It’s fall!!! Well, kind of. My husband’s birthday is this weekend and he likes to remind me that technically his birthday is still in summer. But, it’s almost fall and it feels like fall – that counts, right? The leaves in Minnesota are starting to change, there’s pumpkin spice favoring everywhere you turn, kids are back in school, the stores are out of chili beans, and the temperatures are dropping.
One of my absolute favorite parts about fall is taking outdoor walks. I do this year-round, but let’s be honest, fall is definitely the most optimal time of the year. No need to wear extra bundles of clothing and worry about your face freezing off, or shed clothes like crazy and have sweat pour down your back.
I started walking outside during the pandemic as a way to escape the four walls of my house and keep my mental health in check. It’s since grown into one of my favorite pastimes. I queue up an audio book, grab the dog, and take a walk during my lunch. Sometimes my husband joins me and it has become a way for us to have meaningful, adult conversations without tiny voices interrupting us. I also find that this time has been a great source of inspiration to me as a writer. Very frequently an idea will come to me during my walk that requires me to stop and make a note in my phone.
Unfortunately, my “day job” company recently decided to adjust our hybrid work policy in a way that now requires us return to the office more often than not. This means that I need to say goodbye to my lunchtime walks. Side note – My office is not located in a place that is conducive to outdoor walking.
I find myself now mourning my midday outdoor walks and the everyday inspiration they’d bring me as a writer. I’m now leaning heavily on the other places that bring me inspiration. They are as follows:
1. The shower. It’s weird, but it works.
2. The car. Not so great for taking notes, but usually pretty effective for generating ideas.
3. Vacations. Doesn’t happen as often as I wish they would, but usually great writing time for me.
What are you favorite places and/or activities to spark creative thinking?
While I’m grateful to this community for allowing me to talk about my work as a children’s book author over the last few months, the real reason I’m here is because I’m also an aspiring romance writer!!
Yes, I’m fully aware that children’s literature and romance are two entirely different genres. In fact, I can’t really think of two genres that could be any further apart from each other.
While my foray into children’s literature came rather easily, my journey with writing romance has been a different story (pun absolutely intended).
Romance is definitely my favorite genre to read. I love me a good HEA with swoon-worthy heroes and relatable heroines. I love the recipe of romance, the build-up, the steamy moments, and the heart-bursting grand gestures.
For me, writing romance all started with a cabin getaway on a beautiful lake in Minnesota. In the midst of consuming my second romance novel of the trip, a dangerous thought crossed my mind…could I write romance?
Side note- Describing the process of giving myself a writing challenge in the middle of Halloween season is giving me total Mary Shelley vibes. #goals
I am now in the process of finishing the first draft of my very first romance novel. The best part is that since I’ve started, several voices and characters have emerged and I find myself plotting the outlines for at least three additional stories.
It’s been challenging and draining (peep my post last month), but holy macaroni, it’s so fun!
I can’t wait to share more about it soon.
I love the word default. It is so definitive. It is authoritative when you’re on the right side of it; terrifying if you’re on the wrong side. Default on your loan. Default the game. You have failed to live up to your promise. Over! Done! Fini— unless you do something to change the situation PDQ and get back on track.
Then came computers and the word default got a makeover. It’s softer. Helpful. Kind. The word became synonymous with a do-over. Default is now your safety net. Screwed up your settings? Default. Go back to the beginning. Get a do-over. It’s okay. We got your back.
Well, don’t get too comfy with that default button, especially when you’re writing. I have a new book that I let lie fallow for two Covid-years because I took a creative hike, turning to manual hobbies like sewing and quilting, crafting and cooking. Now I’m back and making a sprint to complete the last 25%. I’m jazzed because it’s almost done. I proudly sent the first three quarters of the manuscript to my editor fully expecting the green light to cross the literary finish-line.
Sadly — and thankfully —her input was the exact opposite. I had dialed in my characters. I had been lazy with my red herrings. I had defaulted in the bad way, and not lived up to my promise to deliver my best work to my readers. On the other hand, she was offering me the chance to default in the kind way: reset, rethink, and rework. It was up to me to decide if I wanted to skate, shrug my shoulders, and publish a book that was ‘just okay’, or go back and make this the best book it can be.
I decided to go with option two. Reset. Rethink. Rework. That’s what author’s do. Thankfully, I have a great editor who is clear that how I define the word default — and how I respond to that definition— is up to me.
Happy February. Happy Love Month. Happy Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day.
Let’s get to it. Last month I made a bold post and shared some of my goals with you. I did this because I felt the accountability would help me achieve them.
Here are my goals:
Get my letters
Triple my income
Triple my mailing list
Master Facebook ads
Learn how to write a sellable blurb
Use Ingram Spark
Increase my prices
As of this post, I’ve completed one goal…Increase my prices. I was a little nervous about raising my prices because I didn’t think readers would be receptive to the increase on the smaller books. So far, there hasn’t been any negative feedback. Raising my prices also helps with tripling my income.
My strategy for tripling my income, is Facebook ads. Last year, I took Skye Warren’s Facebook Ads Intensive and did well. I still haven’t reached the sales goal I desire, but that will come in time. 2020 wasn’t a good sales year for me. I can’t blame the poor sales on the pandemic because I didn’t release anything new. Nor did I push my back list.
Last year, I released one book prior to doing the Ads Intensive. I really wish I’d known about the Intensive sooner, because I think the first half of the year would have turned out differently. I ended last year by multiplying my income by 4.8 times.
Fast forward to 2022 and a price increase across the board…I made all of my ebooks $4.99. This bold move helped to boost my income by 39% as of this post. Meaning I already made February 2021s income. Grant it, I had a release on February 2nd with the majority of the preorders paid out on that day.
In addition to Facebook Ads, I’m also doing BookBub ads. I turned off my AMS ad because they weren’t working. I heard Amazon doesn’t like racy covers, which could explain why the ads performed so poorly. However, the FB ads, have been consistently making the daily spend back…plus or minus two dollars. So far, I’m ahead and considering increasing my ad spend. I have a BookBub New Release For Less ad scheduled for February 8th. The tails will determine when I increase my FB ad spend.
To summarize, increasing my prices and running facebook ads are pushing me towards my goal of tripling my income.
Update my covers. I don’t have as many to update as I thought. I have seven covers I need to update and two are almost complete. I also have four I’m on the fence about. This project is time consuming because it’s not just the cover, but the chapter headers as well. Thank God for Vellum because it makes creating print copies easy.
I need to add one additional goal. Offer all books in large print. I have one live already, The Good Girl Part One. If you haven’t done large print, I recommend doing so.
The other goal I forgot to list was my new release goals. I went super bold and set up preorders for three books this year. Setting up Amazon preorders was a way to make sure I fulfilled this goal. I don’t want to end up in preorder jail, so I have to keep this goal. I am so grateful Amazon offers an extension without penalty which I am taking advantage of.
One goal down, ten to go. How are you doing with your goals?
This week I had lunch with two of my oldest writing buddies – the ever fabulous Mindy Neff and equally fabulous Sandy Chvostal. I met them soon after publishing my first book. Over the years I have truly come to treasure my book friends. In fact, I think the world should be run by book friends and here is why:
1) Book friends are inclusive. I have never been asked how old I am, what my heritage is, what my political party is, what my religion is. What I have been asked is,’what have you read/written lately?’ Instant friends!
2) Book friends are creative. We share not only a love of reading, but a love of creating. I’ve met sewers, quilter, carpenters, crafters, and chefs. I wonder if we love creating things because we need to move around after spending so much time reading, or do we read because we’re exhausted from our hobbies?
3) Book friends are endlessly curious. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t read, or review, ask questions about what they’ve read, or waxed poetic about it. I love being asked, “have you read (fill in the blank)” because I know the conversation is going to be interesting.
4) Book friends are generous. Time with a book is time we treasure, but reader friends will put down their book to come to another friend’s aid. Period. No questions asked.
5) Book friends are open. All of us have preferred genres, but we like to try something new. I’m a thriller lover yet there are historical fiction books I’ll never forget, nonfiction works I love, even action/adventure novels that have kept me up late into the night.
So it was no surprise that when I received an invitation from a group of authors to join their Facebook reader’s group, My Book Friends, I did. The authors are fun, smart, and generous. They primarily write women’s fiction and romance, but welcome my gritty thrillers. The members of My Book Friends are creative, curious, and inclusive.
The bottom line is this: no one can have too many books or too many book friends. That’s something we can all count on.
You’re Invited June 16, 4-5PM Pacific: Cocktails, Cops & Conversation . Help me celebrate my birthday and Detective Finn O’Brien’s fourth birthday as we talk about my latest release INTIMATE RELATIONS.
Join My Book Friends.
Read INTIMATE RELATIONS FREE at KindleUnlimited; 99¢ to buy
(Click on the cover for more information. Hover over the cover for buy links.)
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