Viewing entries in
Self Publishing

Comment

The Thorny Issue of Pricing

Today, I read an article about small business owners who undervalue their services, because they want to attract new clients. The idea is that they need to build their portfolio of work in the beginning, with the goal of becoming more selective when they have a client base. Unfortunately, the strategy usually backfires. Some clients do not appreciate the value of the work. With other clients, the business owner could compromise his or her vision and work on projects that he or she would normally avoid. The work is not reflective of the owner’s vision.

The article made me think about the price of my own books. I purposely priced the first book, “Through the Mist: Restoration,” at a very affordable 99 cents for the ebook. It was my debut novel. I wanted it to be accessible to a large number of people and felt more people would give it a chance if it was priced low.

When I released the novella, “Through the Mist: Adrift,” I also priced that book at 99 cents. It is much smaller in page count, so I did not feel it was appropriate to charge a “big price.”

Then, when I released the sequel, “Through the Mist: Reunion,” I first priced it at $2.99. The loyal fans of the first book snapped it up. Then, sales slowed. I lowered the price to $1.99, where it remains today. Sales have flat-lined.

I am beginning to wonder if that article applies to me. Do people think the books are not good because of the low price? Well, I just don’t know. You see, that’s the problem with self-publishing. I don’t have anyone looking at focus groups, taking surveys, or producing earnings forecasts who can tell me why sales have dropped. The second novel has not sold anywhere close to the levels I saw with the first book. Why???

I still believe self-publishing is a great vehicle to produce books. By sharing my experiences, I hope to help the next person who is considering this route. Most likely, you will not make enough money to quit your day job. And, it can be frustrating when you do not know WHY that is. You know your book is good - why isn’t anyone buying it??

As I end most posts, I would greatly appreciate feedback - positive or negative.

Comment

Writing When You are Busy

Comment

Writing When You are Busy

In the early days of this blog, I was filled with positive energy. I was so happy to FINALLY publish my first book that the first posts encouraged everyone to carve out whatever time they could to write, to follow whatever dream someone had.

While I still believe in following one’s dreams, my enthusiasm has tempered. I am in the midst of a months-long project at work that will radically change everything at my workplace. It is monumental. With such a daunting task ahead, I am frequently exhausted at the end of the work day. The last thing I want to do is sit down in front of my laptop and write.

I have developed a much more realistic habit that might help you too. For Christmas, a good friend of mine gave me a leather-bound journal. (It was really sweet, because I have wanted one for a long time and never told anyone.) When I fill the pages, I can remove the journal inside and replace it with a fresh one.

The journal is a great size. I keep it in my purse. Whenever I have an idea or story thread for the Through the Mist series, I can jot a note in the journal.

Sometimes, I only have time and energy to write passages in the journal. For now, that’s good enough. I still feel as if I am pursuing my dream of writing, but with a realistic approach. It’s all about finding a way to achieve a dream, while living in the real world of boring jobs, deadlines, and stress.

Comment

Comment

The Joys of Self Publishing?

I have written in the past about the highs of self publishing. They are many - no one to tell you what to do, when to do it. No one to tell you what to write. Are you picking up on the theme here? You are the boss, which can be exhilarating.

It can also be frustrating. Without someone to nudge you along, you can take your time with the book. That can be a negative. I doubt anyone reading this blog has the privilege of writing full-time. Most of us juggle our “real” jobs with all the deadlines and stress to go along with it. After a difficult day at work, the last thing you may want to do is work on that book. Without a nudge, it could take YEARS to complete your novel.

And then there’s the issue with promotion. What do you do?? Do you place ads? If so, where? How much do you spend? Do you record a podcast? Should you have a giveaway on a website? Can you get someone to publish a review? If you decide to do any or all of these things, how do you actually DO it?? How, I say? HOW???!!!

I admit that I have little patience. I just want to write my story and have someone else take care of the business side of things. Hmmmm….sounds a bit like a traditional publishing relationship, doesn’t it?

Well, I don’t have any publishers beating down my door, begging to publish my book. And, I just don’t have the desire to send a manuscript to 100 publishers, only to be told “no, thanks” or worse, “you suck, your book sucks, you should stop writing for the good of humanity.” OK - that last bit may be harsh, but who hasn’t felt that way?

I have written two and half books in the “Through the Mist” series - “Restoration,” “Adrift” (a novella), and “Reunion.” The first book did well, in my opinion. The novella’s sales were meh. “Reunion” has flatlined, which is a shame. I felt as if I hit my stride with that one. The pace is better, and the ending is really good, in my less than humble opinion.

Let me be clear - I know none of these books will be number one on ANY chart. I want somebody to read them, though. Why else did I take the time to transfer the story from my head to the page? If you are a writer too, you know exactly what I mean.

I feel that I am at a crossroads. I just don’t know what to do to draw readers to my books. And, I have at least two more to write in the series as well as a great idea for a standalone novella. What should I do?

At this point, I have considered hiring a book launch coach. I need someone to pick me up by the bootstraps, so to speak, and tell me what to do. I just don’t know where to start. Let’s see if someone else can help me. As long as the endeavor does not cost a fortune, it might be the kick in the pants that I need. Sometimes, that’s what it takes. Wish me luck!

Comment

Comment

So, What's It About??

Whenever someone learns that you wrote a book, the natural question is, “So, what’s it about?” More questions may follow if people are interested.

