Books · Craft · Excerpt · Quilting · West Virginia

Crafting Moment from Safe and Sound

With March being National Craft Month, I’m featuring some crafting…and love of handmade items…moments from my novels. In Safe and Sound, Hannah is drawn to venture inside a store that sells handmade goods.


Hannah tugged open the door and stepped inside. A sense of calm filled her as she allowed the love used to make the items wrap around her. She smiled. She could live in the store. Reaching out, she trailed her fingers through the fringe of a cashmere scarf knitted in a mix of red and gold shades.

“Can I help you?”

Hannah gasped and spun around, pressing her gloved hand to her chest.

“I didn’t mean to scare you.” The woman looked her up and down then peered out the window. A frown developed on her wide face. “Are you hiding from someone? Do you think you saw the shooter from this morning? I’ll call the sheriff for you.”

Word sure did get around the small town quick. “A little rattled. Walking by your store, I saw all the lovely things and they called out to my heart. I had to come in and look and touch. I’m calmer already.” Hannah shoved her hands into her pocket. “I promise not to ruin anything.”

The woman smiled. “Don’t you worry none. Just noticed a busybody hovering outside and figured she was bugging you. Please take a look around. I’m Beverly, the owner. Are you looking for anything in particular?”

“The quilts and fabric caught my eye. Nothing says love like a beautiful handmade quilt.”

The woman beamed. “I have some made by a local artisan and a few others I picked up at some quilting shows. The quilts are all on the second floor. There’s a latch at the top of the stair gate, pull it up and it’ll open. Don’t forget to close it.”

Beverly started walking her to the staircase when the front bell jingled. A familiar looking young woman with brown hair stepped inside. The owner rolled her eyes. “Let me go see what Miss One-Thousand-Questions wants this time. Just call down to me if you’d like a closer look at any of the pieces hanging.”

“Thank you.”

Grasping the wooden rail, Hannah went up the stairs. When she reached the top, a gasp once again escaped her. Beauty left her awestruck. Slowly, she walked over to the first queen sized quilt hung on a large wooden hanger and drifted her gloved hand over the intricate hand-stitching on the front of the quilt. A precise line of stitches dipped and swirled over the soft pink and bright green shades of material, the fabric a mix of patterns and solid. A cream border surrounded the quilt.

Using her thumb and index finger, Hannah took hold of the edge of the quilt. She moved it forward on the rack. The next one was black and white with a red border in a contemporary style.

Hannah moved on to the next one. She fell in love. Navy blue and soft silvers complimented the winter scene of a cabin at night. The shimmery fabric used for the stars made the picture life-like. The artist used a silver, cotton fabric to create wisps of smoke coming from the chimney. Hannah could almost hear the fire crackling in the hearth. Smell the comfort of smoke wafting up the chimney.

Soft, almost buttery flannel backed the quilt. Yielding to temptation, Hannah raised a corner of the quilt and rubbed it across her cheek. It felt like home. Love. Safety.

The amount written on the price tag made her sigh. Out of her price point though it was worth every penny being asked. She stroked the fabric one more time and went to a rack with lap and crib-sized quilts. Maybe she’d be able to afford a smaller one. A lap quilt with a Christmas tree appliqué caught her eye. She lifted up the quilt and examined the tiny stitches used to puff out the ornaments. Beautiful.

The bell jingled.

Hannah smiled and gently released the quilt. She knew her husband would come after her.


The hope for a future for the broken begins in Mourning.

Four years ago while deployed, Connor’s new bride lost her way in a blizzard and the mountain claimed her. Grief-stricken and injured, Connor returned home to wrestle with guilt and begin life as a widower. When a woman’s body is uncovered, Connor learns his beloved was murdered…and the murderer has his sights on another woman. Connor’s past and present are pulled apart when the woman claims she’s Hannah.

The murderer who sent Hannah Stratford on the run has tracked her down. Now, the only way to stay alive is for Hannah to prove she didn’t die in a blizzard. Connor offers her safety and protection in his home, but keeps his heart guarded from her. Hannah wants more than to save her life. She wants Connor.

To read more of Hannah and Connor’s story, Safe and Sound can be found at:


Barnes and Noble


Desert Breeze

This Spring, the New Beginnings series will be available in print.

Craft · How To

National Craft Month: Decoupage Wooden Letters

With March being National Craft Month, my mind keeps drifting to all the unfinished projects I have scattered throughout my craft room. Scrapbook albums. Decoupage projects. Sewing projects. I decided the best way to celebrate National Craft month was to “get crafting” and complete the long neglected projects.

My first “Get Crafting” project is a set of wooden letters (spelling mystery) that I bought about…I can’t even remember when I bought them. There’s a little twinge of a memory that says I bought them a few months after we moved to West Virginia. If that memory is to be believed, I’ve had these letters for about thirteen years. One of the reasons I put off the project was the messiness of it and I wasn’t certain I could pull of the “decoupage style”. Mixing didn’t patterns of papers isn’t my strong suit so I was worried the beautiful letters I envisioned would turn into a mess. But I figured it was better to try than have the letters in my “to do” craft pile, which rivals my to-be read stack, for another decade.

My first step was picking out a paper stack I believed would work with my word. As I write mysteries, I decided to use a DCWV (Diecut With a View) paper stack called A Type of Art Stack. 2014-03-14 12.18.04I found that using a stack that has a mix of patterns that blend together as the paper has the same hue tones really helped me give the project the cohesive look I wanted to achieve. I went with the orange and pink hued papers, using primarily the patterns with letters but added in a sheet with bold flowers and symbols.

One of the lessons I learned during my try at decoupaging is if you plan on adding some special touches (like pen stitching), it’s better not to seal the paper until after that step is complete. As I’ve never decoupaged before, I was worried the paper would come off with only the layer of glue used to “stick” it to block. I didn’t want that to happen (as it wasn’t easy getting the paper around some of the curves) so I painted on the “sealing” glue after I completed the letters. At least I know better for next time.

2014-03-14 12.07.04I am happy to say I’ve finished up my decoupage project…one neglected project down, a couple more to go. I must say I got just as much glue on me as I did the letters. At one point when I was peeling the dried glue from under my nails, I fondly remembered making nails when I was in elementary. I wonder if anyone else made gel (glue) nails back in the day. Before school ended, a lot of girl would open their desk and add glue onto their rules that had the indention down the middle. When you came back to the school the next day, the glue came right off and could be trimmed with scissors to fit on your nails. Ah, good times.

My next neglected project will be a Monsters University quilt. I really would love to have it finished and give it to its recipient before the little one is no longer interested in Monsters University.

Books · Excerpt · Scrapbooking · West Virginia

Celebrating Valentine’s Day: A Little Romance from Designed to Death

Thank you so much for spending time with me this weekend to help celebrate Valentine’s Day. This is my last celebration post and is from Designed to Death, the second book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series.

Designed to Death:

Blurb: Faith Hunter planned the perfect event at her grandmother’s shop, Scrap This, featuring local scrapbooker and Life Artist Diva, Belinda Watson. But the extravaganza goes up in a cloud of glitter when Belinda and her cousin, Darlene, brawl over scraplifted designs. Faith attempts to break it up, but only makes things worse. Then when Belinda turns up dead behind the Scrap This store, Faith’s involvement goes viral.

As accusations against her turn vicious, Faith sets out to prove her nemesis, Darlene, committed the crime, only to realize they are both innocent. Now they must team up or the murderer’s plan will come together seamlessly with the frenemies sharing a jail cell–or worse, a funeral.

DESIGNED TO DEATH front under 2mbExcerpt:

Steve’s lips turned up slightly. “I know this isn’t my business, but my advice is don’t trust Darlene again.”

I let out an unladylike snort. “There’s a warning I don’t need.”

“I’m thinking I should check your place tonight. I don’t like knowing Karen had the photographer following you around.”

This was one of my concerns of ‘officially’ dating Steve. He’d think it was his duty to protect me and look after me. I didn’t need looking after, or being told what was in my best interest. “She had him watching the store. Not me. I’ll be fine.”

Steve fought a frown.

I knew he meant well. And, I did like the fact he was annoyed with Karen. “It’s nice knowing I have someone I can count on. I kind of feel like I’m using you and I hate it.”

Steve faced me. “You can count on me. I’m here for you.”

“I know.”

Steve cupped my cheek. “That means a lot to me. I wish though you could trust me. I want the wall down between us.”

“There’s no wall.” I inched back, hating breaking the contact but also terrified of it. Butterflies had taken flight in my stomach and a heated feeling raced through me. Relying was enough at this point. I fooled myself for over a year, believing my only interest in Steve was in admiring him. One unexpected and soul-shattering kiss from Steve during my last “investigation” had me reconsidering my stance on no romantic entanglements ever. I still found myself wavering between forever single or trying again. Every guy wasn’t Adam.

“Don’t lie to me. Or yourself. You don’t mind talking as long as the conversation doesn’t steer toward defining what we are to each other.”

“You’re important to me. We’re friends.”

“I want more than just being your friend.”

I knew that. So did practically everyone else. I wanted more but then I didn’t. “You don’t want to be friends?” I gave him an innocent smile.

“I’d like more than friends.” Steve settled back into the driver’s seat. “If friends are all we’re meant to be, let me know. I’ll respect your decision.”

Why did I have to make a decision right now? I liked being friends and the flirting. Liked the will-we-or-won’t-we become an actual item aspect of our relationship. How long would Steve keep waiting for me to make some kind of declaration? Did he want the type of relationship I was satisfied with? What about Steve? Ted? Were all my confusing signals fair to him? Them?

Karen was making her intentions quite clear. So was Steve. He wanted a real relationship. Get married someday. Have children. Steve was a great guy. Successful. Nice. Considerate. Honorable. Hot. I couldn’t blame Karen. I’m surprised there weren’t a few more women trying to win his heart.

He deserved more than my insecurities. Heck, I deserved more than my insecurities and allowing Adam control of my life. People made decisions all the time and changed their minds. I married Adam, realized the huge error of that choice, and got it annulled. If I could alter that, I could decide to edit my rule about no more romantic relationships ever. Life should be more than living from guilt. Everyone made mistakes and deserved forgiveness. Including from myself to myself.

I undid the seatbelt and gave into the impulsive thought zipping through my head. Kneeling on the passenger seat, I leaned over the console separating me from Steve. I placed my hands on his shoulder for balance and kissed him. Good. I wanted him to know I was interested. Very interested in him.

Steve’s hand tangled in my hair, encouraging me. My blood was getting way too heated considering our location, a parked car near Scrap This. I did not want to be caught by Ted, or anyone else, making out in a car behind Home Brewed.

“Thank you.” I whispered the words onto his lips before pulling back. “I should go.”

I needed to tread carefully. Not for my sake, not because I viewed all men as untrustworthy, but I didn’t want to break Steve’s heart. He didn’t deserve it. When I made a commitment to him, I wanted to jump into it with my whole mind, heart, and soul. Not holding anything back.


If you’re interested in reading Faith’s adventure, Cropped to Death is available at:

Mystery Loves Company (print copies)


Barnes and Noble



Books · Excerpt · West Virginia

From Designed to Death: Preparing for a Costume Party the Darlene Johnson Way

DESIGNED TO DEATH front under 2mbThe door banged open.

“What are you two doing here?” With gun drawn, Detective Ted Roget stepped into the house.

I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me whole. Of all the police officers to explain this to, it would be Ted.

“Picking up something I need for a party,” Darlene said.

“Really, a party?” Ted’s eyes narrowed and he looked Darlene and I up and down, very slowly and suspiciously. He holstered the gun. “Interesting choice of outfits. All black.”

Darlene straightened her posture and stared back at Ted. I wanted to squeeze my eyes closed, and cover my mouth and ears. I couldn’t quite pull off the see-hear-speak-no-evil stance by myself.

“It’s a costume party.” Darlene emphasized the word costume and threw a look at Ted that spoke of his lack of intelligence.

