Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Updated Cover for Baker's Dozen

Happy to announce the updated cover for Baker's Dozen!



My publisher was so understanding and even asked me why I hadn't asked to have it changed before. People may be asking why the change. Well, as much as I loved the first cover with the city-scape of  St. Louis, I wanted something to reflect the funny, flirty tone of the book.

Other updates!

I found out last week that I'm a Whitney Award nominee! Thank you to all who nominated me, who believed my book worthy of such a title. If you want to read more about what the Whitney award is, click HERE.

Also, I'm trying to be more consistent with my blogging and will try to update once a week on Wednesdays!  Topics I still need to share, the LUW conference, my latest title submission and conference wins!

If you'd like more up to date info, subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on social media.

Anyway, sure love you all!

Amey

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Givaway Time!

Baker's Dozen is featured on the BookSweeps giveaway!  Win free books and download freebooks. I was a little skeptical, so I went to the site and signed up. All the books look so interesting and fun! I had to click on all the authors.

So check it out! This won't last long! Be sure to sign up for author newletters and download some free books!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Marketing Plan ideas for Authors

I'm going to share my marketing plan so that others can see what I'm doing and why.


Most of your promotion should be done before your book is released. You want to build hype before the book comes out. You can also host mid-year sales, and anniversary sales. 


Step one: Develop a marketing plan by asking and answering the following questions
Who is your audience? Define their ages, (don’t say 18-99--the more specific the better) What other books are they reading? What hobbies do they enjoy? What do they not like? What appeals to them? What kind of images would attract their attention?
Where does your audience hang out? Where do they live in cyber world? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Book review blogs? 
What’s different about your book?



Step Two: Create a brainstorm cloud with your book in the center. Now add all the ways you can reach your defined audience. Other bubbles include:
Your newsletter
Your blog
Your Youtube channel
Your Twitter account
Your Instagram account
Your Facebook personal page and author page
Your website
Your private Facebook group
Your Media kit

Other lists:
Other people’s blogs
Reviews
Contests
Other media outlets, local newspapers, book release notices
Book Signing
Book Giveaways
Bio
Excerpts from book
Recipes
Book trailers
Libraries
Postcards, bookmarks, stickers, totes etc

Who can help you spread the word:
Family
Friends
Fans
“Scream Team” or “Street Team”
Right now you’re probably thinking this is a lot. It is. But you don’t have to do everything. Pick one or two things you think you can manage and do those well. I’ll talk about each item and write the benefits and the regularity with which you should use them.


Newsletter:
If you haven’t already, start collecting emails of people who know and love you. This is not a spam bot letter. This is a personal letter from you to your audience. THIS IS GOLD! If you do nothing else, do this. Make your newsletter fun and entertaining. Make them full of fun little tidbits. Keep those emails sacred. This is not spam! These are your ardent fans. Treat them as such. *Monthly or twice a month. You can use mailchimp or madmimi who can help you organize your lists.

Blog: Some people have said blogs are passe, but really if you’re good at this, have one already going, keep it up. If you become someone’s favorite author they will want to know what you are thinking and doing. *update once a week so people will come back for more. Can be in conjunction with your website.

YouTube: Podcasts, videos, people love to listen and view in different ways. Think of ways to reach an audience through these media. Book trailers, funny recreation videos, talking about your subject can draw people in.

Twitter: is the fastest and the shortest shelf life of the Social media accounts. If you want to use Twitter, plan on *7-10 tweets a day. Don’t become a parakeet about your book, post quotes, messages, funny thoughts, memes, GIFs and anything else to make yourself likable and fun. Don’t forget to use hashtags #amwriting #amwritingromance #writingcommunity

Instagram: My publisher says she’s getting the most of her followers here. Build your followers using hashtags and posting fun pictures, quotes, and everyday life. Also searchable by #hashtags so write about 10 of them in the comments below your caption for your picture or about 3-5 in your caption. *Post daily

Facebook: I still get the most social media mileage out of Facebook. I’ve built it the longest, have the most friends and feel the most comfortable sharing personal things. I don’t cross post very often but that’s a personal choice. I post first from my author page and then share it to my personal wall for most of my writer needs. If you do not have an author page, get one! You can ask your FAcebook friends to join to add to your likes and follows. (you can also pay to have additional likes and follows but that seems a little morally ambiguous to me. But no judgement if you decide to do that.) *Post once daily.

Website: this should be your hub. Your author bio should live here. And your blog, if you have one. Your amazon links, your fun stuff. Everything should radiate from here. Get one if you don’t have one. *update periodically at least when you get a new book. If you need work done you can try fiverr.com or upwork.com to find people who will do small jobs for you.

Private Facebook Group: For me this is for my ‘Scream Team” which I’ll define below. I try to update this once a week, but I should be out there closer to daily. Share live videos, recipes, tidbits, vote on titles. But this is a select group of your most ardent fans. I have my betas, my family and a few friends. They help you with campaigns and you reward them with goodies.

Media kit: This is your Word document that has all your stats for your book, your excerpts, your buy links, where to find you on the web, your bio, blurb etc. This is for easy reference because people will be asking for this information. YOu can copy and paste into documents. Some people want a 100 word excerpt, another 250 so have something prepared.


Other lists you should explore:


Other author’s blogs: You can ask other authors to “host” you or you can pay for a blog hop. But I’ve contacted fellow authors and created my own. You can have someone host a cover reveal for you, or just host an author spotlight. I reached out to several people to host me. It’s all about networking.

Reviews: You want to get your book out there even before it hits the links! You can contact people who do reviews and ask them if they want to review your book. I let me book be downloaded on booksprout.com and got 8 reviews out of 17 (interested).  I also asked my friends and family. Goodreads and Amazon are the most popular, but there are tons of places to leave reviews. You can pay to have your book listed on NetGalley. Also, if you have people who don’t want to write reviews, you can also asked them (and your Scream Team) to like the reviews given on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Amazon Reviews: More reviews on Amazon, moves you up in their algorithm. Amazon rules state (for now) that a person can write 1 non-Amazon review a week. (That can change at any time.) Also, if you are related to the person, you must state that in your reviews. As well as anyone who reviews it should also have written reviews before. There seems to be some people who haven’t purchased enough on Amazon to write reviews. You can see my blogpost for more information on this. 

Writing Contests: Contests help in several ways. 1) you can gain a new fan. 2) get feedback for what’s working and what’s not working 3) and maybe you’ll win. Usually there is an entrance fee ($25-35) and sometimes you have to send actual copies of the book. You can also read what has won in the past to see what is making the bar.

Other Media outlets: Sign up for author account anywhere you possibly can. I have author accounts at Bookbub, BookSprouts, Goodreads, Amazon, BookandMain, and I’m constantly signing up for anything I find out about. Also, Night Owl romance is hosting me in a chat session. My local magazine is running a story on our family and me being an author. 

Signings: You can host a virtual signing, a local signing at a bookstore/library or other venue. Virtual signings https://www.chatalyze.com. Or a facebook live video or post videos of you reading. Bring goodies, like bookmarks, magnets, totes etc.

Book giveaways: Amazon is still free to do a book giveaway, and Goodreads now charges. You can also host your own on your website or through your social media accounts. An actual book is more exciting than a ebook, although an ebook is exciting too. I only allow US citizens in my actual books as shipping to Europe is $22 and Canada is $15. More information below.

Bio: This is a super important of your self-promotion. This should be in 3rd person because you want more hits of your name in SEO. Amey Zeigler is a….blah, blah is better than I blah, blah...One has my name. Also, add a call to action: ie sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter. Add stuff about you that’s unique.

Excerpts from your book: My publishing marketing teams says that the best way to generate excitement for your book is to quote a bit of the book in your promotion. Go through and mark difference pieces that you find entertaining, poignant, or meaningful. Use different lengths for different media outlets. Twitter is short, Facebook can be a little longer etc.

Recipes: People love recipes inspired by your book, or other goodies. I have a Villain’s cookbook. If I had all the time in the world, I’d host a facebook live video making one of the recipes. 

Book Trailers: If you can find someone or have the skills to stitch together some royalty free video or images that reflect your book.

Libraries: You should ask libraries to carry your book, especially ebook. I, at least, get royalties from it. In fact, you should ask your Scream Team to ask their local libraries to carry it as well. What checking out a book from the library does is lower the risk level. I don’t often buy books or even read books unless it’s recommended by my daughter or someone else I trust. But a library is a great place to discover new authors.

Printed materials: Bookmarks, postcards, magnets are available at Vista Print or any local small business printer. I highly recommend having something to hand to people when you talk to them in passing. (I have business cards with a sticker with my novel cover on it, so I can update it with the newest release) You can also hand bookmarks out on the plane, in the stores etc. And to bring to conferences if they have a goodie bag room.

Being a leader and being successful depends on how well you can help people catch the vision of what you are doing and believe in you and cheer you on. So help people to help you. How do you do that? Be generous. Mentor when you can. Return favors, be the first to give. Then ask people to help you. 

Who can help?
Family is number one. Friends, fans.

What can they do?

I have a blogpost here for this as well. These are ten small things to ask your Scream Team to help you with.

What can you do for your scream team? Find out what they want? Gift cards? YOu can hold contests for people to help you in those things and they can earn “tickets” for a drawing for a gift card every month.

Something like this:
For each blog comment 1 point
For each blog share 2 points
For each blog like 1 point
For each media share 2 points
For each media like 1 point

So if someone from your Scream Team likes, comments and shares your blog on social media, you can reward them with four entry points for a contest. This is to help spread the word. Most of my sales have come from friends of friends. You can also do something like that for newsletter sign ups but most people agree that it doesn’t end up being long term.


Advertising:
There are several ways you can advertise. Your author page can run cheap Facebook ads where you set the limit of how much you want to spend a day and what target audience you want.

If you have published with KDP, you can get Amazon Marketing Service (AMS) as pay per click, which is really powerful.
Bookbub runs simple cost per click ads. 
Facebook as well runs simple targeted and cheap ads.
Add value. Add a call to action. "Read today" "Buy now."

Join writing groups: Join groups that are similar to what you are writing. Romance writers? RWA. Writing children’s books? Join SCBWI. RWA has conferences, networking, contests, classes, and a host of other resources (lists of trusted agents and small presses) and costs only $99/year. 

Conferences: Conferences are a great way to expand your networking, as well as find critique partners, learn from workshops, and do author signings. You can find local ones or go to smaller ones. I am going to a smaller one in Atlanta and doing both an agent/editor pitch as well as an author signing. At some conferences there are “goodie” rooms where you can leave chapter 1 and bookmarks and pens etc if you order them.

Book giveaways: Goodreads now charges something like $300 for a book giveaway, but Amazon will still host a paperback copy giveaway for free. You have to pay for the cost of the book. You do this by clicking on your book page, scroll down to where is says schedule a giveaway and then you can run it with another promotion to drive people to the giveaway link. 

Giveaways through Gleam.io and rafflecopter.

Goodreads: There is so much to do on Goodreads. I hope you have an author account if you have a book. Then you can follow other authors and have others follow you, like your Scream Team. Also, you can blog from your page, answer questions, ask questions, post a book trailer, get your book listed on other’s lists and join groups and communities that can help you spread work about your book. Have your Scream Team list your book on their “shelves” post reviews, like reviews, put your book in lists, and mention on groups.

Booksprouts: Canadian-based free service. Use it for allowing people to download copies to review, mention promotions. Gain followers. 

BooksandMain: For romance writers. Post “bites” of your story with a royalty free pictures to entice people to read your book. It’s free in the beta version.

Pick a few streams that you can manage without stress. One of my writer friends had a board with when she was posting what. Monday: blog, Tuesday: update her Goodreads blog Wednesday post on BooksandMain etc. etc. If you need something like that to help, do it.

Also there are social media managers for people who are okay with cross posting, and want to schedule in advance. For example, I can schedule now my #pitmad entries for Sept 6 so I won’t forget about it. The one I use is Hootsuite, but there are others. Search social media managers in Google.

There are always people willing to take your money to “promote” your book. Check with the internet to make sure they are reputable before throwing them your hard earned money. Most of the time, you’ll not see direct bumps in sales from these promotions. What you are looking for is consistent sales.
Last but not least, the best way to promote your book is to write another one. Sales for your current book boost sales for your backlist. Do what you can to promote, but don’t lose too much doing that to where you can’t write. Write, that is your highest priority. Lots of books sell lots of books.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Top Five Words to Avoid for Deep POV

Deep POV is one of my favorite things to write in. It's close. It's personal. It's deep. It heightens the emotion of the character and brings the reader closer.

I just turned in my second romantic suspense. A sequel to my Baker's Dozen romantic suspense mystery. My editor sent me a guide of words to eliminate in my writing. Here are my top favorite to avoid.

1. Saw
If your point of view character saw something, just say what he saw.

Alan saw Margret brush a stray hair from her eyes.

vs.

Margret brushed a stray hair from her eyes.

2. Thought
If you are in your character's head, you rarely need to mention he thought something. We want to stay close to the writer's sensibilities, almost mimicking his thought.

Alan thought there had to be a better way than this.

vs.

There had to be a better way than this.

3. Felt
 If you have to tell us she felt something, then it destroys the sense of closeness.

Margaret felt angry.

vs.

Margaret beat her fists against the wall.

4. Listened/heard
If your character hears something, just say it. No need to tell us she heard it.

Margaret heard the coming footsteps in the hall.

vs.

Footsteps sounded in the hall.

5. Smelled
Don't tell us she smelled it, tell us what the smell was.

Margaret smelled blood tinged with bleach.

vs.

Blood with a tinge of bleach reached her nose.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Build character, overcome fear

I've had this philosophy lately to give up my fear. It first started in my twenties when I served as a missionary in Switzerland and France, talking to people about their deepest fears, their hopes and dreams for the future. The President of my mission said to me, "Get rid of your stress, worry, anxiety and fear; those will keep you back." Up to that point I'd always seen stress or worry as a form of mental energy progressing me to a solution, but in reality, it was exhausting me and paralyzing me.

Ten years ago, I decided to put away my fears. My fears of never becoming a writer, my fear that I would never be good enough to publish, my fear of not getting out all these wonderful stories I had tucked inside my heart. My husband told me to sit down and write something.

So I did. I had this scene in my head about a girl who got poison ivy because I had just been through a rash of it. And she was a young girl, and I found out that beer can help offset the affects of the oil because of the alcohol. I imagined this funny scene where she's out with some friends and she gets poison ivy and her friend dumps beer all over her and she comes home reeking of Corona. Her mom of course grounds her. Anyway, you get the idea. My husband thought it was good and encouraged me to keep going.

Writing is scary. It's creating something from nothing but the ideas floating around in your brain. Every day I face a blank page.

But writing isn't the only scary thing I do. This idea of facing fears has bled over to our family vacations. Seven years ago, I went SCUBA diving for the first time. I was so nervous, I almost couldn't go under. A few years ago, we went on a rope course over a huge canyon. I went skiing for the first time in my life earlier this year.

If you really want to live, do something scary. You will overcome a fear, build character and create something.

What fears have you overcome?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Pinterest for Authors

Pinterest is a great social media tool for introverts. It's less social than many other platforms.

What I love about Pinterest:

Any post can be seen by all users
In other social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook etc, only your followers can see your posts. Pinterest is unique because it's basically a huge search engine for pulling information. (More about "push" and "pull" later.)

Posts have a long shelf life
I started Pinterest years ago and people still "repin" my posts. Shelf life of Twitter is a few seconds, IG and Facebook are a little bit longer, but the staying power of Pinterest is unbeatable.

Archival
Everything can (must be!) be categorized and stored for Pinterest to work. That's good news for those creating pins. They last and are easy to find.

Media
You can use all sorts of different media: movies gifs, jpegs, images, recipes etc. in your pins

Use to discover and save new ideas and link back to URL
 Each pin can link back to its URL. Your description can be #keyword rich.

Pull v. Push method of advertising
People come to Pinterest to find something. You don't have to push your advertising on them. If you add value (more on that later) they will come to you.

It's free
Pinterest is free to use. It costs nothing to create pins.

Now that you're sold on the idea of marketing on Pinterest, you need to know how to get started.

Step one: Create a business profile. It's free.
If you have not done so change your profile to business. Click here for directions.

Step two: Create a pin.
I use Canva. If you are interested in me doing a quick video tutorial, let me know in the comments and I can get one up on how to create pins using free software. There's also picMonkey and other sites, but I use Canva. 

Step two-point-five: Create value.
This is the creative part. Create a pin that not only displays your lovely book cover, but also give them something of value so that your pin will not just be admired, but it will be cherished, valued and most importantly, repinned.

What is value? I started making pins that have my book cover on them in addition to other useful things: a funny/ fitting quote, a recipe or tips. In order for people to come to you for information, you must give them something to "pull" some bit of expertise, something people will want to save. Otherwise, you are just "pushing" like every other social media platform out there.

Ask yourself: what am I an expert in? What tips can I share? What useful piece of information will help my readers, be of interest to my readers? Then slap your book cover, your website and a keyword rich description on it and send it out into the world. (See my example I created on the fly here) complete with graphic!

Has this been helpful? Would you like me to go into more depth?
What tips would you like to share?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

5 30-Second exercises to improve your mood

As a writer, I often sit for long periods of time. Every once in a while, I need to stop and take a break. I do these five quick exercises and only spend about 30 seconds a piece. Even this quick little pick-me-up after sitting over the computer dreaming up sweet romances and clean romantic suspense plots. Exercise doesn't have to be lengthy to be effective, every bit of exercise is good. As with any exercise, be sure to consult your doctor to make sure it's okay for you do to any of these exercises. And make sure you follow a few tips:

Lunges: keep your knees at 45 degree angles and don't let your knees go over your toes. Don't do if you have knee or hip problems.

Squats: keep knees over ankles and drop your bottom. Even shallow squats will be beneficial. Don't do if you have knee problems.

Arm circles: stick out your arm parallel to the floor and rotate your wrists back to rotate your arms back. Then rotate wrists forward to move arms forward. Don't try if you have any neck or shoulder issues.

Cross punches: you want to punch across your midsection to work your abs as well as your arms. Keep your arms up to avoid strain in your neck and shoulder.

Knee raises: lift knees to chest while keeping a straight back. You can also crunch diagonally across your midsection as you raise your knee for added benefit. Do not attempt if you have balance issues.

Happy exercising!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Sweet Romance and Switzerland

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the day I received my mission call and assignment to serve in Switzerland. I was so excited. I had wanted to go to Switzerland and speak French since I was nine years old. But you don't get to pick where you go, so I felt real blessed. You are probably wondering what living in Switzerland and a sweet romance have to do with each other.

While I was in Switzerland I had many choice experiences. I met so many wonderful faithful people. And I had some crazy adventures that come with living in a foreign country. It was hard to leave my friends, family and everything familiar to me, to live in a country with differing cultures, language and customs. But I learned and grew a lot and I learned to love the people, not just a country.

From this love sprang this novel about Lainey Peterson who overcomes adversity and fear, perseveres through some tough situations and also manages to fall in love with a great guy. But Lainey wants to get into the Chocolate department, and she doesn't have time for a distraction or a forbidden romance.

Yves Claremont is ambitious and hardworking. He wants to honor his late father by becoming a Vice president at Alpine Foods. However, once he hires Lainey in his Pet Care department, he starts to admire her. But inner-office relationships are forbidden. So he must not allow himself to have feelings for her.


When a co-worker, jealous of Yves' success, tries to sabotage his career, he tries to take down both Lainey and Yves.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Spring Break Bookaplaooza book feature

Need a book to read this spring? Are you having a book slump? Need to find a new author to enjoy? Looking for sassy heroines, alpha males, tissue romances, or a feel-good, funny read? Well, I have just the thing for you! Enter the Spring Break Bookapalooza. Be sure to click on this link to check it out. My romantic suspense book Baker's Dozen is being featured today! I talk about my dream spring break (hint: it's in France) and what I love about spring. And while you are there, check out many of the other authors featured on the site. You may find something that catches your eye. Leave a comment to interact with the authors and let them know what you think about their cover, their except or their dream spring break. Many of these authors are also published under my publisher, The Wild Rose Press.

PLUS you can enter to win one of many Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift cards with this link to the rafflecopter contest. You can earn bonus entries by following participating authors on social media!

It's a great way to find new authors, enter a contest, and read about spring break.

What's your favorite thing to do in spring?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Top ten things writers do that isn't writing.


Writing isn't just sitting down and letting magic slip from your head to your fingers to your keyboard. Writers do so much more than just write. Here are a few things I have done as I've written my clean romantic suspense and clean romantic comedy.

1. Attend conferences. Conferences are good for networking in your genre, honing skills, taking classes, meeting people for critique partners, writing groups, pitching, and making friends. And they are fun! I've met like-minded people who are serious in their career and writers who are more successful than I am and who can inspire me.

2. Read. This goes without saying but a lot of writers read. What are they reading? Fiction. In their genre, out of their genre, similar to their genre. I also read a lot of non-fiction, biographies, writing books, and children's books.

3. Enter contests. One of the biggest deadlines in my life right now is entering contests. I do this to get exposure, professional feedback and a chance to distinguish myself. Although I know I'm not going to win, it's good to get feedback.

4. Judge contests. Many contests these days are huge and to help narrow the categories, they often open up judging to other writers. Some contests are a little more exclusive, like you have to have a successful publishing career or have made a certain amount of money before you can judge or it may be a requirement to judge as an entrant to the contest. Last year I judged about 11 books. Just this year alone, 4, with more on the way.

5. Blog. Blogging is writing you say. I know, but it's also not writing on a current WIP. But it's important to let people know what you are up to, get to know you. Often people buy a book not because it sounds interesting, but because you are a likable person.

6. Social media. This can be such a time sink. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook not to mention other social media outlets (Bookbub, Book+Main, Bookspout, Goodreads) can suck time away from a writer's WIP. With careful planning and loads of self-discipline, Social Media can be a useful tool to create community, build a brand and help establish your platform.

7. Website. Building and maintaining a website is something every author must do. A web presence is essential. What does everyone do once they discover a new author? Search the internet and hopefully buy more books, or at least check them out at the library :)

8. Newsletter. I love connecting with fans, with my friends who have supported me. Once a month I send out a connection letter to let people know what I'm up to. This is fun. I ask for beta readers, reward them with tidbits and snippets of my latest WIP and get opinions. Sign up for my newsletter with the link to the right. Or at my website.

9. Marketing. As a small press author, I'm doing most of my own marketing. I write blog posts for other bloggers who generously share their audience with me. I search out reviewers, literary magazines, influencers, friends who can help me spread the word.

10. Help other authors. This is reviewing, sometimes critiquing, work for other writers in my writing group or critique partner, reviewing books for other authors, praise quotes, joining local chapters of national organizations. This is one of my favorite things to do. I love to help people see it is possible to write, to get published to do what they love to do.

Bonus. Writer's also have families, and occasionally eat, sleep and clean house.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Clean, funny romantic comedy with a recipe

I was talking to someone on the phone the other day, and they told me their book club likes to make a recipe from their book-of-the-month. And I thought, I need to include my recipe for Easy Chocolate Mousse to my clean and funny romantic comedy book. (If you haven't checked out the Villain's cookbook from Baker's Dozen, you need to.)

The Swiss Mishap is a New Adult, clean and funny romantic comedy.  Lainey goes to Switzerland expecting to work as an intern in the chocolate department, but instead winds up in Pet Care. She loves chocolate and hopes to get a recommendation there. Her hot boss makes her talk to people all day about pets until she speaks with a pastry chef who gives her a recipe for chocolate mousse. Of course, she's supposed to be talking about pets, so her boss isn't happy with her, and she leaves without getting the rest of the recipe...

So here I am sharing with you the recipe I brought home from Europe:

Easy Chocolate Mousse for 6 people

Easy chocolate mousse
30 g. Butter (2 Tbls.)
80 g. Sugar (3/4 c.)
175 g. (6 oz) of chocolate (milk or dark), chopped
4 eggs separated

Beat eggs and sugar together mixer until soft peaks form. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler until just melted. Add egg yolks one by one, stirring with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, and allow to cool. Fold in egg whites. Refrigerate before serving for best results.


If you didn't know, I lived in Switzerland in my twenties as a missionary. I love Switzerland. Ever since I was nine, I wanted to live there. I love the people, the culture, and the country.

I am really looking forward to sharing this book with you. It really has my heart. If you love clean funny romantic comedies, this is for you! Stay tuned for a cover reveal and release date!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hobbies Outside of Writing

Lots of people have asked me what do I do when I'm not writing clean romantic suspense novels full of martial arts, disguises, and strong female protagonists. Or other stories like my clean (sweet) chocolate rom-com set in Switzerland. Well, I thought I'd let you in on my little secret. My life is not full of writing, although some days I wish it were.

First off I have a family. I am a wife to a brilliant scientist. I am a work-from-home mom to three beautiful kids who keep me humble, teach me patience, and long suffering.

Second, I am active in my church. I volunteer to co-teach at religion class to 8-9 teenagers at 5:45am every day that there is high school.

Third, I'm involved in my community.

So what does this look like? I'm not particularly busy, thankfully. My weekday starts at 5am. I wake up, pray, mediate, and read from the scriptures. I get dressed in appropriate clothes and attend or teach the class for about fifty minutes where we try to help teenagers appreciate the Gospel. Help them to make better decisions for their lives and help them make spiritual goals. Then when they leave my house, I help my kids get off to school.

Then I exercise and listen to inspiring messages, audio books or music. Exercise is important for my mental health, physical health and to help jump start my creativity. It's a discipline. I started exercising when I was in high school. A friend of my mother's who was a refugee from Cambodia wanted to go for a walk, but she had two kids and two strollers (not one giant one people have today). So my mom said I'd go with her. So I did. She told me about her life in Cambodia, escaping the Khmer Rouge and her life as a refugee. Those walks were interesting, gave me perspective I needed as a 15 year old. Our friendship deepened and she also helped me establish the habit of exercise for which I am so grateful.

My son is pursuing a black belt in Tang So Doo for the last four years. Our evenings are full of classes.

I also like to sew. In the summers when my kids are home I do things like reupholster chairs, oil paint landscapes and portraits, and draw. This summer, the kids want to learn how to quilt. A friend of ours gave us a bunch of quilting fabric to make quilts this summer. I'm excited about that.

I love doing home improvement projects. I paint interiors, fixed the washing machine with a soldering gun (yup, proud of that one, if you want to see pics, I have them), paint furniture, garden, and try to teach these things to my kids.

I also volunteer at my kids schools, be on a committee for HOA. I feel really normal.  That's me in a nutshell. I might be able to think of other stuff later.

What hobbies do you have? How do you spend your time?



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Yes, you can do it! Top five tips for achieving a dream



I've always been one of those people who tried new things. I don't really like getting out of my comfort zone, just like the next gal, geeze, I am human, but I do like to try new things.

When I was in fourth grade, my friend, Heather, urged me to try out for the community theatre production of Annie as an orphan extra. My mom let my try out only because she thought I wouldn't make it--thanks mom! She knew the commitment and time required for a production of this scale. But she let me try out and guess what! I made it! I did! *Brag time* Out of the 225 girls who auditioned, only 12 made it into the cast *Close brag time* My siblings said it was because I already looked like an orphan. Har, har! But honestly, I think I made it because my friend knew the director and she needed a ride to the rehearsals from our small town.

One of the best compliments anyone has given to me was when my brother said he thought it was awesome that I tried out for plays. Then he confessed, he never would have had the guts to do something like that. I was stunned. I never even considered not trying out. It's like the possibility of making a fool of myself didn't even occur to me.

I've thought a lot about that as the years pass. Why wasn't I afraid to try out for a play? I think one of the things that keeps me going is that I'm not afraid of failing. (I am afraid of success, however. Success changes the status quo. We all fear something, I guess, hahah!)

So I put together my top five tips to give you the encouragement you need to take the leap.

1. Be not afraid. Fear is your worst enemy. Sometimes what I do is imagine the worst thing that can happen. When I was afraid to go SCUBA diving, I mentally walked myself through what the worst case scenario would be. Which in this case was death. And I was like, if I died right now, what could happen? My kids would miss me and I would miss them growing up. But my husband could remarry, and they'd grow up okay. Then I ask myself the likelihood of that happening. Pretty minuscule. After I mentally faced that worst fear, I was ready to go down.

2. Start small. Baby steps. No one says in order to be great, you have to do great things. By small means are many great things accomplished. How do you write a novel? One word at a time. How do you start a business? One client at a time.

3. Set goals. I have a blank book my sister gave me 12 years ago. For over a decade, I have written weekly "To-Do" lists. This keeps me focused and on track. And yes, sometimes I go back in and write things down that weren't originally on the list and check them off. But set goals that you can define, reach, and stretch you.

4. Vision boards. I am not much of a visual person, probably due to the fact that I didn't wear my glasses for the first half of my life and missed so many details. However, having something like a vision board, or a vision statement can help keep your goals in the forefront of your mind. If you have a dream, write it down, see it every day, work toward it.

5. Surround yourself with supportive people. Everyone needs a support team, people who are positive, who believe in you and encourage you. If you don't have those people living with you, find some community on line. I love my writer community on Twitter and my writing group friends. I also have the most supportive husband (both physically and spiritually) and friends.

What are your dreams? How did you achieve them? Or what are you doing to achieve your dreams?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Blog Topics

 I always struggle with writing something on my blog. I like journal-ing and have kept extensive journals (if you know me at all, you're probably mentioned in my journal. Isn't that a weird thought?) But for some reason, I really struggle with blog topics.

I would like to be of some use to people out there.

So I have a question: What do you want to hear about from me?

Do you want to hear about my writing process? How to write/get published? Writing tips? Overcoming discouragement?

Would you like to hear about my life? It would make a great cure for insomnia.

Would you like to hear about my struggles? I have struggled with a few things and have managed to find peace. I would only do this if I felt like it would help someone else. I'm rather a private person and prefer a one-on-one method of communication.

Or something else entirely?  Comment below with your suggestions.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

How my Communication degree helps me with my writing.

I remember nearing the end of my mission in Europe and I was trying to decide what to study when I got home. I decided to go to the University of Arizona because they had a creative writing degree, but I wasn't sure I wanted to major in creative writing. I was single, no marriage prospects, and I worried I might have to support myself with my degree.

Creative writing wouldn't get me very far and it was a limited scope of study. Both of my mission presidents worked in communication. So I thought, okay, that sounds interesting. I like people. I like to talk. Let's do it.

I walked into my Comm 300 class and the professor said, "This is a class where we talk about relationships, how and why people get in them and how and why people stay. If that doesn't interest you, you'd better join another class." I couldn't tell you how much his words thrilled me! (Yes, I still have my text book from that class and many other classes.)

Fiction is all about relationships. It could be the relationship between two people, between a person and God, between a dog and a master, between husband and wife, between siblings, parent and child, friends etc. etc. It all fascinates me. I loved my classes on persuasion, conflict resolution, and argumentation (some of the comm kids went to law school).

All of my studies provided rich fodder for writing. One of my favorite classes was Fiction as Communication. Not only did I get to read the The Princess Bride by William Goldman but I also walked away with a valuable truth: everything is story.

Our lives are full of story. We live in story. But the difference between fiction and real life is that story in fiction has to make sense. Often in life random things happen. It has no meaning. In fiction, however, everything has meaning or else it's weird.

We are all the heroes of our own story. We see things from our filters, our own unique view point. What fiction helps us do is to see the world from a different view point, to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes," to gain a new perspective, to understand why. Fiction is a gift to understand our fellow humans and what it means to be human, to laugh, cry, to have pain, to suffer. We gain empathy, compassion and insight into human nature. This is why I write. This is why I read.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Okonomiyaki: Hiroshima-American style



 When my husband served a mission in Hiroshima Japan Mission, he went to a place where they served this delicious food. We noticed when we went to Japanese festivals that they served it but differently. All the ingredients were mixed into the batter and then cooked, Osaka style, instead of the layered version he learned in the south. He wanted to recreate the southern version with it's layers at home. So this is our version of Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.

What you need:

Okonomiyaki flour (I found some at a Japanese import store or you can buy some here on Amazon)
Pork belly, thin sliced (But we used bacon, you can use thick cut, just don't use maple flavored, it's kind of weird.)
Eggs
Shredded cabbage (I ran a few wedges through the food processor)
Yakisoba noodles (Also found at Japanese import store)
For condiments: Okonomiyaki sauce, and Kewpie mayonnaise also found at import store.


Then mix the flour with water until until the consistency of pancake batter.


 Shred cabbage
Soak noddles until softened.

Cut bacon or pork belly in half.









I also uploaded five Youtube videos to show construction:
step1
step 2
step 3
step 4
step 5

Drizzle with Kewpie and okonomiyaki sauce. Enjoy!

Updated Cover for Baker's Dozen

Happy to announce the updated cover for Baker's Dozen! My publisher was so understanding and even asked me why I hadn't asked ...