I try not to ramble on too much. I wouldn’t have written the series if I was not passionate about the topic, but I realize that you can only hold someone’s interest for so long. Here are some common questions and their answers:

Through the Mist is a series. What’s it about?

It begins with the first book, Restoration. Tilly Munro is a modern woman who suddenly finds herself over two hundred years in the past, in Scotland. How did that happen? Who is this mysterious Benjamin Campbell? Will she go back, if she ever finds a way?

Then, I continued the story in a novella, Through the Mist: Adrift. Tilly travelled to Scotland with her best friend, Beth Hunter Madison. After Tilly’s mysterious disappearance, Beth’s life fell apart. In Adrift, we learn more about Beth and see the story come to a startling conclusion.

The recently published sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, continues the story of Benjamin and Tilly. We learn what has happened over the last year since Tilly disappeared. We also learn more about Benjamin’s father Malcolm, and the lengths the man will go, all in an attempt to preserve the estate. We experience a new love story with two characters. How does that one end?

This sounds like a lot of time travel romances that I have read. How’s this one different?

It is true that the “Scottish time travel” romance story has been done many times over. In fact, that was my inspiration. I have read a lot of books in the genre. I never read one where the woman was older and has lived a life before she met our dashing Scot. And, the modern women usually don’t have any problem at all with the changes brought on by time travel.

Well, I need indoor plumbing, access to information, and freedom to speak my mind. I am not a twenty-something and would likely be viewed as a spinster. In short, I would have a serious problem with traveling back in time. That got me thinking - how would someone like me deal with time travel? What things would be different?

That’s how the Through the Mist series was born.

I hate the way Restoration ended. Why did you do that to us readers??

It has been my lifelong dream to write a book. Restoration was my first effort. I admit there are issues in that book with pacing, and yes, the ending could use a little polish. However, the story for me is over at that point. It was always meant to pick up in the next book.

Incidentally, the ending of Reunion is much better, in my opinion. Please give it a chance.

Why don’t you just fix the ending and republish Restoration?

I am a bit of purist. Aside from fixing typos, I don’t believe in changing the book once it has been published. Besides, I am afraid too many edits would spoil the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.

Why did you write the novella, Adrift?

For awhile, the material in Adrift was the first part of Reunion. I finally decided to cut it from the book. I was afraid no one would hang in there long enough to get to the real heart of the story that happens in Reunion.

I could not bring myself to leave the story unpublished, though. To me, the material in Adrift provides needed backstory into Beth’s life. Expect some callbacks to the novella in the third book in the series.

You have a few historical references in the series. Are they true?

Based upon my research, yes. I read a lot of material about the time period. I study online resources. And, for the next book, I can reference notes and pictures I took on my recent trip to Scotland. It is important to me that you are part of the story. Adding little details about food, customs, or clothing make the experience real to me, and I hope it does the same for you.

Now, I will say this - I do not have a team of people behind me. I do the best I can, and it takes me longer to complete my research. I have a day job. If you find a glaring historical error, I always welcome comments. You can DM me on Facebook.

The books are affordably priced, compared to other e-books. Why are they so cheap?

With my first book, Through the Mist: Restoration, you took a chance with me. It seemed rather rude to ask you to spend $10 on a writer’s first book. I priced it at 99 cents so you would give me that chance. If you liked it, you got a deal. If you hated it, well, you only spent 99 cents.

The novella Adrift is also priced at 99 cents. It is not essential to the series, but it is a “nice to have.”

Both Restoration and Adrift are now free to read on Kindle Unlimited, if you have it.

I have struggled with pricing for Through the Mist: Reunion, the sequel. I try to keep the price in an affordable range, yet, to be completely honest, it would be nice to make more than 35 cents on the book. (Yes, literally that amount.) Hey - we all need a side hustle these days, right? At the current price, it is still less expensive than some ebooks out there. I hope the story is enjoyable enough for you to spend your hard-earned money.

When can we expect the next book?

Restoration was published in 2016. Adrift and Reunion were published in 2018. I seem to be on a “every two years” track. The story in the as-yet-untitled third book is much, much larger than the other books in the series. I hope to complete it within two years, but I don’t want to make any promises.

Keep an eye on this blog and Facebook for updates.

Have more questions?

Find me on Facebook or Goodreads. You can leave a comment here. I love feedback and questions. I really want to know what you think of the story, the characters - anything.

As always, happy reading!

Comment

Comment

Lower Price for "Through the Mist: Reunion"

The sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, will continue to have a special ebook price. The original price was $2.99. I have lowered the price to $1.99.

The first book in the series, Through the Mist: Restoration, and the companion novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, are each priced at 99 cents for the ebook. If you have Kindle Unlmited, you can read both for free.

The series gives you an opportunity to escape for a few hours to Scotland. Experience a little bit of romance and intrigue entwined with a wee bit of time travel and history. Where else can you find such inexpensive (and hopefully fun) entertainment?

Happy reading!

Comment

Comment

About that ending....

SPOILER ALERT!!! If you have not read Through the Mist: Restoration or Through the Mist: Adrift, you might want to refrain from reading this blog post. While I will not reveal the endings, some comments that follow might. You have been warned.

Seriously - be careful with the comments.

Alright - I tried to warn you.

I have read the reviews for Through the Mist: Restoration. I think a lot of people were disappointed with the ending. In my defense, it was my debut novel. I have learned a lot about how endings should be a little bit…different.

Also, the ending felt right to me. The story reached its natural conclusion.

