Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Top 10 posts for 2013

We’re at the end of another year and, as I did last year, I’d like to share my Top 10 blog posts for the year.  While I’d like to think the most popular posts might give me a better idea of what readers are most interested in, I have to say it seems to be quite a variation if these posts have anything to say about it. 
Here are the Top 10 posts:
10.  A week to test my patience.  This post was written after dealing with a difficult week and I assume I must have struck a chord with others who could feel my pain.

9.  Can creative chaos be organized?  Whether you are creative, organized, creative about organizing or buried by creative chaos, if you’re like me you feel the need to get totally organized at some point or another.
8.  My Mother’s Day weekend.  I like to share about time spent with family and it would appear others enjoyed reading what I had to share.

7.  Tenino as Jorja sees it.  This post was great for those who needed to see a map of my fictional version of Tenino.
6.  My recipe for a happy marriage.  This was offered from the heart after celebrating 22 years of marriage with my soul mate.

5.  Judging by Looks?  It’s just a human trait.  I wrote this post after coming up with a cover design for Best Kept Secrets.  The cover is the first impression and very important when it comes to attracting the interest of new readers.  No matter how many years I continue to write, I believe I will never learn to stop biting my nails as I anticipate how readers will respond to the newest book cover.
4.  Why America’s Got Talent makes me cry.  Because I’m a softie and I love to see people work hard at achieving their dreams.  I believe many of you must feel the same way…or maybe you were just interested in my post because you happened to also like the show.

3.  Who made the quarter-finalist cut?  This was an extremely exciting contest for me to take part in and I was thrilled when I made the top 400 out of 10,000 entries in the mystery/thriller genre and even more thrilled when I earned my spot as a quarter-finalist as one of the top 100 in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. 
2.  Pitch Perfect.  This had the second highest amount of views and I wonder if it was because at the time there was a movie titled Pitch Perfect.  My post wasn’t about the movie but about the pitch I had to come up with to enter my book in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and how nervous I was about the whole thing. 

1.  What would we do without distractions?  This was my number one post for 2013.  I guess many of you relate to the fact that we all live with distractions in many areas of our lives and the trick is how we deal with them. 
So there’s my list of the top ten posts which seemed to draw the most interest, for one reason or another.  My top 10 for 2012 also saw a variation so I’m curious to see what readers respond to in 2014.  While I’ve only been blogging for two short years, it seems so long ago that I finally came out as a writer on December 31, 2011.  Since then I’ve published just over 200 posts on this blog, published two books, finished a short story (which was a gift for others this Christmas but will likely be on sale soon) and began writing my third novel.  Maybe it feels longer than two years because I’ve been able to do so much.  Having said that, I look forward to the coming year and I truly appreciate everyone who continues to follow me on my journey as an author.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 and a Year in Photos

So how did 2013 treat you?  As I look back on my year, I have to admit it has been quite busy and full of many ups but also a few downs:  three books signings, taking part in Lakefair, my oldest graduated from college, my youngest turned 16, trips to the beach, to Portland, to Seattle, a road trip to Idaho, I made it as a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, published my second book, lost a wonderful aunt, welcomed an adorable niece and ended the year focusing more on my  health after surgery.  Overall, 2013 has been a good year and I truly look forward to what 2014 has in store for me. 
Throughout the year, I’ve taken many, many photographs.  This is not unusual for me as I carry my camera with me just about every time I step out of the house; partly because I love to take photographs and partly because, as an investigator, I need to be prepared should it be necessary to take photographs on short notice.  As one of my final posts for 2013, I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos for each month out of the year. 

JANUARY:  Piper – she is the only character in my books who gets to keep her true name.

FEBRUARY:  From a trip to Portland, at the Pittock Mansion – I loved this staircase.

MARCH:  Spring is probably my favorite time of year and it’s when I get excited about planning my garden – there is a moment in time when the blossoms on my plum trees are just beautiful and I know we’re heading towards much nicer weather.

APRIL:  My favorite month and I had a hard time picking my favorite photo but I finally stuck with this guy – he came to visit me when I was eating my lunch at a park in Olympia and I thought he was beautiful.

MAY:  A walk around Tumwater Falls never fails to produce some nice photos – again, had a hard time to choose a favorite photo.

JUNE:  I adore anything moose - so it's not a surprise to learn this is one of my favorite garden decorations.  
JULY:  I took a ton of photos during the month of July but I just love this boathouse we spotted during our road trip to Idaho.

AUGUST:  On board the Lotus on a beautiful day during Harbor Days in Olympia – if a boat can be called adorable, this one would be it.

SEPTEMBER:  A shot of the valley from my driveway and some of my neighbor's cows.

OCTOBER:  An absolutely beautiful sunrise I was thrilled to get a shot of on my way out one morning.

NOVEMBER:  I see Mt. Rainier every day, if the weather permits it, and I never hesitate to take snapshots whenever I get the chance on a beautiful fall day.

DECEMBER:  I took this photo last week when I decided to visit the marina in Olympia during lunch – it was such a gorgeous day and I was surprised when only a few days later we woke up to snow.

So there's my year-at-a-glance with some of my favorite photos.  I can’t wait to see what photo opportunities I get during 2014!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What’s all the hubbub, bub?

How are your holiday spirits now that we’re only a week away from Christmas?  Do you have all your shopping done and your gifts wrapped and under the tree?  Or are you about ready to pull your hair out as you scan the full parking lot for just one empty space or stand in a long line waiting patiently as the cashiers take their time ringing up purchases while trying to get customers to sign up for a card or fork over their e-mail addresses? 
When everyone is trying to do the same thing at the same time, it’s definitely the season when we might need the most reason to have patience, be kind and try our best at going with the flow.  But that’s easier said than done.

I’ve had to remember to be patient as I try to move around town during my lunch hour, doing my best to fit in as many errands as I can so I won’t have to do them after work or on the weekend.  It’s definitely harder when the area I work in is close to the mall and near many large retail stores.  Traffic and long lines at the register are just par for the course this time of year and it means I have to prepare myself mentally so that I don’t add to the noise of frustration many store employees must hear every day.
What’s funny about this time of year is that it really doesn’t have to be all that frustrating when it comes to shopping for gifts.  If I just planned ahead of time, I wouldn’t be scrambling to find last minute gifts or cursing myself when I’ve discovered that one special item is now out of stock.  How hard is it to keep my eye out for just the right gift whenever I’m away on vacation, or visiting Seattle or Portland (especially when there’s no sales tax!) or during the many hours I’m on the computer and can watch for deals available all throughout the year?

Again, that’s easier said than done.  I’m not thinking about Christmas in the spring or summer…although to be honest there were a few years when I did start shopping in August or during one of our long road trips in July (Christmas in July?).  I’d find a few gift ideas and store them away but then school would begin in September and we’d get busy with school functions and sports, then Halloween and Thanksgiving and I’d completely forget about making any further attempts at shopping for gifts until December.
Well, it’s a never-ending cycle.  If I don’t like it, I can change it.  If I don’t change it, I have to deal with it. 

And that’s what I’m doing.  I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t find everything I’m looking for.  One thing I learned just this afternoon is that if you do go with the flow, something might come to you when you least expect.  I was trying to run a simple errand to pick up an item I needed at the craft store and my plan was to get in and get out.  As I glanced at the long line of customers in apprehension at the amount of waiting I’d be dealing with, I decided to take a look around after I found what I needed and I was thrilled when I spotted something that would be perfect for someone I hadn’t finished shopping for.  With holiday glee I headed towards that long line, which no longer bothered me as it did when I first entered the store.

Through all the hustle and bustle, the noise and confusion, the last-minute prepping and the holiday hype, the last week before Christmas will hopefully mean more than that to most.  To me it means looking forward to smiles on the kids’ faces when they open their gifts, it means enjoying the festivities this season brings with the many holiday parties, bazaars and gatherings galore and it means looking forward to time spent with family where another year of memories will be made.
Even though one side of me would like to ‘freak out’ at the fact that Christmas is only a week away, the other side of me says…‘what’s all the hubbub, bub?’

How about you?  Are you ready to freak out or are you going with the holiday flow?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Where will Jorja be shopping for the holidays?

Okay, Jorja is a fictional character but if she was a real person, where would she shop for the holidays?  While she would have many options available to her in the ‘fictional’ version of Tenino, she’d have many options available in the real town of Tenino, as well. 
Avoiding big crowds and traffic this time of year is a huge asset when trying to find just the right gift.  Jorja would agree that the best way to avoid those hassles is to shop local where she can walk from store to store before finally heading the short distance home.  Not only will she feel better about shopping local, she’ll be minus the headache she’d likely get from the constant traffic jams she’d find herself in if she were to head further north to shop at the retail stores or the mall.

First, before the Christmas shopping is to begin, Jorja and Ryan would take Nicholas out to Riverbend Ranch to choose and cut a tree to decorate.  Some might like artificial trees but Jorja loves the smell of the fresh pine aroma coming from the Douglas fir in her living room.  While visiting Riverbend Ranch, Jorja might also find some cute gift ideas or decorations in the newly built gift shop on site at the tree farm.
For holiday shopping, there are plenty of shops right in town where Jorja, Taylor, Ryan and the rest of the bunch can find great gift ideas.  Here are just a few examples:
While Jorja might still shop in the larger retail stores for some items, especially for toys and games Nicholas might have on his wish list, she’ll find more than a few ideas for her friends and family right in her own hometown. 

I hope you are enjoying your holiday shopping minus the headaches it can bring.  If you do find yourself near the town of Tenino, make sure to check out the local shops in town.  Decked out in their holiday finest, they’ll bring a smile to our face and some holiday cheer to your heart.  They might also surprise you with what they have to offer when it comes to finding just the right gift.
Happy gifting!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Perseverance has no age limit

There are many reasons why we don’t move ahead with whatever might fulfill our dreams:  time, money, the kids, our job, fear of failing, even a fear of succeeding.  Some might actually believe they are too young or too old.
But there shouldn’t ever be an age limit where perseverance is concerned.  Whether you’re in your teens, middle-aged or can’t remember how many grandchildren you have, age is never a good reason to give up on yourself.

I bring this up after reading an article about a couple of local ladies who tried again and again to start businesses together and wouldn’t you know it?  Where one or more businesses weren’t exactly what they were hoping for, they finally found their niche and are successes and local celebrities in their own right.
Meet Bev Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary, both from a small local town and the co-owners of Ice Chips, a delicious sugar-free hard candy available in multiple flavors.  The women are 72 and 58 years old and have more than three dozen grandchildren between the two of them (wow!).  Friends for many years, the two have tried their hands at various sorts of businesses over the years but it was their most recent endeavor, launched with the goal to create sugar-free candy for their grandchildren and provide relief from grueling construction jobs for their husbands, which helped them earn the label as one of the most successful business startups in the county.  Here’s a recent article in a local paper about the two and their business (I'll apologize ahead of time for the pop-up ads) – from the sound of this article, the future for these women and this business is looking very bright.

Why am I sharing this information with you? 
Well, for one, it’s a great story about local people.  That’s never a bad thing.  However, I don’t know either of these women and I have no interest in their business other than the fact that I do hope they continue to succeed after all the hard work they’ve put into it.  The other reason I’m sharing their story is because I believe they are both great examples of why no one should ever give up on themselves, no matter what their age may be or how many times they’ve tried to succeed at something in the past.  If I were to look up the word ‘perseverance’ in the dictionary, I believe I might actually find a photograph of both Bev and Charlotte.  Perseverance is what these ladies are all about.

Rather than looking at past startups or unsuccessful goals as failures, it’s best to look at them as stepping stones towards what we’re really meant for in life.  What’s the saying?  When one door closes, another door opens?  Perseverance is what will help us walk through the open door rather than stay behind to gaze longingly at the closed door.  That trait along with our desire to achieve, our ability to believe and our willingness to move forward with the knowledge we have learned from the past can only move us ahead towards success.



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Author Rank…irregular heartbeat or panic attack?

I’ve read a few posts these past few months offering pieces of advice relating to an author’s rank and for the most part, I believe the consensus is this:  stop checking it on a regular basis. 
For some, I bet that’s easier said than done.

When Amazon offers such a fun device charting your high’s and low’s as they relate to your sales or your reviews or however it is Amazon comes up with those numbers (because they don’t always match what you’d believe them to mean), it really can be hard to ignore them.
From a writer’s standpoint, I agree that the author ranking should not be the main focus.  The idea is to write books and make them available.  The more books you have, the easier it will be to push sales of previous books, which will help drive your author rank higher.  However, from a marketing standpoint, I think it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your author rank, on a semi-regular basis anyway.  Why?  Because it helps to determine when a marketing approach works and when it doesn’t; or rather, what might push your rank up and what doesn’t.

Not that it’s an exact science, since the author ranking can be difficult to completely decipher, but I decided to take a look at my rankings for the past year in order to compare them to events I’ve taken part in with regard to marketing.  Here’s what Amazon provided to me from December 4, 2012 through December 3, 2013:

It looks like one of those monitors you watch closely when you’re hooked up to wires as the doctor scrutinizes your heart rate.  From that viewpoint, mine appears to have a steady beat for awhile, except for about a five-month period when it looks more like an irregular heartbeat or maybe an extreme panic attack.  At least my chart hasn’t flat lined.
The chart above shows my ranking compared to ALL books over the past year, not just mystery, which is why my rank is currently at 88,874, coming down from 47,741 (not that my Amazon author page ever seems to reflect an accurate rating…something I don’t particularly like or understand).  An author ranking in the 88,000-range is okay with me when you consider the millions of books being ranked daily on Amazon.  My actual author rank for mystery books is currently somewhere in the 3,000’s, which is still good when it’s being compared to a quarter of a million mystery books.
So what works?  What doesn’t work?  What sort of information causes the rank to spike more than 50,000 or even 300,000 spots at a time?
This is what I’ve figured out so far: 

When No Mother of Mine was first released the author rank was up and down on a semi-regular basis.  I was still learning the ropes and had just begun this blog and my Facebook author page, so the fact that my rank kept going up right after going down is a good thing.  From January through April 2013, the rank had a fairly steady up and down beat and was probably due to a book signing in January, my entry into the Amazon Breakthrough Contest which lasted from January through April and another book signing in March.  But then from April through September…wow.  There’s lots of white space between the lower and the higher rankings.  To be clear, high numbers are a low rank and low numbers are a high rank…everyone wants to be #1.  I can’t figure out what made the rank spike in mid-May, the beginning of June or the end of June but the spikes in July would have been due to the book promotion at Lakefair.  Considering how much work Lakefair was, it really didn’t do much more for my author rank than the half-day signings or on-line marketing attempts.  Go figure.
From there things get real quiet for awhile.  My rank slips and slips from the end of July until the end of September.  I didn’t hold any signings, take part in any other marketing ideas and I didn’t enter any contests…I was pretty quiet as I worked on my second book.  But I was writing and writing is what I have to do to get more books out there in order to make more sales in order to push that rank even higher.

Spike in Mystery category
during Kindle Countdown Deal
Once I was able to make Best Kept Secrets available for sale, there was a huge spike in my author ranking (which had slipped to over 400,000 before finally rising to 90,000-something) and it’s been a steady beep, beep, beep ever since along with a book signing in October and offering the eBooks for a special price just recently.  I haven’t made it to the top 10, top 100 or even the top 1,000 but I did get close with the eBook recently ranking at 1,402 during the Kindle Countdown Deal.  
But should I really care? 
I agree with other bloggers who tell writers not to let their ranking consume them.  I believe using it to figure out what might work with regard to marketing is useful but letting it determine how you write or what you write is not productive.  Writers need to write what they feel and feel what they write.  The validation for work completed comes from how readers respond to what you’ve created.  And as a writer continues to create, they’ll reach more readers and gain more ground as their author rank grows organically through hard work and determination (plus a dash of patience).

At least, that’s what I believe.  With only two published books, I’ll admit I’m still learning but that’s okay.  I’ll continue to periodically watch my author rank as I continue to create more books and, as the saying goes, only time will tell. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I’m not a NaNo Winner…


But I’m not a loser either.
I joined National Novel Writing Month with every intention of completing my 50,000 word-count goal for my third novel by November 30th and realistically, it was very possible.  It should have been a breeze for me to complete my desired word count, considering the fact that I haven’t had to plug away at a day job all month long.

Even so, I’ve had less available days to write this month than I anticipated, mostly due to how I was feeling health-wise or because of extra time I got to spend with family.  The first half of November was not very productive in the writing department at all so the last half of the month I’ve had to try to make up for lost time.  And it hasn’t been easy.
So why doesn’t it bother me that I didn’t “win” my NaNo certificate?

I’ll tell you why…
Because I feel like a winner regardless of whether or not I made my word count.  I didn’t meet my goal of 50,000 words but I did start writing my third book.  I put words to a page and have made pages into chapters and I’m moving ahead with another fun story plot and a set of circumstances I will enjoy watching Jorja tackle in her own way. 

Not only did I get a good start on my third novel, I’ve also been working on another project that required more of my immediate attention due to the timeframe I have to complete it.  While I may have made the word count on my third novel if I hadn’t decided to tackle something else at the same time, how can I feel like a loser when I’ve been able to use my spare time to work on not one, but two important writing projects? 
No, I don’t feel like a loser just because I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo this year.  I proved to myself I’m capable of the task, even if I have to plug away nightly after busy work days as I did last year.  This year didn’t pan out – that’s just the way it goes. 

And I won’t complain one bit. 
This year, November was not all about working and writing.  Instead, it’s been about writing when I can as I focus on getting healthy and take advantage of the opportunity to spend more time with my family.

If that isn’t a win-win situation, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A day to Reflect like no other

Another year has come and gone, another holiday season soon to pass, and another Thanksgiving is now upon us when we will gather to eat good food, spend time with family and friends, watch football (at least in our house), and take time to reflect on what we’re most thankful for.
Last year was my first Thanksgiving Day post and what I was thankful for then, I’m still very thankful for now.  The only change in circumstances for me was my health, which took a turn soon after that post but has recently been remedied, for which I am very thankful. I look forward to much better health in the coming year. 

The last few months of each year tend to bring out thoughts and emotions like no other time of the year.  We begin with giving thanks on Thanksgiving while spending time with family, move on to Christmas where we continue to appreciate time spent with family, especially children and grandchildren, until we reach the end of the year when we make New Year’s resolutions and promise to ourselves that this time next year, things will be even better.
Thanksgiving is not a time for regrets or negative thoughts.  It is a time for reflection…being thankful for what we have now and embracing what’s ahead of us, as well.  Time passes so fast and things can change so quickly.  We need to hold tightly to the good things in our lives and be very thankful for them, never taking them for granted. 

But why do most wait until these seasonal months to focus on being thankful for what they have?  Maybe it’s because, for many, the holidays tend to sugarcoat life so that we can shelve our stresses for awhile.  For those on Facebook, have you noticed the trend every year when people share something every day in November that they’re thankful for?  This doesn’t happen any other time of the year.  Are we thankful the other months of the year?  Of course, we are.  We just don’t voice it any other time of the year like we do now.  Should we find a way to show how thankful we are during the non-holiday months?  We definitely should and it would be especially nice for those closest to us who we are most thankful for -- but we tend to forget to express those feelings on a regular basis when we’re working against the daily grind and stresses of life. 
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest
appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” 
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy~

While we tend to show more gratitude this time of year, the idea is that we should remember to show our appreciation and be thankful every other day of the year.  Alas, we are human, and we tend to lose ourselves and our good intentions in the hustle and bustle of things.  That’s why this holiday is not just about the food, football and fully satisfied bellies at the end of the day.  Thanksgiving does for us what we tend to forget to do for ourselves and for others on a regular basis…it forces us to focus on what’s really important and reminds us how important it is to focus on what we’re thankful for.
Cheers and have a wonderful holiday.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fight the Fear, Find the Faith

I’ve had way too much time on my hands lately. 
However, it’s allowing me the time I need to write, not just one book, but two (I decided to work on another project simultaneously) and it’s allowed me to try to catch up on other tasks, as well.  One of those tasks was to more closely research advice offered by others with regard to branding and marketing my books.  As I have poured through the overload of articles and other information I’ve had on hand about writing, branding, marketing and publishing, I’ve also had more time to re-evaluate what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
Fight the Fear, Find the Faith

What am I doing?

I’m writing books in my spare time. 

Why am I doing it?

I have a passion for putting stories together and   sharing them for others to enjoy.

Another area of my writing life I’ve looked at more closely is why I began this blog in the first place.  Initially, it was to finally share my passion to write, which I had kept secret from even those closest to me.  I also knew that sharing my secret would help keep me accountable as I moved forward towards publishing.

But why did I keep it a secret for so long? 


The only answer I can come up with is the four-letter word…fear.  The fear I had of sharing more of myself than I was willing to.  The fear I had of what others might think.  The fear I had that others might not take me seriously.  And, probably most important, the fear I had of what would happen if I began what was potentially a monumental task, only to fail with a flop at the end.    

I pushed past that fear and began this blog to share my secret with the hope that others would understand my passion and the fact that I decided to wake up and live my dream to write.  I have a true passion to write and I wanted that to come out in my writing, both in my books and here on my blog, and I hoped that others would follow me on my journey not only because they enjoyed what I wrote but because they were rooting for me to succeed.

But there was also another, very important reason I began this blog. 

While many of the posts on my blog are pep talks to motivate myself as I climb the writing and publication ladder, I also hoped to share my experiences with others so that they might also get the itch to possibly jump in feet first to live their own dreams.  In fact, the third post on this blog was about that very thing: don’t let life rule your passion.    

Everyone has a passion, or a dream, which would undoubtedly add fulfillment to their lives.  You can call it a bucket list if you want but for the most part, I believe most people never find the time to really do what they’d like to do before they leave this Earth.  Time (find it), kids (take them with you or ask them to help), work (don’t live to work), money (sacrifice and save)…whatever it is, we find plenty of reasons not to experience what we’re passionate about and before we know it, we’re 80 and wondering where the time has gone.  Whether it’s to write a book, start a side business, travel to a foreign country, learn another language, go on a cruise, climb a mountain or swim with sharks, the reasons not to go after a dream should not outweigh your passion to experience them.  The trick is letting the passion take hold and finding the time to make your dreams come true. 
While my original motto when I began this blog was “Don’t let life rule your passion,” I have now added another:  “Fight the Fear, Find the Faith.”  I pushed past the fear when I exposed myself and my passion to write but to continue as I have the past few years, I’ve also had to keep faith in myself.  Whenever the fear tries to take hold, I push it back with a true belief and faith in myself and what I can accomplish.

For those who have already pushed past the fear and have moved ahead with your dreams, would you care to share them and how the experience has changed you?  For those who have a passion for something they’ve put off for one reason or another, I hope you fight the fear and find the faith.  If you do, I wish you good luck in your next venture! 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Preparing for holiday sales potential

Unbelievably, I am now moving into the third week of a six-week hiatus from my day job and only now do I believe I’ll be able to get back on a decent schedule when it comes to my writing and other book-related tasks, including my blog.  That’s the plan, anyway.
I’ve enjoyed getting back into the heads of my characters and back into the story surrounding Jorja and her friends.  But as I write, there’s always the business side to writing that I can’t ignore.  I’ve spent a lot of time lately going over my Amazon author stats, keeping up-to-date with my current sales on all channels available to me and as I work on my third novel, Ties that Bind, I’m also playing around with ideas on how to continue to market No Mother of Mine and Best Kept Secrets.

If there’s a good time to promote a product, the holiday season is certainly it.  I’ve had plenty of time to read lately so I’ve been catching up on articles I’ve had on hand which offer tips and all kinds of ideas about marketing.  There’s a lot of advice out there and there’s no way to do it all but I hope to glean some good ideas that will work.
In the meantime, I’m using what I have available to me.  I had forgotten that the Kindle version of Best Kept Secrets is part of the Amazon Matchbook program, which means anyone who has already purchased or plans to purchase a print copy of the book can also buy the Kindle version for only $0.99 cents.  While I don’t anticipate readers clamoring to obtain both print and eBook copies, at least it’s an option I can offer them.

And because Best Kept Secrets was enrolled with KDP Select (another Amazon program), I can take part in a new promotional tool Amazon just recently made available to authors called the Kindle Countdown Deal.  This tool allows me to offer a limited-time promotional discount for the Kindle version of Best Kept Secrets.  Currently, I will be offering the promotional discount on the following schedule:
·         Saturday, Nov. 30 at 8:00 a.m. the eBook will be available for $0.99 until…

·         Sunday, Dec. 1 at 4:00 p.m., at which time the eBook price will move up to $1.99 until…

·         Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 12:00 a.m., the price will increase to $2.99 until…

·         Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 8:00 a.m., at which time the eBook will revert back to its original price of $3.99.
I’m not completely certain, and I hope I’m wrong, but I believe this promotion is only available in the U.S.  I apologize if that is the case but even based on only U.S. sales, I’m very curious to see how this promotional tool plays out. 

Since No Mother of Mine is not enrolled in KDP Select, I can’t offer the same promotional discount through a Kindle Countdown Deal but I am going to look into offering the eBook at a discounted price on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble sometime soon.  I’ve read blog posts by other authors who have played around with their list price so I guess it’s about time I try it for myself so I can watch what happens with my author stats. 
This time last year, I was more focused on making it through National Novel Writing Month as I plowed through regular work weeks, prepping for the holidays and spending time with my family in December after having spent all my free time on the computer in November. 

This year, things are different so that my focus can also be different.  Even if I can play around with just a couple of marketing ideas per week, I look forward to the potential benefits when the promotion is pushed during the holiday season.  As a newbie author, I need to do what I can to continue to get my name out there as I keep this in mind:
“Success does not consist in never making blunders,
but in never making the same one a second time.” 

~Josh Billings~
Through trial and error, I will learn what works, and what doesn’t, which will help me this time next year when I’m busy promoting my third book along with the first two.  I’ll continue to keep you posted on how things go.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

When life forces a pit stop

I wrote a post recently about slowing down and I’ve also come across a few posts by other bloggers about taking a step back and evaluating where you’re at with what you’re doing before moving forward with more focus.   Guess it’s that time of year when everyone begins to feel a little out of sync after another crazy, busy year.
It’s great when you can decide when it’s time to slow down; it’s quite another when it’s forced upon you.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible thing, either.  Some people (as I point to myself) might not always know when it’s time to slow down.
Tomorrow we’ll be halfway through the month of November and I’ve had to take the first half of this month very slowly.  No choice.  Period.  It’s a fact and one I’ve had to become resigned to whether I like it or not.

I honestly can’t recall the last time I got this much rest in a two-week period…ever.  But even when I’m resting, my brain won’t stop working.  For that reason, I’m left with an overwhelming urge to get stuff done.  I have a book to write, a 50,000 word count goal I’m trying to reach for National Novel Writing Month, posts to share on my blog, Facebook pages to catch up on, books to read, a house to clean (thanks to my hubby, that hasn’t been my chore since Halloween J), e-mails to catch up on, two other books to continue promoting, and a few other projects that need my attention.
Yikes – maybe I shouldn’t have made that list.  I can feel my heart race as I think about all I want to get done and how far behind I feel.  These thoughts and more are always roaming about in my head so now I know why I woke up at 5:30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep…

Of course, we can only do what we’re capable of at the time and for me, my health is more important than forcing a timeframe on projects that will still be there when I’m able to get to them.  I just have to remind myself of this daily to avoid doing more than I should.
No matter how long my task list is, this month I'll adjust to the fact that I’m moving like a turtle rather than a hare, but while I’m not moving too quickly or completing tasks daily, like the turtle I will continue with determination and come out a winner.  As the turtle says to the hare, “Slow and steady wins the race!” 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

I May be Down but Not Out

You may have wondered where I’ve been, both here and on my Facebook page, ever since my last post the day before Halloween.  As always, I have a good excuse for my absence and this one is a whopper. 
When I began my blog just under two years ago, I intended to share whatever I could about the writing life of a newbie author.  I planned to share the ups and the downs and my intention has always been to share my experiences and my thoughts about those experiences.  I want others to know me not only as a writer and an author but also as a person who they can relate to and enjoy reading about on a regular basis. 

While I like to keep certain elements of my personal life private, there comes a time when your personal life seeps into the equation when you’re a blogger, especially when it affects your ability to write.  As of today, I should be nine days into my third novel while competing in National Novel Writing Month. 
Instead, I’m way behind.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to spend the required time in my office and on my computer in order to diligently plug away at the first 50,000 words of my third novel.  Today is actually going to be the first real good day of writing I’ll be able to get in so far this month.  As much as I have wanted to write, I’ve had no choice but to take some time off while I lay low since undergoing surgery on Halloween.
You heard that right…surgery…on Halloween.  I said it was a whopper, didn’t I?

It isn’t exactly where anyone wants to spend their Halloween but that’s the way it goes.  It was no treat but thankfully no tricks were in play either, as I underwent surgery and spent some time in the hospital.  I’m doing well and am now at home resting per doctor’s orders.  I’ll work on the novel as I can and for those who have finished my second book and are anxiously waiting for me to complete the third, I may be down but I’m certainly not out.  I promise I’ll be working hard on this next novel as I’m able and I’ll be doing my best to catch up on my word count for the writing contest, as well.  There are times when life’s obstacles get in the way of upcoming expectations but I refuse to let them hinder me from attempting to achieve my goals. 
As always, thanks for following and I’ll continue to share my progress as I move along with the next novel. 

Until next time…  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trick…or Treat?

Another Halloween is upon us and soon the little ones (and even the big ones) will be decked out in their costumes and clamoring from house to house in their attempts to fill their buckets full of candy.  This holiday was always a treat and sometimes I miss those fun-filled times with my boys… 
…when the weather is decent anyway.  When it’s very chilly and especially when it’s chilly with a touch of rain, you can have it.  I hear the rain pitter-pattering on the roof outside and I don’t envy the parents who will be out in this weather tomorrow night, should the rain decide to stick around.  That’s a real trick by Mother Nature.

This year we didn’t do much for Halloween, other than decorate the house and carve pumpkins.  Carving pumpkins has become a tradition, and a treat, I don’t believe I could stop if I wanted’s too much of a challenge as we all do our best to outdo each other:

 We are past the age of trick-or-treating and unfortunately we weren’t able to make it to any Halloween parties this year.  We did attend a friend’s 50th birthday party where the decorations were as black as the clothing worn by all the guests.  I have since decided that when I turn 50, and if I agree to have a party thrown in my honor as a way to actually admit it, I will plead with all the guests to wear colorful clothes.  Please, please, please…prove to me that the age of 50 can be rich, lively and vibrant. 

We’re now at the end of yet another month and from here on out, the days will fly by at warp speed as I move into National Novel Writing Month, prepare for family gatherings for Thanksgiving, get all my shopping and baking done for Christmas and prepare to ring in another New Year.  Can you hear the countdown already?  Watching time fly by so fast without losing your grip…now that’s a real trick!

If you enjoy celebrating Halloween, have an enjoyable evening.  If this is a holiday you don’t recognize, have a terrific Thursday.  Either way, I hope you enjoy whatever tricks or treats find their way to you today.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Too busy? It’s time to slow down!

You ever have one of those days when you just don’t have much to say?
For me, today is one of those days.

It’s odd to say that, really, considering how much has been going on lately.  However, what’s going on isn’t as much about writing as it is about life in general.  I’ve taken the month of October off from writing because I’m joining National Novel Writing Month in November and because I wanted the time to catch up on other projects before I get deep into writing again.  The month of October is just about over and when I think about what I’ve been able to accomplish over the past month, I realize I haven’t checked many items off that to-do list.  I found this quote and it is spot on:

“Sometimes it seems your ever-increasing list of things to do

can leave you feeling totally undone.”

  ~Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie, I'd Kill for a Cookie~

Personally, this month has been full of many other distractions instead:  spending time with family after the death of my aunt; a friend’s 50th birthday party; my mother-in-law’s birthday; my sister-in-law’s birthday; excitement as I continuously wait for news relating to the soon-to-be arrival of my niece;  health concerns relating to my grandmother; a trip out of town; a busy, busy time at work as I prepare for some upcoming leave and, of course, the book signing and the time spent marketing my second book.  The month of October has extracted many thoughts and emotions from me and days like today I know I should listen to advice such as this:

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."  ~Lily Tomlin~

So today, after what has been a fairly busy month, when I try to think about what I might like to blog about, I feel at a loss for words.  And yet, I could continue to write about not having anything to say.  Well, I am a writer and writers write, even when they have nothing to write about.  However, I won’t ramble more than I need to.  It’s time to step away from the computer and give my brain a rest as I try to live by this last little tidbit: 

"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." 

~Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris~