Sarah's Blog

Sleeping Single In A Double Bed

I married late in life. For years Sleeping Single in A Double Bed was my favorite country and western song. It was always made me laugh. I think it was from the eighties. That's when there were songs like Friends in Low Places and All My Exes Live in Texas (That's Why I Live in Tennessee). These tongue in cheek lyrics were always paired with bouncy country music that made you feel better even when you were really blue. 

It was a big adjustment for me when I started sleeping with another human being every night. First, I had to give up sleeping on a diagonal. Second, I had to get used to the idea that I couldn't get up in the middle of the night and read myself back to sleep when I had an anxiety attack. 

And then there was all the other bodies. Yep. When we got married, my husband had two cats. And I had one. Now we're like a big cat Brady Bunch family. All of us fighting over square footage of a queen-sized bed every night. Yep. There's been snarling and hissing. Some hurt feelings. Some unusual pairings.

When our elderly cat started having a hard time leaping up onto the bed, we got him a set of pet stairs. That why he can get right in my face and but heads with me at three in the morning and insist that I go down to the kitchen and refill his bowl. 

Yep. I can't remember when I slept through the night. I think it was the last time we were in a king-sized bed in a hotel. And that's why we decided to buy a king-sized bed for home. It is delivered tomorrow. I'll keep you posted if there's a little less roaming in the gloaming around these parts. 

The Smallest of Things

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My spring was pretty awful.

Our elderly cat developed a life-threatening heart condition in March. So I had to make arrangements with our cat sitter to have a slumber party with our cats while I went to a writers' conference in Massachusetts. Thinking Joey was well situated and I had nothing else to worry about for three days, I enjoyed the company of dear friends while learning all new things. Despite being a severe introvert, being at writing conferences always gives my inner word nerd great joy. Then on Saturday night, my husband called to say he wouldn't be coming to pick me up because his mom was in intensive care at a hospital in Rhode Island. An hour later my mom called to say she was in an emergency room in Michigan. So after a brief chat with our cat sitter to be sure she could spend a couple extra nights with the cats, and a morning visit to my mother-in-law in the hospital, I hopped a plane to northern Michigan. I had no idea it would be another month before my mom was well enough for me to fly home. 

While I was dealing with so much. And I felt so alone. I hadn't been separated from my husband for so long since we first met. And it's a well known fact, that family dysfunction always rears its ugly when there's a medical emergency. Which never helps. As if.  I became increasingly aware as I went through my daily routine of checking of items on my ever-increasing TO DO list, that the smallest and simplest things could bring me great joy. Taking the dog for a walk. Watching the cherry orchards turn white with spring blooms. Dipping my toes into a chilly Lake Michigan. Greeting the Post Master every morning when I went to pick up the mail in the small town where my mom lives. These small pleasures gave me so much joy. I realized when I returned home that I needed to continue to stop and enjoy the simplest moments. Watering the garden. Reading a book. Saying hello to my favorite check-out person at the grocery store.

A smile. A wink. A wave.

It's the smallest things in the world that matter.

Please Don't Talk To The Writer

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The writing life has one or two side effects I didn't expect. Most are very positive. I'm happy and creative. There is one negative side effect I'm not sure how to deal with effectively.

My husband works in the music industry. Now and then he asks me to go with him to an evening event. This has worked in my favor more than once. I've been able to see performers who've gone on to become huge acts while they were on their way up. And I got to meet my crush Ed Sheeran. And if you ever had some time, let me tell you about the time I made eye contact across the room with Justin Timberlake. Honestly, I'm still tingling. 

It also means that I have to talk to people. Real people. Not fictional. It's a skill that I use less and less the more I write. And I seem to be getting more and more out of practice. 

The other night we were waiting in the Green Room for a well-known rapper to come backstage and do what's called a 'meet and greet.' The door opened and his loquacious Brit manager walked in and bowed to me --- I curtsied and away we went. Or away I went. Turns out the guy had met the Queen. Elizabeth II on more than one occasion -- and so I didn't let him talk to anyone else in the room as I dazzled him with my obsession with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's upcoming nuptials. He was most kind. And I was a bit out of my mind. It's almost as if my words belonged to someone else. 

When he walked away, I looked at the stranger next to me and said, "Please make me stop talking. I'm an introvert. I'm not used to socializing and I obviously don't understand how this works anymore." 

Fortunately, I was standing next to other kindest man in the world. He laughed and said he understood. My cheeks were crimson with shame for the rest of the time we were in the green room. So that's nice.  

I hope that my embarrassment will make me start working harder at putting words on the page. And stop talking. Just stop. 

