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).

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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

Books · Heroine Interviews · West Virginia

SRP Heroine Interview: Vada Faith from the novel Vada Faith

vada faithToday, I’m interviewing Vada Faith from the novel Vada Faith written by Barbara Whittington. I hope you enjoy the interview.

1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

When I decided to become the first surrogate mother in Shady Creek, West Virginia, I believed it would make me special. Call me selfish. I wanted a down payment for a fancy new house in the swanky new subdivision of Crystal Springs – which I was never gonna get working at the beauty shop with my judgmental twin, Joy Ruth, even if we did own the shop. I wanted more than I had. Much more! John Wasper, my husband, has never been accused of wanting to get ahead in life working at this little limping along trucking company.

I knew if I was ever going to amount to anything big I had to make it happen. John Wasper would live in that old run down Victorian of Grandma Belle’s until we were both dead. He thinks it is famous. Big deal. It is rumored Eleanor Roosevelt once sat in the wicker chair that still sits on our front porch. Well, I had this urgent need to do something big. Different. I was afraid I was going to explode with the feeling. Having my own set of twin girls delighted my soul. It just wasn’t enough.

Then, like an answer to a prayer, Roy and Dottie Kilgore swooped into town, wanting a child of their own and bringing money to burn.  What did I have to lose? Of course, that was before I learned the difference between talking about being a surrogate mother and actually being one. Especially when there was that danged egg to be considered. If only it hadn’t been for that egg, things might have worked out different. Better. But, now? Well, I’ll never know, will I?
2. What made you want your story to be told?

I wanted people to learn from my mistakes. And I wanted them to know that good can come from our mistakes. If you love someone enough. That you can always change and grow even when you think you are done with all that.
Roy Kilgore swayed me when he told me when this whole ordeal started it was easier to get forgiveness than permission. He wanted me to be a surrogate for them without John Wasper’s support. I learned that permission is one thing. Forgiveness is another. You have to be careful when you are dealing with issues that not only change your life but the life of those you love.

3. What lead you to make the changes you did in your life?

I hate to say this but Miss High and Mighty (me) grew up during this time. Change is tough. And painful. I saw my own faults. I would always leap before I looked. Then, the mote was removed from my eyes, as the Bible says. ( I am a Baptist and can tell you what the Bible says but not where to find it. Sorry!)

4. In your life, what has empowered you?

Family. I can finally say that after years of not feeling loved by my mother. When she left our family without any notice or reason, I felt unloved. Like I’d done something wrong. When I learned as an adult why she left it all made perfect sense.

5. What are strengths and weaknesses?

My strengths are now I know I’m strong. I stand on the shoulders of all the strong women who came before me. I know I am surrounded by family and friends who love me. I’ve been through the fire and came out on the other end ok. Even that crazy Doreen Moon over at the beauty shop who screws up her hair every other week and expects me to make her look like a movie star loves and supports me. That’s what makes life worth living. Every day miracles.

6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

I would never have called myself a self-rescue princess until recently. It took an ordeal that almost cost me my family to realize how strong and confident I really am. I guess we have to be tested by life’s storms to really know what we are made of. I learned I am a survivor.

7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Don’t be so strong-minded that you can’t learn something from someone who is older and wiser. Someone who has been around the block a time or two. Maybe even your parents or grandparents.

8. Favorite quote or Bible verse.

My favorite quote now is the one on the plaque still by our back door that belonged to John Wasper’s Grandma Belle. It says, “Bloom where you are planted.”  This is something I live my life by every day now. If we all did this we might be a tiny bit happier.

9. If your story had a theme song, what would it be?

In honor of the Elvis look-alike in the concert in Shady Creek, I have to say in the beginning it was Hound Dog by Elvis Presley because I was “crying all the time.” Then from the middle to the end it changed to Love Me Tender, also by Elvis, because throughout the book John Wasper loved me tender.

10. Will you be continuing your journey in written form?

I’m happy to say that I am in the middle of an adventure as we speak. A baby boy has joined our household making John Wasper a very happy man. With the arrival of Sweet Baby James, named after James Taylor whose music I adore, we ended up having quite an upheaval in our lives. A near tragedy strikes and we have to be stronger than we’ve ever been. You’ll have to look for this story sometime in 2013, tentatively titled Sweet Baby James.

