Books · Writing

New Covers and Paperbacks Now Available

Well, I finally did it. I was able to create paperback versions for the New Beginnings series. For those new to my blog, the New Beginning Series is an inspirational romantic suspense series i wrote featuring a group of skip tracers who help “vanish” abused and stalked women. The series was originally published by Desert Breeze Publishing who closed their doors June 2018. I had re-released the ebooks myself and have been working on creating paperbacks for them.

And now that project is done! The most difficult part of the project was doing the wrap around book cover. It took me weeks to get all five perfect so they’d be approved by Amazon. When I started making the covers, I didn’t like how the original “new” cover looked for a paperback so I created new covers to use with both ebook and paperbacks.

I’ve been waiting to them off once the books were linked, but weeks later, not all of the editions are linked together so I decided to just show them off now anyway. I’ll include the link for the paperback and ebook edition if needed. The ebooks are currently only available on Kindle and are in the Kindle Unlimited Program.

And now…the new covers!

Lost Then Found colorSkip tracer Renee Stratford-Knight’s life plan changed upon her sister’s murder. Instead of using her skills to find people, Renee opened New Beginnings a firm specializing in “vanishing” abused women. Now her ex-husband –and former business partner – Jonas Knight reenters her life asking about her most vulnerable client.

In order to uncover the secret a teenage girl disappeared to keep, and a killer wants silenced, Jonas and Renee must struggle through distrust and the pain of their pasts to work together to save the life of a teenage girl – and their own.

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Then-Found-Inspirational-Beginnings-ebook/dp/B07JBLTNFJ

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Then-Found-Inspirational-Beginnings/dp/1795662743

Led Astray colorWith a battle brewing between the off-the-grid towns of Mourning and Haven, WV, skip tracer Danita Ballinger races to the area before the lives of her “vanished” clients are jeopardized.

Pastor Riley Coole isn’t interested in a mining company’s offer of jobs and a new spiritual home for the community in exchange for the mountaintop where the church resides. To Riley, the church is never up for sale. As word gets out about the promised jobs, his refusal ignites a war between two towns. Adding to Riley’s problem is the brazen woman who charged into town and forced her way into his church’s business–and his thoughts.

The murder of a key player in the tug-of-war over the mountain puts plans of retaliation into place. Danita and Riley must put aside their private battle to protect the people relying on them for safety. Will seeing each other in a new light put them on a path of acceptance and love, or create a further divide ripping apart the town and their own hearts?

Ebook and Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Led-Astray-Inspirational-Romantic-Beginnings-ebook/dp/B07JNFY2H2

Safe and Sound colorFive years ago, Connor’s new bride Hannah lost her way in a blizzard and the mountain claimed her. When a woman’s body is uncovered during a landslide, Connor learns his beloved was murdered and the man responsible goes on the run. Connor enlists the aid of his cousin, a skip tracer, to track down the killer and discovers the murderer has set his sights on another woman. Determined to save the woman from the same fate as his beloved wife, Connor has her brought to Haven and faces the second biggest shock of his life—the woman claims she’s Hannah.

The murderer who sent Hannah Stratford on the run has tracked her down. For years, she has lived off the identity of her lookalike best friend. 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 back. How will her husband react once he learns she not only left on her own, but hid her friend’s death to save herself? Can Hannah ever find true peace in her life or will she always be on the run?

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K4XMV5H

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Safe-Sound-Inspirational-Romantic-Beginnings/dp/1795852984

Long Gone colorReporter Eve Darling has the story of a lifetime. Years ago, a man and his brother had connived a baby away from a teenage mom and plan–and that man is now running for Governor. Without the source’s name, her boss refuses to the run the story, and Eve isn’t willing to give up the name of the victim–herself. Fearing the men who ruined her life have set their sights on another young woman, Eve turns to skip tracer Alex Stratford to help locate and protect the new intended victim.

Alex is stunned when Eve requests his help. The woman who once accused him of murder now accuses another man of a crime. Having battled Eve’s mudslinging himself, Alex refuses to work with her. Determined to bring the brothers to justice, Eve continues the mission alone. When she’s attacked, Alex rushes to her aid–and a decision alters lives forever. Can a battered and discredited Eve and a battle-scarred Alex ever feel worthy of love?

Ebook and Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Long-Gone-Inspirational-Romantic-Beginnings-ebook/dp/B07KSDL3HG

Far and Away colorPriscilla Thorn’s heart broke when her son killed his wife, and now shatters when her son takes his own life. Believing her son would want his father at his funeral, she informs her ex-husband–the abusive man she ran from decades ago. Stephen Thorn drops a bombshell, his life is ebbing away and he has no one to care for him. Priscilla believes for Samuel to receive forgiveness from the Heavenly Father, she must give it to Samuel’s earthly father.

Edgar Fritz is stunned when the woman he loves takes her dying ex-husband into her home. While Priscilla sees caring for her ex-husband as showing God’s love, Edgar believes Stephen has an ulterior motive and will use the opportunity for revenge. Edgar risks losing Priscilla’s friendship by insisting the man hasn’t changed his ways.

Is Priscilla endangering her life by insisting her ex-husband changed, so the world — and God — will know her son had changed?

Ebook and Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KWHJN6B

 

 

 

Books · Everyday Life

National Library Week

library weel 2014This week is National Library Week, and the theme is Lives Change @ Your Library. The American Library Association encourages everyone to share what the library means to you.

