Monday, April 17, 2017

Me, Myself & I

My favorite day of the week is Monday. The kids go back to school, the husband goes back to work, and I get the house to myself.

It’s not that I don’t love them to pieces. I do. And I love having them home and doing things with them and spending time with them. But I need my alone time, and after a weekend where my routine changes significantly, I need Monday to regroup.

Today is the first time I’ve had the house to myself in 13 days. Thirteen! First, the Princess was home recovering from having her wisdom teeth removed. Then we were all preparing for and participating in Passover seders. Then Banana Girl and I went college shopping.

And now everyone has gone back to their regularly scheduled activities, leaving me home alone in silence.

It’s not that I don’t like people, but if I don’t get a certain amount of alone time, I start to go a little crazy (or crazier than usual). So I will take advantage of the next six hours to do whatever I need to get done. I’ll clean, getting everything just right until everyone comes home and messes it all back up again. I’ll do the piles of laundry that have been sitting waiting for me (my husband did all of the other laundry, so I’m not complaining at all). I’ll edit, since I’m on deadline again. I’ll probably talk to myself (I tend to do that a lot), but no one will be around to hear me, wonder if I’m talking to them, wonder why I’m talking to myself when they’re around, or complain. And all the while I’ll get my head into gear so that when everyone comes home six hours from now I can be the sane, rational person they’re hoping I’ll be.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Passover!

I might have taught my kids my fear of bugs. I’ve tried hard not to, but even I’m starting to believe in my lack of success.

While at dinner with friends Friday night, I texted my girls to find out why they were still home—they were supposed to be going out to dinner with my parents, but my stalker app said they were at our house. The Princess texted that they had a “bit of an issue in regard to a very large spider.”

I started to laugh.

She told me it was dead and flushed.

I told her I was proud of her.

She then informed me my dad came over and killed it.

He came over to my house, killed the spider, went back to his own house and waited for my girls to follow him so they could go to dinner.

I will be the first to admit I’ve called my father over to my house to kill a bug. As an adult. In fact, about three years ago. Usually because my husband refuses to leave work to do it, and my dad is retired. So the fact he came over to do this doesn’t surprise me nearly as much as it should. Even he admits it was big.

The part that does surprise me is the killing part.

When I called him to come over, it was to kill a cicada. It was on the window on the INSIDE of my house. As in, sharing space with me. I cried. He came over.

But he didn’t kill it. He placed it back outside and let it go back on its merry way, meaning if it managed to find its way inside the first time, it was now free to do so again.

He let it live.

A cicada is also known as a locust, as in one of the ten plagues of Egypt THAT CONVINCED THE PHAROAH TO LET THE HEBREWS LEAVE EGYPT!!!! Their presence was enough to get rid of an entire labor force.

But he let it live. It can now breed other locusts able to make their way into my house.

So as you’re sitting around your Passover seder this year, think about that.

And if you need bugs killed, call my dad. Unless it’s a cicada.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Princess Bride

I bought my husband a Fitbit watch for his birthday. He had the Zip that he used for a long time, but he’d forget it at home often and I thought it was time for him to have something attached to him. The Blaze has more features, and he’s started to set goals and make sure to walk hourly, so he’s healthier, which is an added bonus.

My bonus is that I have his old one. It’s a pain in the neck to remember to stick it in my pocket every day, especially since most of my clothes don’t actually have pockets, but I’m trying. The first time I used it, I dropped it on the beach and had to go racing back to find it. I’m at the point where I’m trying to balance remembering it and not getting obsessive about it.

I might be failing.

This weekend, I decided to challenge my husband. He walks way more than I do. There was no chance I would win. Not legitimately, anyway. But with only a few hours before the time limit, I was almost close enough to beat him. Then he pulled ahead. With an hour left to go, we went to sleep. Well, he did. I lay there, waiting for his breathing to even out and for him to fall deep enough asleep for me to be able to sneak out of bed and go downstairs, walking around in circles until I nudged ahead. I was almost foiled by the Fitbit not syncing, but I made it.

I was sneaky and underhanded. He wasn’t pleased when he woke up to find out I’d won in such a manner. I’ll never be able to pull it off again.

But it might make up for him making me think I could beat him at ping pong, only to pause halfway through and inform me, “I am not left-handed.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

Coming Out Of My Shell

I’ve spent the past two weeks in my editing cave. Other than an hour or two in the morning where I get chores done and at night when I’m too bleary-eyed to see straight, I’ve spent the rest of the day going through one manuscript with a fine-tooth comb—responding to edits from my editor, fixing issues and identifying mistakes I missed the first bajillion times I read it. When I finally finished working on those edits, I moved onto the second manuscript I’m contracted for, fixing those same mistakes before my editor takes a crack at it. You know, to prove I can learn from my mistakes.  J
I’m still editing, but I’m also working on my marketing timetable. I’m trying to figure out when, where and how to publicize my upcoming releases. It’s a little tricky for several reasons. The first and biggest one? I’m an introvert. I HATE talking about myself. I spend all day with myself. The last thing I want to do is talk about me. And trying to figure out where and how to interject my news into a conversation is uncomfortable. Luckily, social media provides me a passive/aggressive way to make my announcements. I can post the info and just leave it there for people to stumble across. In person it’s a little more awkward. I can’t talk about it until a contract is actually signed—both by me and the publisher. Sometimes, friends will ask me what’s new and if I don’t have that contract in my hands, I have to say, “Nothing.” Occasionally, the timing is such that they ask the question, I respond as above, only to get home and find the signed contract in my inbox. Oops (sorry, Julie). My family is pretty good about letting everyone they’ve ever met know about my books, and so I rely on them.
The second reason publicizing is tricky is because I don’t have a release date yet and people have short memories. If I talk too much about it now, by the time the books come out, people will be sick of hearing about it. If I don’t mention it at all, then I miss out on opportunities to nudge people.
And the last reason it’s tricky is because publicity is fickle. What works once might not work again. At one time, blogs were the way to do it. Now, people read them less—of course, YOU read MY blog all the time. J Facebook parties worked at one time; now, not so much. Sometimes advertising works, other times it falls flat. My writer friends and I have discussed various methods, and we all agree that other than reviews (which readers seem loathe to give), it’s like tossing a coin.
So, as I exit the editing cave, I’ll be working on my marketing plan and timing. Hopefully, I’ll get it right. If you hear too much from me, I apologize. If you don’t hear from me enough, my bad. And if you think I should have told you something, please don’t be offended. It wasn’t intentional!*

*If you have suggestions for publicity, feel free to let me know!
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Nevertheless, She Persisted

Nope, not talking about politics…this time. This time, I’m talking about writing. The best advice anyone will give you is to keep writing. Finished a manuscript? Keep writing. Submitted a manuscript? Keep writing. Ready to give up? Keep writing.

I did that, for months and months and months.

And today, I received my second contract with my publisher for another book. Also a romance, but not part of my series.

My younger daughter refers to it as the “lawnmower book,” because she was reading over my shoulder and happened to see that word. I suppose I should be very grateful that out of all the words in a romance she could have seen, that’s the one her eye picked out. J It has an actual title, though, or at least a working one--In the Moment. Not sure I love it, but the marketing department might change it anyway, so I’m not stressing.

As with the first book they accepted, I now have forms to fill out and will soon have edits to begin. That part does stress me out a little, since I’m still editing the first one, but this is way better than doing nothing.

Oh right, I wasn’t doing nothing. While I was waiting for an editor to bite, I was writing. I have four other manuscripts in the pipeline now. Three of them need editing before I can submit them, but I’ll be putting that on hold while I deal with more immediate needs.

Having them waiting for me, though, is good. It means I’m ready if someone wants them, because I never want to be without something if an editor or agent asks me what I’ve been working on.

So if you need me, I’ll be editing. And writing. And preparing my marketing plan. If I look a little bleary-eyed, you’ll know why.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Parties

In the past few weeks, I’ve participated in two “parties” where I was able to showcase my books. Both parties required some creativity on my part in order to figure out exactly how to publicize my book as a part of the greater whole, fit with the theme and help things run smoothly.

To start, I joined my friend, Lyn, at an open house. She sells makeup and she was getting a number of people together to feature their products—there were people selling jewelry, food, handbags

She set me up in her living room, since that’s where people read. The food people were in the kitchen, the jewelry people and her makeup display scattered in other rooms. I created some social media invitations and we were all to invite our local friends. Because much of this publicity was through Facebook, none of us were certain who, if anyone, would show up. I had never done something like this before, so I had no idea if anyone would be interested in looking at my books.

But you know what? People came and loved the open-house style of the party. I met lots of people I never would have come into contact with previously, and I sold more books at this party than I have at author-only events. It was a terrific experience!

The second party I participated in was a Facebook author party. These events occur on Facebook, and are usually to celebrate a book release. The author invites other authors to celebrate with her (or him), scheduling people at half-hour intervals throughout the time of the party. The hostess also appears throughout the party. Everyone offers giveaways and prizes, talks about their books, offers insights into their writing life and engages with potential readers. The idea is that each author is supposed to invite their friends/fans and that way, those fans get introduced to other authors as well, and authors can build their reader base.

These parties are iffy. Unless you have a really organized hostess and a very well-planned party that ties back to the hostess' books, I don’t believe they do a lot. This party I participated in was terrific, though. The hostess was extremely organized, the authors all wrote similar genres (which means our readers overlap) and it was very well done. I met new readers and authors, I gained exposure for my current books, and even got inquiries about upcoming ones.

Marketing always remains a challenge, and I’ll continue pursuing those outlets I find useful. And in the meantime, I’ll write the next book!