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The Language of Motherhood

While I walked G at the beach one morning, we passed two ladies who were jogging. (Well, they would call it jogging, but I swear G and I were walking faster.) Both ladies were obviously moms based upon their conversation. One of them commented that it was the first time she had been away from the kids.

A thought occurred to me, and I would like your input. It seems to me that mothers have set topics of conversation - are the kids eating right? Are they spending too much time on their devices? Are they safe? And so on....It seems as if all conversation surrounds the kids. The mother's own interests, ambitions, and hobbies take a backseat to the children.

All you mothers out there - is that true?

Yes, this is material for the upcoming book. I have pages in my book journal about this topic. Your input is extremely helpful. Please feel free to comment on my Facebook page, send me a private message through Facebook, or leave a comment here. Thank you!

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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.

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Writing When You are Busy

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Life Gets in the Way

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to win the lottery? I do not regularly buy a ticket, which makes it hard to win. Still, on those rare occasions when I do, I always fantasize about walking into the office and quitting my job so I could stay home and write full time. In fact, I have made it publicly known that, if I win the lotto, I am out the door. It was written (in jest) into a project plan once – what would we do if she won the lotto? It made for much-needed bit of levity in a tense situation.

Until I win the lotto, I must squeeze in writing time whenever I can. We have a massive project ahead this month. At the same time, I have made the decision to change directions for the sequel (more on that in a bit). So, it comes to this – work on the book or work on the blog. Since I doubt anyone waits with bated breath for the next blog post, I chose the book. For the month of August at least, I will only post to the blog when I have something really important to say.

I encourage you to visit my Facebook page. I will regularly post there because it does not require a lot of effort and has a more relaxed tone. If you have not visited yet, you will find a lot of pictures of food. A girl must eat!

Now, about the sequel….

It’s big - too big. As I mentioned recently on Facebook, one criticism of the first book involved pacing. When I read the sequel, I see the same pacing problem. It takes 16 chapters before something big happens. Those 16 chapters are critical to the story, but do you really see that when you are slogging through them? Probably not. I fear that, if left as is, you might toss the book from sheer boredom.

I have decided to take that section of the book and turn it into a novella. Then, when Through the Mist: Reunion begins, it will be maybe a chapter of material, and – BOOM –the action starts. Of course, I will mention a little bit of the back story from the novella but not much. If readers really want to know the full story, they can read the novella first and then start the sequel. The detail people get the whole story. The folks who want action can skip the novella altogether. Everybody wins (I hope).

Could a better writer find a different solution? Sure. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear them. Seriously –I really would.

So, until my next blog post – see you on Facebook!

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Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago, I asked if 3 people would submit ratings on Goodreads for my first book, Through the Mist: Restoration. I was just shy of 100 ratings. I realize some people may consider that amount to be small. It means the world to me because I never thought anyone would read the book, let alone 100 people pick it up. If I received those 3 ratings, I promised to donate $100 to the Avery County Humane Society. I am happy to say that I now have over 100 ratings on Goodreads. Thank you so much!

I have said many, many times that writing a book was the fulfillment of a dream. What’s your dream? You don’t have to pick something grand like skydiving or starting your own business, although go for it if you feel empowered. Try to accomplish something small, just to prove to yourself that you can do it. Then, build on it. Try something a little harder. Soon, you’ll move mountains.

It is easier to sit on the couch and complain about everything and everyone. It is much harder to get on your feet and try. You will feel better for the effort. To hell with anyone who says you cannot/should not/could not do it. Remember – it is important to you. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

Go for it!

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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!

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Inspiration? Not So Much

It is summertime here in the States. It has brought scorching temperatures and bad thunderstorms here in the South. It has also prompted a bit of laziness on my part. How do you find the time to write when all you want to do is drink a glass of cold lemonade and relax?

I tried to spark creativity by visiting the Biltmore House yesterday. You can read all about that on my Facebook page. I am a passholder so I can visit as much as I like without buying a ticket. Visiting the Biltmore House gives me a peek into refined living and conjures images of scenes in my upcoming book, Through the Mist: Reunion.

Yesterday, though, it was so crowded that I only spent about 15 minutes in the house. I got a late start, thanks to an unusual power outage at home. I don’t like heavy crowds so it was not as inspirational as visits past.

What do you do when you struggle to find inspiration?

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Book Report

So, where do we stand with that darn sequel??

Progress is slow. To be honest, it is difficult to find time to write right now. We have some big projects at work, so I pretty tired after hours. I will offer some tidbits, though.

Some have criticized Through the Mist: Restoration for having an abrupt ending. The book is almost 300 pages long. I never meant for it to be a deep dive into every detail. Instead, I purposely ended the story where it felt natural to me. The point of that story was Tilly’s decision at the end. Once resolved, a new story began - in another book.

Through the Mist: Reunion will cover a lot more ground than the first book. We have a lot of story in this one since it involves more people. Don’t worry –you won’t need a list of characters to keep track of all the people. (I hate stories like that.) Hopefully, though, the journey will take us to a place where each character’s story is resolved. Well, maybe "resolved" is a strong word. After all, I still want to do at least one more book in the series.

Since it is a lot of story, it is taking longer to write the book. I am still pushing myself for a fall release. I want it to be worth your time, though. If I miss the deadline, know that it is for the good of the story.

Thank you for your patience. I would be happy to answer any questions you have and hear any feedback you would like to offer. Feel free to leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.

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I Hear Voices

The writing process is rather interesting. Ordinarily, it is viewed with concern when one admits to hearing voices. However, if one is a writer, it is not so strange.

I heard a fascinating interview on NPR this morning. It is worth sharing:

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/06/526919024/penelope-lively-ponders-pompeii-and-other-stories-in-the-purple-swamp-hen

I am intrigued by the process other writers use to create their stories. I hope you find it as interesting as I do.

Enjoy!

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Popcorn Fiction

I love to put M&Ms in popcorn. The combination of salty and sweet is irresistible. Sure, it makes a great snack, but I need more than that for a satisfying meal. Sadly, candy and popcorn are not part of a balanced diet.

I view fiction the same way. Some books are meant to uplift, to challenge a reader’s pre-conceived notions, to educate – you know, the kind of book that ends up on Oprah’s book club lists. These types of books often win prestigious awards and may be described as life changing. Books of this type certainly have a place in a balanced diet of the brain.

Then, you have what I call “popcorn fiction.” Like a snack, it is meant to satisfy a craving and may not provide life-sustaining sustenance. Still, it sure is fun to read, isn’t it? Who doesn’t like a snack every now and then?

I plant my books solidly in the "popcorn fiction" category. I frequently read these types of books because I have enough reality in the real world. I love to escape into a story that may not challenge me on an intellectual level but will be fun.

If you are looking for an escape and possibly a laugh or two, please pick up my book, Through the Mist: Restoration. I am currently working on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. While it does have a few serious moments, the overall story is meant to be fun.

Then, when you are ready for fulfilling fiction, check out any number of serious works on Goodreads or any other reader site. I envy the writers who can dedicate themselves to such amazing work. Their writing is far superior to anything I could ever hope to do. And, that’s perfectly fine. In life, we cannot live on candy alone. Sometimes, we must eat a salad.

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In Case You Missed It

If you do not follow me on Facebook, you may have missed it. This week, I finished the first draft of the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.

The story took me in some interesting directions that I had not intended for the original plot line. It will be interesting to see if some of the events make the final cut. At this point, I will start at the beginning of the story and fill in all the details. The current version is dialogue heavy in spots. A few threads are not fully developed so they seem wildly implausible as written. Also, the beginning is just stupid, to be blunt.

I am glad the first draft is done, though. That’s a big part of the battle. I still have a goal of publishing the sequel this fall. I will continue to provide updates here and on Facebook.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from you. Let me know if you have any questions about the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration; the writing process; or any other topic. Thanks for reading!

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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!

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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.

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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

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Book or Blog?

This week, I had a choice. Work on the blog...or work on the book?

As you can probably guess, I chose the book. I am in the thick of the last section. Our cast is back at Castle Fion. Far from being a wrap up, more action takes place there. With luck, I will pull all the pieces together.

Stay tuned!

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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!

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