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

Ready For Round Two

The pressure is starting. My second novel is in the final stages and is set to be released November 17th. Never Fall will continue the journey of Beth and David, teenage lovers who live on two different continents but manage to meet and fall in love in my first novel, Never Let Go. This second installment of my Faithfully Yours series was a tough one to write, and at times I feared I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Yet here I am, in the midst of editing and literally amazed that I finished this second book in less than a year. It took me three years to write Never Let Go. My goal is to finish a rough draft of Never Change, my third book, by the start of next summer. I finally have the confidence to believe I can meet that goal.

I’ve learned so much over the past year. You can say I’ve had a crash course in fiction writing, self-publishing, and marketing as an indie author. Of course, I still have much to learn, and I will continue to learn – probably for the rest of my writing days.

I can tell you without a doubt, the indie writing community is the best. And I’m not talking about just fellow authors, I mean the readers, bloggers, AND authors are incredibly supportive. When I’m having a bad day, feeling like nobody’s noticing my work, someone will share a post or tell me how much they loved my book. It gives me the motivation to continue. (Sometimes, as much as I love writing, I need that).

Another goal I have is to write in my blog once a week. I’m sorry to say I’ve neglected my website, so if you start exploring, you may see some outdated things. Just so you know, I am in the process of improving and updating this site. So please be patient with me.

Now, I must wrap this up so I can work on more edits.  If you’re interested in knowing more about Never Fall, here is a link to my Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23805689-never-fall

Thanks for reading!

~ Anne

 

Slow down the moving walkway and let me catch up!

A few days ago I had to get from Terminal F to Terminal C in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. If you aren’t familiar with this airport, let me tell you – it’s about the size of a small city! To help people move faster with less effort, the airport has a number of moving walkways, like flat escalators. I can’t stand them. Every time I use them, I feel like I’m going to trip and fall on my face, so I opt for walking alongside the walkways, even if it takes longer to get where I need to go.

Life often feels like those moving walkways, only sometimes I don’t have the choice to walk on firm ground. The past few months have been like this for me. Ten months out of the year I work two days a week at a public accounting firm; but between mid-February and mid-April, tax season requires me to work five days a week. 2015 was my nineteenth tax season. You would think that after so many years, I’d take it with a grain of salt. Nope. It kills me every year.

Okay, so I know that a lot of people work full time in very demanding jobs ALL year round, and I feel bad complaining about the lousy two months that I have to go in every day. I guess you could call this a “first world problem.” In reality, I’m blessed with a stable career, working with people I get along with, and doing a job I know how to do well. I apologize for sounding unappreciative or disrespectful.

Still, ever since my writing bug has re-surfaced, I’ve grown less passionate about numbers. Okay, let’s be really honest; I’m not sure I was ever passionate about being an accountant. Not like I was about writing, but accounting was a practical choice for me and during the time my kids were small, I was able to work at home – a huge benefit. And now that I’m a self-published author, it’s helpful that I have knowledge of how to run my own business, something many authors struggle with.

But with a constantly traveling husband, active children, and a house to care for, I didn’t have much energy or time left to write over the past two months. The work I do during tax season requires a lot more mental focus and stamina, therefore I can’t get by on five hours of sleep a night like many authors do. I wish I could, because then I wouldn’t feel like a big part of me disappears during this busy season.

It’s now April 21st, the beginning of the first “normal” week after tax season. I’m slowly getting off the moving walkway, and I pray I don’t stumble as I do. As much as I like helping clients and getting fatter paychecks, I like my writing days better. I’d love for things to change with my job so I can stay part time all year, because this is what feels natural to me, and when I get out of the habit of writing, I feel anxious and incomplete.

I have a lot of catching up to do. My characters have been waiting for me to continue their story. So here I am, easing off that walkway and re-entering the fiction world – where I’ve known since the age of twelve it’s where I belong.

Thanks for reading! FYI – Never Fall, the second installment of my Faithfully Your series, is expected to be released in November.

~ Anne

 

 

Mr. Holland and The Misfit Elf

How many of you were puzzled by the title of this post?  If you’ve heard of these two individuals, maybe you’re wondering what they have to do with each other. If you haven’t heard of them, here’s a brief rundown:

Mr. Holland is the infamous music teacher in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus (played by Richard Dreyfus) who has this big dream of writing a symphony piece, only life gets in the way and he rarely has time to work on the piece. That’s all you need to know for my purposes, and by the way, if you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it!

The Misfit Elf is the elf from the classic Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer who doesn’t feel like he fits in with the other elves.  He’s not happy with the work and would rather be a dentist.

Lately I’ve been thinking how much in common I have with both of these characters. Like Mr. Holland, I’m frustrated by my lack of time and energy to write.  On the days I’m not at my part time accounting job, I should be at home writing away, but then there’s housework to catch up on, errands, volunteering, and of course – what every indie author deals with – marketing. Before I know it, the clock reads 9:30 pm and I’ve done no writing. I know much of the problem is my own lack of time management (see previous post), and I’ve vowed to work on managing my time better in the new year. But until I train myself properly, I will be nodding my head at the image of Mr. Holland pouring over his handwritten music, with a myriad of distractions around him.

As for the Misfit Elf, that’s easy…I am the misfit accountant. My co-workers/bosses may beg to differ but seriously, when one is entering checks into Quickbooks while listening to their book playlist and thinking up scenes, that’s not normal accountant behavior. Come to think of it, I haven’t been a normal accountant for years, if ever. I’ve always had scenes from my book playing in my head – after all, my story has been a part of my imagination since my pre-teen years. Admittedly there are many times throughout the day when I zone out while a full-on conversation happens between two characters in my mind. (Please don’t tell my boss).

My husband is always harping on me to “be content in my circumstances”, and I try to be. I’m grateful for the gift of writing and for the fact that I only work outside the home two days a week, except for tax season. And this job, which okay, I sometimes resent, has given us a steady income for over 18 years. It’s taught me how to do my own accounting and how to run my self-publishing business. It’s also allowed me to afford a quality editor and cover designer.

But, content or not, I can’t force the characters to go away while I’m at work.  It almost takes more effort to push them out of my mind than to just leave them there, chattering in the background. As long as it doesn’t affect the quality of my work, I need to accept that part of myself and realize that even if I’m a misfit in the accounting world, I do belong somewhere, and as I’m starting to surround myself with other romance authors, I know exactly where that is.

I won’t give details, but Mr. Holland is rewarded at the end of the movie as the culmination of all his efforts comes together in a very emotional conclusion.  I’m fortunate I don’t have to wait that long to see the results of my hard work; my first book is already out there.  But, like Mr. Holland, I will struggle along, carving out whatever precious time I have to keep writing future books.

I believe I’m in good company with Mr. Holland and the Misfit Elf. They’re legendary, just like I hope to be (at least in a few eyes)!

Thanks for reading  ~ Anne

Housecleaning at midnight

I’ll admit it.  I’m disorganized.  And while I don’t necessarily think I’m lazy (the past week certainly disproved that), I do tend to go about my duties at a slower pace than my go-getter husband.  It’s times like these I wish I could find a support group for time management flunkies.

One of my friends texted me earlier, saying she was overwhelmed with all her different occupations – putting on craft fairs, doing holiday photo shoots, and substitute teaching – not to mention her duties as a wife and mother.  I texted back that “I’m right there with you”, and then suggested (in jest) that we escape to a tropical island where hot cover models serve us cocktails, and there are no concerns over laundry, housework, childcare, or our day jobs.  Yeah, right.

So here I am, the night before my live book release party, blogging instead of cleaning the house.  The house is a pigsty, and I’m hosting a party here tomorrow evening.  I must be crazy.

I’d get into all the sob story details of why I’m feeling so overwhelmed at the moment, but nobody wants to here that. Let’s just say my first book released a week ago, my husband has been traveling almost nonstop for a month, and I got hit with a huge work project this week which I had to bring home.  Oh, and it’s Christmas season.

Which is where that support group would really come in handy.  I realize that if I’m going to continue advancing my writing career, at the same time keeping my part-time accounting job (because somehow I’ve got to pay for book expenses), I really need to streamline my life and stick to a routine.  One that allows me to actually sleep at midnight; not clean the house.

Speaking of that, I’d better get to it.  I know everything will look great tomorrow – nobody’s here to inspect my house – and the party will be a nice time to relax and enjoy my friends.  I’ve been looking forward to this celebration!

And next week, I’ll take another stab at time management.  We’ll see…

~ Anne

Why did I do this to myself?

As you can see by the title of this post, I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment.  With today being Thanksgiving – two days after releasing my first novel – and my husband transitioning between jobs, there’s a lot going on in my life this week.  I should be getting some much-needed shut eye, and yet it’s midnight and here I am, typing away.

Don’t get me wrong – choosing to write and self-publish a book while raising a family, working part time, and having a traveling husband is all on me.  Nobody forced me, except maybe the characters in my head who demanded some air time – and soon.  But nothing could’ve prepared me for what to expect.  Writing my book was one part of the process.  Editing took a lot out of me, but it was worth it as evidenced by the final draft.  Now there’s the marketing; not exactly my strength.

Just a few months ago, I’d never heard of an “author takeover” (basically an author takes over a blog page on Facebook for an hour or two), but now I’ve already got three under my belt, plus my Facebook release party.  I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several other published authors who are willing to give me guidance in the marketing area.  If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure where or how I would’ve learned some of these tips.

I know that as I go along this journey, I’ll not only get the hang of the social media marketing, but I’ll be able to organize my time better between marketing my current book and writing my next one.  I’m in awe of the indie authors who are pumping out new books every few months, because I now know what it takes to produce a salable book.

Bottom line, I guess I should relax and go easy on myself.  I didn’t know everything on my accounting job right away.  It took several years before I became a “polished” staff accountant.  Now, I suppose you can call me “seasoned”  in the accounting world.  The same will happen with my writing career, I hope.  And as much as I’ve love to hide in my cocoon, writing all day, I strive to be the type of writer who is “hands-on” with her readers/followers.  Ideally I’d like to interact with my readers as much as possible.

Time is precious.  Sleep is precious, but so are our dreams. Writing is my dream and on this Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for the gift I’ve been given.  I hope and pray that I’ll be able to share it with others while still keeping my “regular” life intact.

Thanks for listening.  And now sleep is calling…

~ Anne