Nov. 17, 2015
A book is born! THE BLUE HOUR weighs in at a hefty 1 pound 8 ounces, measuring 5.5 by 8.5 inches, and containing a whopping 559 pages. The author and book are doing fine – until the book’s website crashes the very next day. This requires a transfer to intensive care and a visit from Nathan Meyers, MCS (aka my husband and in-house internet specialist). A day later, the problem is diagnosed and a cure administered. The book is taken off life support (and I can breathe again). To distract myself during the crisis, I set up the first Goodreads giveaway.

December 30, 2015
The digital version is released. Unfortunately, it’s too late for Christmas (who’d have guessed that digital formatting would take so long?). Fortunately, it is in time for a very happy New Year. Nathan and I raise our glasses to the “year of THE BLUE HOUR.”

January 5, 2016
The book takes its first baby steps with the first reader review on Amazon, a 5-star rating: http://amzn.to/2eWj4LK. The review is quickly followed by four more.

January 26, 2016
A long-ago friend from junior high, a musician and artist currently living in Nuremberg, Germany, sends me a song he wrote about Samuel Todd, the villain in my story. I’m blown away that a character in my book would inspire a song, even if it’s a less-than-flattering portrait (which, in truth, Samuel deserves).

February 2, 2016

The first Goodreads review appears, another 5-star rating: http://bit.ly/2fFAygX

March 3-10, 2016
We’re now at the teething stage, and the book is doing its best to take a bite out of every possible promotional opportunity. This means that the month of March finds us (me and Nathan, acting as my roadie, along with boxes of books) in rainy Oregon. We treat ourselves to a stay at Portland’s Heathman Hotel, which — surprise! — has been taken over by the film crew of Grimm.
With the trunk of our rental car stuffed with boxes of books, bookmarks, and posters, we make our first stop at the End of the Oregon Trail Museum and Interpretive Center in Oregon City for an author event and book-signing.

An enthusiastic crowd attends, including a high-school classmate and her book group. They contribute to a lively discussion, after which the museum purchases several autographed copies for their gift shop.
A few days later, we make a trip down-valley to our old stomping grounds in Corvallis, where I do a second author presentation and book signing at the Majestic Theatre. It’s wonderful to see so many dear friends, and even more wonderful to sell all the inventory we brought. corvallis-book-event-3
I return to sunny San Diego brimming with goodwill, and schedule a second Goodreads giveaway.

May 2016
The book is pulling itself up, and beginning to stand on its own. It receives a nice review from the Historical Novel Society: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-blue-hour/. Later in the month it’s a Pitch Perfect Pick at Underground Book Reviews.

July 2016
Underground Books selects the THE BLUE HOUR for review and gives it 4.5-stars! https://www.undergroundbookreviews.org/review-of-the-blue-hour-by-vicki-righettini/

August 28, 2016
The book is now toddling, venturing farther into the world. We travel to the Bay Area, where I appear at a friend’s book group.

Their questions and comments are incisive and insightful, and the afternoon flows with intelligent conversation. An added bonus is spending the evening with special friends afterwards.

October 2, 2016
I join sixteen local authors at the Upstart Crow Coffeehouse & Bookstore at the San Diego waterfront, my first book event at home.

The weather is perfect and the place is packed; I make connections with still more school friends as well as some fellow historical fiction authors, and sell and sign a few copies. The store buyer asks to carry the book, giving THE BLUE HOUR its first placement at an independent bookstore.

Whew! The rest of the year looks fairly quiet, but there’s more to come:

During the month of February, 2017, the San Diego Public Library will display THE BLUE HOUR as part of its 51st Annual Local Author Exhibit, free and open to the public at the downtown Central Library. If you’re in the area, please stop by for a look at the display, and to check out this magnificent new facility.

Also in 2017 (the dates are yet to be determined), I’ll be discussing my book with a private local book group, and at the Rancho Penasquitos Library, hosted by their evening book group (the library event is also free and open to the public). In both instances, I’m looking forward to spending time with my local literary tribe.

Finally, none of this could have happened without YOU, dear readers. My deepest thanks to everyone who read the book, reviewed it, rated it, came to author events, passed your copy along, gave it as a gift, or simply told someone about it. Word of mouth is the most potent tool an independent author has – you’ve helped make THE BLUE HOUR’s first year an exciting and eventful one. It really does take a village!

A postscript: If all this talk of book groups has you thinking you’d like your group to read THE BLUE HOUR and invite me to the discussion, please give in to the temptation. Contact me at: http://vickirighettini.com/contact-2/ and let me know your dates. If you’re within driving distance — or I’m able to coordinate it with other travel — I’ll be delighted to be there in person. If not, I’ll happily join you via Skype. I do this gratis for my devoted readers. It’s the best way I know to say “thank you.”

All the best,

Quitting Time: the flip side of perseverance


You’ve got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
~~ Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”


Full disclosure: I can be one of the most persistent and tenacious people on the planet. I don’t give up easily, and this is a good thing. Tenacity and perseverance are vital skills for us creative types. But there’s a dark side to such stick-to-itiveness: refusing to quit can lead to my pouring endless energy into artistic or relational black holes. This is the flip side of perseverance, one that rarely gets talked about.

The problem is that our culture’s motto is “never give up, and never give in.” It’s un-American to quit or to back down. We dare not risk the shame of being labeled a quitter. So we persevere through all obstacles, at all costs, through injury and pain, risking our physical as well as our mental and emotional well-being.

Of course, tenacity is a necessary element of artistic success: it drives novels to completion, fuels grueling hours in the practice studio, and propels artwork out of one’s head and onto the walls of an exhibit. So how do we stay balanced in the midst of our striving? By remembering that perseverance is a tool, one to be used when needed and put in mothballs when it’s not. In other words, grit is a means, not an end.

Here are 5 red flags that will let you know when it’s time to quit:


Red flag #1: When not quitting endangers your mental or physical health.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It means that someone else doesn’t have to take care of you. You should work to become strong enough that your presence adds, not subtracts. ~~ Stephen Gaskin, nonviolent social revolutionary

Contrary to the stereotype of the selfish artist, it’s not uncommon for us creative types to give more of ourselves than is good for us. We care deeply about our work, our fellow artists, and our audiences – to the extent that if we’re not careful we end up severely depleted. Working to the point of exhaustion and illness benefits no one, nor does having your time and energy sucked dry by other people’s dramas. Yes, it’s good, even noble, to care for others. But if you’re always at the bottom of your list of people to be cared for, it’s time to quit that behavior and reset your priorities.

Self-care is the opposite of self-indulgence. Putting the needs of your own body and mind first makes you more available to others, not less. Take stock of your life. Look at what’s draining your time and energy. Then make the changes that will keep you well.


Red flag #2: When the satisfaction is no longer there.
One does not love a place less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering. ~~ Jane Austen

Let’s get this on the table right now: happiness is fleeting. So quit trying to be happy. Because even if you do achieve happiness, it will be temporary. If you’re dragging yourself through the day, feeling ground down by life, you’re lacking in satisfaction, not happiness. You don’t need a drink, or a vacation, or another distraction, you need a change.

Satisfaction takes time to achieve, but it’s lasting. If we invested as much energy in our art as we did in trying to be happy, we wouldn’t have time to be unhappy. We would, in fact, be satisfied, because we’d be engaged with our passion. And being satisfied injects positive energy into every aspect of our lives.

So take a step back and ask yourself what you could be doing right now to feed your soul. It may be as simple as taking an evening art class, or joining a choir, or setting up a comfortable place where you can read. It may be spending time outdoors, or with special friends.

Whatever you choose, notice how you feel at the end of a day’s work, after being with certain people, or after engaging in certain activities. If you feel drained after each and every contact, it’s time to quit those time-wasting behaviors and make room for more satisfying relationships and activities in your life.


Red flag #3: When not quitting means compromising your self-respect.
The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed. ~~ Ernest Hemingway

It’s a sad fact, but predators abound in the arts, at every level. There will always be those who exploit the talents of others for personal gain, and they have an especially acute radar for sensitive, artistic types. They demand absolute loyalty, but are always looking past you to “the next big thing.” And when it shows up, you’ll be left in the dust, along with the rest of their abandoned “projects.” Predators appear genuinely helpful and caring. We stay with them because they seem to have our best interests at heart, when the exact opposite is true. By the time we realize the truth, the damage is done.

