Thursday, December 15, 2016

Looking Back at 2016

With the end of the year fast approaching, it seems like a good time to sit back and reflect on what I’ve accomplished so far. Here we go.

I kicked off the year by releasing Taking a Risk, the third book in my Taking on Love series, in January. Taking a Risk also added another milestone to my accomplishments as it was the first male/male romance novel that I’d ever written. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about how my readers would feel about a gay romance novel, but you all came through with flying colors. The book was as well received as the others in the series. The fourth book, Taking Another Shot, came out just a few months later to cap off the Taking on Love series.

In between the release of the third and fourth Taking on Love books, I released the ten year anniversary edition of Letters from Linc. This book came with added content as well as a new cover. It’s hard to believe that the first edition, which was also the first novel I published, came out ten years ago. Letters from Linc holds a special place in my heart both for its subject matter and the fact that it launched my writing career.

After finishing up the Taking on Love series, I moved on to the Kinkaid Brothers trilogy. This is actually a spinoff of the Taking on Love series. All five Kinkaid brothers made their first appearance in Taking a Risk, and they were so much fun to write that I decided to give the guys their own books. Austin Kinkaid was up first with my novel Change Up which came out in September.

Heading for Home, the second Kinkaid brothers novel, was planned for release this year. As you’re aware, that didn’t come to pass, but don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about Reese, Marc and Max. In fact, I’ve already finished the first draft of Heading for Home.

It was a trip to Sapphire Falls that delayed the release of Heading for Home. When best-selling author Erin Nicholas invited me to write a Sapphire Falls Kindle World novella to be released in October, I jumped at the chance. I love all of Erin’s books and I was honored to share my Sapphire Falls story with her amazing readers. I knew when I accepted that I would be pushing back the Kinkaid Brothers, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of the Sapphire Falls world. My novella, Going for Wilder, joined several others that came out in October.

There you have it. It’s been a fun year for my writing career, and I’m already looking forward to 2017.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

This Writer's Holiday Wish List

Christmas is coming. Even though it falls on the same day every year, I have to admit that it snuck up on me this year. I’m not mentally prepared for the holiday, which means I don’t have an answer to the question of what I want for Christmas. While I can’t give my family a list of gifts they can either run out and buy or order online, I do have some things that would make this writer’s holiday merry and bright.

The one thing I want, no matter what time of year, is to be a best-selling author. That’s not something I can give to myself. I need all of you to help me make that dream come true. All you have to do is buy my books. All of them are under $5.00. I even have a few that are still priced at ninety-nine cents. That’s a pretty inexpensive gift that any writer would love.

Buying my books in general is a pretty awesome gift. I love it when people buy my books and not because I make money. Yes, it’s nice to make money, but you know what’s even better? Someone is paying me to do something I love, something I used to do for free! That in and of itself is a humbling gift.

If you have already bought my books and have done your part to make me a best seller, don’t despair. You can still give me an amazing gift. All you have to do is write a review of my book on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be a long review. A few kind words expressing your love of the book will be more than enough to get the job done. The more reviews a book gets on Amazon, the more it will be promoted by the retail giant, and I can use more promotion.

For those you who just can’t bring yourself to write a review, it would still mean a lot if you reached out to me to let me know how much you liked one of my books. You could accomplish that in any number of ways. Along with social media, there’s good old fashioned e-mail. Believe it or not, those contacts mean a great deal to me.

Speaking of social media, I would be ecstatic if I could get some more of you to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and like my Facebook author page. And when you do that, it would be great if you could like and share my photos and posts. Same goes for Twitter. I would love to see more favorites and retweets. I need all of you to help me spread the word.

Even better than liking and sharing what I post would be seeing you take the initiative to spread the word about me on your social media. I’m not just an author. I’m a reader. When I like a book, when a favorite author releases a new book, I take to my social media to share my feelings. Often, my fellow authors reply with their thanks. As a reader, that makes my day. If that happened to me as a writer, if someone was just so excited about my book that they shared it on social media, I would be on cloud nine.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to make this writer’s holiday magical. That being said, whether I get these gifts or not, I owe you a debt of gratitude. Being one of my readers is a precious gift. It wasn’t that long ago, I was the only one reading my work.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Time to Say Thanks

Thanksgiving is this week. In fact, it's tomorrow. It's time for family, food and football. It's also a good time to let all of you know, from a writer's perspective, what I'm thankful for.

First, and most important, I'm thankful for my family. I spend a lot of time and money in pursuit of my writing, and they never complain. They're very supportive, and my husband takes that support to the extreme. The man is my web designer, cover artist and computer technician. He's even been known to proofread my romance novels. Now, that's some serious support!

I'm thankful for the readers. All of you who buy my books and take the time to review them mean more to me than I can say. Without you, I have no one to write for. It always makes my day when you reach out to me to tell me how much you've enjoyed my stories and ask for more. I hope you'll always feel that way.

I'm thankful for my fellow writers. Many of you make me a better writer. Some of you do it by sharing ideas with me. Some of you do it by inviting me to take part in your projects. Those of you I don't know make me a better writer by giving me such amazing stories to read. Most writers love to read. It's what motivated us to write in the first place and reading a great story from a fellow writer is often the best inspiration.

I'm thankful for all of you who follow me on social media. Those of you who read my blog, check out my pictures on Instagram and read my tweets give me a way to share my work with the rest of the world. When you like my photos or tweets or my Facebook page, you share it with others.

I'm thankful I'm still inspired to write every day. It's been almost eleven years since Letters from Linc was released. Since then, I've written a lot of books that all of you have embraced and there are still plenty more to go.

I'm thankful to get paid to do something I love. I went to the bank today to cash a royalty check, and I was giddy. Someone paid me to write. I got paid to do something that I used to do for free, and that's a feeling I will never tire of.

Finally, I'm thankful and excited for the upcoming year. There's going to be a lot going on with my writing in 2017, and I can't wait to share it with all of you. Until then, enjoy your turkey with your friends and family!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I Took a Trip to Sapphire Falls...And I liked It!

Earlier this year, best-selling contemporary romance author Erin Nicholas reached out to me to invite me to write a novella as part of her Sapphire Falls Kindle World release taking place in October of this year. Naturally, I said yes. I’m a huge Erin Nicholas fan, and I was (and still am) honored that she would allow me to be part of an amazing group of authors releasing books last month.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Sapphire Falls series, here is a description directly from Erin’s website: Sapphire Falls is the fictitious little town in Nebraska where the bestselling contemporary romance series, Sapphire Falls, takes place. Where people fall in love fast… and forever!

