Sometimes, Hometowns and Best Friends….

Sometimes, hometowns and best friends afford us the opportunity to obtain unique insight into people who are successful and well-known in their particular sphere.  I am no exception to this rule, as thanks to the lucky break of growing up in my small Nevada hometown, as well as being “besties” with my friend, Charmaine, since we were three years old, I have had the pleasure of meeting and knowing author Tammy L. Grace before she was an author!

Tammy Grace (2).jpg

Author Tammy L. Grace- Photo courtesy of www.tammylgrace.com

There are a few people who were exceptionally helpful when I decided to embark on this crazy foray into the world of fiction writing, and Ms. Grace was certainly one of the most helpful of all.  She graciously took the time to answer my questions and help guide my decisions about if I wanted to pursue the self-published route, or would rather instead try to find a literary agent and go the more traditional route.  In the end, I found my publisher, Solstice Publishing, through direct submission, but Ms. Grace’s advice was well-heeded while I contemplated signing the contract or not. So, it came as no surprise when I finally got up the moxie to ask Ms. Grace if she would be willing to participate in an interview on my blog that she said, “Yes.”

Ms. Grace has a very impressive showing, having effortlessly (or so it seems…  authors know writing and publishing are never as easy as it appears) secured her place as a successful author of women’s fiction with fifteen books under her belt, and counting.  Even more surprising, Ms. Grace didn’t even start writing until her first career concluded.

So, without further delay, I hope you enjoy this interview with my fellow author and gracious mentor, Tammy L Grace, as much as I did conducting it!

Majken:   Hello, Tammy!  Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you! I am lucky that as you are from my hometown, (and the fact that you are related to one of my best friends!), I have had the pleasure of meeting you before.  But, I don’t know what made you decide to take the plunge and become an author!  Was this a spur-of-the-moment-I-wonder-if-I- can kind of thing, or have you always wanted to be a writer?

Tammy:  I’m thrilled that you’re an author and so honored to be included for an interview! I had an incredible middle school teacher who introduced me to creative writing and that’s when the bug bit me.  I wrote for our local newspaper when I was in middle school and junior high school, but never considered it for a career.  When I was getting ready to retire, I decided to see if I could follow my dream of becoming a novelist.

Seal of Nevada

The Great Seal of Nevada. Courtesy of www.leg.state.nv.us

Majken: I saw on your website, www.tammylgrace.com, that you had a career in local and state government, but didn’t realize that you had written for the local paper, or considered writing long before retirement!

After discussing with you which teacher was so influential, I can say that I had the same teacher and a lot of what I know today was learned from him!

I know that when I reached out to you when I started my writing carrier you very so kind to mentor me, and we discussed the differences between self-publishing and going through a publisher. I know that until very recently, you chose to go the route of self-publishing and have been doing very well with it. Do you have any secret “tips of the trade” you would be willing to share for those who are facing the same decision of self-publishing?

Tammy: I’ve learned that the author community and especially the self-published arena is welcoming and full of writers who are willing to share and help others. I always recommend authors attend a writers’ conference and learn all they can before they decide on a publishing path.

I’m not sure I have any secrets, but would stress that authors need to consider their strengths and do what they do well and hire someone to do the rest. You can do it all yourself, but your book needs to be polished and compete with the bestsellers in its genre, so you need to research, join online groups, talk to other authors, and decide if you want the responsibility of it all or are capable of doing it all and get help with things you don’t do well. I’ve read statistics where many self-published authors only sell a few hundred copies and that’s not enough to make you successful, so make sure you understand the business before you make a decision.

Majken:   I can certainly agree with that.  I know when I was deciding which route to take, cost was a big factor for me in my decision to pursue traditional publishing.  Editing and the graphic designing of the covers can be significant (and daunting) costs, especially if you don’t know someone already in “the biz”.  Speaking of which, your covers are adorable! Have you designed them yourself, or did you turn to a graphic designer for assistance?

Finding Home.jpg

Ms. Grace’s first novel of her Hometown Harbor series

Tammy:   Thanks, Majken, you love them because I didn’t design them. I hired cover designers and have been lucky to work with some very talented individuals. Early on, I listened to the advice from several authors who recommended hiring a designer, unless you had experience with graphic design and specifically cover design. I think it’s fascinating to see a designer ask a few questions about a book and chat a bit and produce something that showcases the novel so well. It’s my favorite part of the process and only wish I had the skill.

Majken:  I have absolutely heard that a cover can make or break a book in some cases. But, yours are great and your designers did an amazing job with capturing the essences of your stories. My publisher is primarily an ebook publisher, so their goal is to have the title, etc., easily distinguished in a thumbnail for online retailers, like Amazon.com, but I do sometimes wonder what a cover designer would have come up with for A Good Kind of Crazy.

Changing gears, you recently informed your fans that you have signed with the British publisher, Bookouture. What made you decide to make the jump from self-publishing to a publisher? What is the biggest difference in the two experiences you have noticed thus far?

Tammy:  I’ve signed a two-book contract with Bookouture, both of which are emotional dog-centric stories about the connections we have with our canine friends. The biggest reasons I elected to do it were based on Bookouture’s stellar reputation within the author community, I get to write about dogs, and the fact that they approached me. It differs from the idea of querying agents or publishers to try to entice them to take a chance on your work. The biggest change between the two paths I’ve noticed is the length of time from start to finish. I am able to publish two books a year myself, but their process is elongated. They have a schedule and many steps the book goes through with regard to different edits and proofreading, not to mention dozens of authors to juggle. I’m curious to see how their marketing strategies differ from mine and hoping to learn things I can apply to my other work. I know their reach far surpasses what I can do, so am anxious to see the results next year.

I’m writing for them under a pen name, Casey Wilson, which is also new and interesting. If anyone is interested in these books, they can follow Casey on Facebook and Twitter to be kept in the loop.

Majken:  That’s exciting!  I am looking forward to those stories!  I have to say that publishing a book takes much longer than I think most people ever would imagine.

Meanwhile, you, like me, grew up a native Nevadan! What is your favorite thing about living in the desert? What is your absolute favorite thing to do in Nevada that you would recommend everyone should do while visiting our great home state?

Tammy:  I love living in my small hometown because of the sense of community, lifelong friends, and the idea of walking in the footsteps of my great-grandparents, not to mention the quiet and relaxed vibe. I’m not a big fan of heat, so the desert doesn’t appeal to me as much as our gorgeous mountains. I think we have some of the most beautiful sunsets and I love to go for a ride and see all the gorgeous green fields in our little valley or venture out in our side-by-side and explore areas you can’t get to from the road. So many people who are unfamiliar with Nevada only think of Las Vegas and so I make a point of explaining that vision of Nevada is nothing like where I live. My favorite thing to do is to spend time at Lake Tahoe and it’s where we always take people who come to visit. It’s gorgeous and calming – a perfect place to relax or plot a story.

Lake Tahoe-Pexels- Griffin Wooldridge

Lake Tahoe- Picture courtesy of Pexels.com and Griffin Wooldridge

Majken:  I so agree.  I no longer live in Nevada and miss both the mountains and Lake Tahoe so much!  I really hope that people who live there appreciate just how blessed they are to have the magnificent mountains and glorious Lake Tahoe in their backyard!

Though I could write a lengthy blog post on the attributes of Nevada, I guess I had better get back to focusing on the writing aspect of this blog post.  Therefore, I am curious about what you feel is the single best thing about being an author?

Tammy:  There are so many, but I’ll limit myself to one. I love hearing from readers. There is nothing quite like getting a note from someone who read my book and loved it or who read it during a tough time and it was the perfect escape for them. Writing is a lonely endeavor and hearing someone tell me my book entertained them or got them through an illness is so rewarding.

Majken:  I agree that hearing that someone enjoyed, or even benefited, from reading our books is amazing!  I never tire of it, but I have just written one… You have written at least fifteen books since 2014. That’s amazing! What is your writing process? Do you set aside time to write, or do you write when “the muse” hits you?

Tammy:  I tend to write each day, usually in the morning, but sometimes all day. When I’m starting a new book, it takes a bit to flesh out the story and the characters, but once I have an outline, I sit at the computer and write. It typically takes me about three months to complete a novel. When it’s off to the editor, I work on marketing tasks and when I am done with the project, I like to reward myself with some time off to binge-read or splurge on movies or a series, since I tend to focus most of my time on writing when I’m in the midst of it.

All Tammy Grace Books

All of Ms. Grace’s novels, courtesy of www.tammylgrace.com

Majken:  I certainly understand that!  Writing and editing can be all-consuming. It is a strange feeling to come back to the “land of the living” after putting a book to bed. With all that writing, though, one has to be comfortable. I am sure your fans would love it if you would describe your writing space. Do you have a dedicated office with a desk, or do you write in a favorite comfy chair, or by the dining room table? Every author I have spoken with has a unique setup for their writing space and I love to hear about them!

Tammy:  I write on a desktop computer in my home office, but I always start with a notebook and ideas. There’s something to the actual holding of a pen and writing on paper that appeals to me and helps the creative juices flow. I write out lots of random phrases and ideas related to the story I’m working on, brainstorm character names, settings, and plot points. I dig into the characters and really try to nail down their motivations and backstories, so that I feel like I know them when I start the actual writing.

At another writers’ conference I attended several years ago, I listened to author talk about their processes and was drawn to the idea of a white board and sticky notes and that’s what I use now. The movable notes make it easy to plot out scenes and move them or keep ideas handy.  I know many authors use software to do this, but I really enjoy the visual board and paper.

Majken:  Thank you for sharing that. I find it fascinating how everyone does it just a little differently!

Your books always have an adorable dog on the cover, and I know that dogs play an important part in your stories. How did you decide that you wanted to have animals as such an integral part in your novels?

Izzy- Tammy Grace pup

Sweet Izzy, Ms. Grace’s newest writing buddy. Photo courtesy of Facebook page Tammy L. Grace, Author

Tammy:  My own golden retriever, Zoe, was my writing buddy when I first started this new adventure and the inspiration for the dogs I’ve used in my books. I think giving my human characters canine companions adds to their depth and lets the reader see more of them than is sometimes visible to others. I lost Zoe two years ago and have welcomed a new golden retriever, Izzy, who I am training to be my writing buddy.

There is almost a universal love of dogs and I think they make the books feel relatable to most people. I also enjoy the bit of humor they always add to the story.

Majken:  I agree! Dogs are amazingly intuitive and make writing much less lonely.  They are great feet warmers, too!

Your “Hometown Harbor” series is a reader favorite! Has the series concluded, or are there more stories on the way? Will your new publisher handle this series from here on out, or will you continue to do as you have done thus far?

Tammy:  It’s a total five books, plus a prequel novella and while I think it’s concluded, I’m not opposed to adding to it or creating a special holiday book at some point. I truly love the characters and like many readers have told me, they feel like old friends. I just have too many other ideas at the moment!  I’m focused on the Bookouture project this year and will move back to my new Glass Beach Cottage Series and another murder for Coop to solve when I wrap up A Dog’s Hope and A Dog’s Chance.

Majken:  Thank you so much for taking the time to allow me to interview you! And, of course, I thank you, too, for your kind guidance and suggestions while I got started on my own journey into publishing. I thoroughly enjoy your books and find them entertaining and refreshing. Here’s to many more years of creating!

Tammy:  Thank you, Majken, for reaching out to interview me. You ask great questions and it’s been quite fun. I’m so excited for your next book to release and can’t wait to see what you do next. It’s such a fun and rewarding process and I wish you continued success.

Wonderful!  Thank you so much!

Below, find Ms. Grace’s Bio and all media links.  If you are unfamiliar with her work, I would highly suggest checking out her stories!

Tammy L. Grace is an award-winning author who entertains readers with perfect escapes in women’s fiction and clever whodunit mysteries.  Her works in women’s fiction include the best-selling Hometown Harbor Series set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and her latest release, Beach Haven, the first in her new Glass Beach Cottage Series, set in coastal Washington.  She also writes the Cooper Harrington Detective Series, featuring a quirky private detective and his faithful golden retriever.  Her heartwarming Christmas novellas are perfect for readers who enjoy Hallmark Christmas Movies. 

She is and fan of dogs and includes furry companions in all of her books and is presently presently working on two dog-centric novels for Bookouture, under the pen name, Casey Wilson, to be published in 2020.

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a new golden retriever puppy.

Follow Tammy on your favorite platforms:

Subscribe to Tammy’s monthly newsletter and get a FREE interview with the dogs from her Hometown Harbor Series: https://wp.me/P9umIy-e

Website:  http://www.tammylgrace.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammylgrace.books

Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuthorTammyLGraceBookBuddies/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/tammylgrace

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tammy-l-grace

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/authortammylgrace/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/tammylgrace/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/TammyLGrace

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7799289.Tammy_L_Grace

YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCei5GUWLSuD3tLBl81-Fa9w

#tammylgrace #hometownharbor #author #nevada #laketahoe #smalltown #izzy #mentor #publishing #publish #selfpublish #solsticepublish #bookouture #amazon #itunes #audible #AGoodKindofCrazy #FindingHome #ASeasonforHope #HometownHarborTheBeginning #APromiseofHome #PiecesofHome #FinallyHome #KillerMusic #DeadWrong #DeadlyConnection #TheCooperHarringtonDetectiveSeries #InterviewwiththeDogsoftheHometownHarborSeries #BeachHaven #ImHearingStories #hometown #MajkenSelinderNilsson

 

 

 

Listen, Ma! I’m on a podcast!

A few weeks ago, I was give the opportunity to be a guest on the Brian “The Hammer” Jackson’s podcast.

Brian the Hammer Jackson

Photo Courtesy of BlogTalkRadio.com

 

It was a marvelous experience, and as my fist foray into the world of being interviewed, I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience! Mr. Jackson and Ellen J. asked great questions, and I was thrilled with the amount of time they gave me to talk a little bit about myself, but also my debut novel, A Good Kind of Crazy!

Mircophone

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Coffe cup (2)

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

I am not going to lie: at first I was crazy nervous.  Mr. Jackson’s show boasts 2.5 million listeners, which is quite a daunting number. Perhaps I shouldn’t have looked up this information beforehand, because when the interview first began, I could hear my voice quaking in fear. But, soon, I was babbling away like I was having a kaffeklatch with two old friends.  It wasn’t until the interview was wrapping up that I realized that I had momentarily forgotten that there were more than just Mr. Jackson and Ellen J. listening to me.

One added perk of the podcast was that I discovered I really enjoy speaking about the book, my characters, and how societal and cultural norms play a huge part in our personalities, experiences, and outcomes.  I often say that when I am writing a book, the characters become like friends. I really get to know them, their experiences, and all of the idiosyncrasies that come together to form who they are.  They may be fictional, but in mind, they become people who occupy my head space, just like real people do, and it is fun to get to know them.

Attached is the edited version of the podcast that the Brian “The Hammer” Jackson show prepared for me.  If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, or my characters, give it a listen.  Meanwhile, if anyone knows of any other podcasts that are looking for guests, I have been bitten by “the bug”, and would love more opportunities.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/brianhammerjackson/2019/06/20/a-good-kind-of-crazy-author-majken-selinder-nilsson

#Podcast #BrianTheHammerJackson #EllenJ #Hammer967 #FirstPodcastInterview #AGoodKindofCrazy #SolsticePublish #Amazon #BarnesandNoble #Audible #iTunes #Interview #PodcastGuest #LookMa #ListenUp #Nervous #kaffeklatch

Allow Me To Introduce You To….

One of the craziest things about being an author is that it is so much less competitive than I would have ever thought. Not in every aspect, of course: it is still extremely competitive to find representation or a publisher.  But, most of my fellow authors have been very kind and supportive.  In fact, the overwhelming attitude from the beginning has been along the lines of, “People read new books every day. If they pick up yours before mine, so be it, because tomorrow they may pick up mine when they are done with yours!”  And while it is very true that people don’t just read one book in their lifetime, it has been very refreshing to me to see how much of a community authors truly make.

Human star

Photo Credit: Pixaby

However, before I was actually thrust into the world occupied by my fellow scribes, I never would have guessed that a highlight of my foray into becoming a published author would be the incredible people I have met along the way.  From the people in my two writing groups, to already-published authors who were so generous with their time and advice, to the people publishing/producing and editing my books, to my fellow authors, I have been extremely grateful for the part they have all played on my journey. There are a few, however, who stand out above the crowd.  There are those who have not only been extremely helpful, but also a lot of fun, and have moved past “mentor” over to the “friend” category. So, I decided I would like the opportunity to discover what makes them the wordsmiths they are, and thankfully, some of them have agreed to let me share with my readers what makes them tick.

My first guest interview is with fellow Solstice author, David W. Thompson. David was one of the first authors who reached out and mercifully took me under his wing. From answering my bizarre questions, to helping me figure out Twitter, as well as always tagging me in Tweets and entering my name into contests, I can truly say that I don’t know what I would do without his friendship. But, even better, his writing and subject matter are both intriguing.  So, without further ado, please allow me to introduce you to Mr. David W. Thompson

David W Thompson

Majken:    Thanks, David, for joining me on my blog!  I appreciate your time, and I am excited to introduce you to readers who perhaps typically read a different genre and may not know yet how incredible you are as an author! So, let’s hit the ground running!  My first question is how long have you been writing?

David:      First off- thank you so much for doing this interview. As you know, exposure means everything when you are hoping to be read. But to your question (yes, I’m easily distracted) …it’s hard to define an exact time. I’ve often said I started writing fanfic of Dick and Jane stories, but I’m not sure if those stories are still part of the 1st grade curriculum. Younger readers may not be familiar, so I may have to update that! When I worked at a 9-5 job (actually more of a 5 to 5), I still managed to get a few short stories published over the years. When my kids were grown, and after I left the aviation industry, my love of writing was brought to the forefront again. I found more time to carve, fish, hike and of course—read and write.

Majken:   I certainly understand that sometimes scheduling and the desire to write don’t always mesh well. But, jumping from the aviation industry to author is a big leap! Have you always wanted to be a writer?

David:     Yes! At various times of my life, I’ve wanted to be an astronaut-writer, a military-writer, a natural resources writer and even a short stint as a fireman-writer. I’ve always been an avid reader: books, sure, but even cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. I remember when I read my 1st cuss word! I’d sounded the “F-bomb” out on the tagged wall of a store (long before “Hooked on Phonics”). Seeing my Mom’s deer in the headlights look, I asked what the definition of said word might be. She suggested it might be something I should ask my Dad about. Words have power! Anyway, writers are like readers on literary steroids. Don’t you think? Writing feels like a natural progression to me.

Majken:  You are so right in that words have power! Do you write full-time now?

David:    Coming from an industry where a “full time” 40-hour work week was a pipe dream (or meant you’d taken vacation), I’d have to say no. I’m not one of the super organized and driven writers who do so. It’s not me. I write for the love of writing and whenever that wonderful mystical muse cracks the whip, I bow my head and obey.

Majken:   I get that. The muse is hypnotic sometimes. What do you do for a living and/or fun when you aren’t writing?

David:     I was offered a chance at early retirement and grabbed it. I highly recommend it to everyone! On the fun end, I love reading, of course! I also enjoy winemaking and wood-carving. Kayaking is a passion, though I find a flat river with time to relax and enjoy the scenery draws me more now than Class III rapids. My bride enjoys these pursuits also (well not the actual wine-making…but she helps me empty the bottles). I have a wonderful family and most live nearby, although my baby daughter lives on he opposite coast with her family.

Majken:    Wow!  It definitely sounds like you are living your best life!  It’s wonderful that you are able to engage in so many creative and fulfilling activities.  Your books are fascinating, but certainly take a bit of a different direction from your hobbies, dealing mostly with the paranormal, more specifically witchcraft. What piqued your interest in this subject matter?

David:    Thank you, Majken (and back at ya). I write the sort of stories that I enjoy reading myself. I don’t know what the draw is to dark fiction and horror—perhaps it’s because when a person is afraid, that’s when they feel most alive? Blood racing through their veins. Fight or flight! Witchcraft is a means to that end. It’s something that’s an unknown to many and some see as a threat, whether to their lives or to their beliefs.

You might also notice that the theme of many of my stories is societal injustice, good people cast as pariahs due to being different. What better demonstrates that than the history of witches (and those cast as such) in supposedly civilized societies?

That said though, for me, it isn’t witchcraft per se, but rather a particular witch, specifically Moll Dyer! She was a colonial era personage in my neck of the woods. Her story is legend here and I grew up hearing stories about her around childhood campfires. It seems every local family has an oral tradition associated with Moll. It’s said that the Blair witch story is based on her life, but to take her colonial roots and community out of the equation seriously distorted the tale.

Moll Dyer- Norma Durkin

Media Credit: Original artwork of the Legend of Moll Dyer by Norma Durkin http://www.WitchcraftandWitches.com/witches_dyer.html

Although the various renditions of her story are intended as cautionary tales, as far back as my memory stretches, I can’t recall a time when I didn’t feel empathy for the tragedy. I’ve long felt it was time to cast her in a different light. I hope Moll is pleased with my tales.

Sister Witch- Amazon

Majken:  I love how committed you are to give voice to those who faced social injustice and I am sure she is pleased with your telling of her tale! But, I can’t help but think it could feel a little eerie and creepy to write these stories…  Describe your writing space. Do you have an office? Do you use a desk? Do you feel safe from any wandering apparitions who may be reading over your shoulder?

David:  HaHa. Well, I do indeed have a desk. It’s in my “man cave” and is mostly covered with Native American artifacts and books. I do most of my writing on a reclining sofa facing our log home’s façade—a wall of windows overlooking a 100-acre Old Order Mennonite field. As I type, I often glance up to watch the horse drawn plows and hay rakes or see a family going down the road in a horse drawn buggy. It’s easy to place myself back in time (or in a future dystopian time).

Majken:   Wow!  That sounds magical! I think I would find it hard to do much else but stare out at the view.  But, obviously, you don’t have this problem, as you have written several novels.  Describe what a typical writing session looks like for you. Do you write more during the day, or at night? Do you write every day?  Do you set aside a specific time to write, or do you write when you feel the urge?

David:    I have no set schedule, but do find that I write mostly in the early morning hours before the world wakes up and the necessities of life pull me away. Late evening works for me also, although I find more typos and grammar snafus after a late-night session.

Majken:    I can certainly relate to that!  I tend to write at night, when everyone is in bed and the house is quiet, but sometimes I find the craziest mistakes when I have been writing late into the evening and my brain is tired. So, what are you planning for your next project? Are you currently working on a new novel? If so, what’s the timeline before release looking like?

David:    I’m currently working on an anthology of short stories that are focused on the different holiday periods. I’ve recently released the third book in the Dyer series with Solstice Publishing: “Sons and Brothers.” “Haunted Southern Maryland” is due to be released in September from the History Press.

Majken:   Wow!  That sounds great!  I am looking forward to reading more. Thanks so much for allowing me to interview you!  I hope that those who haven’t read your books yet will become as intrigued as I was when I first got to know you and your work.  On that note, where can people learn more about you and your books?

David:    Below is a list of the carious places people can find out more about me and my books.

https://www.dthompsonwrites.com/

https://twitter.com/Thompson_DavidW

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorOfParanormal/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15425511.David_W_Thompson

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076KR626G

I’m also beginning a blog at: www.davidscampfire.com

Majken:    Thanks for taking the time to let me interview you, David!  I am looking forward to what comes next! Thank you for the opportunity and best to you and yours!

#DavidWThompson #MollDyer #Solsticepublish #SolsticePublishing #Leonardtown #Maryland #LegendofMollDyer #witch #witchhunt #socialinjustice #author #writing #publishing #SisterWitch #Amazon #winemaking #Kayaking #Mennonite #mancave

Greetings and Salutations…

Well…  What can I say?  It has been awhile…  a long while… But, I am back!

When I last posted, my audiobook had just come out courtesy of the hard work of the publisher I’m Hearing Stories and the incomparable voice talent of Ms. Jen Carmody.  If you haven’t given it a listen yet, I highly recommend it, if nothing else than just to hear how truly talented Ms. Carmody is! In fact, just in case you haven’t had a chance to locate the sample on Audible, I will post the link here!  Just click right under the picture of the cover where it says “Sample”, and you are good to go. You won’t be sorry!

https://www.audible.com/pd/A-Good-Kind-of-Crazy-Audiobook/B07Q39R8ZX

Other than than, I have been working hard on marketing of A Good Kind of Crazy.  I can say that the learning curve has been steep, but I have made some good progress.  I did a free three-day give away of the ebook version of the novel around Valentine’s Day and promoted it, which went fairly well.  I am pleased to announce that I am once again working with my publisher to try and arrange another free give away over the 4th of July to give people the opportunity to download the book and read it at the beach or beside the pool.

Reading at the beach- Pexels (2)

Picture Credit: RawPixel.com (From Pexels.com)

I have also been attempting to edit my next release, Western Skies. I say “attempting” because to be completely honest, it has not been going quite as smoothly as I would like.  I got it back from my fabulous editor just as school was ending for the year, and as any parent can tell you, it is almost as busy then as it is right before the holidays.  Let’s just say the renowned Holderness Family (The Christmas Jammies people) was not kidding when they released one of their most recent videos entitled, “Maycember”.  (If you haven’t check it out on YouTube yet, I highly recommend it, especially as a parent. I would post the link here, but as I am not entirely well-versed on the whole copyright-infringement-on-the-Internet thing, I will refrain.)  With four children of my own, the video could have been a documentary about my life from the beginning of May through to the last day of that month, and beyond.

I have also discovered, after working on the audiobook version of A Good Kind of Crazy, that the best way for me to edit is to read my writing out loud back to myself.  As I listened to the proofs for the audio version, I caught many small mistakes that both my editor and I missed during the three edits we did together.  There was nothing major, but hearing it read out loud allowed me to pick up on the mistakes that my brain had obviously glanced over while reading. So, reading aloud is the approach I am using while editing Western Skies, but it does make it more difficult to find the time to do it that way.  I have discovered that I read silently very quickly, but aloud is another story completely. It is also hard to read out loud with a bunch of people milling around, and since school is out…  You guessed it: There are a lot of people milling around my house right now.  And, since I am also dedicating a lot of time to the marketing and exposure of both my novel and my “branding”, the whole process is not going as fast as I would like it to.  (Or my publisher would like it to, I am sure!)

As I said, though, I have learned a lot about marketing, exposure and networking, albeit most of it while flying by the seat of my pants. I am breaking out of my comfort zone a bit more by trying to get more familiar with Twitter, and I have even learned to make memes, (much to my children’s amusement, since, as they LOVE to point out, I didn’t even know how to pronounce “meme” a few short years ago, pronouncing it instead like “mehm”. No…  Hooked on Phonics did not work for me…  because I didn’t use it, I guess…  But, I digress…) I am also my hand at video production and editing while attempting to design and execute a book trailer. But, most excitingly, I am tentatively scheduled to participate in a podcast interview on this Thursday, 6/20/2019, on the “Brian ‘The Hammer’ Jackson Show, which will at the very least be very interesting.

Exposure, or getting my name out there, is by far the most difficult part of this whole process for me.  I am not terribly pushy, and generally make a terrible sales person, so it isn’t easy to sort of “push” myself out into the world. But, exposure is what it takes to garner sales, so I am taking the bull by the horns. To assist me with this, I have been featured in an interview on a fellow author’s blog, and am planning on returning the favor, as well as hosting other fellow authors on my blog.  In fact, my next entry here will be an interview with my amazing fellow Solstice Publishing author named David W. Thompson who writes some really great stories!

I hope that everyone’s summer is going well and that you are finding time to enjoy reading!  I apologize for the disappearing act, but appreciate the support! Check back soon to read the fabulous interview I conducted with David W. Thompson!  Meanwhile, check out his book Sister Witch, and several others, available on Amazon.com.

 

#AGoodKindofCrazy #Advertising #SolsticePublishing #I’mHearingStories #JenCarmody #Audiobook #Amazon #Audible #BarnesandNoble #GoodReads #iTunes #MajkenSelinderNilsson #Marketing #DavidWThompson #SisterWitch #FamilyDyer #BrianTheHammerJacksonShow #Podcast #WesternSkies #TheHoldernessFamily #ChristmasJammies #Maycember

My Audiobook Is Out!

I have had the amazing opportunity to produce an audiobook of my debut novel, A Good Kind of Crazy, with a company called I’m Hearing Stories.

I'm Hearing StoriesThe publisher of the print and ebook versions of my book, Solstice Publishing, does not deal with audiobooks, so producing one had not even been on my radar. Therefore, when I was contacted by I’m Hearing Stories last summer, I was intrigued, but my hands were tied from doing anything until the release of print versions A Good Kind of Crazy on Amazon.com. Once that occurred in October, I soon spoke again to owner Kimberly Hobscheid, and decided to go for it. I obtained the audiobook rights from my publisher, and we were off.

The first stage of the process was finding a narrator.  Ms. Hobscheid was a little concerned initially that it would perhaps be difficult to find someone willing to voice the book, as at over five hundred pages, there is no denying it is long. With I’m Hearing Stories, narrators do the work based on royalties, so all narrators essentially volunteer their time and hope that it pays off with sales.  Thankfully, though, there were six people who auditioned to narrate, and it didn’t take long to make the choice of who was the best option for this particular book: A woman named Jen Carmody.

Ms. Carmody is wonderfully talented! She was able to give so much life to each character through a wide expanse of voices and accents.  She was also extremely quick and had recorded all seventeen hours that the five hundred plus pages the book translated into within a month.  Then, I needed to listen to the proofs and make any necessary changes. With the holidays and the typical busyness of a large family, coupled with wintertime illnesses, it sadly took almost again as long for me to be able to listen and approve everything.

Anyone who has followed along with me since the beginning of my journey will remember how long “traditional” publishing takes.  It took over a year for the publication of A Good Kind of Crazy from when I signed my contract to when the book was released on Amazon.com.  For the next book, Western Skies, we are also looking at about a year at this point. This is due in large part to the time it takes to go through several edits, among other necessary preparations, such as obtaining copyrights, cover design, etc.

But, for the audiobook, the work was started around the middle of November, 2018, and the finished product was just released on Audible.com and Amazon.com a week or so ago, the middle of April, 2019.  It was definitely a very different experience!

Mid low angle shot of positive woman who is spreading hands and

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had with I’m Hearing Stories to produce my debut novel into an audiobook, and for finding a gem of a narrator like Jen Carmody.  Believe me when I say that I know I have been very blessed on this journey and I take nothing for granted.

For anyone who may be interested, I have included the Audible link for the book on this post.  I also was recently interviewed in preparation for the release of my audiobook, and have included that link, as well.  Thank you, as always, for following along with me as I embark on this wild ride!

https://www.audible.com/pd/A-Good-Kind-of-Crazy-Audiobook/B07Q39R8ZX?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-146598&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_146598_rh_us

https://www.imhearingstories.com/blog/interview-with-an-author-majken-selinder-nilsson?fbclid=IwAR3gsX91NSCqcU7BCLNeQhW8Lgs3hh2DObLZcu2KakKe59L7yT82lQKm9OY

#AGoodKindofCrazy #ImHearingStories #Audiobook #DebutNovel #Amazon #DebutAuthor #Author #WritingCommunity #SolsticePublish #GoodReads #VoiceOver #Narration #LiveYourDreams

The Inevitable World of Reviews

**It has been an exciting time around here, with much going on! First off, let me apologize for my long absence from writing blog posts. This fall, my family got involved with helping a family who had fallen in hard times due to job loss and subsequent homelessness. As this is a situation close to our hearts, we felt compelled to help. What started out as just going to make a few phone calls morphed into so much more, including an amazing friendship for which we are extremely grateful. But, the time required wasn’t the most conducive for writing.**

So, moving on: the biggest news, of course, is that my first book, A Good Kind of Crazy was released by my publisher, Solstice Publishing, at the beginning of October. It was a surreal experience and one that I will never forget. After posting that my book was due to go live in the next few days, one of my good friends, who has been very supportive of my writing, called me from across the country at 10:30 at night to tell me that he found it on Amazon.com and had purchased a copy. All at once, I was oscillating between wanting to run around screaming and wanting to gather up all of the possible copies in the world and hug them tightly so that no one else could see them. It was a strange experience, creating something so personal for public consumption. While I logically knew that the whole world would potentially have access to it once the novel was published, the news left me feeling cold and exposed, because I was exposing a part of my inner workings; my soul.

Though very little in my own life has mimicked my main character Kat’s experiences in betrayal, there are definitely parts in this novel that encompass my reality. Though further along on her parenting journey than I am, I certainly admit to already struggling with what my place in this world is now that my children are growing up and becoming more self-sufficient, and therefore less in need of my constant engagement. I already dread the time when my youngest of four is in his last semester of high school and preparing to make his own way in this world. Even now, I also struggle with an all-too quiet house in the mornings, especially on Mondays, and will sometimes turn on the TV or radio just for some background noise. Even my 21- year marriage struggles at times, as we work together to combat the inevitable ups and downs of fatigue, boredom, differences of opinion, and even the discontent that sometimes comes from being with the same person, day in and day out, slogging through the not-so-great parts of family life. Most of the time, my life is pretty awesome; I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes, though, just like Kat, I wonder what the heck I’m doing here and where my life is going.

But, the book came out and thus far, the reception has been great! I’m so thrilled whenever someone tells me that they loved it! The most common compliment I have received by far has been, “I couldn’t put it down!” I recently spoke to a local book club which had read my book, and two women, who shared that they had gone through their own personal relationship upheavals, asked if I had experienced anything like Kat’s situation, as I had written it so accurately. That kind of feedback that is easy to love!

However, as with everything in this world, whenever there is a chance to review something, there will also be those who won’t like what I created. They may not like the story line, the characters, or simply the way I strung words together. It could be that, for example in a book club, it may not be someone’s genre of choice. And that’s okay, too. I’m keenly aware that women’s romantic escapism is not everyone’s cup of tea. But, while I hope my writing appeals to many, it doesn’t really bother me when it doesn’t. I recently had an epiphany that I feel this way because I wrote what I needed at the time.

When I wrote A Good Kind of Crazy, my life was in shambles. Our family was struggling with a job loss, a job that we had moved across the country for no less, and health issues, as well as all of the financial stressors that came along with both the burdens above. I wasn’t kidding when I explained in my dedication that I started to write to keep me out of the room with the rubber walls while wearing the coat with the many buckles. I was emotionally and physically drained; my life was at about the lowest point it had ever been. Of course I was grateful for my family and friends. I was happy that my husband didn’t up and join the circus, as Lord knows there were plenty of times he probably wanted to… Logically, I also knew that despite our hardships, we still were better off than many, many others. But, that gratitude was not enough to unburden my heart. I felt that my world was careening out of control and I was powerless to stop it. So, I did the only acceptable thing I could think of for a married mother of four in her forties: I began to write a story that allowed me to escape and immerse myself into a world that I could fully control. I fled to a place where characters were perhaps too good to be true, where people shirked their responsibilities- with little consequence- while engaging in self-care and discovery, and an ending that was happy for almost everyone (even James), all wrapped up in a perfect conclusion.

While I hope that the majority of my readers find my little piece of peace- my adult fairy tale- enjoyable, at the risk of sounding conceited, and perhaps even a bit rude, I really don’t care when some don’t. The truth is that I wrote this for me: what I needed to write (and what I would want to read), especially at that point in my existence. Life was hard enough: I had no desire (and still don’t, actually) to write a more realistic- or even dystopic- story, full of even more stress and/or misery than what I was already personally experiencing.

I realize now that writing a novel became a lifeline for me. When I first stood in the shower on cold January morning, I wondered if I even could do it. I recall thinking that I would be lucky to get twenty-five pages out of it. Then, once I got rolling, I speculated if I could finish it. Four months and five hundred and fifty-something pages later, I next wondered if I could get it published. (And write another, which I did.) Writing, then the subsequent act of trying to get published, became goals that only I could attain. Unlike everything else in my messy and chaotic life, this all fell only on me. This was a test of my will; I pushed myself to be better, to succeed, while everything else around me felt like it was mired in failure and despair.

So, if people love a little escapism, great! I am thrilled if they like it! If they don’t, that’s fine, too. But no matter what anyone else says, I know that I wrote a book (in four months!) and got it published. Then I wrote second one in four more months, then a third in a year, all while working on getting a publisher for the first and editing the second. Regardless of what anyone else says or thinks, I obtained my goals. I hope that people enjoy what I wrote, but nonetheless, I already know I was successful, even if a few reviews try to say otherwise.

Love really does come softly sometimes…

While I was writing my third book, I liked it. It didn’t always pour out of me like it had with the first two. There were lots of starts and stops this time with the editing of my second book, the trying to get the first one published, my surgery and recovery, getting a contract for my first manuscript, then making the necessary edits. There is one point in the book where one of the main characters returns after a long absence and I rewrote his return twice, in two different ways, because there had also been a long gap in my ability to continue the story for reasons above.

That has all changed with the edits. I am head-over-heels for this storyline and these characters. With the edits it is just flowing seamlessly together and I am thrilled. I can’t wait for the (hopefully) opportunity to share these people with you all.

I have decided that I am actually going to try and get my third book published before my second for a myriad of reasons that I won’t go into right now. But I think people will be pleased. I hope you will all love it as I do!

Two Years!

It dawned on me that it has been two years since I started this writing adventure.  I don’t know which exact date I started writing in January, 2015, but I do know it was in the middle of the month.  I wish I would have been smart enough to write down the date somewhere; it feels as though I maybe should have somehow magically known it was the day that would change my life forever.

It all began one morning while I was in the shower.  I was struck by an idea for the storyline, and before I was done shampooing my hair, I had the first page written in my mind.  Grabbing an old laptop, with several keys missing, I figured I would just write it out until I couldn’t anymore.

I recall thinking about seventy-five pages in that I was going to soon run out of ideas, but then was later amazed at all that came pouring out of my brain and onto the screen. Over and over again, the twists and turns in the story played out for me like I was watching a movie and it was my job to describe it to others.  The characters, their experiences, even the plot, told their own stories without much conscious effort on my part.  Quite frankly, I am still amazed…  I had no idea that I had all of this in me.  I certainly didn’t ever fathom that I had three books, each over 500 pages, lurking in the recesses of my mind, and ten years ago, if someone would have told me I would be writing books as stress relief, I would have laughed in their face.

Now, two years later, my first book is back with my amazing editor for the second round of edits.  Hopefully, it is not much longer until she is finished, then I make changes, and I will hopefully then have a concrete release date.  Despite my impatient nature, I realize how blessed I am that this process has gone so quickly, at least in terms of the publishing world.  There are stories of people trying for five, six, or even ten years, with several re-writes, to be published.  I am so grateful that my publisher took a chance on me.

I am getting a bit nervous about publicity, though.  The publisher does help with some publicity, but I am ultimately responsible for how little or much I want to market my book.  I am hoping that I will get a lot of sales just based on word of mouth, but know that with the thousands of books published every year, not counting those which are self-published, the likelihood of that happening is slim.  While I hope that my friends and family enjoy my manuscript, it is expecting a lot of them to single-handedly drive my sales.  Many authors have expressed how their book does really well at first with sales from those they know, but then sales dry up after that initial rush.  I am researching how to maintain the momentum once my musings have saturated the market of those I know.  Luckily, I know some amazing ladies who do PR and they have been wonderful about giving me pointers and ideas.

It is a lot to take in, though:  Press releases, social media blitz, signings, etc.  I have never been very good at selling anything to anyone, so all I can do is my best “pitch” and then pray that I have something that interests people enough that they want to experience it for themselves.  I have one dear friend who has made it a point to talk to all the book store managers around town about me and is asking them to allow for me to do signings.  With her exuberance, I feel like I have a PR person, of sorts, who is singing my praises, and I am grateful for her devotion.  I discovered quite by accident at a children’s festival, when a booth I was at was next to our county library system’s, that our local library also has signings for local authors about which I am very excited.

I have heard that on average, a book takes about ten months from acceptance to being released and that timeline is seemingly holding true in my case.  I am ready for it to come out so that I can move on to the next stage, because it has now been long enough from when I signed my contract that it sometimes feels like it was all just a dream.  But, as it is such a long novel, and editing is a very time-consuming prospect, though I am impatient for the next step, I am appreciative for the care and due diligence my editor has shown by making what I wrote even better.

A lot of people keep asking me if I have a release date yet, but all I can say is that these things take a while, and even with as anxious as I am, I am realizing I need to listen to my own answer: I just have to give it time.  Meanwhile, I am almost finished with my third book.  I know I have been saying that for a long time, but I am procrastinating with it because, quite frankly, I don’t want it to end; I have fallen in love with these characters as much as I did with those in my last books.  But, as I have the story line for my fourth book already knocking loudly around in my head, I need to get over my disappointment in order to start on the next one.

I plan to go in a different direction and make this next novel more for young adults. When I recently discussed the plot line with someone, he stated that he never thought I would write sci fi.  Not a big fan of that genre, I hadn’t considered that my story, in essence, will be considered to be that.  (And I am still somewhat unwilling to accept it, as well!)  All I know is that I want to branch out to tell a different story this next time to keep things interesting and fresh. Maybe it will work, or maybe it will fail miserably, but I won’t know unless I try.

So, at this point, the long and the short of it is that I still don’t know when my first book is due to be released.  I am also thinking that I may actually seek a publisher for my third book before my second, just because the third book is very loosely related to the first novel, though it is not a sequel.  But, either way, I am looking forward to hopefully finding either a literary agent or a publisher for everything I have written so far eventually.  So, to anyone who wants to read my first novel and has been asking, I beg you to please be patient and not give up on me.  It is coming soon and there will hopefully be more to come!

Dying here….

A few weeks ago, I was notified by my publisher that my book had been assigned to an editor.  This was also the week my cover was chosen and things felt like they were moving along, so needless to say, I got excited!

I am still excited!  I see how well the other authors with my publisher have done lately, winning awards, getting asked to be on radio shows, getting great numbers on Amazon, and I am so happy for them.  But, I am biting at the bit to get my book out there into the market, too, when I read about all of these happenings, and publishing is just not a fast process.  So, right now, while I want to see if people like my story, if it will go anywhere, it is still sitting in a sort of literary purgatory, awaiting its chance to ascend to greatness or…  well… we won’t go there!  Have I mentioned that patience has never been a virtue of mine?

As the weeks drag out from when my editor was assigned to this point, I have had a lot of time to worry.  I keep telling myself I am surely not the editor’s only author and my book is L-O-N-G.  But, then I wake up in a sweat,  stewing and fretting that perhaps the editor is taking my 500+ page book and whittling it down to 100.  It is like my book is undergoing plastic surgery and I have to wait weeks to see if it is even recognizable when it is finished.  It is really hard to hand it over to someone else, even when that someone is a professional, and trust that it will come out alright; the way I intended!

Now, I have personally done some editing before, though nothing that would be considered terribly exciting to the general public, I suspect.  However, I did learn some very interesting things about organic chemistry and also that apparently, in Polish, there are no articles before words, so I had to type quite a few “a’s” “the’s” and “an’s” in my time. Anyway, I digressed, but the point is that I know the process can take a long time, especially if there is a lot of content.  But, proposals and reports by PhD chemists are not novels, and truthfully, I couldn’t have changed the content in those even if I had wanted to, because, while interesting, a lot of the actual science could have been in Greek for all I understood.  So, while I know that these things take time to do correctly, I am trying to talk myself down and convince myself that the editor has only the best intentions for my baby, but sometimes, irrationality overtakes me and I start to hyperventilate.

But, I still get a thrill by the whole thing when I actually calm down enough to realize that I am one of only 400 authors on whom my publisher has deemed worthy enough to take a chance!  Out of all the submissions they receive, I am one of the 400 they chose!

I know pride is not an attractive attribute, but man, I have to say, those odds make me feel pretty good about what I accomplished!  And, while the initial exuberance from when I first got the news has dwindled a bit as time has lapsed, I have to say, there will still be times when I am driving down the street and remember that I have a novel in production and I do a little happy dance.  Sometimes drivers look at me like I am crazy, and in that moment, it is really hard to not be “That Person” who rolls down their window and signals the other driver to do the same, only to yell into ther car, “Hey!  I just got a book chosen for publication! (or I am getting married!  I got a raise! I have some Grey Poupon! Etc., etc.)”

So, I admit I am getting anxious.  I have waited patiently for several weeks, but I am near the end of my fortitude here.  It is like when you pulled an all-nighter in college to write a paper and you are awaiting the professor’s triumphant march into class with the millions of plastic report covers, so you can see if it was really worth it, mixed with knowing you have to get a root canal: the hope for a favorable end result, while anticipating at least some pain, is the hardest part!

I know it will be worth it in the end.  I know that everyone involved has out collective best interest at heart so that (hopefully) my novel will be profitable.  But, the waiting is killing me!  I am dying here….

Exciting Stuff!

Today, I got an exciting email from my publisher.  The cover of my book has been finalized and I now have been assigned an editor.  I have done everything I can on my end until the editor is finished, then I will make the suggested changes and so it shall go back and forth between me and the editor up to three times before it gets sent to proofreading.

The editor-in-chief wrote that now, depending on how fast the editing goes and how many changes need to be made, we are looking at between 3-6 months before launch.  I have 30 days to make the first round of edits per the contract, and then I guess we will see how it goes.

One of the most exciting parts of the news is that it has already been changed to book format.  I am so excited to see what that looks like!  I played around with it while I was writing and editing it myself and I was shocked to see how much longer it was when it was not just on regular 8.5 x 11 paper.

I am a bit nervous to see what edits will need to be made.  I have re-read my story over and over, tweaking it and making changes, so I am obviously very attached to my manuscript and like it the way it is.  I love my characters and feel like they are friends; however, I also realize that I am looking at it through my eyes and I know what I was trying to convey, but there may be things that need to be cleaned up or reworded to make it flow differently to be better understood.

There is something surreal to see a proof of the cover of my own book.  It still hasn’t sunk in all the way that it really is all me who did this.  It is crazy that something I did for fun; stress relief that allowed me to escape my reality, something to do to while I sit hooked up to machines to help me breathe better and to keep my fingers nimble and moving when they are stiff and swollen.  I did this!  I wrote for fun, sent my queries in to publishers just to see if anyone liked it.  It is bizarre that it has translated to this:  IT IS MY NAME ON THE COVER OF A BOOK!  (You can’t see it, but rest assured, I am doing a little happy dance!)

I don’t think that I am supposed to show anyone what the cover looks like until the launch, so everyone will have to wait.  But, I will say I think the cover accurately conveys the storyline.  It had to be 400+ pages condensed in one image.  That’s a lot of pressure to pick the right one.

I had to choose 5 potential covers.  The publisher then had final pick and they added the title and my name.  I am relieved that they agreed the picture represented the story as much as I did, as they are the experts.

For some reason, seeing the cover made it feel so much more real! This is really happening!