Thursday, March 09, 2017

Why do we writers write?

Here are my facts:

Traditionally published book 2015 with medium-sized publisher--sold almost 500 books made a little over $100 in royalties so far.Took two years to be published and write. Paid editor $$$+

Self-published book two weeks ago--sold over 50 books and have made more in royalties than above. Took over a year to write, a month to publish, paid editor $$$+

Article for magazine this fall--took ten minutes to write--earned $100 for 1,000 words. 

Chicken Soup for the Soul --took ten minutes to write--earned $200.

So why do we write with these kind of facts? In my ten plus years of writing, I know of only a handful of writers who made it with a big publisher and/or got a three book deal. When I owned a bookstore and attended conventions, I dreamed of becoming one of the writers people stood in line to get an autographed copy of their book. In reality, I knew that dream would never materialize.

But is it the dream that keeps us going? Surely not the time or money.

For me it comes down to this: I have stories I want to share. I want to take others on the emotional journey I have gone on. I want one or two people to think about what I wrote and maybe it will make a small difference in their life.

Is it enough and is that dream satisfying enough? 

Go back to the top of this post and spin your own numbers. But maybe you will be one of those who breaks through, makes a ton of $$ and I stand in line for your autograph. I hope that is true because it offers still more hope to many.

I write. I share, It's what I do. 

And it's enough. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ten Lessons I learned from Self-Publishing

It's been four days since I released my first self-published book. I can probably count on one hand, maybe two, how many hours of sleep I've had since. I thought I'd share a few tips from my learning experience.

1. Never set a release date until you have gotten the final copy approved by KDP or CreateSpace. If not, you will count the hours, minutes, seconds, hoping to get a good copy uploaded and approved by the date.

2. Forget sleeping on the night before release. I was at my computer at 2 am worrying about a wrong last name in the description. 

3. There will be mistakes in your manuscript. A friend shared with me how I had used two wrong words in mine two days after release. Ugh. I wanted to die. I had gotten my book professionally edited but all the reviewers and myself had missed those words. Perfection is not the goal. You might never get it perfect.

4. Learn formatting before you play with the sites' programs. I taught myself a crash course in indentation too late. I still have not figured out how to flush even the margins on a paper version.

5. Buy a hard proof copy. I bought four. I ran out of time for the final and fifth and just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

6. Realize not everyone will love your book. Already one friend told me she bought it but was afraid of the content as she is sensitive to it. That's ok. Brown shoes and black shoes. 

7. I thought when I updated my book on Amazon Kindle, my readers would get updates too--not happening. So learn to be ok with your original draft, do the changes and upload another.

8. Don't check your sales stats every hour, They will play with your emotions and you don't need that on top of your crashing self-confidence. Just let it go. 

9. Be happy you did it. Even if only for a few minutes each day. Many people won't ever publish a book in their lifetime.

10. Ask your readers to post reviews as quickly as they tell you they liked your book. It can't hurt. 

This journey has just begun for me. I don't know if I will ever do it again but glad I gave it a shot. I do know that the stress is the same for traditional and self-publishing when it comes to hoping people like your story. In the end, story trumps everything.

Friday, February 17, 2017


 THE BEND releases on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords TODAY. If you enjoy clean suspense, give my book a chance. If you love it, please share a review afterwards. Thank you!

Monday, January 30, 2017

What I'm learning about Self-Publishing

I took on self-publishing with hopes I could birth a book that sat on my computer. I didn't realize that although part of the process would go smoothly, other parts would not. 

I started with Kindle Publishing--an easy process once I uploaded my edited book. The program virtually did everything for me. I then let my followers know my eBook would be available on Kindle. I decided to set a designated pre-order date to allow me to build an audience and create advertising. Part of me wishes I had not done it a month out, but as time passes, I'm glad I've had that time.

Why? Because readers asked me for a paper version and Nook version. 

Uploading the book to Barnes and Nobles was not as simple as Kindle. It took more work but when the final approval came through, I did a fist pump. 

But doing paper? I checked out CreateSpace and Kindle's version and finally, last Monday decided to tackle CreateSpace. Let me say, I learned more about laying out covers and my Word doc than I ever knew before. I am very techie challenged but persevered. I had to resize and design my cover, change the spacing and special effects on the book--I dreaded their emails telling me what my book needed still. On Friday, I ordered a proof. 

After determining from where my book would release, I dove into advertising. I began with Facebook and created a short video on an independent site. Facebook lets you set a price limit so I started with ten dollars and ran the video. Then I did a simple post announcing the Pre-Order status. My thoughts are I must get people to know about me and then my book if I hope for sales. I used to do advertising for my bookstore and do believe in constant marketing with ads within a budget. 

