Thursday Thoughts and Brief Update

Can I say I don’t know what I’m doing? Because that would probably best describe the state of my mind and author business at the moment. How to successfully launch a book, figure out a publishing plan, and start a successful book business. I know all that takes time, trial and error, and a healthy dose of luck. I can’t do anything about the luck, but I feel like I’ve put in my time, and learned a lot through trial and error. So this is what I’ve got going on right now:

Two books loaded into KDP. All I have to do is press publish. That’s not exactly true as I want to redo the blurbs again. After reading Theodora Taylor’s 7 FIGURE FICTION: How to Use Universal Fantasy to SELL Your Books to ANYONE, I grabbed some great ideas for pulling out the meat of a book and adding it to the blurb. I think one of the mistakes I was making when writing the blurbs to Faking Forever and My Biggest Mistake was that I was writing a 1st person blurb like I was still writing a 3rd person blurb. 1st person and 3rd person blurbs have a different vibe. 1st person blurbs are more personal, told in the voice of the characters. My blurbs were still sounding flat in 1st person because I was following the 3rd person blurb style that I’d adapted after reading Bryan Cohen’s How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good. I’m not saying his way is wrong–I loved the blurbs I’d written after reading his book, but all his examples are in 3rd person and I struggled to find a punchy way to write the blurb in the voice of my characters while trying to pull out what really mattered in the book. Theodora’s book really helped and I’m going to redo those and use her examples for other blurbs moving forward. She did a fun interview on the Six Figure Author Podcast, too, and you can watch it here:

Okay, so I have two books almost ready to go besides those tweaks, and right now I’m on a break editing my six book series. I read through the all again, and caught and fixed a few inconsistencies. I’m not going to rehash all that because I blogged about it on Monday and you can read it here. While I’m taking a break, I thought about editing another standalone. I have two that I could do: my brother’s-girlfriend-is-off-limits-trope, or the-one-night-stand-with-my-future-boss trope. The boyfriend one was the most likely candidate since I haven’t looked at it in a while and is 97k. The other one I’m excited about too, and I’ve gotten good feedback from a beta read, though the subject is a little touchy and I’m not sure how it’s going to go over with readers. It’s a little dark, but I’m hoping my readers can understand why he made the choices he made and not think too poorly of him. Those both need another editing sweep and listening to them both will take time. They need covers and blurbs and formatting and all that jazz, which means each book has at least another month a piece before they’re ready to publish.

Instead of working on those, I had another idea pop into my head and I’m writing kind of a beauty and the beast retelling, but I can’t even call it that anymore because he’s not grumpy, and she’s not trapped there–at least not in the way Belle was trapped in Beast’s castle. He’s scarred from an accident, she’s snowed in during a blizzard, and he has a ton of books but that’s where the similarities end. The idea pretty much came out of nowhere and I wanted to write it before I forgot it. I outlined what i knew of the story, but it wasn’t enough to keep it on the back burner and I’m 27k into it right now after only four days. I think I’ll hit about 80k with this one, maybe shorter, as not much is going on right now but them talking and falling in love and knowing that because of what they have going on they can’t be together after the blizzard stops (that’s not true, of course, all my books have an HEA). It’s fun, and I had to do a lot more research than I normally have to. There could be potential for another book with her sister and his business partner, but so far I would have the characters and no plot so we’ll have to see how that goes.

What I’m trying to do is line these up and figure out a publishing schedule where I can make the most of the work I’ve put into these books for the past two years. I didn’t have any business starting a new book, but I couldn’t resist, besides, it’s a good filler for the next couple months with the holidays.

As far as anything else goes, I have a promo with a new site I haven’t tried yet for my holiday box set I have selling for .99. The promo cost $25 so I should make that back KU reads at least if they have the reach they say they do. I’ll let you know how it goes and who it’s with if I have good results. For right now my ads were in the hole and I had to turn off one for The Years Between Us. It was eating up click money and no sales coming in. Those books are old and I don’t have anything new coming in 3rd person so I’ll keep the low bid ads running, but I don’t have much hope for those books anymore.

What am I loving right now?

I’m going to read through Elana Johnson’s nonfiction books. I’ve heard her speak enough that I think her books could be valuable. I’ve blogged in the past about how difficult it is to take information from top indies because they have so many more books, resources, money, connections than we do. I’m hoping that her books are geared toward anyone no matter where they are on their journey, and I can find some tips to help me as I start publishing next year. This is the link for book one in her non-fiction series if you want to check it out. Writing and Releasing Rapidly (Indie Inspiration for Self-Publishers Book 1)

Another thing I’m loving right now is Alex Newton of K-lytics has shared some info for romance writers for free this holiday season! This is taken from his Facebook page (I recommend you liking it on FB!).


I don’t have plans to release anything Christmassy, not anything new, anyway. My Rocky Point Wedding box set takes place in the winter around Christmas, but it’s not a solid Christmas story, or stories. It would be fun to play around with the idea and maybe next summer I can write a billionaire Christmas story for Christmas 2022 and see how it goes. BUT I love industry news, and if you love it too, here is the link to download his free report! FREE RESEARCH REPORT | CHRISTMAS ROMANCE

If you don’t write romance, Alex was an angel and did another report for Mystery, Thriller Suspense, and you can find it here. Christmas mysteries sound like cozies, but you just never know! I plan to watch it as well and see just want kind of mystery sells during the holidays.


That’s about all I have going on at the moment. Now that I’ve started a new book, that will be what I’ll focus on until it’s done. It would be nice to say I’m taking December off, but that will never happen. I honestly don’t know what I would do with myself, and as hard as I work on my books, I enjoy it, too.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts and Author update

Made in Canva with one of their stock photos. I have no idea why happy is in quotes. LOL

Good morning and happy Thursday!

I don’t have a lot going on, but I thought I would update you with some of the things I’ve been working on lately.

For the past few weeks I’ve been editing. I went over my proof for My Biggest Mistake, put in the changes. I got my proof back and I just need to tweak the cover again and it should be ready to go for whenever I decide to hit that publish button. I still need to add the content warning to Faking Forever and add the author note I decided to add to the back of that book, but when I do those things, those two books should be 100% ready to go.

I finished reading through book one of my series and started on book two. I can tell where I found my 1st person POV voice toward the end of book one, and the first half or so will require a little more editing on my part, though I seem to smooth out my writing the best while I’m listening to it during that phase of edits. I’m not in a rush with these–consistency and avoiding/fixing plot holes are my main focus for now. When I wrote my trilogy, I thought dealing with three books at a time was tough, then I did my four book series and I said I would never work with more than that–ever. Now I’m dealing with six, and I have no idea how authors handle a series with so many books.

I guess not every author saves them up, but I have this thing with control and being able to go back and fix mistakes and inconsistencies, and if I published as I wrote them, I would feel trapped. Now I have the freedom to go back and change things if need be, and no matter how complicated or frustrating it is, I don’t think I could ever give that up.

Anyway, so only proofing and editing has made me a little squirrely for the writing part of it, and kind of a beauty and the beast retelling billionaire style plot landed in my lap this morning. After seeing so many tweets about castles because of a certain Netflix movie, I wanted to write about a beast in a castle, too.

Of course, grabbing onto a trope doesn’t mean you’re going to write something that everyone else has written, and because there aren’t any castles in Minnesota where all my books take place, my castle turned into a lighthouse on one of the Great Lakes pretty fast. But still. I’m excited to plot this book out and see where it takes me while I edit my series. My only issue is not being able to focus on more than one project at a time, but I think this would be a great opportunity to try.

In other, personal, news, we have to put one of our cats down this weekend. He’s old and barely hanging on. This is the first pet I’ve put down as an adult, and the first my kids will have to go through. It will be a tough weekend, but loving someone, or something, also means letting go when the time comes.

I’m feeling better with every passing day, so I am grateful for that. I have a follow up on the 19th, and I’m hoping I’ve turned a corner. The side effects of my infection are slowly fading, and I hope I won’t need anything further in that regard either. My son had his last wound checkup last week and was given the call clear. No more followups for him! I’m thankful he’s healed completely–but Pumpkin was his cat–picked him out of a farm cat’s litter almost 20 years ago in a small town not far from where we live. It will be hardest on him, I think, to say goodbye. Here’s a picture of the old man when he was feeling better.

As far as resources go, what I’m loving this week is 7 Figure Fiction: How to Use Universal Fantasy to Sell Your Books to ANYONE by T. Taylor. I loved this book and I think it will be a great tool to help with blurb writing. She teaches you how to identify the universal fantasies, and gives you plenty of examples in books, movies, and TV shows. She explains why some books sell well and how to get your books to sell well too by identifying these fantasies and including them in your blurbs and ad copy. I’m glad I’m still tweaking Faking Forever and My Biggest Mistake because even though I asked for feedback and worked really hard on the blurbs, this book will help me take them to the next level.

Taken from Amazon.com

Admittedly, I enjoyed this book because it seems to have been written with romance authors in mind. T. Taylor is a romance author and yes, this book skews toward that genre. As with all reference material, you can read the reviews and see if this book is for you.

Besides Bryan Cohen’s free Amazon Ads Challenge that comes around every three months, there’s nothing else that has caught my eye this week. His ad challenge starts on the 13th and you can sign up for it here. If you don’t like Facebook and don’t want to be part of the group, he has offered Slack as another alternative to participate (though he sends all the videos and “homework” to your email, so there’s no need for group participation at all if that’s not your thing). I always recommend it because there is no place else I have found that will give you so much information about Amazon ads for free. And it’s not just about Amazon ads. If you join the FB group, you can ask for cover critique (which is important because if your cover is bad you won’t get clicks) blurb help for your sales page, and ad copy help for your ads. It truly is the most comprehensive free course I have ever found and it is a must if you want to start Amazon ads.

Amazon did a little writeup about him, and you can read it here.

If you missed the link, you can sign up for his free ads course here.

That’s all I have for personal updates. For Monday I want to work on a blog post about promo sites that don’t have a minimum number of reviews needed to use them, but I’ll have to see how the weekend goes. I may not have the time or the emotional energy to write something. Keep my kiddos in your thoughts as we go through a rough weekend.

Thank you!

Advertising Your Book–Categories, Targets, and Comp Authors

I was browsing through my social media writing groups the other day, and someone said something so profound that it has stuck with me ever since reading it. You know I’m a big fan of writing to market, a true believer in the idea that if you want to write a book that people want to read, write a book like the ones people are already reading.

We resist that idea because no one wants to write what someone else is writing or has already written, even going so far as to say they don’t want to write the same tropes because they have already been done before. This isn’t a blog post about that, per se, but along the same lines, I suppose.

When we write a book and publish it, that’s only half the work, something we don’t find out until the book sinks like a stone in the rankings because no one knows it exists. We might tweet about it, put it up on Facebook somewhere, create some pretty graphics and post on Instagram, or try our hand at some videos via TikTok, the new kid on the block. That bumps us up a little bit, but eventually we’ll run out of new people because free social media only goes so far (ask anyone who relies on Twitter for sales to tell you how far free social media can really take you).

So we turn to paid advertising, and what that author said blew my mind–write what you can advertise.

Just that simple thing. Write what you can advertise.

What does that mean, exactly? Can’t we advertise any book?

Yes. But can we advertise any book to success? Not necessarily.

You can advertise any book, say on Amazon, but if Amazon doesn’t know where to put your book, they won’t show your ad and you’ll get zero impressions and no clicks. That makes genre and categories really important. When you create an ad on Amazon, you have a few ad type choices: you can do an auto ad and let Amazon do the work in figuring out who to show your ad to, you can run a category targeted ad, or you can use comparison authors and comparison titles as keywords. You can also target ASIN’s of books like yours, which I have heard works better, but I can’t tell you from my own experience that it does. I’ve done all four, and I didn’t realize until just now why, but All of Nothing is a billionaire romance and one of the reasons why it has always done so well when I ran an ad is because there is actually a billionaire category to choose from when creating a category ad on Amazon:

taken from Amazon Advertising ads platform

If I choose that, and my metadata matches, Amazon knows exactly who to show my ads to–readers who want to read a billionaire romance.