As soon as I accepted Erin’s offer, I was so excited that I immediately started a story and character outline. A day later, I met with my graphic artist who created the perfect cover for me within just a few days. Then I was off and running.

Many of you may not know this, but I started working on my Sapphire Falls novella in April. I threw everything I had into my novella, Going for Wilder. Erin Nicholas has a loyal and supportive fan base who loves Sapphire Falls as much as she does, and I didn’t want to let them down.

In the weeks leading up to the release of our Kindle World novellas, Erin and her team began to coordinate an online release party that would allow each of us an opportunity to showcase our book and meet her audience. Each of us also spent a lot of time on our social media accounts promoting our books as well as each other’s.

Finally, after months of waiting, the day of the release dawned and the excitement was running high. Since I have a day job, I was given a later time slot for the book release, which I decided to take full advantage of. Before my turn was up, I watched other authors interacting with fans so that I could see how it was done. When my time finally came up, it surpassed my expectations. I connected with some great readers and saw an increase in my social media followers. And, best of all, this book ranked higher in sales on its release than any of my other books to date.

I can’t say thank you enough to Erin Nicholas for having faith in me and for introducing me to her wonderful group of readers. I took a trip to Sapphire Falls, and I liked it so much that I will happily do it again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Great Book Cover Debate

Ask any book marketing expert what the key to good book sales is and they will tell you it’s having an eye catching cover. Of course, it goes without saying that the first thing you need is to have a well written book. The cover and the title are what draw potential readers to your book so both had better be top notch.

Last week, I happened on a discussion amongst authors on Twitter. Many of them were in an uproar over the fact that the cover of a fellow author’s upcoming book was virtually identical to that of an author whose book was already published. These people were blaming the second author for “ripping off” the first author, and it got me to thinking.

Cover art has changed a lot since I picked up my first book back in the 80’s. For a long time, book covers were hand drawn, which meant the chances of those covers being copied were pretty slim. From there, covers progressed to photographs of live models. Again, it was unlikely these photos would be duplicated as the photographers owned the copyrights to the photos and the publishers or authors usually handpicked the models.

In the last several years, there’s been a new trend in cover art, and it’s my opinion this is what’s causing the problem with multiple titles having the same cover. There are a number of websites that anyone can join that contain stock photos. As a member of these sites, you are entitled to download and license a specific number of photos each month to use any way you choose.

I’ve belonged to one of these sites for nearly two years. My cover artist uses photos I choose from the site to create my book covers. In an effort to minimize duplication, I try to take different photos and have him layer them together which also allows for more originality in the cover. 

I can always tell when my peers belong to the same website when I see photos I think of as mine being used by other authors. The problem is the photos aren’t mine. These websites don’t remove a photo once an author has licensed it. The same photo can be licensed as many times as the website wants by as many people as they want to license it to. With that policy in play, you can see where it’s difficult to have a unique cover for your book.

Why don’t authors and publishers hire photographers or artists to create their cover images? Simple, it all comes down to money. It costs me $120 a year to be a member of the stock photo website and I can license and download up to 10 photos per month. What I don’t use rolls over to the next month, but I can always pay an additional $1 per photo if I happen to need more pictures than my download amount allows.

While I would love, and I mean love, to hire models to pose for pictures I can use on my book covers, I am an independent author. Right now, I don’t make enough to afford that kind of luxury and neither do many of my peers. We make do with what we have. So, please, keep that in mind the next time you want to bash an author because you think she “stole” someone else’s cover. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kindle Worlds Here I Come

By now, most of you have already heard about the next book I have coming out.  For the last couple of months, I’d been hinting about something special coming up that I couldn’t reveal until I got the green light.

On 9/9/16, I made the announcement on my Facebook author page. My next book, Going for Wilder, is a Kindle World novella, and I can’t tell you how excited I am.

For those of you that don’t know, Kindle Worlds are defined as follows by Amazon: Kindle Worlds is a publication platform where you choose a licensed World, read the Content Guidelines for that World, write your story, upload that story, create a cover, and click through a publishing agreement with Amazon Publishing. Once published, every Kindle Worlds story will be featured on, as well as on Kindle devices and apps. 

Most authors create their own worlds, and the stories published in that world are often written by them. Some authors have been generous enough to open their worlds to other authors. In doing so, the authors that created that world allow their peers to write stories using their settings and even allow their characters to make an appearance in the guest author’s story.  I’m writing in one such world.

Going for Wilder is part of the Sapphire Falls Kindle World which was created by N.Y. Times, USA Today and Amazon best-selling author, Erin Nicholas. It features a group of characters born and raised in the small town of Sapphire Falls, Nebraska. There are a few transplants, but they’re welcomed to the fold with open arms. Erin’s contemporary, erotic romance novels were well written and such a big hit with fans that she thought it might be fun to bring other authors into the mix. I was one of the lucky authors she asked to participate.

I can’t tell you how honored I am. When Erin first reached out to me, I was so excited by the invitation I scared my husband with the loud squeal I let out. Even though I didn’t hesitate to say yes, I will admit that I have some reservations. I consider myself a decent writer, but I don’t know that I’m in Erin’s league. There’s a reason she has such a loyal and large fan base. Not only am I afraid of letting her down, but I fear disappointing her fans.

Despite my reservations, I’m going for it. I’m throwing my hat in the ring with a group of immensely talented authors. On October 18, 2016, my Sapphire Falls Kindle World novella, Going for Wilder, will appear alongside everyone else’s, and I can’t wait.

By the way, if you haven’t read an Erin Nicholas novel, and you like your contemporary romance with a lot of heat, then you don’t know what you're missing. You need to start reading Erin’s books today.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Where Have I Been?

You may have noticed that it’s been a while since I posted a new blog. You may also have noticed that my Twitter and Instagram accounts have been silent while my Facebook posts have been few and far between. If you have, I’m sure you’re wondering where I am.

Some of you already know the answer to that question.

Recently, I was diagnosed with having sludge in my gall bladder. Until I received the diagnosis, I’d never heard of such a thing, but it’s real. There is no treatment beyond having surgery to remove the gall bladder. Either that or live with the constant front to back pain and the inability to eat the foods I love.

I opted for surgery and was a little surprised when I learned I’d need two weeks to recover. The few people I know who have had their gall bladders removed told me they bounced back in a week. I expected to do the same. I honestly thought I’d spend the first few days feeling bad because of the surgery and then I’d get better each day. I expected that by week two, I’d be bored and would either be begging to go back to work or would spend the rest of my time off working on my second book in the Kinkaid Brothers trilogy.

I did spend a few days after surgery feeling bad, but the rest was far from what was expected. When my appetite returned, it was a fraction of what it was before. I suppose that’s lucky for me considering that eating was a risk. There were some days I would eat and within an hour I would be doubled over with stomach cramps and then become violently ill. Some days, I was just sick all day. In the two weeks since the surgery, I’ve had only one or two days that I did not get sick after eating one of my meals. Considering I’ve been eating a very bland, low fat diet, this is pretty disappointing.

Speed bumps in my recovery aside, I can say I have been getting better every day.  At least I’m getting hungry now. That didn’t happen for a few days. And I am obviously out of bed and have been in front of my computer a few times. I’ve even made it back to my regular day job.

I was down, but I’m never out. My social media accounts will be coming back to life with exciting news of my writing and announcements of fun giveaways among other things. Be sure you stay tuned!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wondering Where I Went?

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I have been absent from social media these last two weeks. At least, I hope you’ve noticed! I wish I could say that I have been holed up in my office working on the next great literary masterpiece that’s sure to be a bestseller and win me lots of awards. Hey, if I’m going to dream, it might as well be a big one.

The sad truth is that I’ve been sick. In fact, I have been so sick that I didn’t even turn on my computer in almost two weeks.

When I first started feeling ill, I thought maybe I was just working too much and my body was rebelling. You know, one of those burning the candle at both ends things that finally catch up to you. When I didn’t get better after a couple of days of rest, I thought maybe it was a virus so I stayed in bed, feeling miserable and whining.

Then the pain started. I’ve had some upper right quadrant abdominal pain for years. It comes and goes in its intensity, but it’s always there; so much so that I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve never worried about it since my annual physical always nets me a clean bill of health. The problem with the pain this time was that it was worse than I was used to living with and it just would not go away. To appease my husband, I finally dragged myself to the doctor.

It turns out that I had an infection, which I was given an antibiotic for. To be on the safe side, my doctor sent me for an ultrasound. Imagine my surprise when the results came back showing a problem with my gall bladder. Apparently, it has a buildup of sludge. I didn’t even know such a thing was possible. Naturally, when I was feeling a little better, I took to the internet to get a better understanding. I won’t bore you with the details.

I have been referred to see a surgeon and am awaiting that appointment. In the meantime, I’m feeling almost like myself again. My pain is back to what I’m used to, meaning it’s something I can manage and still function with my day to day activities.

Not being well enough to write for nearly two weeks was a writer’s equivalent of being tortured. Now that I’m feeling more like myself, it’s time to get back to doing what I love; writing, writing and more writing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

No Excuse for Plagiarism

This week, there has been quite the buzz surrounding a speech given by Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. It seems that Mrs. Trump’s speech had passages that were identical to those that appeared in a speech given by First Lady, Michelle Obama, in a speech she made several years ago.

My first thought when I heard that Mrs. Trump was accused of plagiarizing Mrs. Obama is that she didn’t do it. Not because I don’t think the speeches were virtually identical in some places but because I don’t think either woman actually wrote the speeches they gave. It’s common knowledge that political candidates employ speech writers. If anyone committed plagiarism, it was the speech writer. Sure enough, I just finished reading the latest story on this scandal in which Mrs. Trump’s speech writer admits that she used portions of Mrs. Obama’s speech when drafting Mrs. Trump’s speech, but guess what? It was an honest mistake and she feels terrible.

The cynic in me is calling BS on this so-called honest mistake that speech writer Meredith McIver admits to committing. According to Ms. McIver, she was discussing the speech with Mrs. Trump and soliciting her opinion on people she admired. Mrs. Trump claimed to have great admiration for Mrs. Obama and to have been moved by her now-plagiarized speech. In her discussion of said speech, Ms. McIver admits to writing down passages of it and referring to those when she later drafted the speech for Mrs. Trump.

So, the speech writer went so far as to ask Mrs. Trump what public speakers she admired and to ask for quotes from them. Ms. McIver made a note of these quotes but couldn’t be bothered to make one pesky addition as to their original source. Then she “forgot” where these quotes came from when she drafted the speech for Mrs. Trump?

It all sounds pretty fishy to me, but I understand the need for the cover story. When we screw up, especially in such a public way, it’s human nature to look for a scapegoat so that we can make ourselves look better.

The reason I’m on such a tear about this is because I’ve been a victim of plagiarism, and I know how much it hurts. Yes, it can hurt financially for writers, but I was more emotionally devastated. I’d worked long and hard on the story that someone stole from me. That person took my story and made minor changes and then attempted to pass it off as her own. When it was discovered and brought to my attention, I had to do all the work to prove the story belonged to me first. I was wronged and then I had to prove it, which pissed me off even more. The other author stole from me so she should have been the one who had to prove her innocence.

Plagiarism is not a harmless crime nor is it a victimless crime. The people whose words are plagiarized suffer a violation. People who commit plagiarism know what they’re doing and either don’t care or don’t expect to get caught or both. It is not an innocent or harmless mistake. Whether you intend to commit plagiarism or not, it most definitely hurts the original author when you do. So please don’t say that you’re sorry or that it was an innocent mistake. The bottom line here; there’s no excuse for plagiarism.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Book is called WHAT?

There are two things I’m terrible at when it comes to being a writer. Number one, writing those book descriptions that are used to let readers know about the book they’re considering buying. Number two, coming up with a title for my book.

Experts will tell you there are two things that are necessary to sell a book; a great cover and a good title. This is especially true if you’re a new author trying to entice readers. I think that might be why I have such a mental block when it comes to crafting a good title.

When it comes to the title, there are those rare flashes of what I think are brilliance, and I come up with a great title that’s fitting for the book. The rest of the time, I have to put a lot of effort in to coming up with a good title. Making that effort usually involves considering the theme, the characters, the setting, etc. and trying to find titles that are relevant to those things yet still manage to be clever while at the same time not losing the buyers’ interest. In other words, my title has to be catchy yet not too long as to be off putting to the buyers.

I try. I really do. I think most authors try hard because we know what’s at stake. Lately though, I’ve noticed this rash of titles that don’t seem to be trying hard. For instance; My Boss is a Grumpy Werewolf who thinks I’m his Mate and wants me to have his Baby.

This is just one example of many that I’ve seen lately. I’m using this one because it’s stuck in my mind. When I first saw a book in the Kindle bookstore that had a title pretty darn close to this, I was surprised. In fact, I scoffed a little bit, thinking the author hadn’t put any effort in to the title. Then I thought about it and decided that at least I knew what the entire book was about just from the title. That cemented my decision not to buy the book, but it had me wondering. Was this author lazy or clever? Maybe the title was supposed to be comedic, and I missed the point.  Though I didn’t buy the book, maybe others were enticed by the title’s straightforwardness.

Maybe having titles that seem outrageous isn’t such a bad thing. I’m still talking about this book. By doing so, I’m probably encouraging people to search it out which could lead to sales for that author. Who knows what using a seemingly convoluted title will accomplish?

Whatever the answer is, I will probably not change the way I develop titles. I will also probably be struggling with title creation my entire writing career. So maybe, coming up with the title that makes buyers do a double take because it’s so far out there isn’t such a bad thing. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I Took on Love

On August 21, 2015 I released Taking a Gamble, the first book in the Taking on Love series. On June 28, 2016, Taking Another Shot was released and the series has come to a close.

The Taking on Love series, which consists of four books, came from characters that were introduced in the preceding Time for Love series. The main characters in the Time for Love series originally appeared in my young adult novel Like You Mean It. Readers loved the characters and asked for more. That led to a four book series that followed the love story of Justin Jacobs and Chelsea Schumacher which brought new characters along with old friends.

I think it was around the third book in the Time for Love series that I decided I wanted to do a spinoff series for some of those characters because I wanted to flesh them out. From that idea came the Taking on Love series.

In Taking a Gamble, Marcy Larsen finds herself married to Nick Singer, her best friend’s brother, after a night of drinking goes way too far. Then came Taking a Chance, the story of Randi and Tom who have to learn to let the past go if they’re going to take a chance on each other. After that was Taking a Risk where we learned that Grayson Jacobs has been hiding a big secret from his family and meeting Cris Kinkaid changes everything for him. Finally, there was Taking Another Shot. Since Grayson got his happily ever after, there was no way I could let his beard and B.F.F. Shayla Hamilton be robbed of hers.

Just as it was with Time for Love, writing the Taking on Love series was a blast. I enjoyed developing the characters and watching their stories unfold, but there was one of the four that I had the most fun with. I know that parents shouldn’t play favorites, and any writer will tell you that our stories are like children to us, but I really enjoyed writing Taking a Risk. Grayson and Cris were a couple that faced a lot of adversity, which any story needs, but it was writing about Cris’s brothers that made that story a riot for me. And of course, it gave me an idea. Yep, you guessed it, the remaining Kinkaid brothers are getting their own series.

One young adult novel spawned all this. Eight books later, I guess it’s safe to say that I took on love and we all won!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What Your Favorite Authors Don't Tell You

I’ve been a writer for the last ten years and in that time I’ve learned there are quite a few things that readers don’t know and writers don’t talk much about. I think it’s time to shed some light on those things. Without further ado, and in no particular order, I present to you, the myths of being an indie author.

Myth: Writers become independent authors because they can’t make it in the “real world” of publishing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth for most authors. I started out in the supposed real world. My first agent turned out to be a con artist who made her living preying on novice authors with dreams of making it big, and I lost a bit of money and a lot of hope as a result. My second and third agents were legitimate, but they couldn’t sell my work. It was met with mixed reviews by publishers. Some liked the story but hated the characters. Some loved the characters but hated the story. When I decided to submit to smaller houses, I was offered a contract for one of my novels only to have the publisher go under before my book ever made it to print. Another small house offered me a contract on another of my novels, but it never made it to print because one of their staff was on an extended leave and they had no return date for her. Apparently, she was the only one that could format the novels. I was able to break that contract. Yet another small house offered me a contract for that same novel with the editor assuring me she loved it and didn’t want to change it only to ask me to make a major rewrite. When I balked, the editor sent me a scathing email telling me if I was with one of the “big publishing houses” these changes would be made without my knowledge or consent so I could either agree or move on. I moved on.

For most of us, it isn’t a lack of literary talent that motivates us to release on our own. It’s the fact that we can retain our rights and control and still reach our desired audience without getting our hopes up, our hearts broken or having to jump through needless hoops.

Myth: Writers don’t need your reviews. It’s enough that you bought and liked the book.

This is wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels. Independent authors don’t want your reviews because we want our ego stroked. We need your reviews because Amazon isn’t going to promote our work if we don’t reach a certain number of reviews.  More reviews also leads to recommendations. Have you ever clicked on a book to get more info and seen this: “Customers who bought this also bought…”? That recommendation is the result of your reviews of my book in the same genre as the one you’re currently browsing. So, yes, I need your reviews.

Myth: Writers don’t care about or want to see bad reviews

Bad reviews hurt. That is no lie. Reading a bad review can feel like listening to someone bad mouth your child. It makes the mama bear in you want to lash out, but there’s another choice that I make when it comes to reacting to bad reviews. I use them as a tool to improve my writing. The only ones I tend to disregard are those that are not constructive and obviously intended to hurt. One of my Amazon reviews reads: “This book is a waste of miney and it’s free.” Given that the reviewer couldn’t spell money correctly and was the only person to give that book a one star review, I disregarded it, but I do not ignore all bad reviews.

Myth: Using social media will make a huge difference in a writer’s book sales.

Maybe social media works for well-established authors who have a large and loyal following. Maybe there is that one success story where the unknown author takes to social media to spread the word about her book and makes it big. Sad to say, it doesn’t work for the rest of us. I have a Facebook page with nearly 800 likes, but I doubt even one-third of those people are actually reading and buying my books or my quarterly royalty payments would be much higher. I also have a large number of Twitter followers and Tweet about my books and my writing daily. Only my die-hard fans read and retweet and favorite. The rest seem to be skimming over them. My Instagram hasn’t even cracked double digit followers, but I created it because a number of people told me it was necessary to build an audience and tell them about my books. Maybe I’m doing something wrong on that front. If you have any ides, please share them with me so I can fix it.

Myth: Joining Facebook groups that promote reading and writing will increase books sales.

When I first joined Facebook, I went in search of ways to use it to promote my books. I’d read countless marketing articles that said this was something all writers had to do to reach more readers. I found a number of groups dedicated to allowing authors to promote their work and began posting daily. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was one of an astronomical number of authors doing the same thing. My posts were quickly getting buried by other authors who were there, like me, to push their own agenda. Most readers don’t seem to be looking at Facebook groups to find new books to read.

Myth: Trading reviews with other authors will increase the number of your reviews.

It should, but it doesn’t always. There are several groups online where authors can seek out reviews from their peers. I find most of them either don’t get responded to or those that do respond don’t like my genre. Either that or I don’t like their genre and couldn’t enjoy the book enough to give a fair review.

Myth: Giving away free copies of your book is a good way to get more reviews.

This should work, especially when you specify that you are giving it to someone in exchange for an honest review being posted on Amazon. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who want the free book and will accept it without any intention of writing the review. It sucks, but it’s not like I can take the book back once I give it away. All I can do is cross that person off a future giveaway list.

Myth: You can promote your book with little or no cost and see a big return.   

Yes, you can promote your book for free or spend only a little bit of money, but you will not gain more readers by doing this. Ever heard the phrase you have to spend money to make money? Not only is it true, but it applies to marketing your books. The less money you spend, the smaller the return on your investment. You reach fewer readers and reviewers which means you make fewer book sales.

Myth: Book tweeting services are great exposure for very little money.

Some book tweeting services are fairly inexpensive, and they deliver on what they promise. For a nominal fee, they will tweet information about your book to their ungodly amount of followers. They do that, but it doesn’t mean that anyone cares or rather that enough people care. Just because they have one million followers doesn’t mean all one million followers will see and buy your book. Not to mention, this service is available for any writer willing to pay for it. That means they’re sending out an awful lot of tweets to their followers every day that are probably being ignored.

Okay, I will admit this is a long and somewhat depressing post, but I don’t want you to feel bad. I want you to understand how hard it is to be a writer and why you matter so much to us. Without you, we have no one to write for.  Please, buy our books but don’t stop there. Tweet about our books. Post pictures of our books on your social media. Encourage your friends and family to buy our books. Take a few minutes from your day to post a brief review on Amazon. If you don’t let us know what you think, how can we get better?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Just What I Needed

As a writer with a full time day job, and a family, it can be difficult for me to find time to write.  In my earlier days of writing, I used to come home after working all day, have dinner and then head straight for my computer where I would write until bedtime. I would also write from sun up to sun down on the weekends.

All this writing time was great, but it translated to not spending much time with my family so I changed the routine. I still spend most of my weekends writing, but I no longer write in the evenings after working all day. I confine my weekday writing to my lunch hour on the day job. The formula’s been working, but like any writer, I wish I had more time to write. That’s especially true when I’m close to finishing a story and I want to see how it ends.

There are some bonus days to write. Those are the days that I’m supposed to be at the day job, but I get the day off. Those are typically a holiday. Now, there are some holidays that I won’t be writing because they’re for family, but there are some that I can sneak in the time to write.

This past weekend, I decided I was going to lengthen my Memorial Day weekend by taking Friday off the day job. That Friday, my husband was working, one child was in school and the other spent the day with her friends. That gave me an entire day to work on a story that I was near finishing and pretty damned excited about.

Good news! Thanks to my extra day off, I finished the first draft of that story. I also started the editing of another novel that I’m hoping to be ready for release this month.

It was such a great feeling to take that time and be able to focus on my story and my characters without any distractions. The fact that I was so productive was an even better feeling. It made me wish that I could give up the day job and take up writing as my full time gig. I’m not there yet, but I will say that extra day to myself was just what I needed. You better believe I’ll be doing it again soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Still Feeling the Squeeze

In a recent blog post, I went on quite a rant about Amazon’s policy of paying independent authors based the number of pages read in their books as opposed to a percentage of the retail price. One of the things that I took exception to was that as a reader, I’m not allowed to return a book I haven’t finished reading and get a partial credit for it.

Well, not only was I wrong, but I was wrong in a big way and I’m even more frustrated.

Readers can return e-books to Amazon, but this isn’t just limited to readers who read the book partway and realize it’s not for them so they ask for a refund. This is for any book, fully read or not and it gets even better. The reader has up to seven days to return the book for a full refund.

You read that right! Seven days to return a book for a full refund. I don’t know about you, but there have been many days where I have enjoyed a book so much that I have finished it in far less than seven days. If a book is really good, I have been known to finish it the day I purchased it.

In theory, this seven day return policy isn’t for voracious readers like me that enjoy the books they’ve purchased. It’s probably intended for people who buy a book but don’t have time to read it right away only to sit down a few days later and discover they don’t like the book or it isn’t what they expected.

The problem is that Amazon has no way to truly distinguish between legitimate return requests and those requests that are the result of some lowlife cheapskate looking to cheat the system and take money from the pockets of hard working authors.

I spend a lot of time and effort on my books and I have my price points set at $3.99 or less for all of my e-books. For someone to read my book, enjoy my book, not review it and then have the audacity to return it within seven days just so they can get their money back makes me more than sick.

It flat out pisses me off. The trouble is, there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Until or unless Amazon is willing to amend their return policy to be more equitable for authors and readers, this will be yet another way that I’m feeling the squeeze. Talk about sucking the joy out of what I love to do!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Leave my Reviews Alone!

Every time I release a new book, I go on a tireless campaign to commission reviews. And when I say tireless campaign, I mean that I beg every follower on each of my social media outlets to take pity on me and post a review of my book on Amazon.

I hate to say it, but my begging usually doesn't work. The people that would be affected by it are those that have already left a review. Those are my die hard fans who love all of my books and make me happy to be a writer. I love those fans, and I love their reviews. Like any writer, I'd also love to see more reviews.

Every time a review comes up on Amazon, I hold my breath waiting to see what the reviewer thought. Most of the time, the response is good. I'm sure I've never told you this, but I always print out the first five star review that my new novel gets and I frame that alongside a picture of the book cover. Then I hang it in my office to serve as a constant reminder that someone likes what I do.

As I said, I love not only my reviews but my fans. Anytime a fan wants to friend me on Facebook, I accept. I love to hear from them and connect with them. Building relationships with readers is part of what makes me a better writer. I get to hear first hand how they felt about my characters, plot, etc.

Well, it seems that in befriending my readers, I'm running the risk of Amazon deciding any reviews posted by my "friends" are in violation of their review policy and could therefore be taken down. Yep, it's true. Your friends and family are not allowed to post reviews of your books. If they do, and Amazon discovers the relationship, the review is removed and the reviewer is notified.

I'm just going to say it. Give me a break here, Amazon. I'm not Nicholas Sparks or James Patterson. I don't have so many best selling books and readers that I couldn't possibly keep track of them all. I'm an indie author who relies on having a good relationship with my readers in order  to help me sell more books. So what if they friend me on Facebook? That doesn't mean it's going to change their opinion of my work.

As far as my family not being allowed to review my books? I guess I can kind of see that. I'm always skeptical when a family member raves about my book because I'm not sure whether it's genuine praise or obligatory. I will say this though. Since I'm an indie author, my family members are usually the first to buy my books and show their support. I say if they bought the book, let them post the review.

No, I don't know the logic behind Amazon's policy, and I don't really care. I have a number of books on Amazon's site, and they each have less than ten reviews. Some don't even have one review. So, Amazon, if you're reading this, please leave my reviews alone! I need them more than you can possibly understand. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Paid by the Page

Unless you’re an independent author, you probably don’t know about the payment policy Amazon has for its authors. Before we get into that, you need some history.

Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world, recently created a platform that allows independent authors to publish e-books that would be available for sale through their site. The program is called Kindle Direct Publishing, also known as KDP. It goes without saying that in exchange for selling the author’s book, Amazon takes a percentage of the royalties. Every publisher does this, even independent sites like Smashwords that don’t charge authors upfront publication fees will keep a percentage of the author’s royalties. That’s actually fair and should be expected.

There was recently a change in the royalty payment policy of KDP authors. Rather than getting paid the full amount of their percentage of the royalty, Amazon has opted to pay authors by the number of pages read. They apparently have computer software that can track this, which feels a little big-brothery if you ask me.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that outraged authors have found a way around this, whether by accident or intent I can’t say. Supposedly, authors are starting to load their table of contents at the back of the book rather than the front. If the table of contents is opened at that point, the page counting software then recognizes that the entire book has been read and the author gets their full royalty payment. In sharing this here, I’m not divulging a huge secret that will expose my peers. 

Amazon is well aware of this glitch and already hard at work to correct it.
I have to admit, I’m divided on how I feel, both about independent authors being paid by the page and the way they have found to get around that. As an avid reader, I find the policy a bit skewed in favor of the retailer.

Ever since I got my hands on a Kindle, I’ve downloaded a number of books, so many that my husband can’t keep up with it when balancing the budget sometimes. Since that time, I’ve discovered great authors whose books I will buy from now until they stop writing. I’ve also found some really bad books; poorly edited with holes in the plot, bad dialogue and just too short for the price I paid.

Though I sometimes get burned by a bad book choice, I have never asked for a refund. Nor have I gotten a credit for only reading a few pages. Whether I read the entire piece of trash or stop in disgust after page one, Amazon is going to get their full share of the money I paid for it while the author is not. That hardly seems fair. If you’re going to pay authors by the page, you should give readers the chance to credit any unused portion of their purchase toward another book. Of course that’s not what happens.

As an independent author, I haven’t decided which side of the fence I want to sit on with this whole paid by the page policy. On the one hand, I don’t think Amazon is being fair to me. If a reader buys my $3.99 book and decides it was the worst thing ever written, I might only get five cents for the sale while Amazon will still keep their full share of my royalty payment. So if my fellow authors have found a way to stick it to the man and get paid in full for their hard work then good on them.

Not so fast. I am still on the fence. As an independent author following the rules, I’m more than a little peeved that some of my peers are getting more money than I am under the exact same circumstances. If two of us offer a book for $3.99 and a reader buys both and hates both and stops at the same point in both, we should be paid the same amount. This workaround some authors use means that my colleague might get his full royalty payment while I only get a few pennies. That boils down to it being the price I pay for honesty I suppose.

At the end of the day, how I feel does not matter. Amazon is paying its KDP authors by the number of pages read and not by the number of books sold. So please, do me a favor. If you buy one of my books, read the whole damn thing!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

So Much for Easy!

It seems like yesterday I had what I thought was an amazing idea. I think I’ll revise my first novel and release a ten year anniversary edition. Sounds easy, right? The novel was already written and published. How hard could it be?

In the last couple of months, I have found out how wrong I was. Revising Letters from Linc has not been easy. The fact that the novel is already written didn’t let me just breeze through it and get the sucker released. I am ashamed to admit I thought I was only going to go in and do some copy editing. Correct a misspelled word here. Add missing punctuation there. Remove a few of those unnecessary dialog tags. A few minor changes that I could knock out in a week or so, and I’d be ready to send this novel for formatting.

I was wrong. While I’m not ashamed of being wrong, I am ashamed that I underestimated the work this would take. Having been a professional writer for ten years, I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy, and I’ve been smacked in the face by that the last few months. Yes, I’ve been working on this revision for two months. In my defense, I probably could have finished sooner if I didn’t have a day job, but that doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t realize what I was getting in to.

Letters from Linc was released ten years ago but was written before that. The story is good, and I believe passionately in it, but it’s more than a bit rough around the edges. I won’t go into its shortcomings now since I’ve lamented those in a prior blog, but the fact of the matter is this story needed a complete overhaul. And a complete overhaul is not something that can be accomplished in a few short weeks.

The good news is that I am now in the editing stage of this project. The editing stage is like that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that I can finally see. After the editing comes the formatting. Then comes the release. Then I start promoting the book and begging for reviews so be prepared for that now.

As daunting as this project has been, as many times as I’ve cursed myself for this idea, I’m not sorry I did it. In the end, I’ll have a more polished work that I can be proud of and the chance to connect with a new generation of readers, but I can say one thing for sure. I’ll think twice about doing something like this again.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

It's My Birthday; I'll beg if I Want To

Okay, it's not my birthday yet. My birthday is next week, and I sure hope I get some Kindle and/or Nook gift cards. Several of my favorite authors have books coming out this month, including Erin Nicholas, Sloane Johnson and AE Via.

Last week, the inevitable question started from my husband and kids; what do you want for your birthday? This is a difficult question to answer. I'm at a point in my life where I'm fortunate enough to have everything I need and many things I want.

Usually, this is the point where I say there is one thing I want that I have to rely on others for. I want to be a bestselling author. USA Today, NY Times or Amazon, it doesn't matter. Hitting at least one bestseller list is on my writer's bucket list. I still want this so if you want to do something nice for my birthday, you can help me out and buy one or more of my books.

I've realized there's something else I'd like from my readers too and it's free. If you've been paying attention to my social media accounts in the last month then you should have a good idea what I am going to ask for. That's right, I want reviews of my books posted on Amazon.

I am desperate for more reviews. I would like for others looking at my books to see the kind words that have been posted on my Facebook and Twitter pages. I would also be able to get more promotion from Amazon if I had more reviews and more promotion leads to more sales.

Yes, I have been shamelessly begging for book reviews since my latest book came out last month, and I am going to keep begging. Those reviews mean a lot to authors and serve a number of important purposes besides ego stroking.

Please, if you have read and liked any of my books, take a moment to go to your Amazon account and leave a review. It doesn't have to be a dissertation. A sentence or two can convey the same meaning. Leave a review and consider it a birthday present to an aging author desperate for more recognition. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Yes, your words Matter

As a writer, you often hear me begging for reviews of my books. My pleas extend to all aspects of my social media. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or have liked my Facebook page, you’ve seen me posting all sorts of pictures begging for Amazon reviews. It’s not working. My groveling has largely gone unanswered, and I’ve been a little bummed out by that. Okay, I’ve been a lot bummed out.

Something happened last week that boosted my spirit but also served as a good reminder of the importance of your reviews. Last week, I was sick as a dog (what the hell does that mean anyway?). I spent several days in bed and didn’t write or visit any of my social media sites for several days.

When I finally felt well enough to venture out of bed, I picked up my tablet and opened my Twitter account and the best thing happened. There was a series of tweets from someone who had read Taking a Gamble, my first book in the Taking on Love series. This person tweeted that she read the whole book in one day because she couldn’t put it down. She loves my stories and I never disappoint.

Wow! Can you say giant ego boost? Because, let’s be honest. I needed that at just that moment. It was the best pick me up after being sick for a week. To log back on to social media and be greeted by this glowing praise made me feel better and renewed my faith in my talent.

Okay, yes, I really wish this would have been put in an Amazon review, but this was just as good. It was someone taking the time out of her day to make me feel appreciated for what I did. Talk about one hell of a motivation to keep me going as a writer. This happened on February 9th and I saw it on February 16th and I’m still riding this high.

Writing is fun, but it’s also hard work. Your heart and soul go in to every book you write. Your books are like your children. When people like them, you feel pride. When people don’t like them, you’re like that mama bear guarding her cubs. When people don’t acknowledge them, you start to wonder if that’s their polite way of saying your child is ugly.

Would I like a flood of Amazon reviews? Yes, and I will be glad to see any review I get. Is that the only way to let me know you liked my books? Hell no! No matter how you choose to deliver them, your words matter. So, please, keep them coming.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Oh, Crap! My first book Sucked!

If you haven’t already heard, I’m currently in the process of rewriting my first novel, Letters from Linc, so that I can release the ten year anniversary edition. It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the book was published. On the other hand, I can tell it’s been a long time since this book was published. There’s nothing like doing a rewrite of a ten year old book to make your flaws as writer so glaringly obvious that you cringe when you read it.

Before I go on, let me make one thing clear. I love Letters from Linc. The book opened a lot of doors for me in the writing world and also brought some amazing people into my life. I’ve been contacted by strangers who have told me of the positive impact it had on their lives. As much as I love Linc, the passage of time has allowed me to see where it can be improved.

The first thing jumping out at me is the heavy use of adverbs. I once had an editor tell me I was addicted to using adverbs. Until she pointed it out, I never thought much of it. I grew up reading books that used adverbs to describe dialogue so it made sense to me to use it when I was a writer. Now I know better. Instead of writing that Linc excitedly said something, I should describe Linc’s excitement. Show the readers he is excited instead of telling them.

Speaking of showing readers versus telling them, there are a number of passages in Letters from Linc in which I told the readers what happened. Looking at those passages ten years later, I recognize how I screwed up by telling the readers what happened instead of showing them.

Some scenes are either too short and the reader would benefit from seeing more of what happened while others should be cut because they don’t advance the story. There is also a point where I feel I rushed too quickly to reunite the main characters. The separation of the two was ten days long but the story didn’t expand on that and show readers what it needed to. Instead, it told readers that it happened and then a few pages later told them it was over and the story moved on.

I’m also ashamed to admit there are some editing mistakes. Words are missing or the wrong word is used; a word spell check wouldn’t alert me to because the word was spelled correctly. For example, saying lightening when I meant lightning. There are also some punctuation errors as well as too many dialogue tags in some scenes.

It’s amazing what a few years will do to your perspective on your story. Ten years ago, I probably would not have found most of this. Wait, I obviously didn’t realize it given that I moved forward with publishing the novel. Nothing like ten years to help a writer improve their craft and make her second guess her early work, but I guess I should look for that silver lining.

Okay, my first novel had some problems. Dare I say, it sucked? At least I’ve grown and learned and will be righting those wrongs.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Long Sad Story

This year, I reach a major milestone. It’s the ten year anniversary of my first novel, a novel that was released at a time when e-readers were still the wave of the future. With the change in technology, and the improvement I’ve made in my writing, I thought it would be fun to release a revised version of my first novel, Letters from Linc. Revisiting the first novel I ever worked on has stirred up a lot of unexpected things, including memories of how I became an independent author.

I’ve loved writing since I was a kid. At one point during my childhood I’m sure I wanted to be an author. I wrote stories constantly, stories I bound into books using cardboard and a three-hole punch and ribbons. Instead of becoming a writer as soon as I left home, I married early and started a family and then a career to support that family.

Ten years after I stopped writing, I had the urge to write again. A story idea popped in my head and I went with it. When it was all finished, I thought it might be good enough to get an agent. It wasn’t. I got rejection after rejection. In between these rejections, I kept writing and finished my second novel. 

After so many rejections of my first novel, I thought my second novel might have a better shot. The theme was timely and something I felt strongly that everyone could relate to. So, you guessed it. I tried again.

I sent query letters and sample chapters and sometimes the entire novel to one agent after the other. Keep in mind this was in the days where many agents still hadn’t embraced e-mail. That meant paying postage for all these packages and opening my mailbox every day to find a stack of rejection letters waiting for me; rejection letters sent to me with my own self-addressed stamped envelope by the way. Something about that adds a little extra sting.

With my second novel having been as badly rejected as the first, I was extremely discouraged. I thought the novel was good and I believed so strongly in it. I just needed one person to take a chance on it. About the time I was ready to give up, I had an agent tell me she liked the sample chapters and ask to see the entire novel. Seeing that entire novel turned in to her offering me a contract to represent the novel.

I was elated when I should have been cautious. Being a green author, I did not know there were people out there looking to scam unsuspecting authors. I thought having a friend who was a lawyer review the contract was enough. I was wrong. My friend didn’t know much about publishing but thought the contact seemed like a standard legal contract that I’d be safe to sign if I wanted. It wasn’t, but not knowing any better, I signed the contract and thought it was only a matter of time before Letters from Linc was going to hit bookstores and make me a best seller and then be turned in to a movie. Yeah, I was dreaming big.

It goes without saying that’s not what happened. What happened was that my “agent” asked me to print and mail her several copies of my manuscript so that she could submit them to publishers or to send her a check for $250 to cover the cost of her doing the same. I’m sure you experienced writers are groaning right now. Reputable agents do not ask writers for money. In fact, the agent’s ability to make money depends on being able to sell the writer’s work. It’s in the best interest of the agent to sell that book. Having never had an agent and being new to the world of professional writing, I did not know this and it never occurred to me to question it. For the sake of convenience, I sent the $250 check.

Not long after that, my “agent” sent me a letter asking me if I’d like to be a featured author on her website. All I needed to do was send a picture, a biography and a $75 check. I opted not to do this. Since I hadn’t been published yet, I didn’t want to mislead people. Putting up my picture and calling me an author at that point seemed misleading, but I didn’t really question the practice. After all, the agent hadn’t mandated I do this so it couldn’t be wrong to ask. It was. No author should ever pay to have their name or photo listed on her agent’s website. Agents attract new clients by demonstrating success and sharing the names of the published authors they represent is the most common way to do that. By listing the names of clients that weren’t published, this agent misrepresented herself as well as them.

In between these request for money, my “agent” was sending me the rejection notices from the publishers she’d queried. They were all form letters; thanks for your inquiry, but we’re not interested. That’s how it went for the duration of the time I spent working with this agent. At the end of our contract, which was a mere six months, our arrangement came to an end. The agent hadn’t made a sale and didn’t offer to extend my contact because she didn’t think there was a market for Letters from Linc.

I was heartbroken. I’d come so close. I thought having an agent was going to get me in the right doors and get me that elusive book deal. At the time, I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that I’d had a poor excuse for an agent whose shady practices aren’t in compliance with industry standards. It wasn’t until much later that I learned the difference between good and bad agents, between legitimate agents and frauds. I was just focused on my failure.

Despite failing, I remained convinced the novel was well written and could sell and sell well. It was while reading a Writer’s Digest magazine that I saw an ad for a print on demand company. This was something else I’d never heard of, but I decided to look into it and I liked what I saw. They would format my novel, create a cover, and make it available on major online retailers, including Amazon. I would retain the rights and I would control the content. I had to pay for this privilege and register my own copyright, but it seemed like the solution to my problem. The only thing that I didn’t like was that they would set the price and it would be based on the length of the novel. I decided I could live with it and went forward with self-publishing Letters from Linc.

Self-publishing still had a pretty big stigma then. People didn’t take self-publishers seriously. We were called vain. We were accused of not having enough talent to make it in the “real world” and of putting out work not worthy of the readers’ time and money. These things may be true for some but certainly for not all.

I’m not sorry that I published Letters from Linc on my own. I’ve met some amazing people through this novel, including Congressmen. I’ve made new friends and connected with people that related to the story. An Army wife told me it was her favorite novel and it helped her handle her husband’s deployment. A friend told me it helped her understand the mental health issues her boyfriend faced after Desert Storm. Another friend recently told me that he was given an assignment in his college class to write a paper on a story that resembled his life and he chose Letters from Linc. Not only did this story touch lives but it gave me a fledgling following that has continued to grow in the last ten years.

There is is, my long and sad story of how I became an indie author. I will never regret the decision to release Letters from Linc on my own. I only wish the circumstances of its release were different.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 Here I Come!

We’re one week into the New Year and you know what that means. It’s time to talk about what I have planned for the year for my writing. Some goals are big and some are small. Some I can and will be able to accomplish on my own and some will need the help of my readers. Here we go.

I have got to be better about making sure my website stays updated. I don’t know how many people actually visit my website, but I can tell you for a fact that it’s overdue for an update. Taking a Chance was released in November 2015 and there’s no mention of it on my website. That’s pretty bad considering I have a new book due out this month. Speaking of my website, this is the year I will have my author photo replaced on the home page. Call me vain, but I hate that picture of myself and I want something better.

The final two books of the Taking on Love series will be released this year; Taking a Risk and Taking Another Shot. In fact, Taking a Risk is due to be released this month. That’s right, it’s coming out this month. More details on its release will be given on my social media sites this week.

Since we’re talking about social media, now is a good time to say that I’m going to join Instagram this year. Several people have encouraged me to do so in the past and I’ve balked at it. I think it’s time to stop balking and start moving forward. No clue when I will do this or what name I’ll be using, but I’ll keep you posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Getting back to books I am planning to release this year, I have one very special project in the works. I’ll be releasing a ten year anniversary edition of my first novel, Letters from Linc. It will only be available in e-book format and will feature a new cover and expanded content. Of all the things I’m doing this year, this one holds a special place in my heart.

This year, you’ll also be introduced to my next series, The Kinkaid Brothers. It will be a three book series and you’ll understand why when you read Taking a Risk. The Kinkaid brothers play a big role in Taking a Risk and I had such a good time with their characters that they're getting their own stories. Titles for each book are still pending, but you know I’ll be sharing with you when I can.

This is the year I will be making a better effort to promote my books. That means doing more than one book tour a year. I’m going to be honest here. I haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to do, but I will be conducting some research on book promotion and then forging ahead.

And this is the year that I am going to become a best-selling author.  I don’t care if that’s an Amazon bestseller, N.Y. Times or U.S.A. Today, or all of the above, but I am reaching this goal damn it. I suspect I might have an easier time getting there if I stick to my plan of doing more promotion, but as you know the goal of being a best seller isn’t something I can accomplish on my own. I’ll need your help. Buy my books and tell your friends to do the same.

As long as we’re talking about buying my books, I should let you know this year I’ll be raising my prices. They’ll still be reasonable, only $3.99. Studies have shown that books priced at 99 cents do not sell as well as they’re perceived to be of poor quality while those priced at $3.99 are the most purchased.

There it is. That’s what I’ve got on my writing plate this year. Let’s hope I can pull it all off. 2016 here I come. Let’s make this happen!