11. Is there anyone in your life (friend, family member) who will be sharing their life?

I would not be surprised if Joy Ruth does not want to claim an entire series for herself. She’s very pushy and demanding as you probably noticed in Vada Faith. Her teaming up with John Wasper’s brother Bruiser can only lead to some kind of mischief. SO you’ll have to stay tuned.

If you’d like to learn more about Vada Faith’s author, please visit:

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?authorid=162613

www.barbwhitti.blogspot.com

Twitter

Barbara’s Amazon Author Page

Books · Excerpt · West Virginia · Writing

Ebook Week: Excerpt of Lost Then Found

Lost Then Found, is the first book in the New Beginnings Series, which features a skip-tracing business that specializes in relocating abused and stalked women. The second book, Led Astray, will be released in May.

Blurb:

 Skip-tracer Renee Stratford-Knight’s life is becoming stable again. Eighteen months prior, the murder of her sister and the soon-to-follow collapse of her marriage left her reeling. She made it through those dark days with the help of family, embracing faith and starting her own skip-tracing business, New Beginnings, which specializes in relocating abused women. Now, her ex-husband — and former business partner — Jonas Knight shows up asking about her most vulnerable client.

Jonas knows his ex-wife helped embezzler Gina Howard elude the authorities and plans to bring the young woman to justice. When Renee is threatened, Jonas grows suspicious of his client’s reason for finding his niece. In order to uncover the secrets their clients hold, 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.

Excerpt:

Renee locked the apartment up tight and took the stairs. Gripping the rail, she plodded down the steps, each step draining energy. The eventual battle with Jonas weighed down her spirit. She didn’t want to relive the painful moments of her life.

She stepped onto the ground floor, tugged open the door leading to the back parking lot and walked outside. A cold breeze played along her skin, drifting against her unprotected neck. The impulsive summer haircut she chose that winter over the hairdresser’s recommendations no longer symbolized independence to her but teenage rebellion.

She tugged up the small collar of her leather coat. “Showed him, didn’t I.”

Hands clapped. Renee halted under the dim lights of the outside doors. Her heart rate accelerated as she looked around the darkening area. Parked in the lot were three cars and a van. She swallowed hard and stared at the windows of the van, trying to make out any figures. Placing her hand into her front pocket, she pressed her thumb onto the keypad of her cell phone. She sent out a heads-up message to her brother.

Jonas stepped into the light, a sarcastic smile stretching across his face. Better to face a known enemy than an unknown one. She typed another message to her brother. False read. Lord, let that work to keep Alex at home rather than charging to the rescue.

“Your skills at deception have gotten better.” Jonas loomed over her.

“I learned from the best.” Regret tugged at her conscience as the words left her mouth. She pushed it away. If she allowed Jonas to get the upper hand, then she offered an opportunity for his words to steal away her confidence.

She tilted her head back and locked onto his storm-cloud gray eyes, standing in place even though her neck muscles ached. She promised herself not to ever allow a man to make her feel powerless. The streetlights allowed her to see her reflection in his eyes. As he studied her face, his gaze softened. He reached out, fingers lingering by her cheek.

The air between them crackled. A shiver raced through Renee and she fought the instinct to lean those few inches toward his touch. They were divorced. They no longer meant anything to each other. She drew back but not before awareness crept into his gaze. He knew. He sensed it.

Time to end the silent duel, and leave. Now. She held in a frustrated sigh as she asked the question Jonas silently demanded. “What do you want?”

“Gina Howard’s location.”

Books · Excerpt · Writing

Ebook Week: Excerpt of Faith, Fireworks and Fir by Pam Andrews Hanson

 I’ve been wanting to join in the celebrating of ebook week and it has  sped by without hardly an acknowledgement from me. Though, I have been reading ebooks this week. Since I have a few days left, I’ve decided to post some excerpt to finish up the week.
 
Faith, Fireworks and Fir: David Maxwell comes to Evergreen, Michigan to persuade his beloved elderly aunts to sell their bed and breakfast and retire to Phoenix to be closer to him. His aunts have no intention of retiring and enlist Faith Turner, manager of a year-round Christmas store, to persuade their nephew to change his mind.Can Faith help her friends and avoid falling in love with soon-to-be-gone David?
 
 Excerpt:
 
“Are you here about the angels?”
 
Faith Turner leaned against the checkout counter hoping a big problem was about to be solved.
 
“My aunts are dears, but I’ve never heard them called angels,” the tall, dark-haired man said smiling warmly.
 
“Oh, I’m sorry. I just assumed—I mean, our customers don’t wear suits and ties. They’re mostly tourists, and when I saw your dark suit….”
 
“You thought I was here about angels?”
 
“Blown glass angels,” Faith explained, feeling a little flustered by the intensity of the gorgeous dark eyes focused on her. “We received a shipment with more than half the ornaments broken. The company promised to send a sales rep with replacements. I was hoping you were it. July is a busy month, and we’re doing a special promotion on the angels. At least we were until they arrived all smashed up. I cried when I saw how many were ruined. But you don’t want to hear my problems. How can I help you?”
 
She was talking too much, a habit she’d tried hard to kick. What was it about this stranger that made her chatter on instead of finding out what he wanted? A lot of strangers came to The Christmas Store, so what was so special about the tall, lean man on the other side of her counter?
 
“I’m David Maxwell. A girl cleaning rooms at my aunts’ bed-and- breakfast said Cora and Carrie might be here.”
 
“You just missed them. They came to check on a wreath I special- ordered for them. It’s nice to meet you at last. Your aunts talk about you a lot. Oh, I’m Faith Turner. This is my parent’s Christmas store, but I’m managing it for them.”
 
The sisters were dear friends of her family, and she was happy to see their elusive nephew after hearing about him for years. They hadn’t exaggerated how handsome he was, and the pictures on display in their parlor didn’t begin to capture his vibrant good looks. His hair was such a dark brown it was nearly black, and he had the longest lashes she’d ever seen on a man.
 
“Do you know where they might have gone?” His resonant voice reminded her of his reason for being there.
 
“I think Carrie went to a hair appointment, and Cora was going to the supermarket. They didn’t want to bother with the wreath until their errands were done, so I expect at least one of them to come back later.Maybe you can catch up with them at Angela’s Beauty Salon or the Budget Buy store. They’re both on Fort Street, about a quarter mile down from us.”
 
“Maybe it would be easier to wait at inn. By the way, I’m impressed with your store. I expected it to be full of plastic Santas and mass- produced collectibles. You seem to be preserving the true meaning of Christmas. Do you mind if I look around while I’m waiting to catch up with my aunts?”
 
“Please do. My parents always tried hard to emphasize the spiritual side of Christmas. We have a full line of items for the holiday, but both my mom and dad worked to find decorations appropriate to celebrate Christ’s birthday. If you like, I can give you a tour.”
 
She was pleased he’d noticed the quality of their stock, and even happier when he took her up on her offer. The more she looked at him, the more obvious it became that Cora and Carrie’s photographs didn’t capture his ‘wow’ factor. He was far and away the best-looking man to step foot in the store in a long time.
 
Bio: Pam Andrews Hanson and her mother,  Barbara Andrews, have written a wide range of women’s fiction together for nearly 20 years. Pam blogs about family, faith, and aging at pamshanson.blogspot.com. Please stop by to say hello!You can also ‘like’ her on on Facebook at her official author page.
Books · Contests · Writing

Lost Then Found Giveaway to Celebrate 1st Year

To celebrate my 1 year anniversary with Desert Breeze Publishing, I’m hosting a giveaway of Lost Then Found, the book that inspired the name of my blog.  Leave a comment to enter for a chance to win When I was first trying to get my inspirational romantic suspense published, I ran into a little issue with my heroine. I started to reconsider how I wrote heroines, until a friend gave me the best advice. Her words of wisdom was I should create my characters the way they were in my heart and then find a publisher that published those types of story. I talked about my journey into writing romantic suspense in my first blog post.

January 5, 2011 was when I received an email from Gail Delaney saying she’d like to offer a contract not only on the first book in the New Beginnings Series, Lost Then Found, but also for the rest of the series– a total of 5 books. Led Astray, book 2, is off for editing and scheduled for release May 1, 2012. Today, I’m working on book three, Safe and Sound, in the New Beginning Series. It’s amazing.

Since I’m writing Book 3, I decided to giveaway 3 books to celebrate: 1 PDF copy, 1 Kindle Copy (I’ll gift directly from Amazon), 1 Nook copy (I’ll gift directly from Barnes and Noble). To enter, leave a comment on this post with your email address and let me know which copy you’d like to win. Please feel free to share this giveaway. Entries will be accepted until Monday, January 9 at 11:59 pm. Winners will be notified no later than January 11 (adding a couple of days in case  internet issues happen due to winter weather). 

Blurb: Skip-tracer Renee Stratford-Knight’s life is becoming stable again. Eighteen months prior, the murder of her sister and the soon-to-follow collapse of her marriage left her reeling. She made it through those dark days with the help of family, embracing faith and starting her own skip-tracing business, New Beginnings, which specializes in relocating abused women. Now, her ex-husband — and former business partner — Jonas Knight shows up asking about her most vulnerable client.

Jonas knows his ex-wife helped embezzler Gina Howard elude the authorities and plans to bring the young woman to justice. When Renee is threatened, Jonas grows suspicious of his client’s reason for finding his niece. In order to uncover the secrets their clients hold, 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.

Excerpt:

Renee locked the apartment up tight and took the stairs. Gripping the rail, she plodded down the steps, each step draining energy. The eventual battle with Jonas weighed down her spirit. She didn’t want to relive the painful moments of her life.

She stepped onto the ground floor, tugged open the door leading to the back parking lot and walked outside. A cold breeze played along her skin, drifting against her unprotected neck. The impulsive summer haircut she chose that winter over the hairdresser’s recommendations no longer symbolized independence to her but teenage rebellion.

She tugged up the small collar of her leather coat. “Showed him, didn’t I.”

Hands clapped. Renee halted under the dim lights of the outside doors. Her heart rate accelerated as she looked around the darkening area. Parked in the lot were three cars and a van. She swallowed hard and stared at the windows of the van, trying to make out any figures. Placing her hand into her front pocket, she pressed her thumb onto the keypad of her cell phone. She sent out a heads-up message to her brother.

Jonas stepped into the light, a sarcastic smile stretching across his face. Better to face a known enemy than an unknown one. She typed another message to her brother. False read. Lord, let that work to keep Alex at home rather than charging to the rescue.

“Your skills at deception have gotten better.” Jonas loomed over her.

“I learned from the best.” Regret tugged at her conscience as the words left her mouth. She pushed it away. If she allowed Jonas to get the upper hand, then she offered an opportunity for his words to steal away her confidence.

She tilted her head back and locked onto his storm-cloud gray eyes, standing in place even though her neck muscles ached. She promised herself not to ever allow a man to make her feel powerless. The streetlights allowed her to see her reflection in his eyes. As he studied her face, his gaze softened. He reached out, fingers lingering by her cheek.

The air between them crackled. A shiver raced through Renee and she fought the instinct to lean those few inches toward his touch. They were divorced. They no longer meant anything to each other. She drew back but not before awareness crept into his gaze. He knew. He sensed it.

Time to end the silent duel, and leave. Now. She held in a frustrated sigh as she asked the question Jonas silently demanded. “What do you want?”

“Gina Howard’s location.”

Books · Writing

Dying For Redemption – Release Date Set

Courage won out so I’m setting a public release date for my paranormal mystery. This is a big step for me, a self-rescuing princess kind of decision. I’ve debated about redoing this book since it went out of print in 2006 and always convinced myself for one reason or another to just let this book go and write others. I have written other books (an inspirational romantic suspense will be released next month with Desert Breeze Publishing) and decided to move forward and not back, but the urge to give this story another chance grew louder and louder last year. 

In my heart and mind, I realized the greatest risk wasn’t in self-publishing the book and not succeeding … failing … but in continuing to allow others, who judged and shunned me as a person because of the book’s setting, the ‘right’ to determine the types of story I was allowed to tell. Even now, as I’m taking ‘one last look’, I feel the nerves wanting to take over. That voice asking if I’m really, really sure this is what I want to do. If this is really the correct decision.  What if–  The only solution was to take a stand. Pick a date. What ifs will always be there but I won’t let them rule.

My official announcement.

To be released October 5, 2011.

Two bullets in the back give PI Callous Demar an address change to Limbo, and life after death takes on a whole new meaning. Not wanting to indulge in his forced early retirement, Callous opens shop to help the recently murdered.

 When a dame walks into his office, he thinks solving her murder will be a piece of cake, as his two prime suspects are the butler and the husband. He soon discovers the case is far more complicated than he suspected.

 Callous finds his carefree attitude further challenged when he must also find the killer of his grandniece, whose murder might be tied to his own.