Here’s to a successful new year

I know I have almost missed getting this posted. It dawned on me late last night as I was getting pretty darn sleepy that I felt that urge to write something reflective about this past year and then some resolutions or goals for the new year.

I must say for the most part 2013 has been probably one of the best years so far other than one item that will hang on until possibly April, but hopefully will be resolved before then. Who knows, though.

My successes

First of all, my best success this past year was publishing my novel, Be Strong. As you may already know, I started writing this novel back in 2005 as soon as I had published Living, Sleeping, and Eating Band. It did okay as far I am concerned, but I know from articles I have read online that as I publish more books I will be more successful. I sure hope that is true. I do know I love the cover for the second book of The Divorce Trilogy, Pinky Swear, so hopefully readers will take notice.

I am proud of my daughter today, this last day of the year. She made a big purchase, and I allowed my parental instinct to say, “No, stay back.” She bought her first car, as she calls it. It is actually a SUV, a Chevy Blazer. The way I see things is if you always tell a child no, then the child never learns how to deal with things in life. You can’t always be around to protect them like you would like to do.

Not quite a month ago, I changed jobs after working at the local high school for eight school years. As bad as I hate to admit it, that is the longest I have ever been at a job. I thoroughly enjoyed my job as a special education aide, but it was time to move on.

I now work at a mental health center, and so far the job has been good. I have lots to learn and lots to do between trainings and just learning my particular job. I know it will be worth it though.

My biggest change with the new job is going to year round. No more vacations with the kids unless I take time off. No more summers sitting by the pool every day. However, I realize it won’t be much longer until the kids won’t be living with me — going off to college or getting a job. I have a job that will keep me busy and create some stability.

My goals

As far as my goals, as I prefer to call them, go for 2014. I will just list them because most don’t need an explanation. If you need me to explain, just comment below. In 2014, I hope to accomplish the following:

1. Publish Pinky Swear by the end of January.

2. Edit and publish Confessions of a Rick Springfield Fan by the first of May when Rick publishes his first fiction novel.

3. Finish writing and then edit and publish the third book of The Divorce Trilogy.

4. Help my daughter prepare for her senior year and beyond. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the fall of 2014, she begins her senior year. She has grown up way too fast.

5. Going along with #4, help my son prepare for high school. I know it’s going to be a big change for him, but I’m sure he will adjust.

6. Continue to grow and learn in my new job.

7. Eat healthier and exercise. I always seem to say this, but I would really like to get in better shape.

8. Go to more concerts, especially my man Rick and hopefully Bon Jovi. My concert buddy/daughter will be around more, but if she can’t, who’s with me?

Well, that’s all that comes to mind at the moment. I hope you will share your goals for the new year, and I wish all of you a Happy New Year!

 

Finding the Christmas spirit

For the past several years, finding the Christmas spirit hasn’t been the easiest for me. Usually I have to argue with the ex-husband over when each of us has our children for Christmas break.

Although now that I think about it, the last couple of years were fairly easy. Indiana parenting time guidelines are not the easiest to interpret at times, and some years were a bit easier than others. Then I had other things going on in my life that I won’t divulge here.

The issue of money

Last year I had the issue of money and how I was going to pay for Christmas. In the summer 2012 I lost my after school part-time job supposedly due to funding. I still haven’t figured out how the place came up with money to pay high schoolers to do what I had been doing, but I let it go and took it as a sign that something better was coming.

I did miss the extra money, though, because I used it to buy things like Christmas presents. However, I actually got lucky and started on Fiverr. That website proved to be very good to me and helped provide most of the funding for Christmas.

The Christmas spirit

This year I actually got the tree up rather quickly while listening to Christmas music and singing along. I have been listening to Christmas music on a radio station while in my car.

My ex and I agreed to the split of Christmas break without a fuss. I think that is either two, or maybe three years, in a row now out of a total of eleven years. I was feeling that Christmas spirit for the first time in quite a while.

