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The Former Cop Says: It’s All About Balance

July 29, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , ,
by Kathy Bennett
I was a Los Angeles Police Officer for twenty-one years.  From the title, you might think this article is going to talk about balancing on a roof while in a foot pursuit or running along a block wall.  No, that’s not what I’m talking about.  Let me give you a little background.
When I first hit the streets as a rookie officer, I can remember how every day seemed like a new adventure.  Each day held the promise of the unknown, what new things I’d be learning, what different experiences I’d be exposed to.  When my first set of scheduled days off came up, I was disappointed that I couldn’t go to work.  (Trust me – that effect wore off; but it took a while).  However I think every cop I’ve talked to had the same feeling.  The truth was, I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do my job…it was that much fun. 
I remember working about a month, as sick as a dog, so my favorite partner wouldn’t have to work with someone else.  I had a ‘sick bag’ I’d filled with boxes of Kleenex and throat lozenges so I could get through the graveyard shift.  I also remember, as a training officer, working until one in the afternoon and having to be back at work at six-thirty the same night.  I could have requested to take a few hours of compensatory time off for extra sleep and I’m sure my supervisors would have agreed, but I felt it was my duty to be there.  I needed to find balance. 
But after twenty-one years, it became necessary for me to retire – in part to take care of my mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, and to nurse a back injury I’d suffered on the job a year prior.  My retirement left me feeling anxious and remorseful that my dream of being a police officer was now over.
But I’d been fostering another dream for a number of years…more years than I care to say.  And that dream was to become a published author.  I’d tried for several years to actively acquire an agent and publisher.  About the time I was getting some interest, I started hearing about self-publishing and, for various reasons, opted to self-publish my book, a romantic suspense, A Dozen Deadly Roses.
After the release of my book, I was pleased to learn I seemed to be doing a little better than average with the sales of my book.  I started discovering Facebook pages of other self-published authors, book review websites, Kindleboards, Nookboards, Goodreads, Shelfari and on and on.  I learned that self-published authors spend a great deal of time promoting their books and trying to reach out to readers and have ‘meaningful relationships’ with those readers.
I joined groups, I read blogs, I commented on blogs, I joined blog hop tours, I gave away prizes.  I friended on Facebook, I followed on Twitter…I became exhausted, and a part of me felt insincere.  I discovered that I need balance.  It seemed like my butt was glued to my chair, but I wasn’t writing – I was busy promoting.
Then, I discovered I’d hit the Top 100 List on Barnes and Noble of Nookbook Police Stories.  A few days after that, I hit the Barnes and Noble Top 100 List of Nookbooks!  I’d like to tell you my place on those lists was directly related to all my self-promoting…but there were hundreds of other writers doing the same amount of promotion – if not more – and they weren’t on those lists.  I don’t know how I got on those lists.  I’m grateful I did, but I don’t feel it was related to my frenzy of self-promotion.
So what do I, a girl without balance, immediately do?  I promote more.  I reach out to book buyers who may have missed the fact I’m on those lists.  I make myself crazy.  So, I sit down to write this guest blog, and decide: enough is enough.  I’m jumping off the merry-go-round. 
Instead, I’m choosing to focus on finishing the revisions of my next book.  I’m going to develop REAL relationships with readers…as much as they will let me.  I have a good (and real) relationship with many of the people who visit my blog.  I hope my readers find me there, or on Facebook, or on Twitter or wherever else I’ve left my mark.    
Don’t get me wrong…I won’t stop my Facebook postings, or my tweets on Twitter, my comments on the Kindleboards, or the Nookboards.  I’ll still do guest blogs.  I’ll probably still give away prizes from time to time.  Those activities will be a part of my day, but I won’t let them consume me.  My efforts will be to make true connections with my readers. 
You see, for twenty-one years I was proud to say I was a Los Angeles Police Officer.  I did my job to the best of my ability with the hope of touching people’s lives for the better.  I want to to approach my career as a published author with the same amount of integrity and touch people’s lives for the better.  I learned as a cop it’s important to have balance.  Thankfully, I’ve learned early in my writing career, it’s just as important to have balance as an author as well.
You can find me at:
You can find my book, A Dozen Deadly Roses at:
Barnes and Noble:
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Red Letter Day

May 25, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , , ,

by Mona Karel (Monica Stoner)

Confession time–I’ve been entering my author name in the Amazon search bar for the last month or so, not expecting to see much, but ever hopeful. I did find out Mona Karel was killed in a spy adventure published a while back. That all changed this morning. I typed in Mona, then Kar, and whaddya know? Up pops Mona Karel, ready for me to click on and see my book available through Kindle since May 22. Now I’m not going to say this was the best day of my life. But it’s right up there with the day I first saw my husband.

Since Black Opal Books hadn’t planned for a release until May 25. My editor (pause for a sigh of pride!) said Amazon sometimes released early, sometimes late. But since it was out on Kindle, it could go out everywhere.

So – it looks like I’m outed, all over the place. Wow, I thought my cover looked good on the wall, it looks incredible in a virtual book store!

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What it’s all about – and yes, it can happen to all of us.

March 19, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

by Monica Stoner, Member at Large

We sit in front of our screens, our typewriters, our yellow pads, pouring thoughts and emotions out for the world to see with the hopes some day the world will see. Other than our critique partners, our supportive friends and a few anonymous contests judges, our words’ world is very small. We dream of the day we get the call, and as we keep typing, keep plotting, keep running scenes through our heads while going through grocery checkout, deep down inside we start to wonder. What’s it all about? Is it really worth the time investment?

Sure we need to give a home to our characters. One day. In the meantime there are so many demands on our energy, and to say “I can’t, I have to write” becomes weaker and weaker as the weeks, months, and years slide past. Until “I have to write” segues into “I’ll write later” and the span between writing times grows. We pull ourselves out of the pit from time to time, take a class or two, jot down some plot ideas, maybe enter a contest. Or maybe judge a contest, telling ourselves we’re “giving back” or “keeping our hand in.” We keep up our memberships, though sometimes we wonder if that money couldn’t be spent better elsewhere. Giving up our memberships and meetings might mean we are giving up on ourselves as writers.

Because we retain our memberships, nurturing that tiny spark of hope we hope will rise into a flame; because we still plot, still polish, still review, one day we participate in a pitch contest, and we’re asked to submit. Or we learn of a publisher “actively seeking manuscripts.” And we have just that – a manuscript ready to submit to a publisher for consideration. Maybe we’ve done this before with less than stellar results, until “we find your ideas interesting but your writing is not up to our standards” becomes worse than “it’s not you, it’s me, I need live more before I settle down.”

This time, though, this time it just might be different. And we send our polished, pressed, primped child off to the prom with an introduction but without us to stand behind them when they fall. We get the automatic acknowledgment of receipt with a promise to get back to us, and an advisory to ask if we haven’t heard within a span of from one to three months. One to three months, can we hold our breath that long?

Conditioned by past disappointments, we put thoughts of the submission out of our minds and go about our every day lives. Houses still need to be cleaned, snow shoveled or sidewalks swept and the laundry never ends. We tell ourselves not to hope, not to think about it, and wait for the rejection so we can at least apply for our PRO status. When the e-mail comes back in a long weekend, we sit with fingers poised on the keys, hand dropped over the mouse, take a deep breath, and click. Such a fast response can’t be anything good, can it? The message opens on the screen, and you read:

“I am pleased to tell you that I enjoyed your Into the Woods very much. I found only minor editing problems as I read, mainly punctuation errors, as well as your tendency to shift POV in mid scene, sometimes in mid paragraph. But these are easy fixes. For the most part, Into the Woods is very well written.”

She said WHAT??

“If you are interested in publishing Into the Woods with us, please let me know, and I will have our attorney prepare a contract for you.”

Does that REALLY say what we think we’re reading? Better print it out, just in case. Yep, the words are the same on the page as they are on the screen. Gulp. A Sally Field moment, for sure. “For the most part Into the Woods is very well written.” Yep, that’s what she said.

Oh. My. God. It really happened. Someone who doesn’t know you likes your writing and wants to introduce your people to the world. You are a writer. For years you’ve been telling yourself and others the sheer act of putting words on the page makes you a writer. And it does. But now you are a Writer.

Yes, it happened to me. I sent off “Into the Woods” to Black Opal Books on February 17, and had an answer on February 22. I just finished the first round of edits, they want to change the name, and I’m looking at cover art. While doing this for “Into the Woods,” I’m grooming another book to send, this time with fewer dashes and ellipses and without a ping ponging Point of View.

All the years of wishing and hoping and helping out the chapters and taking notes at workshops has paid off. Could I have done it without the fantastic support system set up by and for Romance writers? Maybe, but I doubt it. This one’s for you, OCC. Thank you to everyone who has supported, critiqued, pushed, nagged and given out tough love.

This one’s for Michelle, who gave me OCC’s address. Love ya babe.

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