Monthly archives "July 2015"

TEN THINGS I LEARNED FROM PUBLISHING A BOOK

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Psst … guess what today is!  Yes, it’s Tuesday, but that’s not really what’s special.  And nope, there isn’t a major holiday you’ve forgotten or day in history to remember.   It’s my book birthday!  Yay!  Where has the year gone? It seem like just yesterday I released my baby out into the world.

And since it’s my (book) birthday, I thought I would take the time to tell you a few things I’ve learned during the course of publishing a book.  So here it is,

TEN THINGS I LEARNED FROM PUBLISHING A BOOK:

1.  Family and Friends will disappoint you.  Yes, that’s right.  Those people you thought you could count on and who you believed would be your biggest supporters, some of them won’t.  It’s hard and hurtful, but it’s one of those things that you just have to deal with and move on.

2.  This reverts back to number one, but you’ll find out who your true friends are.  I would be lying if I said relationships haven’t been affected.  Some have.  Simple as that.  Writing is a big part of who I am and publishing a book was an accomplishment I’m proud of.  And while I’ve tried to keep in mind not everyone shares the same enthusiasm, there were a few I felt could have been a little more supportive in other ways. It’s okay, though, because you’ll also make new friends.  Great friends!  Who will share your enthusiasm for writing and book related things.  You’ll also find out you have other common interest and before you know it, you’ll be talking to them every day.  Embrace this change.  Friends who support you wholly are a true blessing.

3.  Getting reviews are hard.  Really hard.

4.  My husband can hold down the fort at home all by himself.  Actually, I knew this already.  He does a fine job when I have to be away for work, but when I’m there, I tend to take on the more dominant role of keeping up with things.  But, he fared just fine and took complete control when I needed to shut myself away to meet an editing deadline.

5.  Quitting my day job anytime soon isn’t a possibility.  Actually, I knew this too, but in case anyone is wondering where my writing career is going, I thought I’d throw that in.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to write full time, but then I never considered it an option. It’s always been a hobby and now I’m lucky enough to earn a little from it.

6.  Marketing is equally as tough as getting reviews.  Although my publisher sent me a packet about an inch thick of marketing techniques, I had no clue what I was doing. I was lucky enough to come in contact with a book blogger that had some patience with me and walked me through some stuff.  So, a  big thanks to Whitney at Shooting Star’s Reviews for her help early on in this adventure.  I really have no advice for how you should go about marketing your book.  Each person transverses this on their own terms and different techniques work for different folks.  But if I had to give one piece of advice, it’s to make contacts and make them early.  Unfortunately, I jumped into marketing late.  As in, I waited until it was ready to release to start really talking about it.  My theory …. who wants to hear about a new author whose book isn’t available yet?  I mean, I’m no Nora Roberts, so why would anyone care?  While that may be true to some degree, you’ll find the more contacts you make and the more you talk about your story, the more people you’ll get interested.

7.  Editors can be your best friend.  That’s right.  I loved my editor, Jess.  Being a newbie, I had great concerns about understanding how things worked, but Jess was super easy and explained everything simply.  It also helped that she had my back on some big plot and character changes that were suggested in the second rounds of edits.  I was nearly in tears when I read over all the suggestions and then I got an email from Jess saying, “No, no, no.  I’m overriding this, because …”  and she listed my exact visions for the story.  Had it not been for her, Drive Me Sane would have probably ended up entirely different.  So, yes, find a good editor that you trust, it’s important.

8.  Writing that second book is much harder than the first.  You’d think it would be the other way around, being you have a taste for how things work, but sometimes naivety works to your advantage.  I now constantly find myself looking ahead and always seem to be ten steps forward instead of in the moment doing what needs to be done.

9.  All that time you had to write before seems to get sucked up into a big black hole.  This goes along with the marketing aspects.  I’ve found my time management skills aren’t as good as I thought and I’m easily distracted by social media.  It’s tough to balance writing and marketing while swinging a full time job and family (I’m not complaining here, I know 99% of us do it).  I’ve learned I’m a binger.  Yep, I’ll write, write, write.  Read, read, read.  And then I’ll decide that I’m a sloppy housewife and clean, clean, clean.  Eventually I’ll move on to remembering my family likes more than sandwiches and take to Pinterest for recipes to try.  Then I’ll cook, cook, cook.  You see my struggle here?  I need to learn how to make all this work together.

10.  There are certain times of the day I’m more creative.  I have a difficult time coming home from work and trying to write.  Writing a love scene while your thinking about dinner, the kids bath time, or all the laundry you need to do just doesn’t work out too well.  I’m at my best late in the evenings when it’s all quiet or very early mornings.

AND NOW FOR MY AWESOME NEWS !

You amazing people are the first to know, because I haven’t announced this anywhere else yet, but Amazon has bought the digital rights to Drive Me Sane.  So, not only do I get to celebrate today, I’ll be celebrating again next week when Drive Me Sane re-releases with Amazon’s encore program on August 4th.  I’ll have a slightly different cover and I believe a new price.  So if you haven’t read it and you’re dying to, I’m telling you to wait, because you’ll get a better deal 🙂

I’ll also be celebrating with a giveaway on my Facebook page with a $25 Amazon Gift Card, digital copy of Drive Me Sane, and some author swag I have coming.  So if you’re not following me on Facebook, hop over now and give me a like :).  I’m real close to 500 followers!  Plus, that’s where the giveaway will be announced next week.

In closing, I’ve learned a lot.  Did I make some mistakes?  Yes, I did.  Would I go back change some things?  Absolutely! But that’s the great thing about writing.  It’s an ever changing industry that really doesn’t require a set of rules.

 

 

WE ARE NOT A DISNEY FAMILY

We are not a Disney family and yet I just spent a week in the middle of all things Mickey Mouse.  Okay, not exactly in the middle.  On the outskirts.  Very outskirts, away from all the hoards of people, in our own little house, in a quiet neighborhood, with garbage pickup and everything.  Yeah sure, we could have done the whole experience and stayed in one of the resorts, but we aren’t those kind of people.  We are more like state park kind of folks.  Outdoorsy.  We like to explore the land and visit historical sites.  And yet … there we were among the magic of Disney World.  I’m still not sure who came up with the idea of it being this years vacation destination – oh wait, it was me!  Please don’t ask me why I chose it, though, because I don’t honestly have a good answer other than I think every kid should have a chance to go once and since my boys are thirteen and ten, I figured the opportunity for them going without much of a fuss was soon expiring.  Luckily, there wasn’t much fussing, but the excitement level didn’t run wild, either.  Truthfully none of us were overly anxious for the trip.  In fact, I’d put off making reservations until the very last-minute and was still finalizing plans up until the moment we left.  I know, terrible, terrible me.

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First let me say, I’m not one of those snow birds that will migrate to Florida when I retire.  It isn’t bad.  To visit.  I don’t want to live there.  Ever!  It’s too hot, crowded and bare of the dense forest of Kentucky that I’ve come to love.  The house we rented, though, couldn’t have been better.  I would definitely be up to staying there again.   Three bedroom, two bath, with a fully stocked kitchen and it even had its own private in-ground pool right outside the sliding glass door.  How awesome is that?   I”ll tell you, it’s awesome!  I woke up each morning and had coffee poolside.  One morning I manage to read while my little guy took a morning dip.

Now, I know vacations are supposed to be relaxing.  You’re supposed to take it easy, sit back, relax and have a good time.  But again, we are not that family.  We are the doer sort.  Go, go, go and see all that you can. And since we planed three full days in the parks, we wanted to take some time to get out and see a little bit of Florida that didn’t involve standing in long lines out in the summer heat.  A quick internet search led us to Wekiwa Springs State Park.  It did not however, let us know that this seemed to be the most popular park in the state and by 12:30 in the afternoon, it would be completely closed due to reaching its full capacity.   Pretty discouraging news after making the hour-long drive, but we drove around for a while longer and eventually got in.  I must say, it was well worth the canoe trip down the Wekiwa River and the frigid (and I do mean, frigid) Springs.  I’ll refrain from telling the story about the humongous dude my son and I knocked off his paddle board when we rammed him with our canoe.  Let’s just say huge is an understatement, but at least he was nice.    Oopsie 🙂IMG_0656[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, what is a trip to Disney without a day at Epcot?  This was probably my favorite day in the parks.  A little educational, a lot of interactive stuff, and a couple of good rides, it was the perfect start to our week.
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It’s been twenty plus years since I visited Disney as a teenager.  Animal Kingdom may have been an idea back then, but it didn’t exist.  More like an oversized zoo, if you have an animal lover it’s the place to go.  It’s also home to a pretty damn good roller coaster.  Once upon a time (like how I started that?), I was a roller coaster junkie.  Then age set in and I started realizing everything that could go wrong with those kinds of rides.  I haven’t been to an amusement park in years, but Face Everest was an awesome ride.  Smooth, intense and yet exhilarating, it didn’t disappoint.

While we might not be the fairytale family, I have boys, so space and rockets are high on our list of things that make them happy. We were lucky enough to be in Florida during a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch it.  Sorry for the terrible picture, (iPhone camera’s suck), but that bright light on the first picture is it.  If you’ve never been the Kennedy Space Center, I’d highly recommend going.  It’s fascinating, and make sure you take the bus tour that takes you out to the launch sites and such, it’s well worth it.  It’s hard to imagine the size of these rockets and shuttles until you’re actually there.   There is also a very emotional memorial to Space Shuttle Columbia and Challenger.  I can guarantee, it’s hard to walk out of there with a dry eye.

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I’m sure many of you have been to Disney, but for any that haven’t, you could literally spend weeks there.  I’m not even sure how many parks are involved when you take into account the water parks and all. Originally we only planned two days there and wanted to spend one day at Universal Studios, but when it came to budgeting and number crunching, the multiple day tickets at Disney won out and we ended up skipping Universal in lieu of Magic Kingdom.

IMG_0793[1]I’m not a princess loving kind of girl, but who can resist Cinderella’s castle?  My boys said I wished I lived there and I told them, yeah, because I’m such a princess.  They laughed at me 🙂  Seriously, though, everything at Disney is done with the finest detail.  It’s beautiful, fun, and easy to navigate.  The lines were fairly short and the fast pass’ are easy to get and use.  I’m sure if we (I) put more effort into planning this trip, we would have been able to enjoy a lot more, but we had a fun time anyhow.  Magic Kingdom was by far our longest day.  We arrived when it opened and didn’t leave until after the firework display.  And what a display it was!  There really isn’t any words for it other than TOTALLY AMAZING or maybe MAGICAL!  We sat right behind Cinderella’s castle and they were literally going off all around us.  Even my husband said it was the best firework show he’s ever seen.

 

IMG_0817[1]No, that’s not Jeff Gordon getting into that car.  That would be my oldest son.  Can you guess where we’re at?  Daytona Speedway.  Yeah, it was on the guy’s wish list of things to do.  All three did a ride-along around the track at speeds up to 170 miles per hour. Trust me, I definitely would have been up for this, but I did it a few years back at Kentucky Speedway, so I figured I’d save the money and pass.  I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of the trip for the guys and I didn’t mind, because it gave me some research time to take pictures and scout around behind the scenes for one of my WIP, a race car story, where not only does the hero drive, but also the heroine.

And what would be a trip to Daytona be without a stop at the beach?  It was the perfect ending to our week in Florida.  I suppose Florida isn’t really all that bad 🙂

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Okay, so there was one thing my guys wanted to see while we were there.  Can you guess?  It’s a  long, green and scaly creature. Alligators!  We expected to see some on our canoe trip (we’re told they were there), but that didn’t happen and we looked every where we went and do you know where the first one turned up?  Along the road in front of the space center.  Yep, in the water filled culverts.  Weird I know!  The guys were obsessed with them and the few we saw didn’t satisfy their curiosity, making a detour to find more, a must on our way home.

IMG_0879[1]Alas, we found gators at the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.  All kinds of gators, even teeny, tiny baby ones that were rather adorable.

All in all, our Disney vacation was fun.  We had a great time and I’m glad the kids got to experience it.  My favorite part?  Kennedy Space Center.  I could go on and on about it, but I don’t want to bore you too much.  My only regret was skipping Universal Studios.  I really think the boys would have enjoyed that more than Magic Kingdom, but it is what it is.  I know, we could always go back and try it again, but I doubt we will.  This was a one time, hit it and get it over with thing.  There are far too places in this world I want to see.

I would like to quickly add, a huge thank you to Richard, the owner of the house we rented.  If you are ever in the area and looking for a reasonably priced rental away from all the hustle of Orlando, I’d highly recommend this house.  You can find it on homeaway.com, a site I’ve used several times to book lodging for our vacations.  Richard was easy to deal with, the house was absolutely beautiful, comfy and clean.  You are required to provide toiletries and paper products (trash bags, toilet paper, etc), but the kitchen comes fully stocked with everything you’d need.  The best part about it?  It’s only twenty minutes away from all the excitement and did I mention it had a pool?  This pool was such a blessing after a hot day at the parks.  If I ever come back, I’d stay here again.  Thanks Richard for making our Disney stay so comfortable.

Until next year …

First

For Dwayne. Thanks for showing me how amazing the stars can be. 

                                           -Drive Me Sane dedication 

There’s a lot that goes into writing a good romance novel.  Well, there is a lot that goes into writing a good novel period, but we’re talking romance here today.  More specifically “first.”  You know, that first glance.  The first time your eyes met and lingered.  The touch that made your whole body nearly whither to the floor. First words, first date, first kiss.  The first time you … well, you get my point.  All of these acts are equally important in writing a good love story.  But, that doesn’t mean they always have to be perfect.  More often than not, it’s the weird and awkward occurrences that draw us in.  After all, real life is rarely a fairytale, right?

Right.

Today is mine and my husband’s fifteen year anniversary.  We’ve had a lot of first together.  Some of them I remember and some of them I don’t. Sadly, I can’t recall our first kiss, but I do remember the first time he tried.

We were at the lake with some friends and were left alone by what I now suspect was preplanned by either our friends or maybe the guys.  Sitting at a picnic table, we talked, about what I don’t know.  I just remember every once in a while he’d get that look in his eye.  You know, that look of bravery just before you try something new.  And every time he did, I’d turn my face up toward the sky.  Of course I knew what he was leading up to and of course I wanted it to happen, but I was also more nervous than I’d ever been in my life.  Like butterflies went wild, sweaty palms, could barely talk straight nervous.  Yes, those things really do happen.  I’ll just be honest.  Girls can be funny and it seems we always do the exact opposite of we want.  I wanted to kiss him and I didn’t and every time he’d move closer, I’d inch a little bit away.  Finally he leaned in and I jerked my head back up at the sky.  “The stars sure are pretty,” I said.   They were pretty.  Sprinkled across the darkness, twinkling like little diamonds.  “They are,” he answered.  And that was that.

No kiss happened that night and yet I remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday.  It just goes to show, that sometimes it isn’t the act itself that’s so meaningful, but all those special things that happen along the way.  We laugh about this now, as well as, a proposal I completely ruined, but that’s a story for another day.

Happy Anniversary D.  I don’t know how you put up with me, but I’m sure glad you do.  Love you

So tell me, anyone else have a first that went wrong or an awkward moment that turned out to be a pleasant surprise?