Book Sales

TOS#3 - Cover Hi Res (1)It’s been a few weeks since In the Wind came out and I am continually surprised when I check my sales information and see results. I started this journey simply because I enjoy writing so much, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to see that people are reading my books. I love that my readership continues to grow and I would just like to say a huge THANK YOU!!!! to all of you who have purchased In the Wind.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it, grab your copy here:

Kindle
Kobo
Nook 

Three Years and Counting…

My friend, Michelle, and I sat down three years ago and had a conversation about where we wanted to go with our careers. Both of us were in jobs that didn’t really call to us. They paid the bills and paid the bills and provided health benefits – you know, the things people want and need to feel secure. But the long-term prospects for those jobs just weren’t satisfying. Instead of letting this conversation become a ‘woe is me’ pity party, we decided to set goals – with time limits and action steps. My goal for that first year was to write and publish one book. Looking back, that was a very naïve and uninformed decision – good thing I’m adaptable.

During the first year, I went to two conferences, signed up for many courses on self-publishing, and started researching the success of some of my favorite authors. Not only did I learn how much more was involved in being a self-published author, I finished not one, but four books. I had headshots taken, got a website up and running, joined several social media platforms, and, yes, published my first book.

Year two brought some major changes to my personal life. I spent several months in transition between day jobs and finally ended up with a job that is perfect for accommodating my second career. I can now leave work at work and go home to spend my evenings and weekends writing.

The third year is coming to a close with my 40th birthday in June. My original goal wasn’t to become a successful, self-supporting author. It was to see if my books had gained traction and, more importantly, if I still enjoyed the process. I’ve worked in the professional world for over 20 years, and the last thing I want is to be pursuing something that doesn’t bring me joy. So, what have I decided, you ask? I love writing! It still fulfills me every time I sit down at a computer. I love dreaming up new stories. I’ve discovered that even something that I do for fun can strike a chord with a reader. Putting in humor has become easier. And, I’m almost over the embarrassment when my parents read an intimate scene that I’ve written…not sure that will ever go away completely!

Blue TempestWhat about my friend Michelle? Well, she too has made adjustments to her day job. She’s expanded her art to several retail spaces around town, started her own social media campaign (in addition to running mine…), and sold several paintings/mixed media art pieces. If you’d like to see her talent, take a look at the photo attached to this blog – it’s one of many of her pieces I’ve purchased.

We might not be successful by society’s definition, but we made it! We’ve set out to do what we outlined. And we’re going to continue to grow and expand and adapt and learn. Most importantly, we’re going to keep creating. Because that’s what brings joy.

Sicker than a Dog…

cup-779284_1280Ever wonder where certain phrases come from? I often wonder this, and this past week I’ve had more time than normal to think of such random things. I’ve been down with Strep throat and a sinus infection and had to take a few days off from my day job. It’s rare that I get sick, but when I do, it wipes me out. I spent three whole days doing nothing but sitting in my recliner, snuggling with my dogs. Not a bad way to spend a few days – if only I hadn’t felt so miserable.

To me, the worst possible form of being sick is having a stuffy nose. I can handle chills, fever, sore throat – but not being able to breathe has got to be the worst feeling in the world. So there I was, swaddled in my recliner, a dog on each side of me, and too exhausted to hold a book. I tried to prop my e-reader up on it little stand, but then my eyes revolted. My eyeballs hurt and my eyelids refused to stay open. I ended up having a tv marathon – Pitch Perfect, Magic Mike, Fast and Furious. It’s a very rare thing for me to spend so much time watching television – and so little time reading.

One of the good things to come out of so much downtime was that I got to brainstorm on the next Katie Freeman book. I already had an idea of where this book was going, but I really got to put some ideas together. Now I have to make up for the lost writing time.

Memorial Day Weekend

flag-958343_1280Hey all! It’s a holiday weekend here in the USA. Memorial Day weekend is a day to celebrate those who gave their life while serving in the armed forces. To many, it’s also the unofficial start of summer. Last Memorial Day, I had just put up the hammock in my backyard and enjoyed quite a lot of time out there. There was also a comical moment when I flipped out of said hammock – luckily I rescued the laptop and didn’t land on top of it…(go ahead and laugh, my mother did…)

While sitting in my hammock last year, I wrote a draft of The Only Wolf. It was just a story that was in my head after spending hours watching coverage of the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust. It wasn’t ever supposed to amount to anything, but those who I let read it loved it. So it became a trilogy.

This Memorial Day weekend, I’m planning to spend some more magical time in the hammock, this time working on Free to Believe, book 4 in the Katie Freeman Mysteries. I’m hoping the story turns out to be as enthralling as the Devil Mountain Shifters were. Hopefully, I can remain in the hammock this time. 🙂

Travelled vs traveled

sign-429419_1920I had an interesting conversation with one of my closest friends today. We were discussing the nuances in the English language. She texted me to ask how to spell “travelled or traveled”. My automatic reply was “traveled”. Her follow up was to ask about “cancelled vs. canceled”, to which I replied “cancelled”. Of course, I started second guessing myself at that point and decided to let Word tell me which was right. I typed both into a blank Word document expecting the little red squiggly lines to appear under the incorrect one and TADAH! I would see who was correct. But guess what? They’re both right!

The English language can be so tricky! It turns out the double Ls are British English and the single L is American English. That’s a little more subtle than “color vs. colour”. For now, I think I am sticking with being bilingual in this aspect. I will just hope for no cancellations during my traveling!

’tis the season…

I know you think I’m crazy, but I’m truly not. It’s still snowing out, even though the groundhog says spring is coming. However, the reason I say “’tis the season” is because Lent is upon us. Now, I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions. I think they borderline on the ridiculous, and one never sticks to them. How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution and neglected to follow through on it? Yeah, that’s what I thought. But, for Lent, I try to do a little bit better. I’m not Catholic, but I do think that doing something to improve yourself is admirable. We are always changing, so why not work on making those changes positive? And what better way than to have a specific number of days in which to do this? I’ve always heard that establishing a new habit takes 30 days, so Lent gives you an extra 10 to reinforce any new goal.

So this year I’ve been going back-and-forth on what to do for Lent. When I was in college, the obvious thing to do was to give up cursing. Well, that’s just not gonna happen! I’ve outgrown that notion… I’ve done the whole exercise ‘every day for 40 days,’ or ‘I’ll do this diet for 40 days,’ but really, it kind of gets treated just like a New Year’s resolution – meaning it goes out the window within the first week. Last year I did a challenge that involved my writing. I decided that for the 40 days I was going to write a certain number of words every single day. And I did it too! This year however, I think I’m going back to an old standby: I’m give up sugar for 40 days! For those of you that don’t know me, you don’t understand what a big deal this is. My two biggest addictions are sweet tea and bite-size Snickers bars. Lately, the Snickers is kind of a ruling my life. So I decided that for the next 40 days I’m gonna work to change that. Wish me luck and here we go! Happy fat Tuesday everyone.

Free to Live: Cover Reveal!

KF cover revealI am so excited for the release of the third installment in the Katie Freeman Mysteries: Free to Live. For all of you who have followed this series from the beginning, get ready to find out what happened to Charlene Stephens. You first met Charlene in the prologue of Free to Kill, book one. You’ve gotten glimpses of her story throughout both book one and book two. Who is she? Did she kill her husband? How will these answers impact Katie? I hope you are as excited to find the answers as I was go write them for you!
Just to get you ready, I’m giving you the first look at the cover for this book, coming out one week from today. My fantastic cover artist, Ryan Bukowski, outdid himself this time. So, get ready to step through the door into the past, but keep an eye out for all the ramifications that will ricochet through the characters lives today.

Free to Live debuts December 29, 2016. If you missed the first two novels, check out Free to Kill and Free to Deceive available on Amazon.com.

 

Sneak Peek: Free to Live

It’s almost time for Katie Freeman #3! Only two more weeks. I’ve had so much fun writing this one. This past week has been a busy one for me, so instead of blathering on in this blog post, I thought I’d share a little sneak peek of Free to Live. Here you go…

Enjoy!

Free to Live

sunset-blog post sneak peek

It was the end of August and Sarah wasn’t doing much. The heat zapped any energy she had and her feet were so swollen they felt like clubs. Patty constantly fussed over her, refusing to let her get up for anything but to use the bathroom.

Months earlier, Sarah had made Patty find a midwife that would come to the ranch to check up on the baby. She refused to leave the ranch, even to go to the hospital. Unless there was something wrong, she was determined to have Katherine right here at home. She had arranged everything legally so that Patty would have custody, should anything happen to her. Patty also had a power of attorney to make decisions on Sarah’s behalf. Of course, she hadn’t told Patty any of that.

All day, Sarah had been extra achy and tired, but she refused to say anything about it. The other woman had been fretting over Sarah’s flushed cheeks enough as it was. Now, it was the middle of the night and, once again, her bladder was waking her up. If she could just find a comfortable position to lay, she could get a good night’s sleep.

Dragging herself to her feet, Sarah made her way to the bathroom located between her bedroom and Patty’s. They had put in a nightlight a few months ago so that Sarah didn’t have to turn on the lights in the middle of the night when she needs to pee. It still didn’t matter, every time she went into the bathroom, Patty would wake up. She was as excited for the baby’s arrival as Sarah was.

Sarah sat down and relieved herself, but as she pushed herself to her feet, she felt a flood of liquid run down her legs. She immediately knew Katherine was on her way.

Not bothering to yell, knowing full well that Patty was awake, she said, “You might want to call the midwife. My water just broke.”

Patty was up and on the phone before Sarah finished speaking.

It was two in the morning before the midwife arrived, and though they tried to keep quiet, several of the women staying with them came down to see if they could help. They small study that was located beside Sarah’s room had been turned into a nursery, so the women went in and made sure the bed had fresh sheets on it and that everything was ready for the new arrival.

As first baby’s go, it was an easy labor, lasting only four hours, though that’s because the midwife suspected Sarah’s discomfort the day before was actually labor pains. At six in the morning, the midwife handed a squalling little girl into the arms of her mother. Patty sat on the bed beside Sarah looking down into the round, red face.

“What are you going to name her?” the midwife asked.

“Katherine the Great,” both women replied at the same time as the dark haired baby cried on.

“That’s an awfully big name to live up to,” she replied.

The two women looked at each other. They had never considered that when they picked the name.

“Katie,” Patty whispered.

“Perfect,” Sarah replied.

One year and counting…..

book covers blog image

 

Oh my goodness! I can’t believe it’s been a year since I published my first book. This has been a rollercoaster ride of fun, stress, learning, and frustration, but has been overall rewarding. I started 2014 with two goals: write one novel, and publish one novel. I started 2015 with the goal to publish four books. So far, I have published three books and three novellas. My fourth book will be released at the end of the month!

Katie Freeman is going to make an appearance in her third book, Free to Live, December 29.

Special Agent Katie Freeman has a secret, one she has only shared with her partner, Michael Powell. While looking at the files of a cold case, Katie discovered a possible personal connection. Is her mother the woman who disappeared twenty-six years ago? And did she kill Katie’s father? 

If her mother is the missing woman, how will that affect Katie’s career with the FBI? And, now that she has dragged her partner into this mess, will the calls come tumbling down on him, too? Adding to the stress is Katie’s new relationship with a fellow FBI agent. She is keeping secrets from him that impedes their ability to move their relationship forward. 

Can Katie resolve this situation before she loses everything she has worked for?

For all of you who have fallen in love with Katie and Michael, I hope you enjoy their newest adventure.

Thank you for sticking with me as I have explored the self-publishing world. I look forward to giving you many more books in the future!

Artistic Advice, Toxic Advice

I ran across this article the other day:

21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors

My first thought was, “Great! Advice from ‘real’ authors.” Then I showed it to my friend and social media queen Michelle. Her first reaction to the opening paragraph derailed my train of thought and knocked some sense into me. After a bit of reflection, I can really see her point.

…having an artistic temperament doth not make one an artist.

What is an artist? It’s someone who writes, paints, draws, sings, or any other form of self-expression. True, not everyone can/will make a living with their art, but does that make them less worthy of the title of Artist? No. However, society has instilled in us an idea that in order to be successful, we must achieve a certain status, usually financially defined.

Well, I am here to say I AM AN ARTIST. I AM AN AUTHOR. I write because I love to do it. I love the entire process. Stressing over plot points. Arguing with characters when they don’t want to behave. Deadlines sneaking up on you. Formatting. Editing. Cover design. And the list goes on… I AM a REAL author.

So much of the various art forms are subjective. When you look at paintings, do you prefer realism, cubism, or abstract? I am sure several of you answered that differently than I did. There are a ton of famous artists whose work I wouldn’t want hanging in my house. I can appreciate them for their appeal – to someone else. The same can be said for different forms of writing. I detest horror and gore, but I love mysteries. I don’t enjoy historical romance, but love paranormal romance. And just as before, I am sure some of you disagree.

All of that being said, the advice in the post does give me food for thought. Here is my favorite of the list:

  1. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

When I finished reading this, I reflected back on my post from a few weeks ago: Passion…or Happiness? Since I wrote that, I have been following Mark Manson’s blog and ran across a few more that have inspired me or made me think. The first was on life purpose (http://markmanson.net/life-purpose) and the second was on dreams (http://markmanson.net/dreams).

What is life purpose? That is an interesting question and one I think has a different meaning to different generations. One of the things that I have noticed over the past few years while working in higher education is that the newer generation doesn’t go into a career thinking in terms of forever. Stop and think about that for a second. Your grandparents and parents went to college or trained for a specific job with the full expectation that they would be doing that until they retired. Plumber, electrician, attorney, teacher, on and on and on. They wanted the security that came along with longevity. College students today have multiple ideas of what they want to do. And they aren’t afraid of thinking that ten years down the road they will be changing professions.

Our parents and the generations before had mid-life crises when they reached the point of burnout. But even then it wasn’t their job that they considered changing. Think about all the clichés you hear: affairs, divorce, sports cars, etc. The newer generations don’t put pressure on themselves to make life-long decisions at the age of 18. That can be scary, or it can be incredibly freeing.

I have seen a larger number of non-traditional students coming back for different degrees. These people are of my generation. Those of us that were raised with the idea that we needed to find a career and stick to it. But we have also grown up with technology and a world that has, and is, changing more than it ever has before. We are now reaching our mid-30s and 40s and realizing we are no longer happy doing what we chose to do at 18. But unlike our parents, we take inspiration from our children. We fall back on the idea that education can take you far and we use that to move forward. We take action to change what no longer makes us happy.

What most people don’t understand is that passion is
the result of action, not the cause of it. 

Discovering what you’re passionate about in life
and what matters to you is a full-contact sport,
a trial-and-error process.
None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity
until we actually do the activity.

Do you see how passion and life-purpose go hand-in-hand? It’s impossible to reconceptualize (yes, David Ogilvy, I used the word you said not to use…) your purpose in life without knowing what you are passionate about.

When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, they don’t know what their values are. And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and eventual misery.

I have been dealing with this over the past several months as I reevaluate my career. I took a huge leap back in June and completely changed career paths. Last year, I also started publishing what I write. Whew! Do you know how nerve wracking that was? When I first started thinking of publishing, I thought I would use a pseudonym – something so no one would know I was the author. I don’t write erotica. I write mysteries and romantic suspense (and surprisingly paranormal romance). I don’t write anything that I would be embarrassed for my mother to read…though the first Tip of the Spear book did make me blush when she read it.

What I discovered was that I was embarrassed about what people would think – of me, of my books, of my beliefs and values, of everything. How would people I have known for years react to my books? Ultimately, having a built in network to start promoting my books is what swayed me to use my own name. Imagine what I felt when I read this:

But if your reasons are, “My parents would hate it,” or “My friends would make fun of me,” or “If I failed, I’d look like an idiot,” then chances are, you’re actually avoiding something you truly care about because caring about that thing is what scares the shit out of you, not what mom thinks or what Timmy next door says.

Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful. The more a major life decision scares you, chances are the more you need to be doing it.

And every word of that is true. I am passionate about what I write. I still care what others think, but not enough to stop me from pursuing what I enjoy. I am doing what I love. This is my passion. This is my dream.

So when should you pursue your dreams? Again, I refer to Mark Manson:

  • Fall in love with the process, not the result – If your job is drudgery now, then there’s no reason to suspect it won’t still be drudgery when you make partner or when you’re managing your own division. We live in a results-based society, and unfortunately this gets most of us (70% by some surveys) into the wrong pursuits and career paths.
  • What’s motivating you? – Take a long, hard look at what’s really driving you. Is it some compensation for an unmet need? Or is it a genuine expression of enthusiasm and joy? The fact that I fantasized about being on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans and didn’t fantasize about writing or playing new songs is telling.

Working in finance, I always jokingly tell people, “If your idea of saving for retirement is secretly hoping to win the lottery before you hit 65, there is a problem.” The same can be said for whatever dream you want to pursue. Writers always talk about the massive pile of rejection letters they received before ‘hitting it big’. And all of them will follow that by saying how it inspired them to push even harder. When you face obstacles, it is human nature to try harder – if you are truly passionate about what you are doing. It makes us appreciate what we have more than if it was just handed to us.

“When all of your wishes are granted,
many of your dreams will be destroyed.”

–Marilyn Manson

What does all of this mean to me? I love writing. I love being an author. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it draining? Yes. Is it rewarding? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. I’m proud of what I have accomplished so far and I plan to continue to do it as long as I’m able. I am not defining my success by how much money I am making. My success depends on how I feel about the finished product, the reaction of my readers, and the satisfaction I feel if even one person says they loved what I wrote. That makes me happy. That drives me to continue.

So here is my advice to you: If you want to be a writer, write – even if it’s just in your journal. If you want to be a painter, paint – even if it’s just a piece you hang on your wall. If you want to be a singer, sing – even if it’s just in the shower. And, if you are willing to put in the hard work and follow the process, give it a shot.