THANKFUL

THANK•FUL

ˈTHaNGkfəl/

adjective

1. Pleased and relieved.

“They were thankful that the war was finally over.”

2. Expressing gratitude and relief.

“An earnest and thankful prayer.”

Synonyms: grateful, appreciative, filled with gratitude, relieved

 

One time I was told that I said “Thank you” too much.

I don’t believe you can.

Being thankful for someone or something is gratitude. Having gratitude is showing appreciation for that person or gesture. It’s returning the kindness, it’s putting your grateful energy back into the good that that someone has bestowed upon you. Being grateful and thankful is not something you can do too much of every day. Not at all. Having gratitude shifts all your energy, all your thoughts, all your inner most feelings just by saying two words.

Thank you.

I say thank you every day. I accept compliments with a smile. For anything. If someone tells me I great taste in boots or my hair is beautifully curly, I say “Thank you,” and not “seriously, I just rolled out of bed.” Even if I did (you know, being blessed with wildly curly hair has major benefits). Being thankful, showing gratitude, is essential to happiness. Your happiness and the other persons. I never hesitate to say something nice to someone, not to expect a “Thank you” in return, but to extend my kindness… just in case they’re having a rough day.

Today, on Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for, thankful for, my parents, who have been nothing but supportive and helpful all my life. I am grateful and thankful for my little sister, whose heart is bigger than her words and gestures. I am grateful for my extended family, including my sister’s boyfriend, who makes her happy, my aunt and uncle in Arizona, who always welcome me with open arms when I visit, my cousins who do the same.

I am have immense gratitude for my friends here in Delaware, without whom I would completely lose my mind. (You know who you are.)

I am so immeasurably thankful for my beautiful yoga instructors. Their support and kindness and love and friendship over the last year has made me a better person.

But most of all, I am thankful for this life. For this beautiful Earth I live on, for the air in my lungs and strength in my body and my soul. I am thankful for the creative stories and characters running rampant inside my head.

And I am thankful for you. Yes, you, reading this, because you now know what makes me thankful and I hope that in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, you can say thank you so often and be just as happy and grateful, and full of gratitude for every person you meet.

So, to the people I love—family and friends—to the people I have yet to meet, Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Self-Promotion and the Single Writer

Self-promotion is exhausting.

But as a self-published author you do it because no one else is going to do it for you. Promotion doesn’t just happen to you. Yes, you have word of mouth, but that is not enough.

You have to push hard and work harder.

It’s a good thing I don’t have a significant other. I might alienate him. As it is, I work 40+ hours a week at my day job. Sometimes I go to yoga, which really resets my mind and calms me down. I come home, tweet my heart out, or post on Pinterest, or send out requests for consignment at local and surrounding states independent bookstores. I post on various websites for free, spending nearly 3 hours promoting my novel before I even write another word in my next novel (and I try to write for 3-4 hours a day). It’s hard, long hours. It’s tedious—do you know how difficult it is to come up with several new hooks with only 100 characters or less (links take up room on Twitter) to entice someone to buy my book? Very hard. I write press releases when I need to submit them to the papers.

I. Do. Everything.

No one else does it for me. That’s me on Twitter, that’s me on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Instagram… it’s all hard work that I put in, on top of actually having written the book and writing a second book on top of working 40+ hours a week for a dream that belongs to someone else.

But I do it because I love to write and I love to tell stories and—one day—telling those stories will be my 40+ hours a week “day job” that I will absolutely adore and love. I won’t need to wear makeup, people please, answer phones, get up early, or even change out of my pajamas to “go to work.” I might even get to go visit the Medical Examiner’s office, for research, of course, instead of chatting with him on the phone.

That dream of getting up, watching the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda (hey Hoda, you love Rehoboth Beach, will you read Still Life in Blood and have me on your television show?), cooking my own breakfast, and finally sitting down to relax into my writing chair, will become a reality. One day. Very soon.

Yes, it’s going to take longer than I thought, but I will never give up because I am a writer. Because I tell stories. And because I LOVE to tell those stories.

I will never give up and I will never stop writing.

Now I’m going to make some tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

What I learned travelling to Greece…

I recently travelled to Greece for a Yoga Retreat with Dimitra Yoga, and for a little extra time on my own to do research for my next novel.

I learned a lot about myself on this trip. My strengths, my weaknesses, my limits. And of course, I created new memories and loves about life. Without boring you, or equally making you jealous of my trip, I present to you a list of things I learned in Greece:

• Never, ever forget to change your cell phone time to the current time zone… unless you want to oversleep, if that’s the case, don’t change your cell phone time.

• Lemons are good on everything, especially fried potatoes. Don’t believe me? Try it instead of malt vinegar.

• Octopus is amazing. Thought I would never like it, but I LOVE it.

• The air is sweeter; not sweet smelling, but the feeling it leaves on your skin is like kisses.

• The water is saltier, clearer, and more exotic, especially from the bow of a sailboat.

• Waking up in the morning is lovelier, the view more splendid than at sea level.

• I will paint my front door blue… just because it will remind me of Greece.

• New, amazing friends are made late at night, drinking coffee in an outside bar, and connecting on a spiritual level.

• The temperature is nearly perfect, nearly all the time.

• The breeze heavenly. Period.

• Especially because the sun is hotter, and it tans you a different color. I turned more yellowy-tan than tan-tan… if that makes sense…

• The winding, uneven, steep and crazy-connected steps are soul lifting… It’s like you’re in a different world. Like a movie set.

• The sky insanely blue, and the clouds whiter than anything I’ve ever seen before.

• Sleep is optional, and so is drinking, but if you drink until 6 am, you must go get Spinach or Cheese pie at a traditional Greek bakery.

• Salads are best with real Greek cheese.

• Hiking from Fira to Oia is mandatory just for the views.

• Ouzo is pure Greek medicine.

• Shopping for friends is difficult with the incredible beauty surrounding you.

• Mostly I learned that Santorini is a magical place.

But it’s not the only magical place in Greece…

• On a Ferry from Santorini to Paros, I learned that the past is precursor and road-map to better things to come. Sometimes you remember or read things you’d written years before and realize it was better that it turned out the way it did. Because everything happens for a reason (I already knew this, but this trip solidified it).

• Traveling doesn’t get traveling out of your system; it makes you crave it more, and with more intensity.

• Most importantly, don’t use a map; get so incredibly fucking lost that you find your way again. Because that’s exactly what I did.

 

Check out my photos below if you don’t believe me… 😉

 

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Me on Paros.

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Breakfast on Santorini.

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Seaside dining at Ammoudi Bay

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Our view each and every day on Santorini

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Lunch on Santorini… blue sky: amazing!

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A friend brought my novel to read. She loved it!

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Dinner in Athens with the friend who finished my book! A little lovely place near the Acropolis.

 

 

Book Signing at Browseabout Books

Come down and see me on Saturday, August 9th, from noon to 3pm at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach!

I’ll be signing copies of STILL LIFE IN BLOOD and chatting with shoppers. I’m really looking forward to this signing! I hope to see a lot of familiar faces and get to know new people in the process!

Crystal Heidel will be signing copies of Still Life in Blood at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Saturday, August 9, from noon to 3pm!

Crystal Heidel will be signing copies of Still Life in Blood at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Saturday, August 9, from noon to 3pm!

Help me out by sending this post, or sharing it on facebook, with friends you might think would like a serial killer thriller set in a tourist beach town!

Pride and Predictability

One of the reviews on my book was tilted “Predictable and gory.”

When I read that I was angry. I was upset. I didn’t want a 3-star review. I reminded myself for days that Stephen King had 1-star reviews. Not everyone has to like your work. You knew this writing the novel. You’re going to get bad reviews. You told yourself that.

But I still wanted to know: Why was my book being “predictable and gory” such a bad thing?

What makes a television show or novel or movie predictable? What is it that makes you say I saw that coming or I knew that was going to happen? Is it just practice? Repetition in watching horror movies or reading suspense? Or is it just that there are only so many story arcs that artists can’t come up with something truly, completely unique?

I recently watched the premiere episode of The Strain on FX (OnDemand). I haven’t read the book yet. I want to, even though I am not a huge fan of horror (though I do love Supernatural). As the episode unfolded, I found myself having feelings of knowing what was going to happen next. I always guessed correctly.

I knew that the airport tower control guy-in-charge wasn’t going to make it. I just knew after he had heard the whispers from the coffin that he was going to be next to die. “That’s it. You heard him. You’re dead,” I muttered. And I knew that after the CDC lead investigator make a call out that no trucks or vans or “anything that could hold the coffin” could leave the airport, someone in the CDC wasn’t good and let that coffin out. I knew it. And I was right on all the guesses I made.

The Strain’s first episode was overall predictable. The lead CDC investigator who has family issues (what investigator doesn’t?), doesn’t believe the old man who tells him how bad the situation is going to get (because that would help plot resolve much faster and everyone wants a monkey wrench in the plot). The coroner who didn’t make it (because the CDC lead asked him to work alone and keep it hush-hush until they knew was going on). The dead little girl at the end of the episode who returned to her father (Papa, I’m cold).

All predictable. I said they would happen before they happened.

But did it detract from the overall viewing of the episode? No. Did it make me feel like the writer did a shitty job on writing? No. Did it make me feel good about guessing what was going to happen? Yes. I felt smarter; I felt I was on level with the writer. Will I watch more episodes? Maybe.

Whether or not it’s predictable is irrelevant when it comes to writing, whether novels or screenplays. As long as you’re entertained and have a good time and great escape, guess away.

How about you? Do you like guessing right? Or do you like to be completely blown away?

Book Signing at Bethany Beach Books!

I love the summer months.

The salt. The sun. The sea.

But I was heartbroken last year when Still Life in Blood came out in August instead of June like I had wanted. It didn’t get the full summer it deserved. So I was determined, this year, to make the most of the summer months of increased tourist traffic and have as many signings as I could.

All the signings I’ve done this year have been awesome. I’ve been to Denver, Colorado and Hockessin, Delaware, but nothing compares to sitting outside in front of a bookstore—that is only about 200 feet from the beach, salt, and sand—as the first person people talk to before entering that beautiful cavern of amazing stories and volumes of pages in which to get lost.

My last Bethany Beach Books signing was amazing and I met so many wonderful new fans (some as far as Florida), that I wanted to do that bookstore again!

So if you live anywhere in Delaware, or are visiting southern Delaware tonight (Friday, July 18th), and you love to read, come on out to Bethany Beach Books, in the lovely oceanside town of Bethany Beach, to see me. I’ll be signing copies of Still Life in Blood from 6:30pm until 8:30pm.

The boardwalk has a bandstand with awesome music playing (at least they did last time), and the atmosphere is just down to earth. The crowds aren’t too much and the food smells delicious! So there is something to do before and after!

So if you’re in Bethany or know anyone in Bethany, tell them about it: Tonight, July 18, from 6:30pm until 8:30pm, at Bethany Beach Books!

Still Life in Blood -  Cover for Newspaper

National Federation of Press Women Win!

Back in February I entered the Delaware Press Association’s Communications Contest. I won first place. I was thrilled with the win; I believe I told the contest runner that I was “over the moon” with the win. I mean, I entered at the last possible second, waiting until the day the contest ended to enter. It was awesome! Bragging rights. A first place title to put on my book. Amazing right? (You can read that post here: Put Yourself Out There)

The win also secured my chance to enter the National Federation of Press Women’s Communications Contest. I sent in my contest entry fee, joined the NFPW. The book was sent off to the NFPW by the DPA contest handlers and I forgot about it.

Until a few weeks ago. My cell rang at work. I was hesitant to answer it. But it was a Friday afternoon and no one was in the office. “Hello, is this Crystal?”

“Yes.” I was hesitant since it was an out of area number. The last thing I needed was to be stuck on the phone with a telemarketer or something.

“This is Katherine from the Delaware Press Association.”

“Yes?” My heart just started beating faster. Just a little bit.

“I know when I told you about the DPA win back in March, you replied saying you were ‘over the moon’ with the win… so I think you’ll be past the asteroid belt with this one. You won first in the National Federation of Press Women contest.”

I was shocked, but not shocked. I mean if it won the DPA one, I definitely had a chance for the National. It was fun talking with Katherine… I told her, “Yes, I’m over the asteroid belt, maybe even past the demoted-from-planet-to-object Pluto.”

So I am pleased to announce that STILL LIFE IN BLOOD (available in Kindle and Print on Amazon and local bookstores: Browseabout Books, Bethany Beach Books, and Biblion Books) has won the National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest in First Place for Novels for Adult Readers!

If you have read STILL LIFE IN BLOOD, what did you think? If you haven’t read it, you’re in for treat!

I’ll be signing books tomorrow (Friday, June 20) at Bethany Beach Books from 6:30 to 8:30pm. And I’ll also be at the Hockessin Art & Book Fair on Saturday from 11am to 3pm (Saturday, June 21!

So come out and meet me!

Hockessin Art & Book Fair

Hockessin Art & Book Fair