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Grief – an unfortunate part of life…

Grief. There’s nothing good about it, Charlie Brown. Death is a sad (heartbreaking) but true aspect of life. With life comes loss. With happiness comes sadness. Blah, blah, blah. Those Zen philosophical mantras aren’t comforting during the grieving process. It’s easier to say these things than to go through the experience. Words are just words, aren’t they? We all know that death is a part of life, yet when that moment happens, when the person we love passes, we find it’s pretty darn hard to cope. (Ask me how many times I’ve broken down into tears). We all cope differently. There’s those five stages everyone talks about, but things just don’t happen in life that way. Nope. I know I didn’t follow the rulebook on those stages. Matter of fact, I think I went from denial straight to anger then to bargaining, and then the ultimate sadness kicked in. It hit me: she was gone and wasn’t ever coming back. Read more →

Writing Tips

I’m not a planner. I like to go with the flow and see how things unroll. I am like that in life, and I’m like that with writing. I know many writers who outline their entire novel – chapter by chapter. The aspect of this terrifies me. Before I begin a novel, I have a general idea of what the novel is about and where it’s headed (beginning, middle, and ending) but the rest happens as I write. By the same token, I’m sure my method  would frighten the Type A’s out there. To each her own. What works for some won’t work for others. And my pantser style works for me.

On various occasions, I’ve been asked to speak to writers groups. This is one of those instances when I can say with all sincerity, “It’s an honor to be asked.” There are lots of writers out there, and to be chosen out of many to offer some advice, well, like I said, it’s a compliment. That said, I don’t plan what I’m going to say before I go. I’m not a list maker. I know what the crux of my statement will be, but beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

I’ll be speaking to a young writers group later this week, which got me thinking (insert lightbulb and angelic music) that I should have some tips for them to refer to if they need advice in case I forget to address it since I won’t be outlining my speech. Of course when I say “advice” all I can picture is Lucy from Peanuts in her cardboard booth offer Chuck advice for five cents. Geez, I hope my advice is worth more than that. With the invention of self-publishing tools such as Amazon, IBooks, Nook, Kobo, Wattpad, etc., the market has changed significantly, and stories which would have only been seen by a few set of eyes are now available to the masses. Potentially, these aspiring novelists I will be speaking to will become authors thanks to these outlets. How awesome! How exciting!

I’ve been an Indie author (sounds so rogue, doesn’t it) since 2012. These are some things I’ve either learned or observed the past five years. Take these tips and do as you wish.

1) If you plan to self-publish, hire an editor. Your friend of a friend who knows where to insert commas isn’t enough. Hire a professional. Before you hire them, do some research. Ask for a list of writers who have used their services. Ask for a sample of their work to see their editing process. Comparison shop. Just hire an editor.

2) Pay a graphic designer to design your book cover. Don’t think that taking one measly class in Adobe Photoshop is enough to make you a book cover designer. It’s not. A poorly designed book cover sends the wrong message. Your novel could be a work of art on the inside, but it won’t translate as such if the cover isn’t designed well.

3) Find beta readers who will offer you constructive feedback and won’t sugar coat things. These beta readers should read your genre. They should be readers who can offer you an honest opinion about your novel. They should want to help you not hurt you. There is a difference.

4) Don’t use social media as a tool for “Me! Me! Me!” There’s nothing more annoying than people who talk of nothing else but themselves. Socialize. It’s okay to tell others about your book, but don’t make it your only message. Share things about yourself other than your writing. Let people get to know you and get to know them, too. Think of it as a first date. Imagine if the other person was talking only about themselves and how great they were at writing the entire night and didn’t ask you one question. Annoying, right? Don’t be that person. Share the love. If you discover a great read, tell others about it. If you have an Indie author friend with a new book release, share that with others. Sharing is caring.

5) Make sure your inner-circle is supportive of your efforts. Writing is a lonely business. You need to be around people who will lift you up.

6) Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Do not compare yourself to others. So what if they’re getting more reviews or selling more books. It doesn’t matter what they do. What matters is what you do. Are you writing from your heart? Are you proud of your novel? Did you enjoy writing it?

7) Critics exist. Sometimes a critical review can make you a better writer. I’ve learned from a few. Sometimes you just have to let the criticism roll off of your shoulders. Never, and I mean this, never engage in dialogue with a reviewer. This is tacky and unprofessional. So they didn’t like your book, move on. It happens to the best of us:)

8) Trolls exist. Don’t let them get to you.