Of course, I should have known the minute I find the Christmas spirit something would come along and dampen it. I got that yesterday, two days before the day. I have tried hard to shove it in the back of my mind, but it still lingers.

The worst part? I can’t deal with it head on until January 6. Then I think of people who are going through worse than what I am dealing with, people who have lost a loved one or people who don’t even have a home or the money to provide Christmas for their family. Then I think my problem is minor compared to that.

So, rather than to let this bump in the road get me down, I’m going to keep my mind busy, go wrap the presents that are calling my name, finish the last touches of editing on my novel, and wait for my kids to come home for the day tomorrow.

We’ll celebrate here first and then head to my parents’ for our small extended family’s get together. That will definitely keep my mind busy. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What do you think of the cover for Pinky Swear?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00046]I’m pretty darn excited in case you can’t tell. After the initial sales of Be Strong, I realized that maybe my cover wasn’t pulling readers to my book. The cover is, after all, one of the most important things when I’m looking for a new book to read.

In my continual search for a new cover designer, I found this wonderful person and fellow Hoosier named Stephanie when I was looking at my author page’s news feed. I decided to take a chance on her, and I’m so glad I did. She did exactly what I asked for and more. Needless to say, I plan to have her redo the cover for Be Strong.

I am still editing on Pinky Swear with only two chapters and an epilogue to go. I have already found a new editor named Samantha so I am excited for the release of the second book of The Divorce Trilogy. That will hopefully be mid January. Now if I can find the time to get back to writing the third and final book of the series, I’ll be all set.

What do you think of the cover for Pinky Swear? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanksgiving…again

I can’t believe we are facing the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow already. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing a post about what I was thankful for, and now here we are a year later.

Not much has changed other than the stores are opening even earlier than last year. I really don’t want to even think about shopping any earlier on a holiday in which we are supposed to be thankful for the things, people, or whatever we have in life.

However, once again a certain child of mine has asked for a television for Christmas, and that dreaded place called Walmart has one for a really good price. Oh, the things I do for my kids.

My family

This year I should say one thing has changed. Instead of being alone as I was last year, I will gather with my small family — my parents, my kids, my brother, his wife, and their three kids.

I am looking forward to spending the afternoon with my family because we lead busy lives and don’t seem to see each other much. This day is also one in which I can eat things I don’t normally cook myself.

Pondering the meaning of the holiday

I saw another blog post from a friend of mine where she posed an interesting question that goes something like this. Why do we set aside a day to be thankful? Shouldn’t we be thankful every day? I say yes, we should.

I am thankful for the new chapter in my life that I am about to embark on in a week and a half. That new chapter will affect me every day.

I am thankful for my two children every day. I live with them and deal with their ups and downs in life much like I do my own life. I am raising them to be responsible adults.

I am thankful for my family who support me every day in whatever joys and sorrows I have. I am thankful for my house and car which give me shelter and get me where I need to go every day.

While that is just the start of my list, I could go on and on about the things I am thankful for. These people or belongings are things I am thankful for every day of my life. Without them where would I be? I hope you will think about being thankful for everything in our lives more than just on Thanksgiving.

Crazy facts about me that you may not know

Every day for the past week I have noticed people posting an assorted number of facts about themselves that they think others don’t know about them on Facebook. I have tried really hard not to like a status for fear I will have to do that.

Then I saw one of my friends post her list on a blog post and thought I would do mine that way as well. Besides, I haven’t posted much on my blog in the past week so why not.

Crazy things about me

1. I attended three high schools in four years. While living in Kokomo, I started out at Haworth High School. In the middle of my freshman year, the two city high schools, Haworth and Kokomo, decided to consolidate the next school year.

I then attended Kokomo High School my sophomore year. My dad’s job forced us to move to Martinsville where I finished my last two years of high school.

2. As a result of #1, I became part of a huge high school marching band my sophomore year.  We marched close to three hundred students, including eighth graders. Over half of the band had never marched before.

The Kokomo Marching Wildkats marched at the very first Indianapolis Colts game back on Labor Day weekend, September 1984. I can’t remember the exact date, but it was an awesome experience and one I will never forget. We went to the Kentucky Derby Festival in May and won the marching band competition there.

3. I had a huge crush on Shaun Cassidy when I was nine years old. I had clothes, including pants and shirts, with his picture on them. You could buy these things at Sears if I remember right.

4. My huge crush on Rick Springfield began the summer after I turned twelve. I saw him on General Hospital and tried to never miss an episode. That was hard once school started. I saved my allowance to buy things with his name or picture on it. I have a pretty good collection of items.

5. I still have my record collection even though I no longer have a record player. I have the first Beatles album to be released in the States, and I have Rick’s one album that didn’t do very well. I bought it at Target for 99 cents.

6. I love to travel and have been to or through twenty-five states and three countries. I hope to see all fifty states eventually. My favorite trips were to England my senior year of high school and to Cancun.

7. My grandfather is buried at the site where General Custer lost to the thousands of Native Americans in the Battle of Little Bighorn. When I was twelve, my family visited him where he lived in Wyoming, and he showed us where he would be buried. He died in 2007 and is buried with his second wife.

8. My dad is an only child, but my mom has two half brothers so that gives me two half uncles — one of whom I have never met.

9. From the time I was old enough to begin writing, I have dreamed of becoming a famous author. Even though I have now published two books, my dream is still alive, and I am someday it will come true.

10. I had a miscarriage between my two children. It was not an easy thing to deal with, especially when I am a healthy woman. The baby was supposed to due around my dad’s birthday in December, but instead, I ended up with a baby who was born on Rick Springfield’s youngest son’s birthday. How cool is that!

This is all I can think of for the moment. If I think of some others, I will add to the list. I hope you will share one fact about yourself in the comments. I was brave enough to share some facts about me so I would love to hear one thing from my readers. Be brave, my readers!

 

 

I Will Never Forget 9/11

Over the last twelve years, I prepare myself for the remembrance of what Tuesday, September 11, 2001, means to me. Today, on the eve of the anniversary of the worst day in our history, I read through the articles I have written and posted online about that day.

Tears form in my eyes as I think not only about the day, but of one person the Rick Springfield world lost.

That horrific day

We all know thousands of Americans died that day, and that saddens me greatly. For me, this tragedy hit very close to home when Marni Pont O’Doherty was lost. While I didn’t actually meet Marni in person, I got to know her online through a Rick Springfield emailing list.

While this event upsets many people across our great country, this memory still brings tears to my eyes because of the personal connection I, as well as many other Rick fans, had. We all lost a friend that day.

Marni Pont O’Doherty

9/11

Marni was young, just thirty-one, when she died. She brought so many smiles and laughs to the Rick emailing list that so many of his fans belonged to. She had a creative mind like no one I had met before, and that was evident in her hilarious posts, no matter how long or short each was.

Personally, I could have the roughest day in the world, and Marni’s post could still bring at least a smile to my face. I looked forward to her posts each and every day.

While I don’t want to bore you by reposting my articles here, I encourage you to take a look at them elsewhere. I wrote “A Letter to Marni,” while assisting in a senior English class right before the tenth anniversary of 9/11. It was an introduction exercise for the teacher to get to know her students. “Remembering 9/11: My Personal Experience” is the my memory of what happened that day. Finally, I am especially proud of the third article, “How 9/11 Made Me Stronger.” I occasionally write for Yahoo! Contributor Network, and this article was an assignment posted on Yahoo! News.

The picture above is a pin I made right after that horrible day. A fellow Rick fan posted the instructions on the Rick list. If I could remember who it was, I would mention her name here. The pin helps me remember a person who made a difference in my life.

Marni, I know I am not alone when I say we miss you.

 

Did I hit my summer goals?

At the beginning of the summer, June 5 to be exact, I posted here on my blog my five goals for the ten weeks of summer I got.

Just like I did last summer, I would like to share how I did and hope you don’t mind. Much of it is about my writing anyway so I am sure you won’t.

My goals

First, I was determined to get my proofreading business off the ground. I said I would get my website done and business cards made. Success! As you can see by looking around here, my website is done.

I have had several compliments on it and hope to keep promoting so I can really make a go of it. I did two versions of my business cards, one with a white background and one with a light purple. I had people tell me they liked both. I am leaning toward the light purple background and will print more off as I need them.

As far as actually getting the proofreading business going, I have had one gig already, and she was very pleased with my work. I am definitely a detail gal so if you need someone to catch the tiniest mistakes, I am your proofreader!

Second, I am very proud to say I finally published Be Strong, my second book and first fiction novel, at the end of June. After eight years of working on the book, it was about time I got it done.

The novel hasn’t done as well as I figured it would, but I am a new author. I haven’t done the huge promotion thing either like I probably should have. My budget is limited so I don’t have many funds to pay for advertising.

The best way to be successful is to write more books so that is exactly what I am working on. I am currently editing the second book of this trilogy and hope to publish it by the end of the year.

Third, I attended Camp NaNo and wrote just over 20,000 words, which was my goal. I do like the camps because you can choose your own word count. However, I don’t think I pushed myself hard enough. I am on vacation from my regular job so I should be able to do the 50,000 words that we do in the regular NaNo in November, right?

I guess I wasn’t motivated this time. Anyway, the book is tenatively titled Confessions of a Rick Springfield Fan. I have been a fan of Rick’s for over thirty years so I thought it was time to share my memories of what it has been like being a fan. I hope to publish this book after the first of next year and probably before Rick releases his own first fiction book in May.

My last two goals fell short. In fact, the one didn’t happen at all. Period. I had planned to scrapbook ten pages a week because I am so far behind, but I am lucky if I did thirty pages total all summer.

I had also planned to write one article per week for one of the two websites where I post articles. I wrote nothing for either of them. I am actually frustrated with the one site so I will probably never write for them again. The other site is okay, but I would rather write books or write articles that actually pay better than what I get from them. I am working on that!

Like I have said here in various blog posts and on my actual website, my dream is to become a full-time writer. I have dreamed of that since I was a twelve-year-old writing diary entries in my bedroom, and I am determined to make it happen.

My New Business

Well, I finally published my first novel. Technically, it is my second book, but I had published my first book, a memoir, through a publishing company. With this novel, I decided to self-publish. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be except for the marketing. That is the most time-consuming part of the whole process.

Anyway, the real reason for this post is to share about my new business. Along with my own novels, I decided to begin my own proofreading and social media marketing business. I don’t want to say much here because you can find the information right here on my website. I know my blog gets blasted all over the Internet now that I’ve found Triberr, a very helpful site for getting the word out about your blog.

A week ago, I had my first proofreading job. The author was very pleased with my work. Want to know why? I take great care in making sure I find the tiniest mistakes, like spelling or punctuation. I even made suggestions about some repetitions I saw. The social media marketing side is a gig from another website. I have done fairly well with it, but I wanted to bring it here and create my own business. I am hoping past customers will follow me here and new customers will give me the chance to promote their books.

I take pride in my work because I want people to be successful. I hope you will give me a chance to show you what I can do.

KDP Select: Something Else New Learned

As I prepared my first indie novel, Be Strong, for publishing, I read and researched as much as I could about where to publish my book. I had a plan all set out. I would publish on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, giving readers of all kinds of readers a chance to read my novel. I would also publish on Createspace so that I had paperback copies. However, once I published it, I saw a post on one of the writing groups I belong to on Facebook and changed my mind. I decided to give KDP Select on Amazon a try.

The biggest downer in doing so is the fact my novel is exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. That big decision meant I would, or could possibly, lose some readers, who don’t have access to Kindle, in the process. Tough decision indeed. During this 90 days, I can make Be Strong free to readers. Cool thought, right? Wrong. The first and only free day I did I had quite a few downloads, but then I decided to do two days in a row, yesterday and today, and haven’t as many downloads as I did the one day by itself. I still have two free days left, but I am not sure when or if I even will use them. I don’t feel like this is really doing me much good, but maybe I am looking at it all wrong.

The one good thing about KDP Select is that it is part of the Amazon Prime program. Anyone who pays for the membership can borrow your novel. Of course, that means you don’t earn royalty, BUT you do earn a share from the KDP Select Global Fund. Sounds good, doesn’t it? There’s only one problem. I haven’t had one person borrow my book. Of course, my novel has been out not quite a month so maybe I am making a quick decision and need to see how it does in another month or two.

At the moment, though, if I had to make a decision right now as to whether I continue with KDP, I would have to say no, I wouldn’t. I guess I will just have to see what happens by the end of September and make my final decision then.

Win my book and more

I hope everyone is having a good Fourth of July. My holiday is quiet right now since my kids  are with their dad this year. Our small town is not having their fireworks display until Saturday night so my evening will be quiet, too. The weather doesn’t look so great outside although it looks as though the temperature is finally up there. It has been lucky to hit 70 or 72 for the past few days along with rain. I think yesterday was the first day it hadn’t rained in close to a week. I feel sorry for my pool because it just sits there without anyone using it, but I am not about to get in when the water temperature is cold.

The main reason I am writing this is to let you know that I am giving away my novel, Be Strong, on Goodreads until July 15. I am excited about this because it gives me that much more exposure to readers, and I hope that includes you. Goodreads is a neat website because you can connect with other avid readers and authors. You can show off what books you have read, review those books, and tell us what books you would like to read or are currently reading. I am slowly enjoying the site more and more. I see it could definitely help with my writing career and plan to spend more time there. I hope you will join me!

My novel will be FREE!

Yes, that is correct. On Monday, July 1, my newest novel, Be Strong, will be free on Amazon. You can download the Kindle app for your PC or Mac, Android, iPhone, or iPad (and more?) if you don’t have a Kindle. Right now I am only on Amazon exclusively because I get an extra boost. I will see how my book does and may change my mind. Just trying to figure all of this out. I didn’t think about having so many decisions to make, but I know once I figure it out for this first book, I will be good to go with the next ones.

Yes, there will be more books. Be Strong is the first of three. I have a travel guide/memoir about Myrtle Beach I have been working on, and I start Camp NaNo on Monday for the month of July. I can’t wait to start that memoir — Confessions of a Rick Springfield Fan. Betcha didn’t see that one coming?!?! My outline is forming in my head for that one — finally. I guess swimming in my pool helps me think. Anyway, I know I have more ideas floating around in my head, and I must get them out as soon as possible.

If you do get a free copy on Monday, please make sure you look for Authorgraph in the sidebar and request an autograph. I do plan very soon to order paperback copies from Createspace. If you are local to me or will be in town and would like a copy, please let me know. I hope to keep copies on hand, too. In fact, let me know if you are interested in a copy just so I can get an idea as to how many I will need. One last request — please leave a review. I would love to hear your thoughts on my novel. I will tell you mine later, and I am my own worst critic.

 

 

 

Almost there

I am finally breathing a little easier after a couple of stressful days. I use a program called Scrivener for my writing process, and within the program, you can compile the manuscript into whatever file you need. It didn’t work for Createspace, where I will print copies of Be Strong. It was ok, but I had to format the book into a Word document and had trouble figuring out why things weren’t correct. I was very frustrated to say the least. I am just glad that I had plenty of time to figure it out. Now it will be a piece of cake when I get ready for the next novel.

This morning I have uploaded my files to Createspace and will need to wait for my final proof before I can order copies. It won’t be long for that. I have uploaded my files for Kindle and Nook as well. It’s just a matter of a day or two before they are available. I am still considering Tuesday, June 25, as my official release day, though.

I am so happy to finally finish a dream. I have the second of this series ready for a major edit, and I have the third book floating around in my head. I am doing Camp NaNo in July so my Rick Springfield book will become another dream achieved by the end of the month. I can’t wait to get started with it. Someday maybe I will achieve another of my dreams — write books sitting on a beach someplace south!