About Vania Margene Rheault

Vania enjoys reading and writing. She's lived in Minnesota all her life, and with a cup of coffee in hand, enjoys the seasons with her two children and three cats.

A Snippet of Book One of my new Wedding Party Quartet

Series sell. Readers get invested, and that can mean the world to an author. Personally, I prefer to write standalones. Maybe because for now, I prefer reading them, too. But I recognize the value in writing a series, and after writing three stand alones,  I planned out a four-book series consisting of full-length novels.

I’m going to write them, edit them, format them, design the covers and drop them all at once. Risky, perhaps. But there are authors who swear by rapid release, and for consistency reasons, I would finish them all before publishing them, anyway.

Because I said I would update you as I write them, here is the first couple scenes of the first book. This was originally the second book in the series, but I felt it was a stronger start. The second book will need a bit of fluffing up, but nothing too terrible, and I’m looking forward to adding to the plot as I learn more and more about my characters.

Book One is about Callie Carter and Mitch Sinclair. Mitch has been in a horrific accident that has left him scarred, both physically and mentally. Callie has been under her father’s thumb for many years and accepted an offer to be a bridesmaid for a chance to breathe and figure out her life. Little did Mitch and Callie know that Marnie Zimmerman and James Fox’s nuptials would be the catalyst for such significant change.

Enjoy this small, kind of edited, excerpt from the first book of the Wedding Party Quartet. It doesn’t have a title yet, but that’s just one more thing I’m working on as I write. 🙂


“You’re here!”

Callie Carter tugged her suitcase into the Rocky Point Resort’s lobby as Marnie Zimmerman’s shriek zinged across the room.

“I told you I would be, but my dad didn’t make it easy,” Callie said, easing her case to a stop in front of the registration desk.

Marnie frowned. “You deserve the break.”

Callie set her purse on the counter next to a display of resort brochures. “No one knows that more than me. I had the time, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.”

Her father didn’t believe in taking a break. Horace “Ace” Carter didn’t believe in down time. Rest. Taking care of her emotional health, her physical health. He believed in getting the job done. And for the past ten years, she had. But rubber bands, stretched too tightly, eventually snap, and Callie was almost there.

“I’ll make sure you have fun . . .” Marnie said, linking her arm through hers while the agent ran her card and handed her a small stack of papers.

“Here’s your key, Miss Carter,” the desk agent—her nametag read Sophia—said, handing her an honest-to-goodness key attached to a maroon keychain with the gold Rocky Point Resort logo stamped into the plastic. “You’re in room two-thirty-one, next door to Marnie and James.”

“. . . Starting tonight.”

Callie pulled her suitcase behind her. She’d left a few dresses hanging in her car, and she’d have go to back for those later. “What’s tonight?”

“I planned a get-to-know-you dinner. Jared is picking up Leah in Marengo, and she’ll be here this afternoon. I can’t wait for you to meet her. Hell, I can’t wait to meet her!”

“You are positively giddy,” Callie said, laughing. She stopped at the base of the short set of stairs that would take them to second floor. Purse hanging from the crook of her elbow, she hugged Marnie. “I’m happy for you.”

Marnie hugged her back so hard her spine cracked. “I am happy, and I’m happy you could be here.”

“I wouldn’t have missed it.”

She’d been honored when Marnie asked her to be a bridesmaid, and hadn’t thought for a second about saying no.

Standing outside Callie’s door, Marnie said, “I know you want time for yourself after that long drive. Take a bath, order a bottle of champagne, whatever you want. We’re meeting downstairs for dinner, and you’ll meet everyone then. I’m so excited!”

Marnie’s platinum blonde hair shimmered in the fluorescent lights, her pin curls, thick red lipstick, and clear skin giving her a Marilyn Monroe glow. She even had the curves to go with it, and Callie had always envied Marnie her softness.

Callie worked out seven days a week, three-hundred and sixty-five days a year. She had to. It was part of her job. Speaking of . . . she might be on vacation, but she still needed to workout. “You said the resort has a workout facility?”

“Yep,” Marnie said. “It’s downstairs by the pool. It’s not as big as the set up in your basement, but it will work.”

“Thanks. I’ll see you tonight, then.”

Callie didn’t feel the need for a bath, but a light nap sounded divine.

She let herself into her room and tucked her suitcase into the closet. The room smelled like any hotel room she’d ever stayed in: air freshener and the scent of recycled air.

A huge gift basket sat on a table tucked under the window that overlooked a thick swatch of trees. A brochure said there were woods to the west, the lake to the north, ski slopes on the east side of the building, and the town of Rocky Point on the south side. The resort offered quite a few amenities, Callie noticed, skimming the resort’s brochure. Maybe she would try her hand at skiing while she stayed there.

Callie washed her face in the sink and dried her skin with the bleached white hand towel. She hung it on the bar over the toilet and frowned at the water pooling at bottom of the bowl. “That’s great,” she muttered.

She needed a working sink. If all the pipes were connected, the bathtub might be affected, too, and she wanted to be able to shower in the morning. Or tonight after dinner.

“I need maintenance,” Callie said, using the landline phone on the nightstand to call the front desk. It wasn’t that late in the day, and she hoped someone would be able to come by her room soon. “My sink is plugged and won’t drain.”

She recognized Sophia’s voice. “We’ll have Mitch up there right away.”

“Thank you.”

Callie should have asked to be transferred to room service but she didn’t want to call back. She could save her appetite for dinner, and even though she was on vacation, she shouldn’t give in to wanting to drink too much. Her father told her she needed to be in control at all times. What if someone needed her? He always had an example at the ready of a time when he’d been able to help someone.

Service was a calling.

Ace Carter spoke of their occupation as if they were ministers or missionaries.

And he expected her to behave as such.

But why did being responsible mean she couldn’t have fun?

Someone knocked on her door, and she pushed the thoughts away. This was supposed to be vacation. A break. She’d fought hard for it and won.

Callie opened the door expecting an older man, balding, wearing a t-shirt and stained overalls carrying a red battered toolbox, and she blinked in surprise at the man a few years older than she standing in the hallway.

Her gaze traveled from his dark brown hair to his green yes. Slim, but strong, with the way he carried an enormous toolbox.

He shifted slightly, and asked, “Did you need maintenance?”

The right side of his face and neck made her hide a gasp behind her hand.

Through the crackling of heat in her ears, her mind whispered, fire.

***

Mitch was used to the wide-eyed stares, the stunned silences, the pity and the sneers. He’d become numb to it, and he ignored the shocked gasp the woman emitted when she saw the right side of his face and the scar that started at the top of his hairline and rippled down his temple and cheek, across his jaw, and into the neckline of his work t-shirt. It spread farther than that, but besides doctors and nurses, few had seen it, and Mitch intended to keep it that way.

“Maintenance?” he asked again.

She moved her hand away from her mouth. “Y-yes. The sink in the bathroom won’t drain.”

“I’ll take a look.”

When she didn’t move, he reached out a hand to nudge her from the door, but she flinched away.

So this was the way it was going to be. When he’d taken the job, the manager of the resort, Desiree Arnold, told him not to put himself into situations that could cause trouble for either party. If he felt the need to have someone with him while he did repairs, then that’s the way it would be. When she offered him the job, Desiree hadn’t brought up his scars at all, but Mitch didn’t need her to point out the obvious. He looked a hell of a lot scarier with his scars than he’d look without them.

“Would you like me to call Sophia and ask her to sit with you while I fix your sink? Or would you like to go to the bar and have a drink while you wait? It’d be on the house.” He carried vouchers in his toolbox to offer guests who didn’t want to be alone with him. A free drink to get them out their room so he could work in peace.

No one turned down free drinks, and her refusal took him aback.

“No, it’s fine. I’m sorry. You took me off-guard.”

“I usually do that to people,” he said mildly, stepping into her room. Before he shut the door, he asked, “Are you sure?”

And that question took him back to the last time he’d tried to make love to a woman. She’d been adamant she could handle the scars.

But it turned out she couldn’t, and he’d never tried again. With anyone.

She nodded. “I’m fine. I, ah, washed my face, and the water didn’t go down.”

“Sounds like an easy fix.” And it did. He’d spent the past seven years as the resort’s maintenance man, drawing on his own experiences fixing things around the house with his dad. Desiree, being in a jam when the current maintenance man quit unexpectedly due to a heart attack, had hired him on the spot, making it clear it was probationary. But there hadn’t been anything in the resort he couldn’t repair. His three month tryout ended with a pay raise and a small room with a twin-sized bed. Mitch didn’t need to stay there, but Desiree liked having on-site maintenance twenty-four/seven, and he didn’t have anything else to do.

The sink sat inside the spacious white-tiled room that held the bathtub, shower stall, and toilet.

Last month, Desiree had warned him that several of his old classmates would be trickling in for Marnie Zimmerman’s wedding and they would be filling the resort for two weeks. At the time he’d wondered why she’d bothered to say anything. It wasn’t like he’d never worked with a full resort before. The resort brought in tourist dollars for Rocky Point, and Desiree and her sales manager worked harder than anyone he knew to keep the rooms full all year round.

It was only after, while he thought about their conversation over a tuna sandwich, that he realized what she’d been getting at.

He didn’t recognize this one though. She hadn’t graduated from Rocky Point. He would have remembered.

Mitch hunkered down onto the floor with his toolbox and removed the extra toilet paper, box of Kleenex, and a hair dryer from under the vanity to reach the pipes.

He didn’t bring  a bucket, and he shoved the wastebasket under the pipe to catch the water as he removed it.

The brunette disappeared, and he worked in silence.

The culprit of the clog was a wad of hair and dirt, and a small diamond ring.

Satisfied he’d fixed the problem, he cleaned up. Dirty water filled the wastebasket, forcing Mitch to take it with him. He couldn’t empty it into her bathtub or sink. Desiree hired only the best housekeepers and Sophia said this woman hadn’t been in her room long. Maybe if she would have gone to the bar he could have dumped the water and cleaned up after himself, but he wouldn’t try it now.

“I’ll have housekeeping bring you another wastebasket for the bathroom. I’m sorry I had to use this one.”

She lay on the kind-sized bed staring at the ceiling. “Did you find what was clogging the sink?”

“Yeah.” Free of dirt, the ring sparkled, a platinum setting hugging the modest diamond. “Did you lose a ring?”

“No. Can I see it?”

Mitch shrugged. He didn’t know why not. He’d only take it to the registration desk so they could research the history of the room and ask if anyone had lost a ring recently. If they couldn’t find anyone who had, the ring would sit in the safe as part of their lost and found.

She rolled off the bed and took the ring when he offered it to her.

“I would be freaked out if I lost something like this.”

“I wouldn’t buy something like this,” he said. He caught the bitterness in his tone and pursed his lips.

Startled, her gaze met his. “You don’t want to get married?”

Mitch took the ring from her fingers, his skin brushing hers.

The way she looked at him, like she didn’t see the scars, not once she moved past her initial reaction, made him think that one day maybe he could find a woman who could see through his injury.

He snorted.

Yeah, when pigs flew.

“I learned a long time ago women want Mr. Perfect, and I have never been, and never will be, that kind of man. Have a good afternoon, miss, and enjoy your stay.”

Mitch dropped his toolbox with a large clatter outside her room, and hugged the wastebasket stinking of dirty water close to his chest.

Closing his eyes, he tried to forget about hers.

Callie and Mitch blog graphic

The age-old question, ‘what do you want from your writing?’ isn’t the real question at all. The REAL question? What can your writing GIVE YOU?

We’ve all been asked the $50,000 dollar question: Why do you write? Do you write for success? For the fame and fortune? Do you have a story that must come out no matter what? We all write for a reason, the reason that keeps us coming back to the laptop again and again.

But the fact is, after the writing is done, what can, what WILL, writing give us?

There are different kinds of writing, and each medium gives us different things:

  1. Blogging. Blogging gives us a place to vent, a place for our voice to be heard. Blogging lets us share information, be an authority. (That’s where the word AUTHOR comes from, don’tcha know?)  But blogging can only give you those things if you have an audience. Also known as, a reader who will read your blog post, maybe share it, maybe leave a comment. Your voice can only be heard if someone is listening. Will the blogger make a sound if no one is around to hear it? Yeah, and her voice sounds like this:
    wah wah wah
    You have to have good content, consistently, to find an audience who will enjoy your posts and keep coming back to you. And that’s difficult. I’ve blogged for the past few years, and finding consistent things I like to blog about and that I think others would enjoy hearing about, is downright hard. I’m not complaining, I love blogging. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t. I put a lot of my heart, soul, and time into my website, and I blog to keep it current. That’s something I get out of blogging. Good SEO. Everyone once in a while someone will tell me they learned something on my blog. That’s great, too. But I understand when bloggers give up, because the time it takes, money (let’s get rid of that pesky .wordpress.com at the end of our domain addresses, okay?) and the pounding our heads into the walls to come up with ideas. Well. There’s not a lot of return on investment there, is there?
  2. Other social media. You’re writing when you post a picture on Instagram and tell your audience the story behind it. You’re writing when you update your Facebook Author page. You’re writing when you tweet. What kind of payback is there from spending time on social media? There is some. You find camaraderie, you find support. You can find people who will help you publish, both indie and traditionally. You network. You support the “big guys” by buying their books and promoting them. But besides being involved on social media for all those things, you hope one day you meet the right person who can introduce you to the next right person (hello agent!), you tweet something that goes viral, and that maybe, because you cultivated a social media following, you might sell some books. But realistically, the “might” is pretty big. Skyscraper big. Authors learn early on that joining social media and screaming
    BUY MY BOOK
    will annoy everyone very quickly, and eventually get you muted or blocked. Which, by the way, is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing. Just a little FYI in case you’re doing it wrong. Stop it!
  3. Writing books. If you ask any writer, they’ll tell you that they would still write even if no one were to ever read anything they’ve ever written ever again. And I believe that because there is something that keeps us writing. The innate human need to tell stories and to listen to stories. It’s how we learn, it’s how our cultures are passed down from generation to generation. Someone may not read our stories now, but maybe in 50 years? 60? You never know! Storytelling is in our blood. There is satisfaction in storytelling. There is happiness in typing THE END to a book or a short story or a novella. There is joy in it.
    cricket
    But anyone who has ever published a book to crickets will tell you that sometimes you better be happy with self-satisfaction because that’s all you’re going to get. I was reading my friend Dave’s blog post right before I wrote this, and he gave me the idea for this post. He went through a lot with his release. A lot of anxiety and lot of pushing through panic publishing his book. And I wonder, if you asked him, if he knew what the outcome would be, if he knew that after all he went through publishing his book, if he would do it again.
    Was the payoff big enough?
    What was the payoff? That’s different for different people. Maybe it’s simply holding it in your hand. Maybe it’s seeing it “out in the wild” when your friends and family buy it to show their support. Maybe it’s that first review. Maybe it’s that first review by someone you don’t know.

But this is what this whole post is about–this is what it took 791 words to say. Those small things, they better the hell get you through, because in this day of self-publishing, in this day when 50,000 new books are published on Amazon every month, THAT’S ALL YOU’RE GOING TO GET.

You might not believe me when I tell you this isn’t a bitter post. You probably won’t after all the whining I’ve done about sales these past few months, and the huffing and puffing I’ve done about Amazon and KU. Those days are gone because I’ve made some decisions that feel right, and come hell or high water, I’m going to stick with the choices I’ve made. (My publishing career isn’t a ball in a pinball machine–I need to stay steady to gain ANY traction.)

This isn’t a bitter post, but it is realistic. You’re not going to set the world on fire when you hit publish. Anywhere. Not on FB when you publish an updated author post, not in a Tweet, though you may get a few hundred likes, and good on you if you can. You’re not going to change the world with a blog post. Someone did that already, back in 2011.

This is a new age of publishing, and you HAVE TO find little things you love about it to keep going, or you might as well quit. You’re not going to strike it rich with a book, or two, or even six, as I can tell you. 50 might be the new 30, but it used to be you could make okay money if you had 6-10 books out, and you can’t do that anymore. Indies making any kind of money have 10+ books out. Sure there are outliers, like Jami Albright, but for us little people who don’t have the means to go to an RWA conference and rub elbows with big authors who will put us in their newsletter, success is going to come much slower. We’re talking years. And the slower you write, well . . . you don’t need me to do that math.

So the question of this blog post wasn’t what do you get out of writing? It was, what does writing and publishing give you? 

Besides bills from hiring editors and formatters and graphic designers to do your book covers, what DOES writing give you, and is it enough to keep you going until it finally gives you what you want?

And what is it you want?

Fame and fortune, of course. Fame and fortune.


thank you for your patince

Writing Burnout. Are you treating your characters like co-workers?

is writing a job

I’m tired.

Not chronically tired like some folks I know are. Be that from having a new baby, taking care of someone who needs more help on a daily basis than normal, having a chronic illness and dealing with the pain. I mean, not like that kind of tired. That’s bone-crushing physical AND mental exhaustion.

Maybe I do feel more tired than someone who doesn’t deal with carpal tunnel on a daily basis. Yes, I had surgery on my left arm, but that didn’t take away 100% of the pain in that arm, and I do have some pain in my right arm, too. I don’t know if I’ll ever have surgery on my right arm . . . the pain was never as bad as my left, and surgery on my left arm/hand did bring my pain down from almost crying every day to a low level of discomfort that can come and go depending on how much typing I do that day. (Spoiler alert: that’s usually a lot whether I’m hurting or not.) So, to me, that was almost a 100% positive change. But I can still sleep funny and bring the pain in my back that’s connected to the nerves in my elbow roaring to life, and well, all I can do is hope I sleep better the next night.

I do realize how lucky I am because some of my friends deal with fibromyalgia, endometriosis, even cancer. Some people I know are just plain tired, and their doctors can’t find a reason for it. (And I won’t go into depression. I know that’s a different kind of struggle, and one, thankfully, I don’t have.)

But there’s a different kind of tired, that may or not be tied in with how my arms feel on a daily basis.

There’s a tired I feel from writing. I write a lot because I enjoy it. I really, really do. Anyone who is a writer who puts out consistent content enjoys it. We would have to, or we’d all be crazy in a matter of months.

I treat writing like my job, or I wouldn’t get anything done, no matter how much I enjoy it. I shoot for weekly word counts, I give myself soft deadlines I usually meet just because I like the characters I’m working with, and it doesn’t bother me to treat them like the co-workers they are.

But like any job, there comes a time when you get tired. There are one too many rude customers at the retail place where you work. If you work in a call center, maybe there is just one incident too many where someone tells you to “fuck off.” Sick of office politics, mind-numbing meetings that don’t go anywhere. Overbearing bosses who won’t leave you alone to do your job. And most of the time you can’t quit your job. It pays the electricity, pays for the food on the table, pays for the roof over your head. It pays for the laptop you use for your second job, the editing, the formatting, the cover design for the other job that you hope will maybe someday replace the first.

But in all honesty, is that second job any better?

Finding a publishing team, finding a street team, a review team, finding readers. Finding a typo in a manuscript you’ve read a gazillion times. Blah.

This isn’t a blog post turned pity-party.

But it is a blog post exploring how you can keep things fresh.

  1. Get some sleep. Let’s face it. I’m tired because a lot of the time I don’t sleep well. Our apartment doesn’t have central air, so it’s too hot, it’s too cold. It’s stuffy, and I can’t breathe. It’s always something. I have three cats, so they’re no help, either. This morning at 6:45am Pumpkin woke me up gacking up a hairball. Of course I had to get up and clean it, or the next time I got out of bed I knew I would step in it. Luckily I was able to fall back asleep (today was my day off my first job) but as anyone can attest, broken sleep doesn’t feel like any sleep. I need to go to bed earlier. That almost always helps. I just have to be a grownup and remember that just because I can stay up until midnight every night doesn’t mean I should.
    Case in point: Last night I stayed up to do this cover for Millie. I like doing covers, but probably I should have gone to bed. 🙂
    More than sisters. They're friends.
  2. Eat better. It’s easy to get caught up in the junk food thing us writers can have going on. A bag of chips while we type away? Sure. A fast food meal to give us more time to write when we get home from our first jobs? Yeah. And that goes for water, too. Put the wine and bourbon away and grab a big glass of water. The joints in your hands will thank you.
  3. Find your fun. Writing is work, no matter if you enjoy it. Designing book covers is fun, but you’re still using your creative side to make it look appealing. Blogging is fun too, but you’re still putting down ideas, and if you struggle with carpal tunnel, then it can become painful real quick. And pain can take an emotional toll. What else can you do for fun that doesn’t include writing and publishing in some capacity? Go to the pool with your kids? Go to a movie? I have movie night with my sister at least twice a month. Grab a bowl of ice cream and find the silliest thing on Netflix. Do this on a regular basis. Maybe not the ice cream part. Fruit. Fruit and Greek yogurt. And the movie. 🙂
  4. Take a break. Probably the main reason I don’t take a real break from writing is because I seriously might not ever pick it back up again. Not writing would create a hole in my life, that’s for sure. Before I wrote all the time, I ran. (I completed a half marathon in 2015.) So what would I do for that 10-15 hours a week I didn’t write? Maybe I would go back to school. Maybe I would dump my first job and get a different first job that would require more time and energy. Maybe I would stop writing, but still edit for others. I don’t know. I DO know that I don’t have to be so hardcore all the time. What if I wrote for 5 hours a week instead of 10 or 15? What if I put out one book a year instead of three? I promised myself after this quartet is published I will take a real break. A real fiction break, anyway. I have a non-fiction editing book that I want to try my hand at writing. If I can make a good go of it, it could turn into a good writing resource for other authors, and a different stream of income for me. Or maybe I’ll beta read for someone. Maybe I won’t do anything but binge Game of Thrones from beginning to end.
  5. Find your friends. Writers are notorious for being introverts. We like spending time alone. We hate the phone. But us writers are human, and we need the human contact. We need people, even if that’s in small doses. Don’t turn down the wedding you were invited to. Call up a friend and invite her to brunch. I just got invited to a writing group meeting at the end of the month. They are romance writers in my area. I would be silly to say no. So I didn’t. Some things are hard to do, and if you think it will take more energy than you are trying to save by forcing yourself to go, then don’t. Anxiety is a real thing. But you need people around you. You can die of loneliness.
  6. Improve other areas of your life. (Meaning, if you can, get rid of the aspects of your life that make you unhappy.) I got chubby after I quit running. There’s no denying health quotemy metabolism is so low its having tea in hell with the devil. I’d feel better if I lost some weight. That would probably help with my physical tiredness. I would probably sleep better. I felt great when I was running. I heard somewhere that humans, in this day and age, have no idea how GOOD the human body is designed to feel. America is rampant with overweight people, and unfortunately, that has become me, too. Could I put running/walking into my daily schedule? Sure. Would I write less, yeah. Well . . . anytime you feel better physically, you feel better emotionally, and you do better in all aspects of your life. So maybe, maybe, I wouldn’t write less. But even if I did, I would figure better physical health would be a good trade-off, and you would, too.

The fact is, writing can burn you out if you’re not careful. And I love writing too much to let myself burn out. I take writing seriously, maybe too seriously.Burn out

Even when I’m taking a break, I’m “working.” Listening to a podcast, reading a non-fiction book. Reading a writing magazine or a lit mag. It’s crazy how totally I have immersed myself in this writing business.

I need to lighten up, because I want to be in this for a long time.

How do you keep writing fun?


Joanna Penn has a great blog post on burnout, and is the author of the Healthy Writer.

To purchase Joanna’s book, look here.


My books are no longer wide. Please bear with me as I make changes to my publishing schedule and platforms. In the meantime, by books are available on Amazon (though not yet in KU as it take time for books to be unpublished various places) and you can give my Amazon profile a follow for updates on new releases. 🙂 Thank you!

My Midlife Crisis. I Mean, my Mid-Year Check In.

 

It seems completely crazy to me that half the year has gone by. After a crappy winter, my first as a divorced lady, plus a surgery (old news) and dealing with a POS car on top of all that, my spring smoothed out, THANK GOD.

surgery photo

How I started 2019. This smile was before I started puking from anesthesia.

Blaze got better and is fitting into our new family dynamics. I post a lot of pictures of her and my other cats over on Instagram. If you want to follow me there, click here for my profile link.

My car, after $600.00 in repairs, is running all right, but the countdown is on to buy something better.

I published The Years Between Us in May, but that too, is old news. Though, really, it doesn’t feel like old news. It still feels like a brand new book. Not many people have read it, and it has 0 reviews on Amazon. I have it on BookSprout, and if you want to nab a copy for review through that service, click here.

I had a nice vacation last month to Georgia with my sister, and I met up with David Willis, a fellow writer I met on Twitter a couple years ago. I can’t even tell you how much I adore the ocean.

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Spring is about new beginnings. Summer about shaking off the winter, sleeping in, and picking up more hours at work. Things are going as well as anyone can say their life is going.

Planning my next six months won’t be much of an undertaking. Like Adam Croft said in a New Year’s interview with Joanna Penn, he doesn’t treat the new year any differently. He does what he needs to do to get the things he needs done to write and publish books. And I feel that way about the rest of 2019.

When you are running your own business, being a self-starter and a self-motivator is a must. No one can force you to do the work. All you can do is look in the mirror and ask yourself if you want to sell your books or not. If the answer is yes, well, you can’t sell what you don’t have.

I’ll be finishing my Wedding Party series in the next few months. I’m 18,000 words into book three. As I write, I’ve been exploring covers. Formatting will be a snap with Vellum, but to put links in the back of the books, I’ll have to publish all of them at once so the links will be available, then I’ll need to add the links to the back matter and swap out those files. It’s nothing less than what other successful indies do, but it still sounds like a pain in the ass.

Anyway, anyone keeping track of my progress knows I’m getting a little fed up with this lack-of-sales thing I’ve got going on. It’s not my way to whine–in fact I tend to avoid those who do on a consistent basis. I can’t handle how energy-sucking it can be. I need all the energy I have for myself.

In the next 12 months, you’ll be seeing a lot more progress reports from me. I’ll do this because:

  1. not all of us are making money at this writing thing, and it’s okay to talk about it.
  2. if I find something that works for me, I want to share it because it might work for you, too.
  3. I’m at a point where my backlist should be making me a little money. Focusing on writing and not marketing has been at fault, but this is why I’m experimenting now. I thought All of Nothing would be a game-changer for me, and it has been in some ways. It’s the most-read book I have. But that was luck or better timing as when I used a free day and ran a Freebooksy, All of Nothing was in KU.

Why in this business does it feel like all roads lead to Amazon_ HMMMM.

My personal life probably has a lot to do with how I look at sales. But I’m not different than any other writer using their royalties to buy a better place to live, buy a newer vehicle, or pay down credit card debt.

Anyway, I’m doing what I can and what I can afford to do.

In September, I will be a part of an author panel and luncheon at the Fargo Public Library. I’ll be able to sell my books there too. A lovely woman who connected with me via LinkedIn emailed me the opportunity, and I said yes. While it may not yield any results, it made me remember that local networking can be just as important as networking online.

Something like this makes me excited I’m wide–if, after the luncheon, the library wants to carry my ebooks in their lending catalog, my books are available in the library program through Draft2Digital.

I’ll continue to blog in lieu of a newsletter. I prefer to blog, and every time I publish a new post, I gain new followers, so thank you for reading!

This post needn’t be too long. I’m struggling to write my books and stay afloat like many others out there. Some may have it better than me, some may have it worse. But as I have said many times in the past, we can only work with what we’ve got. Keep your chin up and a smile on your face.

Why in this business does it feel like all roads lead to Amazon_ HMMMM. (1)


Care to share how your 2019 is going? Drop me a comment.

Share a little triumph that will carry you for the rest of the year. ❤


My books are wide! Find them at your favorite ebook retailer.

Don’t Run Away: books2read.com/dont-run-away
Chasing You: books2read.com/Chasing-You
Running Scared: books2read.com/running-scared

Wherever He Goes: books2read.com/whereverhegoes1
All of Nothing: books2read.com/allofnothing1
The Years Between Us: books2read.com/the-years-between-us

Try the Tower City Romance Trilogy Today!

all graphics made with Canva.com

Differences Between Your Kindle Books and Your Paperbacks, and What the Heck is Kindle Unlimited?

There have been a few questions from people I’ve spoken with lately about the difference between ebooks and paperbacks with regards to Amazon and their Kindle Select Program.

Amazon is the number one ebook seller in the United States. Everybody who has published books will sell their book on Amazon, and they offer some benefits for authors who publish exclusively with them.

Let’s go back to basics first.

What is Kindle Direct Publishing?

KDP is the publishing arm of Amazon. This is confusing because Kindle Direct Publishing supports more than just the Kindle version of your book now. Since CreateSpace, the old platform for paperback creation, closed, KDP is where you publish both Kindle and paperback version of your book. Some refer to this part of KDP as KDP Print.

What is CreateSpace?

CreateSpace used to be the self-publishing arm of Amazon for paperback books. If an author used the free CreateSpace ISBN their book would be listed as published by CreateSpace in the product information of the book. Using CreateSpace is no longer an option.

createspace product info

What is Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited is a reader subscription service Amazon offers readers. Readers pay $9.99 a month to read as many books as they like. They are able to borrow ten books at a time. Readers can use a Kindle e-reader like a PaperWhite, a tablet like a Kindle Fire, or the Kindle App on their smartphone or iPad. If you like reading on a device and read several books a month, this is a good deal. Independent and traditionally published books are available.

What is Kindle Select?

Kindle Select is a program Amazon offers authors if they want their books available in Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon will let readers know if a book is available in Kindle Unlimited. I suppose it’s not a surprise that the top ten books in Contemporary Romance are in KU. (But let’s not get me started on that again.)

top ten contemporary romances on amazon

When you enroll your book in Kindle Select, you are giving Amazon exclusivity of your titles that you enroll.

What does that mean?

It means your ebooks cannot be available anywhere else. Once your book is available through Kindle Unlimited, your ebook cannot be sold on other platforms like Apple Books, Kobo, or Nook. You cannot sell your ebooks on your website. You cannot blog huge portions of your book to build buzz. You cannot list your book on review services like Booksprout or Netgalley. You cannot give away your book on places like Bookfunnel as a reader magnet for a newsletter sign up.  You cannot give your book away on Instafreebie.

If you want to give away a large amount of copies or list your book on a review site, you need to do that before you enroll your book. So be sure you know what kind of marketing plan you want for your books and how you want to find reviews before you enroll.

But you can take your books out of Select, so don’t think you messed up on any promotional opportunities if you click enroll and want to change your mind. Select enrollment lasts in 90 day increments. Just remember to uncheck the enrollment box or KDP will automatically enroll you for another 90 day period when it runs out. If you really want out before your time is up, you can email them through your Author Central account, and they will take out your books. I asked them to do that for my trilogy, and they did the next day without any problems. I was polite, and so were they. Probably the reps answering your email don’t give a crap what you do–they just wanna go home like everyone else who’s at work.

There is some confusion now about your paperbacks because it used to be paperbacks were separated from your KDP account. Amazon doesn’t care what you do with your paperbacks. You can sell them at book conventions and farmers markets, sell signed copies from your website. You can publish them through IngramSpark to take advantage of expanded distribution. You don’t even have to offer a paperback. Amazon doesn’t care.

How do you get paid if your book is available in Kindle Unlimited?

Authors don’t get paid the same way as if someone buys a copy of your ebook. If your book is in KU, you get paid by the page read, and your page read royalties come out of the Global Fund. This is the banner at the bottom of the Kindle Select information page.

global fund banner

The page read rate can and will fluctuate, but the average is about .0045 cents per page. (If you ever want to know just do a Google search of Kindle Unlimited KENP rate plus the month and and year. For May of 2019 it’s .0046.) You need to do a little math if you want to know how much you make with page reads. You can see on your dashboard how many page reads you get per day/month/year.

For example, if you have 417 page reads like I did in this graph (someone was reading All of Nothing after I pulled it out of KU because they still had in their library) you multiply 417 by .0045 and you get 1.87.  So I made $1.87 for those page reads. page reads ku and koll

There’s a way to calculate how many actual book pages will equal KU page reads, but I can’t find it. Maybe someone reading this blog can post the formula in the comments. Because KU page reads aren’t the same as the actual book pages. There’s also ways to figure out how many page reads will equal one person reading your book all the way through, etc, etc, and if you want to know more and geek out on that data, you’ll have to do a little Googling to see what you can find. Because even thinking about it makes me wanna drink, and knowing how much I’m making is good enough for me.

If you write in a series and want to extrapolate read through and sales, there are ways to do this too, and Michael Cooper explains how to do it in Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!

It makes sense longer books do better (hence the popularity of bookstuffers)–the more pages read, the more you get paid.

But it’s also essential you write a good book–so readers read to the end and you are paid for the entire book. You are not going to make much in KU if your first couple of pages are boring. No matter how many people borrow your book, if they can’t get past the first couple pages, that means no page read royalties for you. That also means you want a good strong first book in a series, otherwise you’ll have no read-through and all the other books in that series will have been written for nothing.

Are there any perks for authors who enroll in KU?

There are perks, and I miss having my free days. I never did do a Kindle Countdown Deal, but those are two great ways to market your books when they are in KU. Every time I used a free day for one of my books, my KU reads always increased because of the exposure.

Anyway, that’s how Kindle Unlimited works for authors. If you read my post about Jami Albright, you can see there is potential to make a lot of money this way. It will always be up to you how you want to run your business. Many authors like Jami have no qualms about going all in with KU and reaping the rewards.  Here’s an article by Hugh Howey who did the same.

If you have a larger backlist, you can even have some books in KU and some out. I may put my Wedding Quartet into KU for the first three to six months to see how that works. I have heard of a few authors who will use KU as part of their launch strategy, and then when the page reads decrease pull their books out and offer them wide.

If you feel overwhelmed with the choices, it never hurts to just stay with Amazon. After all, it’s been proven time and again that you can make good money in KU, and I still struggle with going wide. (Which I have blathered on about enough.) Enroll in KU, enjoy the pages read. Get used to that platform before expanding your business.

As for paperbacks, I publish with KDP Print and let them fulfill to Amazon. Then I publish to IngramSpark and use their expanded distribution. I don’t mind warning you that messing with Ingram takes a little know-how, and you have to buy your own ISBN numbers to publish with them. If you don’t want to fork out for ISBN numbers (in the States) then going with KDP Print will be all that you will want to do anyway. There are days I wish I never would have started publishing with Ingram, and The Years Between Us is still not available there. Which is something I need to fix soon because I didn’t check the expanded distribution box when I published on KDP. You can read about my IngramSpark adventures here.

Indies have a lot of choices and sometimes it’s just nice to stick with one thing that you know so you won’t feel like your books are scattered all over the place like seeds on a dried out dandelion.

I hope this information was helpful to you! If you have any questions, KDP’s customer service is very nice and they are quick to help. You can also shoot me a question, either here in the comments, or my DMs are open on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Until next time!


My books are wide! Look for them at your favorite digital retailer!

Don’t Run Away: books2read.com/dont-run-away
Chasing You: books2read.com/Chasing-You
Running Scared: books2read.com/running-scared

Wherever He Goes: books2read.com/whereverhegoes1
All of Nothing: books2read.com/allofnothing1
The Years Between Us: books2read.com/the-years-between-us

Try the Tower City Romance Trilogy Today!

 

My First Wide Freebooksy. How Did It Do?

As business owners, we have to find ways to tell readers about our books.

Probably the worst thing an author has to do after finishing a book is marketing. You thought I was going to say editing, didn’t you? Actually editing and marketing are kind of a draw. They are both expensive, time consuming, and they both want to make you poke your eyes out.

But you have do both, and as I am tenacious, I tried another Freebooksy, but this time my book was wide.

You can read about how my last Freebooksy did for Don’t Run Away while it was in KU. That one was nice since I managed to get quite a few KU page reads out of it. Because my books aren’t in KU anymore, I had to depend on read through to the other books in the trilogy to make money, and in preparation for that, I bumped the other two books down  to .99 to encourage people to buy them.

I did the Freebooksy ad on June 14, and I’m typing this ten days later.

This is the ad and how it looked in the newsletter:

don't run away freebooksy promo june 14

Your ad will only do as well as your cover and copy, and Freebooksy gives you limited space for your description. It’s hard to nail it, but I’ve been reading copywriting books to try to get better at it. This probably still didn’t hit the mark, but it sounds better than previous attempts.

On the day of the promo, I only reached number 5 in the free bookstore on Amazon under Sports Romance, and with the other ad, I reached number one. That’s probably due to the fact that borrows weren’t counted into the ranking this time.

don't run away free booksy promo2 6-14

This is as high as it got, and that’s fine. Free doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s the paid store we’re shooting for, but we’ll take what we can get for now.

So here are the numbers from the day the promo went out to today June 24th, when I’m writing this:

Amazon

Free books (Don’t Run Away): 2,276

That’s not terrible. Hopefully some of those will turn into reviews because I think lack of reviews are really hurting my books and sales right now. I have no social proof these books are good. I may need to seek out some romance bloggers who will give a couple of my newer books a fair review.

Books sold:

Chasing You: 34

Running Scared: 27

On Amazon I sold 61 books. At 70% royalty that’s only $42 give or take. My Freebooksy cost $100.00. So I didn’t make my money back on Amazon, at least, not yet. I could still see some sales that will at least help me break even.

But I do have my books other places. How well did I do there?

Kobo

Free books (Don’t Run Away): 125

Chasing You: 1

Running Scared: 1

kobo freebooksy results

This is for Don’t Run Away. I’m assuming they count June 13th with my June 14th results because other parts of the world are ahead of us. This is all the way up to the 24th, but you can see there was a sharp drop to no sales after the 18th. Kobo readers forgot about my book quickly, and I guess I managed to give away a few more after the promo day because readers went to check to see if the book was still free and it was, so they downloaded it.

kobo freebooksy results2

Pretty much 0 read through to the others, but that might change if and when people get around to actually reading Don’t Run Away. It’s a well-known fact that people download free books and sometimes never get around to reading them.

It is kind of cool though that I’m starting to sell books around the world:

kobo freebooksy results3

Cultivating a world-wide readership is the goal when you go wide. Maybe this is the start of something good.

Apple Books and Nook

Now, we can’t forget about the other two big players, Nook and Apple Books.

How did I do there?

I don’t have a hang of looking at the Draft2Digital graphs yet, so this is sales for all platforms so far:

draft to digital free booksy report

Free book (Don’t Run Away): 1,029

Chasing You: 30

Running Scared: 13

That is all sales channels. I can break it down:

draft to digital free booksy report2

On Apple Books I’ve made $22.17 and Nook I’ve made $1.77. You can probably do a little deducing and figure out that most of my sales and giveaways were on Apple Books, which may not be surprising considering the state that Barnes and Noble is in right now.

Anyway, if we add up all sales I’ve made across all the platforms you get this: $66.83.  Is that terrible? I guess not. It didn’t pay for my promo, but when you buy ads or promos you have to look at the bigger picture. You have to think about cost versus investment in your business. Plus, I may make it back. As readers hopefully read through book one, I would hope they would want to read the others, and go on to my standalones, too.

I have made one mistake though, and that is not putting the links of the other books into the back matter of my books. When they finish reading book one, they have to hunt for book two, and book three, when they finish. I don’t like begging, and I keep my front and back matter clean of calls to action. This probably hurts me because if someone wants to read the next one right away, why am I keeping them from having the link?

Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s because I’m lazy. It doesn’t make sense to have all the buy links in the back of the book. If you’re reading on a Kobo device, you’re going to want the Kobo link, not the links to Nook and Apple Books. I’ve heard that Amazon won’t even let you publish books with other links in the back, that they’ll make you remove any links that don’t go to an Amazon buy page. That is a lot of work every time. I don’t know how to rectify that though without actually taking the time to make up a different file for every platform. I like having clean back matter, but I’m pretty sure it’s hurting my sales, too.

Am I happy with the Freebooksy results? I think I am, for now. Marketing is an ongoing thing, and until you can grow a readership who naturally look for your next book, you have to constantly remind readers your books are out there.

When I have this new series done, I’ll have another free book to play around with, and that will be fun.

The most annoying thing with being wide is having to have the prices match on all platforms. So when I do a .99 cent sale, I have to change the price of that book everywhere and wait for the price change to click in before I can advertise. That’s especially important when you’re doing a paid promo. Your readers are going to expect it to be the price you promised them. Right now I haven’t tried to put a different book on sale and try to grab sales that way.

I miss being only on Amazon for that reason. It was super easy to utilize your free days they give you and to plan your promos accordingly.

On the other hand, you want readers who will buy your books at full price. So, teaching them your books will be free or cheap forever isn’t going to be the way to make money. Because of this I’ll bump up my other two books in the trilogy back to a higher price at the end of the month. They may not be worth the 4.99 my standalones are, since they are older and probably not as well-written as my newest books. But I don’t think I want to keep them at .99 forever. That’s only 1.98 for three books, and I’m worth more than that.

As I always say, that’s something you have to think about for your books and your business.

Have you done any promos lately? Let me know how they’ve turned out!


My books are wide! Check them out at your favorite retailer!

Don’t Run Away: books2read.com/dont-run-away
Chasing You: books2read.com/Chasing-You
Running Scared: books2read.com/running-scared

Wherever He Goes: books2read.com/whereverhegoes1
All of Nothing: books2read.com/allofnothing1
The Years Between Us: books2read.com/the-years-between-us

Try the Tower City Romance Trilogy Today!

Can Authors Write Characters They Dislike?

As readers, we read characters we dislike all the time. That’s what villains are for, after all. They are characters we love to hate. They create horrible problems for the characters we love.

We read characters we can’t identify with and that makes us dislike them. Or they make stupid choices we don’t understand. Whatever the reason, as readers, reading about characters we dislike is common. It makes it hard, sometimes, to get into the story because characters we don’t like or can’t understand pull us out of the story and leave us frustrated.

Sometimes this is because they aren’t written well and the author gives them negative character traits in an attempt to make them well-rounded. Other times we can’t identify with characters because they are too young or too old. Not many adults who read Twilight liked Bella Swan. She was a whiny, indecisive 17 year old girl.

So, as a reader, it can happen where you stumble upon a character who is too air-headed, too boring, or just all around unlikable.

As a writer, can this happen to a character in your own story?

Can you write a protagonist you don't like blog post

Usually, we love our characters. It’s why writers write series, so they don’t have to say goodbye. Or we edit the same piece over and over again because we don’t know how to let go. It’s common for sequels to be written without being planned because a secondary character steals every scene and demands their own story to be told.

When I was writing book one of my series, Callie Carter started off as any of my female characters. She needed a change. Her backstory wasn’t as horrible as some other characters I’ve created, but she still was unhappy and she was using the two week vacation in Rocky Point to not only be a bridesmaid, but also to take a break from life and figure things out. She’s in-your-face and assertive. She goes after what she wants (unless it has to do with her job and her dad).

When she meets Mitch Sinclair, she knows she wants him. And when she sees how Mitch lives because of something that happened years ago, she promises fix it. Even if he doesn’t want her help–even if he doesn’t want to fix it.

She knows best.

Or she thinks she does.

Mitch falls for her quickly. He falls for her effervescence. He falls for her joy of life. And he falls for her because when she looks at him, she sees him, not the accident that scarred him. He’ll do anything for her.

She asks a lot of him because she wants to help him live a better life, and she pushes him out of his comfort zone.

I hated her for it.

She knew Mitch needed a change, and change can hurt. Bad. While trying to help him, defend him, as no one else had, she hurt him. And I couldn’t make her stop.

I cried for Mitch and what Callie was putting him through. But the story demanded it. Because while I hated Callie for hurting Mitch over and over, she was right, too. He couldn’t keep living that way. And slowly, he realized it, too.

But Mitch and his parents went through a lot to come to that point.

All while I was writing her and what she was doing, I hated her. I kept telling her to leave him alone, that if he was happy with the way things were, why was she picking on him? Making things worse for him?

Their story is done, and they both learned valuable lessons in life and love, but I still don’t like her very much. And I still don’t think she treated Mitch very well, even though he fell in love with her, and she was right about a lot of things in the end.

It made me wonder if other writers are sometimes in the same situation. Writing protagonists they dislike.

And it also made me wonder how that affected my writing. Will it show through that I hated how she treated him? After all, she loved Mitch. She wanted to help him. Everything she did was to help give him the life she thought he deserved to live.

Does her love for him show through? I hope so.

It was a different experience for me, to not be totally enamored by one of my characters. Usually, I love them all.

Can you write a protagonist you don't like blog post4

As a reader, it also made me wonder about the female characters I’ve read and disliked. I don’t normally like characters who are pig-headed and stubborn. Or make wrongful judgments about people. That seems to be a common trope in romance: female characters jumping to wrongful conclusions about the heroes, and it sets off a chain reaction that doesn’t get resolved until the heroine is proven incorrect about the man she fell in love with despite her attitude. The whole premise of books like that wouldn’t even exist if the heroine hadn’t been so blind in the first place. Plots like that are frustrating.  I also don’t identify with characters who won’t listen to other people’s opinions because I’m open-minded.

Callie was stubborn. She thought she knew best. Even when everyone around her was telling her that she didn’t understand the situation.

Maybe my readers won’t feel the negative emotions I felt writing her. Maybe they’ll understand more where she’s coming from.

We all have good intentions and even the best of us have trouble with the executions of our actions that come from kindness.

“You were only trying to help.” We’ve all heard that a time or two and by the end of the book, Callie has, too.

Can you write a protagonist you don't like blog post2

Callie is my first character I’ve written I don’t identify with. It’s not a bad thing. Maybe it means as a writer I’m moving out of my comfort zone and that can only help me stretch my wings. All of us writers put pieces of ourselves into our characters and with Callie’s stubbornness and shortsightedness, she’s nothing like me.

I would never ask someone to do things they didn’t want to do. She wasn’t manipulative, though, and she wasn’t using Mitch’s love for her to make him do things he didn’t want to do. She truly cared for him. But she could have gone about helping  him in a different way. But then the story would have been different, and Callie wouldn’t have learned the lessons she learned to help her stand up to her dad. In the end she was finally able living the life she wanted.

I’d like to think my story worked out exactly how it should have.

And I hope that does mean I’m growing as a writer. Callie was who the story needed her to be. I let it happen. I had faith in my writing ability. I had faith Callie would be the character she needed to be. Who Mitch needed her to be.

Had I tried to push her into a mold, maybe she would have read insincere, or maybe she would have read flatter because I would have diluted her spark.

Callie made me uncomfortable, but I hope readers can see the good she was trying to do–the good she did do.

I hope readers love Callie as much as Mitch does.

I’ll keep writing characters I may not like or agree with.

Because it’s not my story I’m writing.

It’s theirs, and I have to trust them to tell it.

Can you write a protagonist you don't like blog post3

Tell me what you think! Have you written characters you haven’t necessarily identified with? How did it feel? How did you resist rewriting them to fit your preconceived mold?

Let me know!


My books are wide. Find them at your favorite retailer!

Don’t Run Away: books2read.com/dont-run-away
Chasing You: books2read.com/Chasing-You
Running Scared: books2read.com/running-scared

Wherever He Goes: books2read.com/whereverhegoes1
All of Nothing: books2read.com/allofnothing1
The Years Between Us: books2read.com/the-years-between-us

Try the Tower City Romance Trilogy Today!

graphics made with canva.com