Harry Potter Studio Tour London

Adventures at the Harry Potter Studio in London!

Hey guys! I’m finally home from our jaunt around Europe, and WOW, it was amazing! I finally have stamps in my passport! That’s right, before this trip I’d never been anywhere out of the country…cruise ship ports not included.

As you may have guessed if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, the highlight of my trip was the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. While we were there they were filming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! (Part 2 or 3, I assume.) And while I didn’t get to snag Eddie Redmayne and bring him home, I did get a TON of amazing pictures. Continue reading “Adventures at the Harry Potter Studio in London!”

Beyond the Dark Clouds – My Night with Stephen King and John Grisham

Yesterday, I told you the story behind why I chose to self-publish. My reason for sharing wasn’t to brag or to get sympathy and praise. I simply wanted you to be able to FEEL this story…

One week before I received the bad news about my cancer diagnosis, I flew to Nashville for my best friend’s birthday. I was still recovering from the biopsy surgery with a big ugly incision across my neck where they removed a tumor the size of a foosball. I wasn’t doing so great mentally because cancer’s bark is even worse than its bite, in my opinion. Not knowing was the worst part, and that day I had 2 hours of solitude to obsess over it.

And the flight was terrible, figuratively and literally. The sky was black and ominous with the deep rumble of thunder and bright flashes of lightning. It was like a scene from a Stephen King novel. (Ha!) At one point during all the turbulence, I thought for sure the plane was going to break in half and cancer would no longer be an issue. But then something amazing happened. We broke through those dark clouds, and on the other side was blue sky. Bright, blue, sunny sky.

I don’t get philosophical or overly spiritual very often, so believe me when I say I know God spoke to me. “You’re in the middle of the dark clouds, Elicia, but blue skies are on the other side. I promise.”

I have tears as I write this.

That was February. A couple of months later, in the middle of chemo, I bellyflopped into self-publishing with The Bed She Made. And in November, I published my beloved book, The Soul Summoner and it went to #1, right up there with Stephen King.

This moment meant so much more than just ranking against a superstar author.  Stephen King wrote a book called On Writing that I read religiously once a year like I belong to some weird one-woman cult. In that book he talks a lot about writing honestly. Specifically, he says to write “without regard to what the Legion of Decency or the Christian Ladies’ Reading Circle may approve of.” I never intended to publish The Bed She Made because of its content. I worried about offending people. I worried about hurting feelings. I really worried about making my mother cry.

But Stephen King told me every single year: WRITE HONESTLY. So I tossed The Bed She Made out into the giant sea of readers…and she floated. 

Needless to say, Stephen King is a big deal over here in the Hyder house.

Now for the story you’ve been waiting for.

Two weeks ago, my husband, Chris, came home from work and said, “Did you know Stephen King and John Grisham are going to be at some writers’ conference near Tampa in a couple of weeks?”

I shook my head. “That can’t be true. If it was, I would’ve heard about it.”

“Seriously, my buddy’s wife is working it. He said she might be able to get you in.”

I immediately began scouring Google. I was right and very wrong. They were coming to Florida, but it wasn’t a writers’ conference; it was a benefit for a library foundation. A small event. A sold out event that I couldn’t afford to go to even if I could get tickets. My brain started spinning. Could it be possible that I might get in?

But reality quickly began to settle. The event was on a Tuesday night, two hours away from home. The kids had mid-term exams. My husband would be working in Washington. Heartbroken, I told Chris to thank his friend profusely, but I didn’t want them to go to any trouble since there was no way I could make it.

He didn’t listen to me.

A week later, he was working in D.C. when he called me on Skype. The conversation went something like this:

“I need you to not make plans on Tuesday. You’re going to Bradenton to meet Stephen King and John Grisham. I’ve arranged for the kids to be taken care of, and your best friend is taking off work to go with you.”

And I cried like someone had just died.

Stephen King is my husband’s most favorite author. We own all of his books, most of which I’m too scared to read. And even though my husband couldn’t go, he moved mountains so I could. Did I hit the marital jackpot or what? Eat your heart out ladies, he’s all mine. I love you, babe.

There is no doubt in my mind that everything happens for a reason, which is why I told my self-publishing story before I told this one. Had I not been diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn’t have self-published my book. Had that tumor not been malignant, my husband would still be a cop and we would never have met the awesome people who made this night happen. Had I not gone through chemo, I never would have made this amazing new sister-friend who went with me. She was my oncology nurse–she literally saved my life.

Elicia Hyder

How beautiful is the view of hindsight? You never know what brilliant light may be waiting on the other side of your darkest, most ominous and terrifying moments. You could be on the verge of all your dreams coming true and you just don’t know it yet. Never give up hope. Blue skies await.


On January 19th 2016, a boggling mix of Chris Hyder, Wendy and Eric, fate, a library, and Jesus made one of my biggest dreams a reality.

I got to tell Stephen King this same story and thank him–in person–for helping me get to that #1 spot just above his book. He hugged me and said “Congratulations.”

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He was totally gracious and laughed when I showed him the screenshot of our books on the Amazon best seller list.
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Then the photographer said, “I want to get a photo of the three best selling authors,” and I was sandwiched between Stephen King and John Grisham, cheesing like my preteen daughter at a One Direction concert. They are the Elvis and John Lennon of the literary world, after all.

Stephen King, John Grisham, and Elicia Hyder

THANK YOU to everyone who made this night possible: Chris, Wendy (the awesome photographer), Eric, Rena, Luis, Becky, Natalie, Stephen King, John Grisham, my kiddos, and the Manatee Library Foundation. And THANK YOU to everyone who has read and supported my books over the past six months. Who knows? I might not be here without YOU!


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Photos by Wendy Dewhurst at www.blahblahblahonline.com/

 

One Year Ago Today – Why I Chose Self-Publishing

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… 2015 sucked. And it was awesome.

On this day one year ago, I was an unknown and unpublished author (im)patiently waiting to hear back from the three literary agents I had queried for The Soul Summoner. If you’re unfamiliar with the publishing process here’s a super-condensed 101:

  1. You write a book.
  2. You send letters to agents trying to interest them in your book.
  3. You get rejection after rejection after rejection.
  4. If an agent is interested, they might read your book.
  5. If they read your book and like it, they might offer to represent you to publishers.
  6. Then agents try to interest publishers in your book.
  7. And occasionally a publisher is interested enough to publish it.

Last January, I was at step two in the above process. I never heard anything back from two of those agents. But on February 5th I got a message from the third one. They loved my book.

Whoa.

Two hours after that conversation, I got a phone call from my doctor (at dinnertime, which is never good) that went something like this, “We think that lump on your neck is cancer. I’m sending you for more tests first thing in the morning.”

I made a LOT of very emotional phone calls that day. And, unfortunately, I received my cancer diagnosis a couple of weeks later: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 2.

So much for publishing. Ugh. I had to try and not die and stuff.

In the middle of chemo, I decided to bypass the above process altogether and self-publish another book of mine. Maybe you read it. It’s called The Bed She Made. I self-published for two reasons:

1. I needed to start finding some fans who might eventually buy The Soul Summoner when it was published.
2. Honestly, I was afraid I might die and never see my books in print.

Well…something quite unexpected happened. The Bed She Made hit #1 in New Adult Women’s Fiction on Amazon and held the #1 slot in ChickLit on Wattpad for months. Wattpad gave it an award in November, and this month it will break a million reads. Oh, and between free and paid sales on all the major online retailers, it’s been downloaded around 50,000 times. I still can’t believe that nonsense.

I finished chemo in June, then went through three weeks of daily radiation treatments. In September, I started receiving offers from publishers who were interested in FINALLY publishing The Soul Summoner. BUT…I turned them all down and self-published it as well.

WHY? Am I now suddenly opposed to traditional publishing? Absolutely not. At the time, however, none of the offers were better than what I could do on my own.

And I was right. Two weeks after The Soul Summoner’s release in November, this happened:

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The Soul Summoner hit #1 in Psychic Suspense and Paranormal Suspense. And check out who was in the #2 slot!

Now, I had to tell you that story to tell you the next story…you know, the one where Stephen King took a picture  with me holding that screenshot up there:

stephen_king

The whole story is coming this week with pictures and video from my night with Stephen King and John Grisham. Stay tuned because you might even win your own autographed copy of Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham!

And as for my health, I KICKED CANCER’S ASS.

2016 has certainly started off with a bang! I can’t wait to see where this journey goes.

Bad Decisions Make the Best Stories

Since I published The Bed She Made back in May, so many people have asked, “How do you come up with your story ideas?”

Welp…

I’ve sucked at life a lot over the years.

For my birthday, my best friend bought me a sign for my wall. It says, Bad decisions make the best stories.

Isn’t that the truth?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to take any glory in any of my failures in life. I’ve done a lot of stupid things, and I’ve hurt some really amazing people along the way. But, for those past transgressions, I hope I’ve been forgiven, and if anything good can be taken out of some of the most despicable time periods in my life… then BRING. IT. ON!!!

Best Birthday EVER!

Thank you everyone for celebrating my birthday yesterday, LITERALLY, all over the world!! I have the best friends and family that a girl could ever ask for! Thanks for all the party photos, videos, and COUNTLESS messages I received on my special day! xoxo

The Biggest Birthday Party EVER!

I love birthdays.

But, if you’ve followed me over the years, you know my birthday is sort of cursed. This year, on paper, seems to be no different. I’m sick and exhausted from chemotherapy. My bones ache from daily white blood cell booster shots. My eyebrows are falling out.

HOWEVER.

I got this a couple of days ago:

cancer

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! It’s time to $&^#%@*! CELEBRATE!
THE CANCER IS GONE!!!

You guys know how much I love parties, right?? Well, I can’t be around crowds, so I need you to celebrate for me! 

Here is what I want for my birthday… I want you to CELEBRATE today. Even though I can’t physically be present, I still want to have the biggest birthday party EVER! Please send me pictures of your celebrations, your toasts, and general frivolity today!!! #TeamEl

Stuff My Mom Says

The older I get, the more I realize that I am quickly turning into my mother.

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…or maybe she is becoming more like me. I’m not sure.

Once upon a time, I would’ve NEVER admitted this in writing–or even thought it possible. But, today not only do I recognize it, I’m actually VERY proud of it. My mother loved and parented me well. I did not make her task easy (I know you’re shocked), but she played the hand she was dealt with grace and excellence. Today, we are close friends, seasoned with years of celebrations, heartaches, and challenges. I am proud to be her daughter, her baby, and her favorite child. (Yes, my siblings read my blog.)

We often parent our children in the manner in which we were parented. I almost fell in the floor the first time I heard myself say to my daughter, “I know you didn’t mean to. You have to mean NOT to!”

It was like all of the oxygen was sucked out of the room. My kid panicked at my horror-stricken face after the words rolled off my tongue. I grasped at the hole in my chest where my heart had once been and choked out an explanation, “I’m sorry baby; I just channeled your Nana.”

This weekend, another episode of “Stuff my Mom Says” occurred. While chatting with a friend on Facebook, the internet connection blinked out for the fifteenth time during the conversation. I slammed my fist down onto the counter in frustration and shouted, “This cussed internet!”

A light bulb went off. (Apparently, it visibly went off over my head because both my mom and my sister looked up at me.)

I brought my finger down over my lips as I pondered what I’d just said. “People in real life don’t use that expression. No one says ‘cussed’,” I thought out loud.

Mom began to laugh. “That’s what you say when you’re trying not to say a cuss word.”

Oh… bless my sweet Southern Baptist Mama’s heart.

I’m not sure what it is that is so funny about the combination of my mother and profanity. Maybe it is because it was always such a big deal in our family to keep our language clean and proper. Whenever she was REALLY frustrated about something she would hiss, “Shhhhhhhhht.” I didn’t realize until I was twenty that this was simply “shit” but omitting the letter “i”.

Why do I write this tonight? My son has a blister on his foot and when the bath water stung it earlier, he shouted, “Shoot fuzzies that hurt!”

Thanks, Mom, for three generations of sounding stupid. 😉

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. ~Robert Fulghum

Really Cool Scars

One of the many superpowers given to mothers is the ability to decipher meanings from certain sounds from our children. With the slightest peep we know whether to feed them, defend them, or yell in their general direction, “OMG, stop whining!”

Unfortunately, today I heard the type of cry that makes a mother’s heart stop dead in her chest. A bone chilling scream echoed from the bedroom and when I charged through the doorway the first thing to catch my eye was blood pouring from my little boy’s side.

Thankfully, the wound was not severe enough for stitches, but as I assured him earlier, “It’s gonna leave a really cool scar!”

On my right knee I carry a scar from a bicycle accident in the fourth grade. The doctor gave me a cream that, I swear, melted the scabs off every time they tried to form. I don’t remember what it was called, but I’m pretty sure the main ingredient was battery acid. I spent the next few weeks on crutches.

Twenty years later, when I look at the purplish discoloration across my kneecap, I don’t remember falling of the bike–I remember the battery acid and my bruised armpits from the crutches.

scar

Isn’t that often the case with scars? The healing process is often more memorable than the initial injury. It certainly takes longer and is often more painful.

I consider the many scars I have that are unseen. The deep gashes left in my heart, my relationships, and in my spirit from choices I’ve made in my life. Bad decisions are easy. They are usually quick and even, initially, painless. It’s the recovery from them that is so bitterly agonizing.

While writing The Bed She Made I really had to inspect a lot of my old scars. I had to write about them, talk about them, and relive them in my dreams. The beautiful thing about dredging up the past has been that I can honestly say that they truly are JUST SCARS. The pain is gone. The wound is healed. All has been forgiven. The scars are not eternal penance for my sins, but simply a reminder to never turn back.