Monday, October 26, 2015

Diving In

As I mentioned last week, I recently adopted two wonderful children. Parenting them takes all of my available time and energy, leaving me little or no mental powers left for fiction writing. So I have decided to start writing memoir instead.

The hardest part of this new memoir writing attempt is figuring out what aspects of my children's lives I want to share publicly. Blogging about my kids causes the same problems, but also seems like the easiest place to start.

So here is what I've decided. I am not going to post my children's names on this blog. For now I'll just call them my son and my daughter, but I might come up with fun new nicknames for them in the future. I am also going to avoid posting clear pictures of their faces, but I may occasionally post profile and back pictures.

Instead of posting all the complicated back story, that will eventually make it's way into my memoir , I'm going to simply post about the little every day things that make this new life worth living.

So lets dive in. Here is a picture of my daughter doing just that. I took it yesterday during her swimming lesson.

I am so proud of this little lady for so many reasons. Her new found swimming ability is only one of them. When she moved in with us 15 months ago, she had never been in a swimming pool. Now she's not only jumping off diving boards, she can also swim both the crawl stroke and the back stroke with perfect form.

A member of my kids bio family drowned when they were little. His death is actually what first brought them into foster care six and a half years ago. That will never happen to either of my kids. These feisty kids can swim. They can survive.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Back to the Blogging Game

It's been ten months since I've updated this blog, so I doubt anyone is still checking it. But I've decided to come back to the land of blogging.

My reason for leaving and my reason for returning are actually the same thing, or two things to be more precise.

For the past fourteen months, I've been fostering two wonderful children with the intent of adoption. Parenting these children has been both the most challenging and most rewarding thing I have ever done. It has also required more energy, and patience that I ever thought I had.

Trying to find time to write while also being a mom has been a struggle. In 2014, I published my first two novels. I've been working on the first draft of my third novel for a year now, and I'm still only about a quarter of the way through the rough draft.

My problem isn't that I don't have time to write. It's that I don't have the emotional reserves to write fiction. My real life is overflowing with joys, frustrations, fears, and delights. I don't have any mental powers left to pour into my fictional characters. So I have decided to take a break from fiction writing and give memoir a try instead.

The adoption of my two little bundles of hyperactivity and love was finalized on September 24th. I am now in the process of writing an adoption memoir. As I sort through all the events and emotions that have lead my family to this point, I'm going to try sharing at least some of it with you.

So I'm back to blogging. Tune in next week, and I'll share something about my crazy family with you, I'm just not entirely sure what yet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy New Year

2014 was a big year for me, and I'm hoping you can help make 2015 even better.

2014 included several enormous changes in my life. My first novel, Counting to D, was released in February and my second novel, The Evolution of Emily, came out in November.

To keep things hopping, I also adopted two children in August. Then I quit my day job, which means if I want to feed these children, I need to sell books.

This is where I need your help. Hopefully, you have already read and enjoyed at least one of my books. If you haven't read my second book yet, think about adding it to your to-read list.

The thing that would help me out the most is if you reviewed my books that you have already read and enjoyed. Currently, Counting to D has 27 reviews on Amazon and 111 reviews on GoodreadsThe Evolution of Emily on the other hand, only has 6 reviews on Amazon and 14 reviews on Goodreads.

Reviews accomplish two things, they act as a form of endorsement for potential buyers trying to decide what to read next, and they also affect recommendation algorithms. Amazon has a very complicated algorithm to recommend titles to potential buyers.

The number of reviews a book has is one key component to this algorithm. These reviews don't have to be super long or eloquent. Simply posting a couple sentences saying that you have read and enjoyed a book will help ensure that the book will be recommended to other readers in the future.

2014 was a great year. I hope 2015 will be even better. In order for that to happen, I need more people to review both of my books, but especially The Evolution of Emily. So if you have already read it and loved it, please consider posting a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

The vast majority of my reading lately has been aloud to my kids. Recently, they've decided they love Shel Silverstein. We finished A Light in the Attic last week and are now reading Falling Up. I do like all of Silverstein's poems, but definitely feel the strongest attachment to Where the Sidewalk Ends mainly because it's the Shel Silverstene book I read as a kid. It's also the one we don't actually own yet. So Santa, if you're reading this, do you maybe want to get my daughter Where the Sidewalk Ends for Christmas?