To regain – and retain – your self-respect, you must build relationships with people who encourage, are interested in, and celebrate you. If those people are already in your life, take a moment to do the happy dance, then make it your priority to keep them! Strengthen and cultivate those ties. If no one currently fills the bill, find someone. All it takes is one person believing in you to turn the tide – they may not understand what you’re doing or why, but they’re still happy to cheer you on.

If you are now – or have ever been – caught in the clutches of an artistic predator, it’s time to forgive yourself and break free. As Ann Landers said, no one can take advantage of you without your permission. Quit those abusive relationships and fill your life with people who build your confidence and self-respect: they’re worth more than gold.


Red flag #4: When changing course is the only path that makes sense.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~~ Anais Nin

Security gives off the same scent as decay. ~~ Poe Ballantine

We’ve all been there at one time or another: nothing is wrong, exactly; but nothing seems right, either. You have everything you thought you’d ever want. You’re happy. Happy enough, anyway. But you’re not jumping for joy, either. Things are…well, okay. This is what you’ve been working for, what you’re supposed to want, right? Then why do you feel so empty?

There is such a thing as being too comfortable. Too much comfort can make us itch for something new. Again, the change doesn’t need to be a complete reversal. It can be as simple as rekindling your love for drawing or gardening. It may mean a day away from your desk for a change of scenery, or declaring an overly-flogged project dead and moving on to the next one.

Take your emotional pulse. If you’re just this side of comatose, or squirming with boredom, you may be in need of a course correction. Get back in the game, the one called life. Security is a fine thing – but it’s not everything.


Red flag #5: When change will help you grow.
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~~ E.M. Forster

I’m a planner. On a daily, weekly, even monthly basis, I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to be doing. Visualizing the future is motivating and keeps me on track. But it can be a trap. When my vision of the future doesn’t square with reality, or I’m unwilling to accept a different outcome, I can get stuck. Growth is sometimes about letting go of the pictures we have in our head of the perfect outcome, and accepting the perfect outcome that’s right in front of us.

Sometimes the life you planned doesn’t work out, or you get there and you realize it’s not what you want. I’ve known talented musicians who exchanged their artistic lives for careers in law or nursing; or successful engineers and financial planners who left the cubicle and the boardroom for a life on the stage. Sometimes you marry the wrong person, graduate with the wrong degree, move to the wrong city, take the wrong job. But there is very little, short of death, that cannot be changed. Yes, you made a wrong choice, but you can make another. Yes, there will be consequences, but you can handle it. More important, you now have a better idea of what you truly want. Making a wrong choice isn’t a failure; but failing to choose again, and choose better, is.

There will be those who accuse you of running away, who feel it’s their duty to warn you of the dangers. They’ll call you a quitter (which you are, in the best way, for the best reasons). Don’t listen to them. They’d love to do what you’re doing, if they only had your guts. You’re not running away; you’re running to the next phase, a better phase, of your life.

So there you have it: stay, or make a change. It’s your choice whether to hold ’em, or to fold ’em.

Now I’ll stop talking and let you get on with the game.


Oregon Book Tour!

Dear Reader,

I’m coming to Oregon!

I’ll be making two author appearances in March, where I’ll be reading and signing copies of my book.

If you have a copy, bring it to be signed; if you want a copy, books will be available for purchase at both locations; or simply stop by to say hello and pick up a free bookmark.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday March 6 at 1:00 pm
End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
1726 Washington Street, Oregon City, OR 97045
Event is free with museum admission: $11 adults; $9 seniors; $7 youth (4-18); free for active military and children under 3

Thursday, March 10 at 7:30 pm
Majestic Theatre community room
115 SW 2nd Street
Corvallis, OR 97333
Event is free and open to the public





Building the Confidence Muscle: 7 Exercises for Boosting Inner Strength

It’s that time of year when everyone’s hitting the gym, working on New Year’s resolutions and doing penance for holiday over-indulgences. Depending on your goals for the new year, it’s also the perfect time to build your confidence muscle.

Just as no one comes out of the chute with bulging biceps, very few of us start out with all the confidence we need to journey through this life. If you’re one of the lucky ones who’ve never doubted yourself, you can move along now – there’s nothing more for you to see here. But if you’d like to pump up your self-esteem and your quads, consider adding the following to your daily workout:

1) Flirt with disaster.

At least I tried. Too many people go through life without ever having made an intense enough effort to be called a failure. ~~ Minori Yasui

The first thing to understand is that failure isn’t fatal. In fact, it’s essential for growth. If you insulate yourself from failure by playing it safe, you’ll never develop your strengths. The trick is to move on when you try something and it doesn’t work. Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, reframe: turn losing into learning.

This is the paradox: unless you’re willing to fail, you can never succeed. But focusing on learning, rather than success, means you can never fail. Life simply becomes a series of lessons to be learned. When you understand that, you stop fearing failure, and your confidence soars.

2) Put one foot in front of the other – again and again.

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort. ~~ John Ruskin.

Life will present you with lessons, often the same ones repeatedly, until you have mastered whatever it is you need to learn. But you can’t “positive think” your way to mastery. Just as you can’t build strong muscles by being a couch potato, it doesn’t matter how many affirmations you stick on your bathroom mirror, or how many memes you share on Facebook, you can’t build confidence unless you do the work.

Whether you want to learn to play the piano, or meditate, or write a book, repetition is the key. It sounds obvious that the more you practice, the better you’ll get, but you’d be amazed how few take it to heart. Resolve to put in the effort. As you improve you may find that, far from being a chore, your daily practice becomes a pleasure you look forward to.

3) Bust out of your comfort zone. 

Habit with him was all the test of truth,
It must be right: I’ve done it from my youth.
~~ George Crabbe, poet and naturalist

To build your biceps, you start by challenging those muscles, lifting slightly more than they’re used to, then increasing over time. To build your confidence muscle, you challenge yourself with new experiences. This may come as a shock if your life’s goal has been to make it through without ever leaving your comfort zone.

Remember that a rut is actually an open-ended coffin, and that avoiding new experiences – which at first may seem like a rational choice – will only keep you fearful and stuck in neutral. Unless you embrace fresh challenges, you’ll never know what you’re capable of. So the next time an opportunity comes your way – something you’d like to do but would normally be afraid to try – for heaven’s sake, say YES!

4) Make a leap of faith.

The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at. ~~ Jesse Owens, four-time Olympic gold medalist

We tend to think that courage belongs to soldiers, mountain climbers, and firefighters – people for whom risk is a life-and-death proposition. But small, calculated risks can get the adrenalin of normal folks pumping just as hard. Even a small risk can feel huge to your nervous system.

Experimenting with calculated risks builds confidence, but just as no bodybuilder would go from lifting 50 pounds to 250 pounds overnight, it’s important to pace yourself. Taking on too much too soon, though exciting at the moment, can actually set you back. Take on a little bit more than you think you can handle – trust me, it will be enough – and increase the demands you make on yourself over time. Then when it’s your turn to leap into the fire, instead of being burned, you’ll come through stronger than you ever thought possible.

5) Unload old baggage.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~~ Mohandas Karmachand Gandhi

Often the weight we need to lose isn’t pounds, it’s excess baggage. Start now shedding whatever is weighing you down: grudges, resentments, regrets, and the like. You don’t need them. Stop wasting your energy on things you can’t control, especially other people’s behavior. All you’ll succeed in doing is weakening your confidence muscle.

In particular, weed out envy. Stop feeling threatened by other peoples’ achievements. If they reached their goals, so can you. Their success is proof that there’s more than enough to go around.

More important, forgive yourself for the times you failed to measure up. Self-forgiveness is the first step in forgiving others, and a vital step toward developing true self-confidence.

6) Sidestep judgment

Contempt is the weapon of the weak and a defense against one’s own despised and unwanted feelings. ~~ Alice Miller, psychologist and author

What we carry inside us colors how we perceive the world. If you’re overly critical of others, is it any wonder you have stage fright? You imagine your audience to be as hyper-critical as you are.

Vow to compete less and collaborate more. Be a mentor, a cheerleader, a reliable source of moral support. Give the support and encouragement you’d like to get. You’ll be surprised how much comes back to you in kind.

7) Pat yourself on the back

I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing. ~~ Hillel the Elder

Make it a point to celebrate every personal milestone, every goal reached, no matter how small. Reward yourself for your efforts, for the fact that you kept going. You challenged yourself, and because of it your confidence muscles are stronger.

Enjoy your victory dance – you’ve earned it – then take a breather and fill your tank. Read a great book, spend time with friends, laugh, get a good night’s sleep.

Because before you know it, you’ll be back out in the world, where new challenges await.