I can’t remember which hat to put on…

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Multi-tasking is an artform. We all do it, to some extent, and we have all inevitably experienced the moment when we are unsure of what particular task should be given our full attention.

In my work life, juggling several duties at once has always come naturally. I assumed when I entered Hotel and Restaurant Management in college, there were subliminal messages in all my classes that programmed my brain to be able to solve many problems at the same time.

Being a writer, and becoming an author, presented a new set of challenges that I was ill-prepared to comprehend. Without an agent or a publishing company to look after all the facets of putting a book out into the world, my brain had suddenly become congested with the many roles I would have to play in the debut performance of me claiming my status as an author.

My thinking cap has always been a great fit. My writing chapeau took a few adjustments to make it fit properly. But my editing sombrero, and my marketing helmet both needed several adjustments before I could put one foot in front of the other without losing my headgear completely.

While the learning curves on this writing roller coaster have been enjoyable, there are still days I am unsure which hat I should be wearing, but I am thankful for the intervals that allow me a quick costume change. And, scene.

Did someone say free books?

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Although it’s been said many times, many ways, marketing is hard work. I am blessed to live in a small town and have received overwhelming support from my community. In keeping with the holiday theme of the first line of this paragraph, I must admit my heart has grown three sizes thinking about the encouragement I have received. But when it comes to attracting the attention of readers in a much wider market, that has its challenges.

I have watched several webinars, and I follow many writing communities on the internet, reaping the rewards of their knowledge. Learning from their successes and failures, I have had some of my own success branching out into the world and trying to create a buzz about The Waking Hours.

By far, the best way (albeit not a profitable way) for a new author to do that is to do a giveaway. Goodreads is an excellent way to engage with people who love to read, and a fantastic platform to offer something they love – free books. My first giveaway offered a chance to win one of ten signed copies of my first novel, and 1,734 people entered to win!

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So, I decided to double the fun. From 12:00 am to 11:59 pm on March 31st, the Kindle version of The Waking Hours will be available on Amazon for FREE. Immediately following that from 12:00 am April 1st to 11:59 am April 25th, I am doing another giveaway on Goodreads for a chance to win one of ten signed copies of my second novel in The RELATIVE Series, One Eleven, due to be published on May 2nd.

If you are reading this post on your social media, please share on your Facebook pages and retweet the crap out of it. Word of mouth promotion goes a long way for a little fish in a very big pond. And don’t forget to pick up your free Kindle copy of The Waking Hours tomorrow, and then head over to Goodreads on Thursday and enter for a chance to win a copy of One Eleven!

Onwards and upwards

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For those of you who have been following this blog, you will not be shocked by the fact that I am going to talk about writing, again. My first book, The Waking Hours, although self-published, has been doing well compared to the abysmal report I read on Google about anticipated sales. If their collected data is correct, and self-published books only average 250 book sales in the first year, I will be doing backflips after posting this latest entry. I am just shy of 500 book sales in ten weeks and that makes my heart happy.

The road to get to that number has come with its own set of challenges. Writing, editing, and marketing are all individual career paths for a reason – it is extremely difficult to perform all three tasks at the same time, and I have been feeling the stress of successfully acting out those three functions simultaneously, but I am still keeping my head above water, for now.

I have certainly obtained a great deal of knowledge and some new skills along the way, and in the grand scheme of things, I have discovered that I do not mind doing interviews. Initially, this was an enormous shock to my system, but the more I thought about how passionate I am about writing, and sharing the stories I have created, the more it made sense that I would want to share my journey with others and have those people ask questions about my process.

Last night, I did a Zoom call with my local library along with a handful of guests and, for the first time in my life, I was not nervous about public speaking. Sure, the participants were not directly in front of me, but I was answering questions about something that has become an extension of me. Although I had done a few trial runs through the questions and voiced my responses to the squirrels on my front lawn, my responses during the Q&A session sounded nothing like what I had rehearsed, but were, in fact, more linear to the truth in my head.

I can only hope I am afforded more opportunities to talk about my writing in a public forum. I am finally comfortable in my writer’s skin, and I have faith that my journey will continue onwards and upwards.

Holy marketing, Batman!

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When you enter the world of self-publishing, the most difficult part is the marketing and self-promotion. There are days I feel like I am shoving my book into people’s faces while I am internally berating myself for being so annoying. But this is a mandatory requirement in the process of getting myself out there.

While the sales numbers are doing quite well, I have been researching marketing tips and listening to people who have been there, and done that. The biggest hurdle for an unknown author, like myself, is figuring out how to get my name into the bigger markets. Being a small fish in a big pond is tough, but Dory said it best, “just keep swimming.”

I just began a promotion on Goodreads. The Waking Hours is currently available as a Giveaway. If you enter, at no cost to you, your name goes into a draw to win 1 of 10 signed copies that will be mailed to your address within two weeks of contest ending. It opens today and ends on March 28th, and is only available to CDN and US citizens. The more entries I receive, the higher the book goes on the list and the more visibility it gets on their site. Thanks in advance for your support!!

Click here to enter the draw.

Your rejection is my motivation

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When I was thinking about writing this post, a well-known song by Elton John came into my head, but the words morphed into something my writer brain could comprehend – “Rejection Seems to be the Hardest Word”. If you replace the word sad in Elton’s song with the word rejection, this could be the anthem for anyone who has written a novel and sent their words out into the world, only to receive an email response with the fateful line, ‘it’s not what I’m looking for”, or, “I just couldn’t connect with the story, but best of luck’.

Writing is hard. Ernest Hemingway described it best when he said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Over the last four years, I have completed almost three novels and self-published one of those stories, and I can tell you, no truer words have ever been spoken. A forensics team could analyze my laptop and find copious amounts of blood spatter and chronologically date those samples to match the past four years of my writing.

The idea of writing a novel is romantic. Composing a story that has characters with depth, a storyline that is exciting and has enough twist and turns to keep the reader engaged is terrifying. Every plot twist is subject to days of overthinking the idea. Characters constantly interrupt your train of thought to ask you to tell the story their way. And every great idea you have for your book on Tuesday night, sounds like absolute rubbish on Wednesday morning. Welcome to writing.

When I first began to query agents, I went into the process like every new writer does, fresh faced and full of hope that I had just written the next best seller. But the melting pot of reality takes you piece by piece until you vaguely resemble the hopeful person you were when you spent days putting together the perfect pitch. Some make it over the hurdles to the finish line, but most do not.

This is not where my story ends, but where it begins. Those rejections were my motivation to keep going and find other ways to share my words. One, two, even fifty agents opinions do not have the power to tell me my book is not good enough. The words I read in their email responses, if I even got one, were that my story was not a good fit for them. It did not mean my story would not connect with readers, and through self-publishing, that connection has been established and well-received.

I can only dream as I move further into what I hope will be my writing career to keep the faith I have in my writing, and always believe my writing voice will have ears that are eager to listen to the stories I have to tell.

These three days

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Today is the still day, the day I hold my breath and try to fathom how seven years could have passed since my mother died. I vividly recall trying to catch my breath after hearing the news at 7:00 am, swinging my legs over the side of my bed and letting myself sob while the call was still active. The poor woman on the other end of the phone was so lovely and she let me cry until I was able to pull myself together. The hours that followed were a blur. They were filled with emotional embraces with my brother and his family, endless phone calls and the inevitable trip to the funeral home. Many days it feels like it happened yesterday. Today is one of those days.

Tomorrow is the bridge day, the day I allow myself the time to rest and let the well of emotion refill before I have to dip into it again. These three days are saturated with a blend of melancholy and tears, but they are also filled with a joy that is hard to describe as my family and I share the stories that will always make us laugh and still feel loved by those we have lost.

The following day is another serene day. It is the calendar day my father passed away fifteen years ago. Regardless of the weather, March always comes in like a lion for me. And although it is the month I came into this world many years ago, the beginning of March will always be stained with a sadness I am unable to remove. Two of the most important people in my life were taken away, and these three days in the month of March always deliver a swift punch to my gut.

As I recover from the annual blow, I will remember how much I was loved. I will fall back on the memories of their laughter and the fun we used to have. And I will take solace in the fact they would be overwhelmingly proud of me for pursuing my dream to have a published novel, with more on the way. Their smiles will be the light in these three days.

It’s time for a good book

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Hey everyone….it’s “I Read Canadian” day today. I’m Canadian and I have a book you can read called The Waking Hours that can be purchased on your Amazon account!! Show your support by purchasing the book and, once you have read it, please leave a review on Amazon.

Self-publishing has been a great experience so far, and now I am balancing the marketing and self-promotion of The Waking Hours while editing One Eleven and writing Dark Room. I may need to make a bit of time to learn how to clone myself!

The hard work has just begun

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If you had told me six months ago, I would be where I am in my life right now, I would have said you were extremely optimistic, misguided but optimistic. But here I am, four weeks after self-publishing my first novel, The Waking Hours, and my life could not be further off the track I thought I was on.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote this post about the signs I had been seeing everywhere, especially the number 111. Since One Eleven is the title of my second book, due to be published on May 2nd, I was very encouraged each time that number popped up in whatever way it chose to present itself.

Before I sent my first book into the world, I had done some investigating to find out what to expect in terms of book sales. The information was discouraging. Research shows the average self-published book sells 250 copies a year, and potentially up to 1,000 copies in its lifetime. I am thrilled by the fact I have already sold more than 250 copies in the first month, but now the real work begins. Don’t get me wrong, writing a book is no easy feat, but being responsible for my own marketing and PR is the new mountain I have to climb, and I am now looking for the proper equipment to start at the bottom and work my way to the top.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some big boots to fill. Wish me luck!

PS: since I am responsible for marketing myself, please head over to Amazon and purchase a copy of The Waking Hours – available in Kindle or paperback format.

A brief look into my writing world

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The concept of writing a novel is romantic. When I first began to jot down ideas for The Waking Hours, it was more of a whimsical impulse than a promise to construct complex characters who would eventually write the bulk of the story themselves. I soon became nothing more than a conduit for their voices, and my creative process was redefined.

Twenty years after its inception, The Waking Hours is now breathing a life of its own. But that life did not come without several obstacles and a few hard truths. Writing fiction still holds the allure of feeling like Cinderella at the Ball, but self-publishing fiction is the Wicked Stepmother who you know to be problematic, but you do not realize how much of a pain in the ass she can be.

There are many facets to self-publishing that throw themselves into your path, causing you to stumble a few times on the way to the finish line. If I look back at my first attempt, I can truthfully tell you it resembled me starting at the finish line and running backwards, pushing through the stream of runners as I sped towards the starting gun.

I did self-publish my first novel on Amazon a few days ago, and I feel an overwhelming sense of pride in my achievement. I took an idea, I transformed that idea into a book, and I learned how to edit and properly format that book to sell it to the public. That, to me, is a giant checkmark in the win column. The fact that I am receiving great reviews is much more than just icing on a cake, it is the engagement ring after a twenty-year courtship.

My second book will be published on May 2nd and I am honestly looking forward to going through the same process, but this time I will start from the beginning and race towards the finish line like everyone else.

Lao Tzu says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” At least this time around, I will be going in the right direction.