I've got 18 days until release. It's unknown territory and might flop. Or it might not, You don't fail unless you stop trying. I have not stopped yet.

I hope you never give up on your dream and give it all you've got! Life is short. Dreams color our lives. This is my dream--produce and present a book you will remember long after the lights go out.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Celebrating my Second Novel


Kate Snow is tired of running from her past. Ever since her near-death experience, she sees details in photographs other people can't. At first, she saw it as a gift, but she’s no longer sure if it’s a blessing or a curse. She wants to forget about being the Miracle Girl—the lone survivor of the explosion that killed everyone she loved. With hope for a new beginning and anonymity, Kate accepts a job as a photographer for the daily newspaper in the rural town of Bend, PA. Her first assignment thrusts her into the mysterious disappearance of three women and the discovery of a clandestine women's compound. Uneasy and uncertain who to trust, Kate turns to Seth Abrams, the paper's reporter.

Seth's one desire is to capture the big story that will catapult him to journalistic stardom. Bend's cult-like doings provide the perfect opportunity—until Kate, the new photographer, scoops him. When Kate reveals her secret to him along with her fears about the town, he must choose to help her or use her—and her gift, as his stepping stone to fame.
Will Kate and Seth team up to protect the people of Bend? Or will Kate fall victim to Bend's darker side?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ENTER- The Fear of Submitting your Book

It's one word. One push of a button. One second of my time after all I've done to prepare.

My finger wavers over the key. If I push the button, my book  gets published. Self-published. I've written the cover blurb at least a hundred times. I've revised the cover over and over, seeking advice from other writers and friends. My story has been edited by Beta readers, critique partners, my ex-agent and a professional editor.

I should be ready.

But is any writer ever ready for what comes after they submit their work to the world?

The other day, I read a few nasty comments on Amazon about one woman's book. I endured a bad one myself on my first novel. But this is different. I don't have the backing of a publishing house. I have me. Only me.

The me who did my best to present the best product I can at this point in my writing career.

My husband reminded me how he bid jobs in construction for so many years. Some of his customers loved his work, others complained. He couldn't please 100 % of the people 100% of the time.

I won't either.

Yet still...

I've set the release date. My mother's birthday and the day my father died. Perhaps I chose that date so I can remember it but perhaps to remind me it's just a button. A push of the finger.

So much more in life is important.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

When Self-Publishing Looks You in the Mirror

I can't believe I'm writing this post. Maybe I am because I want to make 2017 count. Maybe because I wasted time last year or maybe because I made major writing changes in the past six months. Who knows but as I type these words, part of me is screaming to run.

For over ten years, I've been against self-publishing. I felt it was only a last resort, not a viable option. I'd seen too many books with poor editing, misspelled words, and horrible plots. I didn't want to be one of those writers.

Was I a snob or what? Only Traditional for me. An agent. A publishing house. I wanted to be a real author. How else would I be valid?

Oh, I had it bad. 

If you read my last post, you remember I parted ways with my agent and have grown tired and frustrated and disillusioned with the writing process. My first novel was published traditionally. Since then, I've had what you call close but no cigar moments.

I realize a lot of factors come into play with the acceptance of any book, article etc. I also realize how scary it is to think your book is good enough to send out  without a team of experienced publishing people behind it.

But I also hope one or two more people might want to read what I have to say. That's all. I'm not expecting an avalanche of readers. Already did that and have found if you don't do the marketing, not much happens. So either way, it is work.

After spending so many hours, months and years in the publishing industry, starting with buying and selling books in my bookstore, noting what sells, what returns, and then finally writing myself, I'm not a newbie. I understand what it takes to sell. 

Not trying is giving up, though. 

Last night, a good writer friend and I played with a sample cover to start the process. I've written a suspense book and asked for her input as she was my beta reader. I told her I had a year to do this. I need that time to learn, ask questions, push my fears aside, and pray.

Publishing this book might be the last book I ever publish. Or not. For now I'm taking that first step. A baby one. Of course. But at least I'm doing and that's what counts. 

In the meantime, between panicking over this post and process, I'm writing a story for my granddaughter like I said I would. A romance. A modern-day find-your-prince book.

Just can't stop writing. Hope you don't either.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why I quit writing for publication and will tell stories again.

I have been writing for publication--the big dream most writers have--for ten years. In the spring of 2013, I sold my first book to a small publisher. Sure, I remember that feeling of excitement when it came out in the spring of 2015 and hoping it made it big. All those thoughts writers entertain. Then reality set in. I sold around 500 copies and made less than I did for a Chicken Soup story. But I told myself that's what happens with first books. You just need to write another book. A better one. It's not about the money, it's about never giving up.

I've been telling myself that same story with each novel I wrote. I studied the craft, hired editors, used critique partners, beta readers, promoted myself on social media. What more could I do? When I landed an agent with my book in the fall of 2014, I figured my hard work had paid off. Now I would land a contract with a big publisher. Wrong again. This spring, I learned  my book had been passed  by the big three. 

I parted ways with my agent in September. I felt she could use her time with better writers. Besides, I hadn't written anything new after finishing my tenth novel that spring.  A book for the general market and my agent worked in the Christian market. I wasn't sure what I was doing anymore but I knew that the big dream was not doing it for me. I was miserable.

I missed storytelling for the sake of telling a story. I no longer wanted to write a certain genre or style to satisfy a publisher or an agent or to get published. When I realized how I felt, I also realized it was time to do something else.

At first I thought I might never write again. But on the advice of a writer friend,  I sent out a few non-fiction articles here and there and received good news. I started with non-fiction and enjoyed writing stories that moved my heart or those I wrote about. 

Then I thought about the stories I told my grandchildren--how their eyes lit and how they hung on each word until the very end. Princess stories. Hero stories. Feel-good stories.

When I started my writing journey, I wrote stories because I loved the story. I wanted that again. And so with the help of a dear friend here, I may do that again. The story might never be published. But that's okay. I'll write the story for my granddaughter. Maybe someday I'll write one for my grandson. 

That's a big enough audience for me. The best audience. 

And if the Lord should have different plans for my writing, I'm listening. But I think He's happy that I've found my love again and will use my skills like this. 

The hardest part of this decision was releasing that crazy dream. Learning to be content and let go of that goal. But in the past few weeks, I have discovered the new dream is much, much better.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Spilled Out

Almost seven months later, I'm settled into my new town. Or as settled as I can be. I've found my drugstore, a cool doctor, love my hairdresser, and attend a church five minutes from our house, Last week we finished painting the last side plus painted the patio All that's left is the garage.

And we are talking of selling already.

It seems the market is escalating again. We missed it last time and don't want to do the same this time around since we moved here to make money. Oh it might not be for a few years yet but still we spoke about it. When we do that, I find my heart not digging into my new home. I look around me and think temporary.

I knew this whole Florida move was temporary from the start. I have a home in PA waiting for me to return to finish. But still the thought of temporary makes living here harder. The church we attend is made up of great people--people who have known each other for years and years. Some more than twenty. The pastor has been there twenty-six and they are a huge family. With this move I told myself we wouldn't church hop trying to find the best one for fellowship like I did in the past. We love the sermons and I have told myself that's enough. We might not ever fit in but for whatever reason, we have been spilled out here and that's where we will lay our roots.

Even if it is temporary.

Isn't that what we do as Christians? I'm beginning to understand that concept more and more. This is our temporary home yet we are supposed to be planting roots. making a difference for Christ but always looking ahead to our permanent home.

So maybe being spilled out here isn't so bad. However long we are here. As I move about the country, I believe more than ever in God's plan. If is for me to grow in one area by living here or interact with that one other person, then I'm okay with it.

I've been spilled out but I can still bloom.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Around the Corner--An update

I can't believe six months have flown by. I promised myself to update this blog occasionally and I think that time has arrived.

We have moved again! We left SW Florida behind to move to the NE coast of Florida. Another husband job change--one I can report he loves. February proved to be a rugged time for us as we lived in an extended stay hotel, applied for a loan and finally purchased a home. Finally is the word as we didn't want to pay rent any longer while we worked in Florida.

For over two months, we renovated the house. Painted, put in flooring, cleaned and updated. I loved the experience. Now I'm decorating with thrift store finds for when we sell someday. Yes, we still own our PA home that we now call our retirement place.

As for writing, I'll finish my edits this week on The Bend and send it to my editor before handing it back to my agent. Publication takes time starting with a good story. Hoping my current story will find a home soon.

But God has given me so many fun activities to do along with writing. I'm redoing furniture, learning photography and playing my guitar. Sunday we visited a new church. Hopefully, we won't need to visit any others.

I never thought I'd be living in this part of Florida. Never thought I'd ever own two homes after our loss in 2007. I never thought I'd be enjoying so many new hobbies.

But as I always say: God knew.

Keep your eyes open. You never know what is around the next corner.