If you read Adrift, you will be disappointed with the ending. It is abrupt on purpose. I knew exactly what I was doing there. Adrift is meant to be a bridge between the first book, Restoration, and its sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. It is a quick read, though, and you can jump right into Reunion without waiting years for a resolution.

Those chapters stayed in Reunion for awhile, as I tried to determine whether or not they belonged in the sequel. Ultimately, I decided to spin it off into a separate novella. I felt it weighed down the sequel and was a bit distracting with the jumps in time. Still, I wanted the story to be told, because characters in Adrift appear in Reunion, at the end.

I fear that the endings with the first book and the novella have put off some people to reading Reunion. Well, without revealing too much, Reunion has a better ending. I tie off a lot of loose threads, so you are not left wondering what happened to favorite characters. I do leave a couple of exciting, happy things to explore in the future.

I have an idea for a third book in the series - or 3.5, if you count the novella. I am still researching it and sorting through some ideas. In the meantime, I hope you can enjoy Through the Mist: Restoration, Through the Mist: Adrift, and Through the Mist: Reunion, despite the controversial endings in the first two.

Comment

Comment

"Through the Mist: Adrift" is here.

Drum roll....

The novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, is available on Amazon. And, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free. If you don't, the ebook price is affordable at 99 cents. The paperback is a reasonable $3.99.

Since it is a brand new entry, you may need to search for that exact title. It could take Amazon a few days to catch up.

So, why would you want to read the novella instead of waiting for the sequel? The novella is meant to bridge the gap between Restoration and Reunion. A lot happened after Tilly Munro disappeared.

When Beth Hunter Madison and her friend Tilly embarked on a road trip in Scotland, it was meant to be a fun romp in the Highlands. As we know, the trip took a tragic turn when Tilly disappeared into the mist.

Beth is haunted by her part in the tragedy. Her marriage collapses. Her career is in ruins. Desperate to save her career, she jumps at an opportunity in Scotland. She must return to the place where Tilly disappeared. In doing so, she finds a new purpose for her life.

She also discovers love in an unexpected place. Unfortunately, the man lives in a different time.

You may be asking yourself, "Do I really need to read this novella?" Well, I will be brutally honest - no, you don't. Then again, do you really need to order dessert? Do you need chocolate?

The novella will add an extra layer to the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. My goal is to release the sequel later this month, so you won't have to wait long.

Happy reading - and thank you for your patience while I finish the sequel.

Comment

Comment

Exciting news about "Through the Mist: Restoration"

I wrote Through the MistRestoration as a bucket list item. I always wanted to write a book, and I finally did it! Since I did not want to pour a lot of money into something that might be a lark, I did all the formatting and other work myself.

Now that I have the "writer's bug," I am prepared to spend a little money on formatting. I am happy to announce that Restoration has been cleaned up! Polgarus Studio polished the novel, making it look SO MUCH better. I corrected several typos and removed the excessive use of certain words.

Don't worry - the overall story did not change. It just looks pretty now!

Here's the really exciting news. If you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, you can now read the book for free. Tell all your friends. Even if someone does not have a subscription, the book's 99 cent ebook price is affordable.

Wink...wink...you might want to re-read the book because something exciting is happening soon. Check out tomorrow's blog or Facebook post for details. 

Comment

Comment

Bring in the New Year

I am ready to bid 2017 goodbye. What a year! I always try to look for the positive and present it to you here and on my Facebook page. I figure you have enough bad stuff to read. Why add to the dark cloud of negativity? The year 2017 was a doozy, though.

As I look ahead to the new year, I am excited for the challenges to come with the book. I am putting the finishing touches on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.  I know I have said this many times. If you are a writer, you know how tough the process is. Just when you think you are done, you spot something that is not quite right and want to change it. At some point, though, you must say “Enough!” I am nearing that point.

I plan to try advertising with the novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, and the sequel, Through Mist: Reunion. I did not advertise Through the Mist: Restoration. Frankly, I was thrilled that I finally wrote a book. It was a huge personal accomplishment. If anyone read it, it would be a small miracle. Several of you did, and I am eternally grateful.

I encourage each of you to find something this new year to bring you similar joy and gratitude. I felt as if I wasted many years saying “someday, I will....” If we learned anything from 2017, it was that “someday” may never come. Do not put off living your life.

You don’t need a grand gesture. Sprinkle in a few attainable goals like eating half a donut instead of a whole one or taking the stairs today instead of the elevator. We should celebrate the small victories as much as we do the big ones.

Here’s to a new year filled with health and happiness for all!

Comment

Comment

An Excerpt - "Through the Mist: Adrift"

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I decided to split the sequel into two parts - a novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, and then an actual sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. In September, I offered a sneak peek at the opener of the novella.

Here's a low-fat Thanksgiving treat. I offer you an excerpt from the novella. I would greatly appreciate your feedback - either here or on Facebook, whichever medium you prefer.

Enjoy! I hope you have a safe, happy holiday.

One

Asheville, North Carolina
Present Day


Beth Hunter Madison tossed the keys of her white Range Rover to the young man working the valet stand outside the Tudor-style mansion in Biltmore Forest. She strode into the home with more confidence than she felt, her head held high.

As she handed her black wool coat to an awaiting attendant, she gazed up at the huge crystal chandelier that hung from the vaulted ceiling of the entrance. She walked across the gleaming marble floor until she reached the twin mahogany staircases that lead to the upper floors. She paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. She felt out of place in the opulence of the home, yet she must reach down deep and draw on whatever ounce of strength that remained buried inside her.

