Starting Over

In a few weeks, my sons will return to school – and I have to admit I’m looking forward to a return to routine, as well as a quiet house on my days off. So why do I feel a twinge of guilt at my joy? You see, my younger son will be starting high school, which means in just four years, I’ll have two college-age children.

That scares me. When I think about life three-four years ago, it feels like yesterday. Time is moving too fast for me, and in a blink of an eye my “babies” will no longer need me like they do now. They may be living across the country for all I know. Or they may choose to stay closer to home. Nevertheless, life will look very different.

It’s for this very reason you haven’t heard much from me on this blog over the past year. I’ve been too busy soaking up these last few years of parenting children at home. Parenting teens is a huge job. When I think of all the things that need to be taught over the next four years, it overwhelms me – from juggling academics, band, and sports to how to drive a car; from how to prepare meals to learning to work with difficult people. The physical exhaustion of parenting littles has evolved to a more emotional and mental series of tasks.

My priorities have changed dramatically since last fall (2015). Not only did our older son start high school (and in the process, adding a load of activities), but my husband and I were in a serious car accident in November. A drunk driver hit our car and then plowed into a second vehicle. Fortunately for us, our airbags deployed; but sadly, the passenger of the other car passed away after four days in a coma.

Even though we were physically okay (aside from whiplash), I struggled with anxiety, depression, and guilt for months afterward. My second book, Never Fall, was published nine days after the accident, but my heart wasn’t into it like with my first book. I didn’t feel like writing for a long time, and then my busy season at work arrived. Any hopes of a fall release of Never Change, my third Faithfully Yours book, vanished.

It’s now August, and I’m happy to say I’m about a third finished with the rough draft of Never Change. I’m aiming for a late February release date. I feel bad I’ve let down my readers, yet I know they’ll be patient and understanding. The thought that I could’ve been the one who died in the accident woke me up to the notion I need to put my family first. The lady who died had two sons in college, and I’m sure those boys will be cherishing every moment they spent with their mom. I don’t want my sons’ memories to be me sitting in front of my laptop 24/7 while they play video games in the other room.

The end of tax season and several wonderful vacations this summer have revitalized the itch to write, and I’m happy to say I’ve come out of my funk. But now the challenge is establishing the balance of writing and caring for my family. Until my last breath, they will always be my first priority. I could’ve done without the trauma of the car accident to reach this revelation, but I’m glad I can take something from that awful event.

So I guess you can say that I’m starting over, taking it one day at a time, and enjoying the writing process.

Thanks to those who’ve read my first two books. Never Change is coming along, I promise you!  I appreciate your patience.

~ Anne

#writing #romanceauthor #lifebalance #parentingteens #selfpublishing

 

 

 

 

Moving Forward, Writing On…

Here we are, four days away from closing out another year! What a year it’s been, both personally and in my writing journey. I now have a high schooler, whose involvement in music and sports has made our calendar crazy busy! (But I’ll admit I love it!) On the down side, we were in a car accident which messed me up a bit, though it forced me to look at life differently. When you realize how quickly life can be taken away, your priorities quickly change.

2015 was my first full year as a published author. I found myself more active on my author Facebook account than on my personal account. I guess when you find others who understand and share your passion, it’s natural to gravitate towards those friends and acquaintances. Even though I haven’t personally met most of these people, I truly value the friendships I’ve made.

The downside of being on Facebook is the pressure it creates in me to keep up with the other authors. We’re all on our own journeys and nobody writes at the same pace. However, I’m one of the slowest indie writers, and until I can change my pace, I will not catch up to my friends.  I have to be okay with that for now, but it’s not easy, knowing realistically that I won’t reach a certain level until I can write more than one book a year. And I’ve made mistakes in my journey; decisions I can’t reverse. I’ve spent too much money on marketing that didn’t do a thing for my sales.

These frustrations have been addressed in previous posts, and I could fill another page with my disappointments.  But I’m not going to do that. Over the past few months, ever since the release of my second book, I’ve had many conversations with my author friends about this gig. One point kept being made over and over – move forward and write your next book!

I think I’m ready to do that: get back to the joy of creating a story with my favorite characters; fall in love with the words again. I’ll still continue to promote my first two books, but my focus needs to be on writing the next book.  I’m sure there’s a handful of readers out there who’ll appreciate that!

As for me, I appreciate all of you who take the time to read and like my blog posts! Starting next year, I’ll be doing a weekly series of posts about my favorite things. I’m looking forward to writing these posts!

Hope you all have a happy New Year!

~Anne

P.S. If you’re a fan of the 80s and you like sweet rock star romance, check out my books:

Never Let Go (Faithfully Yours #1): http://amzn.to/1WXfmVR

~I couldn’t wait until the next time I could be with him. He was like sunlight glistening on fallen snow; like a full moon lighting up a bleak October sky; like the bright opening at the end of a dark tunnel. He was my hero, in so many ways. And I was falling in love with him.~

Never Fall (Faithfully Yours #2): http://amzn.to/1WXeqRm

~Lying there, I studied his face, which looked at peace now. I gently traced my fingertip along his forehead, down his cheeks, and across his chin, thinking there was nothing I wouldn’t do for this man. We’d been through so much together. He’d been my hero, my protector, but now I felt a need to protect him.~

Keeping my head above water

A few weeks ago when we were in Kauai, we went snorkeling in a body of water that was (to me) a bit too rough and, therefore, out of my comfort zone for observing sea life. Let’s just say I freaked out a bit when I saw how far from shore we were, and my poor husband (who’s like a fish in the water) had to calm me down and escort me back to the beach. Thankfully this beach was empty at the time, so nobody saw my panic attack. Of course, once I was safely out of the water, it started pouring rain!

In spite of the rain, which was warm, I was just happy to be somewhere I could breathe freely. Snorkeling in calm waters is not a problem for me; in fact, I enjoy it. It’s when the water jostles me around that I start feeling unsettled. Where am I going with this, you ask? Well, I’ve been feeling like this with my writing life lately. I’ve been so focused on sales and marketing and how I compare with other authors that I feel like I’m drowning in my own negativity. I’m tired of it. I’d like to go back to shore and re-group. Breathe again.

To me, writing is breathing, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve hardly written anything new in over a month. I know I’m not the only writer to be distracted by and even obsessed with their book sales. It’s so easy. I mean, why do we write? If it was just for ourselves or our close group of friends, we wouldn’t have to pay for editors and cover designers and formatters, etc. We want people to read our books, and preferably, have those people pay for our books so we can afford to pay our expenses.

Lately I’ve become jaded by the indie publishing world – jostled like I was that day in the ocean. It’s scaring me, and I need to stop my negative emotions before they literally drown me and force me to give up what I love most – writing and sharing my stories. Okay, so I have an expensive hobby for a while. I think I’ll have to live with that for now. I just can’t stop doing what I ache to do.

This blog is going to change after this post. I’m going to try something different and write about my favorite things. I want you to get to know who I am – beyond the face of the struggling indie author. There’s a lot more to me than that!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for My Favorite Things, a new series of blog posts!

I don’t like rules, but…

The nice thing about being an indie fiction author is that pretty much anything goes. Yes, my editor does a lot of work trimming and shaping my manuscript so it doesn’t sound like a twelve-year-old wrote it, but as far as content – I can be creative and innovative. The more creative, the better.

I’ve been working with high schoolers who have a desire to write, and some of them have expressed that it’s hard to get into writing because they get so hung up on rules. I completely understand that. I was there once. Certainly basic rules of grammar and punctuation are important, and admittedly I need help from my editor in this area. As much as I want these kids to throw out the rules and be creative – I have emphasized that it’s crucial they have a good foundation in proper grammar.

But that’s just one area of writing. What about marketing? What about those rules? A friend posted an article about all the things a writer “must do” before a book launch. You can imagine the comments that followed. Some agreed; some disagreed, at least with some of the points. When I read the article, my first thought was “I totally screwed up.” Can you imagine coming off a book release (that was less-than-impressive), reading this article, and realizing it was too late to follow these tips? The only thing that helped was knowing I can do things a lot differently with my next book.

As much as I cringe when I see articles titled “You MUST do this” or “10 mistakes new authors make” or the like, I have to admit sometimes following these proven tips is smart. I’m not too proud to say I’ve failed in some areas. This whole game is a learning process. I’ve been a CPA for almost 19 years and I still learn new things every year.

I think a part of me resisted doing what every other author does (making graphics, establishing a newsletter, blogging, etc) – due to inexperience or pure laziness – but now I know better. I’m listening to the seasoned indie authors and doing my homework. And as I begin writing Never Change – my third book – I’m already making plans of how to do things differently.

That’s not to say I’ve given up on marketing my first two books! I believe in these books and have had great feedback on both of them. Why don’t you see for yourself? My Faithfully Yours series, about the romance between a California girl and a London rocker, is available on Kindle or paperback. and is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Never Fall (Faithfully Yours #2): http://amzn.to/1WXeqRm

Never Let Go (Faithfully Yours #1): http://amzn.to/1WXfmVR

Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/bCtXvT

NF Teaser, Michele #10

Rock Star

Contrary to the title of this post, I’m definitely not of “rock star” status yet. A week ago I released my second novel, Never Fall, which is the second installment of my Faithfully Yours series. At the same time, I made my first book, Never Let Go, available for free for five days. The idea was to have the first book easily available to those who wanted to read Book Two but hadn’t yet read Book One.

Let’s be honest-the free book flew off the shelves, which made me giddy. The number of people who snatched it up surprised me. Sales on the second book? That also threw me. They sucked, truthfully. I was disappointed and really had a “lightbulb” moment about the fact that this indie author industry is a tough nut to crack. I’m not giving up, though there have been times over the past week where I said, “What’s the point?” I can’t compete with authors who have more money, time, experience, and talent than me.

But I love writing, and for the few people who DO enjoy my books, I will carry on. As of tomorrow, I will have been a published author for a year. One might say, “Wow, a whole year?” or, conversely, “Look at everything I’ve done in just one year.” It depends on your perspective. The negative side of me says, “I should have a much bigger audience by now.” But the logical, patient side says, “I’ve learned a lot in the past year, have made a lot of friends, and I’ve become a better writer.”  Obviously, my confidence is better when I have the positive outlook.

Unfortunately I’ve been gifted with a pessimistic viewpoint. (I get it from my dad, but don’t tell him I said that). When I see other new authors post about their successes – pictures of their Amazon rankings, Tweets from readers, fan-made teasers – I feel like a nobody. This is me being very honest. It’s not that I don’t want them to succeed, trust me. These are my friends and I truly believe they deserve it. But sometimes I feel like a beat-up Pinto next to a sleek Ferrari. Will I ever be that Ferrari?

The answer is “I don’t know,” but I sure plan on trying. Even if it takes me years and several more books, I will strive to find an audience for my books. Those who have read my books have sung my praises. They believe in me. So I have to believe in me. The insecure 12-year-old girl inside me needs to take a hike so I can stand strong and show myself.

Thank you for reading. If you like sweet rock star romance, my books are available at Amazon.com, links are below.

Never Fall (Faithfully Yours #2): http://amzn.to/1WXeqRm

Never Let Go (Faithfully Yours #1): http://amzn.to/1WXfmVR

Being Brave

Why is it that some people just naturally draw attention and others (like myself) have to fight to be noticed? I suppose it has a lot to do with having the right balance of charisma and confidence. My husband oozes confidence and has one of those personalities that lights up a room. I’m, well, the opposite. I tend to be insecure and shy. Growing up, I was the kid who wanted to hide in the back of the classroom. Oral reports scared me to pieces. To this day, I’m still frightened by public speaking.

I’ve found, however, that in order to sell a book successfully, I need to be more like my husband. Other authors-ones who are bestsellers-have advised me to “put myself out there” and not be afraid to self-promote. They’re right. Many new authors are promoting like crazy, and as a result, they’re getting a lot of attention and probably more sales. Hmm…I should learn something from this. It’s very hard not to compare yourself with others in this business of selling books, and I believe observing how others achieve success can be helpful.

One part of me wants to curl up in a ball and whine about how my shyness has hampered my marketing efforts. I can be a big complainer (just ask my husband), and I can do pity parties like nobody else. But you know what? Feeling pathetic and stuck in a rut isn’t going to help me sell my books. My first book, Never Let Go, has been out for almost a year, which in indie book publishing, is ancient. It’s collecting cobwebs. Naturally sales have slumped since last spring. Is it because readers have moved on? Yes. Is it because I haven’t been promoting it the best I could? Also yes. It’s up to me.

Next Tuesday (November 17th), my second novel comes out and you’d better believe I will market that baby as much and as often as possible without a care as to what people think of me. Well, I’ll try not to be a pest about it. But if some people are annoyed, so be it. I’m trying to make this my part time job. I’m trying to prove to my husband that this is more than a hobby. So instead of sitting back and crying into my coffee about how all the other new authors are doing better than me (yes, I’ve had those days), I’m going to force myself to follow through on that advice – to “put myself out there” – and share my writing with people, not hide in the back of the classroom.

Never Fall, my second Faithfully Yours book, about a California girl who falls in love with a London-based rocker, hits the Amazon Kindle store November 17th.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23805689-never-fall