We’re excited to introduce you to Terry Shames, whose bestselling debut, A KILLING ON COTTON HILL, came out last year to great acclaim. Her second novel, THE LAST DEATH OF JACK HARBIN just launched and we’re hearing the buzz big time. Woohoo!
Terry’s books are set in small-town Texas and feature ex-chief of police Samuel Craddock. In The Last Death of Jack Harbin, the chief of police is out of commission, and it’s up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate the brutal murder of a Gulf War veteran who was a former high school football star. Craddock uncovers a dark tale of greed and jealousy that extends into the past, and well beyond the borders of the small town of Jarrett Creek.
Terry has offered to send a copy of The Last Death of Jack Harbin to one lucky commenter; details at the end of this post!
Terry had a crash course in book promotion when her debut novel launched, and, of course, we wanted to hear all about it. Welcome, Terry!
When my debut novel came out last summer, I was determined to pull out all the stops to be sure people knew about it. I had heard numerous times that promotion was hard work, and I heard right. I sometimes felt like I was chasing my tail doing promotions. But part of me is very social, and I love organizing things, so I was in my element–going to conferences; setting up book signings; putting together a mailing list and using it; and getting in touch with old friends. I wrote guest blogs, articles, and interviews. I was on a roll. And then I noticed something odd. I got a little rash at the nape of my neck. If I concentrated, I could make myself not scratch it, but sometimes it woke me up at night.
I was having fun, so I didn’t pay much attention to that little annoyance. I did notice that sometimes I felt a little antsy because I wasn’t getting any writing done, but I figured I’d get back to that soon. I was lucky. My second book was already written and had sailed through the editorial process, so I wasn’t up against a deadline. I kept at the promo. But then the itch got worse. I felt like some Dickensian character with head lice. So I went to my dermatologist and he said, “Oh, it’s just (insert long name meaning an itchy spot).” He gave me a prescription and sent me on my way.
And then a little spot on my back started itching. And a day later a spot on my elbow. Finally I went to my guru of last resort—my husband. What is this? Why am I itching? He looked at it carefully. “It’s stress related,” he said.
What?!! Me? Stressed? No Way! I’m tough. I’m happy. I’m relaxed. Okay … maybe I’m a little, tiny bit stressed.
I had received an email from author Attica Locke right after I got my contract. She was thrilled for me, but she warned, “Be careful. Take care of yourself. No matter how wonderful the experience is, it’s really stressful.”
In a heart-to-heart talk with myself, I admitted she was right. For the past few months I had been flogging myself every day to keep going until the day ended. The only time I went outside was to go to the gym or the grocery store. I found myself sometimes stepping outside and thinking, “The weather is gorgeous. Why have I been inside all day long?” Sure, the work was getting done, but I was less and less happy with all those little details—and more and more stressed.
I’m no martyr. I knew it was time to let go of some of the details. Time to relax. I set out to remember what I chose to do when I wanted to do something nice for myself. (Preferably something that didn’t involve large amounts of chocolate.) Since then I try to get out and do something fun every week. I poke around in an interesting shop, go to an art museum, go out to breakfast with a friend, and sometimes I just read!
Oh, yeah, as soon as I did that that rash went away.
So, tell us about a time your body let you know you were stressed out. What did you do to alleviate the stress?
GIVEAWAY! Comment on this post by noon EST on Friday, January 24th, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of The Last Death of Jack Harbin. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
Terry Shames lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two rowdy terriers. She is Vice President of Norcal Sisters in Crime and on the board of MWA Norcal. For more information, please visit her website: www.Terryshames.com.
16 Replies to “Who Me? Stressed? TERRY SHAMES Talks Book Promotion + GIVEAWAY of THE LAST DEATH OF JACK HARBIN”
Hi Terry, Thanks for the post. My thing is I get a twitch in my right eyelid, just like a demented villain! I haven’t found a cure other than several hours of netflix binging on Farscape or Big Bang. That’s the trouble with working for yourself, the whistle never blows.
Hi, Terry! At my day job, one of my team members went on maternity leave, and although I had some really good part-time help to try to cover for those three months, I developed migraines with auras. They went away when my coworker came back, thankfully. But I fully expect to see them within a couple of months!
Oh, and thanks for posting with us today, Terry!
Lori, I’ll take head-itching over a migraine any day. Boo! Take care of yourself as you start through the exciting/stressful business of promoting your novel.
Gee, thanks, Christina, now you’ve mentioned two new sites I don’t know about! I at least have to take a peek at them.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that stress on your mind and body doesn’t come just from difficult times in one’s life. I hope this second book promotion period will be a success without the itching! For stress relief, I love losing myself in a good movie.
Thanks, Terry, for a much-needed reminder that the world won’t stop spinning if you don’t do every little thing you think you should. Stress for me takes the form of anxiety, and one way I know I’m pushing myself too hard is that I don’t take time to read the books on my list–like The Last Death of Jack Harbin .
Welcome, Terry! One thing I’m curious about — did your rash come back pre-launch for JACK HARBIN? Hope not! But maybe the high stress we’re talking about is peculiar to debut novel pre-launches?
I’m an eye twitcher too. However, last week my leg started to twitch too — like restless leg syndrome. That’s a new one. So now, I must ask myself, why I’m drinking so much coffee. So glad you’re here, Terry!
When I’m stressed, I knit. When I’m really stressed, I knit fast and badly!
Thanks so much for being our guest today, Terry, and for the important reminder that we need to take care of ourselves always! I have a tendency to be a very proactive, very “I’ve got this all under control” type of person, but I have noticed myself getting more and more overwhelmed as my book launch approaches. I’m going to take your advice and schedule in some “me” time amidst all the promo and planning.
First of all, let me say I’m not a writer. However, I am a huge fan of writers and love to watch the process of new writers getting published, it’s very interesting to see the development of books and those who write them. Never having had any interest in writing, reading is on the other hand 2nd only to breathing. Reading your blog was fascinating, because I’ve had this small rash that’s been itching for about 2, 3 weeks and constant headaches. I NEVER have headaches! Now I’m beginning to think it’s stress: having taken care of a beloved, dying dog and now grieving his passing, it hit home, I’m stressed…The rash is in 2 spots now and the headaches start when I’ve been reading for a while. What? Reading, I don’t get headaches when I read! So thank you for the blog, I must start up again with my painting or knitting, time to get rid of the stress.
Natalia, you soud a lot like me. I’ve always thought the if I’m just organized enough, I can do anything and everything. The problem with promoting a book is that there’s always “one more thing” that can be done. One more blog you can write, one more reading, one more group of people to notify, etc. I keep reminding myself that there are writers I never heard doing any promotion. They just write another book. I don’t think I can stop myself from doing the promotion, but I can surely make a plan and promise myself to do that and no more….well, maybe a little more. 🙂
I for one was glad to have you as a Guest Blogger on “It’s Not Always a Mystery” before your rash developed because that is a way I found to handle my stress. Balancing a day job, the pr for my first book, Maxe in Blue, having a personal blog, guest blogging, traveling, planning a daughter’s wedding, handling family responsibiliities (occasionally saying hi to my husband …rarely making time for our friends), I, like you, took a deep breath and then opted to prioritize and to delegate. I write for two blogs now, but instead of doing it all, I only write for The Stiletto Gsng on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month and for “It’s Not Always a Mystery one Monday a month. The other Monday, I delegate by having a guest blogger like you. I schedule time for me…even a little exercise, but I try to do it with friends and I rearranged my work schedule to give myself time to explore my passion for writing before the sun sets. I still am working to find the perfect balance, but the stress level has dropped tremendously…….. Oh, and the other thing I do…I make time to read again- and your first book, A killing on Cotton Hill, was one I truly enjoyed relaxing with. Looking forward to reading your new one.
Deb, what a nice thing to hear–that reading my book was one of your ways to relax.
Lisa, no the rash did not come back this time. I think the drama of a debut novel can’t be underestimated if you’ve been persevering as long as I have. It seemed like the only opportunity I would ever have to really celebrate. Of course, I knew that wasn’t true, but my reptile brain didn’t.
The other I forgot to mention is something that Debra brought up–I have instituted a rigid schedule of workouts. I work out every day for at least 40 minutes–on the eliptical trainer and/or the stationary bike, and sometimes on a good walk. I walked around the lake Friday–about 4 miles, and it really cleared my head.
I tend to babble when stressed out
thanks for the chance to read this novel…when I’m stressed, I pick up a novel, find a quiet corner, and read 🙂
When the stress attacks I have my juicy novel beside me with a cup of tea and that soothes me for hours, if not for days. Congratulations and best wishes on the release of this captivating novel.
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