Planning for the Future – By Lynn Cahoon

So this is my last post for the Soulmate Authors group. :( I’m focusing on my cozy mysteries for 2015 as well as self publishing some small town contemporary romance series.  The first, Wild Hearts, will be showing up the first of the year.

I’ve enjoyed my time as a Soul Mate author. I’ll be part of the Valentine’s anthology releasing February 4th. Look for my story, The Twelve Days of Valentine’s when it releases.

But this post is about planning. And one of the reasons I’m ending my blog posts here is because of planning.  I adore getting my new planner each year. Twelve months of possibilities. Twelve months of time to work on this author gig. Deadlines2

I’ve got a tentative writing plan completed for 2015. If I write 1K a day, I can complete 352,000 words in a year. 72K is already devoted to my last contracted book – the sixth book in the Tourist Trap series.

So that leaves 280K. Which is 5 short contemporary books. And exactly what I need to finish the two self publishing series I want to release next year.

With the 30K I have left, I have two plans. I need to finish The Council series which is high on my list since I have readers emailing me all the time wanting the next story. And, I have an option proposal I’ll need to write and submit in April for about 10K.

Now, I’m in a negative count for my word plan. And that’s before I take into consideration the days I’m not available to write.

But it’s close, and some days I can write more than 1K. Especially if I’m not blogging so much.

Sometimes you have to choose between two great opportunities. For me, 2015 is all about the words.

Have you ever had to made a hard choice between two things you want to do? How did you decide?

Lynn

BTW – Top Secret Santa is my story in All I Want for Christmas is a Soulmate. Check out this holiday anthology today from twenty Soul Mate authors. AllIWantforChristmasisaSoulMate

 

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Balance your Passion and Career

dusty-painting-croppedWe are approaching that time of year when we make resolutions and plans for the year ahead. If you want this to be the year you hit bestseller lists, consider some history.  Many first-time novelists expect to be an over-night sensation with their first book, during the first year. We’ve all heard a story that went viral like a global disease. When this happens to a book the back story will often reveal an author who spent decades developing their craft in obscurity even if there were other books already published.

Science and math have calculated ten years and a million words before a novelist creates a novel worth reading, fortunately art defies logic. News of artistic success often includes that phrase, “follow your passion” which is baloney. Many have passion for art, music, and books; few have the talent to create. Writing; music, art, dance, etc. is often an obsession that takes over our lifestyle choices. Having some talent added to that obsession is what actually justifies striving for success, through years of really hard and thankless work, which is flavored with fun because there is passion.

In ancient times, before ebooks and social media, those best-seller-overnight-sensations were publisher business decisions with strategic marketing campaigns. The novelists got “break-out publicity” from the publisher with book four if the prior three novels had earned out on costs and generated a profit. The “break out novel” was a standard practice for cultivating an authors’ career and to boost profits.  If a big publicity push didn’t boost sales, careers died with that novel.

Large print runs for the break out novel, and the back list, were included because readers who find a novelist they like will immediately look for more stories by that author. One example is Dan Brown. I had never heard of him before “The DaVinci Code” and it was his fourth novel.  Angels and Demons was the prequel; a stronger novel which introduced the main character, religious iconology, and the fictional field of symbology, so the break-out marketing campaign was publicity for both books and a total win for the publisher, author, and readers. Hollywood and Tom Hanks also jumped into that story.

Novelists may have more options for getting published today, than a decade ago, but basic business principles for generating sales still apply. First, the novel needs to be well-written and worth reading. Second, readers need to hear about that novel and know where to buy it. When enough readers buy that novel it makes money for the author. But, remember the above example and consider your potential of making more money on your first novel after the fourth one is released.

The changes in the business of publishing from “before kindle” (in 2007) relate primarily to the cost of production and distribution. Finding readers and connecting with the audience is still in the magic and myth realm, of which social media is only one spoke on the wheel. Some books soar, others wallow. Readers are an integral part of the success of a story.

Readers are fickle creatures who only read what they want to read, when they want to read it, and they will dither over the cost of the novel, and the investment of their time to read it, when maybe they could be or doing something that requires less emotional energy like going to a movie, concert, or knitting while watching the news.  Readers have a variety of interests and are busy. Having books to read on their phone, while waiting for anything, is a dream come true. Listening to audio books instead of the news is preferred by others.

A novel has to touch an emotional chord with enough readers to generate buzz. Buzz is the term for being something worth sharing across cyber space, and buzz will launch an unknown into a household name around the globe. There’s no guarantee when or if that will happen. But when it does, readers will add lots of passion to the news.

A break-out-novel only launches a career if that author has more stories of similar style/type either already written or quickly produced. That similar style/type of story matters as the author is first discovered by readers. Only consider venturing into other genres and story realms after three or four similar books to that first novel. Remember that no one likes drastic changes, especially readers. If your first book is a snarky rom-com set in New York City don’t plan your second book to be a sweeping saga of Amish farm life in central PA, even if both novels are set in the year of 1860 or 2460.

An author will always have to balance why they write, and what they write, with how it benefits their readers and their own life. Write good books. Maintain a sleek and dynamic website while writing good books. Plan strategic publicity online and in person, for the good books you wrote, and you will build a career as an author.  Be aware of who and what your audience will find when they search on your name or book title.

Look at that picture again. There are many ways to paint a kitchen ceiling. You could use a sprayer, brush, or a roller. You can use handle extensions; ladders, chairs or stools. You could stand on the countertops and walk across the stove.

That man is my son-in-law and he is actually taping off the ceiling in preparation for painting the walls. He wasn’t posing for a picture that could go viral. He was having fun doing a job that day and he’s not a painter, nor is it his kitchen. His back story includes years in Tai Kwan Do, restaurant management, and now he’s a welding teacher at the community college. When I took this picture he was approaching his 40th birthday and had been cancer free for over five years. He was helping paint a ceiling because his wife has three sisters and we all get involved when one of us buys a new house.  This is my example of why back story always makes a first glance more interesting.

Consider both your personal and professional history when making a career plan and marketing plan for next year. Take the long view regarding your career as a novelist.

You’ve got the talent because you have completed a novel and are now published. Your obsession is now being fed by readers who want you to write more! Challenge yourself to make each novel better than the one before. Create your stories with passion and your readers will buzz about you for the length of your career.

Happy Holidays and have a Glorious New Year.

Terri Patrick

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The Spirit of the Season

So, as per usual, the holiday season has snuck up on me again.

This year, I told myself that I would somehow get ahead of the game. My husband was out of town this week, so I decided that I would make the fudge for the first of three family holiday gatherings. After all,  both kids were home sick, so I had the time. Woot!

After I made the fudge, I needed to run a short errand before dinner. Because the news had said stuff like, “Expect hurricane force winds throughout the valley,” I decided to leave the dogs in the house. I was gone maybe 20 minutes. I can leave an entire turkey on the counter and the big dog won’t touch it, so I thought nothing of leaving things on the counter.

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That’s the big man. He’s a good boy. Generally.

When we get back, both dogs were happy and everything was still standing, so the world was good. We sat down to eat dinner when boy child said, “Hey Mom, why is the fudge tray on the floor?”

Oh no.

Well, I thought something along those lines that might have involved some swearing. But it’s my head, so it’s okay.

Because here is the dog who actually will jump on the counter… IMG_0702

I called the vet, explained the situation, and the vet told me to watch them and come in if anything happened.

Within thirty seconds of the hanging up, the big dog threw up. On my couch. Then he went to the back door and threw up all over that.

So we went to the vet.

When the vet finally came to see my two very happy dogs, she didn’t believe me when I said they’d eaten chocolate. It wasn’t until the vet actually made the dogs vomit that she came back and said, “Well, the little one didn’t get into any chocolate. The big one… He should be dead with the amount of chocolate he ate. We’re going to give him some charcoal and send him home. Keep him close, and if he has seizures, take him to the Emergency Clinic. Oh, and he’ll have diarrhea.” Then she locked us in a room with the little one, who had such wretched gas it must have been God’s way of prepping me for my eternal atonement. The fires of hell have nothing on that dog.

Two hours and two hundred dollars later, the vet released us from our stinky prison. I took the dogs home and wondered how I would get a seizing 100 pound German Shepherd with diarrhea down my stairs and into the car if I had to. I decided the dogs would sleep in my bathroom, so I could be nearby if anything happened.

At one thirty in the morning, after nearly three hours of howling, I frankly didn’t care if he had a seizure and had diarrhea all over the stairs, I just needed him to be quiet so I could sleep. So that’s where he went, and he was quiet, and so I did actually sleep.

The next morning, the dog seemed fine, but everyone overslept. I hustled everyone out the door, and we got into the car. At the precise moment I put the car in reverse and started to back up, girl child realized she forgot her retainer on the table, and opened the car door. And I backed my brand new car into our trailer, broke the trailer’s back tail light and destroyed the door of my car.

I didn’t even have the chance to yell at her before she had an asthma attack (she was sick, after all). So instead of screeching at her, I had to talk her down as we drove to work. Thankfully, it’s less than five minutes away, and by the time we got there, she was less wheezy. So I turned around to tell her it would be okay, and…

The back of my car looked like a crime scene.DSC06922

A crime scene. There was even a bloody hand print on the window. The kid had gotten a bloody nose, to boot. Yet she hadn’t thought to mention it to me, and Boy Child was so happy he wasn’t the one in trouble that he kept his mouth shut. Nice.

As I surveyed that damage, my husband texted me with, “My airplane out of Denver had an electrical problem as we were pulling out, so I’m delayed.” And as I texted my husband, boy child tripped on his jacket and dumped his entire lunch on my front seat. I’m not even sure how that happened.

Sweet.

At this point, I started to laugh, because, I mean, really.

But… But…

I have everyone and everything that I could possibly need right here with me. Yes, I made mistakes, and it’s a good thing it all worked out, because it might not have. It probably shouldn’t have. The dog should have died, but he’s fine. The kids could have been sicker, but they weren’t. Sure, the door is broken on my car, and the trailer’s taillight is busted, but that can be fixed. And somehow, I didn’t lose my mind, either.

This run of bad luck has reminded me of what’s important. Family. Stuff is stuff, and I love stuff as much as the next girl, but stuff is replaceable. People aren’t. So overall, I think I came out ahead. That’s the important thing to remember, when life gets crazy and weird and stressful, when deadlines are approaching and you feel like you can’t handle even one more thing. It’s the people who make life great, and if you have them, you’re on a lucky streak. Everything else will work itself out.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Meggan Connors is the very harried author of The Marker, Highland Sons (with Dawn Ireland), and Highland DeceptionThe Devil of Dunmoor, the follow up to Highland Deception, is due out in 2015.

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Posted in A Memo from Meggan, Books, Stories | Tagged | 8 Comments

Attention Hoagie (and Book) Lovers! by Rebecca E. Neely

Hoagie“I guess there are advantages to having an aunt who owns a restaurant,” Hank said over a mouthful of hoagie.

“I’d say.” Jack watched intently as she licked a dab of sauce from her knuckle. Hot damn, she made that look good. He wanted to lean in and take a taste for himself. Instead, he settled for another bite of his own sandwich.

“God, I haven’t had a Mighty Ricky in ages.” She took another enormous bite. “These rock.”

“You were pretty jacked up about them yesterday.”

“What do you mean?” She stopped, mid-bite.

“You told me they were one of your most popular sandwiches. I made a few since then, so I decided to see what all the hype was about.” He chewed thoughtfully. “A meatball and an Italian hoagie hybrid.” He swallowed. “Damn. That’s good.”

Excerpt from A MIGHTY GOOD MAN, contemporary romance with a punch of suspense

In A MIGHTY GOOD MAN, a lot of the action takes place in a diner, Mighty Ricky’s. It’s fictional, but the Mighty Ricky hoagie isn’t – I grew up making, and eating said sandwiches in my family’s restaurant, under the loving tutelage of my father, a certified hoagie junkie.

Like father, like daughter. Nothing satisfies like the marriage of the fresh, chewy bread, the salty tang of the meats and cheese, and the dressing kissed vegetables.

Here it is, word for word from the menu: “Meatball, cheese, ham, salami, lettuce,  tomato and dressing on a hot submarine sandwich roll.”

Loosen your waistband for this one! Grab a knife and fork, and have plenty of napkins at the ready. Enjoy!

A MIGHTY GOOD MAN

AMightyGoodMan200‘Hank’ Jerry, a down and out writer, and Jack Darcy, a former gang leader, team up to write his story for mutual gain and end up falling for each other. 

Only problem is, they’ve both got something to hide that could blow up in their faces, and with time running out and gang enforcers closing in, will the trust they’ve forged survive the ultimate test?

3 Days. 2 People. 1 Story.

Click here to get it on Amazon!

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The Good Life

It’s amazing to think that we will soon be entering the year 2015. It feels like last January was only a few weeks ago instead of a few months, but as the New Year draws near, there’s no denying it. Life moves fast, whether you’re ready for it or not.

In this Technological Age, where texting is more common than even phone calls, it feels like as a society we’ve become a little detached, making life move even faster. Still, there is so much good in this world. So much to experience. So much to love. Taking time to enjoy the simple things, like holiday gatherings with family and friends, help slow time’s inevitable advance, even if only for a moment.

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This holiday season, take a few moments to experience the magic of the holiday season. Allow time to slow down for a bit and these precious moments, these precious memories, to last.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays and a prosperous New Year!

ColdAmbition200

“It was my life-long dream to become a private eye. Little did I know that with my very first case, that dream would become a life-threatening nightmare…”

When Jordan James decided to embark on a career as a private investigator, she never could have imagined that a chance encounter would lead to her staring down the barrel of a gun on the roof’s edge of a high-rise building. As she begins to investigate her first case, the puzzling murder of a prominent businessman that has left Boston’s finest mystified for more than two decades, she finds herself suddenly immersed in a treacherous underworld brimming with betrayal, raw greed, and political subterfuge of international proportions. In the midst of this, she discovers she is falling for her mysterious client despite the hints of his dark past. Can this feisty Southern girl with a penchant for trouble solve this baffling case or is she doomed to become another tragic chapter in an international conspiracy?

“COLD AMBITION” Available Now on Amazon!

LostDistinction400

“It all started with a favor…”

When private investigator Jordan James agreed to search for the missing son of a U.S. Ambassador, she didn’t realize she was walking into a case one hundred years in the making. The deeper she delves into this unusual assignment, the more shocking, and the more dangerous, it becomes. With time running out and lives at stake, Jordan must race to identify the culprit of an elaborate plot while also uncovering a far more personal truth too intimate to ignore…

“LOST DISTINCTION” Available Now on Amazon!

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The Happiest Season of All … 5 Ways to Catch the Holiday Spirit

11222073_s - TreeThe Holiday Season puts a lot of pressure on moms and dads to get it right. It can be a tough time of year. From the tree decorations to finding that perfect gift for every family member, we’ve got a tough job. So is it any wonder that as soon as Thanksgiving hits, we feel like we want to crawl into our Grinch hovel and hibernate until January? The pressure is intense. The tasks monumental. Who wouldn’t feel a little overwhelmed? I know I do, every single year. So every year, I go through my very own Catch the Holiday Spirit ritual that gets me in the mood for the Holiday Season. Here are five ways you can Catch the Holiday Spirit yourself.

  1. Be sure to pull out your favorite decorations to deck the halls in order to create that festive holiday mood. But don’t feel like you need to pull everything out. Pick the special pieces that mean most to your family and leave the rest if it’s too overwhelming. I bet they won’t even notice as long as the stockings are hung and the tree is lit. Creating that cozy atmosphere is all you need. Everything else is frosting.17721175_s Holiday Music

2. Play your favorite holiday music. Make sure you take time to enjoy the music of the season. Those favorite songs we grew up with do a lot to evoke the spirit of the holiday, generating good will and helping us to focus on the true meaning of the season.

3. Queue up your favorite holiday-themed books. Snuggle in the big armchair with a cup of hot chocolate and dive into a favorite holiday book. Every year in October, I start collecting brand new holiday romances from my favorite authors to start reading right after Thanksgiving. You’d never guess how much reading a good holiday romance puts you in the right mood for Christmas. It works for me every year.

Jill Shalvis Christmas4. Plan a few TV nights where you sit with your family to watch the holiday specials. Whether it’s Polar Express or The Christmas Bride or The Nine Lives of Christmas … you’ll be sure to capture the essence of the season in one of the holiday shows aired on television. The Hallmark Channel and ABCFamily have a running 25-day marathon of Christmas shows. There’s always a good holiday themed romantic comedy on.

5. Be sure to pull out those special recipes that you only make once a year. If it’s grandma’s thimble cookie recipe or mom’s decadent sweet rolls, make the holiday season just a tad sweeter for your loved ones by fixing a few of their favorites just once a year. It builds ritual and memories that your kids will adore.

So if you’re anything like me and you struggle with your inner Scrooge every year, try to find a few ways to take a deep breath and enjoy the season by tapping into the hope and goodwill of the holidays. If you take some time for yourself to read a good book or listen to your favorite holiday music, you might be surprised at your renewed perspective, and the to-do list might just seem a little less overwhelming.

23575970_s Child at ChristmasHappy Holidays from my family to yours! May you find peace and hope in the season and recapture that sense of wonder of a child that reminds you how truly magical the holidays can be, if only you can Catch the Holiday Spirit!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

 

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Mementoes by Mackenzie!, Romance | Tagged | 2 Comments

Gift Cards

I’ve never quite understood the whole gift card phenomenon. I mean, there are certainly places where they’re a solid gift. The person who delivers your newspaper on-time-and-dry every morning (yes, I’m that old fashioned). Your kid at college who is short on money at the end of every month.

gift cardsBut there are people who give gift cards to their spouse.

The money to buy the gift card comes out of a common checking account. So, the gift card is essentially saying, “I can’t really be bothered with finding out what you want and buying it. So here is some of our money instead–you do it. And yes, I know that you could have used your debit card instead of this gift card. But, well, you know.”

How about asking what your spouse wants for Christmas? Except not now. Back in August. “Honey, what I really want for Christmas is a time machine so I can zip back to August and ask you what you want.” That would make a good Christmas short story (if anybody wants to write it, you’re welcome to the idea).

OK, but even if you get a time machine for Christmas, it’ll be too late for this year. So what do you do now?

Fortunately, you have the perfect gift at your fingertips–books. You know books intimately and you know what your significant other likes to read. Don’t even need a time machine, just a little situational awareness.

stack of booksAnd if your significant other doesn’t read? I would say get another significant other, but often that’s not practical. So . . . get a book that they SHOULD like and read it to them.

And NEXT year, take notes during the year (free advice is my gift to you).

Happy Holidays.

 

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