I blocked a moan from escaping. Of all people, why was Darlene challenging Ted? Okay, I did have my share of words with the man but we kind-of-sort-of got along, and I had been in the right in those situations. There was no way Darlene and I could pass this off as a good choice.

Costume party or not.

“You except me to believe you’re having a costume party with only two guests?” Ted eyed us suspiciously. “In Ms. Watson’s home?”

Darlene licked her lips, squared her shoulders, and thrust out a hip. I knew this position. She was readying to start one of her verbal beat-downs.

I wanted to launch a sidekick at Darlene, but that would really give us away. The neck of the black long sleeved shirt I wore seemed to tighten the longer Ted stared, and Darlene prepared. I eyed the door. Could I make a break for it?

Ted focused those angry eyes on me and shook his head once. I needed to work on my poker face.

“Of course not.” Darlene huffed at him. “There are four people attending. My mother, my aunt Hazel, Faith and I.”

“How unknowing of me.” Ted rested his hands near his gun and handcuffs. He really had a thing for placing his hands at those locations of his belt. “That’s quite an unusual guest list.”

“We like to keep it to a foursome and with Belinda gone…” Darlene trailed off and drew in a deep breath.

“You decided to include Faith.”

“Of course I did. My mother said it was the polite thing to do considering the little scandal I created at the store.” Darlene rolled her eyes as she emphasized the word scandal.

“I’m sure Faith appreciated the invite.” Ted’s eyebrows shot up and he stared at me, almost willing me to say something.

I pressed my lips together and nodded.

“Neither of you thought it was a horrible idea to come into the house of a murder victim.”

“That would be a bad idea,” Darlene said. “But I was coming into the house of my cousin.”

Ted rolled his eyes. “Well, forgive me. I didn’t know there was a difference.”

“I forgive you.” Darlene bestowed a smile on him and hefted her purse strap back onto her shoulder.  “Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll just get my fondue set and we’ll be on the way.”

“I don’t think so.” Ted maneuvered around us and stood in front of the kitchen entryway.

“Come on, Darlene.” I grabbed hold of her arm and tugged. “We’re going to be late. We’ll just grab some frozen appetizers.”

“Frozen!” Darlene squealed and placed a hand against her heart. “I do not serve frozen food. How dare you accuse me of such a thing!”

I drew back and held up my hands. “Didn’t know it’d be an insult.”

Ted stepped between us. “Ladies, ladies. Let’s remain civil.”

“Of course you’d take Faith’s side.” Darlene pivoted sharply, directing herself toward the kitchen. She charged forward.

Ted grabbed hold of her arm.

“Darlene, don’t…” I started to warn her to listen to Ted, and then tried changing it when the large bag slipped down her shoulder. Too late.

Darlene yanked away from Ted. The bag slipped, tipped over and items rained from her purse onto the floor. Lipsticks, pens, a glue gun, glue sticks, Chap Stick in different flavors, beads, scrapbook gems, paperclips, eyeliners. I watched in amazement at the variety of make-up and scrapbook supplies housed in her bag scattered across the floor.

Books · Writing

Release Day – Designed to Death

great escape tour banner DESIGNED TO DEATH small180Designed to Death officially releases today. I always get anxious and a little scattered when a new book comes out. This is the time when I’m trying to balance home, writing and marketing. I’m always making sure I spend time on these areas but when a new book comes out, it’s almost like a new baby where I want to just look at it and show “the baby” off to everyone.

Today also starts my blog tour with Great Escapes Book Tours (Lori is fabulous!). I talk about writing, reading, crafting, and about my new release the second book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series.

The stops on my tour:

September 10Chloe Gets A Clue Review, Interview & Giveaway
September 11A Blue Million Books Interview
September 12Mommasez… Review, Guest Post & Giveaway
September 13StoreyBook Reviews Review & Giveaway
September 15Cozy Up With Kathy Interview
September 16Mochas, Mysteries and More Guest Post
September 17Queen of All She Reads Review, Guest Post & Giveaway
September 18Books Are Life – Vita Libri Review & Giveaway
September 19Brooke Blogs Review & Guest Post
September 20rantin’ ravin’ and reading Review & Guest Post

I’ll also be making a couple of stops during this month:

September 16 – Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers

September 24-  Dru’s Book Musing

Books · Excerpt · Scrapbooking · West Virginia · Writing

Designed to Death Excerpt

DESIGNED TO DEATH front under 2mbIn one week, September 10, Designed Death will be out. I’m nervous, excited…and a little scared. I always feel this way when a new book comes out. This will be Faith’s second case and I hope readers love it as much, if not more, than the first book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series.

Today, I’m going to share a little excerpt from Designed to Death:

The buzzer by the employee door sounded then stopped. After a gun-carrying criminal surprised me a few months ago, my grandmothers had Steve Davis add a security system by the back door. If the code wasn’t punched in quick enough, a warning alarm went off at the police station and in the prosecutor’s office where Steve―my grandmothers’ appointed knight-in-shining armor for me―worked.

“Belinda must have arrived,” I said.

Oliver drew in a breath and quickly rushed toward the front of the line.

“The end,” I called out to him.

I watched one of our customers snag Oliver’s arm and draw him to her side. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder and flipped through the magazine. No one else in line seemed to care so I’d let it slide, and Belinda had promised not to leave until every magazine was signed.

Cold wind snaked through the building and I fought back a shiver. October could either be an extension of a warm fall or the beginning of a cold winter. Two years in a row, trick-or-treating had to be postponed because of snow. The October breeze swirled around the room and I scrambled to grab the class schedules and other advertisements that tumbled from the heavy plastic tables.

Belinda waltzed into the store, waving like a teenage girl crowned Homecoming Queen. My grandma Cheryl followed after her, doing her best not to roll her eyes. A few customers began whispering, straining their necks to get a good look at the newest Life Artist Diva.

“Please don’t let this title go to her head.” I muttered.

“Belinda, look over here! Over here!” A customer jumped up and down, holding her cell phone out as she tried to snap a picture.

“Belinda, the library thanks you for the generous gift.” Oliver waved his copy in the air.

“I must speak with Faith first.” Belinda gave another queenly wave, blew a kiss at Oliver, then headed for me.

When she spotted Karen and the photographer, she froze for an instant. In that moment, I saw uncertainty cross her face. The shy woman, who needed her mom to book her signings and appearances, shone through the new confident, celebrity “Belinda.”

“Belinda,” I almost screamed her name to draw her attention, “can you give me some pointers on the class?”

Belinda shook her head. “I can’t give out any secrets. Only those who paid for the class will get to learn this technique. I hope you have some way of making sure those who haven’t purchased a spot don’t get a free lesson.”

Did Belinda expect us to empty out the store when the class started? Or put up a huge partition? I cast a glance over at my grandmothers. Hope looked confused by the request and Cheryl beyond annoyed.

I was both, considering I had to now figure out how to incorporate this new demand from Belinda. “I’m not expecting any secrets. I just want to know which layout is the inspiration for your class.”

Belinda wagged her finger at me. “No sneak peeks. Not even for you.”

I heard Karen’s unladylike snort from across the room. I refrained from giving her the evil eye, and also swatting Belinda with the magazine. Yesterday alone, I had spent three hours on the phone making sure everything was just the way Hazel’s “baby” needed it. Talk about helicopter mom. I had been instructed on the noise level permitted in the classroom area, the temperature best suited for Belinda’s creativity, and how instructions couldn’t be included in the class kit because Belinda feared her idea would be distributed without her permission.

Neither my grandmothers nor I liked the last rule but we went along with it. When Belinda was named a L.A.D., scrappers within a four hour drive-time radius began calling, asking if we had any classes taught by Belinda on our schedule. Everyone considered Scrap This her home store, so they contacted us first and we didn’t want to disappoint them.

“Hard to set up the class properly without the instructions.” I picked up a copy of the magazine featuring Belinda and flipped through it. There couldn’t be too many designs that needed glue, boas, glitter and a hammer.



Books · Writing

Managing Your Writing Business. Part 6. Financial

Today, I’m posting the last part of my talk on managing your writing business. It’s a subject most don’t like talking about, but one we all have to manage and take into consideration.

6. Financial

a. Budget for your Business. It’s important to sit down and figure out the amount you believe is necessary to grow and maintain your business. This is one of the areas, if not the key element for most, that will break a writing business from the start and create stress not just in your business but in your personal life as well. It’s important to take your family’s needs into considerate when creating your budget.

The best advice on budgeting for business was given to me by my husband. Truthfully, it stung a little at first but once I was able to think on it at the business,  and not emotional level, it made perfect sense and took away stress from spending money on my business.

The advice given: Only spend the amount you wouldn’t mind losing/not earning back. Don’t spend more than you are comfortable with not having for other expenses in your life. Make business/writing expense part of your household budget.  Don’t treat what you spend as an investment that will give you a return. There is a chance you won’t make back what you spend (depending on the amount) and spending money needed in other areas with the hope you’ll earn it back will only create a lot of stress and hardship.

 b. Income – If you place your books on consignments with bookstores or other venues, make sure to check in with them. Every quarter, month, or week (this will depend on when you get reports and how often you’d like to check) evaluate how the book(s) are doing. What can you do to increase income?

1. increase marketing

2. other sources of writing income (articles, freelance, etc.)

3. if writing in more than one genre, is it better to concentrate on one over the other

c. Expenses –

Take a look at what’s been spent during the month/week. Are you within budget? Over budget? If over budget, what can be cut from the upcoming months in your writing expenses to bring you back under budget? Or, if no places to cut what will need to  be cut from other budget items in your household? Or how can you make up the shortfall with other income opportunities?

d. Taxes

Keep all business receipts. I have file folders for my income and expenses. If you’re not sure if an expense is deductible, contact a tax professional. I know I’m not giving much advice in this area besides file your taxes and if you have any questions consult a tax professional. I know enough to get mine done (and have a professional I can contact with questions)  and enough to know I shouldn’t be giving detailed advice on this subject.

And this concludes my mini-series on managing your business. I do have one final thing I’d like to say…

CLOSING NOTE: Another important part of the writing business (and possibly every business) is to forgive yourself. There will be choices you’ll cringe at later, or time you wished you spent better. Let it go. If you haven’t accomplished all you wanted (or needed) to do, let it go. Start fresh. Don’t spend time brow-beating yourself about what wasn’t done, that time is better spent beating up on your characters.

What works today won’t work tomorrow as life constantly changes on us. Learn to adapt. Learn to forgive yourself. And remember to take time out to have fun and recharge.

Books · Writing

Managing Your Writing Business. Part 5. Administrative

Editing Round Two 005

Today, I’ll be talking about the administrative area of the writing business. This is the one element I usually overlook or keep pushing back on the to-do list. I tell myself there are more “important” things I need to get done. Taking care of the “paperwork” (which sometimes isn’t physical paperwork), is as important as the other areas of your business. Opportunities can be missed, a word of encouragement overlooked, or a task that would’ve taken an hour or less to complete, now takes up most of the afternoon.

To help me with managing this area, I break it down into smaller pieces:

a. Correspondence…mainly email nowadays. I spent too much time constantly checking ,and worrying I’d forgotten to reply to something important, that I made a policy of only checking email when I have time to respond. I also created folders in my account and sort the emails into categories. This makes it easier when I need to go back and refer to one of the emails. I also have one email account set up for shopping and subscriptions to non-work related blogs. This way my work email doesn’t get as much spam or become cluttered.

b. Filing

I confess, I still like paper. It drives my husband a little crazy that I still print out important papers that are sent to my email. I can’t help it, I like having a physical copy. Once I’m done with the document I printed, I put it into the filing basket. If I know for certain it’s something I want to keep long-term, I’ll file immediately otherwise it goes into the basket. (my way of trying to eliminate some of the paper I keep) At least twice a month, I clear out the basket and do my filing. Some of the items I toss as I know it’s no longer need or wanted.

c. Updating marketing information. It’s easy to lose track of the long-term methods you’re using (ex. web page, bios that you send out, Amazon author page, Goodreads, etc.) as the information doesn’t change frequently. I make an “appointment” on my calendar to review these items. I try to do it right before a book comes out.

d. Author Bios—Create specific ones for the key “targets” of your business. I have one geared toward writers when I’m conducting workshop at a writer’s conference, and another one for when I’m on a panel at a reader’s convention. I also plan on creating another that is more crafting/scrapbooking focused.

e. Author Photo – keep current. Okay, this is the one item I do everything I can to avoid. Even thought I love scrapbooking and photography, I hate having my picture taken. I don’t know what it is but I’m very uncomfortable having my photo taken and I always feel that the photos show it.

This is one of the pictures from my recent photo shoot.
This is one of the pictures from my recent photo shoot.

NOTE: Most of the admin (especially the last few elements) are items needed when participating in blog tours, interviews, or attending conferences. It’s a time saver to have them done ahead of time. You never know when an opportunity will arrive and you don’t want to juggle to fit in writing a bio or getting an updated picture during a busy time … or worse forget and lose the opportunity.

f. Store information in an easy to find place on your computer. After too many times of spending an hour trying to find a bio or photo I needed, I started labeling the folders with Captain Obvious type names. Author Bio Geared to Writers, Designed to Death Cover. Designed to Death Blurb. Administrative Blog Post for Self-Rescue Princess (I like to add in the blog name as I guest blog on occasion and want to find the file easily…and not send the wrong one)

g. Clean out computer files and emails. I try to do this at least once every six months. I’m a saver so it’s good to spend a day going through emails and getting rid of ones no longer needed. It’s also a time where I can make sure documents are filed in the correct folder.

The next (and last) part in the mini-series is: Financial.

Books · Writing

Managing Your Writing Business. Part 3 and 4. Marketing and Promoting

With birthdays happening this week (my youngest and oldest), an edit, and then trying to get a work-in-progress back on track, I didn’t get this portion of my “talk” up earlier this week. This segment is about marketing and promoting. I look at marketing and promoting as two separate areas. Marketing, to me,  is the overall big picture of your writing…the long term view and dealing with your writing career as a whole rather than a specific project or book, which I label as promoting.

3. Marketing – Overall Career

The first item I’m going to talk about is area that some writers believe is an either or…write what you love or write what readers will buy. Or as I like to think about it, writing what readers want to read.  There can be a balance, and as I feel, should be a balance between the two if you intend on selling your book (want others to spend their money on it). The hard truth is if you want writing to be your career, make an income with your words, then the reader needs to be taken into consideration. I know how hard this can be because sometimes what you’d love to write about isn’t what readers (or readers in what you’d love to be your target audience) want to read.

It makes for tough decisions but all businesses must decide where their talent, time and capital will go. Writing is no exception.

For me, part of marketing is:

a. Next project.

When deciding on what to write next, think about:

i. How does each idea fit into the goals you have set for yourself

ii. Will this book fit into the genre you’re currently writing in or will it branch you out into a different area? Can you cross-promote or will you need two separate plans for two separate readership bases? And if you need two separate plans…

iii. Do you have time to split  your efforts?

b. Events – conferences, festivals… “big ticket” personal appearances that require a higher money and time commitment.

c. Online Persona – Your social postings—FB, Twitter, Pinterest

Note: What you post on social network sites can make or break an author.  Before posting about controversial subjects ( the big ones are religion and politics), consider if it is more appropriate for a personal page or your author page. Is the stance or comment you make worth losing your readers?

d. Personal Blog. Decide if it will be more personal and chatty, or business oriented. If you can, pick a general theme that fits with your books.

4. Promotion – Specific Projects

This can be divided into two areas: time and money. It will change throughout your career which area is the one where you have the least available as a resource.

a. Blog Tours – self or hire out. There are businesses devoted to setting up /arranging blog tours. Each company has a different specialty so each one will be better for different authors. Searching for virtual book tour companies will give you some options. great escape tour banner DESIGNED TO DEATH small180

 b. Reviews. At least a month before your book comes out, contact reviewers to see if they’d be interested in reviewing your book. Make sure you follow the directions the reviewer lists on how to contact them and the information they need. If you have “paper” ARCs, a Goodreads giveaway is a great way to find reviewers. Keep in mind, that you won’t get a review for every copy sent…either through readers or professional reviewers. Reviews are important but it’s also the area you have the least control over.

c. Paid Advertising. I chose where I’m going to advertise based on audience reached and likelihood of recouping the investment I made for the ad.

Main thing to remember…not everything will work for everyone, nor for each project. Promotion (and marketing) are constantly changing and evolving.

Next in the mini-series: Administrative

Books · Writing

Managing Your Writing Business. Part 2. Time Management

2. Time Management. Today, I’m going to be “talking” about another area of managing your business. This important element is the hardest one for me to get a handle on as change isn’t something that comes easily to me. I like schedules. Plans. With my life going in so many different directions (family, work, volunteering, hobbies), it’s hard to squeeze them all in and when I get a plan down that works, it throws me off when something comes up and I need to rework everything.

But, I’m getting better at it as I’ve come to see, especially over the last year, flexibility is a skill I must learn and master in order to give my family, business, and enjoying life the proper time and attention each needs. Time management is essential when an author finds themselves with books due around the same date. In 2012, I had three books released (Led Astray: May 1, Safe and Sound: Nov 1, and Cropped to Death: Nov 20).


SafeandSoundCoverArt72dpiCROPPED front sm










Some periods of life you’ll have time to devote to every project, idea, mentoring, volunteering, critiquing, social event, , etc and other seasons you won’t. Figuring out the best way to manage time will be different for everyone. I’ve used planners on my phone, a “paper” calendar, computer programs, Google calendar. I’ve found that having a “paper” planner on my desk that has daily and monthly sections works best for me.

There are times during the year when I have more time available for writing as my other commitments are low (during the summer, winter because snow forces me to be housebound, etc) and other times where I swear if I didn’t jot down on my calendar to eat and breathe, I’d forget.

Tip A. Focus Days. I devote time each day to one major area: Marketing Mondays, T-Do List (admin) Tuesdays, Writing Wednesdays, Financial Fridays, etc. I try to write every day (except for Mondays on occasion as marketing can take up a huge amount of time). I find if I stick to one extra area to focus on it works better for my brain. I have a lot of trouble bouncing from one area to another. When my day is really fractured, it takes a lot longer to get tasks done. I much rather get one big task done a day (having four or whatever number is left depending what day it is) than take all of the work week to get five major tasks done. It’s just more encouraging to me to see items being completed.

Tip B. Written Goals. On my planner, I’ll write down the word or page goals I have for each day (less on Monday) and then on Saturday have the weekly goal listed. Some weeks the word count will be less, others more, as I take a look at what else needs to be done that week as I want realistic daily/weekly goals. I try not to set myself up for failure. The writing business is often an emotional roller coaster so I try to be one of the people not creating all the big downward plunges.

Tip C. Make Writing Appointments. Schedule writing as you would any other appointments. Beginning of the week/month put down your ‘appointment for writing’, whether it’s a half-hour or a couple of hours. You have just made a commitment to write –to yourself–so you can’t say yes to anything else during that time. Of course if an emergency –a real emergency– comes up, cancel the appointment but reschedule for later that day or week.

Tip D. Focus. This is the one tip I say to myself daily. It’s so easy to allow my mind to wander to other areas on my to-do list. Having days scheduled for filing makes it easier for me because I remind myself when I will be completing that task. I work on concentrating on what I’m currently doing. I will admit topping the rolling to-do list in my head is challenging at times. Which brings me to…

Tip E. Write it down. If you’re afraid of forgetting something, keep paper and pen beside you and jot it down then get to writing. I was so afraid I’d forget what I had to do, I’d keep reminding myself of it. (Probably a fear created from all those great scenes I thought about at night and promised myself I’d remember in the morning.) If I’m out and about, I’ll make a note on my phone. I have a love-hate relationship with my Smartphone…the ability to write notes on it that I can transfer to my planner is one of its best qualities…trying to figure out how to answer it at times, not so much.

I hope some of my tips help you.

Next in the mini-series: Marketing and Promoting.