What I'm Writing

I'm trying to work on Fragments of Life. I like the concept a lot and think it has the potential to be my best book yet. But it's a very hard story to write. My POV character spends the entire book lying in a hospital bed. So yeah. It's a challenge.

I've got about four decent chapters right now and parts of others that I like. I think I need to do some more research first though. Like maybe go to med school or something.

I did officially quit my day job this week. For the last four months I've been on family leave ('cause I just adopted two kids) but I told my old boss I wasn't coming back this week. Now that writing (and being a mom) is my only job, I really do need to find time to write.

What Works for Me

I now have an office, sort of. I had an office before I became a mom. But that room is now my son's bedroom. We moved our desktop, and the desk it sits on into a little alcove off the side of our living room. I have always preferred writing on my laptop though. For the last few months I've been doing most of my writing while sitting on my bed, which may be one of the reasons why I've gotten so little done in the last few months.

I recently got a new chair that fits nicely into the corner of my bedroom, so I can still go to my room and close the door to get away from my kids when I want to write. But I can sit somewhere a bit more comfortable than a bed when writing.

What Else I've Been Up To

Both of my kids have birthdays this coming week, and Christmas is right around the corner. Last Sunday we had a joint birthday party for both kiddos and Jesus. Because I'm a fairly social person, and quite possibly insane, I invited a ton of people. We had 20 kids and 30 adults at our house on Sunday.

Now that that's over, I'm busy planning smaller family only (meaning grandparents, cousins, etc) birthday dinners for both kids on their actual birthdays. My life is way beyond hectic, but the kids are loving it.

My son (who is about to turn six) keeps talking about how fun his party was. Today he said, "Do you remember my party? It was so much fun, it feels like a dream. That was exactly the party I've always wanted to have."

So I may not be getting tons of writing done, but I am doing a great job of trashing my house in the name of six year old joy.

So what's up with you?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

I actually read this book last summer, but I've never recommended it on WUW, so I'm going to mention it today. Dormant's author, Leeann McLennan is both a friend of mine, and a fabulous writer. Dormant is about a superhuman girl (aka superhero) who chooses to ignore her powers and try to live as a normal after her mom dies while helping to save the world. When Olivia is taken hostage during a bank robbery, her supernormal instincts kick in and she is thrust back into the superhero world.

This is a very fun YA/SciFi story that I would recommend to anyone who loves a good superhero adventure.

What I'm Writing

Now that my second novel has been out in the world for almost a month, I'm trying to focus on writing book three. Trying being the key word. December is so not the time to start a new project. Real life is way to distracting. I started penciling out some of my ideas for book three last spring when I was waiting to hear back from beta readers on book two. I've now read through all of those notes and have about 10k words of a crappy first draft.

I want this book, Fragments of Life, to come out sometime in 2015. In order to make a November release for EoE, I had to get a good draft to beta readers in April. Um, yeah, I have a lot of work to do on this next story.

The story does start on New Years Eve. So maybe I'll aim to make 12-31-15 the release date. That way it will be out for the ebook upswing in January after people get ereaders for Xmas. Yeah, I still have a lot of work to do.

What Works for Me

KDP Select. For people self-publishing, or thinking about self-publishing, you should definitely know about KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select. Any indie author who wants their ebook on Amazon has to use KDP, but you also have the option of signing up for KDP Select.

In order to use KDP Select, you have to give Amazon exclusive ebook rights for 90 days. Every 90 days, you can either re-enroll or start selling your book in other platforms. There are two main benefits to KDP Select. The first is that you get 5 free days, or 5 discount days, per 90 day period. Today, is actually one of my free days. So if you haven't bought The Evolution of Emily yet, and you want to read it, but don't want to pay for it. I recommend getting it for free right now.