9) Appreciate your bloggers. Send them some love. Write them a thank you note. Send them a signed copy of your book. Bloggers receive countless review requests. The fact that they chose to review your book should make you feel special.

10) This is a personal decision, but I don’t negatively rate or write negative reviews for books I’ve read that I didn’t love. Just because a book wasn’t right for me doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for someone else. I realize the blood, sweat and tears the author put into their work and don’t want to diminish that. To me, it’s professional courtesy. But, like I said, this is a personal decision.

11) Do your research on self-publishing. Read! Read! Read! You can ask other Indie authors about their experiences, but make sure to do your own research.

12) Write and read all of the time. Even when you don’t feel like writing, write. Something. Anything. Just write. Read. Reading makes you a better writer. Read books by authors you admire. Read for fun. Read to learn. Just read.

I won’t have a 13th tip because I’m superstitious. I hope this advice helps. Feel free to contact me if you have other questions, and write on!

Don’t Talk, I Love You is now available for purchase!

It’s release day! Here’s the link to buy Don’t Talk, I Love You: goo.gl/uaTFiL  If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can grab it for free!

Kindle Press didn’t select me. No worries, though. I’m happy I tried it (What’s life without risks, right?), that it was viewed by new potential readers, and that it stayed on the “hot list” for 1/3 of a time:) — that’s all because of you!!! To everyone who nominated it, thank you so much!  Side note: Writing this book was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my writing career. I’ve never laughed so hard while writing:)

Synopsis: Recent college graduate Hadley Echols finally has a job. Her first priority – find an affordable place to live. She thinks it’s hopeless until she sees an ad that at first seems like a joke: “THREE MONKS SEEK ROOMMATE.” She doesn’t know anything about monks, only that her new roomies are on a vow of silence and only communicate via text. Then there’s the slight problem of her finding one of them irresistible. To make matters worse, her new boss might be Satan incognito and her ex-flame is back.

 

A feisty brunette falls for a monk…

Did that headline grab your attention? I hope so:)  Don’t Talk, I Love You is my latest novel, and I can’t wait for you to read it. However…. it’s not available for purchase yet. Read more →

Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017.

I recently emptied out the blessings jar my friend had given me last year. It was a thoughtful gesture on her part, but I’m not one for this kind of sentiment, so the things I was “thankful” for probably aren’t the norm. Here’s a prime example: “I’m glad I know to say specifically instead of pacifically.” Psst… that drives me crazy. Or: “Thankful I don’t work in a chicken plant.” So true. There is a plant about five miles up the road from where I live, and anytime I drive near it, I’m greeted with a pungent bouquet. Plus, I like meat and working there would most likely steer me in the direction of becoming a vegetarian, which wouldn’t be much fun since I live in BBQ country. I also delved into politics: “Thankful I don’t live in North Korea.” (I was obsessed with watching North Korea documentaries.) So, as you can see, I was a bit tongue in cheek. A few were more sentimental, but I won’t share those. They’re private.

2016 has come to an end. For many, it’s a time of celebration. From what I’ve read on social media, you’d think this was the worst year of many people’s lives. A year is a year is a year. Personally, celebrity deaths don’t affect me, and politics are politics. They’re never changing. Guess what? I don’t care where you stand politically, what your religious beliefs are, and what your personal sexual preference is, I still like you!

If I had to reflect on this year and say what I’m truly thankful for, it’d be that I live in a country where I have the freedom to write what I want to write. I love to write – it’s fulfilling, it’s cathartic, it’s something I need to do, not just want to do. Having people like you read my books and then share your love for them is what keeps me going. Writers write to be heard and to be read. Knowing that there are people like you who are reading the things I’ve written and have been touched by my words means so much to me.

Sometimes, we (all of us, pointing to you, too, don’t try and cower out of here) don’t take the time to sit back and think of our true blessings. I know I sure don’t. Just the other day, I was griping about there being nothing to eat in the house and my husband said, “We have money to buy all kinds of food at the grocery store and you’re complaining?” It was one of those aha moments, where you realize you’re being a jerk or a tool or some adjective in that category. He was right. How can I complain about not having any food to eat when there are so many who are starving? Rarely, do we look at what we have right in front of us.

This past summer, my husband and I fulfilled our long-time dream of going out west and seeing Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a trip of a lifetime, and one I’m truly thankful to have gone on. When I was in Yellowstone, I was deprived of the internet (which was surprisingly refreshing) and chai tea (which wasn’t so good – gotta have my caffeine). I didn’t have tea for days. Thankfully, while were traipsing around the park,  we found a restaurant (because there are several in the park, believe it or not) that served chai tea. Yes! That tea was one of the best cups I’ve had in my life. No joke. It’s because I’d been deprived of it and having it again made me truly appreciate its taste and flavor. I didn’t gulp it down. I took my time with it, truly relished in tasting nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and of course, honey. (Winnie the Pooh and I are besties. I love honey and tea isn’t tea without it). In a society where everything is “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme and Instant, Instant, Instant!” it’s not often that we find ourselves unable to have something we want at our disposal. That was a teachable moment for me: stay present-minded and be thankful for what I have when I have it.

Okay, not trying to sound all Zen Guru on you. I am human and have lots of flaws. I guess I’m just hoping you’ll read this post and realize that you are blessed and have lots of things to be thankful for.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and blessed year to come!  Thanks for reading what I’ve written.

End of Summer Sale!

It Started With A Whisper is on sale! Grab it here for 99 cents for a limited time. That’s a huge savings, and it won’t be available at this price for long.  Purchase Link

“This was a heartwarming read that is a must-read for summer.” – writingpearls.com

“It Started With A Whisper was an amazing and touching story, that in places you will have your emotional state tested.” – The Phantom Paragrapher

“This book was sweet and absolutely amazing. And in the end it will leave you with some fond memories and a smile on your face.” – I Read Indie

It’s Release Day for It Started With A Whisper!

Happy Release Day to me (now I have the birthday song in my head). I’m excited to tell you that today is the release day for It Started With A Whisper. Here’s the link to purchase.

Advance Praise for It Started With A Whisper: “It Started with a Whisper was an amazing and touching story, that in places you will have your emotional state tested.” – The Phantom Paragrapher.

 

“You’re my Obsession”

Now I’ve got that Human League song in my head. I digress. So, my husband came up with this brilliant idea to make a commercial about It Started With A Whisper. Since It Started With A Whisper is set in the 1980s, we thought it was appropriate to pay homage to those crazy Calvin Klein perfume/cologne commercials. Remember Obsession commercials?

Here’s our attempt at acting. Enjoy!

It Started With A Whisper

 

Cover Reveal: It Started With A Whisper

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for It Started With A Whisper! It’s scheduled for release on June 1st. Here’s the link to add it to your TBR list on Goodreads.

Synopsis:

Five simple words: That’s all it takes to change the course of 18-year-old Josie Graham’s life in the summer of 1989.

Josie is a musical prodigy: She can sing, play guitar and is a natural on the piano. Instead of spending her last summer before college traveling the country with her rock star father, she’s made a last minute decision to spend it working at her Aunt Bernie’s inn, in Ambler’s Fork, North Carolina. But what could have turned her life-long passion for music into a hatred for an industry she’s worked so hard to get into?

Her aunt’s inn seems like the perfect place to escape, to clear her head and figure things out, but on her first day there, she almost drowns before Chic Hobbs saves her.

Chic wants nothing more in life than to leave Ambler’s Fork and his sordid past behind—at least not until that day Josie Graham swims into his life. The problem is, Chic’s got a secret. It’s a secret he’s keeping from Josie, and he’s worried if it gets out, it’ll ruin everything, and she’ll judge him for his past mistakes the way everyone else in town has.

Josie is carrying a burden of her own. One that made her run to Ambler’s Fork – away from her family and everything she’s ever known.

Chic saved Josie once. Can he save her again? Or will Josie rescue him this time?

 

Coming Soon!!!

June 1st!!! Mark this date in your calendars for the release of my YA romance,  It Started With A Whisper.  More details to follow, but for now, here’s a quote from the book.

He brushes a strand of hair away from my cheeks, leans close to my face and whispers into my ear. And I know I’ll commit those five words to memory for the rest of my life.

I bet you’re wondering what he says to her. Hint: You won’t find out until the end of the book.