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Little Miss Lovesick_NEWSIZE_FINALI was thrilled to be invited to join a group of friends who wanted to do a fun cross-promotion for our books. For one day, today, all of our books - all in various sub-genres of romance - will be available on Amazon for only 99 cents! Yay!

If you like my books, you’ll find several in this list you would enjoy. :) And if you’re reading this after Friday, my book Little Miss Lovesick (and perhaps some of the others) will still be on sale through the weekend. Plus, I’ve made Lovesick 99 cents across all retailers, so you can get it for a buck on Barnes & Noble or iTunes or anywhere you like to buy ebooks!

If you’re on Twitter or Facebook or other places, would you mind passing this information along? I’d love to feel like I helped my friends find new fans. :-D Thanks a million!

Happy reading!

Kathy Bennett, A Deadly Justice

Kitty Bucholtz, Little Miss Lovesick

Linda Carroll-Bradd, Capturing the Marshal’s Heart

Kathleen Creighton, The Prince and the Patriot

Jacqueline Diamond, The Cowboy and the Heiress

Gillian Doyle, Mystic Memories

Susan R. Hughes, A Baby for Christmas

Michelle Knowlden, Indelible Beats

Heather MacAllister, Counterfeit Cowgirl

Mindy Neff, The Bad Boy Next Door

Louella Nelson, Cora Lee

Lyn O’Farrell, Worth the Risk

Dee Ann Palmer, Where Eagles Cry

Sandra Paul, Last Chance For Marriage

Michael H. Payne, A Curial Quartet

Edie Ramer, Christmas at Angel Lake

Angie Ray, Ghostly Enchantment

Susan Squires, Waiting For Magic

Kristy Tate, Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent

Patricia Thayer, Colton Creek Cowboy

Over the next two months, I’ll be assembling my newest book, Superhero in the Making, book two in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series. (“Superhero Books for Her!”) This will be the fourth time I’ve put a book together to self-publish, so I’m finding patterns and creating checklists.

whyWhere Will You Distribute?

I’ve found that one of the important things you need to know before you begin is which distributors you will use. For instance, while Scrivener (where I write my books) has the capability to create an EPUB file, Smashwords still required a Word document the last time I uploaded a book there in May 2013. Since I want my ebooks to be absolutely identical on any device, and because as of May 2013 all the distributors I used accepted Word files, I found it was easier to create just one file and then make the necessary changes on the copyright page. (As opposed to having a Scrivener EPUB file, a Word file, and an InDesign file and having to remember to make any little edits to all three files, at least this way I only had to remember to make the same edits in two files. We’ll see if I do it differently this time to take advantage of Scrivener creating the EPUB and mobi – for Kindle – files for me. When I created my ebook-only short story, “Superhero in Disguise,” Scrivener helped me format the files fast.)

One thing to love about the free Smashwords Style Guide is that if you are meticulous in following the instructions there, your completed Word file will upload to any of the other distributors as well on the first try. (As of May 2013, I uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords – who distributed to “everyone else.” I had no problems with B&N’s original “PubIt!” program, but its new NOOK Press messes up my books now, every time. So I now let Smashwords distribute there for me. That will change when I decide to spend the money hiring out my formatting or figure out my NOOK Press problem.)

Incompatible Upgrades

Another thing to consider is whether one of the programs you use has been very recently upgraded and other programs will not work well with it until they upgrade as well. This happened to me in May 2013 with Unexpected Superhero. Between Scrivener, NOOK Press, and an EPUB validator I was using, the Scrivener EPUB file had errors I couldn’t fix when I tried to upload it to NOOK Press. It was frustrating and time-consuming tracking down the problem, trying potential solutions, and eventually having to abandon my upload and have Smashwords distribute it. But these things happen and you need to go with the flow. (Again, unless you hire a professional formatter.)

Since my husband used to be a graphic designer and owns several professional programs, and I’ve done some newsletters using Quark Xpress, I decided to go that route for my print books. My husband and I created a template in Quark for my first book, Little Miss Lovesick, and I uploaded the final file as a PDF to CreateSpace. Again, plan for the unexpected. I couldn’t get Quark to create the PDF even though it was an option for the software. Turns out a lot of people were having the same problem. I finally had to send the file out to have it converted. Of course, then I had a PDF that I couldn’t change. Why was that a problem if my book was already printed?

A Professional Print Version

Yup, found a few typos. When I created the ebook files, I corrected any little things I saw as they came up – without thinking about it. Meaning, I didn’t make identical changes to the Quark file, which is why I mentioned above, be aware of how many separate files you have to change if you find a typo. And now, because I couldn’t get Quark to create a PDF for me, I could make my edits but would have to send the file out to be converted to PDF every time, forever. My husband and I started talking about upgrades and – voila! I got an email from Adobe about their Creative Cloud suite. Instead of purchasing the software and upgrading every year or two, you could pay a monthly subscription fee and always have access to the latest version. Not only that, you have access to every piece of Adobe software (that I’m aware of). Because my husband and I both use more than one piece of Adobe software, the monthly Creative Cloud membership seemed perfect for us.

So for my second book, I used Adobe InDesign. LOVE. IT. I sent out my Little Miss Lovesick Quark file to Nick Davies at Tinstar Design and he quickly converted it to InDesign for me for a very reasonable price. I made my minor edits in the new file and it was ready to re-upload. I also took that Lovesick file and created a master template for my future books, which I then used for Unexpected Superhero. Now my print books all have the same look every time. Definitely the professional way to go.

Writing SmileyChecklists Save Time

During the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve continued to make notes about what I do, how I do it, and what order to do it. For instance, in your print version, if you add the header in the master section so that it appears on every page, then manually delete the header from the first pages of chapters, then go through every line of the book taking out words that are split/hyphenated to the next line, it will change the way the text flows and…wait for it…your manually deleted headers will sometimes be on the wrong page. Sigh. Then you have to re-do the header.

Yes, I learned that by doing it. ;)

So now with Superhero in the Making, I’ll take my newest checklist and begin working down it in order. Any time I find something not working right, I’ll make a note of how to fix it and, if necessary, change the order of steps in my checklist. Until I decide to send out my book files to a professional formatter, this is an effective way to get my books printed so that they look absolutely professional, and I’m not re-inventing the process every time. I haven’t looked into the prices of professional formatters or know who’s the best at a reasonable price because I genuinely enjoy the book-building process. But someday I may have to let go of this part in order to get more writing done and more books out.

I hope this has been helpful to you. If so, let me know and I’ll try to post more on this topic in the future. I’ll be teaching a self-publishing how-to class online in September that you may find useful as well. I’ll let you know the details soon. Happy Self-Publishing!

“Write what you know” may be one of the most common bits of advice given to writers over time. Once we’ve heard it enough and think we understand it, we spout the words ourselves.

When I thought about what I know, I started writing romances. Happily married for over a decade at the time I began, I figured what better for me to write about. I read hundreds of romance novels and started writing, aiming for the mainstream romance audience. I didn’t want to write about sex, so I switched to inspirational romances. When I read a bunch of those…well, let’s just say that the ones I read at the time didn’t interest me.

j0316779Nonetheless, I didn’t think I really “knew” much about anything interesting. I grew up in a small town. I went to an Ivy League University where I dropped out after a year to “change the world” in the Marine Corps. I got shipped home after three months when I hurt my knee. I met a young man, chased after him relentlessly, and got married.

And that’s pretty much it.

I kept writing romances because I wanted to write for a living, my own life had a lot of romance in it, and romance novels were 45% of the paperback market. I finally found a place for the voice I’d been trying to hide (you know, because you need to make your story voice fit into the category of romances you’re pitching to) when chick lit came into vogue. I wrote a chick lit book that got some very positive attention – right about the time chick lit collapsed.

After some internal struggles – I’m a Christian but I can’t seem to write inspirational novels that I like that publishers like, I’m madly in love with my college sweetheart but I get bored with stories that are only about the romance, I’d like to spend all my time writing but even if I signed with a Big Six publisher I’d have to spend a huge amount of time marketing and promoting – I finally made a decision.

I decided to take a step back and think about what I REALLY wanted to write, no matter what, and then I’d write it and publish it myself.

I’ve been walking that path for the last two and a half years. It’s been a slow road, but a really good one. And listening to a workshop by Donald Maass recently put the “write what you know” advice in clearer perspective. Don suggested questions like, what am I as the author passionate about? What do I as the author think is so important that my readers must get it? What about my story makes me as the author crazy angry?

That’s when it really came together for me. I’m unabashedly passionate about love that lasts forever. I get really upset about people who are unfair or mean. I think it’s super important that my readers understand they always have a choice – good or bad, right or wrong, easy or difficult.

These are the sorts of things I always knew I was writing about. I just didn’t realize until recently that this is what people meant when they said, “Write what you know.” Another way to say it might be, “Write what you know to be true.”

Now that I’ve got that clearly in mind, my writing is going to be stronger than ever.

What about your writing?

j0227558Hello my friends! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s. I sure did. I’d planned since last Christmas to take two full weeks off and relax. Right up to the last minute, I was sure I wouldn’t “be able to” do it. But in the end, I did!

My workload piled up during the two weeks off, but I feel so much more relaxed and rested and ready for work! How did I manage to take so much vacation time when life has been battering me for the last couple of years? The primary reason is because last January I laid out a written plan for my year.

Granted, a LOT of things went wrong with the plan. I couldn’t have anticipated six months of unemployment for John. I made more money than I did in 2012, but it wasn’t enough to offset the costs of a few book-selling risks I took that didn’t pay off. Near the end of the year, I had to put my writing business on the back burner and work full-time at a temp job.

Calendar 2013But for the whole year, I could look at my writing plan and my calendar and I could figure out how each of my plans would be affected by the new turn life took. I could move the sticky notes on the calendar to change deadlines. I could cancel things that just couldn’t be accomplished now that the course of life had changed.

And I could do it all with more peace than usual because I had a written, changeable plan.

If you’d like to work with me over the next four weeks to get a plan in place for you this year, please sign up for my online class Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer. Due to popular demand, this is the fourth year I’ve taught this class, and there’s always something new to learn and share. I hope you’ll join us!

What do you want to accomplish this year?

Adventures in Vegas

Today I’m at the Romance Novel Convention in Las Vegas. It’s been an exciting adventure so far! But not necessarily all good. To start out, our poor little car died four miles from the hotel. FOUR MILES! See the picture on my Facebook Author Page.

By the time I realized that it didn’t just need to cool down, it needed professional help (no comments on that, please!), the local garages had all closed. I’ve been a AAA member since I got my driver’s license, and for the first time in 27 years, they couldn’t help me. I was shocked and starting to get a little panicky because I came to town alone.

But God, my awesome personal superhero, came to my rescue! A couple of friends helped me figure out a game plan and I got to my hotel with a change of clothes and my laptop, leaving the car and all my belongings where they were. The next morning, my brother called me out of the blue (anyone want to rent a Wyndham timeshare in Vegas for Labor Day weekend? He’s got one available that they can’t use) and suddenly my big brother was at my rescue again. I felt like I was 16! It was wonderful!

Rescued!

Several of my friends were praying hard for everything to turn out okay and it did! One sent money to take care of unexpected expenses. My brother told the auto repair facility that he wanted to pay for the car repairs. (I should get the fixed car back any moment! Woo-hoo!!) The AAA guys were super friendly and unloaded all my stuff into their courtesy shuttle and got me and all my boxes of books to my hotel.

And then when the convention started, I immediately met several people that I’m so glad I found! Another Christian woman who is also trying to entertain her readers while keeping her stories in her own world view; a sweet model with the nicest smile who I hope to work with on my next book cover; a really nice, smart woman who started up her own marketing firm for writers; and a woman who makes covers I adore! Plus I’m finally able to take time to get to know another friend a lot better. I’m so excited!

Saturday is the book signing, so if you’ll be in Vegas, stop by the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino on Fremont Street from 11am to 2pm. Then I’ll be at the Author/Reader Meet and Greet from 3 to 5.

Book Signing in Traverse City

I’m excited to announce that I’ve confirmed another book signing! This one will be Saturday, September 7th from 3 to 4pm at Horizon Books in Traverse City, Michigan. This signing will be particularly special because I grew up with my mom taking us to Horizon Books every time we went to town, whether we needed something or not. This is practically a childhood dream come true! (I’d never dared to dream as a child that I could grow up to be an author one day.)

Unexpected Superhero is Free

Remember – and tell all your friends – that Unexpected Superhero will be available for free for five days starting this Saturday, August 10! Woo-hooo!!!

It’s a Kindle exclusive now, so you need a Kindle or a Kindle app. (I found out the new Nook now has a Kindle app on it! And you can download one for your iPad or smart phone as well as your computer.) I hope to have the book loaded up on all the other ebook vendor sites (Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Sony, iTunes, Kobo, etc.) on Labor Day weekend. It may show up a few days (or weeks, for Apple) later, but keep an eye out for it.

Happy Reading!

Hello Friends!

Shonna and Stephanie and I are looking into ways we can continue to be of service to you. We’ll be putting up occasional posts about things that may be helpful, so please continue to check in at Routines for Writers. Soon I’ll be announcing a new class that I’ll be teaching in the fall. It will be a video-based class on how to self-publish your book. Details will be posted on the Classes page on my own web site.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to announce the winners of the Goodreads Giveaway that ran from mid-June to mid-July. All ten winners received an autographed print copy of Unexpected Superhero. (Books should have already arrived at your homes by now, my friends!)

Thank you to the other 662 people who entered the giveaway! I’m so pleased that you were interested in reading the book. Thank you for adding Unexpected Superhero to your To Be Read queue.

Super_ip09_FINALCongratulations to -
Jessica from Brampton, Ontario
Trannae from San Dimas, California
Wendy from Abilene, Kansas
Emily from Yuba City, California
Winnie from Vancouver, British Columbia
Krystel from Sudbury, Ontario
Robyn from Stratford, Ontario
Kai from Los Angeles, California
Marie from Pomona, California
Julie from King George, Virginia

Happy Reading! :-D