A mongrel

Our Chihuahua has enough Pomeranian in him, he loves to snap at my Dear John’s feet–and I’ve been told that’s a Pomeranian trait.  Our cat’s a stray.  And the new story that I started for my webpage isn’t a purebred either.   Just like our pets, it’s a mongrel.

My husband loves it that I’m a writer.  Not enough to read any of the books I write, but he loves the IDEA of my being a writer.  The only exception is that occasionally, he’ll read stories that I put on my webpage, and he ALWAYS read every Babet and Prosper novella I wrote.  He had a thing about Babet and Prosper.  So did some of my friends.  Come to think of it, so did I.  And I miss them once in a while.

I also missed writing mysteries when I wrote urban fantasies.  I’m an Agatha Christie/puzzle solver at heart.  And that’s why I decided to combine the two–supernatural and mystery.  I don’t have any delusions that would sell.  Writing cross-genre books isn’t for anyone who studies markets.  It’s possible to find success if your stars are aligned and a light from heaven beams on your computer, but that hasn’t happened to me yet.  But…that’s what my webpage is for.  It’s for ME.  To write whatever tickles my fancy at the moment.

So, I didn’t want to write a different mystery series right now.  I did that with Chintz and Callum.  And even though I had a ball writing about a caterer and a cop, I yearned to write about witches and demons with a few vampires, Fae, and shape shifters thrown in.  So I decided to write Muddy River Mystery.  It’s sort of a post-as-you-go moment.  I don’t have many chapters written ahead.  But damn, I’m having fun!  And every once in a while, as much as I love meeting deadlines and developing series’ characters, I like to kick up my heels and do something different.

So, my webpage is the big blank page where I get to play.  And that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Enjoying myself.  My wish for you:  that whatever you’re working on now, I hope you enjoy it.  And I hope the words flow for you in 2019.

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I’m torn

Way back, when I first got Lauren Abramo as my agent and she accepted my novel FABRIC OF LIFE, she told me that she wouldn’t have Dystel & Goderich publish it online until I had posted a few blogs, had 50 followers on twitter, and had an author’s page on Facebook.  Lauren, I’ve learned, is ALWAYS right, but I’d never done any of those things, and they looked really intimidating.  Then I read that if an author had a blog AND a webpage, it gave them more coverage, the chance to reach more people.  I didn’t know squat, but that sounded good, so I decided since I had to jump into the unknown, I might as well do both.  Now, I’m not so sure I made the right choice.

If I have a webpage, I have to post something on it.  If I have a blog, I have to write something for it.  And I’ve been trying to keep them each unique, putting snippets and free stories on my webpage and posting writing info on my blog.  And I’m not sure that the two attract the same readers.  I get that.  I only have so much free time, and I can only read so many posts a week.  Every one else is busy, too.  So, I’m wondering if I should combine the blog and the webpage into one thing to make life easier for myself and anyone who might want to read what I post.  I’m torn, so if anyone has any insights or opinions, I’d love to hear them.  In the meantime, for those of you who’ve never looked at my webpage (and I completely understand that), I’m sharing a short Mill Pond story that I wrote just for the page.  And as always, happy writing!

Loretta

A Mill Pond Romance

Mom was having another bad day.  I turned her every morning and every night, like the doctor told me, but she was still getting a bed sore on her bottom.  I noticed it when I changed her diaper before breakfast.  Her skin was so thin, her body so fragile.

After I fed her, I plumped her pillow and put her favorite musical in the DVD player.  We talked while I started a roast in the Crock Pot and straightened up the house.  Noah came over in the afternoon and lifted her into her wheel chair, so I could push her onto the front porch, and the three of us could sit outside, inhaling the freshness of a mild spring.  A breeze drifted off of Mill Pond’s lake, and two ducks flew overhead.  Mom usually noticed, commented.  Today, she didn’t.

I sat on the porch swing with Mom’s chair pulled close beside me.  Noah sat in the rocker across from us.  He took a sip of the lemonade I’d brought him, sat the glass on the wicker table, then wiped his hands on his worn jeans.

“It was mighty nice of you to invite me over for supper tonight, Loretta,” he said.

“Without your help, I couldn’t get Mom in and out of bed.”  I reached across to pat his knee.  “Supper’s a small thanks for all you do for us.”

“I’d help you anyway.  You know that.”  He would, too.  There was no more thoughtful man than my neighbor.  After he’d lost his wife four years ago, I’d taken to having him come for supper.  When he retired two years ago, he’d taken to helping me with Mom.  Just having him around, in the house, gave me a sense of comfort.  We often sat on the porch on warm afternoons, enjoying a midday break.

I raised my voice so Mom could hear me.  “The daffodils you planted sure look pretty this year.”  They bobbed their heads in the flower bed nestled under the pink crabapple tree.

Mom glanced their way and nodded.  She shivered a little, and I pulled the blanket higher on her lap and buttoned her heavy sweater.  Then she raised her arm and pointed to the end of the sidewalk.  In a shaky voice, she said, “Look, Loretta.  Lou got out of work early.”  Her lips curled in a smile.  “What are you doin’ home so soon, hon?”

I exchanged a glance with Noah.  My dad had passed twenty years ago.  Up ‘til now, Mom’s body had failed her, but her mind was sharp.  I’d considered that a blessing.  I reached over to touch her.  “Are you doin’ okay?”

Mom gave a peaceful sigh.  “I’m tired.  I need to rest.  Your dad and I are taking a trip soon.”

Goosebumps rose on my arms.  When I stood, Noah rolled Mom’s wheel chair back inside the house, and I helped him get her into bed, then fiddled with her blankets and pillows until she was comfortable.  She closed her eyes briefly, then blinked them open.  She reached out and patted Noah.  “Lou gave you his approval.  You and Loretta will make each other happy.”  Then she shooed us out of her room.

Noah looked at me and blinked.  I felt restless, not sure what to think, how to feel.  I went to the kitchen and pulled my apron over my head.  “I’m in the mood for a pie.”

Dad had always loved lemon meringue pie.  I found myself rolling out dough and whipping egg whites.  Noah stirred the lemon filling.  After we took the pie out of the oven and placed it on the wide window ledge to cool, we went to check on Mom.

I knew she was gone the minute I looked at her.  A body isn’t the same once the soul leaves it.  I remembered staring down at Dad in his coffin.  A body, nothing more.

Noah came to stand beside me and reached for my hand.  We stood there, looking down at her, and a ray of sunshine burst through the window, engulfing us in light.  Noah gave my fingers a squeeze.  “I’m glad your dad approves.”

I smiled.  Mom and Dad would be happy now, and so would Noah and I.

 

My webpage:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter:  @judypost

 

 

 

Writing: to market, to market…

I’m feeling pretty happy with myself. I finished the rewrites for Magicks Uncaged, my third book in the Wolf’s Bane series. Now, I’m waiting to see the cover, and then I’ll wait for it to be formatted and put online. But MY part’s done. At least, on the writing scene. The next “to do” on my list is marketing–not my strongest skill. And the sooner I start, the better.

A long time ago, I did a post on marketing. I haven’t gotten more brilliant at it, but since I’m at that stage again, I thought I’d mention it. In my writers’ group, there’s a wide variety of approaches to promoting books. Some–the more serious, literary writers of our group–pen beautiful, wonderful fiction, try to find a market for it, and then do very little to promote it. I think they feel that it cheapens their talents to hawk their own products. But unless you have a publisher, famous friend, or agent who works his fanny off to sell you, you’d better come to terms with the fact that you need to do it yourself. Readers won’t know your work exists if you just put it out there and let it die. Even publishers expect authors to market their work these days. Some look at a writer’s blog, twitter followers, and social media before accepting his work. So…here are some thoughts.

In the group of authors I know, there are those who think they’ll only succeed if they market their work to find an agent and a publisher. If you’re looking for a big, New York publisher, you have to have an agent. None of the big publishers, except Harlequin, look at unsolicited submissions these days. Getting an agent is no easy task. Sometimes, you can get one because you know an author who’ll recommend you. Even then, you might get turned down. Agents are as subjective about what they like and don’t like as anyone else. They have specific things they’re looking for. Another way of finding an agent is to join twitter and participate in some “pitch” sessions. (Use the hashtag “pitchwars” or “nestpitch” and follow the leads). If you don’t want to go that route, go to a bookstore and look at the acknowledgements in books similar to yours to see if their agent is listed. Then look the agent up online. OR type “agent” in the search engine of your computer and follow the leads. And do your homework. Find out what clients the agent has and how well he’s sold them. Even with an agent, you might not be able to tempt a big publisher. That’s why some of my friends have turned to smaller publishers. And they’re happy with them. You don’t have to have an agent to submit to most small presses. And if none of those appeal to you, you can self-publish through smashwords or Amazon, etc. If you go the self-publishing route, though, you’re in charge of EVERYTHING. You need to write the best book you can write, make sure it’s clean of any errors, find a topnotch cover, format it, load it, and promote it. And remember. A book cover is usually the first thing a reader notices. It gives a “feel” of what the book’s about, but you don’t have to pay a fortune to get a good one.

No matter what you do, you need to be willing to promote yourself. You need a webpage, a blog (on your webpage or separate), and you should be on twitter and facebook. I have a friends’ facebook page separate from my author’s facebook page. And there are theories about the best way to use all of them. I’ve found #MondayBlogs useful on twitter, but there are more writer twitter hashtags. Paula Reed Nancarrow (whose blog I love for many different reasons) did a survey on twitter and blogging and wrote a few posts on the results. Here’s one of them: http://paulareednancarrow.com/2015/03/23/twitter-bloggers-and-communities-of-practice/

Another blog I always recommend for marketing is Lindsay Buroker’s. Most of us won’t have the success she has (she knew marketing and blogs before she started writing), but she’s happy to share what works for her and what doesn’t. http://www.lindsayburoker.com/amazon-kindle-sales/my-self-publishing-thoughts-after-50000-ebook-sales/ I’ve learned a lot from her blogs. Here’s another one of hers I found useful:
https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4318779-how-do-you-establish-a-fan-base-before-you-launch-your-book.

Can’t think of anything to blog about? Try Molly Greene’s link: http://www.molly-greene.com/101-blog-topic-ideas/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=evergreen_post_tweeter&utm_campaign=website But remember. When you blog, you’re trying to build an “author platform,” to “brand” yourself. Another blogger I recommend for marketing is Rachel Thompson: http://badredheadmedia.com/2013/12/06/branding-101-authors/. A second, good post on branding by her: http://www.bookpromotion.com/brand-author-book/. She’s worth following.

Just to give you a checklist, these are good for marketing: twitter, facebook, a blog, and a webpage. Most experts suggest blogging at least once a week. Some authors use blog tours to promote their books before they come out. I’ve never done that, but I know authors who’ve had success with it and some who haven’t. If any of you have tried it, I’d be curious if you liked it. I can tell you that I’ve been happy with some of the paid advertisements I’ve used to promote my books and novella bundles. I can recommend kboards and Ereader News Today. They’ve worked for me anyway. And many of them aren’t that expensive. Most have a variety of packages. Anyway, I’ve run on enough for one post. Good luck with whatever you’re working on!

twitter: @judypost
webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
author’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy