Writing

Defeated Writer’s Block or Just Bad Writing?

I have written almost every day for the last two weeks. But there have been some nights that I’ve walked away knowing what I just wrote was utter garbage! Things even teenage me would have cringed to read.

That is the beauty of a first draft though, it can all be garbage. Because the magic of the red pen can fix it! (Yes, I edit with a red pen. It’s the English Teacher in me.) But I am not a multiple draft writer. I write a 1st draft then I do a hard edit/second draft before sending it to my editor. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing this wrong. I see so many people who write draft after draft, and that just seems exhausting? Maybe I’m the one doing it wrong.

This is one of my favorite meme’s. I think we all need a reminder that first drafts are crap. Just get the words out.

Because my writing has been so blah lately, I have pushed back my announcement for my next book for a few weeks. This is just to give me more time to write a more polished draft and get a better handle on a new book launch strategy. That is the beauty of self publishing. You can make adjustments to fit you and your life.

It feels like I have all the time in the world and no time at all.

On top of writing, Kris and I have an exciting project coming up that we will share in the coming weeks.

It is very cold here today. The high is suppose to be 3 and they are predicting 3 inches of snow. I’m going to go curl up with a warm latte and a book. If you are looking for a break and haven’t already read them, I’ve linked my books below. As a reviewer on Amazon said of The Haunting of Locker 31 “This book was incredible and suspenseful!! I couldn’t put it down! I had to keep reading to find out what would happen next!”

Writing

Writing Workshops and Conferences

My personal experience with conferences has never been good. I’ve never found the speakers to be engaging and most attendees seem more interested in the after conference night life than the actual conference itself. I also always balk at the price tag associated with most conferences. Yikes, they can be a budget buster. Instead of full-fledged conferences, I sign up for free webinars and virtual workshops. I like the price tag but I find I usually get what I pay for. 

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Last week, I attended a free virtual author’s talk with Darcy Coates. This week, I am attending a class about getting through writing challenges. The talk with Darcy was fun, and she provided some helpful tips, motivation, and an interesting reading list. I am hoping the workshop today helps me get some more motivation to finish this damn novel.

After Darcy Coates talk, I woke up the next day anxious. I couldn’t focus on my normal reading, even though it was the brand new issue of Writer’s Digest. I googled “Best Writing Conferences” and I was not surprised but a little disappointed to find that most are being held online this year. I was thrilled to find there are several writers conferences being held in Colorado this year. The Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference is mostly online, but I was happy to discover they were having 1 in person day with limited seating. So I signed up. I actually paid a fee. Woo! That’s a big step for me.

This will be first in person writing conference and although it isn’t until April, I am so excited. I am tempted to do as my sister-in-law does for my niece and nephew when they are anxiously waiting for something big and exciting to happen. They create those paper chains out of colorful construction paper and every morning; they get to cut off on the link, counting down until the day.

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Have you ever attended a conference or a workshop? Did you make connections? Learn something that helped you with your goals? Do you have any recommendations?

Writing

You are the reason your book isn’t a thing: Part 2

Last week, I discussed the writing side of why your book isn’t happening. (Click here if you haven’t read it yet!) Whether you spend all your time talking about how you want to write your book instead of actually writing it or you are like and finding the time to write is the challenge, I offer a couple strategies to help you that have helped me.

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This week I am focusing on marketing. Let me tell you now that I am not a marketing expert. I am far from it. This post is going to be more about steps that I am taking to be better and what I hope they will do in the coming months.

As you know, I took time away from my writing. That included my marketing. I released Three Finger Jack just a month after my brother’s death. And I did literally no marketing for it. And guess what. It didn’t sell. You’re shocked, I know.

At the time, I didn’t care. Now, it stings a little. I should have not released it until I was in a better mindset. But I thought, and so did everyone else who helps me with this journey, that by releasing it, I would be happy.

Never release a book to make yourself happy. You just make yourself crazy.

A month later, I released my first romance novel. I was doing a little better at this point and because I did my cover myself and I switched editors to my wonderful friend Chelsi who is trying to start her own freelance editing business; I had money for marketing. (If you need an editor and you want her information, please send me an email!)

I invested in both Amazon Ads and Facebook Ads. Facebook ads killed it! I actually made my money back on Facebook ads. Not like enough money to brag about, but enough to feel like I was on the right path. Plus, I liked how easy it was to set up my audience on Facebook. If you want me to do a post about what I did, leave a comment below.

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Amazon was a different story. I lost a ton of money on my Amazon ads. Why? I wasn’t careful in what tags I used for my books and it came back to bit me. I had a ton of clicks. But only a few sales. Not worth my money. Again, lesson learned. If you use Amazon, make sure you have the appropriate tags and are monitering your clicks and sales.

I have also been trying various newsletter services. So far, I have not had any good returns on investments but I have had sales. I will do a longer post in the future about which services I used, liked and if I saw any return. But I’ve only had a couple newsletters go out and I want to make sure this strategy is worth your time. So, let me spend my money and you can benefit later.

I spread out the newsletters to make sure I don’t have any cross over sales. If one newsletter works better than another, this is the only way I can know for sure.

I’m doing this experiment with my first novel, The Haunting of Locker 31. (If you haven’t bought it yet, click here to pick up a copy!) If it works well, I will add into the rotation Three Finger Jack.

A final step I am taking is investing time and energy into classes on marketing. I avoided the specific term “book” marketing, and I found free classes through HubSpot Academy. I just finished my first class, and I learned some very valuable information that I am implementing. (Did you notice the linking in this post?)

The most important take away is this. It will take time. Nothing good ever happens over night. I just need to practice a little patience, dig in, and give this venture time to blossom.

Writing

You are the reason your book isn’t a thing

Before I begin, perhaps you aren’t the person who needs to hear this. But about two weeks ago, I was the one who needed these words. I gave the lecture to myself in the mirror one day and it has inspired me to keep trudging along.

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You are the reason your book isn’t a thing.

There, I said it.

You can stop reading now if I offended you.

There are two reasons your book isn’t successful. You aren’t writing it, or you aren’t marketing it correctly. I will focus this post on writing the book. Next week’s post will be about marketing, my personal demon, and things we can try to overcome this hurdle.

First things first. I know you have heard this before, but I’m going to say it again. No one else can write your book for you. You have to take the time, make the time to write. As writers, we have to so many ideas swirling around in our heads, from what a really cool book idea is to how would be to how it will feel when our book is number 1 on the best-selling list of all the best-selling lists? I know, I do it too!

But hey, your book won’t make that list if you don’t actually write it.

Maybe your goal isn’t to be on the best-selling list. Maybe you just want someone to read your work and appreciate it.

Cool story, bro. Hate to burst your bubble, but if you don’t write it, no one will read it!

So what can you do? The obvious answer is to write. But for some of us, finding the time to write can be a challenge.

As a teacher, I leave my house at 6:45 in the morning and I get home a little after 4. When I make it home; I have to take care of my dogs, fit in a workout, make sure my lessons are ready for the next day, cook dinner, make lunch, catch the news, say hello to my husband and make sure I find some time to decompress. I can’t imagine what your day looks like if you have kids, especially little ones.

These are things that I’ve done that have helped me. Take what you need and ignore the rest.

  1. Make a schedule. I physically write out what I need to get done that day. I have always loved planners and I still keep one. Mostly for work, but now I jot down my writing goals. Every night after dinner, I spend an hour at my computer. I don’t set a word goal for those days. I know that sometimes I feel like a failure if I don’t meet a word goal. Get into the habit of doing it and soon, you will just migrate away from the TV and to your writing space instead. Once you have a routine, then you can start figuring out your word goals.
  2. I stick to the schedule. It would be so easy to come up with an excuse why I can’t write. I spent all day teaching kids on the computer, I can’t stare at the screen any longer. I am exhausted from the day. I don’t want to. Something I did was having my husband join me. We each put on headphones and enjoy an hour of doing things for us. He plays video games or goes down one of his research fueled rabbit holes for whatever project he has brewing. But don’t rely on that person to make you do your writing. That isn’t fair to them. Again, it is your story, not there’s.
  3. Try adjusting your day to fit writing in. Maybe you can get up a little earlier every day to spend time writing. Maybe instead of mindlessly scrolling your phone during your commute, you write. Maybe at lunch, you write. You have to figure out what works for you. I tried getting up at 5 AM to write. In the summer, when the sun is coming up around that time, it works well for me. But when it is still pitch dark and cold, it doesn’t work. Keep adjusting until you find something that works for you.
  4. Be kind to yourself. I’m not saying you are going to be able to do this every day. Professional writers’ number one piece of advice is to write every day. Well, buddy, let me tell you, we mere aspiring full-time writers can’t do that all the time. Cause we got other stuff we gotta do! We have families and full-time jobs and stuff that needs to be taken care of. If my job was to get up and walk to my office, I would write every day. The perk of being a teacher, I get at least one month where I can do that! But most people don’t get to do that.
  5. If you are dreading writing, maybe you aren’t writing the right story. Or you are writing for the wrong reasons. Now that I am back to writing, I am reminded that writing makes me happy. It gives my endless racing mind a place to go, to run free and have fun. It also serves as an escape from the stresses of the day. Sure, I want to be successful enough to one day be one of those stuck up authors whose advice is to “write every day” and actually be able to do that. But, until then, I need to remind myself that my writing is my escape, my fun. Similar to people who do puzzles or go mountain biking, it is a hobby that hopefully one day will be a career.’
  6. Don’t do everything at once. Figure one thing out and then work on another. Build up until you have your writing and life figured out. You could always write three times a week, then four, and so on. You could write more on the weekends, or days you have more downtime. Think about what works for you. I personally write longer on weekends than weekdays, just because I have the time.

One these things may work for you. Some may not. Remember, the only way your book will be published is if you write it first!

Next week, I’ll talk about marketing and what steps I am taking to overcome my weakness in that area. Until then, let me know what you do to make sure you get your writing done!

Writing

Refocusing after a time away

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Grief does weird things to a person. There are all the obvious things, like depression, nightmares, lack of appetite followed by the ability to eat everything in sight. But what many people don’t discuss is what it does to your mind. I found myself unable to do the simplest things, like write a blog post or answer an email. My mind was blank, just staring at the blinking cursor.

Over the last few months, I’ve been grieving the unexpected death of my younger brother. The first few months were some of the hardest months of my life. I am forever grateful that I have the husband that I do. He has been beyond patient with me and supportive. Every time I told him I felt guilty about not writing, or updating this, he would remind me it just wasn’t a priority. Taking care of myself was more important that updating a blog or hitting a word count.

I still had to go to work and navigate the ever changing world of education. Would I be at home or online? Is that phone call going to tell me to quarantine for 14 days and get tested? How many of my students will not come to school today because of all this? How do you teacher virtually and in person at the same time? Figuring out all of that while my brain was in a fog was difficult and exhausting.

The semester ended, and then we were hit with the holiday season, which, naturally, brought up a lot of emotion, both happy and sad. Soon, holidays were over and we welcomed in what would hopefully prove to be a better 2021. I always make resolutions and this year, I made two. To read at least 20 books this year and to write 4 more novels.

The first two weeks of January flew by and I read a new book. But writing didn’t happen. Then one day, I looked at myself in the mirror and I gave myself a stern “come to Jesus” chat. It was time to write again.

Last week, after dinner each night, I found my way to the office and wrote for an hour. I didn’t set a word count goal, just to write for an hour. It was nice. It was fun. And I walked away feeling happy for the first time in several months.

I have the beginning of a new contemporary romance I am hoping to have out by April. I already spoke to my editor and friend Chelsi about my hiatus. She told me the time away is probably just what I needed. And we set up a deadline to help me stay motivated.

It feels go to write again.

I am refocusing my efforts back into my self publishing career. I want to start the YouTube channel and try a specific launch of my new novel. I will do a reveal in the coming weeks of the cover and the plot, so stay tuned for that. I will also send out requests for arch readers.

I hope that by writing and publishing these goals, I will stay motivated to do them.

It is good to be back at it.

Writing

Giveaway!

****Giveaway Alert!*****

Hello everyone! I have a new book coming out on Thursday. It is a Sweet, Holiday Romance called A Cowboy Christmas Wedding. If you would like a chance to receive a signed copy, please subscribe to my email list!

A lucky winner will be chosen to receive a free, signed copy of my new book! To enter, click here and join my mailing list.

A contemporary, sweet, holiday romance that will warm your heart and leave you believing in the magic of Christmas and love.

Isabella Davis is a successful, independent woman. She is the top selling real estate broker at her firm, and she just closed on the biggest deal of her life. While out celebrating, Isabella runs into the man who shattered her heart three years before. Kurt had left her for a job in New York, and she hadn’t been able to get over him. When her childhood best friend Olivia calls to announce she is engaged and getting married on Christmas Eve, Isabella agrees to be maid-of-honor and escapes back home to the snowy mountains of Colorado. Happy to be away from Kurt, Isabella reminds herself that love is not worth the pain. Then she meets Dirk, the rugged, sharp-eyed cowboy who is allowing Olivia and her fiance to use his barn for their wedding ceremony. He appears cold, but as the days go by, Isabella sees the ice melt away and finds herself attracted to him. Could it just be her silly heart, or does he want her too?

Writing

Genre Swapping. Can readers handle it?

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One of the very first pieces of advice I read when I embarked on the self publishing journey just under a year ago was to stick with one genre for at least three books. It seemed like sound advice. Until I thought it might be fun to write a different genre. (Which it was.)

This summer, around July, I found myself bored. I had just finished Three Finger Jack and had stuck it in a drawer for it’s required two weeks of stewing. Not really sure where I would go next in that series, I sat down at the computer and began writing a romance. Not sure why, but light-hearted and hopeful in the time of Covid seemed like a good plan.

Now my Cowboy Christmas Romance is almost ready to be released, and I am thinking about that advice. I only have two Paranormal fiction novels out. The big fancy writers claim that my readers would be upset or angry if they picked up another novel of mine, and it wasn’t the same thing.

Well, here’ s my dilemma. Readers aren’t that stupid, are they? And do all readers other than myself really stick to one genre? I mean, I love a good ghost story. But I read light romance before bed. I listen to mysteries in the car. I devour nonfiction on Saturday mornings while Kris is sleeping in.

I would be an angry reader if I picked up a third book in a series and discovered a genre change. But if the author I liked explored a new genre, in a separate series or new standalone, I wouldn’t be upset or confused. I might be excited to read the genre knowing I enjoyed that author’s previous work.

I am working on the second in the Deadly Ghost Stories series. It won’t be ready until sometime early next year. Will I turn off my readership, which is relatively low, by publishing a Holiday Romance? Or will I find new readers, who, like me, enjoy reading more than one genre?

Writing

New Book!

Hello everyone! It has been a while!

Life here has gotten a little crazy. I went through some personal things that I would rather not share right now. But I promise to be back and more active from now on.

I am excited to announce the release of my second book, Three Finger Jack. This is the start of a series entitled Deadly Ghost Stories.

Cover Design by: Miss Nat Mack

“Dear Reader,

Congratulations on finding this one of a kind, life-changing book. Before you venture to read any of the following stories, I am compelled to warn you. The tales you are going to read are of a most gruesome and sinister nature. All are based on people who are no longer living but are still with us. If you do read a story, be prepared for consequences. You’ve been warned.”

When April and Steve head off to the mountains to enjoy a weekend of skiing and hot tubbing, neither of them expects anything dire to happen. April is excited to experience a true high school party weekend while Steve plans to finally make April see him as something other than the boy next door.

When a member of the group shares a one of a kind book of ghost stories, the group gathers to read the story of Three Finger Jack, brushing the warning off as a scare tactic to encourage reading. The next morning, the teens wake to find one of their own hanging by her ankles with her throat cut in the garage. Snowed in, alone and being hunted, the teens’ weekend of fun turns deadly.

Order your copy here!  

I was inspired to write this book from a ghost story I remember hearing on a over night field trip I took in 5th grade. I remember sitting around the fire with the other girls in my class, thinking it was so cheesy of our teacher to hold the light under his face like that. I also remember not sleeping. Not because of the story, but because the little cabin we were in was cold. Every time I sit around a campfire, I would hear that story in my head. Of course, it had to work its way out onto the page. The cold. the story and the memory.

I hope you enjoy this work!

Outdoor, Writing

Wisdom Teeth and Draft 2

This weekend was weird. On Friday, I had 3 wisdom teeth removed. I have needed it done for a while and I just couldn’t put it off any longer. The day wasn’t great. I was hungry. My appointment wasn’t until 2 and I couldn’t eat or drink anything. Why doctors think that’s cool to do to people is beyond me! I distracted myself with some writing and cleaning the house.

The procedure itself was pretty easy. I remember them making a comment that the IV went in at 2:30 and then I was awake at 3:10, missing three teeth. Easy and smooth. I was back home before 4. Still a little drugged but at least numb.

Kris took great care of me, making me follow all the rules, despite my protests. Saturday was a lazy day, full of icing my face and eating pudding or jello. Sunday, we went on a Jeep drive to get out of the house. We went through Phantom Canyon, not far from where we live. We stopped at Cripple Creek, attempting to win big at a few casinos. (We didn’t.) We did run into the Cripple Creek donkeys wandering the down the sidewalks.

Driving through the mountains reminded me of the rough story I had waiting for me at home.

I bragged a few weeks ago about having the first draft of my second book complete. Which was true. The first draft is done. But it is the bare bones of a story. I spent a week, reading over and over different parts, adding in one line, deleting another. So, I took some writing advice and put the story away for two weeks and worked on something else.

Today, I printed off the second book and sat down to read it with fresh eyes. Oh man. Was it rough. My characters are weak, my plot if full of holes and the pacing was off.

And I loved ripping it apart! That’s what the first draft is all about right? Getting the idea out. Vomit style. I know what I can add now, what it was missing.

This story is another paranormal ghost story. I based it off an old ghost story I heard while on a class camping trip when I was in the 5th grade. I am ramping up the scare in this one.

I am setting a deadline to have my second draft ready to go off to see the editor at the end of July. I would love to have this book out by Halloween.

Writing

How does it feel to be a Self-Published Author?

My book, The Haunting of Locker 31 came out on Friday. I’m officially a published author. Friends have already read the book and are asking for a sequel. It’s a weird feeling, knowing that something I have dreamed about for so long has finally happened. It is even weirder because I do feel different. But not the way that you might expect.

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I wasn’t expecting to feel any sort of change. I figured it would be like a birthday. When you were younger, you would get so excited for the special day. Because when you hit that milestone, 13, 16, 21, you would expect to feel different. There would be something that day that would activate inside you. You would feel that age. But that was never the case. You still felt the same. Which always made me a little sad.

But this time, something did change. I started my third novel, a little adventure away from the others. And I have sat down to write it every day this past week, with no excuses. As I am writing it, I know that it is okay that not everything coming out is perfect. There will be time to edit, to review. But I can’t do any of that until I have it done. I found my confidence!

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And I am having fun again with my writing. I feel good while I write and even after. I love this feeling. It reminds me of why I even started.

I know that this first novel will not make me rich, successful and famous. I hope to make enough to recoup what it cost me to make. And maybe a little extra to help me with my second novel.

I also have to continue figuring out the marketing game. Which I feel is a never ending battle for everyone.

But the writing stuff. I finally have that figured out. And it only took me publishing a book to get there.

You can buy The Haunting of Locker 31 on Amazon. If you do, please leave a review, letting me know what you think of it!