The library has always been one of my favorite places, and I know without a doubt, my life wouldn’t be what it is today without the library. Books have always been where I found hope, family, friends, and at times even salvation. The library wasn’t just a place where I could check out books and take them home, but a place where I knew I could find myself and grow.

One of my very first memories was going into the bookmobile when I lived in Tuscon, Arizona. I was four-years-old and amazed by all the books the bus had in it. Even better, I was able to check out two books and take them home. The book I loved most was about a ladybug who went, of all places, to the library. I can’t remember the name of the book or any other details. All I remember is the ladybug, her carrying books, the library she visited, and that I loved…capital L O V E, loved that book. I started reading at 4, and have loved doing so ever since.

Libraries are where I’ve expanded my reading interests. It’s easy to get comfortable even and stick with a preferred genre. I find using the library makes it easier for me to be more spontaneous with the worlds I experience. Sometimes when I go to the library, I’ll pick a row at random and walk down it. My goal is to check out one book from those shelves.

When I get bogged down with a large to-do list and have to take off reading time, I find I miss it. I miss it like a friend I haven’t been able to see for a while. I yearn to pick up a book. I feel an overwhelming desire to read. I need to go into a world that isn’t mine…real or fictional. It’s like a taking a small vacation (one that doesn’t cost much). I love going to new and different places, ones I might not get to otherwise.

But the best thing about reading is what I learn. The challenges, direct and indirect, that I’m faced with when seeing through another writer’s eyes. I experience worldviews that aren’t my own. I come away with a new perspective, or at a better understanding of the view not my own, one I wouldn’t have considered with just going on my own personal experiences and knowledge. It’s not just non-fiction where I learn and stretch myself, but also fiction. What I love most appreciate about libraries is the ability to step outside of myself and “become” someone else for a short while.  

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).

LedAstrayCoverArt72dpi

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.

Books · How To · Writing

Managing Your Writing Business. Part 1. The Writing

This June at the West Virginia Writers Conference, I did a workshop about the other areas of the writing/publishing business. It’s easy to forget (and I do at times) that writing isn’t the only part of the writing business. There are many components of it and it’s easy for the “fun” and creative part to overshadow them. But in order to make this business work, one must remember it is a business and there are other important areas needing attention.

For me, I found it was easier for me to juggle these areas (and not forget one…which I’ve done) when I broke the business into six different parts. I’m going to share my workshop over the next couple of weeks on my blog. Please feel free to leave comments, or send me an email if you have any questions.

This will seem a weird way to start off this mini-series, as I just stated a writing business isn’t just about writing, but there are times when a writer can allow the other components to remain front and center. Especially those times when it seems like a particular project is fighting us every step of the way. It’s easy, and makes us still feel productive, to focus exclusively on marketing, promoting, and other areas that don’t seem to be battling you. And one must also consider that without the writing one wouldn’t have a writing business so…

Part 1. The Writing

There will be times when the writing needs to come secondary to other parts of the business, like when a book is first released, if you’re at a conference (don’t spend all your time in the room writing), etc., but make sure the writing portion of your business doesn’t come to a complete standstill. That’s not to say never take a break or a vacation.

After I complete a book, I like to “treat” myself with a goofing off day. And when I go on vacation with my family, or to a scrapbook retreat, I am there in that moment. I know I wouldn’t like for my husband to always bring work with him on vacation, or have my friends working during a time we scheduled to hang out together so I don’t. There are times when I must squeeze in some writing, but I make sure it doesn’t take over the time or become the priority.

I break down my writing into 3 areas and usually have two of them going on at the same time…lately its been writing one book and editing another. I’ve tried doing all 3, but found it was too much and made me anxious and a little twitchy so I will only do two at a time. It’s better for my sanity and creativity.

a. First draft – Just write. That’s my daily motto when writing a new book. I tell myself there will be plot holes. Inconsistencies. Characters pop into and out of the story at random times. I’ll wonder why a character has been sucked into a some kind of vortex and just disappeared from a key scene. I make a note (usually it means they weren’t needed there) and continue on with the characters who have a strong presence in the scene.

I do my best to go with the flow. If I try to control the story too much at this point, it stalls–and that’s even when I have an outline. Allow the first draft to be a way of getting to know the characters and working on the structure of your story. The first draft is never the actual book. Or shouldn’t be.

b. Editing – Before sending out to editors at publishing houses, agents or self-publishing, take time to edit. Be open to getting rid of any part of the manuscript that stalls the plot, doesn’t add to characterization, or sounds more like a lecture to the reader. Even with an outline, a writer usually knows the book better at the end than in the beginning. This is the time I enjoy and dread the most. Since I know the story and the characters drive and motivations much better, I know what needs to be added and taken away. Of course some of those scenes that must go are ones I’ve fallen in love with, and while I’d rather leave them in there so readers can see “my brilliance”, if the brilliance doesn’t contribute to the story beside to show my brilliance, it must go.

c. Next project – I always have a few ideas, or a basic outline for another book I’m interested in working on next. Of course, contracted books with a due date are always next in line so at times the choice is easy. In a few months, I’ll be wrapping up a romantic suspense series and there are two ideas battling for which one I should pick. Part of how I decide is how much research is involved and what other time commitments do I have. Is there a theme begging for me to explore it and which project would it fit? Is there a spin-off potential of books I just finished? I always like to have an idea or two for another project in the works because you never know when an opportunity will present itself.

Next in the mini-series: Time Management