the same circles, probably sharing the same friends. It’s no wonder, then, that when a rapist’s actions become known, people are conflicted.

How could I know a rapist? How could I not know he’s a rapist? What does it say about me if he is a rapist? What does that say about my judgement in people?

The answer? Nothing. It’s not about you, but about the victim. Until we, as a nation, stop looking out for ourselves and protecting our own interests, we’re never going to overcome the disparity of power between a rape victim and his/her attacker.

How do we fix this? It’s simple. Believe the victim — she/he has nothing to gain by lying and shining a spotlight on herself.. Keep in mind, the incidence of false accusations of rape are roughly equivalent to the incidences of false accusations of any other crime — between 2% and 7%, depending upon which data you use. (source)

The friends and associates of Harvey Weinstein have been very brave. They’ve spoken out against their friend and comrade for behavior that is not only abhorrent and inexcusable, but vile and illegal. And, for many, it couldn’t have been easy. Now it’s your turn! The next time you hear the allegations of a rape victim, believe them. Yes, the alleged rapist deserves his day in court, but the victim needs your support. He/She has NOTHING to gain by creating a false report. Stand up and say, #WeBelieveYou.


FURTHER READING AND
SEXUAL VIOLENCE SUPPORT RESOURCES

Prosecutors Rarely Bring Charges in Rape Cases

Misconceptions about False Reporting

National Institute of Justice on Rape

RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network)

End Rape on Campus

Parents Take Action to End Rape on Campus

 

 

 

 

 

ANNOUNCING: “PANDEMIC PAGES BOOK CLUB”

Hello from Minnesota! This week makes a straight three weeks I’ve been “sheltering at home” in an effort to flatten the curve for the COVID-19 virus. Though I must admit I’m not finding it too challenging, I’m also looking for some contact without the outside world. With that in mind, I’m introducing “Pandemic Pages Book Club”!!!

PandemicPagesBookClub

On April 21st at 7:00 PM (Central Time Zone), join me with author Lyssa Kay Adams as we discuss her celebrated novel, The Bromance Book Club! I hope you’ll join us by reading this novel and contributing to the discussion!

This event is FREE–we only ask you to read the book before joining the video chat and be ready to discuss!

The web address for this event will be sent by email, ONLY to those who have sent an RSVP indicating they will attend. In the meantime, all you have to do is follow this link to let me know you’re coming!

One you’ve confirmed your attendance, you’ll need to get your hands on a copy of The Bromance Book Club. You can download your e-copy here:

Amazon Kindle | B&N NookApple iBooks

If you prefer a physical copy of this book, please consider ordering from your local independent bookstore! You can use this link to find the one closest to you!

Also, don’t forget to check your library’s e-book collection!

I’m so excited to read this book and hope you will join me!


SYNOPIS

(From http://www.indiebound.org)

44019067._SY475_The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_7249Lyssa Kay Adams read her first romance novel at way too young of an age when she swiped one from her grandmother’s stash. After a long journalism career in which she had to write way too many sad endings, she decided to return to the stories that guaranteed a happy ever after.

Once described as “funny, adorable, and a wee-bit heartbreaking,” Lyssa’s books feature women who always get the last word, men who aren’t afraid to cry, and dogs. Lots of dogs.

Lyssa writes full time from her home in Michigan, where she lives with her sports writer husband, her wickedly funny daughter, and a spoiled Maltese who likes to be rocked to sleep like a baby. When she’s not writing, she’s cooking or driving her daughter around from one sporting event to the next. Or rocking the dog.

Ramblings of a Quarantined Writer

Good Morning, Friends!

We’re in strange times at the moment. My husband is working from home, my son is schooling from home, and I am always home but am currently experiencing serious writer’s block, probably due to too much going on in my own home. So what’s a quarantined writer with writer’s block to do? Write a blog post!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll try to post more often than normal. I’ll bring you information as I receive it on the publishing and writing world, as well as maybe give you some insights into my personal life and how my family is dealing with this self-isolation experiment.

For starters, let’s start with the PUBLISHING INDUSTRY. Folks, I don’t think it’s any surprise that the publishing industry is about to be hit hard. When readers can’t get out to bookstores, they either buy from Amazon online or they download ebooks. The result of that is the potential fall of brick-and-mortar stores like your favorite local bookshop or even places like Barnes and Noble. With this in mind, I’d like to encourage you to purchase you books online through your favorite bookstores instead of Amazon right now, if possible. Let’s let Amazon do their thing and meet the immediate needs for those who need supplies. Instead, check in with your local brick-and-mortar stores to see what they’re offering. I know my local Barnes and Noble is offering curbside pickup. You just order online and drive up to the curb to grab your order. I’m sure others are doing something similar, and many are moving to free shipping to meet your reading needs. So please consider supporting your favorite brick and mortar stores by going there first for your reading needs. If you need help finding one near you, let me know.

Second, here’s a note to the TEACHERS out there. First a huge thank you for all you’re doing. I can’t imagine how difficult this time must be for you. Many of the teachers I’ve spoken to are going to Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and other resources to teach their classes. If I can help you, please let me know. For at least the next month (and I may extend it depending upon how this situation evolves), I am opening myself to free virtual visits with your students. If you’re using Google Hangouts or some other platform that will allow me to visit with your class from my home computer, please reach out. We can talk about books, writing, brainstorming on writing topics, or just talk about our individual experiences during this quarantine. Whatever you come up with, I’m game! Just zip me an email at Cathie@charmstrongbooks.com and I’ll call you and we can talk about what works best for your classroom.

Third, to the WRITERS out there. Keep writing! I received an email today for a free webinar tutorial for Scrivener. Here’s the link if you need it. It’s at 2PM Central Time today, so there should be plenty of time to register. For those who aren’t familiar with Scrivener, you should check it out! It’s roughly $40 for the program, you download it from the website, and it is supremely helpful with organizing your writing.

Okay, folks…that’s enough from me for today, but I’ll be back in a day or two. In the meantime, leave me a comment below with ideas for how we can help each other in these difficult times.

Weekend Read Rec: “Every Stolen Breath”

Happy New Year! It’s so hard to believe 2020 is here! I remember issuing in a new century only 20 short years ago. It seems like only yesterday!

With the release of ROAM last year and my crazy-busy schedule, I’ve allowed myself to neglect this blog. I’d like to rectify that in 2020. Toward that end, I’ve decided to start a weekly “Weekend Read Recommendation” to run every Friday in hopes of offering you something fun to check out for your weekend.

This first edition is dedicated to Kimberly Gabriel and her page-turning young adult thriller, EVERY STOLEN BREATH. And, as a special treat this week, Kimberly is joining me for an Author Q&A about this novel and the process that brought this amazing story to readers.

First, let me introduce you to EVERY STOLEN BREATH by Kimberly Gabriel!

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TITLE: Every Stolen Breath
AUTHOR: Kimberly Gabriel
GENRE: Young Adult Thriller
PUB DATE: November 5, 2019
PUBLISHER: Blink / HarperCollins
RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SYNOPSIS

Two years after her father’s murder, Lia Finch is the only one left still pursuing his killers.

In downtown Chicago, teenagers have been attacking their victims in packs. Sharing the coordinates of their targets through social media, the swarm emerges from the crowd and descends on a single person, with each member landing a blow until the victim is dead. Local authorities dismiss it as gang violence they can’t control. But Lia is convinced these attacks are politically motivated and controlled by a syndicate of organized crime that thrives on power and intimidation. Desperate to prevent another death, Lia teams up with a teen hacker, a fame-hungry reporter, and the mysterious boy who might have been the cause of her father’s murder. But by the time Lia realizes the deadly consequences behind her obsession, she’s already become the swarm’s next target.

Inspired by the real-life “flash mob” violence that hit Chicago in 2011, EVERY STOLEN BREATH is a fast-paced, immersive thriller, which looks at just how hard one girl will fight back against the crowd knowing any breath might be her last.