You can do this, she told herself. Turning to her left, she slowly strolled into the spacious living room where the crowd had gathered.

The party was the premiere event of New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city and was not to be missed. Only the crème of Asheville society was there. If you did not receive an invitation, then you had little chance of succeeding in the town.

She noted several current and former clients were fully kitted in their best evening wear. She smoothed the front of her blue knit dress and glanced down at the leopard print pumps she wore. She hoped she was dressed smartly enough for the chic crowd. She wanted to make a favorable impression tonight.

Sadly, the majority of her clients were rapidly moving into the “former” category. The party might give her an opportunity to chat. Maybe a little personal contact would soften the grip on their wallets and send more business her way.

“Champagne, ma’am?” a man in a tuxedo asked, brandishing a silver tray of crystal flutes. She nodded and took the offered drink. Taking a sip of liquid courage, she plunged into the crowd.

She moved carefully around the room, smiling at each person she saw. They returned her smile with little warmth and quickly turned away upon her approach. She knew she should not be surprised that no one wanted to engage in conversation. Still, it hurt.

“Why, Beth? Is that you?” a voice called from behind her. She turned to find a willowy, blonde-haired woman slithering her way.

The woman was Cathy Rogers, the host of the soiree and the best real estate agent in town. She helped Beth’s friend Tilly sell her home. She was also the leader of the Young Urban Professionals League, a group of locals who allegedly aimed to promote business people just starting out in their careers. In reality, they were nothing more than an old school, “good old boys” network. Their members orchestrated most of the substantial business deals in town. If Beth wanted to succeed in Asheville, she must stay in YUP’s good graces.

For this reason, Beth answered Cathy with forced enthusiasm. “I wouldn’t miss your annual New Year’s Eve party,” she said. As they air kissed each other, she lied, “I look forward to it all year.”

Cathy toyed with the long strand of pearls that coiled around her ivory neck. “It is the social event of the year, if I may be so bold,” she said with false modesty. “I am surprised you would come after what happened between Randall and you.”

“The divorce is not final. Besides, I am a member of YUP, am I not?

“For now.”

Beth took a long drink of champagne. She tried to formulate a response that did not include the word “bitch.” Nothing came to mind.

“I heard you went to Scotland for the Christmas holiday,” Cathy said, looping her arm around Beth’s and turning her toward the massive fireplace in the center of the room. She leaned closer and whispered loud enough for the people around her to hear, “Did they ever find a trace of Tilly Munro?”

Beth nearly bit her tongue in two but managed a civil reply. “The police ended the search months ago,” she replied through gritted teeth. “No one knows what happened.”

“Well, God forbid that I should lose my husband and children in a car accident,” Cathy cried dramatically, placing a bejeweled hand to her chest. “I can see how that would drive you to – oh, it is so tragic.” She fanned herself. “It would make you want to end it all, right then and there.”

Beth carefully placed the empty champagne glass on a table. She considered snapping off the flute and jamming the stem into Cathy’s eye. She supposed that would be very rude indeed and would likely put an end to the career she came here to save. Swallowing a biting retort, she said, “Tilly was my best friend. If anyone would know her state of mind, it would be me. I assure you she was sad, not suicidal.” Seeing the disbelief in Cathy’s eyes, she added, “The area where we stayed was very remote. I am sure she just got lost on a walk.”

She looked up and gasped when she saw the couple standing beside the fireplace. Too late, she realized that was exactly the reaction Cathy wanted. The woman had deliberately led her to this spot.

Her future ex-husband Randall Madison stood beside a buxom, middle-aged woman whose fiery red hair tumbled in artfully tousled waves down her back. An emerald-colored, sequined dress that Beth recognized as a pricey designer gown hugged her ample figure. The neckline plunged so low that, when she laughed, her voluptuous breasts threatened to wiggle their way out of the garment and into the hands of the eager men who ogled them. The woman grinned broadly and leaned toward Randall, whispering something into his ear. She winked at him and lightly touched the sparkling diamond necklace around her neck.

It was a necklace that once adorned Beth’s neck. A family heirloom, Randall only allowed her to wear it on special occasions. And now, another woman wore it.

“Oh, there’s Valerie Burghley Statton,” Cathy said, feigning embarrassment. “I cannot believe he brought her to the party. He should have had the good grace to spare your feelings.” She practically purred as she added, “Of course, he probably didn’t think you would come to the party.”

Now Beth really wanted to smack Cathy Rogers. Having the soon-to-be ex-wife see her soon-to-be ex-husband with his new amour was the kind of drama that made for a good party. It was especially juicy when the ex-wife was someone who had no place in what Cathy deemed “proper society.” Valerie Burghley Statton came from a well-established family with roots leading back to the best families in England. She was old money. She was a thoroughbred. Beth was a donkey.

Before Beth could quietly slip into the crowd, Randall spotted her. The smile faded from his lips. He gave her a sad, pitying look that was more than she could endure. She did not want his sympathy.

“Excuse me,” she mumbled, pulling away from Cathy’s clinging arm and fleeing the room. She hastily retrieved her coat from the attendant in the hallway. She stood outside in the cool evening air, inhaling deeply and trying to calm herself. She really did not want to make a scene, especially in front of these people. She came there to salvage client relationships, but seeing Randall with that woman was too much. She could not spend the evening staring across a room and seeing everything that had slipped through her fingers.

“Beth –“

She slowly turned and discovered Randall standing in the doorway. She managed a weak smile. Her eyes quickly scanned him from head to toe. He had lost weight. Ever since she met him, he complained about his pudgy belly. She would always laugh and hug him tighter. She did not mind at all. Well, Valerie must not like it, she thought bitterly.

She noticed other changes too. His wrinkles were less pronounced, perhaps the result of cosmetic intervention. His hair was sandy brown now, no longer a distinguished shade of white. He looked like the old pictures from his youth. I guess Valerie did not want him to look like her grandfather, she thought. She felt sad for Randall. The woman seemed to be smoothing away all the rough edges that Beth loved.

He moved closer. “How are you, Beth?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she replied. She stared expectantly at the valet who took the hint and ran to find her car.

“I have been worried about you,” he said, lightly caressing her arm. “Do you have everything you need?”

She shrugged. “I’m fine,” she repeated. “I found a nice apartment. I’ve reconnected with old friends. Life is good.” She waved her hand. “By the way, I will clear out the last of my things next week. It won’t be a big deal.”

“Take your time. I told the lawyer that I am in no rush to put the house on the market.”

They stood in awkward silence for several minutes. Beth wanted to say so much to him yet could not find the words. How do you spend most of your adult life with someone and then – and then, he is just gone? She buried her true feelings and managed to say instead, “You look well rested, Randall.”

He nervously ran his hands through his hair. “Since we sold the practice, I have more free time,” he said. “Valerie says….“ He stopped himself, his face reddening.

“We have been separated since August,” she said. “You can say her name. It’s no secret.”

“It seems strange, don’t you think?” he asked, lowering his voice. “I never saw this happening with us. We were always a team, Beth.”

She took a step back. She did not want to be so achingly close to him. She wanted to fall into his arms and scream that she never wanted this either. Instead, she said, “It is happening. Our marriage is over. We should move on with our lives.”

She heard the valet pull her car to the curb. She turned to leave, but Randall grabbed her arm.

“Have lunch with me tomorrow,” he said. He glanced back at the doorway, as if he expected someone to be waiting for him. “Let’s meet at our favorite restaurant. First one there buys, like always.”

“Be sure to tell Valerie where you are going,” Beth said tartly. “I don’t want to sneak around behind her back to see my husband.”

Randall flinched involuntarily. “I am sorry that I hurt you, darling,” he said. “You hurt me too. Don’t forget that.”

Sighing heavily, Beth tugged her arm from his grasp. She did not want to talk about it, not here. “I will see you tomorrow,” she said. “Don’t be late.”

She headed for her car. She could hear him hurrying behind her. Oh good grief, what now? she wondered. She angrily spun on her heels to face him, folding her arms tightly across her chest.

“I heard things haven’t been going well with your business,” he whispered, a look of genuine concern on his face. “Are you sure you’re alright? Is there anything I can do?”

She cursed Cathy Rogers. She was sure that bitch told him. Beth used to be the most popular graphic designer in town. Before her marriage ended, it was a nice side business, something to occupy her time and help her feel productive. As the wife of a successful cardiologist, she did not have to work. They had plenty of money.

Without Randall’s income, it was her lifeline. She needed the business to make a living. She was confident that the exodus of her clients could be blamed on her failed marriage. She was not born into this little club of rich people like Cathy, Randall, and Valerie. There was no reason to do business with her anymore.

On the spot, she decided to stretch the truth a bit. “Business is wonderful. In fact, I have a job offer for a project in Scotland,” she said. “I’ll probably be jetting back and forth from America to there. It’s very exciting.”

She savored the stunned expression on his face. “When I was there over Christmas, I met the duchess, and she asked for my help,” she said. It wasn’t a lie, though it sounded more official than it may have been. She tossed back her head and chuckled. “Oh, silly me, you don’t know who she is, do you? Well, we can talk about it tomorrow.”

He brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes, an intimate gesture that made Beth’s heart flutter. “I hope you can make a fresh start,” he said. “You deserve to be happy.”

She took a step backward. “I will see you tomorrow,” she said quietly.

She hastily walked toward her car and did not look back.

Comment

Comment

A Tease

As I have mentioned on Facebook, the beta readers finished reading the novella, Through the Mist: Adrift. I have a few tweaks to make before it is ready for publication.

In the interim, I thought you might like a peek at the opener. I am not calling it an prologue. It's just a few paragraphs that will set the tone for the story that follows:

Beth would never forget the morning when Mrs. Douglas opened the door to Tilly’s room. It was almost 11:00 a.m., far too late for her friend to be sleeping. They found the garden doors wide open and dying embers in the fireplace hearth. A half-full glass of Scotch rested on a table.

She searched Tilly’s room and found her friend’s wallet, passport, and cell phone. No sign of the woman herself though. Where had she gone?

Mrs. Douglas rang the police straight away. They refused to do anything until Tilly had been gone for a full 24 hours. They told Beth that her friend could have gone for walk and would be back before nightfall. She knew better. She waited in agony as the hours ticked by on the grandfather clock in the parlour. When the clock struck midnight, she felt each ring like a blow to her body. Something was terribly wrong.

The police scoured the area. They found footsteps leading to the forest. Then, the trail abruptly disappeared. She remembered hearing one of the police officers whisper fey. Later that evening, she looked up the word and laughed aloud. It was preposterous to think that a supernatural creature could have kidnapped her friend.

Months passed with no hint, no trace. Beth privately wondered if the police officers were right. Sometimes, the most extraordinary theory is the only logical conclusion.

So, what do you think? 

 

Comment

Comment

September Progress Report

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the publication of my first book, Through the Mist: Restoration. It was a proud moment for me. As always, thank you so, so much for taking time to read it.

Many of you have wanted to know what happens next. After all, we don’t see the “happily ever after” when the book ends. The epilogue hints that something happened with Beth, but what?

Things are progressing very well with the sequel. The novella, which tells Beth’s story, is in “beta” mode. So far, the feedback has been good. The consensus is that it was right to spinoff this part of the story to a novella. Also, Beth is a very different character from Tilly, and it shows in the story. My beta readers are not fans of the genre, so I trust their feedback. If I can hold their attention, then the story must okay.

I am putting the finishing touches on the sequel before it goes to beta. I do not foresee major changes. We shall see once the betas get their hands on it. I am still pushing for a release before year’s end. I have some exciting marketing ideas, so stay tuned. I think you will be pleased on that front.

I still have some work to do with the original, Through the Mist: Restoration. The cover for the eBook needs a tweak – the title is too small in the thumbnail. The paperwork’s cover has an annoying problem with the spine – the font is tiny! I found some typos in the text as well as a few formatting glitches. Before the novella and sequel are released, I must make these improvements. Don’t worry – I will not change the story. Good or bad, it is set in stone. I do not believe in changing the fundamentals after publication.

In fact, all of this work on the first book is on my Labor Day to-do list. I hate the less creative aspects of the task, but I have put them off long enough.

Thank you for reading. Keep an eye on my Facebook page too. I will provide more frequent updates as well as share my adventures with G and cooking.

Slàinte!

Comment

Comment

Get On With It!

Walkies with my dog require paying attention. We begin the walk with a run, then come to an abrupt halt for a tinkle. Her nose dictates the speed of the walkie – from slow strolls where every blade of grass is sniffed to brisk walks on the scent of some beast who dared to cross the pee line. Eventually, I grow weary of the manic pace and ask her to pick a speed – run or walk. Nothing in between. (She ignores me.)

An element of writing is the same for me. Setting the right pace makes all the difference. As I edit the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, I watch closely for scenes or even sentences that grind the story to a halt. I am much more aggressive in this book than I was with the first one. With Through the Mist: Restoration, I held tightly to certain scenes until the very end. At long last, I cut them, and the story was better for it.

At this point, I fear the first section of the book will meet a similar end. It just isn’t working. Since this section determines whether or not you will keep reading, it must have the proper pace. Otherwise, you will stop reading and will not get to the juicy stuff that happens later in the book.

Of course, the real challenge here is that the first section of any book usually lays the groundwork for the story. The reader needs basic information. Who is this person? Why is she acting this way? What happened in the last book, because I don’t know why I should care about this story? I must give you as much information as I can, yet at a pace that will keep you interested.

Solving this problem is much more fun than the silly stuff that happens at my day job. Thank you for your continued patience as I continue to edit the sequel. I have said it many times. I want to give you something worth your time and money.

If any fellow writers are reading this post, I would love to hear your thoughts about how you tackle this problem.

Happy reading!

Comment

Comment

The Goodreads Challenge

As of this post, I have 97 ratings on Goodreads. I am astonished. Through the Mist: Restoration is the realization of a long-held dream. I worked really hard to write and self publish the book. The fact that even one person bought the book is amazing. That 97 people would take the time to give my book a rating on Goodreads, well, that’s just unbelievable.

It would be a thrill to have 100 ratings on Goodreads. I am only 3 ratings away! Therefore, I am issuing a challenge to my readers. If I can get 100 ratings on Goodreads, I will donate $100 to the Avery County NC Humane Society. I adopted G from the organization, so it is a tribute to both you and her.

How do you make it happen? Creating a Goodreads account is free at goodreads.com. Once you log in, search for my book, Through the Mist: Restoration. Then, below the picture of my book’s cover, you will see a drop down menu. You can click that you have read the book. You can give a simple star rating, which is all I ask. If you want to leave a review as well, you can. I humbly ask for constructive criticism, though. It is the only way I can become better as a writer.

Even if I do not hit 100 ratings, I am so, so happy. You made my dream come true just by reading my story. Thank you so much!

Comment

Comment

Read My Book - Pretty Please

For the last two weeks, I have talked about the challenges of self-publishing. I shared that writing the book was actually the easy part. The business side of things opens up a whole new world of challenges. Today, I would like to share my experiences with advertising.

Since I am a frugal person and had no idea if I would sell one copy, I looked at available resources at little to no cost. I have three tips to offer as well as some thoughts about what I will do differently with the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.

First, pick the right category for the book. In the description on Amazon, I used certain keywords that were relevant to the genre. It is a Scottish historical romance with a time travel twist. Some people love those sorts of books; I do! I looked at bestsellers in the genre. What keywords did they use? How were the descriptions phrased? I then crafted my book’s description so that it would garner attention from other lovers of the genre.

Second, develop a social media profile in advance of the release. I created a website, but I did not have a Facebook profile. That was a mistake. Many readers are accustomed to finding and engaging with their favorite author via social media. While the website was nice, Facebook is better. And, it is free! I post to Facebook when I want to discuss the book, scones, or any random thing. If someone leaves a comment, I respond. I have already learned a great deal about scones from an Australian reader. I never expected that!

Third, set up an author’s dashboard on Goodreads. It is free! I took a webinar about social media resources prior to my book’s release. Goodreads was mentioned in the course. It is a website for book lovers. Readers can start discussions about various books or themes as well as leave reviews of books. They can create their own profiles and list their favorite books. It was simple to add my book to the mix and create a profile. I have had a few questions from readers about my book, which was cool.

What are my plans for the next book? I feel a little more confident about the experience, so I plan to launch the next book on a broader scale. In the coming months, I will research the cost for ads at Amazon, Goodreads, and other relevant places. I want to explore what is necessary for certain sites to review my book as well how to set up giveaways of the new release. Are there other resources that would “get the book out there?” Hopefully, I will learn more about that soon.

In the end, I learned a valuable lesson with everything – formatting, design, and advertising. Writing the book is a difficult task. Once it is done, I need to put away the writer’s brain and think like a business person. I should “farm out” what I can afford and direct my attentions to projects where I can make the most impact. With a little luck, the sequel will reach more readers. For those of you who are on the same journey, good luck – and keep writing!

Comment

Comment

Make it Look Purdy

Writing the book seemed like the hardest part of producing Through the Mist: Restoration. Oh, I was so wrong! After I finished the book, I still needed to format it for publishing and design a cover for the book. In this blog post, I’ll share a little bit about my experience and offer some insight into what I plan to do for the sequel.

Let’s tackle formatting first. In a nutshell, your “publisher” will want your book to be submitted in a format that fits their format. I published  eBook and paperback versions of my book. I used Amazon for the eBook. I used CreateSpace for the paperback. Both vendors had different formats, so I had to create two different versions.

In both cases, the vendor provided a template and instructions about their preferences for margins and other things. When you produce your book, ask the vendor if they offer similar information. It will make life easier for you and hopefully allow you to quickly publish the book.

For design, I decided to produce the cover on my own. I think I have fair design skills, so I used Adobe InDesign to create the eBook cover. The knife and tartan blanket are mine. I took the photo on my sofa. I then loaded it into InDesign and did a little work to produce the final image, which I uploaded to Amazon.

The current cover on the paperback was a template available on CreateSpace. I used the previously-mentioned photo and tweaked it a bit for the paperback.

Now, how do I really feel about doing all that work myself? Well, here’s a succinct answer: it sucked! It felt like torture. After spending so much time writing the book, I just wanted to publish it. It was agony to spend endless hours on the format, to submit and resubmit the work again and again. Ugh! Torture!

The cover design was somewhat fun. I enjoy photography and design. I just didn’t like flipping through templates and trying to find “the one.” And, let me say – I am not satisfied with the template for the paperback. There is a major flaw on the spine of the book that annoys me every time I look at it. I will fix it one day, just not now. The memories of that tortuous process are too fresh.

So, why did I do all the work myself? Again, another succinct answer: money. I did not want to sink a lot of money into a book that might not sell a single copy. I am careful with my spending. I could not justify it.

What are my plans for the sequel? I will probably hire someone to do the formatting for me. I feel more confident that the sequel will sell enough copies to justify the cost. With the first book, I devoted entirely too much time on something that did not fulfill me. I could have used those hours to work on the sequel! The trick will be to find the right person at the right price. I am sure you’ll hear all about it on the blog.

For the design, I am still on the fence. I enjoyed working on the process. I could hire someone to create the cover art for me, though I already have the picture in mind. We will see. For me, I see more value in paying someone to format the darn book.

I have said it a million times. You must set a budget for publishing your book, or you will needlessly spend thousands of dollars. Self-publishing is supposed to be fun. It is okay to hire people to handle the aspects you find boring or beyond your technical abilities. Just be prepared to pay for it.

Comment

Comment

Budgets: Editing

As I work on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, I am already thinking about marketing the book. The first book was a real eye opener about all the extra work required in self publishing. I thought writing the book was the hard part. Oh, no, the business side is even more difficult.

Writing is such a creative process. I found it a bit difficult to switch off the creative side of the brain and turn on the business part when the time came. I would like to avoid the same mistakes when the sequel is released.

I have talked in the past about the importance of setting a budget. I do not consider myself an expert on the topic, but I can offer some insight into the kinds of things that weigh on my mind right now. For the next three weeks, let’s explore three items that should be considered for your budget: editing; formatting and design; and advertising.

Once the book is complete, you might ask yourself whether or not you should use professional editing services. A person can edit your book for everything from grammatical errors to story problems. It is up to you how far you want that person to go. More importantly, how much are willing to spend for the service?

In my case, I paid $100 to have the first 25,000 words of my book reviewed for content only. I am so glad that I did. She identified a major problem with the opening and suggested a different approach to the prologue. As a result, I completely rewrote the prologue and scraped the first eight chapters of the book. In my opinion, the end result is better than the original.

The Internet is filled with people who offer editing services. Do your research carefully. How many books has this person edited? Have you read any of those books? Exactly what services are offered for the fee you will pay? How quickly will the person return the edited work? Do they provide a contract stating that your work is your own? This last question is important. You don’t want someone to steal your idea!

So, what are my plans? Honestly, I am still undecided. I read the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration, and found a few typos. If I had hired an editor, I would like to think that he or she would have found those mistakes. I plan to follow my own advice and see what’s available and how much it costs. Check this blog. I am sure I will write about it when I make the decision.

I plan to devote some amount of my budget to editing. After all, loads of grammatical errors or a sluggish story will disgust readers. I want people to read my book and feel happy, not angry at the mistakes! Consider adopting the same strategy when you publish your first book. Keep writing

Comment

Comment

Is it a Hobby? Or, Is It a Business?

We are fortunate to live in an age when you are no longer dependent upon a publishing house to fall in love with your manuscript and publish it. You can use a myriad of online resources to publish your book, in eBook and/or paperback format. It can be an incredibly daunting experience. It is important to decide upfront if the project is a hobby or a business. The answer to the question will lead you down two entirely different paths.

A hobby is something that you do at a leisurely pace. You are not specifically seeking profit. If you do make a little money, that’s great; it just isn’t your goal. You might spend some money to participate in this activity. Depending upon the hobby, you might spend a little – or a lot. Still, it is discretionary spending. If you must decide between your hobby and feeding your family, you would give up the hobby.

A business, on the other hand, requires time, money, and energy. Your goal is profit. You devote hours to create and market a product. You make the investment because you want this endeavor to be a success.

Now, some would say that you can have both when it comes to writing. If that is your passion, yes, in theory. The old adage “find something you love, and you will never work a day in your life” is a wonderful concept. How many people do you know who have actually achieved that goal? Not many.

The brutal truth is that, while you can self publish your own work, you must decide how you will treat the task. There are literally millions of books out there. I compare publishing my first book to casting a pebble in the ocean. I always came to my original question: is it a business or a hobby?

When I published Through the Mist: Restoration, I quickly realized all the work was on me. I didn't have a publishing team behind me that would market the book, schedule interviews, create advertisements, maintain social media outlets, et cetera. I had to decide how much work I was willing to do.

The process was filled with a lot of uncertainty. Through the Mist: Restoration was my first book. I had no idea if it was good or if anyone would even buy it. I did not want to invest a lot of time or money into the “business” side of things. After all, my main purpose was to finally write a book.

I have not sold millions of copies. I haven’t even cracked 10,000 yet. It is a tremendous success to me because I have sold thousands of copies, something I never imagined would happen. I am amazed that even one person bought the book!

I have spent some money to create a website and buy books for research. I devote time to posting to my website and Facebook in addition to the hours spent writing the sequel. I have not spent any money on advertising , though. I have not contacted various parties to write reviews for the book or sought other means of promotion.

Why? Because I am still learning! I am trying to sort out what I did right, and what I could have done differently. I am researching the various outlets for promotion. In short, I am learning the business side of the endeavor. It turns out that writing the book was the easiest part.

So, what is the takeaway from this rambling blog post? If you are a writer who wants to self publish, I suggest you take a hard look at it. You can spend a ton of money and get no results. You should prepare yourself for that possibility. Then, decide how you want to approach this. If it is a hobby, don’t sink thousands of dollars into it unless you can lose that money.

If it is a business, research, research, research. Most of us do not have a marketing background, a wealth of industry contacts, and unlimited funds. Design a plan. Figure out how much time and money will be needed to execute that plan. Then, be prepared for a long road. If you are very lucky, the plan will work brilliantly and quickly. Do not get discouraged, though, if it takes time to gain traction. Remember, your book is one of literally millions out there.

Before I end this post, I do want to mention one thing I did right. I became a Goodreads author. It was free and easy. My sales jumped after I did that. I don’t understand why but am so glad!

Good luck to everyone out there. Remember, writing is meant to be fun!

Comment

Comment

The Joy of Editing

As I continue to work on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, I cannot help but reflect on the time I spent with the previous book. I was new to the self-publishing process and made a lot of rookie mistakes. I still struggle with certain things. It is a learning process.

One of the biggest challenges is editing. I held fast to certain pieces of the book right until the end. I just knew they were essential to the story. After some serious reflection, I eventually realized that the scenes or even sentences formed a virtual brick wall. They halted the flow of the story.

A quick Google search will yield many names of people who will edit your work –for a fee. As I have said in the past, it is important to set a budget for your self-published book. It should include advertising, web site design, editing – whatever services you believe are necessary. You can spend thousands of dollars. You may never recoup the costs. Can you spare that much money?

With the first book, I did not hire someone to edit the work. I recently read my book again and winced when I found the odd typo, grammatical error, or formatting problem. The errors aren’t bad, but still – they exist. A good editor may have found them for me. Simply put, I did not want to sink a lot of money into my first book, though. I was not sure if even one person would buy it. Thankfully, some of you have!

Self-publishing offers us opportunities that did not exist 10, 15 years ago. Unfortunately, just because you can publish a book without a publisher does not mean it will be easy. You must take on all the work or be willing to pay someone else to do it. It is worth the effort. In the end, you will have something that you created, and no one can ever take that away from you.

Keep writing!

Comment

1 Comment

Finally! The Facebook Page Works!

After much cursing at the screen and a little bit of help from a whippersnapper, the Facebook page is working!

As I have stated in a previous blog post, I don't particularly like Facebook. The rest of the world does not agree with me, though. After all, some people do not like chocolate. Does that mean they are bad people? Hmmmm...maybe that is a bad analogy....

So, I added a link at the top of the navigation bar on this website for the new page. You can also click here to access the new page.

I will update both the blog and the FB page with progress reports about the sequel as well as random thoughts on the writing process. I hope you enjoy both!

 

1 Comment