The other benefit may actually be more significant. KDP Select books are included in the free Amazon Prime lending library for the entire 90 days they are in KDP Select. A percentage of the Amazon Prime membership fees is given to authors whose books are borrowed, so my royalty rates for borrowed books are actually about the same as my royalty rates for sold copies.

In the three weeks EoE has been out, I've actually had more borrows than sales. In addition to getting paid for borrows, they also count towards Amazon sales rank. I only had my first book, Counting to D, enrolled in KDP Select for 90 days before opening it to other platforms. I'm now thinking I'm going to leave The Evolution of Emily on KDP Select until my third book comes out, whenever that happens.

What Else I've Been Up To

It's December and my life is therefor insane. If you've read my blog at all in the past four months, you probably know that I just adopted two kids. Both kids have December birthdays. My son is about to turn 6, and my daughter is turning 8. We've got two birthdays and Christmas all in the same week, every year for the rest of our lives. Yeah, December is now crazy.

We're having a joint birthday party for the kids next weekend. So far there are 35 people coming, but we're still waiting on several people to RSVP.

I said my life was crazy right now right? Yeah, book 3 is so not getting done anytime soon.

So what's up with you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - Book Release Addition

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

I recently read three books about indie publishing and marketing that are all conveniently bundled together. All three books have a slightly different take on the indie market, so reading them all together back to back was a good way to get a broader sense of the industry.

Yesterday, my second novel came out. Reading three books on marketing, has been a great way to remind myself of all the things I should be doing.

If you are an indie publisher, thinking about indie publishing, or even a traditionally published author who wants to improve your marketing, I recommend all three of these books.

I will warn you though, the three books in one giant kindle file makes for a very long read. This is the first bundle I've every bought, but I've heard of as many as a dozen books being bundled. That would really be a long ebook.

What I'm Writing

The Evolution of Emily is now on sale! You can buy it here, or here, or here.

Oh, wait, you wanted to know what I wrote this week? Not a whole lot. I did join a new writing critique group though. So hopefully, that will help motivate me to get going on my next book soon.

I did just release a novel yesterday though, so I'm not going to feel guilty about not writing this week.

What Works for Me

Since finding time to actually write, isn't something that I seem capable of doing these days, I've decided to say what marketing strategies work for me in this section. Here is a fabulous tip I have for all authors, weather you are indie or traditionally published.

Include search words in links to amazon. Let me explain, because this is a really great tip. Amazon chooses what books to recommend under a given key word search based upon what books were purchased while searching for that word. So you want easy sales, to friends and family, to include those search words. The easiest way to do that is to search for the book yourself, and then send the link that includes those search words.

For example, my first novel Counting to D, has a dyslexic main character. When people are searching for a book about dyslexia, I want them to find my book. So I just searched for the word dyslexia on amazon, found Counting to D (currently ranked 42nd under that key word) and sent you the link that has the key word of dyslexia included. If any of you decided to click on that link and then buy C2D, amazon see people buying C2D after searching for dyslexia and increase my presence under that word search.

What Else I've Been Up To

My kids have been missing A LOT of school lately. Last week, they had an insearvce day on Monday, and Veteran's Day on Tuesday. Then there was freezing rain on Thursday, so school was closed. Next week, there are conferences on Monday and Tuesday, and then Thanksgiving, so they have the entire week off.

See, there is a reason why I'm not getting any work done on my next book. I'm very busy being a mom right now. I do love Thanksgiving. But I'll never be a fan of freezing rain.

So what's up with you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

As the mother of two young children, I read A LOT of kids books. There are some books that my kids love that I tolerate. There are some books that I remember loving as a kid and have a nostalgic attachment too. There are some books I love simply because I see my children in the characters in the stories. Then there is Morris Lessmore. This is a children's book that I love far more than my children.

We checked it out from the library last week, and just returned it yesterday. I was so sad to see this book go, I'm seriously planning on buying it. I actually looked for it at my local indie bookstore and since it wasn't there, I think I may need to order it on line. It's that good of a book.