REVIEW

Wow! What a ride! From the first page to the very last, this young adult novel is every bit the page turner as one might find in a James Patterson novel. To say I loved this novel is an understatement.

One of my favorite things about this novel is the opening chapter. The story opens with the reader learning immediately that someone is about to die. But, who will commit the murder is unclear, so the reader is pulled in immediately because the need to know who the murderer is and why is very compelling. Almost immediately after, the reader is swept up into a fast-paced story about murder and intrigue. The reader thinks he knows who the mastermind is behind these murders, but trust me when I say that everything clear is actually blurry.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone who loves a good thriller. Though it is categorized as young adult, I wouldn’t hesitate ta second to recommend this novel to adult readers who enjoy a good puzzle. I promise it won’t let you down.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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About the Author: 

Kimberly Gabriel started writing in fourth grade when she wrote, bound, and gave away books of terrible poetry to family and teachers as holiday gifts. Today she is an English teacher, who still squanders all free minutes to write and uses it as the best scapegoat for her laundry avoidance issues. When she is not teaching or writing, Kimberly is enjoying life with her husband, her three beautiful children, and a seriously beautiful boxer in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Every Stolen Breath is her debut novel and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

QUESTION: In a letter to readers related to EVERY STOLEN BREATH you mentioned that the Swarm depicted in the novel was inspired by similar incidents in Chicago some years back. Can you talk more about that, the incidents that inspired the Swarm, and how long you ruminated over the idea before it became a first draft.

ANSWER: In 2011, a series of “flash-mob” attacks broke out around Chicago near where I lived. I remember reading stories where dozens of teenagers would suddenly emerge from the crowd and descend on one tourist to mug and attack. The stories terrified me and for months after they occurred, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Eventually I took that concept, made it worse, added elements of mystery and romance to it, and turned it into the basis of EVERY STOLEN BREATH. I started writing ESB’s first scene at Navy Pier probably seven or eight months after the first real attack.

QUESTION: One of the things I enjoyed best about Lia (the main character) was her complete lack of perfection, specifically her asthma. What inspired you to write a character with such severe asthma?
ANSWER: Thank you. I wanted Lia’s strength to reflect the type of strength I see in my classroom and in my own children. I almost lost my oldest son when he was born prematurely. As an infant, he had debilitating asthma, and as he grew older, his chronic illnesses led to his struggle with anxiety. Throughout all of those setbacks, which he eventually outgrew, he remained determined, headstrong, and optimistic in ways that continue to impress me every day. My son was very young when he went through all of that, and Lia carries those parts of him in her. Lia perceives her asthma, anxiety, and PTSD as weaknesses that hold her back. But I’ve always felt she demonstrates her fierce drive and resilience by pushing through each setback. Some of the strongest, most determined students I’ve ever had in my classroom have become that way by battling adversity, and as a result, building their anti-fragility. I wanted Lia to reflect that because to me that’s what real strength is.

QUESTION: What, if any, challenges did you encounter in the writing or publishing of EVERY STOLEN BREATH?

ANSWER: I received a lot of rejection along the way in every step of this process. Luckily, I’ve become very good over the years about dismissing criticism that doesn’t help me improve and using it to strengthen my story when the criticism is smart. In the end, many of my rejections helped me turn it into what it is now.

QUESTION: I understand you were selected as a PitchWars Mentee. Can you talk a little about that process, what you gained from it, and how it led (or didn’t lead) to finding an agent? (Note: PitchWars is a Twitter “contest” to assist aspiring authors to connect with the writing community, find a mentor, tweak their work in progress, and eventually find an agent or publisher. For more information about PitchWars, use this link.)

ANSWER: I was selected to be a PitchWars mentee by Dawn Ius in 2016. After she picked me, I had two months to revise my MS while she mentored me along the way. It was the first time I had to revise under deadline, and at the time, it felt incredibly difficult. But it taught me how to revise quickly and efficiently. More importantly, it immersed me in a wonderful writing community from which I still benefit, and Dawn’s edit letter gave me really great feedback that elevated my writing. I didn’t get my agent from that contest. I found my agent a few months later, but I like to say that PitchWars was the greatest springboard that propelled me into the industry.

QUESTION: EVERY STOLEN BREATH is your debut novel. We’d love to hear about your submission process, how you learned about your title’s acquisition, and your first thoughts when you learned it was being acquisitioned.

ANSWER: Blink showed interest early on during our submission process, but because it was close to the holiday season, it took several months and meetings for them to finally make an offer. I knew the day Blink was having the final meeting about my book, so I kept my phone very close to me. At some point, my agent emailed me, asking when we could talk. I was in the middle of teaching and had to wait thirty very long minutes until my lunch, during which time I was completely worthless as a teacher. One girl had to literally repeat her question three times to me before it registered. When the bell rang and my agent finally called to tell me, I turned into an awkward mess of crying, shaking, and giggling all at once. I’d been writing and pursuing publication for ten years, and then suddenly I was going to be published by HarperCollins? I still get teary-eyed thinking about it.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little about your debut year? What did you learn? Anything that surprised you? What do you wish someone had told you?

ANSWER: I loved getting to know my fellow Novel19s during our debut year. That support network became one of my favorite parts of the journey. In fact, there were many parts of the experience that I really enjoyed. That said, I’m so glad the year is over. As exciting as the debut year can be, it’s also filled with so much anticipation and uncertainty, neither of which I do well with. Because I was one of the last to release, I was able to learn from everyone who went before me. Unfortunately, that didn’t necessarily help prevent any of the anxiety or ease the pitfalls when they came.

QUESTION: What are you currently working on? Do you have any other titles slated for publication?

ANSWER: I have nothing slated for publication yet, but I’m currently working on a new thriller that begins with a dead girl, a gamer, and a bus stop bench. From there it spirals out of control with secrets, revenge, social media, regret, denial, and, of course, murder. Set in Chicago, this one has a slight paranormal twist to it, which I’m excited about.


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WHERE TO PURCHASE

EVERY STOLEN BREATH is available at all major book retailers. For your ease, you can usethis link to purchase your copy through Amazon.

FIRST TIME EVER AT 99¢

ON SALE AT 99¢
FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!

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Amazon | Barnes & NobleKobo| Apple iBooks |Google Play

SYNOPSIS

Seventeen-year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha but, thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave behind what little they had for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager-fitting in at school, dreaming of a boyfriend, college and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.

Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her new friends let her down like the ones back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?


Editorial Reviews

Review

“In Roam, C.H. Armstrong sings with a brilliant, powerful youthful voice as she portrays a narrator named Abby who experiences what it’s like to be homeless with her family, while dealing with the emotional and complex daily challenges of attending a new school. We, her readers, are drawn in from the first page. This lovely book has tremendous heart.” —Brandon Hobson, author of Where the Dead Sit Talking

“In her warm and hopeful novel, C.H. Armstrong has created a spirited heroine who triumphs over her circumstances thanks to those who believe in her; friends, family, teachers and ultimately, herself.” —Lorna Landvik, author of Once in A Blue Moon Lodge

“Armstrong’s book pays compassionate and eloquent attention to teenage angst and love amidst the backdrop of homelessness.” —Cara Sue Achterberg, author of Girls’ Weekend and I’m Not Her

Roam is a compelling, accurate look into the life of a homeless teen. A must-read for all young people to understand the hardship of homelessness and how they can reach out to help others.” —Cathy Lamb, author of No Place I’d Rather Be

“C.H. Armstrong’s compelling young adult novel Roam follows a homeless teenager as she and her family struggle to make a fresh start in a new town. Roam is a study in empathy, forgiveness, and second chances—an impactful and memorable story of teenage homelessness.” —Catherine Thureson, Foreword Reviews

“A mother’s misdeed leads to scandal, ending friendships and forcing a family move to a new state and into a life of homelessness. An empathetic tale that treats homelessness with respect and makes it visible.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Armstrong seamlessly combines the challenges that teens normally face in daily life with the struggles of being homeless in a new environment. This emotional read with an inspiring and heart-wrenching message encourages readers to walk a mile in another’s shoes before passing judgment. —Savannah Patterson, Booklist

“Heartbreaking . . . Roam couldn’t be more timely in its exploration of how a teenager tries to keep up a facade while living in a van.” —Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities Pioneer Press


Black Friday Week Offer!

2019

It’s Black Friday Week, and I’m so excited to offer my readers a special opportunity to purchase SIGNED and PERSONALIZED copies of Roam and The Edge of Nowhere!

This is a great opportunity to stuff those stockings, or simply purchase a meaningful gift for a dear friend! Price includes sales tax and shipping, but it’s only available for the ONE WEEK.  So click the image above to go to the Black Friday Store, or use this link.

99 centsAs a bonus, you can now get the 2nd Edition of The Edge of Nowhere for your ebook at just 99¢ through your favorite e-book retailer!

If you’ve read and enjoyed the 1st Edition, you’ll want to get your hands on this 2nd Edition. You’ll find added scenes, better writing, and an addendum at the end outlining which parts of the story were taken from true-life experiences, and which were strictly fiction.

Normally priced at $5.99, this is a very limited time sale and I don’t know how long it will continue. So get your e-copy today before the price goes back to normal. You can use these links for Kindle or Nook.

If you’re not sure if you read the old or new version, here’s a clue:

Old.jpg

 

ROAM Goes to Washington!

I’m so excited to share with you that I’ll be taking ROAM to Washington D.C.! If you live in the area, I hope you’ll pop in and see me at one of these book signings! It’ll be so much fun!

If you happen to make it, please say  hello and introduce yourself! I’d love to meet you!

 

ROAM: 99₵ TODAY ONLY!

99¢

USE THIS LINK TO PURCHASE NOW!


 

ROAM

Seventeen-year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha but, thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave behind what little they had for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager-fitting in at school, dreaming of a boyfriend, college and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.

Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from h

er new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

 

RedBirdAs secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her new friends let her down like the ones back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?


Editorial Reviews

Review

“In Roam, C.H. Armstrong sings with a brilliant, powerful youthful voice as she portrays a narrator named Abby who experiences what it’s like to be homeless with her family, while dealing with the emotional and complex daily challenges of attending a new school. We, her readers, are drawn in from the first page. This lovely book has tremendous heart.” —Brandon Hobson, author of Where the Dead Sit Talking
“In her warm and hopeful novel, C.H. Armstrong has created a spirited heroine who triumphs over her circumstances thanks to those who believe in her; friends, family, teachers and ultimately, herself.” —Lorna Landvik, author of Once in A Blue Moon Lodge
“Armstrong’s book pays compassionate and eloquent attention to teenage angst and love amidst the backdrop of homelessness.” —Cara Sue Achterberg, author of Girls’ Weekend and I’m Not Her
“Roam is a compelling, accurate look into the life of a homeless teen. A must-read for all young people to understand the hardship of homelessness and how they can reach out to help others.” —Cathy Lamb, author of No Place I’d Rather Be
“C.H. Armstrong’s compelling young adult novel Roam follows a homeless teenager as she and her family struggle to make a fresh start in a new town. Roam is a study in empathy, forgiveness, and second chances—an impactful and memorable story of teenage homelessness.” —Catherine Thureson, Foreword Reviews
“A mother’s misdeed leads to scandal, ending friendships and forcing a family move to a new state and into a life of homelessness. An empathetic tale that treats homelessness with respect and makes it visible.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Armstrong seamlessly combines the challenges that teens normally face in daily life with the struggles of being homeless in a new environment. This emotional read with an inspiring and heart-wrenching message encourages readers to walk a mile in another’s shoes before passing judgment. —Savannah Patterson, Booklist
“Heartbreaking . . . Roam couldn’t be more timely in its exploration of how a teenager tries to keep up a facade while living in a van.” —Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

 

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