I love a series!

As a reader those are my favorite because you get invested in these characters and want to learn how they evolve and what they’re up to even after the first book/conflict is resolved.

So I’ve started/written two series. One is a cozy mystery/paranormal and the second is a small-town women’s fiction series.

For series one, A Medium with a Heart series, the idea came to me because while I don’t have the types of powers that Joanna has in the book, I have had a few paranormal experiences. This was just the inspiration for writing this type of story, plus I thought it would be fun.

And, it has been! I’m working on book two (well sort of… procrastinating at the moment) right now. I’m excited about this one two and I have book 3 roughly outlined.

The hard part for this is writing “the rules” of how and why and when she sees the ghosts/spirits. And if she can just easily talk to the victims, why can’t they just say “So-so killed me”… Well they can’t because… and that’s the mystery of it and also the challenge in writing the books.

Then we have my Glenn Lake series. This is about strong women and their daily struggles with life. Each book will focus on one of the women and their story. This was inspired by my own life as well. All my life I was told that I came from strong women, especially when I was faced with a challenge in my life.

Two of my great-grandmothers had amazing stories of survival. The one left an abuse first husband back in the day when that was just not done. She had 4 children and worked hard to provide for them, but did get remarried a few years or so later.

The second suffered from severe depression and anxiety. She got to the point she couldn’t/wouldn’t leave her house. Then one day she made up her mind she wasn’t going to be a prison to herself, and each day made goal to get a little further out of her house. The first day she stepped out of the front door, the next one step onto the porch, the next stood at the top of the steps… and soon she was walking around the block.

I have more stories of the wonderful women in my family, and why I wanted to write this series. However, the women in my books have different stories to tell. Surviving childhood, surviving alcoholism, coming to terms with spending her life alone/without a partner, protecting her child from an abusive partner, learning late in life that she a lesbian, and so many more…. I can’t wait to write them all.

At current, I have no other series in the works but I do have a few standalone books that once I get a few of these series books out, I will go back to.

Do you love a series? Or do you prefer standalones?

Learning lessons

As I mentioned, I self-published my books. I felt it was the right move for me. While I would have appreciated having an agent and then publisher pick me up (so they could help with the heavy lifting of formatting and marketing), I have really enjoyed learning the process.

There are two big lessons I’ve learned/still learning.

The first is formatting the book for publishing. KDP makes if fairly easy and gives great instructions, but still my first try was a mess. With the second, I found templates for the paperback, and it went so much smoother and my book wasn’t in review for nearly as long and it looks cleaner.

The second is one I’m still learning about: Marketing. I’ve read, researched, and found several online groups of writers. I’m still not sure if I am doing enough or the right things. One book is doing fairly well. The other is about a week old so still too early to know. I have FaceBook ads and a few Amazon Ads, but at the moment I’m not on any other book platform, only Amazon as I signed up exclusive with them.

Is that a mistake? Probably but it seemed the easiest at the time and where I know most people get their books. I have to find out if at some point I can move from Amazon to other platforms like IngramSpark or D2D.

Still a lot to learn and a lot to do, but in the meantime, I will just keep writing away.

Self-published!

I have been on a break from blogging for quite some time as I focused on getting published. I now join the ranks of Indie Authors everywhere.

My first to be published is a Cozy Mystery/Paranormal: Premedicated Murder. It is book one in a series. I’m thrilled with how well it is doing. I’ve gotten great comments and feedback on. I’m now actively working on book two in this series.

My next to be published is my Women’s Fiction: Mandy’s Story: A Glenn Lake Series. It was released just this week. I have the second book in this series close to being ready and I can’t wait to hear how people take to this one.

I’m hoping to have both book twos out for each series soon. The Mystery in Late Aug/early Sept and Women’s Fiction out in October. If I have time, I might get out one more book in 2020, but we shall see.

Thanks for stopping by. I am not sure how much time I will dedicate to this site, but I hope to at least post updates when I get a new book out.

Motivation

I found it. I found what can motivate me to keep going. This article about “The Dip.”

I’ve been frustrated by Mandy’s Story because the edits are hard and I feel like I’m fighting with it more than fixing it.

So in the article it asks these questions:

  1. Do you care about this story?
  2. Are you in love with this character?
  3. Does that story arc actually matter to you?
  4. Does this scene make you feel a strong emotion?
  5. And for every distracted writer out thereā€”is that TV show/Twitter feed/game more important to you than finishing your most important writing project ever?

I do care about this story. It is more than just the story. It’s the start of a whole World, a place I created and dreamed up. There are people in this World that I need to share with others, places in Glenn Lake (the fictional town) that need to shown, explained.

I love Mandy and I feel her story needs to be told. She wants to tell it so that anyone who feels taken advantage of by someone they love (like a parent, spouse, friend) knows they can stand up to them and thrive. She does that. Stands up to her mother and then thrives without her.

The story matters to me. I’ve been in a controlling relationship and being able to stand up, move forward, and find yourself is so much a part of me. I need to figure out how to get that in my story.

The scene(s) I keep stuck on probably don’t matter as much as I’m making them out to be, but yes matter. I just need to prioritize how much they matter and move forward. This is why I keep getting stuck and falling in the dip because I’m trying to make each part too perfect rather than just regular perfect. Some of the smaller scenes really could stop and I don’t need to work them to death.

And, finally #5, except for my family, there is nothing more important than getting my story finished so I can publish. That is my goal and I need to stay focused on that fact.

So I found my motivation to get back to Mandy’s story, to finally just finish my edits already and get this thing out there for people to read.

Paranormal Experiences…

In February, on my Facebook page, I shared several experiences I have had in the past. One with each of my great-grandparents, two with cousins and one with a friend. I have had several more experiences though that I didn’t talk about.

When I was a child, I believed our house was haunted. Even when everyone was asleep, it was noisy with creatures moving through it. It had me creating my own story about the Monsters which years (and years) later had me yelling at the movie and creators of Monsters, Inc because it was nearly straight out of my head. Much like many of the Disney/Pixar movies were. Why? How?

Anyway, the way our house was designed, there was a door that led to what we called the hall. It was kind of foyer-like in that it was a room with doors around that led to 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. At night we closed that door which shut off the rest of the house from the bedrooms.

In my kid brain, we did it so the monsters could use the “common area” of the house, and they couldn’t access our part of the house, just as we couldn’t access their part of the house. It was their day when it was our night, and they did the same types of things we did. Go to work, school, etc…

Well also in the hall and across from my room was the attic access. There was a built in ladder on the wall and then the attic access was a plywood board that you pushed up and slid over to climb into the attic.

At night, it would lift up and these red eyes would look at me. They would laugh and then these creatures would climb out. These were not the “friendly” ones that I imagine lived in the other part of the house. These were evil and would climb down and then head to my brothers’ room.

I would hide under my teddy bear thinking they wouldn’t come in my room because they thought there was just a teddy bear in the bed, not a child.

I never told anyone about those creatures because they scared me so much and if I acknowledged them, they were real and might get me.

This meme always reminds me of that time.

Well several years ago, I was talking to my brother about our childhood house and how we thought it was haunted. Well he thought his current house was haunted too. He was telling me about some of the things going on. He goes on to say his oldest son had described to him a creature he saw in their house. I asked about it and got goosebumps as soon as he started to describe the exact ones I used to see as a child… the ones I never told anyone about!

Creepy, right?

Well a couple of weeks ago, my daughter and I were talking about paranormal stuff and I said how our previous house (that she lived in) was haunted. She agreed. I said there was a man that would come stand by my bed or try to scare me at night. He would lean down within inches from my face until I would wake up. When I would jump, he’d laugh.

She said was he big and wearing a trench coat?… Um, yeah, and had a large, round white face.

We both freaked out.

Thankfully we moved out of that house almost 5 years ago and no such trouble here. Thank goodness.

This is why I want to write paranormal. Why I have written about a medium (my experiences listed on FaceBook) and why I’ll be finishing me paranormal suspense at some point next year. I have just had too many experiences, not to share.

Writer’s Guilt

Is that a thing because I feel it almost daily? If I’m not working my day job, I feel like I should be writing, editing, querying or networking with other writers. And I don’t do any of these things as much as I should, mostly the writing/editing part.

To be fair, I have a busy life… don’t we all? Day job is busy. I have two chronic illnesses that seem to take up a lot of my life. Then I have a family and pets.

My daughter is living with us again with her 3 young sons (A 5 year old and 3 year old twins) so that takes up my time being Gigi and helping her.

However, I want to, need to be able to make this writing thing work. With my chronic illnesses I feel like I have a shorter time to work at day job. I don’t think I’ll make it to retirement age (another 20 years). I don’t know how much time I have left, but each day is a real struggle to get through and my body just gets weaker and sicker.

I recently got over a virus/cold/sinus infection that lasted over a month. Well the effects of being so sick like that cause me to flare up with my other illnesses. It causes fatigue, weakness and pain. Lots of pain. I nap almost each day that I’m not at day job (out of the house) but every “home” day, I have to lay down for some portion to rest. I hate it. It is frustrating but makes my writer’s guilt go into hyperdrive.

Why?

Because I need to help support my family and if I get sick like this, it could set me back to the point, I can’t work outside of the house. I feel like I’m just one cold away from that setback, but I don’t know… It could be several away. I could have 10 more years to work or 1 or a week. I have no idea. My body has let me down too many times and I hate it.

But I try to be positive. It doesn’t always work and I do complain and let myself fall apart, but then I try to remind myself “It could be worse.”

I try to focus on my goal which is to become a fulltime writer. I don’t need fame and fortune, just want to replace my current income and be able to work from home.

And no it isn’t all about money for me. I do love telling my stories. My spin on life. Sharing my outlook. I really hope this next year I’ll finally have some thing published and can start making money with it.

But until I then I’m sure my guilt will continue as I take time from my family to work or spend time with my family and not work. Or being sick and not doing day job or writing.

As always, thanks for the support!!

Damsel in distress…

One of my projects is a Small Town Women’s fiction series. The basic idea is that each book in the series highlights one woman’s story. The good, the bad, and the ugly of being a woman.

Women’s fiction is defined as a story in which the main character overcomes some obstacle like a divorce or abusive relationship, maybe cancer or job lose. And, also means, the woman saves herself.

I love this idea, but I don’t think it should only be the woman doing the saving. I don’t see anything wrong with a friend, family member or love interest giving her a hand, support, and a push forward.

We all get stuck and stop believing in ourselves at times. It doesn’t only take a village to raise a child, but sometimes to help us get through life.

In my first book, Mandy’s Story, she has pretty much raised herself from the age of 8 to the start of the story at 17. I realize this could be classified as Young Adult. However, I think the themes of the story are more adult in nature and to fit into the series, I feel it is Women’s fiction.

At 17, she is running her own business and raising her two siblings all while trying to live in the house with their abusive, alcoholic mother. One night things take a turn she didn’t expect and they find themselves free of their abuser. Mandy is both elated and anxious at the thought of being completely on her own. She lacks confidence her in herself.

As she tries to learn to live in the World without her mother, things take a turn when CPS steps in and takes her siblings from her. She works hard to do all the things required to get them back, but it seems hopeless.

Enter Jimmy. He is the father to her siblings, no relation to her. He helps gets the kids back and is there for Mandy, building her confidence, and helping her push herself to be a better Mandy.

It is something she has been all along, but just needed to have someone reach out a hand. She never thinks of herself as a damssel in distress even though others might. She works hard and takes care of herself as well as her brother and sister.

I still think this counts more as Women’s Fiction than any other genre, and how I plan to sell it.

Reading as a writer… part 2

I recently wrote about needing to read as a writer to understand market, audience and be able to recognize comparable titles/work. However, there is another problem I have found with being a writer that reads.

I don’t enjoy some of the books I find.

I don’t remember many books through my first 43-ish years that I didn’t enjoy. There might have one here and there, but overall, everything was quality and enjoyable.

So what’s the problem?

I think it is a number of things, but before I go into that, this is not meant as a slam on anyone. I know how difficult being a writer is. You put your heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears, and countless hours getting your “baby” to a point where you think it is ready to be shared. So kudos to all writers, published or not, I know what it takes. I get it. I’m there.

Recently I have read a few books that I struggled to finish, and actually one I just couldn’t. I got to about chapter 6 and that was as far as I could go. The writing was just poor and this book clearly wasn’t ready to be launched. I didn’t even know what it was about, even though I had read the book cover, it didn’t translate into the writing.

However, these books were published. Published. One by a small publisher and the other two self-pubbed. Both of the self-pubbed made note of editors, beta readers and critique partners.

If that is true, were they not good? Did they read it differently? Or… is it me?

Is it just because I am in the trenches too? I know the process and know what to look for. Is that why so many of the books I have read recently aren’t enjoyable? Meaning I’m reading it as a “critique partner” and fellow writer who is currently editing like a mad woman.

One book I read had a great story and was almost there, but I felt it could have used a little more smoothing and a bit more conflict. Some of the details were “too convenient.”

The first book (the one published by a small press) had a story line that I could follow but it wasn’t strong. Again poor writing, repetitive thoughts/themes and was boring.

And as mentioned above, I couldn’t even finished the 3rd one. All of the same things but without a solid story. I think I had read enough that I should have known what the point of everything was, but I didn’t.

As I prepare to self-publish, I don’t want to make these mistakes in my writing. I know that most are there currently, especially repeating thoughts. I’m actively editing and working out the bugs.

I’m sure people will still find my work awful, struggle with whether to leave a negative review while others won’t have a problem with leaving a bad review (possibly hurtful and not constructive). Okay, it’s part of being “out there.”

I think I’ll be launching my first around the end of this year/beginning of next, if all things go well over the next few months that is.

Good luck to all the writers out there. Don’t let people get you down, do the best you can and know that what I wrote above has more to do with me than you.

Write on!

Reading as a writer…

So a big piece of the writing process/getting published and that is being able to identify comparable titles and work to your own. It shows not only what style your writing is, but the audience it might appeal to. And further, shows you are well read and understand the market.

However, I have the hardest time with this part of the process. I have read, but not as much in recent years and when I do read, I stick to my favorite authors. I need to read more. I need to make that time to do this for not only my own advancement of “wannabe” career but because I truly enjoy reading.

As a kid, I read every book I could get my hands on, almost literally. My mom took us to the public library all the time, but more often during the summer. It was a great, free activity that kept us busy.

One summer, I got my picture in our small town newspaper for completing my reading list, possibly for reading the most books for my age group?? I honestly can’t remember exactly. I do remember that I received a stuff Curious George doll. I loved him.

However, though I have a past of reading, I went back to college in the Fall of 2002 and graduated in Feb 2007. During that period of time, I did zero reading for pleasure as I was a working mom for the first year, stay at home mom for the middle and then a single mom for the last year or so. I had a full plate so when I wasn’t working, taking care of young kids or doing school work, I was sleeping.

After I finished school, I was a single mom and working a stressful, high demand job. It was a lot… but I did start reading again and was back to everything I could get my hands on.

In 2016, I started my journey to become a writer by writing Mandy’s Story (may or may not be the final name). I tried to read but I found I couldn’t enjoy the books as much. I found I was analyzing the writing of it more than enjoying the story which made me sad.

All that to say, I haven’t read a whole lot in the last several years and I need to kick it up. It will only help me in advancing my own career and give me back a hobby that I once enjoyed so very much.

I may end up writing a part two on this topic because I have more to say about it, but for now thanks for the support.

Progressing the story

My first finished manuscript, Mandy’s story, was not good. It had a lot of things that didn’t progress the story. It was just too much backstory and not enough “meat.” I have already cut a lot of that out and I have been editing to do better. I think the story is one that should be told, but the writing could be a lot better.

So along the way writing book 2 (Becca’s Story) and book 3 (Premedicated Murder), I have learned a lot of lessons. I still had some telling and random things in PM but it got better. I believe I have corrected most of the random/not progressing the story things.

However, I do feel that there are times you need to “see” scenes that are just random character development that doesn’t exactly move the story forward, but gives you a picture of who these characters are.

My favorite books, shows and movies have great character development. For example, the Office, one of my all time favorites. The character development is excellent. As the seasons tick by, the Michael character goes from this goofy person who just appears to care about what people think about him to this caring person who is a little more serious. Don’t get me wrong the essence of goofy Michael Scott is still there through the seasons he is a part of, but his dialogue gets better, his attitude towards the work changes a bit and his relationships with the employees is stronger. Creed is another that appears a background characters in the beginning but quickly steals your heart with his random lines like “I’ve been involved in a number of cult both as a leader and a follower.” This happens to be one of my favorite Creed quotes.

Sometimes people meet up for coffee and talk about the weather, favorite movies or an experience they had at the grocery store. That’s life. I like to put those little things in my stories because it makes it real.

“It felt good to be home and doing normal, everyday type of things. I cut up my vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and then sprinkled with salt and pepper. Then placed them in a warmed oven to roast. Next the salmon went into a screaming hot pan to cook.” – Premedicated Murder

My character is just cooking herself some dinner. It is just this little blurb and she goes right back to moving the story along, but those few lines tell you a little about Joanna. She loves cooking and has simple tastes.

She has another day where she spends time with her sister and her nephews. Relationship building and the sisters do talk about the main plot of the story, but I had to have this “real moment” because in real life people spend time with their friends and family.

With that said, most of my writing will progress the story but small parts might just be character development. If it doesn’t fit those two things, it doesn’t belong in my stories and I will be working hard to take those out of the stories I have already finished or not include from the beginning for new stories.