My age-gap romance, The Years Between Us, doesn’t have its own category, and choosing Contemporary Romance gets me impressions, and even clicks, but if someone isn’t in the mood to read age-gap, or doesn’t like it for whatever reason, I lose that sale. The same goes for Coming of Age, which I have listed The Years Between Us under, but even though it can be considered Coming of Age as my FMC is 18, readers may not like the age gap element of the novel.

taken from Amazon Advertising ads platform
taken from the Amazon ads dashboard
taken from the Amazon Ads platform

There’s a lot more competition using an umbrella category like contemporary romance.

You can always use comp authors and comp book titles as keywords, but if you’re writing a very niche genre (like age gap, haha), or mashing together more than two, you’ll have trouble targeting the correct authors because there aren’t that many. Targeting authors is something you can do on Amazon Ads, Facebook Ads (if the author is available in the list and I’ve heard from several people that list is arbitrary), and on BookBub. If you’re one of few writers in that genre, ads may not work. Not because your book isn’t good, but because the platform doesn’t know who to show your ads to or the audience isn’t large enough.

Does this man you can’t write what you want? No. Does this mean you can’t still advertise? No. But you may not get the results you want. You may waste money figuring that out or come to the conclusion that ads don’t work which won’t be true. I stopped using Coming of Age completely because I lost a lot of money on clicks and I should probably take that book out of that category as it doesn’t honestly represent the book.

I still advertise The Years Between Us but when I do, I use the Contemporary Romance category on Amazon to mixed results. Readers like my ad copy (He’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe . . . even if that means breaking her heart), they like the cover, but once they read the blurb and realize it’s an age gap romance, sometimes I lose them. Not always, but until I started keeping track of the ads for that book and pausing them when the spending overtook the sales, I lost money on the readers who decided that book wasn’t for them.

I’ve only dabbled with Facebook ads, and I don’t understand enough to give you any kind of guidance steeped in experience. I know that targeting books isn’t as zeroed-in as Amazon, which can be better and can be worse depending on your point of view. Facebook seems to have more flexibility allowing you to cast a wider net, but that flexibility can also cost you money if people are clicking on your ad and deciding your book isn’t for them after all. There are plenty of billionaire romance authors out there, even if you discounted EL James and Sylvia Day. The idea is to drill down as narrowly as you possibly can so the ads platform you’re using shows your ads to only those readers who would want to buy it. But not so narrow that you don’t have anyone in your audience! Creating a viable audience is probably the trickiest thing about Facebook Ads but I’m willing to keep trying because so many authors say that it works for them.

So what does this mean for writing to market and writing to ad platform? Already lots of indie authors balk at writing to market. They want to write what they want to write, as did I when I thought writing “Contemporary Romance” would be enough to build a career on rather than focusing on subgenre. Marketing and targeting those books was expensive and some books I couldn’t get to sell no matter what, like my road trip romance because Road Trip Romance isn’t a category, nor is Close Proximity, and besides Contemporary Romance there isn’t another category I can try. (I experimented with Romantic Action and Adventure, but my cover didn’t fit and I got some impressions, but no clicks.)

Taken from the Amazon Ads platform

I did everything I could from swapping out covers to rewriting the blurb more times than I could count and still, I just can’t sell it. My Tower City trilogy doesn’t sell either, because while there is a sports romance category on Amazon, my covers aren’t made to the sports romance subgenre, and it turns our long distance running isn’t sexy and no one is interested in it. Who. Knew.

taken from the Amazon Ads platform

The best thing you can do is a little research before you start writing. Who are your comp authors? Are they writing what you write? How is your writing different? Is it too different?

You can use bklnk.com (click author tools and use the cat finder) and find all the categories that a book similar to yours is listed under by searching the ISBN or ASIN. Then you can email Amazon and have those categories added to your book. That way you can run auto placement ads and Amazon will know where to place your ad. I asked around to see if there’s a list of categories available in the Amazon Ads platform, but unfortunately there isn’t one.

Nobody likes to be told what to write, but everyone likes to find readers. Make finding readers easier on yourself and do a little market research before you begin to write. I wish I would have known this before I started publishing. I love all the books I’ve written so far–they are some really good stories and I’m proud of them–but I truly do love writing billionaire, and I think I’ve found a niche I can have fun with for a long time. And also as importantly as enjoying the subgenre, I know there is a market for them and I’ll be able to advertise them.

What do you think? Is thinking about how to advertise your book taking it a little too far? Too limiting? Let me know what you think!

Monday Musings: Thoughts on being an indie author, the RWA, and what I’m loving right now.

Being an Indie Author

Being so fully immersed in the indie community, I see a lot of support indie authors. I think it’s great, you know, who doesn’t want to be supported? But we also say this a lot: who publishes our books doesn’t define us or the quality of our craft. So can we have one without the other? Can’t we say we should support ALL authors–because what we’re doing is hard, no matter who publishes us.

I don’t mind being defined by the fact I’m an indie author. I never wanted the stress of querying, and I never considered a book deal to be anything but giving my rights away for pennies on the dollar. But, if I’m running my business correctly, I don’t feel I need any more support than any other author. Traditionally published authors rarely get much help from their publishers except for certain cases like they’re already a household name, or a book sold at auction and the publisher markets the heck out of that book and author because they want to earn their advance back and then some. If you read a book, do you review it? Are you more inclined if it’s an indie book with 5 reviews, or a trad book that already has 1,000? Maybe it’s a nitpicky thing to be thinking about on a Saturday morning, but I was scrolling through the WordPress reader before I set up this blog post, and because I follow a lot of indie authors, I saw this phrase this morning and it stuck out.

Do indie authors need any more support than any other author? I know a couple of authors who are published by small presses. Smaller than small, tiny, presses, and to be honest, I feel like they need more support than I do! Those presses don’t have the budget for marketing their authors, yet those authors, in essence, gave their rights away and now they don’t have access to their KDP dashboard to run ads. If they do run ads off of their Facebook author page, they are paying for ads for a small percentage of royalties. At least I know if I sink time and money into my books, it’s for me. It must be difficult to accept that if you spend time and money on your books and you’ve been published by a tiny press that you’re not only working for yourself, you’re working for them, too. I suppose it depends on what you’re willing to give up and what little you’re willing to receive in return. You can support me, but I’m thinking another author might need it more.


The RWA and Vivian Awards

I just erased about 600 words of what I thought about the RWA and the Vivian awards and all that’s going on with that organization. The more I thought about it, the more uneasy I felt, and I think I’m going to take the easy way out and not say anything. I’m glad my membership expired last year and I’m glad I didn’t renew. I had high hopes for the restructuring of the organization, and for what the new president could do. It seems like it’s going to be more of the same, and in a world where we’re all moving forward in every way possible, it’s not right for an organization who says they champion all writers to hang back. Inclusion can’t just be a concept. It has to be a way of life. I don’t ever want to be a member of an organization that can say it, but not mean it and prove it by their actions.


KDP and A+ Content

I’ve also been hearing a lot about A+ Content on KDP. I haven’t tried it yet, though I know with the impending releases I have coming soon, I’ll have to decide if I want to invest in the time it takes to make the graphics to put anything together. If you use a lot of graphics on social media, you may already have something you can repurpose, and if you pay for Canva Pro, resizing them to the pixels KDP requires is pretty easy. It sounds like an utter time suck to me. I like to play on Canva as much as the next person, but thinking about adding all that extra to my books’ sales pages gives me hives.

If you’re interested, Dave Chesson has a comprehensive blog post outlining its features, and I’m sure in the coming months now that the Kindle Vella sensation is pretty much over, we’ll be hearing more about it and if it’s working for other authors. For now, I can only assume that a good title, good cover, good blurb, and a fantastic look inside will get your further than spending time making graphics. On your book’s product page, you have to scroll to reach the extra content, and if your cover isn’t good or your blurb isn’t hooky enough, a reader isn’t going to spend time on your product page anyway. It all depends on where you want to spend your time. My creative brain would rather write, but my business brain knows there’s no point in writing if I can’t get readers to the words.


Book Marketing with Jane Friedman

taken from her website

Speaking of finding readers, if you are looking for new ways to market your book, I suggest you give Jane Friedman’s book marketing webinar a try. She knows the industry inside out and I’m sure she’ll have new insights as to what is working now and what you can avoid. It’s only 25 dollars and you get the replay if you can’t watch it live, the files she uses, and you can download the video if you want to be able to watch it again. I’ve taken several of her mini-webinars (as I call them) and there is so much value. Look here for the course description. Effective Book Marketing for Any Author (Even If You’re Starting From Scratch)


Billionaire Romance Stats by Alex Newton of K-Lytics

Screengrab taken from Alex’s K-lytic’s site.

If you’re looking at writing billionaire romance like I am, Alex Newton of K-Lytics did a report you can purchase for $37.00. The pre-recorded webinar talks about what is selling in the billionaire romance market, how hot the niche is, what book covers are selling, etc. It’s interesting information, and just knowing that I chose a subgenre that will never die (like vampires he says) gave me some security. He also analyzes different genres and subgenres and all of his mini-reports are chock-full of information. A great value! You can find the Billionaire Romance Report here.


That is all I have for today. I’m 18k into a new project while I get my blurb and cover together for the first book I’m going to release…I’m not sure when. I wanted to this year, and maybe I still will if I can figure out some kind of launch/release plan. Obviously I’m not going to hit it out of the park with one single standalone, but that one single standalone is going to be a foundation for a new pen name and I want to make sure every book I release from here on out counts. Pressing Publish and walking away did nothing (and I’m not quite sure why I thought it would), so I have to figure some things out. If that means waiting, that means waiting, but I’m not going to wait too long. I’d rather publish for a handful of readers than keep these books on my laptop for any more time. I will keep you posted!

Until next time!

Thursday Thoughts, Kindle Vella, and where I am right now.

I feel like I’m running on a treadmill. I’m making progress toward my health, mental and physical, overall, but hell if I’m going anywhere. That’s how this phase of my writing is going.

It’s tough feeling like you’re not going anywhere.

I’m finished listening to the first book I’m going to release–a 1st person billionaire. There is still a lot to do before I can even get my hands on a copy of the proof, and I’ll create a checklist for you all as I get them done. This book doesn’t have a title yet, something so simple that is going to give me hives. I’ve made plenty of mistakes naming my books, and now that I’ve learned so much in the past four years of writing and publishing, there’s a lot of pressure to apply all that I’ve learned. I’ll still make mistakes, but cover, title, blurb, metadata, keywords, pricing, and everything else that goes into putting the book up for sale, those areas don’t give you a lot of leeway for error. Anyone can tell you who has had to make changes to an already published book, it’s just easier in the long run to get it all right so you can enjoy the launch rather than worry about having to fix the interior or change a typo on the cover. Yeah, that is a lot of added pressure, but slow down and don’t panic, and it will be okay.


There’s been a lot of talk about Kindle Vella, and this can cause its own kind of FOMO and anxiety. To be honest, I never cared about Kindle Vella, and once I heard someone break it down, it really didn’t entice me to want to try it. What she said is this: Writing episodic fiction is more than just sitting down and splitting up a novel at mini-cliffhanger-type scene breaks. Writing episodic fiction is a skill, in work you can see for yourself such as writing soap operas, telanovelas, and podcast fiction. You have to write with intent. You have to know the story you want to write and how to write it. I have no knowledge of writing episodic fiction, nor do I want to learn simply to try a new platform where I may or may not find success. I know how to write books, that’s it. Short stories, novellas, novels, and episodic fiction all have their own rhythms and nuances, their own reader expectations. Once I heard her say this, it made so much sense that I was glad I didn’t let myself get swept away in the hype.

If you do want to try Kindle Vella, or want to learn more about it, look here:

What is Kindle Vella? And Should You Join as an Author? (Reedsy Blog)
Amazon Kindle Vella for Serialized Stories Launches in the US
Kindle Vella Authors Facebook Group

As with any piece of writing, if you don’t write it correctly, with skill and talent, keeping reader expectation in mind (why are readers reading your work, what do they want to get out of it), you won’t go far. That’s true for anything from blog posts to articles on Medium, to submitting to a literary journal, to writing a book. Rather than jumping on the next big thing, ask yourself if your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to find any success. If you don’t have time to learn how to write episodic fiction, but you can crank out a novel in six weeks, ask yourself which is a better use of your time. You may decide after you break it down that it’s not right for you after all.


I wasn’t able to go to Georgia this week. My SO caught COVID and I had to cancel my trip. He’s doing okay, a little tired, a little achy, but I wasn’t able to go. In a small way, I was relieved. I don’t like flying. It’s not the flying so much as how so many people lately have had poor experiences with the airlines. Canceled flights, sitting on the runway for hours on end only to taxi back to the airport. It’s terrible, and I’m not sure if things will get any better. I never had a good experience flying before COVID (the Fargo, ND airport has never been able to get me to my layover on time) and it seems the pandemic made dealing with airlines that much more troublesome. We’ll figure something else out–he may come visit me in October. I’m just thankful he’ll make a full recovery after a few days of sleep.

So I’ll keep plugging away at my books, setting them up and seeing how I can optimize my launches. Making my books the best they can be, looking forward to fall, and trying to enjoy life on the hamster wheel.

Until next time!

Thursday Thoughts and grabbing ideas from big-time indie authors.

Happy Thursday! I can’t believe it’s already June 10th. I have a feeling this summer is going to fly by. Last Tuesday night I went out for my usual dinner with my sister and the restaurants were packed! I think that with summer, the COVID vaccine, and most places lifting the mask mandate, more and more people are going to be to out and about. That’s not a bad thing, but our businesses here haven’t caught up with demand. So many restaurants need staff and have signs out front. Fargo, ND, is also getting an Amazon distribution center soon, and it’s going to take 500 jobs away from local businesses that look like they already need help. I’m not against Amazon and I think it’s great we have a distribution center coming here, but it will make for some interesting times ahead and the push/pull it will create in the job market. Maybe I still have a little human resources in me after all.


As for a personal update, I’m 57,500 words into this new book, and I should be done with it by the end of the month. It’s going to be longer that my other standalones. Usually I’m just about getting to the “big bad” or it’s already happened, and I still have a few more scenes to write before I get there. While that rests I’ll get working on my newsletter (no more about that or your eyes will start to bleed) and maybe look through my list of tropes to find something simple to offer as a newsletter magnet. You know, I like writing and can write 50,000 words in about three weeks (according to my document information, I created my current WIP on May 15th). So whether I want to or not I will write something to use as a magnet, and the fun part will be figuring out what that is.

I’ve been feeling okay lately, though I’m far from kicking the infection I’ve had since December. I’m writing a side project on how I’ve been dealing with it and what I’m doing on my own outside my doctor’s help to get rid of it. I’ve done quite a bit of research and let me say that in this area of women’s health, the advancements are sorely lacking. When it’s done I’ll put a link up to it so you can take a look if that’s what you really want, but this blog isn’t the place for that type of thing. I’ll probably put it up on Amazon and other platforms for free as I don’t want to make money off it–just offer awareness in all the places that I can. It will be about 10,000 words, and formatted that might be enough to put it into a hardcopy form but I’ll have to look up KDP Print’s minimum page number count.


You all know I’m on Clubhouse and over the weekend they had an Indie Author’s Conference. They had a variety of speakers, and one evening a 7-figure author spoke about how she launched her books. Of course the “room” was packed and I sat with a notebook and was prepared to take a million notes. I have launches come up too, and I am soaking up a lot of launch plan information right now. Quickly I learned that her launch plan was going to be very different from my launch plan and I left the room discouraged. This author has been publishing for years, has a giant newsletter following, has a lot of books across four pen names and the information, while great, didn’t contain much I was going to be able to use. I am so grateful to the indie authors who are making it who are willing to share their information, but when you’re starting from zero like me and my new pen name and the only information I have is what I’ve learned on my own publishing the last four years, the information they share you may just not be ready for. There were little things like the promo sites she uses (David Gaughran has a great list here) and of course, everything I hear these days is to start a newsletter to keep your readers engaged, and she does reiterate that your book has to be ready to launch. Edited, good cover, good blurb, back matter up to snuff with the call to action of your choice (preorder link for next book perhaps) otherwise it’s not going to matter how you launch, your book will be DOA. I understand all that, but it is still a shame that authors giving advice have to remind other authors of that. At any rate, I will keep scrounging for information first, second, third, or even fourth time launchers can use. Here are the top items in my launch plan that I will start using and keep using going forward:

  1. Start/keep up a newsletter, though I’m not going to be able to participate in swaps until I can get something going and have something to offer in return.
  2. Use promo sites like Freebooksy/Robins Reads/ENT. Every once in a while you hear of a name that hasn’t been shared before that I forget too, like Red Feather Romance, part of Written Word Media specifically for romance authors.
  3. Use Amazon ads. Once I get my pen name up and going I may try Facebook ads again. The few times I have they haven’t worked very well, sucking up my money with no conversion or sales on my end, but that could be an operator issue and not a machine issue. Also, I think that what I wrote in my last blog post is absolutely true: ads work when your book is already selling well. I’ve learned you can’t press publish and walk away. I dropped the ball many times when I should have been working harder than ever to use that new release energy.

When you’re absorbing info from other authors you have to decide what you can use and what you’re not ready for. There is no shame to admit that some of the information you’re hearing is over your head. I understand why organizers of these events ask the big-time authors to share what works for them because the info they provide is invaluable. Not only do they show us the technical/business side of the writing, they show us that it is actually possible to make a living, to create a reader following.This author has been writing and publishing for years and has built an audience and more importantly, keeps that audience fed with consistent releases. You may not be ready for the information for different reasons. You can’t release that fast, or you can’t afford all the things she’s doing, or maybe you don’t even know what genre you want to write in yet and you’re exploring your options. There’s no shame in admitting you aren’t at someone else’s level. In fact, it’s smart or you’ll get overwhelmed and you’ll just go crazy trying to keep up with someone you have no chance at keeping up with. And possibly spending money you don’t have. This isn’t comparisonitis, it’s simply taking what you can, if anything, and moving on to an author more your level who is killing it in their own way. I kind of came to this realization too, while listening to Mark Dawson’s launch plan mini-course I purchased from his SPF University. He’s so far from where I am, all I can do is take bits and pieces and hopefully twist what he does into what I can use for my own purposes.

I like listening to Clubhouse chats, and there are so many people out there who are willing to share what they know. Maybe one day I’ll be sharing what I know on Clubhouse too, but I’ll definitely be starting from zero.

What I’m liking now:

David Gaughran Starting from Zero course graphic. Blue with author photo.

Speaking of starting from zero, David Gaughran has a free course that takes you through exactly that. You can find it here. (Image taken from his website.)

The Six Figure Author podcast did an episode where the hosts talked about what they did wrong at the beginning of their careers. This episode is especially interesting to listen to if you haven’t published yet, and you can listen to it here.

That’s all I have for today! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday Author Updates, 3D Characters and Newsletter Aggregators

Happy Thursday!

Things are going okay, but as life happens, not everything can go smoothly. More on that!

My paid beta reader has sent back my ugly duckling trope novel and I’m going to dig into her notes as soon as I’m done with this current WIP. (I’m currently at 23k.) I can’t focus on two books at once, and I’d rather have my current WIP done before I switch focus to another book. I skimmed her letter and she noted a small problem with my MMC saying he seemed a bit flat to her. So while I finish my current “my brother’s girlfriend is forbidden” trope, I’ll be brainstorming how to breathe more life into him. I don’t think she’s wrong: I know that since I’ve switched over to 1st person present POV I have a bit of a problem connecting with my characters. I depend very heavily on dialogue to move my stories along and I need to explore how to dig deeper into characters’ thoughts, feelings, relationships, and hobbies, and possibly giving them more backstory to make their current story richer.

If you want to explore how to create compelling characters, you can check out this class with Jane Friedman and Tiffany Yates Martin. I love Tiffany’s editing book, Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing and I am on board with anything she has to say with regards to editing and writing craft. You can check out the class here. It’s only $25 dollars and well worth the fee, in my opinion. While I subscribe to Jane’s newsletter–and you should too–I have to to thank Sarah Lou Dale for tweeting about this class over on Twitter. I think I would have missed it otherwise. Thanks, Sarah!


In other news, I’m sure you’re tired of me lamenting on the state of my newsletter, or lack of one. While I think I have it figured out, too many choices will be the death of me, I swear. I just unsubscribed from one, (I think I got signed up by entering a giveaway or something) and I noticed she used ConvertKit. Recently, Jami Albright said in a podcast episode she uses Mailchimp. A friend on Twittter, Scarlett West, said she loves FloDesk, and Craig Martelle, whom I consider a freaking genius when it comes to all things indie publishing and from the 20booksto50k FB group and writer’s convention, uses SendFox. For myself, I created an account with MailerLite, not only because they give you the first 1,000 email sign-ups for free, they have a MailerLite channel on YouTube that will walk you through everything you need to know to get up and going. If their channel doesn’t click with you, there are several tutorials by different marketing experts that also go through MailerLite step by step. Maybe you don’t need that, and I think that’s great, but this is coming from a gal who watched hours of Vellum tutorials before I even opened my Vellum software when I first purchased it. Research nerd, anyone? So, while there are a lot of great choices out there, I think for now I will stick with MailerLite and not be tempted like a kid in a candy store.


Graphic taken from atticus.io

Speaking of Vellum, another thing I wanted to let you know about in case you haven’t heard is that Dave Chesson is close to releasing his new formatting software called Atticus. It will be more than just a formatting software like Vellum–he says it will also work as a writing software like Word or Scrivener. It’s going to be half the cost of Vellum (ebook and paperback capability is $250.00 for lifetime, unlimited use right now) and will be available on all operating systems. (Vellum runs on Mac only.) You can check out the website here and sign up for updates! While I probably won’t purchase Atticus (I like Word and Vellum does what I need it to do), I think it will be a great alternative for those who can’t afford Vellum, or a Mac if you don’t already have one. My fiancé purchased a Mac back in 2018 for me because my Windows laptop just wasn’t cutting it for all I wanted it to do for my books. My Mac runs a lot better and faster and I will never go back to a Windows operating system. (I am an Apple girl at heart, anyway–I’d already had an iPhone and I love my iPad.) So stay tuned to Dave Chesson and his awesome software coming soon!


As for a more personal update, you all know I’ve been struggling with an infection that hit me in December of last year and I’m still dealing with today. I’ve been on four courses of antibiotics and this last one may have done a little more for me than previous prescriptions. Time will only tell as I just finished them two days ago, but fingers crossed that maybe I’ll start feeling better. I thought my body was taking care of it on its own, but that wasn’t to be the case. Anyway, I’m walking more, with a goal to lose a few pounds this summer, and going to a low carb diet. (Besides the mocha creamer in my coffee, of course!)

Another thing I’ve had to deal with is how hot it gets in my apartment. My A/C doesn’t work that great and I need to call our property management and ask that maintenance takes another look at it. I had them out last summer and they washed out the unit, and it worked better for about two days. After that I didn’t bother to call again because fall was right around the corner. But our A/C hasn’t worked well for years and this management company is a bear to deal with. I wish I could move but I’m stuck for the foreseeable future. I had to put up sun-blocking clings to our balcony windows because they face east and it can get soooo hot in our living room when the sun goes down (close to 85 degrees F). Hopefully it will help. If you need to try them where you live, you can look at what I purchased here. (This isn’t an affiliate link.) They were so-so to put up–my son helped me. We ran out, but we figured it would give the cats a place to still look outside. The clings can turn your space into a cave, though, so be prepared for that.

For better news, my daughter only has six days of school left, and it will be so nice not to have to bring her to school and pick her up every day. There is so much road construction going on in my city that I’m going to limit when I go to the grocery store to only and Walmart once a month for the summer. I hate dealing with road construction, especially since I’m not sure where you live, but it all seems so unnecessary. It’s ridiculous and while I’m not one to give in to road rage, I’d rather just stay home.


That’s it for the personal updates and what I have going on. Summer in Minnesota can be pleasant, or it can be hotter than hell and crappy to deal with. It’s nice when we have a bit of a mixture. I already have a sunburn from walking, but the cooler temps give us a little relief, too.

I hope you all are doing well and have a pleasant weekend ahead!

When Authors Act Out Online

Last week there was a bit of drama when an author lashed out on Twitter at readers for leaving less than a five star review. Of course everyone was offended, and in true form, went to her Goodreads book profile and slammed it with one star reviews in retaliation.

When stuff like this happens, it’s always a train wreck, and we can’t look away as the author goes down in flames.

This isn’t the first time an author has behaved badly on social media–I recall the author who had their book deal terminated because she tweeted a derogatory remark about a Black woman eating on a train.

We’ve probably all had our fair share of cutting it close on social media–pressing an opinion on someone who doesn’t want to hear it, posting about religion, politics, or a hot take about COVID. Lots of authors say they should be able to post whatever they like, and to a point, I believe that, too. My personal Facebook profile is public and I post memes that have the F word in them–a lot. I have a dry sense of humor, but I try not to share anything that would be offensive (I don’t spread racism or body-shaming and wouldn’t even if I wasn’t an author). I support a lot of wildlife rescues, and if you follow my feed long enough, you’ll see that I love bats and foxes. On Twitter I get into spats–someone called me a twat the other day because I defended Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series–and if you ask for an opinion, I’ll give you mine. If I hate your cover, yessir, I will let you know. It’s not my problem if you agree with it or not, but I’ll tell you straight.

One thing we don’t consider is the state of an author’s mental health when they lash out. When I read all the drama that author put on herself–slamming those reviewers for less than five star reviews–I didn’t automatically call her a bitch or entitled. I thought, what is that author going through she has to lash out because of a good review? What is that author’s life like? Does she see a therapist? Is she on medication? Did she just go through a breakup? Did the stress of launching of her book make her snap? If you comb through some tweets, someone reveals the author was high and tweeting in the middle of the night. I have no idea if this is true, but it wouldn’t be the first time an author, or anyone for that matter, has been drunk or high and posted something they later regretted. Drunk-texting an ex and begging him to come back isn’t the same as tweeting something so terrible it could ruin your career, but you get my meaning.

Authors are already a lonely bunch, and I haven’t met many writers who are actually in a good place mental-health wise. They’re only good at hiding that they aren’t. Even the woman who called me a twat defaulted to rage someone had the audacity to disagree with her. That’s a lot of anger built up to attack someone you don’t know for having a differing opinion. I would imagine this author has been querying for a while and hasn’t managed to grab a book deal and she’s furious someone like Stephenie could not only secure a book deal, but became an international bestseller and was offered a movie deal, too. Maybe anger isn’t a mental health issue, but anger management is in the behavioral health department, and this author should find some help.

Anyway, I got a little off track there. The whole point of this blog post is that things aren’t always what they seem, and I hope I wasn’t the only one to have given this author the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that’s misplaced and she does feel entitled to 5 star reviews, but I tend to think this last year has been hard on everyone, and not enough people are giving others grace. The world is a huge place, but when we are stuck in our little bubbles, it’s hard to walk a mile in someone’s shoes–especially if we’ve been under lockdown for the past 12 months.

I don’t know what this will do to her career. I Googled a bit, but at the time of this writing, there isn’t a blog post or article I can reference that even speculates. I don’t know what her publisher will do, or if she has a PR manager who can do damage control or if they’re interested in doing that. I do know she’s lucky in that something will take her place–I’ve already heard grumblings about the Vivian finalists that the RWA put out a couple days ago. I didn’t renew my membership so I don’t know what book title is evoking the anger (something about a serial killer romcom?), but #romancelandia will be interesting to watch coming up.

What can you do to keep your social media on track?

  • Pause before you tweet or post. I’m always taken with this poster in my clinic’s office when I check in. If what you’re going to to post isn’t any of those things, maybe you don’t need to put it out into the world.
Think before you speak: 
Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?
  • Double check what you’re posting on social media is the message you want to convey to the people who follow you. A lot of authors don’t know what their brand is, and I’m not really any different. To the indie authors in the community, I want to be seen as helpful, kind, supportive. I don’t want to be known as someone who is willing to make a buck off iffy information, and trust me there is a lot of that out there. I’ll tell the truth. If you’re cover isn’t working for the genre, it’s not working. If it looks homemade, I’ll tell you. That may not be seen as kind if it’s not the feedback you’re looking for, but there is a huge gap between Writer Twitter and the professionals in the Facebook groups I’m a part of who are making a living wage with their books. I’m not looking to bridge that gap, but if I can help one person make one more sale than they would have, then speaking up is worth it.
  • What are your social media goals? I’m on social media to have fun, network, learn new things about the industry, and drive readers to my blog. I don’t have a reader group on FB (yet), I post what I want on IG without regard to trying to find readers. There is a strong romance community (that I have found, anyway) but it mostly consists of writers sharing the romance novels that they love to read when they aren’t writing. It takes a while to realize that social media (free book marketing) doesn’t work as well as it used to.

If you’re angry, you may not take that pause before lashing out, or maybe you need to vent and have no where to put it but a long FB post. Censoring yourself may be one the hardest things you can do if you feel passionately about something, but the last thing you want to do is lose out on a networking opportunity or a collaboration, or even a book deal if that’s what you want because of something you said in a moment of weakness online.

Mental health is a serious issue, but if you follow along with that author who lashed out and see what other writers and book bloggers did to her book on her Goodreads profile not everyone is willing to give the benefit of the doubt or a second chance. I realize you can’t live your life in fear, but you can think about what you’re projecting out into the world. That might actually help your mental health in the long run.

Do you want to read more about the mental health of writers? Look here.

The Writing Life: Writers and Mental Health

Shattering the Misery Myth: How to Nurture Your Mental Health as a Writer

Thursday Thoughts, Clubhouse, and Time to Think.

It seems all anyone can talk about these days is Clubhouse, and I was lucky enough to be invited into the app exclusive for iPhone users (thanks Aidy!). If you haven’t heard of Clubhouse, it’s an app where you can drop in on any room of your choosing and be a fly on the wall. I’m a part of a couple of indie writing rooms and a publishing room. One of the rooms, or I guess “club”, is hosted by my Level Up Romance Group on Facebook. There I get to listen to the speakers “on stage” chat about whatever topic they’ve decided on (today it was Kindle’s new platform Vella, but that’s a different blog post). It’s not scripted, not like a podcast where the interviewer answers questions previously given to them by the hosts. It’s fashioned as more of a chat/discussion, or if you’ve ever been to a conference (not just a writing conference but any professional conference) I liken it to dropping into a breakout session and listening in. If you don’t get anything out of it, or you need to attend a different session, you can slip out the door, or in the app’s case, you can press on “leave quietly” and leave the room.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of this app–I’ve never spoken and haven’t been invited to. (My area of expertise is limited and I’m not making any money selling books so I doubt an invitation will be forthcoming in the near future.) I’m still learning how to move about the app (or hallways), and the first time I attended a room, I was scared to blow my nose because I wasn’t sure if I was muted or not. (Unless you’re invited to speak, you are, but it’s up to you to unmute yourself when it’s your turn to contribute.)

As you can imagine, there is a lot of information passed along these casual chats and it feeds right into my Fear Of Missing Out.

I present myself as a pretty stable individual mental-health wise, and for the most part, I am. But when it comes to the indie publishing industry and all the information out there, I have a desperate fear of missing out on the NEXT NEW THING. How are authors making money, what are they doing, what are they trying? I can get a bit obsessive when it comes to gathering information, and it’s only been in the past six months or so where I’ve tried, consciously tried, to loosen the reins and dump some Facebook groups. I don’t listen to nearly as many podcasts as I used to, either. I haven’t listened to Joanna Penn for quite some time, and it’s been while since I listened to the Wish I’d Known Then podcast hosted by Jami Albright and Sara Rosett, though that one should be at the top of my list since they both write romance and interview romance authors on the regular. I don’t listen to The Sell More Books Show since Jim Kukral left. I don’t care for the new format (no offense, Bryan!) and I don’t click with H. Claire Taylor, Bryan’s new cohost. The only podcast that I listen to every week is the 6 Figure Author podcast. I like Lindsay, Jo, and Andrea, though if it’s just the three of them talking, sometimes their information can get a bit repetitive, and I’m not always interested in their guests, though they are more business-minded than some podcasts I’ve listened to about publishing (recently they interviewed Joe Solari).

The reason why I stopped listening to so many podcasts is because if I listened to as many as I think I needed I wanted, or as many as are available, my mind would not rest. I need the time unplugged to think about my books. I need the time to mull over my plots, what my characters are doing, where they’re going, and how they’re going to get there. If I constantly have a voice yipping in my ear, my brain can’t wander, I can’t brainstorm, and my books will never get done.

There isn’t only one way to write a book, but this is my way. It helps me keep writer’s block at bay. There is no quicker way for me to shut down than if I sit at my computer and I don’t know what I need to write during that session. I call myself a planster, and I plot as I go along, and for me, that does mean knowing what I need to write that day even if I don’t know what I need tomorrow.

This applies to blog posts too. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say on the drive home from dropping my daughter off at school. I never would have had that time if I would have been listening to a Clubhouse meeting or a podcast. Sometimes even music takes away the space in my brain, and in the past I’ve been able to write with music in the background, but I’m moving away from that and writing in silence more and more.

So, enter Clubhouse and my need to know everything. So far the app is new, and there aren’t many rooms you can join, which is a good thing for me. To add to the urgency, rooms aren’t recorded. Either you can join and listen at that moment or you can’t. At least with a podcast, webinar (most offer replays though you can’t join in with a live Q & A session), or even a YouTube video, you can listen at your leisure. While Clubhouse could be a fabulous resource for authors down the road (especially once they are out of beta and you don’t need an invite to join) FOMO is real for a lot of people, and it will be interesting to see how others handle their time.

I don’t know everyone who is on stage most of the time, I know a few of the authors who speak, and they are all full-time authors. I mean, if you’re making ten grand a month on your books, I guess you can feel like you can make time to listen and join the rooms. I need all of my writing time still, because I work full time, have three cats (one of which is always needing something) two kids, and a social life. I need time to shut my brain off or my books won’t get written.

Time to think about your stories and blog posts and other content you share on social media is important, and I need to remind myself constantly that I don’t need to know everything. I like knowing what’s going on in the industry, especially romance. I probably wouldn’t have started writing in first person present had I not been keeping my ear to the ground. I wouldn’t have gone with MailerLite if it wasn’t the most recommended newsletter aggregator. Chances are if I wasn’t paying attention to the indie news in general, I wouldn’t have known to ask for a Clubhouse invite in the first place.

But I have to make sure I have space in my brain for books–which is doubly difficult if you’re already worried about something going on in your life. For me, it’s my health, but I’m slowly getting back to normal there, and eventually that space can be taken up with something else–hopefully nothing quite so serious. The next time I need an oil change, maybe, or when I need to make an appointment for a hair trim. It’s emotionally exhausting worrying about something, and when you can find quiet, it’s best to take it instead of cuing up a podcast or joining a room on Clubhouse.

It’s all about finding that elusive balance.

And that’s always easier said than done.

All stock photos supplied by Canva Pro.