 

My Favorite Reads Of The Year

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I read a lot. Seriously. A LOT. I'm not shouting, I'm just using ALL CAPS for emphasis.  I get recommendations of what I should read from a lot of different sources on the internet. As a romance writer, the books I hear about are usually in the genre or subgenre -- but the truth is I like to play the field when it comes to books. I read a lot of this, and even more of that. Oh, and I didn't even know I had a thing for that over there..but now I do.. There is nothing special about me that should my reading recommendations be of particular interest to anyone other than me. But just in case you're in search of a book to add to your ever-growing 'TBR' pile, here are the books that kept me flipping pages over the past twelve months. Enjoy  xo. SVT

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Genre: Young Adult

From the first sentence I was immediately aware that I was in the hands of a gifted storyteller, but this book wasn't the kind where you have enough time to pause and be jealous of the skills of the writer. It's all you can do grab a breath before being swept into the story. The main character's voice is so distinctive and clear. I had to remind myself I was reading fiction and not a news story in the Washington Post. I know this book is being marketed in the YA genre, but I honestly believe this book should be mandatory reading for every adult registered to vote in the United States.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

This book was published in 2016, but I read it at least a half dozen times in 2017. It's the book I'd like to crawl inside the pages and live in. 'Enemies to Lovers' is my favorite romance trope and this book in no way disappoints. There is a bit of 'Fake Engagement' and 'Office Romance' trope in this book as well -- as the main characters pose and boyfriend and girlfriend at his brother's wedding. This book has something for everyone. Written in first person in Lucy Heaton's point of view only -- I didn't care that I didn't get to know what Joshua Templeman was thinking. I swooned for his tall, dark and handsome self any way. It was also the first book I'd read in a very long time I wished was illustrated.

The Opposite Of You by Rachel Higginson

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

After I finished The Hating Game and I'd re-read six more times, I found myself in search of another good 'Enemies to Lovers' trope, and this one was recommended on Twitter. (A place I seek out many recommendations of what to read next.) A contemporary romance between a female chef running a food truck and a male chef running a five-star restaurant, this book did not disappoint. By the time the two main characters finally get some nooky, I was absolutely panting for it. I suppose it's almost too on the nose to say -- but I can't help calling this book absolutely delicious.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee 

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Genre: Fiction

I loved this May-December celebrity romance between the mom of a tween with a crush, and the member of a British boy band. (My inner thirteen year old believes Harry Styles is super dreamy.) The story frankly turns many stereotypes on its head and that's the reason why I was able to forgive the fact that it isn't a romance in its purest form. It is a wonderful escape and since it features a woman over 35 as the object of attraction, it should be gobbled up by anyone seeking a romance featuring a more mature woman in the lead role.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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Genre: Lit Fic

Okay. I know I'm going all highbrow with this one, but as a regular genre reader who occasionally finds lit fic difficult to immediately engage with from the first page, I can tell you this book was accessible from the first word. The quirky main character reminded me of The Rosie Project -- but I have to say that I found myself identifying with her social miscues constantly. Not a lightweight book or topic -- but very satisfying nonetheless.

The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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Genre: Queer YA Historical

This is the book I didn't know I wanted to read until I was five pages in and couldn't put it down. The storyteller's voice is infectious and the writing style is a delight. if you hear editors talk about 'voice' and wonder what they could possibly mean -- read this! You'll get it immediately.  I love the fact that you constantly think you're seeing more behind the bedroom curtain than you ever actually do. It's a very sexy book -- and yet -- it's perfectly clean -- until it's not. I adored the way the book was divided by the countries visited during a 'grand tour' of the continent. I also loved the fact that the main character was naughty -- it made all the escapades even more fun.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

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Genre: Lit Fiction

Did you watch Big Little Lies? Are you still in search of something just as dark to sink your teeth into? Then read this! I've been a big fan of Megan Abbott since her debut novel, a period story set in 1940s Los Angeles, so when I saw this book in paperback at my local Barnes & Noble I swept it up into my 'to purchase' pile which is why another book published in 2016 made my list.  As a former competitive figure skater, this book, set in the world of competitive gymnastics, totally hit the mark for me. It's totally dark and disturbing -- and I enjoyed every moment. 

YA Scavenger Hunt Fall 2017

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HELLO! MY NAME IS SARAH VANCE-TOMPKINS

Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt Fall 2017!

This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! You will not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue to help you win the scavenger hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 120 hours!

The YA Scavenger Hunt page has everything you need to know about the eight contests going on simultaneously. You can enter one or all of them! I am a part of  #TEAMPINK -- but there is also a red team, an orange team, a gold team, a green team, a teal team, a blue team, and a purple team -- enter each for a chance to win a different set of books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes,  click to go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

YA SCAVENGER HUNT FALL 2017

 I've hidden my favorite number somewhere in the text of the blog post below. Gather all of the favorite numbers from the authors on #teampink, and then add them up. (Don't worry if math isn't your strong suit, you can always use a calculator!) 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: The contest is open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by OCTOBER 9, 2017, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

NOW ON WITH THE HUNT...

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I am pleased to host McKelle George on my website.

McKelle George is a reader, editor, perpetual doodler, and associate librarian at the best library in the world. She mentors with Salt Lake Teen Writes and plays judge for the Poetry Out Loud teen competitions (but has no poetic talent herself). Her debut young adult novel Speak Easy, Speak Love comes out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2017, and she currently lives in Salt Lake City with an enormous white german shepherd and way, way too many books.

Find out more information by checking outMcKelle's website or find more about her book here! 

 

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SPEAK EASY SPEAK LOVE  by McKelle George

Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

You can take a character quiz and also enjoy the SPEAK EASY SPEAK LOVE Pinterest page.

 


Don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books written by me, McKelle, and many more of your favorite YA authors! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 24. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on #teampink and you'll have the secret code you need to enter for the grand prize!
 

CONTINUE THE SCAVENGER HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the prize, you'll need to check out the next author on #TEAMPINK --  Let me introduce Ann Benjamin!

DON'T MISS THE BONUS GIVEAWAY ON MY BLOG ONLY: