Learning to Climb the Author Ladder

I realize it’s been a looong time since I last blogged, but believe me, it’s been on my mind! It’s just that what my brain (and heart) want to do often times don’t fall in line with that reality has to offer—which is 24 hours in a day. And boy, am I feeling the time constraints lately because I just realized my kiddos have about 2.5 weeks left of school! Where did the months go?! Eeks. I’ve come to accept that summer school may not work for us this year due to some things we have scheduled, not to mention, the enthusiastic cries of “Noooo!” that I get when I bring up the topic. 😉 So, what does that mean for me? I’m head-down, hunched over in the trenches of my laptop for the time being, trying to finish my current book.

The bad news is that I likely won’t be sleeping much for the next few weeks. The good news though? If I can keep up the momentum, I’ll be done with the second book in The Spark Brothers Series next month!

I owe a LOT to a group of four romance authors called The Writing Gals for everything I’ve been learning recently about writing and marketing. Thanks to them, I’m writing smarter and selling smarter. My productivity has improved six-fold (from writing 500 words a day to up to 3k sometimes!) and I’m actually excited about my job, even the oh-so dreaded marketing part of it. I’ve even been thinking about climbing the ladder—not the one on the munchkins’ bunkbed, haha—but the bestseller one.

When I worked in the corporate and non-profit worlds in my past life (aka. before kids), I never thought about, much less attempted, to climb the ladder. As an introvert, I’ve always liked to keep my head down and get the job done. It’s not in my nature to want to put myself out there and strive for promotions or advancements—I leave all the climbing to hubby who lives for it! But lately, I’ve been inspired to think bigger. To imagine and dream. To consider that I have what it takes—the skills, perseverance, and smarts—to succeed as an author.

What does this look like? Specifically, it means publishing more often and, to be frank, selling more. While I understand success cannot always be measured by numbers, it does help to see where I’m at and how I can improve. Selling more books means reaching more readers, which means spreading the message of love, truth, and hope I try to instill in my stories. If I can also earn enough to contribute to the family income in a substantial way (and thereby lessen hubby’s load), that would be the cherry on top of a delicious sundae.

So, this is where I’m at in my journey—learning to place one foot after another on the rungs of the author ladder. As you can see from the photo below, climbing requires a lot of planning and hard work, but most of all, support. Even someone as introverted as me sees the benefit of networking and learning from others who are further up on the ladder. I hope whatever journey you’re on, you’ll be able to find your village to help you grow. If I can help in any way in the area of writing and/or marketing, let me know!

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Here’s a fun and meaningful song about being yourself and letting your light shine, Sophie Beem’s “Glow”. It’s my go-to jam when I need a pick-me-up on the hard days of climbing.

What ladders have you strived to climb?

Behind the Scenes of My New Release: A Single Spark

In the midst of editing hubby’s sci-fi book last year, I got the itch to start planning a new romance series. The inspiration came one morning after I’d dropped the munchkins off at school. As usual, I had the radio on and happened upon the morning talk show of a top 40 station. The deejay had been sharing how she’d received a mistaken text from a man, a man she got very curious about.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

She did some Googling and located his Facebook profile. That’s when she pulled up his handsome photo and began spinning a wonderful romance in her mind. Guy texts girl by accident. Girl texts guy back. They strike up a conversation. One thing leads to another and bam!—they live happily ever after. Great, right? Except for the part where said guy is married. Oh, the disappointment! I really felt for the deejay as she shared her experience. It would’ve been such a great story if it all had worked out, right?

Right!

That’s when the wheels in my head began spinning out of control, leading me to come up with a story based on this very premise, and subsequently a whole series based on a family of five brothers.

Whoa baby!

It was my first time plotting out a whole series from beginning to end before I started writing. And boy, was it fun! I began searching for images I could use for the covers, and found five that worked perfectly. From there, I began coming up with character names, personalities and professions. Then I did some matchmaking and paired up each unsuspecting brother with a woman who would complement him well. I also had to figure out the obstacles to their happily ever afters and make sure they fell in line with some popular romance tropes. Here are some of the storylines you can expect in this series: frenemies to lovers, opposites attract, and marriage of convenience. I’m the most excited about this last one since it’ll be my first attempt at writing such a story.

This is also the first time I’m doing my marketing for a new release differently (thanks to the amazing advice of The Writing Gals!—if you’re an author, you gotta check them out). I won’t bore you with the details, but if you want them, feel free to ask!. Let me just say that each new book is another opportunity to learn what to do and what not to do, and this time around I’m a tad bit wiser and more patient. I actually sat on this book for a few months before I released it (I had another deadline to meet), and took my time getting the story “just right”. With feedback from my awesome beta readers, I spent hours fixing the beginning of chapter one and another few days making the last chapter believable and satisfying. I’ll admit I got frustrated a few times (or a lot!) in the process and wanted to throw in the towel more than once. But when I finally finished, I was thoroughly proud of myself and my stubbornness. Yay me! Haha.

I hope you’ll check out big brother Aiden’s story in A Single Spark. It’s at a special release price of 99¢ for a limited time!

4 Book Recommendations 4 You!

As an indie author who has a lot of indie author friends, I often help beta read their stories (and vice versa). As a result, I get early access to a lot of great books, four of which I want to share with you today. (Click on the book titles to go to their respective Amazon pages.)

1) A Tapestry of Tears by Gita V. Reddy

Blurb: This is a collection of a novelette and twelve short stories. The title story, A Tapestry of Tears, is set in the nineteenth century. A young couple from an affluent background fights against the time honored tradition of female infanticide. In another story, Division into Two, a family is torn apart by the brutal partition of British-ruled India into India and Pakistan. Told through the voices of an estranged aunt and nephew, it reveals the human tragedy that is often a fallout of social strife.

My review: “I didn’t realize how much I would benefit from reading this author’s work. She has a magnificent way of storytelling, as if she had lived the events herself. Each story in this collection evoked so many emotions from deep within and left lasting impressions on my heart. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the culture and people of India and for those who value eloquent and intentional writing.”

Recommended for readers who enjoy non-fiction, women’s fiction, as well as stories that focus on cultural issues and human relationships. There are some tough issues addressed in the title story, so if you are sensitive you may want to skip over it (but it is a really eye-opening piece).

2) Masquerading Our Love by Audrey Rich

Blurb: Junior year has been tough on Thalía Reynari.
A new high school, trying to fit in with new friends, schoolwork, family commitments. With everything going on in her life, Thalía could use a break, an adventure.
So when Thalía meets Christopher Cooper, the most gorgeous guy in town, her life should change for the better, right?
Don’t bet on it.
Thalía and Christopher find themselves caught in the middle of a simmering feud that’s kept the two families apart for a decade. And no one is sure if young love will be enough to bridge this divide.
As they hide their relationship behind masks Thalía must decide if this new love is worth losing her parents’ approval.

My review: “An opposites attract story, this is the perfect book for the awkward teen in all of us. I can’t wait for the next books in the series to read about the cast of supporting characters.”

Recommended for teens and adults who are young at heart. This story is a clean book that realistically delves into the heart and mind of teenagers and supplies just the right amount of angst to keep you reading.

3) Love Among the Lilacs by Jenna Victoria

Blurb: Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk.

Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter.

Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking.

Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is where your heart is?

My review: “This is the first book I read by the author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing is polished, the characters are believable and the supporting cast is a quirky, fun bunch. I enjoyed the alternating points of views and seeing how the characters grew to accept and care for each other.”

Recommended for romance readers who enjoy stories with well-rounded characters.

4) All That Glitters by Ines Bautista-Yao

Blurb: When they have nothing better to do, college students Billie Santiago and Carlos Angeles enjoy imagining what their lives will be like five years into the future. It’s never serious—just a whole lot of teasing and poking fun at each other. Till blindingly handsome, PR professional Iñigo Antonio saunters into the university bookstore where Billie works. All of a sudden, she finds herself face to face with the physical manifestation of the very dream she tells Carlos about.

Captivated by Iñigo’s magnetic personality, Billie is lured into his dazzlingly glamorous world—much to Carlos’s frustration. But as Billie notices Iñigo might not be playing by the rules, Carlos begs her to stay away from him. When Billie doesn’t listen, she realizes too late that she is in over her head and it may take a miracle (or a boy who cares deeply about her) to get her out of it.

My review: “I know I’m always in for a treat when I open up one of Ines Bautista-Yao’s books, and this one did not disappoint! The author has such a knack for getting into the hearts and minds of young characters. I love friends-to-lovers stories and could not get enough of Carlos and Billie’s relationship! There was just the right balance of “the feels”, as well as character growth to keep me reading. I highly recommend this book to romance lovers everywhere!”

Recommended for young adult and romance readers and for readers who are curious about life in the Philippines.

I hope you’ll check out these books and their amazing authors! What books have you read recently that you would recommend? 🙂

Cover Reveal for Of Buds And Blossoms!

When I started writing a few years ago, I had no plan in mind for how many books I wanted to write each year. I basically cranked a story out as quickly (or slowly) as I could manage with two small munchkins at home. Now that the kids are older and out of the house for half the day, I’ve been able to dedicate more time to my career (yup, I’m actually calling it a career now! LOL). This is the first time I started the year out with some goals in mind, which includes publishing four books in 2017. (Insert overwhelmed face here. 😨) The good news is that I’ve finished one of them and am excited to be sharing the cover reveal with you today! So without further ado … here’s the third story in my Seasons of Love series, Of Buds And Blossoms!

Here’s the blurb:

Librarian Chloe McAlister finds solace in her books—and hats—but doesn’t know where to turn when her longtime crush gets engaged. On a whim, she signs up for a speed-dating mixer and convinces her best friend, Dill Thomas, to attend. All goes as planned until she realizes Dill means more to her than she thought … and he goes and falls for someone else.

This 10,000-word short story is perfect for your lunch break, workout, or while you wait in line at the mall. Read it today to experience a hint of spring any time of the year!

Here’s an excerpt:

“Is the beard a deal breaker? Serious question here.”

Chloe raised her brows. “Hm?”

“Do you like me rugged or clean? Be honest, I can take it.”

Dill had never cared about his appearance before, much less asked her about it. He was a no-frills kind of guy who couldn’t be bothered with designer clothes or the latest fashions. That’s why he lived in jeans and T-shirts at work and at home. For some reason, he was concerned about a beard? “You want my opinion?”

“Sure. You understand women better than I do. Would they be cool with this?”

Tilting her head to one side, then to the other, Chloe took a long, hard look at him. She pretended to give his question some thought, pursing her lips as she studied his face. His eyes still had the same self-assured, friendly sparkle in them as the freshman boy who always asked to borrow her lecture notes. A grin tugged at the corners of his mouth, revealing his playful, easygoing nature that hadn’t changed over the years. However, that’s where the déjà vu ended.

Now that she was staring at him so intently, she almost didn’t recognize the man sitting next to her. Because he was most definitely more of a man today than he had been when they met or graduated from college or … even last week. What had happened? This Dill had the angled features and square jawline, not to mention—her eyes traveled down—the broad shoulders and defined upper body of a hot guy. An attractive, rugged-looking hot guy. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly as dry as a desert. Was it hot in here or what? “Yes, the beard,” she managed to squeak out, “you should keep.”

“Seriously?” Dill threw his head back and laughed until he was wiping tears from his eyes. “I can’t believe you went full Yoda on me. The beard you should keep.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I thought you fell asleep during our Star Wars marathon. Maybe I’ll convert you into a fan after all.”

“Finish the profile, please,” Chloe urged, eager to move on from the awkward moment.

“Okay, okay,” he agreed, before joking, “the questions I will answer.”

Hot guy or not, he was still a goofball.

Because I couldn’t wait, the book is now available for pre-order (click HERE). So if you’d like it delivered right to your Kindle on February 27, 2017, you can order it today! 🙂

And of course there’s a playlist for the book, which you can listen to here: