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Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal

So, here it is! The cover of my latest book, ASTER FINLAY AND THE GREAT ELAN, from Blue Deco Publishing.

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Isn’t it beautiful!

ASTER FINLAY AND THE GREAT ELAN is a middle-grade fantasy adventure.

It’s available for pre-order in ebook on Amazon now and available in paperback on July 7th, 2017.

Click here if you’d like to pre-order an ebook copy.

Posted in Blog posts

Cover Reveal!

Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited to announce that the cover reveal for my next book ASTER FINLAY AND THE GREAT ELAN will be on Saturday, June 3rd.

You can swing by my Facebook page here

or find me on Twitter here if you want to check it out!  You can also check out Blue Deco Publishing’s website here

I’m so excited. I’ll just be over here dancing!

 

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Woo Woooo!

 

 

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Marketing: Trial and Error

Marketing: Trial and Error

The idea of marketing myself and my book gives me heartache. I mean, I’m not a business person. Ugh, and there are so many people out there who seem to know that authors might not be the most business savvy people. So many different companies, people, and websites make so many promises about what they can do to increase the visibility of my book or my brand and increase sales.

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It can’t all be true. So how do we know what works and what doesn’t? I have no idea other than trying a few out and keeping an eye on my sales. If you’re like me, you’ve got a tight budget, so I’m going to keep track of what I’ve tried in this blog post. I’ll be honest, and maybe I can save you a buck or two.

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And we can figure this marketing thing out together. I’d also LOVE advice from you authors out there who’ve found some success and flops.

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So I tried Books and the Bear. I paid $10 for their “Social Media Promotion” which on their website describes this service as:

“Cheap & effective way to promote your book fast!

Audience of 210,000+

Average clicks: 458+”

I got less than 10 clicks. I’d call it a failure. They did tweet it out as they said, though. To be fair to Books and the Bear, maybe my book was the problem, and it just wasn’t appealing enough.

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Writer’s block?

Writer’s block?

Writer’s block? Who? Me?

No. I can say with all honestly I NEVER get writer’s block.

No, I suffer from something I think is much worse. Motivation block!

The problem for me has never been that I stared at the blank page with nothing to write. No, my problem is just getting my butt in my writing chair, opening up my laptop, and getting to work (before social media hijacks me).

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Now I don’t know what causes this. Maybe it’s psychological…If I finish my next book, no one will like it… Maybe it’s because marketing is so hard and I loathe self-promotion. I don’t know. But all I know is that if I can just get my butt into that chair and open the laptop–avoiding all social media and emails–and bring up Scrivener, the words will flow. They might not flow for long, but they flow. And as long as I’m adding to my work-in-progress every day, I’m moving forward, and that’s great!

Now I know what to do to get my butt in that chair and my fingers typing away.

I’ve found the key!

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Did anyone else’s mind immediately skip to THE GOONIES?

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No? Okay, it’s just me then. But we’re all different, right? And maybe my key won’t open your motivationally locked door. But for me what works is…

Word Sprints!

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And here’s why it works for me. I know I only have to sit down for 30 minutes. That’s not very long. It doesn’t feel overwhelming to me. It feels VERY doable.

Say…”Run a marathon,” and I’m hiding under a bed somewhere.

Say…”Run a mile,” and…okay, I’d still be hiding.

But….”Run a quick lap around the track,” and I feel like that’s not so bad. I can do that. And I’ll tell you what, every single time I do a sprint, I end up taking a few extra laps. It works even better when I have a buddy who is sprinting with me or cheering me along from the sidelines.

If you’re stuck, give it a try. It’s only 30 minutes. Or maybe try 20 or 10?

What works for you when you’d rather sit on the couch staring at the wall than get to work on your writing?

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I hope I never Roseanne my novels

I hope I never Roseanne my novels

This didn’t start out as a blog post idea, or anything to do with writing at all really. I was washing dishes and thinking about the show Roseanne. Wanting to watch a few episodes, actually, but Netflix doesn’t have the beginning seasons anymore just those later ones. 😞

Oh man, I LOVED LOVE that show. Well, the first few seasons anyway. What happened after that? Does anyone know?

 

Remember the episode where Becky farted at school? Ahh! I die every time I watch it. Darlene kills me every time. Or how ’bout the episode where Roseanne is in the car accident and comes home all hopped up on painkillers. Hilarious! Remember when Roseanne and Jackie had a fight and Darlene goes to Jackies and she’s drunk. HA HA HA!

This family reminded me of my family and still does. I’ve got a great big ol’ teddy bear of a dad like Dan Conner. There were two older sisters and a little brother in my family. My mom was a lot kinder than Roseanne, but she sure loved her kids. I had a cool single (for a while anyway) Aunt that I looked up to.

Then, the show got weird. It changed slowly at first, and by the end, you wouldn’t even know it was the same show except that it had all the same characters actors–well except for Becky.

I think the worst thing that happened was that the show didn’t stay true to the characters personalities. I know people change and grow over time, but they all changed too much. Invasion of the body snatchers different!

Becky started out as the smart, studious one and then was this blond bimbo. What?

Darlene was a witty, bad student, tomboy-type then was all of a sudden the smart one and teasing Becky about being dumb.

Who knows with DJ!

Jackie was this cool chick who turned into a whiney obnoxious character, and somehow it seemed like her nose got bulbous. Or maybe I just got nit-picky because I grew to hate her.

Roseanne was this fantastically funny and smart mom, but the fun went away, and she was just plain…mean.

And Dan, okay, I loved Dan throughout. I don’t remember wondering about Dan (other than the affair which turned out not to be true according to the final episode, so I don’t know if I count that)

Did they get all new writers who had no idea who the characters were and had never seen the previous episodes? Did they forget what it was that made so many of us love and identify with the Conners, to begin with? What the heck people? Who F-ed up that incredible show? And how do I avoid that in my writing?

I know that last episode “explains things, ” but it didn’t make the time we spent watching those later episodes enjoyable, for those of us who hung on until the end that is. I’m sure the majority of fans tuned out long before the finale.

I guess it’s important to remember who my characters are and not to force them to do anything they wouldn’t do. Yeah, they may change and grow but in a way that stays true to who they are inside.

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I feel like prey, sometimes.

I feel like prey, sometimes.

I love to write!💕  For the longest time, I only shared my stories or poems with family and some friends. It’s only been in the last two years that I decided I’d try and share my stories with others outside my little circle. It’s a good thing that sharing is my primary goal or I’d quit. I wouldn’t stop writing but sharing. Because let me tell you, I’m not making any money. None.

It’s actually been quite expensive, and I sometimes feel like prey in a world full of predators.

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Photo – Ahhh! Help me!

 

There are plenty of people with fangs dripping fresh with blood ready to rip off another hopeful author. With some research, it’s possible to avoid most of them. But there are also so many classes, webinars, and “must know information” for sale out there, writing can be quite the money pit. And they are so expensive. It makes my head swirl! This isn’t to say that all these things are predatory. I’m sure a great deal of them are very, very good and well worth every dime. But it’s hard to know which ones are and you won’t know until you’ve shelled out the big bucks. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not Scrooge McDuck swimming in my money vault of gold coins.

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I’m just starting out, and I know I have to build my brand.  I’m going to have to spend some money before I ever make some. I have to pay for marketing. I have to pay for editing. (enter long list of other things I need to pay for) I need to learn about Search Engine Optimization and Meta Data and endless amounts of other types of info that I usually like to avoid.

I want to be smart with my money. And while I might have to dig and read a bunch of extra stuff I don’t want to know about, I’m finding useful information for free. My favorite place is Youtube. I love people like Joanna Penn from the Creative Penn, Jenna Moreci, Vivian Reis, and Tom Corson-Knowles to name a few. My subscription list keeps growing and that boring time spent on the treadmill is now very interesting and use for my brain as well as my body.

In the spirit of these wonderful Vlogs I love, I’m going to start sharing any and everything I find that works for me as well as what doesn’t. Hopefully, as I save (or waste) a buck or two, you’ll learn along with me.

So far, I’m not making any money. But I’m sharing my stories, and I love it. It would be nice to break even one day, or even make a little extra money. Anyway, I’m going to keep plugging along. I’d love tips from you too if you have any you’d like to share.

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Too many ideas

Too many ideas

Lately, I’ve been struggling to move forward with my writing. Why? I have too many ideas. I’ve got six manuscripts started, and I keep skipping around between them. By the time I work my way through all of them, I need to reread what I wrote before I can continue with the next. It’s funny how I can forget what I wrote.

I know that I should pick one and stick to it until I’m done, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I keep feeling like I need to go back to the others. It’s very frustrating!

So, I’ve decided to write out a manuscript schedule to try to stop my story-hopping. I’m also going to schedule time before I write to work in a separate “notes” file for each other works. That way I can still get those nagging ideas down but still commit to writing one project at a time.

I don’t know if this will work or not, but I’ve got to do something. Clearly, the system I have of skipping around isn’t working out for me. I’ll never finish anything at this rate. If the schedule is written down and I can look at it, it might feel more like a rule I have to follow. I don’t know. Maybe that’s silly, but it’s worth a try.

Organizational skills have never been a strength of mine. My office is a mess. Did I read somewhere that an unorganized mind is a brilliant mind? If not, don’t tell me. I think I’ll believe it anyway.

I’m also not going to allow myself to start anything new other than a note document for any other ideas that might come along. I have an idea book filled with ideas, but they don’t always harass me to start any writing right away. For those that do, at least I’ll have scheduled time for taking notes.

I’ve been trying to keep my head in a good place (which also involves avoiding the nasty places social media has become) and eliminate all negative thinking as quickly as possible. So in keeping with being positive, when I’m feeling frustrated, I’m going to remember to be grateful for the problem of having too many ideas. It must be much better than having none at all.

 

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How to read more

How to read more –

I’ve admitted before that I’m a reluctant reader. I don’t ravenously devour books. I don’t have the kind of swoony love affair that others seem to have with them. Now, when I do find a book that grabs me, I fall head over heals in love. Like those Matthew McConaughey movies where he’s this big playboy until he meets that one special girl.

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When I find that special book, you know what it’s like? It’s like I’m Angela Chase obsessing over Jordan Catalano!

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Unfortunately, there aren’t many Jordan Catalanos leaning against lockers waiting to steal my heart (Ah, I love the way he leans). For me, the book world contains a lot more Brian Krakows.

Now, I LOVE to tell stories. I think people assume that all writers love to read, but it’s just not true for me. They are two different activities. I mean, I like to eat but don’t necessarily like to cook. Ya know what I’m sayin’?

But I know I have to read to be a better writer. It’s studying. I have to do it because I want to be the best at what I do, so I’m willing to put in the work. (Keeping my fingers crossed each time I open a cover that love is waiting inside!) And I’ve been reading a lot more. A LOT more! It’s gotten easier. How? Well, I’m glad you asked.

I’ve made a list of all the things that make it easier. I’m sharing because maybe it’ll help other reluctant readers.

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1) No guilt over how long it takes me to read a book. I’m always slow. And who cares? What does it matter how fast you travel from cover to cover? Maybe us slow readers are the ones who are stopping along the way to smell the roses. Besides, anyone who cares how long it takes you is kind of a jerk.

2) If a first chapter is painful to read, toss it aside! It’ll only reinforce your belief that reading is a horrible task. Reading isn’t horrible, the crap book is.

3) I take recommendations. This is how I found THE WHEEL OF TIME series. I’m enjoying it, and I plan to finish the whole thing (slowly).

4) When I do take recommendations, I don’t care to pretend I think it’s awesome or even that I’m willing to finish it. “Good, but not my cup of tea” is a good line to throw out there.

5) Read outside the stuff you’d find at Barnes & Noble. There are a lot of good books published by small presses that don’t make it into the stores as well as good self-published books. Did you ever consider that you just may not like the stuff that’s meant to sell to the masses? Sure, there’s some self-published crap, but then you return to number 2 on the list -you don’t have to read the whole thing! And a lot of times, the ebooks are free or 99 cents on Amazon. That’s better than picking something up at a bookstore, paying a lot more, and it ends up being crap too. I’ve started quite a few books I hated recently and was glad I got them at the library instead of the bookstore. You don’t have to have a big bookshelf to impress anyone.

6) I require absolute silence when reading! I’ve learned not to try to read while waiting for my kids at the dance studio. These loud moms are always roaring on about their Disney Cruiseline vacations and who booked a more lavish trip! And by the way, WHY do people talk so loud? Especially when the person they’re talking to is sitting right next to them? But loud-talkers are a whole other topic. I used to constantly try reading in places that weren’t silent, and I’d end up reading the same line over and over. It was frustrating! Once again it reinforced the belief that it was the reading I hated and not what I now recognize as a hatred for overly loud people. I want to fall into a different world, and I can’t do that when some lady is bragging about the size of her husband’s SUV.

7) Most importantly – I read what I want! For the longest time, I was embarrassed to read middle-grade fantasy in public. Then I stopped caring what other people thought.

So that’s it. I hope it helps.

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