Seriously, if you are a writer, and if you're reading this post chances are VERY HIGH that you are a writer, you need to read this book. It's an absolutely gorgeous picture book about a man, named Morris Lessmore, who spends his life tending to a flock of magic books. Each night he writes all his hopes and dreams in a book of his own. At the end of the story, after Morris Lessmore dies, a little girl comes to the library and Morris's book flies over to her and lands on her shoulder. The last two pages read, "So our story ends the way it began... With the opening of a book."

Yeah! If you are an author, or even just a book lover, you need to read The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore!

What I'm Writing

The Evolution of Emily comes out next weeks. I think that means it's officially time for me to start working on book #3. I do have a title for my third book, Fragments of Life. Um yeah, that's about all I have.

I really do need to figure out how to fit writing into my regular routine again. But hey, The Evolution of Emily comes out next week.It doesn't matter if I wrote it months ago. I wrote it, and it's a fabulous story, so you should definitely read it.

In honor of my release, I'm having a giveaway. Sign up to win a free copy of The Evolution of Emily, or even better yet copies of both The Evolution of Emily and Counting to D!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Works for Me

Since adopting my kids last August, I haven't written diddly swat, so I never feel like I know how to answer this question. But even if I'm not doing a very good job at tackling book three, I do have a novel coming out next week, so I am working. And I expect some of you may want to know what works for me in the marketing/promotion side of things.

I did a lot of PR stuff before Counting to D came out last winter. In the month leading up to it's release, I think I did something like 27 guest blog posts and interviews. Um yeah, thanks to the whole new mom thing, I've done exactly zero guest blog posts for this release and have only managed to update my own blog three times in the past month. I sent C2D to more than 100 reviewers. I send EoE to like four. I feel a little bit nervous about this, because EoE is a great book that I actually like even better than C2D, so I really hope people read it, I'm just not doing very much to tell people about it.

One thing that I did do though was sign up for IndieReader In-Store (IRIS). Traditional publishers list all of their publications in either net-galley or edelweiss. This allows bookstores, libraries, and book reviewers to securely review ecopies of a book for free so they can determine if it's something they should carry. The fee for these services is steep though, making it virtually impossible for indie and small press publishers to use. Hence the creation of IRIS. IndieReader enables indie authors to band together and list all their books in the edelweiss network under a single account. The cost to sign a book up through IRIS is $525 per title. Not free, but still possible.

There are a lot of services available for indie authors and it's hard to know what to pay for and what to skip. Like I said, I haven't done most of the PR/marketing stuff for my second novel that I did for my first. A lot of this is a time management thing. I mentioned I adopted two kids three months ago, right? But also, it's a cost benefit issue. Many of the marketing services I paid for when publishing C2D had horrible rates of return. I believe, IRIS was a good investment, and thus opted to do it again. Here is why. LIBRARIES!

I love libraries, and more importantly, kids love libraries. I take my kids to the library every single week. And I know a lot of teens who visit the library just as often as my kindergartner son. Not every YA reader has a kindle, or a huge book buying budget, but most of them have a library card. And thanks to my presence in the edelweiss network via IRIS, I have sold more paper copies of C2D in the last three months than I've sold e-books. And more than half of those print sales have been purchased by libraries.

I do hope that my ebook sales start to increase, and I have some ideas of new cross-promotions to run once I have two titles available. But knowing my book is not only available online, but also in a library near you is so incredibly exciting to me.

What Else I've Been Up To

It's Veteran's Day today, because I always post my WUW post on Tuesday night instead of Wednesday morning. Thanks to the national holiday, there was no school today. The kids had yesterday off too, so the teachers could fill out their quarterly grades. Um, not sure what kindergartner's are graded on, but okay. When I was a kid, I loved long weekends, but the random four day weekend not around a real holiday is horrible on my schedule. I may only get 2.5 hours to myself a day, but I really like that 2.5 hours.

We did spend Veteran's Day at the zoo though.

So what's up with you?