It’s Available!

A NIGHT ON MOON HILL is now available for sale at the Kindle Store! Here’s the link. What a wonderful early birthday present! It would be amazing if it became available on Amazon ON my birthday, which is tomorrow. Not likely, but amazing!

Remember, if you buy it, read it, and like it, I would LOVE for you to post a review there on its Kindle page…as well as on Goodreads. (Later, it would be great if you would copy your review to the Amazon page once it’s finally up there.)

If you REALLY want to help guide people to my book, hit the “Like” button near my name and then scroll halfway down the Kindle page to the part that reads: “Tags Customers Associate With This Product” and click on “Agree with these tags.” The more agreements I get, the more likely those tags will pull in readers interested in those things.

Thanks for all your support!

Originally posted 2012-09-08 17:36:14.

Another Road Trip

Present word count of WIP:  56,674

Unlike most mothers, I never really had to do a lot of chauffeuring when my kids were younger (except for the three years they were involved with Riverside Children’s Theatre). After one year of girls softball, Allison gave it up, and Jason was NEVER interested in sports.

Then my daughter entered high school and gave one more sport a try: Cross Country. She did quite well (even competing at State), and more importantly, found a life long pursuit. In the process, I put a lot of mileage on the van and then the SUV.

In California, I drove to schools in the Inland Empire, the famous Mt. SAC competition, and even up to the well-known Clovis Invitational, all to watch her run and cheer their team on. Once we moved up here to Washington after her sophomore year, the driving continued to points east and west of the Cascades and even into Oregon. Fortunately, the state championship was held in our own backyard–Pasco.

I thought most of my driving days were pretty much over when Allison went off to college. And sure enough, I only averaged 1-2 trips down to Utah during most of her years at BYU (and one of those annual trips each year was for my benefit–a writing conference).

Allison's Graduation Picture

Then this past April hit. With our daughter preparing to graduate and go off to serve a mission, we decided we should attend General Conference as a family. One trip. A niece in South Jordan got married. Another trip. Allison graduated and went through the SLC temple in preparation for her mission. A third trip. The LDStorymaker’s Writer’s Conference. A fourth trip.

Tomorrow morning I’m heading down again, this time to help her pack up and bring everything home so she can attend her brother’s graduation. But do you think she’s staying put once she’s home? Nope. You see, there’s this half marathon she wants to run back in . . . you guessed it. Provo.

I think that’s one race I can miss, particularly because we’ll be taking yet another trip down that way in mid-July to drop her off at the MTC.

Have all these trips been worth it? Of course! Spending time with her, seeing her graduate after working so hard, seeing her so beautiful in white in the temple. Socializing with, and learning from, all my writing friends. Every single trip was worth it. And this one will be no different.

Besides, it’s helped me train for long-distance travel. Something I hope will come in handy when The Boy in the Pool comes out at the end of summer and I have to drive around for signings in bookstores and Costcos here in the Northwest and in Utah (and wherever else my publisher recommends).

But this time around I’ll be chauffeuring myself.

Originally posted 2012-05-28 17:31:54.

Reading, Reading, and More Reading

Present word count of WIP:  54,620

Sorry for slacking off here. I know I missed posting last Friday and this past Monday, but I was in the middle of a terrific writer’s conference (LDS Storymakers)…and then I was still recovering from it.

(A ten-hour drive in one day is not easy, despite M&Ms and other caffeinated products, particularly after you’re coming off of five nights of only 3-5 hours of sleep on average. But an audio book leant to me by my writing/conference buddy, Liz Adair, certainly helped!)

Anyway, it was a great conference. The best thing was that I had another excuse to see my daughter. I won’t have too many more opportunities like that before she leaves on her mission. And she even came to the Whitney Awards Banquet with me (that’s become a custom…I’ll definitely miss her next year).

Liz and I were roommates again and we also kept each other company during the massive book signing (and I got to pick up a lot of tips on how to do a signing by watching our neighbor, Janette Rallison, respond to the lines and lines of fans queued up for her signature or picture).

Liz and I at the Book Signing

Me with Janette Rallison and Rachelle Christensen

I took part in one of the critique sessions held during the Publication Primer the day before the conference and met some terrific writers there, including David King, Rebekah Wells, and Becky Tueller and her sister, Cheryl. Our group was led by Natalie Hickman, almost due to have her baby and just out of the hospital that morning. Talk about dedication to your craft!

Me with David and Rebekah

I pitched my WIP to Holly Root of the Waxman Literary Agency and she wants to see the first three chapters when it’s ready. YAY!!! She also said she’d have no problem taking on a client that wanted to write both Women’s Fiction and Middle Grade…all under my own name. Hmmm. Maybe I won’t need a pen name after all.

Also, I met with my editor, Linda Mullineaux, and they’re now looking at sending my book (which will be called something other than Laps) to press in August! I gave them a new suggestion for the title and I think they may go with it. But I’m not announcing it here until it’s finally approved. Anyway, I’m firmly a part of the Walnut Springs Press family, as shown by this picture of several of their authors taken after the Whitney Awards Banquet.

Walnut Springs Authors (Me, Angie Lofthouse, Liz Adair, Jenni James, Betsy Love, Theresa Sneed, and the injured Tristi Pinkston)

Besides the fact that I desperately need a makeover, I learned lots of great things at the LDS Storymakers Conference, as usual (particularly loved Jennifer Nielsen’s class on Middle Grade Fiction and Jeff Savage’s on Podcasts), though I didn’t get to attend nearly as many workshops or classes. That was because:

1) My body crashed after my Friday afternoon pitch . . . it’s a little too old now for these midnight film premieres (but “The Avengers” was terrific!)

and . . .

2) I volunteered to help do timekeeping for pitch sessions on Saturday morning. I can’t tell you how nice it was to be the one watching the clock rather than the one racing through my pitch over and over in my mind while waiting for the signal to go in and face the agent.

While I didn’t spend much in the bookstore, I came away with two more books to review this month. I was already set to review Jolene Perry’s Night Sky on May 14th (I just finished reading it today and have the review all written), but now I’m due to read Heather Moore’s Daughters of Jared and Tristi Pinkston’s Women of Strength, as well, before the end of the month.

Not to mention all the Whitney Award finalists and winners I’ve got downloaded. As I put in my title, it looks like all I’ll be doing the rest of this month is reading, reading, and more reading!

Originally posted 2012-05-11 13:23:28.

Book Blast for Rachelle Christensen’s “Caller ID”

Present word count of WIP:  48, 579

If you want a great read and a chance to win one of over 20 free gifts, head on over to Rachelle’s Writing Spot and use her special link to purchase her latest, CALLER ID, on Amazon. It’s good for today only!

Among other things, she’s offering books, ebooks, podcasts, tutorials, recipes, website design help, and a Flip Video Camcorder.

Remember, this offer is only good for Thursday, March 22, 2012.

Originally posted 2012-03-22 16:02:03.

The Book Business

Present word count in WIP:  47,161

(That doesn’t count the fact that I did write today…I wrote a 999-word personal essay to be posted on Danyelle Fergusen’s blog some time in April–Autism Awareness Month. I’ll let you know when it’s up and link to it. She asked for those who’ve dealt with autistic spectrum disorders up close and personal to share some positive, uplifting stories, so I complied.)

And now for Seth Godin’s last three pieces of Advice for Authors:

17. Publishing a book is not the same as printing a book. Publishing is about marketing and sales and distribution and risk. If you don’t want to be in that business, don’t! Printing a book is trivially easy. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. You’ll find plenty of printers who can match the look and feel of the bestselling book of your choice for just a few dollars a copy. That’s not the hard part.

18. Bookstores, in general, are run by absolutely terrific people. Bookstores, in general, are really lousy businesses. They are often where books go to die. While some readers will discover your book in a store, it’s way more likely they will discover the book before they get to the store, and the store is just there hoping to have the right book for the right person at the time she wants it. If the match isn’t made, no sale.

19. Writing a book is a tremendous experience. It pays off intellectually. It clarifies your thinking. It builds credibility. It is a living engine of marketing and idea spreading, working every day to deliver your message with authority. You should write one.

I love how he covers all three aspects of the business in these last three tips–publishing, marketing, and writing.

Publishing isn’t easy and that’s why it’s so difficult for writers to break into it. They have to build up their writing muscles over time so that the content they offer is worth the publishers’ risk. They have to build up their fan base over time so that, again, the publisher will be tempted to take a chance on them. And then, once they’re in, from all I can observe it becomes like a long-distance race. Either they’re in it for the long haul–all the signings, appearances, marketing, and, most importantly, more writing–or they get left by the wayside.

Bookstores are becoming more and more obsolete because now the reader can go directly to their chosen writer via Amazon.com or another online bookstore. And with the advent of the ebook, who needs shelves? Of course, this is not news. But more and more, I foresee bookstores using their personal touch to compete online with the big elephant. Check out Just the Right Book, for example. Here is a bookseller who got smart, moved her bookstore online and is offering the kind of service Amazon is too big and impersonal to give. If you doubt me, check out the Just the Right Book Facebook page. This is one bookstore, in my opinion, that is not a lousy business. They have vision.

As for his last tip, I readily agree. I always learn more about a topic (and myself) when I have to write about it. Once I can encapsulate my thoughts or the pictures in my head in a well-described scene, complete with realistic dialogue (both inner and outer), I am enriched…and, if I’ve done my job right as a writer, my words will likewise enrich the reader. The most fascinating thing about the writing process, besides the splashes of insight and inspiration, is that no two readers will read the same words with exactly the same result. Why? Because the reader brings his/her own life experience to meld with the author’s. That’s why the author-reader relationship is so valuable.

If you’ve ever been tempted to write your own book, do it!

 

 

Originally posted 2012-03-12 21:22:00.

Consider Organizations, Not Just Individuals

Present word count of WIP:  47,161

Okay, I slowed down on my output the last two days. First, I was bummed yesterday at receiving another rejection. It was so nicely worded, however, and included enough good feedback that I almost felt guilty about feeling depressed. (At least, I know the agent judges me to be talented and would definitely consider future proposals.) Then today, things really began to look up and I simply couldn’t concentrate on writing all morning. I may have an important announcement to make next week, so stay tuned!

For now, Seth Godin’s next bit of Advice for Authors:

16. Most books that sell by the truckload sell by the caseload. In other words, sell to organizations that buy on behalf of their members/employees.

This got me thinking about another way to market my second novel, LAPS, once it gets published. Since a couple of key characters in the novel have Asperger’s syndrome, I could contact local chapters of Autistic Support groups and donate cases of books or, at least, provide them at deep discounts simply to help spread word of the book.

Autism Society of America

Since my son has AS, we have been participating in a study put on by the University of Washington. In fact, we recently gave them permission to share all our data with the National Instititute for Health. They might also appreciate copies of the novel. It’s something to keep in mind, for certain.

Asperger's Under the Umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders

How about you? Can you think of organizations that might have a natural tie-in to your most recent or upcoming book?

Originally posted 2012-03-09 16:45:10.

Try the Unexpected or Unusual

Present word count of WIP:  45,249

I’m a day late with this post, but yesterday was so chock full of items on my “to do” list and then my son came home with a time-consuming piece of homework from his Creative Writing class. How could I say “no” to helping him on that? Besides, it made me more aware of my own writing.

The assignment: take a page from one of your favorite novels, photocopy it, and analyze it for sentence length and variation, paragraph length and variation, literary or figurative devices, any unusual punctuation or grammatical devices, and anything else that stood out as far as the writer’s style. I think it’s a good exercise for any of us who write. It keeps us from getting lazy. Sometimes our final version isn’t as “final” or “perfect” as we may like to think.

Buckbeak's response to Malfoy's rudeness

(By the way, the novel he chose was J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, with a page from the first scene with Buckbeak.)

Now, Seth Godin’s next bit of Advice for Authors:

15. If you want to reach people who don’t normally buy books, show up in places where people who don’t usually buy books are. Media places, virtual places and real places too.

First of all, you have to understand something about Mr. Godin. He’s more about spreading ideas (and he writes mostly non-fiction) than he is about making money. Of course, he can afford to be because he’s already made a name for himself and has a huge fan base. So, he’s always looking to expand that fan base. That’s something we should all be doing.

But this tip got me thinking. Where do non-book lovers gather in the real world and online? I know they’re out there, because I came across one several years ago–a woman in my church who, while helping in a service project to stock the shelves of a new school library, admitted that she never read. “Why?” I asked. “I just don’t like reading.” I know. It’s baffling to me and my kind, but they do exist.

So, where do they hang out? Movie theaters? (She didn’t care for movies, either, by the way.) I, personally, love movie theaters…but mainly when they’re not crowded and going when no one else is there kind of defeats the purpose of trying to gain new readers. Still, could I force myself to do a book event at a movie theater? Let’s say the protagonist of my novel has a significant scene involving a particular movie. If it’s a popular enough movie, would it be worthwhile to rent out a theater for my book launch and show that movie? Hmmm. Perhaps.

Where else in real life? My aforementioned non-book-and-non-movie-loving friend was all about the outdoors. I’ve got people gathering every morning at the base of the small mountain behind my home simply to hike up to the top. Granted, they’re probably the same people every day, but maybe I should set up a small table at the foot of the trail one day and offer discounted (or even free…since they might not be carrying cash) copies of my latest book. (Of course, it would help if my story involved hiking.)

The idea is to think outside the box both in everyday life and in virtual reality. Drop into a whole new Facebook group (say, for instance, Mothers Against Pedestrian Crosswalks…just made that up, but I haven’t checked…there could be such a group) or online forum and make some new friends then gradually reveal that you’re a writer. If they like you, they’ll probably ask about what you write. If they really like you and the kinds of comments you make, they may buy your book.

What has worked for you? Have you tried the unexpected or unusual and seen it work?

I’d love to hear about it.

Originally posted 2012-03-06 08:29:46.

Do Free PDFs Work?

Present word count of WIP:  43,781

I’m almost over my cold and hoping my chapped nose (I knew I was blowing my nose too much!) will have recovered by Sunday. Oh, and if anyone out there can tell me why, all of a sudden, I lost all my Google Followers, I would appreciate it greatly. I don’t think it was because they were afraid I was contagious. Seriously, what’s up with Google (besides that whole privacy issue)?

In the meantime, here’s Seth Godin’s next piece of Advice for Authors:

14. Consider the free PDF alternative. Some have gotten millions of downloads. No hassles, no time wasted, no trying to make a living on it. All the joy, in other words, without debating whether you should quit your day job (you shouldn’t!)

I don’t know about you, but offering free PDFs of my stories would be problematic for me. While I got on the Kindle bandwagon early, offering THE RECKONING on Kindle shortly after it came out as a paperback on Amazon, I didn’t do the actual formatting. I paid the people at BookSurge (now CreateSpace) to do it for me. As a result, I don’t have a PDF version of the final manuscript, formatted for print with all the chapter headings and fancy images.

If any of you know how I might get hold of such a PDF version, I might be interested. But then, you come to the question of the value of your work. How many readers value that which they get for free?

Personally, I’ve purchased some 200-300 books on my Kindle and I’m having a tough enough time getting them read, let alone any free books I may come across. Which books do you imagine I’m going to value more and read first? You got it. The ones that cost me money.

In my opinion, money earned from a book is a lot more meaningful, in terms of gauging your fan base, than the number of downloads. While the idea of no hassles and no time wasted is appealing, it’s not very realistic. True professional authors have to work hard to make a living at what they do…but the reason they continue to do it is because they love the writing.

I stopped myself today in the middle of writing a scene that ended up taking me in a whole new direction and thought, “This is just too fun! I am so glad I can do this!”

Sometimes, Godin thinks too much about the money/marketing end and not enough about the joy of writing.

Originally posted 2012-03-02 13:47:31.

The Effectiveness of Signings and Book Club Appearances

Present word count of WIP: 39,556

Okay, when I blogged yesterday about trying to begin today to make up for my lack of writing over the weekend, I didn’t count on waking up with a full-blown head cold. While I didn’t make any progress on SOG, I did get my full of “Laps” sent in to Jane Dystel (and received a prompt reply from her confirming she’d received it). I also helped edit a friend’s query letter, critiqued another friend’s chapter, and am now writing this post…so, while it doesn’t change the word count of my WIP, it certainly counts as writing!

Now, for Seth Godin’s next piece of Advice for Authors:

13. If you’ve got the patience, bookstore signings and talking to book clubs by phone are the two lowest-paid but most guaranteed to work methods you have for promoting a really really good book. If you do it 200 times a year, it will pay.

Is it just me, or was he being facetious when he wrote this one? Just kidding…I know he was because of his next piece of advice, which I’ll blog about on Friday.

I can’t imagine using almost two-thirds of every year for signings and book club appearances. When would you have time to write? And any good writer needs to be a good reader, so when would you have time to read?

Since my first book was self-published, I’ve only done a couple of bookstore signings (both local) and they accounted for maybe 10 sales total. I fared far better when it came to visiting book clubs (one here, one in Utah, and two in Southern California), but still only netted sales of perhaps 50-75 books total.

Whether you’re a reader or an author, which do you prefer? Bookstore signings or book club appearances (either by phone, Internet, or in person)?

Originally posted 2012-02-27 21:54:33.

ANWA Writers Conference and Blogging

Present word count of WIP: 39,556

The one place it’s difficult to get any writing done is at (believe it or not) a writers conference. No matter. This has already been a success for me and it’s only been the first day! I sold all my books (of course, I only brought three since I was flying Allegiant and was trying to avoid any extra charges), had two successful pitches (Jane Dystel wants the full of Laps and Lisa Mangum wants me to send her the full of School of Guardians when it’s finished), and…most exciting…Linda Mulleneaux stopped by my book signing to tell me she had started reading “Laps” the other night and LOVED it! I’ve got an appointment tomorrow with her, so I think I may have some more news to share soon (hopefully). I also have a pitch appointment tomorrow with April Mumm for SOG. Wish me more luck!

Now on to Seth Godin’s next piece of Advice for Authors:

12. Blog mentions, on the other hand, matter a lot.

That’s certainly been attested to at this conference. An author’s online presence is very important to agents and publishers on everything from social media to blogs. If you can luck out and get a great review or even a mention from a blog that gets a lot of traffic, your name (and your work) becomes that much better known.

So, I’m on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, LinkedIn, and I have another blog along with this one on my website. The trick is learning to manage it all without cutting too much into your writing time.

I blog Mondays and Fridays, post to FB maybe 3-4 times a week, tweet a few times a week, and try to update on Goodreads once a week. I’m honestly not doing much with LinkedIn…yet.

How do you manage balancing online presence with your writing?

Originally posted 2012-02-24 21:09:12.